Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pirates missed

Arrrrrrggggg maties, here I be postin piraty photos all week and then I be missin out on postin my own piraty post yesterdee; sorry bout that.I be readin all the ways to talk like a pirate, and have to say I be failin miserably.

At least we have a joke for the day (it’s piraty, remember the ones be tryin ta roast Capn Jack?):

Two cannibals be eatin a clown, when one turns to the other and says "Does this taste funny to you?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cheap hotels and vampires

Just a couple of late Friday images for you. First, since we’ve stayed there a few times and I’ve signed up for the email promos, we have been receiving a lot of advertisements recently from some of the Vegas hotels. One of our favorites to stay at was the pyramid at the Luxor - the rooms are unusual, I recommend about the tenth floor, so the views, whichever side you are on, are really nice, and the casino entrance from the front door is about the most impressive buildings ever. I particularly like looking at the mountains to the west. With the economy doing poorly a lot of the local hotels are not booking as well as they would like, and so are offering some pretty good deals. This one seemed particularly nice:

If you want to take some time off, look at that, $35 rooms at the Luxor in December. Wow. You could probably get some good airline rates, booking this early. It’s at the south end of the Strip, between Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, a short walk over to NYNY and MGM. I would highly recommend it if you want to just get away for a few days. Want something fancier? The Venetian and Wynn are both also advertising cheaper rooms, but those are around $98 week nights, and also both very nice places.

For you Twilight fans, with all the stuff floating around about the new movie, let’s not forget:

Angel would so kick Edward's butt . . .

As would Spike

Park Friday

Aye mattie’s, I was readying for a piraty post this day but that thar email comes from Cap’n Jack saying it be tomorra just leaves me speechless. Almost.

Friday entertainment update, just to let you know who is in town or coming shortly, this weekend in Vegas we have Cher and Carlos Santana (their ongoing regular gigs), the Killers, B-52s, the Yea Yea Yeas, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, John Legend, Australian Pink Floyd, Cheap Trick’s Sgt. Pepper Live, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Temptations, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Sheena Easton; and in the next few weeks AC/DC, Britney Spears, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Liza Minelli, Brooks & Dunn, Dionne Warwick, the Beach Boys, Kenny Rogers, Rick Springfield, Van Morrison, Wynonna, Steve Miller Band and a bunch of others. Remember, if you want to see one of these shows in Vegas then the seat rates are usually two to three times higher than in other cities.

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.

Today we travel to the park on a summer morning. E managed to get dad out of bed before 8 and drug him off to our local park, two blocks from our house, in order to use the slide and swings. She tried earlier in the week, but by then it was 11 and already 102, unfortunately in August even at 8 it was around 90, and the sun had already started making the slide a little too hot to go down without long pants. Our local schools have put up big shade covers over their playground equipment, but the city and county parks departments didn’t have money to do it as well. But E had fun climbing stuff. One of the structures had a chain and bar think kind of like the big nets pirates used to use on ships, so we are close to pirate day.

There are several towers with slides of assorted lengths, most of which are spiral tubes rather than the long metal ramps I was used to.

It was still hot, even on the steps.

So the park excursion didn’t last long. At least the swing in our back yard is in the shade of the peach tree, and there is granddad to push her.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Piratey change notice:

Email just came from Cap'n Tom:

Arr, ahoy me hearty! PIRATE DAY be THIS SATURDAY!

I be sendin' this year's final Pirate Day email a couple o' days early, just t'keep things clear. As hundreds o' ye told me, I be makin' a slight cock-up in me last message: I be sayin' "Friday 19th" not "Saturday 19th". I be as clear as I can now: Pirate Day be THIS SATURDAY, th' 19th September!

(In me defence, I be sendin' that first email - genuinely - usin' a cell phone while sat on me pirate barge, sailin' down a canal in th' valleys o' Wales. I not be havin' the easiest time proofreadin' it!)

Anyway, that mean this Saturday be time fer swashbucklin', pluderin', an' talkin' like the buccaneer that ye be!

And sorry to disallusion you with the last post. Instead of putting up pictures of pirates like this

Or this

I should have put up one of this guy. He talked much more like a pirate than the other two, and somehow better fits the image I have of what they were really like.

Or perhaps this guy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pirates again!

Just a reminder, coming up this Friday, Sept. 19th, it’s International Talk Like A Pirate Day, so be prepared. Hopefully you can all come up with a piraty posting for that day. Go to the website for more info.

What's Apple's latest product designed for pirates? Either the EyePhone or the IPatch, waiting for consumer testing.

Monday Videos - Just a Gigolo versions

Well, we are into September and it’s starting to really cool down - well, at least according to Vegas standards that is
only due to hit 93f today, and we have all the doors and windows open to take advantage of the beautiful cool, breezy day. I was on YouTube last week listening to some old Van Halen music and was directed to David Lee Roth doing California Girls.

Which linked to Just A Gigolo, which uses California Girls as it’s intro, to another of his that I remember from early MTV days. (with most of the same girls)

Wow, talk about big hair (no, never teased mine up like that); on Dave as well as those ladies. Somewhere I read that this was a remake of an older version of this song,also paired with I Ain’t Got Nobody, which naturally lead a search for earlier versions. One of the biggest sellers back in 1956 was Louis Prima

With his wife Keely Smith helping out. I remember seeing some old tv shows with the two of them, and they seemed a really unique couple. Guess I should point out Louis and Keely should be given credit for making Vegas the entertainment capital of the world (depending on who gives out that definition), at least as it relates to shows and entertainment performances. Back in 1952 Louis Prima was unemployed and broke, and called a friend for a job. His friend was a manager at the Sahara Casino, and offered the couple two weeks in the bar. At that time Vegas was known for gambling and quick marriages, while Reno was home to quickie divorces and some gambling. Entertainment amounted to small groups playing in the background at bars. Evidently Louis Prima as so successful with his humor and dancing, with Keely providing the beauty and straight man role to the comedy side, that their two weeks ended up being eight years. The bar was quickly rearranged to move the small stage from behind the bar over to where it was the main focus, and soon was moved into the big showroom. The couple’s performance style of funny guy/straight girl was supposedly copied by Sonny & Cher.

But on to even earlier versions, 1932 Betty Boop introducing Irene Bordoni’s version

Oh, Wikipedia lists the song, written in 1929, so I don't think there is an earlier version posted than the one above. Wiki mentioned another version that didn’t first appear – in a really sad style was Marlene Dietrich’s version, from her last movie in 1978

I like the way she sings, have a CD of her songs from earlier, in a voice that no one has come close to.

So much for music comparisons today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday recipe - crepes

Today we’ll shift gears and do a little cooking lesson. To backtrack, around my house I do the majority of the cooking. I don’t know when this started, but it was quite a while ago. I think it was when the kids were complaining about something B made that she remembered her mom making, and I said that I could do more generic stuff and was probably told to go ahead if I felt that way. Not sure there, it was a while back, but most of the stuff out of the kitchen has been stuff I create.

I like watching the Food Network on TV, and realize that a majority of stuff being shown there is mainly for entertainment purposes, but there are a few cooks that I like and have purchased cookbooks for and downloaded recipes, including Rachel Ray, Alton Brown and Sandra Lee. All three of them show how to cook things easily, use simple recipes that are easy to make, and use ingredients I have or are available in my local (limited range) store. Except perhaps Alton, at times he is a bit picky on some ingredients and I have to order those off the web, then try to remember what they were for when they eventually show up. But one good place Alton sent me to is the The Spice House, which I would highly recommend even if all you get is their cinnamon and vanilla (which are both great).

Today’s recipe is something that didn’t come from any of those however, I think it did come somewhere from the Food Network website, though I can’t find it now. Today we are discussing crepes. My grandparents were all from central Europe and never learned much English, but my mother learned her mother’s Polish recipes and I have become attached to a few. Some I can’t make, and some I remember but don’t have recipes to recreate, and some I’ll share here. Her version of this was called palachinki, for which there is a really simple recipe over at She used to make stacks of them, and we would either just fill them with sugar and cinnamon or jelly sprinkled with cinnamon, roll them up and inhale.

My recipe is even easier: one cup milk, one cup flour, one egg, and one tablespoon melted butter. This will make four, depending on how big your pan is. That is an OK amount if you are home alone and want to test it out, if you are doing this like I did, spread with jelly and rolled, then plan on four per person, more if the kids are hungry (and when aren’t they?)

Just scoop a ladle full into your pan (medium heat), I put a little oil in first just for the heck of it, swirl it around to spread things out and let it sit one minute, then turn it over, wait another minute, and take it off. If it’s too thick to swirl then just add more milk, sometimes I like really thin ones. I try to build up a pile of them, but usually just end up eating them as they come out of the pan. If you are doing sweet filling then add a tablespoon of sugar to the recipe to make the crepe a little sweeter.

On a plate just make a line across the middle with a tablespoon of sugar, sprinkle on some cinnamon and then roll it up with the sugar line ending up in the middle. As an alternative I use grape jelly, about a tablespoon smeared in a line across it, more cinnamon (yes, I do love cinnamon) and again roll up so the jelly ends up in the middle. You should end up with a tight tube about a half inch in diameter that you can then pick up and hold as you eat from one end.

What motivated this photo session was berry season a few months ago. Wandering through the produce section of my local supermarket I passed a big display of blueberries and raspberries. Grabbing a few containers because they looked so good, I then got home and wondered what to do with them. E really likes blueberries on her morning Cheerios, or rather she likes some Cheerios to add crunch to her bowl of blueberries. I thought some type of desert would be nice, and didn’t really want to wait and put in the effort to make a pie (though that recipe will come soon) I figured crepes would be fast and easy.

So I just put a handful of each in a pan along with some sugar and heated it up.

I mashed some of the berries in the pan just to get it all a little wet, and some cooked down a bit. I just left it on the stove and stirred for a few minutes to get things to blend. Then laid out a crepe, put a line of fruit down the center, a line of whipped cream inside too and rolled it up. A little more spooned on top to make it pretty, along with a squirt of whipped crème from a can (yes, a can, it was easier) or a scoop of ice cream and there you are, something fast and sweet.

As an alternative you can make a savory crepe to serve with dinner. Instead of that pinch of sugar in the recipe add a little salt and then mix in some dried spices - we have a big shaker of Italian, but you can just use dried tarragon or whatever you have handy or like. Put in a tablespoon or so, or enough so it’s noticeable in the batter. Then cook the same way. B likes creamed spinach, so I buy a packet of frozen, microwave as suggested, then but a good helping in a line across a crepe, roll, and put on the plate with whatever else you are serving. I would suggest using a veggie with a sauce, like the creamed spinach, or peas or broccoli in a cheese sauce, or whatever you want to use. It makes a little change from plain veggies and if using frozen veggies then it is quick to make alongside whatever the main dish is.

There you go, easy crepes, or palachinki or sweet tortillas or really flat pancakes or whatever you want to call them.

Friday, September 04, 2009

E Friday - local transportation

It’s still summer here in Vegas. High today predicted to be 105 again, water temp in our pool is still 92 and I am enjoying floating around at sunset. We have some pretty smoggy skies due to smoke blowing up from the fires in California, providing some colorful sunrises.

Usually our sunrise and sunsets are not very dramatic because the humidity here is so low, but right now we have a thunderstorm overhead, and temps have dropped ten degrees down to the mid 90’s, with lots of wind and lightning – nice.

This weekend in Vegas we have a number of acts playing; there’s the Def Leppard, Poison and Cheap Trick tour at the MGM Grand, Santana at the Hard Rock, Puddle of Mudd, Bette Midler, Chris Botte, Jay Leno, Joan Rivers and Bill Cosby at assorted places if you don’t want music, and assorted other groups along with our Cirque du Soleil standards.

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.

She spent most of her time down here visiting us a few weeks ago outside. Her favorite place was the pool, after all, the warm water is the main reason she requested an August visit. But as with most summer days here in Vegas the afternoon sun is just a little too direct for daytime swimming. We did get in one early morning swim, but most of the time we hit the pool around six or so and paddled around until sunset, or bedtime, or however late she could talk momma into it. The rest of the day was spent under the trees in the grass or on our covered patio. When on the patio she was usually in motion anyway. One of the less strenuous items there was an old yellow rocker that she used.

But she really liked things that moved. The little blue car was foot powered

Or granddad powered if she could talk him into it. The jeep however was battery powered. Last time she had some coordination problems with backing up and turning the wheel to get out of tight spots, this time she practiced a lot and got pretty good at it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Road trip - Ely to Vegas

We’ve driven up to Portland from Last Vegas to visit our daughter and granddaughter twice now,driving due north from Las Vegas, up into Idaho, then heading west to Portland. The total drive is about 1,000 miles, and we spend one night at a hotel in Twin Falls, Idaho where we have dinner and rest a bit. The speed limits out here are usually 65 or 70 on the open road, with all of the Nevada portion on two lane asphalt like I’ve documented before, where you drive in a straight line without turning the wheel for an hour, then a few curves, then another hour of straight. In Idaho and Oregon we are on interstate, which is usually two or three lanes in each direction with a big center divider. That portion is more interesting, with lots of ups and downs and curves, with trees and rivers to look at instead of flat desert terrain.

Driving back this last time we took a different road for the last segment, Ely to Vegas. We drove on a road a little to the west of our normal route, on the other side of a mountain range along what’s called the Extraterrestrial Highway. It’s named that because it is near Area 51, the supposed site of space ship landings, and close to the Air Force secret test range, where new planes and weapons are developed. It’s been a while since I’ve driven across country, so my memories of open Kansas and the Midwest are not too current, but driving in Nevada desert country is unlike most areas of the US. The first indications that things are a little different are the signs just as you leave Ely: ‘Next gas 100 miles’, providing a little reminder that perhaps you should go back and visit one of those half dozen gas stations before continuing onward. There also isn’t too much going on around you either.

Sorry, the ‘next gas’ sign flew by too quickly for me to get a photo of it. This day was a little unusual for us in that there were clouds in the sky, and we even got to drive through a bit of rain. I’m always talking about how dry it is out here, and according to today’s paper our precipitation so far this year (and it is September already) is 1.28 inches. Usually the summer is our monsoon season, with thunderstorms coming up from Mexico, but this year was pretty barren as far as rain. Again, in eight months we have had an inch and a quarter total of rain. Our humidity is usually around 3%, mostly because of evaporation from everybody’s lawns. This week we have unusual hazy conditions, because of all the smoke blowing up a few hundred miles from the California fires (sorry to everybody out there).

During the drive we would periodically see a house or two off in the distance.

This one was in the middle of a little rain shower, you can see some of the rainfall against the sky. I know some people don’t like neighbors, this guy probably complains about all the traffic on the road we are on which is about two miles from his house. We probably passed two cars or a truck every hour or so on this road, and as you can see from the first picture we weren’t really in a line of cars going in our direction either. Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Ely, I see part of the road we were on is officially labeled ‘The Loneliest Road in America’ by Life magazine.

Some of the mountains just north of Ely still had snow on them. The general elevation around here is about 6,400 feet above sea level, so I guess Ely, Nevada ties Boulder, Colorado for being called the ‘mile high city’. The snow on these mountains is probably around the 12,000 foot level, running alongside the Great Basin National Park. You can see how green the desert has gotten because of the summer rains.

After the 100 miles of no gas we came upon a small town in the midst of a thunderstorm.

I don’t know the name of it, there probably weren’t 50 houses spread out in town and on the surrounding farms, but there was some farming down in a river valley (which only had water on the surface when it rained). I might like living on a bigger lot, but it sure is nice to be five minutes away from a supermarket and restaurants, not a two or three hour drive like these folks (and that’s to Ely, population 4,041 not Vegas). Eventually our road ended up driving through a hard rock ridge where the periodic river had carved a canyon.

The road followed the bottom of the canyon, rather than somehow going over the ridge. This was a pleasant change from all the flat, so B ended up taking quite a few photos as we drove through.

And then down back into the flats, and another two hours into Vegas. So there it is, the last quarter of our road trip back down from Portland into Las Vegas. I’ve got some shots of Twin Falls; have to pull those together as well.