Sunday, January 27, 2008

Double Entendre Vegas Headline

[Content Disclosure: Poker 0%, Las Vegas 15%, Dark Recesses 23%, Life 37%, Make Believe 44% but not pure]

Newsflash: "Officials Order Casino Facade Removed"

Yes that is the headline in Las Vegas this morning; the casino facade must be removed. We think they are talking about the Monte Carlo and what they need to do to reopen the casino and hotel after Friday's rooftop fire. But I have to wonder what Sin City would be like if facade really was removed.

A black glass pyramid in the desert; the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge; a Pirate Ship that sinks six times a day; an Atom Test Museum and, of course, an Elvis Museum. An indoor circus, rollercoasters attached to outside of buildings not one, not two but three of 'em. Alcohol for free and companions for rent. Oh and a chamber of commerce and several large entertainment corporations soliciting more and more visitors but..... these had to be the right kind of visitors.

I say this not only in the shadow of the tiresome "What happens in Vegas blah, blah, blah" but also in light of a survey I read recently that long-time visitors to Las Vegas are complaining about the modernization and corporatization of the city. Quite frankly the middle-class is being priced out of Las Vegas, which is a fairly short-sighted economic view that is actually being institutionalized with the new mega-resort complexes going up on the Strip. Average room prices now hover around $200 and that gets you the bed and the towels-period.

Las Vegas gave up on the family in the late 90's and now the middle-class and the retired boomers are being dropped as well. To enjoy Las Vegas these days, you need to want $200 bottles of vodka at 2 A.M. and lots of young skin, which by the way is for sale once again. Comps for rooms and food are disappearing and the slot machines are paying back less and less.

Gambling now accounts for less than half of Strip revenue and the corporations that own the Strip properties are building more and more of the same. One wonders if they have a business plan to offer 'Vegas on Sale' when the whole Fantasyland collapses? A Blue Light Special at Bellagio? How about a President's Day Sale at the Venetian? A mid-week check in at the Wynn gets you dinner with Steve?

MGM/Mirage has already sold its future to Dubai, I guess they think this is the right time to get in on the Middle East Oil boom. Middle American on the other hand are more and more heading to their local casino for a somewhat less opulent vacation but what does it matter, Las Vegas executives have made it clear the welcome mat isn't extended for them any more; not when the mat is $250 plus gratuity.

The land developers in Las Vegas did not see the coming real estate crash and it is here now with foreclousre auction ads splash across the television all weekend. Now it seems the casino and resort industry not only can't see the coming cliff but they are actually dashing towards it by catering exclusively to the new, young, hip crowd who have no retirement accounts to fund their next vacation. Diaka Vodka wise and Penny Slot foolish.

Monday, January 14, 2008

PokerBlog.com


[Content Disclosure: 110% Poker, 26% My Life, 39% Writing, 12% Multiple Personality Disorder]

A lot of my current writing is done over on PokerBlog. You might say that is my day job or at least my morning job. I try and write about a topic that is current in the big, wide world of poker. I also have a backlog of thought pieces and slightly different perspectives that look in at poker from a place removed by a step or two. Poker only seems a massive phenomenon from inside. The majority of the world has no idea that the game has boomed. Life really goes go on without poker; at times I try to make that a bit more clear to the poker addicts and afficionados of the world.

I should confess that I also get to play out some of my multi-personalities on Poker Blog. Most readers in the poker world know me as the Poker Shrink and the majority of my work on Poker Blog is done under that pseudonym. However, when I get annoyed at governmental intrusion or bureaucratic interference in the game, then I use the Cranky Olde Coot to vent and rant. Lenny is my sleazy testosterone driven persona and when I just need to dispense some tidbit of information or get in touch with my feminine side, I use Lindy the Librarian.

I shill a bit for Party Poker and Party Gaming on Poker Blog because they pick up the tab, but I must say they give me complete freedom to sink the hook wherever I feel it is needed. I write about 20 or so posts a month on Poker Blog, sometimes when the news bin gets full I write a bit more and when the noize is less, I can reach into my personal archives for some thoughts I have had back burnered for a time.

All in all, the writing is satisfying and provides an nice sense of daily completion that books or longer articles do not. I like putting another red notch on my white board for a uploaded Poker Blog entry. It happens a lot more often than chalking up a finished chapter or a published print article. Little pleasures.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Capital Punishment and the Constitution


[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker, 12% Politics, 13% Supreme Court, 9% Strict Constructionism, 19% Pure Rant, 29% other]

I was listening to NPR the other day in the car. I am not, like some of my friends, addicted to National Public Radio. I do, however, listen to it in the car rather than the noize on most other stations. So here was this NPR "news" piece covering a hearing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved whether or not the current methods of lethal injection to administer justice in capital punishment cases was cruel and inhuman. Why? Well because according to some, who have studied this; the current three drug cocktail may not be as painless as the single drug administration of a strong barbiturate.

Now there was some political silliness and political stupidity on both sides of the case but what I was struck by was the questioning by the various Justices of the court. One in particular caught my attention as the very essence of legal system, as practiced today, in the United States. The attorney advocate for changing the lethal injection to a single drug had made the case that this procedure would insure a painless death; he had further made the point, supported by medical testimony, that the current three drug cocktail could leave some patients paralyzed but able to feel their slow, agonizing death by suffocation.

A Justice asked the attorney where in the Constitution he found the stipulation that the death penalty must be administered in the least painful manner possible.

Just sit with that a moment.

There in the allegedly hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, a member of that Court actually wanted to know, if the revered Founding Fathers, gathered to write the Constitution of the newly freed country of the United States of America; whether these delegates had considered that 220+ years in the future that perhaps their descendants would need guidance in order to be civilized enough to kill a shackled person in the most humane manner available.

But, of course, that is not what the esteemed Justice meant. What he meant was that he only is able to make judicial rulings based on what is actually written in the Constitution. Since the delegates never addressed the actually manner of murder by which their descendants would put people to death than, in fact, beheading them as is done in many countries around the world would be perfectly constitutional according to this Justice.

Now once again--who are the Barbarians? and why do they wear those black robes?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Once More into the Breech


[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker; 56% friends near and far; 38% that time of year; 9% that state of mind]

Annual and decadal resolutions abound. I am torn by this internet spawned wellspring of revelation. My closest friends know that despite the exterior large, white, gregarious male; I am, in fact, a private person and keep my stuff very sequestered. My 100 Things About Me was a stretch to post here and I, at times, struggle with lifting the veil onto my private meanderings (or my cave, as Amy calls it).

So today I am going for quixotic and cryptic, the very best I can do on the cusp of a new adventure.

Texas1 - The water will never go cold.

The other desert - May happiness have finally discovered you.

Inner Sunset - The joy of these last few years.

Australia - Ships passing in the dusk, at times laying over in safe harbours.

Texas2 - It has been too long since I had a very best friend again.

Amish Country - Congratulations on finding what you seek.

Jessica - PtC

Outer Sunset - A joy to have someone who speaks to me and hears me and hopefully I for you.

Texas3 - "The great ambition of women is to inspire love." Moliere

Marina - So good to hear life in your voice again.

Fisherman's Wharf - The longest and the best.

Sonoma - New beginnings with a tinges of jade and olive.

Green Valley - Wonderful to be in your life and you in mine.

7000 - It is not all one-way; never was.