Friday, May 6, 2011

The Show Is UP: Jean Philippe Maury, Yum!

Here we go, folks. And, FYI, if you download the show, I've started putting a time guide into the shownotes so you know where to skip ahead to if you're looking for something specific. Enjoy. Click on the date below to play or right-click to save the show. Or you subscribe -- for free -- in iTunes or Zune and you'll always get it first. -sf

May 5: A Sweet Show With A Bittersweet Ending

As any dessert lover knows, there are actually two Bellagio fountains, the one outside that gets all the attention and the one that flows of chocolate at the Jean Philippe Patisserie around the corner from the hotel’s famed Conservatory. The second one, which owns the Guinness record for the largest chocolate fountain, is the brainchild of our guest this episode, Jean Philippe Maury, the French pastry chef who now has shops in both Bellagio and Aria and is responsible for overseeing the pastry kitchen for all of Aria. We’ve got a delicious dish of a discussion up ahead in which Maury explains why he refuses to make low-calorie desserts, why most chefs are incapable of making a simple pie and why Steve and my wedding cake was so disgusting. Also, has Chef Maury ever used a Betty Crocker cake mix? And, in lieu of the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week, we have a major announcement regarding our future.

In Banter: Wedding mania in Vegas and elsewhere, transmania at the Cosmo, the Sahara shutdown begins and more.

Links to stuff discussed

Steve Wynn’s bizarre wedding video and wedding portrait
Steve’s AOL News piece on the pop-up casino
Doug Elfman’s piece from the Wynn pre-nuptial media event
Vegas UnCork’d website
Jean Phillippe Maury’s website
Scott Conant’s
Steve’s blog post about his Knight-Wallace Fellowship in Michigan
Marie Osmond got re-married to her first husband
Marie’s doll collection site
Trump’s appearance at the Treasure Island resort by AFP
Steve’s blog post on the debunked Cosmo transgender “incident”
VegasTripping.Com on Sahara ending the roller coaster and the big Sahara jackpot drawing

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Moilanen Kills His Blog

UPDATE: As Hunter Hillegas noted in the comments, nothing ever really disappears on the Internet. Find Tom's now-"deleted" blog here.

Well, that didn't take long.

Within hours of the appearance of my column in the Weekly on Tom Moilanen, he has deleted his blog from the Internet. Moilanen's a CSN communications professor who finds racist epithets appropriate speech, who finds great humor in people's disabilities and who has "I’ve fantasized about shoving a corkscrew into some media person."

It's just as well that it's gone, except that it doesn't erase the outrageous, horrific things he wrote under the cloak of being anti-political correctness. Between Tuesday when the column was due and Wednesday night when it appeared online, Moilanen did reach out to me, sort of, but always with a tone that I was making too much out of this and that he was actually the definition of an awesome instructor.

At one point, he told me to call his boss, Angela Holland, at CSN, because he said she supported him. I did so, but it quickly became apparent Tom hadn't brought Ms. Holland quite up to speed. She defended his abilities as an instructor, how all his students love him and all that. Then I read this passage to her about an R-J reporter whose face has suffered some ravages of HIV medication:

"We're talking Jabba the Fucking Hutt. He is one ugly dude. And I bet he's a queen, too. Now - I know it's difficult, especially if you're an American - but be honest. Who would fuck him? Or blow him? Or even kiss him? Sorry, but there isn't enough booze in this town to get anyone drunk enough to have any form of sex with that."

She suddenly couldn't really comment on the matter.

Keep that passage in mind, too, when you read this next bit. Moilanen late Tuesday emailed me what would turn out to be his final post. Since it's gone and it's very long, I'll give you a few excerpts:

It seems as though I've raised a bit o' ire with some of these posts. So much ire, that indeed my abilities to separate the looney voice you normally read from my duties in the classroom have been questioned. It's caused a raucous ruckus - not to mention an insane inconvenience - to those whom have treated me very well: My bosses at CSN. They have had to drop everything at this critically busy time, commonly known as the homestretch of the semester, to come to my defense against a particular writer with a large audience who thinks I am unfit for the classroom.


Sure, I have a naughty side.
But behind it lurks a moral side, at least when it comes to much of what I post here. The idea is to tweak people into doing the right thing, or at the very least, encourage them to more closely examine what's going on, both in and outside of their heads. And certainly some is just silliness. And some could be considered "offensive," if you don't look past the previously mentioned snark. This is a place to spill, a forum for me to dump whatever goofy things are on my mind. I have a whopping twelve followers, although I know a few more people tune in. Big-time I ain't. Yet I'm being treated like I'm Dan Rather, with the power to influence millions.


I've said this before but it bears repeating: More people get in trouble these days for what they say rather than what they do. That's really odd, especially in this country whose number one ideal is free speech. I always thought the potty behavior got you the paddle more so than the potty mouth. And shouldn't it? If a guy says he's going to shoot me, I might pay attention; but I sure wouldn't panic as much as if the same guy pointed a gun in my direction. Or worse, made it go "bang."


When did liberals - the classic anti-establishment crowd - become the establishment? And what gives anyone the moral right to tell someone else what they can and cannot say? Certainly you must know your audience, which means I'm well-aware of when I'm writing a wise-guy blog piece as opposed to teaching school. It's two different hats. Two different worlds. And with what little hair I've got left, I need all the hats I can get.
You realize Carlin was arrested for things he said? I hope so. ... He thought a lot like I do; or really, I think a lot like he did. And I think a lot of him. That's pretty obvious. He upset those on the right, left and down the middle, because he spoke the truth. Nobody wants to hear it, not even me at times. But how can we solve problems if we can't discuss them?


You know what you accomplish with attempted censorship? The forbidden fruit syndrome. One sure-fire way to make someone want to read, listen to, or say something is to demand that they can't. Or shouldn't. So, should Mr. Writer Dude attempt to portray me as a manic unfit to teach because of this little blog? It could conceivably become a big blog, in which case I'd have to say, "Thanks for the free advertising." I love teaching, I love writing, I love when people tell me how they felt about an article, and dagnabit, I love this country enough to make the comments I do. I want to see it healthy, and well, and c'mon; we all know - deep down - that it's not.
This day began very upsetting for me, as I was informed by this columnist he was going to call me out to a very large readership. And, of course, the insinuation was I couldn't tell the difference between this little blog and the classroom, that somehow because I use strong language and say adult things here, I would also there. Or this would undermine that. Or whatever. Not so. A personal blog is just that; it's a fun way to get your stuff out there and maybe get a few jollies out of the deal. That's all.
But my day is ending much better, as I've spoken with the powers that be and I have their support. Man, what a great feeling. I cannot thank them enough. They do know the real me, and thoroughly get the idea that much of this is satirical, protected expression. That voice I use that is not present in this piece? It's a character. And behind that character beats the heart of a decent guy who uses silly, outragegous and sometimes R-Rated material to underscore the wrongs in the world in the hope that somehow, some way, that material might move others to think - and speak - for themselves.
If that makes me a lousy teacher, then why did I also find out today that I was nominated by my department for Part-Time Employee of the Year? Sure was. It's a kick and thrill and an honor and all that good stuff. So again, one of my many hats must be tipped in the direction of my bosses. Heck, I'll tip them all.
And I promise you this: The next time I get behind this keyboard, the bitch, to paraphrase Bernie Taupin, will be back.

Or maybe not. The bitch, evidently, is gone.

Now, a few things:

(a) Is it not bizarre that a communications instructor doesn't know the difference between censorship -- which, by definition, is something the government does -- and having someone respond to his words? Nobody suggested he doesn't have the "right" to say what he wishes, however foul. Nobody is telling anyone what they CAN or CANNOT say. He CAN say anything he wishes. But other people have the right to be offended, to react, to not patronize his store, to picket CSN or to skip his classes. That's not censorship; that's the consequence.

(b) This guy is not Carlin and it's funny to think he is. Carlin did not use foul words for their own sake, he was making a broad sociological point. I'm not sure what broad sociological point is being made by Moilanen calling his customer a coon. Shock for shock's sake is not the Carlin ethos, and we don't live in an era where people can be arrested for saying those words so the circumstances are substantially different.

(c) I guess we can assume that Moilanen actually only loves "when people tell me how they felt about an article" when they shower him with praise, huh?

(d) Did his CSN bosses really know the full extent of his filth when he posted about their support of him? Holland sure didn't, and I doubt he has a good way to explain to the rest of the faculty why it's righteous to savage people for their disabilities or gleefully toss out the worst epithets.

(e) Moilanen seems to, underneath all of this victim-is-me blah-blah, have yet another defense that indicates he knows how inappropriate his writings have been: Hey, I've only got 12 readers! In other words, nobody's reading this thing I'm placing in an arena where I could have potentially millions of readers, so what's the big deal? Again, I worry about a communications professor unaware of the nature of the most important communications medium of our time.

(f) I'm still trying to figure out how brutalizing -- by name! -- a reporter for his appearance in the most gruesome terms qualifies as "underscoring the wrongs in the world." Please, someone, explain that to me?

(g) Does Dan Rather still have any influence?

I suspected he'd try to take down all or part of the blog, so I took some screenshots. It's not necessary to post them all, this one was particularly fascinating:

Click on it to make it bigger, but here's the part I love best:

Never take responsibility for your own actions, always look for a scapegoat, place yourself and your desires above all else, and care not whom you hurt. That should be the new national motto.

If it were, Moilanen would be our greatest patriot. In this circumstance, he's done every wrong, whiny thing he complained about. He is his own worst enemy in more way than one.

LVW Col: The Nasty Professor

The theme of this week seems to be people who think that whatever they do on their personal blogs has no bearing or relevance to their public/"real" lives. Discredited HotelChatter.Com scribe Julia Buckley was baffled when an all-too-similar account by the same transgender person of Vegas hotel ejection was found and questioned on her BitchinVegas.Com blog, and now this College of Southern Nevada prof believes that what he says publicly should have no bearing on how he is perceived as a communications instructor at a public institution of higher learning. I'll follow on this more later today, but here's the column, first of all. Also, the pic is from Moilanen's MySpace page; he's the guy on the bottom.

CSN instructor’s ‘Peeping with Tom’ blog offers a nasty view

I’m used to taking crap, so I laughed last week when a Vegas blogger asked why I was moderating a May 11 mayoral forum for a gay business group when I’m deaf and "bark like a fuckin' seal.” It’s not kind, but I was attacked daily for a year by an LA blogger convinced I spearheaded a conspiracy to conceal what actually killed Danny Gans, and that builds character. My partner now makes seal noises at me for giggles.
But then I looked a little closer at this blog, Peeping With Tom. It wouldn’t be worth taking note of except that its author, Tom Moilanen isn’t (just) some crackpot; he’s a College of Southern Nevada communications and media instructor. He’s teaching three sections right now.
Also, he’s got quite a mouth on him and cloaks it as these people always do in pseudo-noble “I-won’t-be cowed-by-political-correctness” malarkey. Try this on: “A model from Portugal castrated and killed a journalist. … I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fantasized about shoving a corkscrew into some media person. Fuckin' journalists. Talk about lying, deceptive pond scum.” [Here's a link to a CNN report on the actual, evidently hilarious, crime.]
Did I mention he teaches media? And sat on a panel as recently as last fall with KSNV and KLAS anchors for a journalism forum?

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The NEWS: I'm a Knight-Wallace Fellow

That, above, is the news. A fellowship.

Which is to say that as of September, I move to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I'll spend the academic year at University of Michigan with 11 other "mid-career" -- gosh that sounds OLD -- journalists taking whatever classes I want, traveling overseas, listening to lectures, taking a cooking class, reading War & Peace, doing whatever I want.

What I won't be doing? Freelancing. For anyone. Or podcasting. Or blogging.

It's a really big deal for me, obviously, but bittersweet. Tonight on the live version of "The Strip," we announced that we will cease the show sometime in August, at least for now. It's been a tremendous six years, and we'll stop when I go to Michigan. It's hard to say what life will be like next spring when the fellowship is over, so we can't make any predictions. Miles will be staying here in Vegas and visiting OFTEN.

In the application process, I had to come up with a study focus and I wrote about how I need to learn better how to cover the impact of the rapid expansion of Vegas-style gambling across Asia, particularly in Macau. There's a Center for Addiction Studies and an Asian Studies program at University of Michigan. So that's some of what I'll do.

This is the same fellowship the Sun's Emily Richmond and the R-J's Molly Ball left Vegas for. What do we all have in common? We all co-hosted The Petcast. And some people wondered why I was bothering with that.

It's a whole new adventure and I'm very excited. I'm considering how to proceed with this blog, and I may see if there's another Vegas blogger who wants to use it when I leave.

The big idea is to step back from the constancy of work and study a bit, relax a bit, pursue the sorts of things I've always wanted to do but never had the time or energy for.

More on all this later. Gotta go watch Top Chef with Miles.

Important Announcement Coming Live Tonight On The Strip

No, we didn't kill Gaddafi.

But we do have some pretty significant news to share tonight when we do the live show, so if you can, please join us at at about 8 p.m. PT. I'll Tweet an update and update this post if there are any time changes based on Miles' ETA from work.

Oh, also, we've got a terrific interview with Jean Philippe Maury, the genius Aria/Bellagio pastry chef, as part of a pre-Vegas Uncork'd episode. I also interviewed Scott Conant of Scarpetta, and we'll post that one as a special edition at the same time as the regular show. Putting both interviews in the same episode show would have pushed the show over 2 hours, and that's just bananas.

So, anyway, this show's special. I hope you'll be there. But if not, I'll try getting the podcast out as quickly as I can, so you can subscribe to The Strip (it's free!) in iTunes or Zune to get the latest show and various specials.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Live Show Is Wednesday This Week

No, really. I know we said this a couple weeks ago and it didn't happen, but this time we're for real. We can't do a live show tonight for a variety of reasons, so we are planning to do so at 8 p.m. PT on Wednesday. I'll post another notice on Wednesday, however. See you all then.