Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fun Monday (or why I don't ride a motorcycle in Vegas)

I had an interesting yesterday. On my way into work I had a little brush with a drunk driver. Well, not really a little brush and I didn’t realize he was drunk. Driving in to work I was stopped behind a line of cars at a red light. This was on Desert Inn road, and at that point there were five lanes going in my direction; a left turn lane, three thru lanes and a right turn one. This is right after DI goes over I15 and under the Strip, with a speed limit of 45 and over a mile since the last light or cross street, so people really get moving. It was 6:30 in the morning, I was just sitting there looking at the cars going past and glancing at the big video screen showing phone commercials and basically enjoying the sun coming up when I heard the screech of brakes, which is not unusual around here, and thought that somebody was probably in for it, when suddenly I found out it was coming to me. A big thud at the back and I was bounced around a bit before realizing my car had just been hit. Yes, excitement like this I didn’t need.

I drive a little 42mpg Toyota Echo, and looked in my rear view mirror to see the grill of a big Chevy van. Ah well, I hoped he at least had insurance, and wondering what it would cost me to fix the car correctly after the minimum his insurance was sure to argue about. The driver, a fairly young guy, was knocking on my window asking if I was OK, and apologizing about not being able to stop in time. Come on, the light had been red for a few minutes, traffic was backed up with at least a half dozen cars in each lane, and he didn’t see it coming from far enough away to start slowing down? I was OK, turned off the car and got out. I was pushed into the pickup truck in front of me and that driver was also out looking at the back of his truck.

We proceeded to exchange information, the driver behind was in his girlfriend’s truck, but he did have a license and registration and insurance card. In Nevada you are required to have auto insurance in order to get your vehicle registered or renewed. The guy in front called the police, and was told they would be sending out a traffic officer. We sat on the guard wall and waited, with a woman police officer arriving in a car shortly followed by a traffic officer on motorcycle. It was a little cold sitting there, about 47f at that time of morning, with the big monorail station to the east blocking the sun from where we were waiting. Not much traffic that early, but we ended up there for almost an hour and a half, at which time the street was into full morning commute heavy traffic mode. The guy in front, like me, was on his way into work while the guy behind was getting off of a shift as a bartender and going to a second job.

I handed my stack of papers to the motorcycle cop, he asked the woman officer to run the license of the guy in front. Guy in front and I sat there while they went back to their vehicles, which were back behind the big van at the rear. The guy in back kept saying he was sorry and it was his fault and kept walking back and forth. He followed the police officers, and several minutes later we looked back and saw the woman officer putting handcuffs on him and sitting him down in the back of her car. It had never crossed my mind that somebody would be driving under the influence at 6:30 in the morning, with the sun coming up. Then I remembered where I was, in the city that offers everything 24 hours a day, where I can grocery shop at 2 am and buy lumber at 3 am and get a good meal and gamble my life away at any time, and the guy driving the van was just getting off a shift working as a bartender. I guess if anybody has access to booze it would be the bartender.

Eventually another patrol car drove up, and a big male officer got out and put on some latex gloves and proceeded to move the handcuffed driver from the first police car back to his. We sat there for another fifteen minutes before the woman officer came by, we asked her what was happening and she said they were arresting him for DUI, as she proceeded to turn off his van (which had been running all this time) and look around inside. The traffic officer, in his tall leather boots, kept walking back and forth with a measuring device and making notes. Eventually he stopped and said that he would give us a traffic report in a few minutes and we could leave, and we had a little discussion on how cold it must be riding a motorcycle during the winter. Eventually he came back and returned our papers and gave us each a thin strip printout which resembled a supermarket cash register receipt which listed the incident number and some information about each vehicle and driver. We both drove off, leaving a tow truck to pull away the van.

My car was pushed in at the rear, with the trunk still working but folded up a little and one taillight plastic was broken. In the front I had hit a tow hitch on the pickup truck, which dented my front bumper and broke the grill, but not damaged the lights. Since I hit the tow hitch there was no damage to the pickup truck. Since my car was almost ten years old I didn’t have collision insurance, so hoped to get something out of the other guy’s policy. After a morning of phone calls I finally found out that even though the other guy had an insurance certificate the insurance company had not been paid and so the policy was no longer effective, meaning no money out of them. The driver was a part time bartender, driving his girlfriend’s twenty year old van which had lapsed insurance, so I am assuming that any hope of money from that direction is also not valid.

I stopped at the dealer near my house, and found that the most damage was caused by the tow hitch I had hit at the front. Since this was a single point rather than a flat bumper it has bent the two cross members in the front. Estimate? Well over the value of the car, which means in Nevada a licensed auto body shop would not be permitted to do any repairs. It still runs, the plastic bumpers are mostly back in shape, but the mechanic said it is not safe to drive, and with the broken taillight and kink in the trunk it is obvious that something is wrong. So it looks like I will be getting a new-to-me car and have the enjoyable experience of trying to find a good used car to purchase. AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I like my little Echo, and the fact that I only have to put gas into it once a month. Money I did not want to imagine spending right now on a car, since this one is paid off and running well.

OK, enough of my complaints. Since I missed video Monday let’s do something to calm things down.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A night at the Folies

Last Saturday evening we went to see one of the final performances of Folies Bergere at the Tropicana. It’s the oldest show in Vegas, in its 49th year, which they say is also the longest running show in the world. The web site says: "The timeless musical extravaganza embodies the very essence of sexy, classic Las Vegas entertainment. Folies Bergere has everything a great Las Vegas entertainment show should have - fabulous singing & dancing, gorgeous Las Vegas showgirls in barely-there costumes, dazzling scenery, hilarious comedy and sheer spectacle!" The TV advertisement for the show is posted:

CBS TV did a story on the show closing a few days ago.

We started out for the Strip a little later than planned, we only live three miles west of Las Vegas Boulevard, but depending on what casino we want to go to, traffic and road construction it is usually difficult to estimate accurately how long it will take to get there. Every casino has their own parking garage, but I usually park in just a few that are easy to get to and then we walk over to our destination. The Tropicana is on the east side of the Strip, the last big casino down on the south side by the airport. For the south end of the Strip we use the parking garage at Mandalay Bay. I like smaller roads instead of the big arteries, so I usually go down Torrey Pines south then turn on Hacienda, which crosses the railroad tracks and I-15 then goes right past the Mandalay Bay parking garage. This is a large parking garage that is easy to get in and out of on this back road, has nice wide aisles and good size angled parking spaces. Up the ramp and I parked in about the middle of the garage on the third floor. This garage has six floors, and probably room for about a thousand cars on each level. Close to the casino there are escalators in a row that take you down each floor to the ground level and drop you right at the rear entrance to the main building. Unfortunately today the escalators between levels three and two are stopped and taped off, so we just walk further to the elevators and go down to the bottom.

We wanted to grab some burgers at the Burger Bar on the bridge over to the Luxor, so we walked past the restaurants in the back, through the casino and over to the escalator up to the bridge. It was pretty crowded in the casino, this being part of the March Madness basketball period; a lot of people come to Vegas on the weekend for the parties set up in the sports books. We went up the escalator; at the top is a new place, the minus 5 Ice Lounge, where the temperature is kept below zero, the bar is a block of ice, you dress up in fuzzy warm clothes and only get twenty minutes inside to swig down shots from their huge vodka selection. Out front are some scantily clad girls in fuzzy boots and hats enticing the guys to come inside. We went down to the Burger Bar but being a Saturday night, even though it is early (about 5:30), there is already a line of people waiting to get in. Our show starts at 7:30, but with the wait to in and still have to pick up tickets it would not be enough time to enjoy a meal there. So we continued to wander down the mall and over to the Luxor, where we maneuvered through the casino over to the coffee shop.

We’ve started to hit the coffee shops in the casinos, there are usually no lines to get in, the food is pretty good and prices are reasonable, or at least Vegas Strip reasonable that is. The Luxor casino is as packed as it was over at Mandalay, with lots of happy people playing slot machines and table games and wandering around. With the lower number of people coming to Vegas recently due to the financial problems this coffee shop has half the tables closed off, which would be fine but on this weekend there are a lot of people here. We only had to wait behind two groups in order to get a table, and found a big menu sign announcing the specials; brats or Italian sausages with Budweiser beer selections. I understand the beer thing, it seems to tie in to the basketball stuff. B just had a salad; I went for the sausages, which ended up being pretty good.

After we ate we made our way outside and walked past the Excalibur to the corner and crossed the pedestrian bridge over to the Tropicana. It was pretty windy up there, and we found another broken escalator, the down one going off the bridge. The Tropicana has a water feature on the corner, with a pond and some waterfalls, which in the wind were creating eddies of dampness blowing over people walking past. Some casinos have entrances at the top of the pedestrian bridges, but the Tropicana is an older casino built back from the street with the main casino entrance on the corner, so it was down to street level and across the taxi and car lines to get to the front door.

We stayed at the Tropicana on our first trip to Vegas, about twenty years ago and saw the Folies show at that time. B remembers us going, but I have a rather poor memory and all I remember from the trip were the corridors past the pool area back to the hotel tower, with parrots on stands placed periodically and the horrible jungle themed carpet in the hotel room, designed to make it uncomfortable in there and drive you out to the gambling areas. The casino has changed hands a few times and is currently part of a larger company that is in bankruptcy. The Tropicana in Atlantic City, New Jersey lost its gaming license last year because of actions of the owner. The Tropicana here looks like it has not been touched in twenty years, it feels like a smaller cheaper casino compared to most of the others on the Strip which have been renovated or blown up and rebuilt every few years. The front doors put you right at the end of a row of table games. Like the other casinos the Trop was pretty busy. If you have never been to a Vegas casino then it is totally different than anyplace else; there is the constant noise of people talking and laughing and cheering coupled with all of the slot machine sounds as well as background music. Most casinos are not quiet places, and the old Tropicana is one of the noisiest. The gambling hall is not one large high ceiling room as in some newer casinos, but there are a lot of pillars and lower ceiling areas that make the one room look smaller. The hotel check in desk is just off to the left, and we looked for signs pointing to the Folies showroom, but did not find any. Most casinos put the showrooms off in the back, so we first started walking to the rear of the casino. When we hit the back wall there were signs pointing off to different features, but none for the showroom, so we asked the gentleman at the security desk. He pointed us up towards the front of the house, across from the front desk.

I had purchased tickets on line the week before, but the reservation system required you to go to the show desk to pick up the actual tickets. Some shows will let you print an entrance ticket right on their web site, letting you avoid the line out front. The Folies showroom was up a few stairs, between a coffee shop and the sportsbook. As at most other Vegas casinos the sportsbook has a wall full of TV screens, probably twelve or fifteen, showing a variety of sporting activities. Because of the March Madness basketball thing most were tuned to basketball games, and it was full of noisy people yelling whenever a point was scored or something special happened. I am not a sports fan, not at all, so whatever was going on did not mean anything to me. The stairs up to the showroom were full of older women in feathery red hats. A woman at my last job was a Red Hat member, and ended up talking B into joining the group.

The Red Hat Society is an organization designed for ‘older’ women, providing and outlet to periodically get together and do some activities together. I don’t know how large it is, but there are several dozen Red Hat groups in the Las Vegas area each composed of a few dozen women. Each group arranges its own activities, B has been to some outdoor plays, museums, shows and a few other activities since joining. There are no dues or planning meetings, I think a few women in each group just plan and organize outings and everyone gets together at these. Oh - just found their web site, there are 97 groups within 10 miles of our zip code. Well, that is quite a number of groups. Anyway, the way you recognize a member of the Red Hat Society when they are on an outing is by the red hats that they wear. You are free to wear any hat you want to, as long as it is red. Many of the women put in a big effort in decorating their hats, creating new ones for each outing, usually involving a lot of red feathers. The stairs outside of the Folies showroom were filled with women with red feathers on their heads. I thought this appropriate, because the Folies is always referred to as a ‘feather show’. I think that dates back to the fan dancers of Vaudeville, who used big feathered fans to hide behind as they disrobed, occasionally waving them to give the audience a brief flash yet still maintain the legal level of coverage.

I got in line to pick up the tickets, and then we wandered off to the restrooms and back to the entrance line. This show, as many of the others like it, used to be a dinner show. Everyone sits at long tables or smaller booths. Way back when the first show of the evening was dinner and a show, the second was two drinks and the show. When I first came to visit Vegas thirty five years ago I stayed at the then new Caesar’s Palace and saw Alan King and Carol Channing at a dinner show. You used to buy tickets, or get comped tickets for gambling, your seating was determined at entrance time, usually based on how much you tipped the guy at the door. Now you reserve your specific seats on the web in advance, with nobody to tip out front. The tables remain but the dinner and drinks are gone. The number of people going to this show has declined over the years, thus leading to its closing. The back half of the showroom as curtained off, and there were many empty seats. Most of the people at the show were locals, there like us to see the show before it disappeared. There were not even any cocktail waitresses; you had to walk over to the bar on the side yourself to get drinks.

Basic table tickets are under $40, with a little extra for a seat in a booth. The room was laid out in a standard theater pattern, with rows of seating rising up from the bottom area in front of the stage. The front row tables were placed right up against the front of the stage, long narrow tables with the thin end facing forward and five people sitting on each side. If you had a front seat then you were literally sitting with your shoulder up against the rim of the stage, where the performers could shake your hand and involve you in the act. If it was a comedy show then people in the front row, usually high rollers comped their seats, would really be involved. Alan King did talk directly to them, I remember stories of some aggressive comedians really tearing apart people, and some romantic singers directing a song to a lovely lady sitting right there. This room had a row of tables right up front, then a step up and a row of booths, each with a small table and seating for four, then a step up to tables, then booths, and so on up to the back. The room probably would seat 800 or so, but was half empty.

We got in right when the doors opened at seven, and thought we might have the booth to ourselves but another couple showed up just before the show started. They were also Vegas locals, the wife wanting to catch the show before it was gone. There were about fifty people in the show, all the women seemed to have long legs and wore black fishnet stockings with a little ribbon of black cloth hiding the essential bits. About a dozen women had small bikini tops, about fifteen were topless. There were about a dozen male dancers, all fully dressed. The show was composed of many quick songs, with people dancing along to taped music, rotating off stage to change wigs and filmy tops, or put on different colored feathers and open front costumes. There usually were a dozen or so people on stage, moving from a couple that might start a dance when dozens of women in big feather costumes would them descend a staircase behind them, or a dozen guys in tuxedoes would dance and then have a dozen women come out as partners. Interrupting the group dances were some smaller acts: two Chinese brothers performing acrobatics with rings and things, a juggling comedian, and a woman singer that did not seem to be lip synching but still sounded pretty good. There was a master of ceremonies, who would come out at times and introduce particular segments. During most of the show there were usually at least a half dozen women in topless outfits on stage, except for the final number which was the French Can Can number, with everyone on stage, all fully dressed. The whole show lasted about an hour and a half, and we both found it to be very enjoyable. I was surprised that for a quarter of the price of a Cirque show or Cher or another big name you could be entertained quite well. B said she liked it, and was sorry that we hadn’t gone more often.

When out of town visitors come it is always challenging to take them out. B’s best friend was here the weekend before, and wants to come back to see Elton John with B. That’s a nice concept, but good tickets for Elton are over $225 apiece, coupled with dinner that makes for a rather expensive evening. Here you could get more people dancing around for the same ninety minutes at a lot lower price, just without the big name out front. With the Folies closing that just leaves the Jubilee at Bally’s as the only old style show in town, also feathers and topless, but at twice the price. We haven’t seen it yet, but after seeing this one will probably check it out. There are Jubilee tickets way in back for $50 or so, we might do the cheap seats just to see.

As at Zumanity the concept of topless does not only refer to the costumes; most of the women in these shows are not, shall we say, ‘well endowed’. I guess it would be challenging to dance and run around stage in six inch heels without some type of support. Those girls are probably in the Strip clubs making much more money. These big shows do have cast members that stick around; our local magazine had a story on the girls of the Folies a few months ago, with nice pictures of ten of them, all of which had been with the show for more than ten years. As long as you look good in makeup, can carry those heavy costumes and walk and dance in the heels, and don’t gain any weight or get tattoos you can continue to work. But put on ten pounds and you are out of there, as the city is filled with lots of legs willing to replace you on stage.

After the show B just wanted to go home. We are getting old and do not party late any more. Well, we never partied late anyway, preferring our house to fancy (expensive) clubs. It was nine o’clock on a Saturday night, and the Tropicana casino was still full. The sports book had changed into a lounge, with a live band on stage making lots of noise. We wandered outside, and climbed the steps up to the bridge over Las Vegas Boulevard (the escalator was broken, remember?). We were halted by a group of about a dozen gathering together in the middle of the bridge to get their picture taken with all the Strip casino lights in the background. We then went into the Excalibur and wandered around for a while, as we had not been in that casino for quite a while either. It too was very busy and noisy. One bar area we had to walk through had dancers up on small platforms, with some dancing platforms out in the casino floor in amongst the slot machines. Since the three casinos on that corner, the Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay, are all owned by the MGM Corporation they are connected together by bridges so you don’t have to walk outside in the summer heat to visit each one. There is also a monorail out front that can be used, which was in place before the connecting bridges were built. We finally found the escalators up to the shopping level and wandered past everything to take the moving beltways over to the Luxor. The effects of the economy were also evident here, with quite a few empty storefronts visible. This dropped us right onto the casino floor of the Luxor on the north side. We wandered through the very busy casino to find the escalators up to the bridge and shopping area that led to the Mandalay. Now retracing our steps we found another broken escalator at the end going down. The Mandalay casino was quiet compared to the last three we walked through, though it was much larger with high ceilings, and probably had just as many people in it but spread out over three times the area. Then past the restaurants to the parking garage elevators and on home.

So, there is a long post with few photos telling you how we spent our Saturday evening. We had fun, saw thousands of people that also seemed to be having fun, most of them getting drunk. In Vegas you can walk the streets with open alcohol containers, so you can usually tell the tourists by the three foot high plastic souvenir cups filled with watered down drinks they are carrying, or the twelve pack of beer they guys have under their arms. I see them every lunch hour when we go out for our walk, already getting loaded at noon, or else still up from the night before.

Update: here is a link to the LV Journal story on the last night of the Folies.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I like stop motion animations, my major way back in college was Photographic Illustration, which was mainly still photography but we did a little film work. I am always amazed at how complex and time consuming it is to stop motion, along with the sculptures if you include Claymation stuff that a lot of films use. Dana reminded me of this style of filming with a video she linked to last week. This one is very nicely done.

One of the more complex, and about my favorite video of this type is Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer. Plus I get to sing along.

A nice homemade one is Tony vs Paul.

One of my favorite cartoons from a long time ago was Gumby, probably considered high tech back then, it still look a long time to make these things.

So, not much music for today, but probably hundreds of hours in preparation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

E in stripes

Just a few things seen today: during our lunchtime walk we were out on the Strip today (well, it is 80f - 27c and sunny, but only 64 and rain predicted for Sunday) we passed a group of girls all with the same t-shirt tops, black with pink printing, on the front ‘somebody’s bridesmaids’, on the back in bigger letters ‘Vegas 09’. I guess if a half dozen girls come to Vegas they might as well tell everybody why. Sorry, I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to get a picture. Back in the men’s room (no, no pictures there either) three guys (I assume) in adjoining stalls. There is no show today, so they are all workers setting up for the next one. A cell phone rings, and I can hear all three shuffling, as one finds it’s his and answers. Then another ring, and a third, and so we end up with all three stalls just talking away. Yes, it’s happened to me once or twice, but I tell them I’ll call back, instead of sitting there conversing on and on. Whenever something like that happens I usually flush twice, just so the person on the other end can figure out where the talker is.

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics. Here we have her in the morning, in all her bedhead glory.

I figured Lisa would like the stripes. And after she gets up, of course it’s the comics section at breakfast, with Garfield explained and Dilbert ignored.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring flowers and Buster's eye

It’s warming up here, due to be in the mid 80’s the rest of the week (28c), but predictions have a storm front moving in over the weekend with temps dropping to 70 (21c) and rain on Sunday. The normal high for this time of year is supposed to be 69, so it is nice to have a little warmer time. I am ready for summer, I love the heat, and would much rather have it over 100 than under freezing. Trees that bloom are starting to flower around town, there is one with red leaves and pink flowers that is used a lot in new developments that really looks pretty. There are several areas on my drive home that have rows of these, and at the right angle of the sun they really shimmer a gorgeous pink. We hit the nursery last weekend and found the fruit trees starting to put out blooms

It looks like our big peach tree will not be blooming too much this year, the bloom cycle seems to vary and even though we had a few pink blossoms earlier the tree has now started putting out leaves and turning green. It’s the first tree in our yard to go green, providing some shade already. Out back some daffodils that B and E planted have come up

Also at our place one of our dogs is having problems. Buster - you remember Buster don’t you? He’s the brown guy

He weights about nine pounds and is fairly friendly. We got both Buster and Max from the animal shelter down in San Diego about fifteen years ago, and figure that he’s about 18 or 19 years old. He has been walking slower these days, his hearing is starting to go as well as his vision. At a recent teeth cleaning they pulled nine of his teeth, including all the front ones. It looks like he has a cataract in his right eye, instead of the nice deep brown it used to be it’s kind of milky now, and his night vision is way down. Well, a few weeks ago he scratched his eye somehow (he will not tell us how) and it became infected. Several trips to the vet, pills and liquid and shots did not clear it up. On Thursday the vet tried to clean it out, but it became worse and on Friday they had to take his eye out. (that sounds bad) Unfortunately it was his better eye that was removed, so now we have an almost deaf almost blind dog wandering the house. When not sleeping he’s wandering around in a narcotic haze, we have to be careful not to step on him because he follows the shadowy movement and sneaks up behind us. He has a cone around his head to keep him from scratching at the stitches, which means he can’t make it out the doggy door, so if we don’t see him headed that way it’s more to clean up. We can hear him wandering as the plastic cone scrapes against the walls or bangs into chair legs, at least it protects him from hitting that eye against anything for a while. Fortunately the nice weather has let us keep the doors open, and since we’ve been here almost six years he knows his way around and can make it outside. But at night he can’t see anything in the yard so he does not wander far (we have a big yard).

Yup, doesn’t look too good, does he? With that eye shaved and sewn shut and no teeth up front and a milky eye. When E was told about his operation she said ‘oh, he’s a Cyclops now’, remembering Mike from Monsters Inc.

So it doesn’t bother her too much, and when she gets back down he should be healed up and look a lot better, except his eye won’t be in the middle of his head.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday videos - 50's rock

I was bouncing around YouTube again looking at old music videos. A lot of old music is up there, usually displaying still images from album covers or old publicity photos, sometimes there might be a video clip taken from a movie of the period. It all started because of DA said something about Woody Guthrie - ridin in my car car:

Not too many clips of Woody, but here is one with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, two other old whoopin and hollerin musicians

Here are Sonny and Brownie in their younger days doing Hootin’ Blues, with some fancy dancing. I first saw then at a college group convention down in Houston a long time ago (well, long for me) and really liked how they felt the music. It makes me want to learn how to play the mouth organ.

And on to some 50’s music, we can start with Eddie Cochran doing Summertime Blues in 1959

Just a few years before was the Johnny Burnette Trio doing Hound Dog, I think a bit before Elvis recorded it.

OK, as long as I mentioned it, here is Elvis doing it in 1956 on the Milton Berle show, his second TV appearance, the first doing this song, which resulted in a lot of complaints regarding his gyrations and suggestive movement, leading to one writer tagging on the name 'Elvis the Pelvis'.

The song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thorton in 1952, which had a little different style than Elvis

Let’s end up with a rockin’ woman, Wanda Jackson doing Hard Headed Woman (1958), just to show you that women can rock too. I remember little fringie dresses like that, they were popular in the Beach Blanket movies, one of the fancy dancers used to wear them and wiggle to the music.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Around Town this week

It’s hopefully starting to warm up here. We had a nice few weeks in February, but usually a cold spell comes back in March. Well, yesterday when I got up for work it was 28f, so it looks like the cold came. But it was mostly sunny and when I got home in the afternoon the temperature there was 67f, almost a forty degree swing, that’s pretty wide for us. We do normally have a thirty degree difference between nighttime lows and daytime highs; that is what living in the desert brings us, along with the lack of water of course. It looks like we’ll have a slow warm up, and be in the mid 80’s by Tuesday with lows in the mid 50’s. Fine with me, but I would rather have it up around 100 myself.

When I arrived home yesterday afternoon I found this happening:

B out front painting the new overhead. I finally found somebody at work that knows how to weld, and he came by last weekend and permanently attached the crosspieces together. I used screws on corner angles to get things put up, but something stronger was needed before the full top decking could be put on. We tried a few different things, and B likes the wooden 2x6 boards standing on edge. We just have to figure out how far apart to put them, then I can calculate how many dozen to get, then its paint and a lot of drilling and screwing. Hmm, that last part sounds kind of Vegas like.

A few months ago the Folies Bergere announced that they were closing, after a 49 year run.

A local news article talked about the closing. We saw the show a long time ago, probably fifteen years or so when we came to visit and stayed at the Tropicana. After reading the article about the closing I wanted to go see it again, just to catch a glimpse of the last few feathers still in Vegas. It is a feathers and topless show, but if you want to emphasis the topless there are several dozen places in town where you can get a much closer view, in your lap and face if you want it that close, but this is more of the old fashioned spectacular kind of stuff. The closing leaves the show at Bally’s as the last big old fashioned spectacular show in town (also topless with feathers); it seems the Cirque shows have taken over. I was writing a comment to Kevin and realized that time was almost up, the last show is March 28, so yesterday I logged on to the Trop web site and purchased two tickets for next weekend. Reviews say that the show is showing it’s age, it hasn’t been updated for quite a while, perhaps rather than invest in it management would rather just lease out the space and hope someone else will put on something that will draw people in.

Talking about drawing people in; a new casino hotel opened last weekend, the M Resort had a grand opening. Supposedly it cost over a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) to build but has only 390 rooms. We haven’t been yet, usually the crowds for the first month are just a little too much for me to handle, but there is a video story from our local paper that makes it look nice. It is located on Las Vegas Boulevard, but on the far south end about ten miles from the main Strip area. This is too far away to attract tourists, so it is expected to be mostly a ‘locals’ hangout. This is the first hotel in a long time where the owners control everything inside, all the restaurants and bars are run by the hotel itself. For all the other casinos and hotels the food and bar spaces are usually just leased out, with the hotel just collecting rent and having no control over anything else. The builders of M want to control everything, it’s the same guys that built the Rio, and that seems to have done quite well, even though they found out they were not good at running a hotel and had to sell out. At least the profits moved them on to this one. We’ll see, I will probably wait a month or so before going down there, it is quite a ways away from my house and I will most likely not visit it very often.

In another semi related story about the Las Vegas Top Offenders, it seems our police department is cracking down on the top 50 most prolific prostitutes in town. I do not fully understand this as prostitution is legal in all of Nevada except for Clark County where Las Vegas is and Washoe County where Reno is, the two biggest cities in the state. It is not an industry that I partake of, but it does seem strange to me that in a city basically built on sin one remaining part of that is illegal. You can get a lap dance from a woman wearing only a g string, you can have a naked woman on stage just a few feet away, there are naked men in several shows and over three hundred pages in our yellow pages phone directory with escort services listed (the only bigger group of listings are lawyers, which somehow fits), trucks with big signs ‘naked women direct to your hotel room’ drive the strip and people hand out little picture business cards of women that will come to you (for ‘entertainment purposes only’), but that last few inches is prohibited. I understand that the religious groups have some control, but if it is something that people do all the time, and like marijuana seems to consume a fortune to semi control and extracts a huge toll on people and it still happens, come on, make it legal and forget about it. Start collecting sales and use tax on something else.

I always heard that the street prostitutes are not very attractive. I do wonder how some of the ones pictured get customers, but some of them seem like sweet young things. This one somehow looks a lot like the winner of the New Zealand Barbie contest pictured in my last post, this one probably wears dresses of the same length as Barbie. Note: this is not an advertisement or an endorsement for this person, she is shown here for entertainment purposes only.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Barbie's birthday!

Today is Barbie’s 50th birthday. In her honor let’s start off with Aqua’s version.

Besides, I like that song, I remember when it first came out, the San Diego radio station I listened to played it every fifteen minutes. And it’s one I can sing along to (no, I do Ken’s role). Here is the Official Barbie site, and on the New Zealand radio station I listen to they did a Barbie Lookalike Contest, Zedm Barbie: here is what the winner looks like.

Aqua has quite a few other strange songs and videos up there. It looks like another group, Toy Box came out about the same time with very similar sounds. As long as I’m putting up some different ones, came across this from a comment on Zoe’s blog, Hello Kitty makeup meets Alice in Wonderland meets Zumanity. We saw the movie Coraline last week, and that bit about crawling down a big pink vagina just seems too similar. After seeing Zumanity last week this one would fit right in as one of their skits. The lead girl has a matching chest, we’d just have to change the guys from leather pants to leather g-strings.

OK, fully moving away from any semblance of a music video, here is one that Kevin found:

So much for Barbie’s birthday videos.

Last minute addition - Deana suggested we include a current Barbie: Cougar Barbie from SNL

Friday, March 06, 2009

E eating

In following the tradition of Clare we return again to E Friday, where I post photos of my darling granddaughter E, because VG really likes to look at these pics.

Whenever E and her mom come down to visit the first request by mom is to hit her favorite Mexican restaurant. We’ve been to Portland, and there is a Mexican place in walking distance from their house, but for some reason the one down here is the one she really likes. It’s pretty close, and the food is OK, so we go along with that request. E usually does not have a say in this, but she likes the chips and the bean burritos so the trip there works out well. But being a three year old E also acts like one. (unusual, huh?)

She sings and dances and generally has a good time.(See Lisa, she likes stripes too). We also have conversations about things. I have no recollection of what we were discussing, but I think she was unsure of the answer to a question here.

And back at the house, here she is eating her peas, showing us her muscles (I guess Dad showed her this pose too, kind of like the 'smile for the camera' one she used to do) and letting us know how strong she was because she ate her veggies. Well, mom is a vegetarian, so that results in a lot of veggies being served.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Spring flowers

It’s been warming up here in Vegas. Fruit trees around the valley have started to bloom, not in big magnificent displays but with small flowers coming out here and there. Our peach, almond and plum trees have put out a few flowers. Our yellow feathery cassia bushes are in full bloom, putting out a sweet scent that is noticeable all over the yard.

The ash and mulberry trees are also in bloom, putting out tons of light pollen that is causing allergy sufferers to notice all over the valley. High temp today is supposed to be 74f (23c) which is rather nice for this time of year. Much better than that 9f I see back in Rochester, but supposedly cold is coming this weekend along with rain.

I’m sitting here at work listening to all the noises above me. I work down in the basement and when shows are moving in there are big trucks and forklifts and all kinds of stuff driving in the hall right over my head making all kinds of noise, and right now the Halloween show is moving into three of the halls upstairs. That’s about 1,000 booths in 500,000 square feet of things aimed to frighten and amuse. The show opens tomorrow, so today is vendor move in. Show decorators, the big company responsible for the overhead of a show, usually take three days to mark floors, have power and internet drops put it, lay carpet and set basic booths and curtains. Vendors then get a day to fill up their booths, unless it’s a big company then they usually take two days to build the booth itself. The Halloween show is in March because it is aimed at people that profit from that holiday; costume store owners, party stores, places that put up those portable haunted houses, those kinds of people, it’s not open to the general public. There are lots of booths filled with costumes, fake blood and bones, flashing lights and noise generators, one corner was aimed at bigger places with robots thirty feet tall, a huge dinosaur robot that breathed flames, smoke machines that filled the whole hall with fog and haunted houses made from six or seven big trailers. It was a lot of fun to walk around that show.

Death Valley is just an hour drive southwest of us. Reports in the paper say that with the intermittent rain they have been having this winter the Spring crop of wildflowers should be pretty good. I haven’t driven down there in a few years, the last time we went the wildflowers were supposed to be ‘spectacular’, but I guess they mean in a desert sense, as it still looked like a lot of bare open ground to me. Nothing like an English country garden, or even our back yard down in San Diego, everything in Death Valley was low to the ground and pretty random. But it is a nice drive down; we go through the famous town of Pahrump and some other small towns before entering the park, with a little restaurant that makes great crepes near the entrance. Yes, I am driven by food most of the time.

The big Resort Hotel Casino next door recently started adding to the daytime entertainment. We take a walk at lunch every day, if the weather is nice we walk outside around the building, if not then we walk inside, through the casino, upstairs past the canal and listen to the gondoliers, then on through the shopping mall, the other casino, past the restaurants and back here. It’s about a half hour walk, depending on how many tourists we have to avoid, what we stop to look at on the way and how many cigarettes J smokes. Over at the waterfall between the two casino floors we noticed a new piece of entertainment art

Entitled ‘The Living Garden’ on signs in the area, three women painted grey come out and pose in the fountain. They periodically change positions, but basically just stand there. Very similar to the people painted white that stand for hours at different points while crowds stand looking at them taking photos. I don’t understand the fascination of watching somebody just stand there, but I can stand and watch people standing and watching someone so I guess there is a circle there somewhere. When the young ladies are finished standing they then slowly walk away, usually pausing so people can have their photos taken along side.

They then go up the escalator and exit back into the internal areas of the shopping center, to await their next exposure an hour later. I find it more amusing to see granite statues on an escalator. Usually with a ‘handler’ following along mopping up the water, after all they were standing in the fountain.

Photos were taken last month during Chinese New Year, when the lanterns were festively hung.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Monday videos - James Brown and Fats

Last week somebody pointed to a nice James Brown dancing sequence, which led me to bouncing around Youtube again, so I thought I would share some of that old time stuff with you.

Wow, he can move his feet. Maybe if I got a red suit . . . This one has even faster feet, back in his younger days.

This one places a little more emphasis on singing, he really was pretty emotional.

The Wikipedia entry for James Brown says that he was highly influenced by Louis Jordan playing Caldonia. Even though there is no dancing, it is a motivating song.

Hm, must be something about big feet, I remember Fats Waller singing about big feet.

That one was talking about a guy with big feet, (I think his hat is too) but usually he sings about his girlfriend who’s feet are too big. After watching that one it makes me wonder who he originally wrote the song about. Searching YouTube, I can’t find a version of Fats singing about big feet to a girl, so perhaps it was directed like that. But we still can end with him Jumpin’, with dancing.