Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hush Puppy

Here is another in my ongoing series of local restaurant reviews. Most of these places are so far off Strip that tourists don’t usually find them, but are usually worth visiting. We’ve been driving on Charleston past this restaurant for quite a while, either the parking lot is empty (when the place is closed) or packed, but I usually notice the ‘all you can eat’ banner out front. It’s the Hush Puppy restaurant on Charleston just west of Rainbow.

It sits by itself on a big lot surrounded by lots of asphalt parking and looks kind of lonely right there. It has been open at this spot since 1975, and with the growth of Vegas that probably means it was out in the middle of nothing surrounded by brush filled fields on the street out to Red Rock. There is a second branch location out east by the Air Force base but this one is the original, and not far from our house. The inside is a little plain but colorful.

They specialize in southern style seafood, such as blackened catfish and peel shrimp and oysters, but what I see is the all you can eat ribs on Wednesday sign. There is a different item on the all you can eat menu each day of the week.

B went for the Cajun Fantasy; a combo plate of grilled instead of fried stuff, blackened catfish, shrimp and oysters. My favorite rib place used to be the Lone Star, which closed a while back, and I’ve been looking for a replacement. Most places have ribs that require a lot of work, I want one where the meat is falling off the bones with a tasty sauce. These seem to be about the best so far. As you can see I’ve been working on this plate for a while before thinking about the camera. And in that basket - yes, two kinds of hush puppies; one I’ve not seen before but supposedly more traditional and the other little corn fritters, but both very good.

The waitress says that the 73 year old owner comes in every morning to make the pecan pie, all I can say is that it’s the best I’ve had. (and only $2.50)

End result: a bill for $40 that covered both of us, with dessert and drinks. We didn’t do the peel and eat shrimp, but we will be back for more ribs. If you’re local and haven’t been yet go now, while she is still baking the pies.

Update: just came across Linda singing this from long ago, it seems appropriate

Oh, just noticed - post # 899 - wow, lots of words. Sorry

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This summer we will have a new customer here at the convention center; the television show Wheel of Fortune will be out to broadcast live shows for ten days. In preparation for the live show they held auditions this past weekend. Anybody could walk in and be given a preliminary review, then if passed take part in a sample program in order to assess their personality, and eventually a selected few were chosen to come back in late July to be on the real show. I wasn’t here this weekend, so I am not sure how many thousands of people came by, but it was probably a maintenance crew that did the interviews and not the host himself. Sorry D, you came at the wrong time. No pictures of the activities, but I did find their show bus parked out in our remote lot.

Also in the photo, just to the left of the big yellow vehicle, is a kind of do-it-yourself kit for building. It's all the parts for one of those tall construction cranes. You just pour a big flat concrete base for it, start standing up the pieces and connecting them together like a bit erector set, and you end up with a four million dollar crane that is fifty stories high and ready to help lift things so you can put together your high rise hotel or office building. I'm sure it was purchased in anticipation of the construction of our new convention building, to be located right there on the lot where it is being stored, about a block down the street from our current location. Construction was put on hold when money started to get tight, but will be starting up as soon as the economy starts to turn around.

As a follow up to my post of the umbrellas a few week ago, it seems the waterfall area of the big resort hotel casino next door was enhanced by the addition of some additional greenery around the fountains. This did seem to make a difference in the atmosphere down there.

I don’t know if we are starting to compete with the Bellagio conservatory, but our space is not as large as theirs, or as open and available. But it would be nice if seasonal decorations did come through.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring blooms 2009

It’s Springtime again, and the flowers are starting to bloom. When I walk around the yard I can smell an assortment of sweet scents, as plants take advantage of this break between the cold and the upcoming heat. Here are some of the ones we have been planting over the years, most are annuals and keep coming back without much effort on our part.

This first one is blooming along the fence by a parking lot at work, I don’t know what it is but the flowers are pretty and very fragrant.

All these others are in my yard. A while back we planted California poppy seeds in our raised beds. These produced a very nice crop, and the seeds from there blew around the yard. Since then we have been getting a strip of poppies along the low area where water drains off the roof when it rains (yes, it rains here once in a while, last year we did have a total of almost three inches of rain (75mm)). These keep reseeding themselves every year and fill in the gravel area where we pulled out grass as part of our water conservation effort. Along the left side are our rosemary plants which are also full of little blue flowers and lots of bees.

Along the pool we put in Mexican poppies. These are low growing flowers like the California ones but in a pale purple instead of the bright butter yellow. B also put in several Mexican bird of paradise, which grow five or six feet tall and have bright yellow flower clusters. We also have a few that have red tinged yellow flowers as well. The low poppies cover the gravel around the edge and the taller birds cover some of the plain block wall. B has painted the wall so it isn’t just the plain concrete color.

There also are some low growing ground cover plants among the Mexican poppies that are covered with yellow flowers. This one here is about two inches high and the top is covered with buds, in a few days it will be just a bright yellow ball.

Here are some more of these yellow ones, on a bush that has been in for a few years and is a little bigger.

Also along the pool is a Banks rose bush that was here when we moved in , and has been doing a lot better since I put in a drip system to water them automatically.

Out front in our desert landscaping we have a varied assortment of low water requirement plants. I think this is called a marsh mallow, starting out with a few orange red flowers which will continue to progress over the next few weeks. These bushes are now about a meter high and wide.

There are also some desert marigolds, which are covered in white flowers, which open in the morning and then close up at night. These are low growing and will stay under a foot tall.

And finally our wisteria; we brought this plant from San Diego and put it in the front courtyard. B trimmed it severely last fall, so there are not many flowers on it, but after we finish getting that cover over the patio we will be training this to grow on top, and in a few years will have a slatted roof with lots of clusters hanging down.

Around town we have been having an assortment of performers come through. The Hard Rock hotel has rebuilt its concert venue, The Joint, which just reopened last week. The big grand opening ceremony was held with the Killers performing, and the next day Paul McCartney was the headliner. Tonight is Elton John’s final show ending his five years alternating at Caesar’s Palace, and Cher announced that she is cutting her three year contract there down and will finish performing in December. Bette Midler is the third in the rotation that has replaced Celine Dion, and has not said anything about leaving.

Over the next month we’ll have Bon Jovi, Boz Scaggs, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Billy Ray Cyrus (also known as Hannah Montana’s dad) and BB King in town. This summer we will have Led Zeppelin come through, as well as Carlos Santana, who has signed up with the Hard Rock to perform several times over the next two years, Kenny Chesney, Johnny Mathis, Paul Anka, John Mayer, Cyndi Lauper, The Police (yea Sting!), Tom Jones, Chicago, Air Supply, Peter Paul and Mary, the Smothers Brothers, Gwen Stefani, Tall Out Boys, Herman’s Hermits and lots of others. Music for all tastes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Around Town this week

The weather has finally warmed up, it’s over 90f today, and hopefully we are on into warm Spring. I like it when the weather is hot, and can’t stand the cold or snow. Driving in to work in the mornings now is bright instead of the pre-dawn gloom, with the sun in my eyes peeking between the hotel towers. On the way home it’s the opposite, with glare from the west in my eyes.

On the way home I’ve been stopped at a traffic light and seeing this building, wrapped in the latest advertising gimmick. Here in Vegas they put large advertising signs up, often wrapping up an entire 50 story hotel with whatever advertising slogan is willing to pay. A few months ago a vodka company paneled the sides of the Luxor pyramid, and Tony Braxton was on another hotel with Barry Manilow standing tall on the Hilton.

This is what the same building looked like a few days later.

On the way into work I pass a number of billboards. Sorry, no easy place to pull over and take photos, but one is for a local company ‘looking for stars’. They are willing to pay you $500 for sitting in front of some video cameras for a short while. Well, you won’t be exactly sitting, unless you want to, but you will be naked and performing by yourself. The local paper had a story on the adult content web site that has these billboards up all over town, and had a ton of letters to the editor complaining about the story. The second billboard is for a local attorney that defends against DUI accusations. That one offends me more, as I have to drive with those idiots and would love to see them punished. These come right after the topless club, which is on its third name in less than a year, and always has a line of cabs and limos out front even at my commute time of 6:30am. Just path these is the exit triangle where the news vans park. I usually see a van there with camera and lights set up at least a few times a week, sometimes two of them from competing stations. I caught one of the vans driving home the other afternoon, sorry for the glare.

We are trying to do our bit to help the local economy by patronizing off Strip facilities. We first hit Capo’s, a new mob style steak house that opened recently near our house; it’s in a building that used to be Hooters. It looks like they hired some of the former waitresses, now covered a little more in black outfits. The d├ęcor is supposed to be old style, with red walls and black leather booths. You enter through a little vestibule where you knock on a little window, a face peers out and asks who sent you, then opens a secret door. The food was fairly average, not too impressive, and with wine the evening cost us about $120. A week later we went to Rosemary’s, one of my favorite restaurants. The atmosphere was nicer, the food a lot better, and a professional wait staff was on hand rather than attractive young women that had problems remembering the specials.

We hit Capo’s on a Friday night, right after they had a nice write-up in the morning paper. Rosemary’s visit was on a Tuesday, as they donate a portion of Tuesday meals to different charities each month. This month is Habitat for Humanity, which B volunteers for, helping build houses. The economy must not be doing too badly, as both places were packed with every table filled and people waiting in the attached bars to be seated. Rosemary’s ended costing about $140, and for the slight difference I would much rather keep going there. For steaks we like Flemming’s, where the prices are a little less than Capo’s, the food better, the interior more pleasing and the waiters again more professional. But they are all better than

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter parable

In honor of Easter, and to respond to DA’s joke post, here is an old one back at you.

Jesus was out wandering when he came to a small town. A large crowd had gathered in the town square, and Jesus walked through up to the front to see what was going on. A woman had been accused of adultery, and was tied down and about to be stoned to death. Jesus stopped in front of the crowd and looked at everyone, and the noisy mob grew quiet. In a soft voice Jesus started to talk about sins and sinners, and ended up with the famous line "let he who is without sin cast the first stone".

After a brief pause a large rock came flying out of the crowd, striking the tied woman right in the face. Jesus looked up, and the crowd moved away from the person that threw the stone. Jesus looked at her and said "Damn it mom, stop following me".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Clark County Fair

The Clark County Fair was open for the past few days, B wanted to go but too many things got in the way and we did not get to go. We went last year, and my photos from then are still hanging around unposted, so here you go, our trip to the fair.

The CCF is held each year in the beautiful metropolis of Logandale, Nevada, which is about an hour drive north of Vegas. Coming from New Jersey my only prior experience with county fairs was with the San Diego fair, held each year just before the fourth of July. That one is so large that it runs for six weeks, is held at the Del Mar race track grounds and brings in hundreds of thousands of people each weekend. There are so many animals entered that they do different ones each week. The animals filled up five of six big buildings close to the main entrance, so you got to walk through them as you came in. First week might be bunnies, next week chickens, next week pigs and so on. So you either pick they animal you want to see or you go back a few times so that you can see a variety. It’s not a little fair - there might be several thousand bunnies entered for example, so it can take a while to look at all the big ones and small ones and fuzzy ones and long eared ones and . . . .

The Del Mar racetrack has lots of stables for the horses along with other ones built just for the fair. There was one huge building put up just for the garden displays, with several attached to the grandstands for the non animal displays, concerts were at night viewed from the seats where you normally watched horse races, and there was a big section on the infield in the middle of the race track. We were UC Master Gardeners down in SD, and would volunteer to staff the information booth and answer gardening questions. We usually did that for four or five days scattered over the six weeks, and would take breaks and wander around. There were several buildings, each bigger than a football field, which held wood crafts and art stuff and other things that we could spend a long time in. There were dozens of handmade quilts, a woodworking group gave demonstrations in how to build things, metal projects, cars repaired by high school shops; all kinds of stuff. And of course the standard fair food, which consisted mainly of almost anything you could fry. Never tried the deep fried Twinkies or Milky Way bars though.

But the Clark County Fair is probably more like the small rural fairs held across the country; they usually get 60,000 people to attend over the four days. Logandale is a small Mormon farming community that has been around for a long time. To get there we head north on 15, passing through some of the typical Nevada landscape.

There were some pretty red rocks along the way

Then the exit off the freeway, through a lovely green valley and into the fairgrounds. We went on a Saturday last year, and the line to get into the parking lot started about halfway up the freeway off ramp. That’s why there are no pictures of that segment: it was five miles of bumper to bumper traffic, over an hour for us to get from the ramp into a parking space. Logandale looked like a pretty little town, but I was more concerned with the poor driving ahead of me than taking pictures of it. B did take one of some horse farms along the way. Nice green grass out here

Pulling into the dirt field where we parked we could see the tops of the midway rides. There was a big bungee slingshot thingie that stuck up really high, with people already being shot into the air.

I’m more into the mechanical stuff behind things, and liked looking at how this ride worked more than wanting to sit in that little seat and be tossed around high in the air. But there were more civilized rides there, including a big Ferris wheel.

B likes looking at the animals. She raised some in her younger days, and still enjoys looking at them. There was a much smaller selection than in San Diego. Instead of eight hundred prize roosters in SD there were probably a dozen here. One building was filled with pens with lambs and goats and other smaller animals, a second building had the cows and pigs and bigger things.

One temporary building held small booths with stuff for sale: candy and signs and gimmicks and cookware. There were demonstrations, and from the number of people interested it seemed that the citizens of Logandale don’t usually get down to the big city to see things. I went for the fudge in the next booth over.

There were the required little food booths outside. We hit it on a warm sunny day (yes, unusual for Neveda) and most people were underneath the shade cloth with their food. This being a large Mormon farming area there were lots of families with lots of kids, many of which had their 4-H animals entered into the competitions. Most of these families brought along a basket of food, being rather expensive to buy fair food for a dozen it was better to stuff the brood with homemade things and perhaps just let them get ice cream or individual treats. Down in SD I used to love the grilled corn, and would wait for the fair just to satisfy my created cravings for it, that is before the price went up over two bucks an ear and I quickly learned that I could survive without.

There was an area out front with green grass where people sat under the trees, and there was a display of old farm machines. Steam powered pumps and one cylinder diesel corn cob grinders and stuff like that. There was a club, and museum, down in SD for people that liked to tinker, where all the machinery had to be at least fifty years old, with most of it far older. It was interesting to wander by and listen to the thump-thump-thump of old engines still grinding away.

One of the temporary buildings contained the baking contest entries, all of those cakes and cookies and pies created in kitchens all over the valley. I remember an old Andy Griffith episode where Aunt Bea was making stuff for the fair, I think it was pickles in that show, cake in another. It looked like there were a lot of winners.

Back on the ride midway there was this interesting booth, where you could get your photo taken while riding a bull in front of the rodeo crowd.

I thought this was one of the more interesting rides. It was a little tent with four of these full motion simulators. You strapped yourself into the seat and put on a helmet with video goggles and headphones and suddenly were riding a motorcycle or space buggy or whatever you wanted. There were pistons that bumped you up and back and forth and spun you around, I get car sick easily and almost lost my expensive lunch just watching these guys bounce around.

You can see from the pictures that the fairgrounds were out in the middle of nowhere. Well, most things in Nevada are so why should this be any different? There were nice grassy areas, but most of it was plain dry dirt. The fair is held in April to hopefully get the transition Spring weather and comfortable conditions, but it still was in the high 80’s for us last year, yesterday was pretty nice and probably provided a comfortable time, but Saturday there were thunderstorms blowing through coupled with wind, so it might have been a little different for visitors. Ah well, we’ll try for next year.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


It’s getting on into springtime here, but the weather isn’t cooperating too much. Yesterday was cold, only got up to 69 (our normal high should be 76) and tomorrow even colder with rain predicted! Come on, time for the sun and heat around here. The Clark County Fair is this weekend, just four days ending on Easter Sunday. Not sure if we’ll go this year, we did last year; I still have the photos to post for that one. It was fun, but I don’t know if I can take it again.

The big resort hotel casino next door put up some springtime decorations. The front lobby of the new tower sprouted umbrellas and raindrops -

The long vertical strips are sequentially lighted moving downward, imitating the appearance of rain (in some designer’s imagination). These were also placed in the waterfall courtyard as well.

After I took these photos they decorated the big fountains, with trees and bushes, I’ll have to walk back and get some updated shots. With the sunshine we’ve been walking outside, even though it’s been a bit breezy it is nice to see all of the tourists out there taking photos and enjoying themselves. Spring break week, and the food court has been full of kids, it should slack off a little bit for a few months and then we will be into our summer crowds. The trees are still full of pollen, and when the wind blows it brings stuff from all over down to the valley, producing lots of nose problems for those with allergies. Going out to my car the other day I found some in evidence

The car was clean - all the stuff on the hood is yellow pollen from the pine trees nearby. You can see them just behind over my roof. Interesting how it comes down in strings like that instead of an even powder coating.

Most people are not affected by the pollen from pine trees - the allergy doctor I went to said the pollen is too big for people’s receptors, right now it’s the mulberry trees that are bothering most people, along with just about everything else that is blooming across the desert. I still would much rather put up with this than the rain and snow though.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sing along

There is nothing exciting happening here this week. It was a warm sunny weekend, but we had some of our typical Vegas wind. We are supposed to get some cooler temps and a chance of rain for the rest of the week; I am ready for the nice spring weather, normal highs for this time of year are supposed to be in the upper 70’s. Last week we had a big security show filling all the upper halls; there were thousands of video cameras and computer screens and door locks and security gates and fences and some fancy patrol vehicles with cameras and radar antennas and infrared sensors. No shows in the big halls this week, so a lot of people are taking a few days off, but there are some conferences up in the tower suites. Next week is the big semiannual bridal show followed by textiles and produce.

I missed videos yesterday (sorry DM) so here are a few. This week I was thinking of songs that always make me sing along. Usually there is a chorus or individual phrase that just sticks out and comes around again and again, just begging you to jump in. I usually just sing along in my head (fortunately for my co-workers) but when in the car I feel free to just shout out. Last week the country music award show was here in town, with all of the attending singers wandering around town for a few days, and appearing at assorted shows. Toby Keith has a restaurant here, and he showed up there periodically and performed. Brooks and Dunn were also here, which resulted in some of their older songs popping up on the radio. They have one that produces wild sounds from almost everyone familiar with it. Come on, you know that you also just have to join in on that long note: Mari i i i i i i i i i i i a

Country Western songs are pretty good for singing along to. There is usually a pretty strong back beat and a few lines that are repeated. Hannah Montana’s daddy had a big one a few years ago, I can’t find a version to embed so you’ll have to click, but Billy Ray with his fancy hair does a pretty good job. A few months ago after this first came out I remember seeing a little three or four year old boy with the same haircut, down in San Diego there was a big cowboy contingent living in trailer parks out in Poway that loved that stuff. The video is filled with big hair, but I like the comparison of all the fancy boots with silver trim on the line dancers with Billy’s flashing sneakers. In line with that, Wide lawns pointed to Mulet Junky which demonstrates that hairstyle very well.

Just a few more - my Ipod is filled with songs I like, and as I walk and listen I’m at least humming if not outright vocalizing. Queen had a few

As did the Beatles

Can’t make my voice warble like Roy’s, but that’s OK. This version has a lot of instrumental time, but the words are still all there.

We can reach back even further, to some songs that I sing along to because I've heard them so many times it all seems very familiar. There isn’t a quick catch or short phrase in this one, but I’ve heard it so much that I know all the words. And I love the feathers.

I like to listen to Sting, his older songs back with the Police when he looked a lot younger:

So, what songs do you like to sing along to?

Friday, April 03, 2009

E Friday - more art

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.

I’m running out of new pictures. It’s been a while since I’ve seen E, they aren’t due down to visit until August. B is going up in May, but she doesn’t take as many pictures as I do, and those are more group shots than individual action. Oh well, looks like my Friday posts will soon shift to something else.

But last time they were down we got some imitation Play Doh for E to work with. For those of you not familiar with the product it’s basically similar to modeling clay or bread dough which has been colored. You can work with it to make shapes and things, and if you leave it out of the containers for several hours it dries out and gets hard. Three year old fingers are not too adept at making intricate things yet, but she was able to do some beads with Grammy, and there were some dogs and people created as well. This set came with quite a few colors as well as a few small tools used to cut and shape things.

Much pride came when interesting shapes were created.

That last visit, as discussed before, included our last trip down to the local Red Robin. In addition to her milk she did get to imbibe in Grammy’s Oreo cookie milk shake. I think she got the whipped cream and cookie as well.