Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hey Obama, Where's My $&#&@ Joe Biden Text Message?

It was widely reported that the Barack Obama campaign was trying something innovative, communicating with supporters and other interested parties by text message. It's said to significantly increase voter turnout on Election Day to get texts.

The big moment for the campaign to gather cell phone numbers was an offer that if you give them your digits, you can be "among the first to know" who Obama's running mate would be. As a journalist, I sign up for everything from every candidate.

Well, it's been 45 minutes since BarackObama.Com began splashing news of the Obama-Biden ticket along with the predictable fundraising appeal. But thus far, my cell phone and Miles' are both bereft of any texts from Obama Mobile. No, really -- when I sent my cell number in to sign up, I got a response text that said, "Welcome to Obama Mobile."

Be the first to know? Are you kidding? Top Obama aides leaked this to campaign-trail journalists by mid-evening Friday, hours before even the campaign website said anything. No, in the end this whole text-message thing feels like a bit of a ruse. The whole thing was a big, fat data-mine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The best newspaper sentence I've read lately

I'm being a tourist host and don't have that much time, but I just read this and was so amused I thought I'd share.

Benjamin Spillman of the R-J wrote a piece about Binion's resurrecting the old $1 million-in-a-case attraction at its casino. And here's how he starts:

Binion's newest owner is bringing back a renowned tradition at the downtown Las Vegas casino, and it isn't swift and thorough beatings for people dumb enough to get caught cheating at cards.

Funny, right?

A Day On The Strip

My recently widowed aunt is visiting us this week. This is the visit that gave her something nice to look forward to last winter as my uncle was dying of pancreatic cancer. We spent many days together at his bedside in the hospital -- I blogged about that here -- and now she's here trying to figure out how to relax on a vacation without her husband.

Yesterday, we headed out onto the Strip, of course. She can't really walk too much because of a sciatica, but we headed first to Paris for lunch at Mon Ami Gabi and then to take in the "Price Is Right" show at Bally's. Lunch was a delicious success -- don't know what Miles has against this place -- and the show was a much, much better execution of the game-show format than the $250,000 Game Show Spectacular that was short-lived at the Hilton. Here we are at Mon Ami Gabi:

As you can see, that's NOT me on the cover of my book.

One of the really interesting things I spotted were these touch-screen resort-map kiosks at Paris. Harrah's apparently has them at Rio, too. I know Fontainebleau is planning them using Mac software, but I didn't realize that some resorts already have them. You just choose from the menu what you're looking for...

...and then it generates a map for you with a line suggesting your path.

That's pretty smart. I mostly with the Venetian folks would do this since that place is by far the most convoluted.

We went home for a while, then made it back to the Strip for Ka at MGM Grand. I just love it so much. It always seems like it's the least-noticed of the Cirque shows and it is the most wondrous to me.

While we were out, I spotted some unusual T-shirts. First, the postal workers' union is convening this week at Paris and many delegates were wearing this:

I thought at first it was a self-referential joke about the reference to the alleged tendency of disgruntled mail workers to commit terrible acts of violence. I come to find out that it refers to some business practices that the union opposes regarding the practices of a national shipping-store chain called Goin' Postal. I'm not clear on what the issues are.

This one was just funny. A bachelor party, clearly...

Today, we're planning to do the Bellagio Conservatory and the Gallery of Fine Art. Yippee!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Incoming Assaults! Eek!

There seems to be a concerted effort over the last day to post comments on this blog regarding my earlier posts here and here castigating BestofVegas.Com for the fact that a site that claims to be something new and something Vegas-wise would use 5-year-old images of the Strip to promote itself. I also took issue with what they're calling "exclusive celebrity content" because what's on the site is not in any way, shape or form exclusive.

So they had their party and now I'm getting beaten up. The gist of these comments are:

1. Valid, accurate critique = hate.
2. Nicky Hilton is actually a future Nobel laureate.
3. I would've thought differently had gone to the party.
4. My status as a journalist has been tarnished because I did not drink the Kool-Aid.

Nobody even vaguely attempted to defend this website's dishonest claims, carefully debunked in that first post, of "exclusive celebrity content." I guess the journalistic standards of real working national journalists are a wee bit different than the freeloaders who suck up to get invited to parties hoping to see sexy girls.

The point here is not whether the site itself is any good for what it actually intends to do, which is to sell travel. They may be great at this and bully for them. The point is that they burst into a new city and show their total ignorance of it when they put out promotional material with ancient visuals. Then the content of their site pretends to be journalistic when, in fact, it's more promotional material.

Just to be clear, I didn't skip this party because I was offended by the advertising imagery. I skipped it because these sorts of parties happen about once a week, aren't my thing and are never what I would define as newsworthy. The same old self-important people standing around having the same old conversations while mooching off some sucker who thinks that throwing such an event makes them a part of the community? What's fun about that?

Gotta go. Real news calls.

LVW Column: Digital Vegas

Here's this week's Weekly column, using the success of the Vegas Podcast-a-Palooza to make the point about the lack of podcasts coming out of the MSM in Vegas.

Digital Vegas: Podcasts need to be portable to be relevant


Even for me, even with all that I say and write and do to evangelize the cause of digital media in this city, it was a stunning, perplexing, delightful moment.

My husband and The Strip Podcast co-host Miles Smith was similarly surprised. He arrived a little late, and, looking around the room, he asked me, “Are all these people here for this? Are you sure they’re not just hanging out here because they saw the lights were on?”

No, they were all there for “this.” And, in doing so, they proved something I’ve been insisting for three years now: Vegas enthusiasts and media consumers in general are thirsty for quality digital content by providers who respect them. They also want to be able to listen to, read or watch it wherever and whenever they want. And when these people find it, they’ll go to the ends of the Earth to support it.

The “this” that Miles referred to was the first-ever Vegas Podcast-a-Palooza, which he and I participated in on Saturday before an impressive crowd at the Palms. We performed a half-hour version of our weekly celebrity-interview show after a live half-hour version of Five Hundy By Midnight, a tourist-centric weekly show hosted by Minneapolis couple and Vegas obsessives Tim and Michele Dressen. And after us came The Vegas Gang, a twice-monthly program in which a panel of five gaming-industry experts mull business news.

None of us knew quite what to expect, and nervous “I hope people come” text messages flew between us on Saturday morning seeking mutual reassurance. We got a bit of a late start promoting the thing because the idea only occurred to Vegas Gang moderator Hunter Hillegas, owner of, around Father’s Day, and details were only nailed down around the Fourth of July. We timed it to occur during the New Media Expo, the year’s largest podcaster convention, because Tim and Michele were attending that, and we figured that fellow podcasters, at least, would show up to support the effort.

But it didn’t go like that. There were a couple of folks from the conference, but then there was the couple from Oklahoma City who planned an impromptu vacation around it. There were the folks from Miami who gave away tickets to the 6 p.m. Mamma Mia! to come see us instead. And there was the guy from Southern California who flew in and out that night. Not to mention the countless folks who watched the proceedings via the streaming Internet video provided at by owner Chuck Monster, another Vegas Gang panelist.

I don’t mean to merely prattle on about this to brag about our success. But our impressive attendance underscored that I’ve been right all along. Each of the producers of the three shows at the Vegas Podcast-a-Palooza knew the sizes of our audiences, and we knew from e-mails, blog posts and voice messages that our listeners are quite engaged. Still, it was a mental twist to see so many of them in the flesh.

Why it is taking so long for Las Vegas’ mainstream media to figure out that the future is in content that can be consumed whenever and wherever the user wishes is baffling.

Read the rest HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dead Congresswoman To Speak At Convention?

This is just random and irrelevant to Vegas but very odd/funny/weird. Here below is the breaking news piece posted on AOL from the AP right now. I'm posting a screen shot, which will enlarge to readable size if you click on it, because they will have to fix it soon. Here it is. See if you can figure out what's wrong...

Methinks the Democrats have enough drama in Denver with Hill, Bill and Barry. This woman is clearly a very, very good Democrat, but her death should interfere with her plan to be a superdelegate, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breaking: Name Change For Manilow

Say buh-bye to this...

...and hello to this:

In what must be a fairly rare occurrence in Las Vegas, Barry Manilow's show at the Las Vegas Hilton has been renamed starting this fall when he returns for more shows next week. The singer's program has been known since its 2005 debut as "Music And Passion," stealing the phrase from "Copacabana."

The show going forward will be known as "Ultimate Manilow: The Hits." The show's site, MusicandPassion.Com even bounces now to UltimateManilow.Com. The difference? Hilton spokesman Ira David Sternberg said the new show will exclusively be Manilow's songs, as opposed to the earlier renditions that included some covers from his shockingly successful Greatest-Songs-Of-The-Pick-A-Decade albums. It's unclear whether he'll stick strictly to the songs on his 2002 album "Ultimate Manilow." Barry's expected to perform at the Hilton for at least two more years.

It would seem that Manilow could have altered the song mix without changing the name, but perhaps it's a chance to remind the media that he's still over there and to sell a whole new line of Manilow-branded swag.

The last time I recall a show changing its name it was La Femme at MGM Grand becoming Crazy Horse Paris. I can't think of another such instance.

This week's show - EARLY!

I've got to spend the day listening to politicians talk about climate change (see my NYT blog post last night about Clinton's praise of McCain) and my aunt arrives today for a five-day visit, so I decided to go and get this week's show up earlier than usual. It should arrive in the feed later tonight but you can download it direct by right-clicking on the date below. Carrot Top was a terrific guest, answering everything from why he's so hated -- and loved -- and whether he's had any, uh, help getting so buff. If you're not already subscribed to the show, you can do so via iTunes here or via Zune here.

Aug. 21: Carrot Top @ The Podcast-a-Palooza!


You may love him or you may hate him, but you cannot deny this one truth: Carrot Top is a Vegas star. And he’s the kind of star whose act could only have this kind of longevity on the Strip. Scott Thompson, the comic with the enormous orange plume and the shockingly ripped physique, joins us live today to explain his journey from Butts Road – no, really – to Las Vegas Boulevard. That’s coming up. Plus, news from Vegas, a new poll, the trivia question and, as always, the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week. This is The Strip, we’re at the Palms and our part of the 2008 Vegas Podcast-a-Palooza starts right now.

PLUS: The P-Ho rapproachement, Sheldon Adelson's protection and Steve's pre-Palooza nightmare.


See Carrot Top's website here
Get tickets for Carrot Top live at Luxor here
The website for Woo Restaurant, referred to early in the show, is here
See the back story on the Earl-Friess-Hillegas feud here
Find other Podcast-A-Palooza pix and video of The Vegas Gang's part here

Monday, August 18, 2008

Palooza Pix and Stuff

It was a crazy, wild, fantastically exciting experience and even for me, a challenge to put into words. Thanks go out to the Palms and my podcaster colleagues as well as to Vegas.Com, Huntington Press and the LVCVA for the donated swag we gave away.

And since I've really got to tear out of here, I figured for the moment, I'd leave y'all with photos and such to peruse. Anyone out there who has more and/or better images, please send them to me?

Sparky of Las Vegas shot some great photos, including the one above, and they can be found here. This one below is my favorite, representing how I get, uh, animated. This is from the Q-and-A after the three shows did their thing, so that's Hunter Hillegas from RateVegas.Com to the left (whom I affectionately liken to a pre-suicidal Owen Wilson), Tim and Michele Dressen of Five Hundy By Midnight, and then me and Miles.

Hunter has more than 100 images that can be found here.

Also, Sparky took some video but the only part that came out was the Vegas Gang's panel discussion with George Maloof. You can watch that here or on the image below. It's about 20 minutes long. I know that Hunter will post the audio of this discussion, which may be of better quality because it'll be coming direct from the sound board, soon.

We have video and audio of "The Strip" and the Q-and-A and I'll be finding ways to get that up and into our feed in coming days. Right now I've gotta run. Bill Clinton is speaking in Vegas tonight and I've gotta figure out what I need to do about it.