Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday #Vegas Readings

Pearls Before Swine

This, above from today's Pearls Before Swine, is my life. Click on the image to enlarge it.

OK, I'm a long way from worrying about my resume, but the premise is precisely what happens to me often. Like right now. I need to write an important L.A. Weekly cover story but, lo and behold, I feel maybe I ought to blog first, then I'll get to it. I swear.

Then again, I've got plenty of time. Miles is at work today, so the most momentous TV event I've ever cared about -- the series finale of "Lost" -- must wait until he comes home from work at midnight or so. That means avoiding Twitter, e-mail, the Internet at large or even text messages beginning at 6 p.m. PT when the East Coast feed commences. Hopefully that gives me plenty of time to write without the distractions so brilliantly depicted in the comic, right? (By the way, check out my AOLNews piece on the emotional trauma for "Lost" superfans represented by the end of the series. Yes, it's mildly autobiographical.)

Before my radio silence, however, some interesting stuff in today's newspaper.

* I was in it. I'm the guy in the blue shirt in the front row at the Conservative Leadership Conference held at the M, seated next to Nevada News Bureau's Elizabeth Crum, see?

I had to scan this in because the Sun didn't post this image online. Not evident: The gruesome stack of used tissues courtesy of my Great Cold of 2010. Achoo. [I was there to do a piece for AOL News that I won't finish until tomorrow because the aforementioned L.A. Weekly assignment takes precedence. I did Tweet a lot from it, though, and those Tweets can be found via this #clc2010 hashtag.]

* Arnold M. Knightly has a fascinating Q-and-A with Robin Haffner-Matos, the longtime guru behind the Flamingo's Wildlife Habitat. I've chatted with her before -- she's the one who told me about gay pink flamingo couple Bubbles and Pink Floyd and the sexually ambiguous penguin Turnip for my 2004 L.A. Times travel piece on Vegas animal exhibits. Yet until reading Knightly's piece, it never occurred to me to book her on The Petcast, which I will try to do tomorrow.

* Many have emailed asking why I haven't either bashed Andy Rooney for his snark about the worthlessness of blackjack dealers or bashed whiny, defensive Las Vegans for being offended. The reason is that (a) Andy Rooney is an idiot and (b) Andy Rooney is irrelevant. So yes, he's wrong but no, nobody should really care what he says nor be surprised. If I had written about it, it would've come out something like what the R-J's Howard Stutz said today. So if you want to know what I think, read Howard's version. Can we move on now?

* Mike Weatherford of the R-J is not known for eviscerating specific people the way I make it a sport. But boy, he sure pulled Steve Wyrick apart limb by limb in his column. It's pretty brutal. And all true.

* My Petcast co-host and future Knight-Wallace Fellow Emily Richmond has the most relatable piece I've ever read on the pitfalls of the No Child Left Behind rules in today's Las Vegas Sun. She focuses on one well-loved, well-regarded principal who has done some excellent things for a low-performing, highly transient Vegas school but still is likely to lose her job because of test scores. It's a really readable piece with a great deal of national relevance -- this story could comfortably have run on the front page of The New York Times -- and I read all of it. My big complaint is that Emily's story occupied nearly four full pages of today's Sun and yet the print edition carried no clear photo of the subject of the 4,500-word opus. Not one! The leading image has her obscured by a spray of a hose and there's a distant, shadowed silhouette of her holding hands with two kids. The Web version has one image of her holding a baby buried in a slideshow. This is very, very odd. What makes Emily's piece so engaging and unusual is that she dissects the life and humanity of a specific educator instead of weighing us down in data and legalese. I'd rather have seen images of this principal talking to students, photos of her earlier career which is detailed in the piece, pictures of her family and home. That's why this is such a good piece, because we learn about an educator's whole life. Why not show that, too? Instead, we get loads of cute-kid pix which could be taken at any school anywhere in the world.

* Las Vegas Sun uberpundit Jon Ralston once again shouts against the wind with his perennial column exhorting people not to vote early because something might happen between now when early voting begins and June 8, the proper primary election day. This is a nearly annual, totally tired groan by Ralston. Yes, in some select cases last minute information can be important, namely in the case of all that scandal that burst on Jim Gibbons in the waning weeks of his campaign for Nevada governor in 2006. (Likely result, by the way: Gov. Dina Titus would have been thrown out of office this year instead of Rep. Dina Titus. Pick 'em!) But early voting now accounts for as much as 62 percent of all ballots cast and, more importantly, in almost every race ever, the results from early voting have failed to vary substantially from those who vote on Election Day. That is, when polls close on June 8 and votes are tabulated for early voting, the percentages probably won't budge for the rest of the night in almost every case. This may seem obvious since most voters now vote early, but it was also true in 1998 when I was a political reporter for the Review-Journal and early voting was still a Nevada novelty. Ralston's theoretically correct that voters should have all the information they can possibly have before voting, but in reality the final weeks of most campaigns are more likely to be full of misinformation, lies, hyperbole, histrionics and distortions than legitimate revelations. So it's six of one, half dozen of the other to me.

OK. Now time to write that story. Really. Or maybe I should go early vote? Oh, look, a butterfly!