Friday, September 24, 2010

Jason Alexander Returning To Vegas...

...but it's unclear whether he'll be reprising "The Donny Clay Experience," his painful and idiotic, critically panned, poor-selling motivational-speaker-who-wears-a-gross-body-suit-for-awkward-laughs alter ego.

On the other hand, who knows what he's doing. The R-J's Neon section listed him as having some dates at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theater from Nov. 4-10, but the resort's own website doesn't show it. And Ticketmaster seems to have the shows in the system with a picture of the stupid toupee-wearing image that is Alexander's Donny Clay character, but then it also says the tickets aren't available and provides no info about it. So maybe they're just not on sale yet, which is also weird seeing how the shows are five weeks away.

In case you're unaware, we're not fans of the former Seinfeld sidekick who shuns all bloggers, podcasters or print reporters except for when he doesn't.

The Strip is LIVE at 12:30 p.m. PT Saturday!

Tim Gunn courtesy Gallery BooksJoin Miles and me for the live version of The Strip from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pacific on Saturday at LVRocks.Com. Our guest is "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn, in a peculiar interview that resulted in some weird interaction between me and his publicist that you'll get to hear in full. Gunn is here next weekend for his first time ever.

Should be a good time. Lots of fun topics to discuss, plus a new trivia question and poll!

As always, you can listen live at via LVRocks.Com and join the chat with fellow listeners. Or wait and grab the podcast version via iTunes, Zune or that nifty "Listen Now" player on TheStripPodcast.Com.

Divorce Makes Elaine Wynn a Billionaire

We knew she was now a very independently wealthy woman, of course, but with this year's Forbes American billionaires list out yesterday, there's Steve Wynn's former wife chiming in at No. 382 with $1.05 billion on "hotels."

Steve sits on the same list at No. 205 with $1.9 billion (on "hotels, casinos"), which means that had he not divorced Elaine he'd be No. 111. (He was No. 141 in 2009.) That would have put him ahead of -- but instead he's behind -- Phil Ruffin (No. 182 with $2b on "casinos, real estate") and Donald Trump (No. 153 with $2.4b on "real estate"). Interestingly, despite shedding a billion to Elaine, Wynn's only down $400 million from last year. Why, exactly, is he so bitter at Obama?

Other notable Las Vegas-related folks:

* Sheldon Adelson ($14.7 billion) has rebounded to No. 13 thanks to Singapore and quipped: "I'm too old to be a kid, so call me the 'comeback adolescent.'" He was No. 26 last year.
* Frank Fertitta III (No. 365 with $1.1 billion) and Lorenzo Fertitta (No. 385 with $1 billion) just made the list pretty much on the value of the UFC alone, given that Station Casinos is in bankruptcy and all.
* Fontainebleau owner Carl Icahn is No. 24 with $11 billion on "leveraged buyouts"
* Kirk Kerkorian chimes in at No. 119 with $2.9 billion

Meanwhile, Wallet Pop has countered the Forbes list -- although Forbes is linking directly to this -- with its list of the 10 worst celebrity business owners. Heidi Fleiss is No. 7 and Paris Hilton is No. 1. Far less scientific, but certainly entertaining nonetheless.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Many Lies Can Fit In One Email?

My sister flew in last night from Phoenix for a business thing at the Tropicana. She initially booked a room at the Trop online before I got to tell her she could stay with us. It was prepaid through a website called

A week before her Vegas arrival, though, my sister received an email from the Skoosh people. And this is what it said:

I'm very sorry to inform you that the Tropicana Hotel has just let us know that due to an unavoidable overbooking situation they are unfortunately no longer able to honour your reservation.

In the rare case of a hotel overbooking, it is the hotel's responsibility to offer a suitable alternative of at least the same standard. Your reservation has been re-located to the Sahara Hotel and Casino, a 4 star hotel also located on Las Vegas Boulevard, not far from the Tropicana.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and short notice, but please let me know at your earliest convenience if you wish to accept this relocation or alternatively, cancel your reservation and receive a full refund.

Best regards,
Siri Loof
Skoosh Reservations

So, a few things:

* The Tropicana was not sold out last night.
* The Tropicana is not "not far" from the Sahara.
* The Tropicana would not insult itself by suggesting the Sahara is on its caliber.
* Neither the Tropicana nor the Sahara are anyone's idea of a "4 star" hotel.
* Siri Loof is a funny name.
* Skoosh.Com is a scam.
* No Strip properties should be doing business with Skoosh.Com.

Did I miss anything?

P.S. My sister has asked for her money back and stayed here. She has yet to receive her credit.

Wynns, Murrens MIA On List of Pro-Reid Business Leaders

The Reid campaign just released a letter to the media signed by "nearly" 100 business leaders in Nevada arguing that Sen. Harry Reid's re-election is vital to the state. It's really just a re-configuration of other material that's been out there -- there already were "Businesses For Harry Reid," "Republicans For Reid" and others groups that featured some of the same names.

But there are a few peculiarities here that make it baffling they'd even bother to trumpet this thing. For one thing, by "nearly 100" they mean 90, which is, sure, close to 100, but they couldn't get even 100? There must be tens of thousands of businesses in this state!

Second, the headline is "Nevada Business Leaders Sign Letter Supporting Reid, Denouncing Angle on Economy" and it references Sharron Angle's "hemorrhaging support" even though Angle really never had any significant support from the business community to begin with.

And finally, this list may actually be more notable for the names that are NOT on it. Here are the gaming/Strip-related folks listed:

* Marybel Bayter, Harrah's
* Jan Jones, Harrah's
* Gary Loveman, Harrah's
* Karlos R. LaSane II, Harrah's
* Michael Morton, N9NE Group
* Blake Sartini, Sartini Enterprises (bro-in-law of Fertittas)
* Steve Cloobeck, Polo Towers developer
* Steve Nightingale, Club Cal Neva (Reno)
* John Farahi, Monarch Gaming (owns Atlantis in Reno)
* George Maloof, Palms

And that's pretty much it. No Steve or Elaine Wynn, no Tim Poster or Tom Breitling, no Jim or Heather Murren, no Bobby Baldwin or Phil Ruffin, no Fertittas or Thomases or Macks or Boyds or Gaughans. No Zappos or Ethel M people, either. Not even a Wayner, this week's most famous Nevada entrepreneur!

So, Reidites, why bother? You can't claim this is only a list of small business people because Maloof and Loveman are on there. You might say it's not an all-encompassing list, but what stopped you from producing one? Some of those who I just mentioned do appear on some of those other pro-Reid lists I referenced, but you couldn't get them to sign on to this letter?

Plus, the Wynns are a pretty glaring omission, and they also don't appear on the Republicans For Reid list, either. It was only last year that both of them were loud and clear that replacing Harry Reid would be a grave error. But then recall what Mr. Wynn said to me in August:

"I am so confused, Steve, about what’s going on in America. I’m so deeply concerned about the shape that our government has allowed our economy to get into and it precedes this government, it precedes Harry’s role as majority leader. ... [long discussion of problems of debt and entitlements] ... And that means Nevada is at risk not whether it’s Sharron Angle or Harry Reid, but whether our government in Washington can somehow reverse the course it’s been on, the juggernaut of reckless, irresponsible spending and borrowed money without destroying the economic health of the country permanently. ... [more economic discussion] And I don’t blame anybody, I don’t blame Harry, and I don’t know if Sharron Angle’s election of defeat is the issue or our time. ... I support Harry Reid. I support Harry Reid in the sense of 'Harry, make it go away, make it stop.' Something’s gotta be done, it can’t go on this way. … Am I conflicted by my ideological differences with what the Congress has done and my friendship with Harry? My answer to that question is yes and I’ve expressed frustration over that conflict to my friend Harry over the phone."

It strikes me that the omissions in this list say more than the names on it. At this stage, the Reid people ought to be aiming a little higher than "nearly 100," no? If they actually tried, you'd think they'd be able to say "more than 1,000." That would be news, perhaps. This is a backfire.

Tea Party Homophobia Surfaces

Whenever Tea Party people are accused of being racists and homophobic, their answer is always that they're not, uh, racist. Gosh, how they were offended by the accusation that some used the N-word on black leaders walking to the Capitol for the health care bill vote, and yet nobody from the TP even cared enough to deny they used the F-word in the same incident.

Either way, they want to insist that the Tea Party movement is solely focused on America's financial circumstances and governmental spending. But their hatred for the gay creeps in every so often, as in this email I got today.

Dustin Stockman, the chair of the Western Representation PAC, a major Tea Party funding source, blasted an email today titled, "Breaking News: Barney Frank Can Be Defeated!" and linking to a Facebook group called "The Campaign To Defeat Barney Frank." While I'm finding it hard to imagine that Frank, well-liked in his liberal Massachusetts district, is vulnerable -- and even the internal, undoubtedly skewed poll Stockman is touting shows Frank up 10 points -- I was intrigued what their beef was. And here's the best sentence:

Barney is the most despicable person in government, but the main reason we began targeting Frank more than a year ago was his disturbing association with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Hmm. So sure, many have it in for Barney over mortgage regulations and all that jazz, and that's their right even though it's been pretty well debunked that Frank did in the housing market. Steve Wynn, for instance, talked my ear off not long ago about Frank's involvement with the Fannie/Freddie debacle, and he's no gay hater.

Yet I love the first part of this sentence for all that it says about why they would hate Frank even if they didn't think he'd wrecked the housing market. He's "the most despicable person in government" -- BUT! They're two separate thoughts! His involvement in the housing bust, such as it may be, isn't what makes him "the most despicable" person in government, see. Then what? Because 20-something years ago, he had a sex scandal? Other than that, why the personal attack? I mean, Tea Party people don't care about sex scandals when their team's in on them in, say, the cases of Newt Gingrich, John Ensign or David Vitter. So that can't be it.

Oh, that's right. Barney's a gay. In fact, he's the most powerful elected gay in the history of America. Well, unless you're an Abe Lincoln conspiracy theorist, anyhow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reid, Cher & Teddy bears

[Update: I've been included on an email thread circulating today among gay servicemembers at Nevada AF bases. The anger at Obama/Reid is real over today's DADT failure. -sf]

I'm getting back to work today, but there are a few interesting stories out there today that figured I'd just touch on in rapid-fire manner:

* Reid and DADT: The Harry Reid campaign better be ready for some serious blowback that could harm his already narrow re-election chances now that the Senate has failed to advance the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell today. Victory was within reach, but Reid couldn't keep the vote of Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts from going bye-bye because Republicans want an opportunity to make other amendments to the bill. Reid is known as a master legislative technician; it won't cut it with gay activists that he couldn't find ways to placate her and if he vilifies her as simply trying to stymie the process. These are the few Republicans willing to come over to his side and they've openly supported repealing DADT; they're part of the bipartisan solution to so much of the stall of the Obama agenda. Many wonder why he couldn't let Republicans make amendments and then get them voted down if they're that horrible. Reid, after all, is the guy who managed to get that health care bill through despite significant public opposition; if he can't figure out how to make DADT repeal happen when the vast majority of Americans support it, why should gay voters in Nevada re-elect him?

I've already received emails from two prominent gay Las Vegans with serious followings who are alarmed that disaffected gay voters will stay home on Nov. 2. "I don't even know what I can say to people who say Harry's let us down," one note read. "I mean, if Harry can't get this done for us now, what good will he be when he has a smaller majority?" Translation: Harry or no Harry, Congress will be in gridlock for the next few years, so maybe punishing Democrats now while there's a Democratic president who can backstop acts of the GOP that progressives dislike is worthwhile? Sharron Angle may be anathema to gays, but the reality is that the Republicans won't have a 60-vote majority, either, so she's not going to have any impact anyway except for, perhaps, her entertainment value.

The thinking goes like this: Maybe bouncing Reid & Co will lead the next crop of Democrats to act since this one, even with all its power, didn't? Gay activists are furious with ineffective, silent Obama, yes, but they don't get to punish him for another two years. DADT repeal is low-hanging fruit; Reid doesn't get points just for trying. P.S. Gaga ain't coming to rally for you now, Pinky.

* Cher. Hard to believe, but she's over. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace announced today they're putting tickets on sale on Saturday for her final set of performances in her three-year contract. Where did the time go? Wasn't it just yesterday that I was suggesting ways to fix that thing? Those shows are Jan. 11-Feb. 5. So, anyhow, what's next, Caesars?

* Teddy bears. Buried in a health piece in the R-J's quirky View section today was a claim that a study recently showed a quarter of men in a British survey admitted they pack teddy bears while traveling for business. I called bullshit on Twitter and Facebook, but now I'm more alarmed that CNN is more than happy to buy this load, see?

The Much Improved State of Vegas' 9/11 Memorial

What a difference a few days and a blog post can make. Here's what Las Vegas' 9/11 Memorial at the corner of the Strip and Tropicana looked like on 9/8.

It was shameful, given the proximity to the anniversary of 9/11. New York-New York maintenance folks were responsible for managing it, a deed the property voluntarily took on when they created this monument in 2002. Artifacts -- T-shirts, messages, notes, etc. -- that were left at the base of our Statue of Liberty for months after the 9/11 attacks were collected and archived at UNLV. They are to be presented in these display cases regularly, rotated as needed.

But when I was there a couple days before 9/11, nine of the boxes were empty and most of the other items were so faded as to be unreadable.

Well, as of Thursday, look:

All filled, all new stuff!

I asked MGM Resorts why the monument had been allowed to fall into such disrepair in the first place. Yvette Monet, a corporate spokeswoman, answered:

At the time the photos were taken on Wednesday night, we were in the middle of our routine maintenance process where we replace plexiglass and the memento items, thus the empty cases. The cases get very high exposure to sunlight and so the items fade quickly, and we switch them out frequently. The lighting in the cases is currently being evaluated.

I guess I don't understand why they would remove some items if they didn't have others to replace them with. That seems inefficient. We're talking about a bunch of T-shirts, not some big, hard-to-carry items. Bring out the new stuff when you take the screwdriver to the boxes and remove the old ones, right? Also, I had been there on July 8 when those gay activists shut down the Strip with banners and I noticed several boxes empty then, too, although not nearly as many. So this is an on-going thing.

Anyhow, glad it's fixed. Let's hope they don't let it go again, even for a few days.