Friday, February 6, 2009

The Governor's Fake Podcast

I started to worry that podcasting was over when I got a press release today from Gov. Jim Gibbons' office announcing that he would start podcasting. The headline, in fact, read "Governor Starts Podcasts."

I had even intended to offer a little rare blogger praise for Gibbons, already ahead of the game as a renowned and enviously talented text-messager, because the governor had made it to the podosphere before that cutting edge news organization whose editorial page shills for him.

Except then I went to see what they were calling a podcast. And it turned out, they don't actually know what one is. My first clue ought to have been the last line of the press release: "The videos can be viewed by double-clicking on the “podcast” link or the message can be saved to a computer or handheld device by right-clicking and saving the video file to your computer or device." Hmm. No talk of RSS, subscribing or iTunes.

But I went to the web site and was encouraged by that purple icon that usually takes you to iTunes on just about every other website.

No can do. What happens when you click there is you get a 9-minute video that you have to save to your computer. I'm not going to get into the politics of his statements; others are better at that than me. It's certainly compelling viewing -- although very echoy -- if you care about the state's budget or even if you just want to see a highly unpopular politician get snarky in a too-cool-for-school black turtleneck. Maybe he got that style point from my recent look on NWiR, which was necessitated in my case by a particularly bloody shave?

But, Mr. Governor, what you've got here is not a podcast. It is a video file available for download. That's all. A podcast is something that people can subscribe to, receive via RSS feed and expect on a regular basis or whenever there's a new episode through iTunes, Zune or some other aggregator.

Mark my words, though: The Review-Journal and others will write tomorrow that the governor is podcasting. I'm trying so hard to educate this town, but some folks read what I say and do the opposite out of spite.

Update: The file downloaded as a Windows Media Player file that plays through my Real Player. When I tried to drag it into my iTunes, it actually didn't even work. So it looks like there's more to be done before I can even use it on my portable device. Thanks, Guv.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week's "Strip Sense" installment

Here's this week's column. I'm not sure that "enjoy" is the right word this time out.

Yes, Las Vegas, There Is Homophobia

From Lance Bass to yours truly, gay hate still abounds here


A few weeks ago, the Review-Journal’s Doug Elfman wrote something shocking. Or, rather, it was shocking to me, and it was even more shocking when it drew no more attention and, thus, was not shocking to anyone else in the national media.

Elfman had interviewed Lance Bass, the former ’N Sync band member who came out on the cover of People magazine in 2006 and recently appeared on Dancing With the Stars. Bass offered this revelation: “Every other day, I get called a fag, and get threatened to be beat up. There are still some really, really ignorant people out there. … This is right to your face.”

Several friends and two readers of this column e-mailed Elfman’s piece with the same question: “Do you think this is true?”

It was a strange moment, because my initial reaction, too, was that Bass must be exaggerating. But then I’ve followed Bass’ public life for many years, and he never struck me as the sort to make plays for sympathy or to make strident remarks of any sort.

Oh, and one other thing. I get that, too. Yes, here in Vegas.

What I go through is not nearly at the level that Bass describes, but I am nowhere near as well-known. And I suspect the extent to which you are the target of anti-gay slurs or threats is proportional to how prominent an openly gay public figure you are.

There was a time when such a concept was a novelty to me. I’ve been out for my entire adult life and, for most of that, have lived a charmed gay existence. I was 19 when I told my parents and disclosed my sexual orientation to the readership of the student newspaper at Northwestern, where I went to college. My first resume, the one that got me my first newspaper job in ultra-conservative Rockford, Illinois, included my membership in the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.

It wasn’t until 2005, when my partner, Miles, and I started our celebrity-interview podcast, The Strip, that I realized I had been sheltered. We debated early on how “out” we ought to be, but I insisted it made little sense to hide and, besides, the world had caught up. What could possibly happen?

Read the rest HERE

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ultimate Pizza Smackdown

Tonight, I am one of the media judges at a make-your-own pizza contest at a new Sammy's Woodfired Pizza place opening at I-215 and Flamingo. Whichever team wins gets their choice and their concoction on the menu from Feb. 13-28 with proceeds going to some charity.

Anyhow, I thought you'd be amused to learn who the teams are:

Team #1: George Wallace & KLAS-TV anchors


Handicap: George Wallace has been a standing joke on "The Strip" ever since he lied about where he was and hung up on us in the middle of an interview in 2005. (Hear that here; it was one of our earliest shows and before we edited it, so there's some other stuff in the beginning.) And the folks from Channel 8 are the arch rivals of Miles' station, KVBC. That said, Channel 8's sister station, LV1, has had me on from time to time.

Team 2: Alicia Jacobs, Robin Leach & Zowie Bowie

+ +

Handicap: Alicia Jacobs is a fun friend and works with Miles at KVBC. But she once accidentally flashed my mom (at the Barry Manilow premiere) and she's failed to get the guests I've begged her to get for me for "The Strip." Also, not crazy about her support of live-animal auctions, which most animal-welfare advocates oppose. Then again, she did get Amy and me into the VIP section of the re-opening of Planet Ho, which led to the classic Gene Simmons hair-gripping photo. So a toughie. Robin is a jolly competitor, of course, but someone whose taste in pizza I'd trust implicitly since I believe Wolfgang Puck once made one up for him. And Zowie Bowie? All I know is that I've spent more time than I should admit staring at the ads for their concerts at various Station Casino properties wondering, "Is it said Zowie Bauw-wee or Zoh-wee Bowie?" Maybe I'll ask.

Team 3: KLUC 98.5 morning DJs & 2 Jersey Boys


Handicap: Hmm. The Morning Zoo guys have never asked me to appear. But to be fair, I don't listen to local radio much anyway; even my KNPR listening is via podcast. And the Jersey Boys are now the leads in my favorite show in Vegas, at least now that Mamma Mia! has left us.

Verdict: I pledge to be impartial and set aside my petty biases in the name of great pizza. Also, I'm just one on a daunting panel that also includes food critics Max Jacobson and John Curtas. That said, here's a little hint to the competitors: I hate olives. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lunch at The Las Vegas Country Club

I've just come in from lunch here...

That's the clubhouse of the storied Las Vegas Country Club, a legendary retreat for the city's rich, powerful and notable right behind the Las Vegas Hilton. Remember the post I did on the Meadows School a while back? Well, the parents of those kids are members here. From Steve & Edie to Lefty Rosenthal to porn stars, this place has been a gossip factory for decades.

I'd never been, but I had a getting-to-know-you meal with Bill Boyd, Boyd gaming's co-founder and executive chairman. There wasn't a whole lot of news to come from the visit other than that they're still considering their options for what to do with the stalled Echelon resort on the Strip and when to do it and he's pleased for his downtown properties that Hawaiian Air is adding another Honolulu-Vegas flight starting soon, which I hadn't heard and don't see any reportage about online. So that could be some good economic news for a city that desperately needs some.

But that wasn't the point of the visit so there isn't much else to say about it. He's an exceedingly pleasant and down-to-earth man and I believe I'll be doing a formal interview for "The Strip" sometime soon.

Still, it gave me the opportunity to lap up the thrillingly Palm Springs-style architecture of the place. That shot above is the front from afar, but here it is from closer up and from the back patio...

Here's the front foyer:

...the main dining room...

...the bar and grill...

...and the part I found most physically stunning, the area outside the restrooms and leading, I think, to some card tables.

I don't recall where this escalator below leads to, but just look at the stonework, which is original circa 1967:

As I left, I noticed a couple of vanity license plates I couldn't resist snapping. The first, unmistakably, must belong to Thalia Dondero, a longtime Clark County commissioner and major-league political power broker profiled here.

Yep, that's my Jewfro in the shot.

And finally, I can't be sure but I think it's pretty safe to assume this Aston Martin convertible...

...belongs to the fellow with whom I lunched. Let's hope for his company's sake that that's not the only thing in Vegas that ever says "Echelon."

A great little story

I read the whole paper today and my brain keeps trailing back to one small but charming piece that you all ought to read. Tom Gorman of the Las Vegas Sun profiles a couple who work at Caesars Palace and have become herb suppliers to Bradley Ogden and several other restaurants. There's just something lovely and very Las Vegasy about this little story. It really belonged on the front page instead of a tedious rehash of the long-since-quieted mob museum kerfluffle.

And speaking of front-page news today, the R-J decided to go huge with the silliness about Mojave Max v. Punxsutawney Phil. It was the top local story! I know from the comments on this post from yesterday that some of you find this matter charming and me a cynic for noting that it's a cheap publicity stunt in a city that doesn't really need them when we're treating lesbolicious kissing contests as legitimate business pursuits. But do you think it's the most important local news story of the day? Really?

Why should the herb-growers get front-page treatment and not the sleepy turtle? Well, for one thing the front page of the Las Vegas Sun is really just the front of a section of the R-J and frequently offers up a quirky human-interest bit. So it's not endowing the topic with undue significance the way the front of the R-J does. And for another, it's a turtle that predicts weather in a city in which weather is essentially the same for months on end. So it's a turtle that doesn't actually do anything useful for anyone. The herb-growers, on the other hand, do.

Sad But True... episode of "The Strip" this week since we have no studio. We're going to give it a few days to see what happens to LVRocks.Com, which was bounced from its space suddenly last week, and then we'll figure out how to proceed. We've been spoiled for all these years by being able to do our show in a real studio. We'd like to keep it that way!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Holy Lesbo-sploitation, Batgirl!

Is this a first? Or a new low? Or brilliant?

I got a release today from the fine folks at McFadden's at the Rio that they're having a "Girl-on-Girl Kissing Contest."

Read this:

LAS VEGAS – McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino will prove girls really just want to have fun at their “Girl-on-Girl Kissing Contest.” The preliminary round will take place on Sunday, February 8 and the top five duos will move on to the finals on Sunday, February 15, where crowd response will determine the winning pair that will take home $500 cash, courtesy of McFadden’s. No need to feel badly for those who don’t take home the cash, all of the contestants will receive a bottle of champagne to enjoy with friends.

Wow. Two weeks of competitions! I can't decide whether to be awestruck or offended. And where's the guy-on-guy kissing contests? I imagine you'd need to offer up a lot more than $500 to get that going. Well, at least not at a straight club.

Are you kidding?

Some mornings I don't have any idea what to blog. There was nothing of particular interest in the weekend papers -- mostly it was a lot of conjecture about the coming legislative session -- and I'm in the dumps over losing my Super Bowl bet and wondering when/where the LVRocks studio will reconstitute itself.

And then...this oddity lands in my box from the Clark County Desert Conservation Program.

Mojave Max
He’s the West Coast Version of the Groundhog

Today, Feb. 2, many residents across the country celebrate Groundhog Day while West Coast residents begin to look forward to the annual emergence of Mojave Max.

Mojave Max is a live tortoise. Like Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog, Mojave Max’s response to weather signifies when spring will arrive in Southern Nevada. Like all desert tortoises, Mojave Max goes to sleep in October or November of each year. He sleeps for five or six months and then emerges sometime in the spring, signaling the beginning of the season.

To increase interest and excitement in this event, Clark County hosts the annual Mojave Max Emergence Contest. This contest encourages students to study the behavior of desert tortoises and guess when Mojave Max will first exit his burrow each year. Mojave Max usually emerges in March, but has emerged as early as Feb.14, and as late as Apr. 14, in past years.

Temperature, daylight, and an internal clock are the three critical factors that determine when Mojave Max will first exit his burrow each year. The Clark County student who guesses closest to the actual time of Mojave Max’s emergence and their entire class will receive medals, t-shirts, a pizza party, and a field trip to Red Rock National Conservation Area.

For more information and contest entry log on to or

OK. Now, I'm all for desert conservation and teaching the young 'uns about animals. But there are a few problems with this:

1. What "season" is Mojave Max predicting? That it's going to get hot? We need a turtle for this?

2. I've been living here on and off for 12 years. I've never "looked forward" to Mojave Max waking from his slumber. Have any of you? And by "you" I mean anyone reading in the entire West Coast, according to this press release.

3. If this is a science lesson and not a lesson in mythology, then the kiddies ought to be told that Punxsutawney Phil is a fraud and, while an entertaining diversion, is not actually a scientific predictor of any weather patterns whatsoever. Also, the Tooth Fairy is usually your mom.

4. Las Vegas has so much. The Super Bowl. March Madness. New Year's Eve. Big fights. The World Series of Poker. Cirque du Soleil. CES. Manilow. Must we really swoop in and attempt to compete with a pathetic little Pennsylvania village that has just one ridiculous thing to its name? Is that really fair?