Thursday, February 28, 2008

"It's Not My Fault." San Andreas


La La Jolla Land: We recently spent time in La Jolla, CA, a suburb of San Diego and discovered they have news there too. Some of the happenings in the Village meet the “only in…” criteria. The latest fight in La Jolla is whether or not to place parking meters in the village (downtown) area. The local news media points out that a group of radicals from, of all places, Vail, CO have voiced their opinions that parking meters would benefit. From this outside observer’s opinion it looks like the proponents might get run out of town on a parking meter.

Beach booze ban benefits: A year or so ago La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) banned booze from its beaches. The ban worked so well that neighboring beaches decided to go and do likewise. The drunks at those beaches are now protesting that they have nowhere to wile away their time and panhandle. Only in California. Also, city fathers (and mothers – remember, this is California) are considering installing cameras to watch for crime – I guess like drinking and stuff. Word on the street is that city workers are fighting over who gets to monitor those cameras.

More booze problems: It happened in a neighboring city. The police came upon a drunk who was passed out on the sidewalk. He had a companion also three sheets to the wind. The police recognized the drunk and loaded him into the patrol car for a few block ride home. That was that until local media got hold of the story. Seems the drunk was the mayor and the friend was a city worker. Well, at least he wasn’t drunk on the beach or he’d have really been in trouble.

One more California story: While the rest of the country is debating about insurance coverage and aliens from south of the border a clever man from San Diego is actually doing something about it. Jim Ariola grew up poor in San Diego. He excelled in sports and set a record for running the mile that still stands. After high school he attended the U.S. Military Academy. He returned home to become a businessman and entrepreneur. His latest venture is to offer health insurance to mostly poor Hispanics who can use doctors on either side of the border. Why does this sound like a good idea? Probably because this guy is no politician.

A few bits of tid: Tattoos fade. Seems that fewer Americans are marking themselves up with tattoos. Numbers are down about 3% of those who mark their bodies like only drunken sailors used to. The feds hve delayed construction of a virtual fence along the Mexican border. I guess there aren’t enough virtual illegal aliens to justify it. Pitcher Roger Clements is in trouble for fibbing to a houseful of liars. What’s wrong with that picture?

A little blogging music Maestro… how about “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

All the News that's fit to Blog


Sweet Sounds of Phil: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra made a landing in North Korea – the most Americans to land in Korea since the Korean War. Whew, at least the president didn’t make another pre-emptive attack on one of the “Evil Empire” countries. Instead this one was no bomb. In fact, the Koreans gave the Philos the equivalent of a standing “O.” It was cold, bleak and snowy outside the concert hall but inside it was pure love. Could fiddles in Washington while North Korea thaws.

One not so lucky Asian: While North Koreans were looking down on the orchestra in Ping-pong town, another Asian was looking down on some bad news in Texas. Houston Rockets star Yao Ming was watching his version of “My Left Foot,” and did not like what he saw. A stress fracture will require surgery or not. Either way he will likely be lost for the rest of the season. The screwed up injury will likely require screws to hold his foot together. Talk about seven feet of bad news.

Learn baby, learn: Some say Las Vegas is a cultural wasteland filled with pimps, hos, and pleasure palaces. Despite the numerous theaters, concerts, and other cultural activities the stereotype is difficult to shake. Libraries abound, although it is true that the one in Henderson will begin to close Sundays as budgets are reduced. Another bookstore has closed and the one in Mandalay Bay has announced it will close as well. But this week is reading week and dozens of local celebrities will read at local schools – a thirty-year tradition. Perhaps Senator Harry Reid will encourage the movement by changing his name to Harry Read.

Shortage of clicks flicks Google in a fix: Years ago if a floorman in a Las Vegas casino needed to order a drink for a customer he would click a Halloween clicker to summon the cocktail waitress. The mighty click has taken on new status online where every click on one of Google’s ads yields advertising money for the information gatherer. But over the past several months a dearth of clicks has caused Google’s main source of income to wither sending their stock value from a high of $747 per share to a low of $ 447. Google is trying to bounce back from the nadir.

Speaking of nadirs: That sometime politician with all the personality of a box of rocks, Ralph Nader has again announced a run for the presidency. Many thought his involvement in 2000 was the chad that broke the Democrats back. No known connection but shortly after the announcement the lights went out in Florida leaving 3 million people in the dark. The Republican National committee immediately rushed to get the votes counted for next fall’s election.

A little blogging music Maestro… how about “The Night the Lights Went Out.”

Dr. Forgot

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Silly Sweets and Guns

43% of All Statistics Are Made Up

Kiss kiss, bang bang: A rash of shootings has brought Las Vegas into the spotlight recently. For more than a decade local media boasted that between 5,000 and 6,000 people moved to the Valley of the Dollars each month. But nobody seemed to take notice that all the incoming Vegans were not doctors, lawyers and casino executives. Many were second chance people who had issues with theft, drugs, rock and roll, and violence. Gang members from the streets of other large metropolitan areas moved with the flow and as local population topped two million, big city problems became part of the new Las Vegas.

The gun violence is not unique to the Valley. Bucolic campuses in Virginia and Illinois have been hit with gun violence. Yet spineless politicians continue to pander to the gun lobbies while the proliferation of weapons continues. Said lobbyists are so frightened on both sides of the aisle that despite the gun violence wreaked on the American public, nary a word of solving the problem has passed the lips of any candidate. Until Americans grow a spine the violence will continue.

Hershey, Utah? Probably the best know name associated with Utah is Senator Orrin Hatch. But the state that gave us crickets, BYU, and a basketball team named the Jazz has cut a sweet deal with chocolate company Hershey. America’s largest manufacturer of chocolate and other sweets announced recently that it will accept an incentive from Utah and build a distribution center in Ogden, just north of the City of Salt. To date Ogden was best known as the home of Weber State University.

What good can possibly come of such a move? Will Reese’s Pieces become Tabernacle Tidbits? Will Hershey’s Kisses become Brigham’s Busses? Will the Great Salt Lake be renamed Sugar Central? Possibilities are endless.

Demos look like dummies: Say what you will about the Democratic presidential nomination race. It is colorful (no pun intended), offers two strong candidates running neck and neck, and well organized. Well, maybe not so well organized in the Silver State. Dems had a convention last weekend and rented a room at Bally’s that could hold up to 5,000. Problem was more than 10,000 showed up. I suppose that is better than holding a convention where nobody came, but not by much.

Perhaps the parties should share leadership. The Republican frontrunner, Sen. John McCain is a military man from Arizona. He could have given the Democrats some sound advice on organization. Instead this fiasco reeked of “Ready, fire, aim.”

Turban Warfare: Did Hillary’s campaign leak a picture of Barack wearing an African turban to the news media? If so (or if not), this is a story because? Who cares? At the risk of being accused of plagiarism of one of Senator Obama’s lines, this is the silly season in politics. Dump the minutia. On with the substantive stuff – like Hillary ditching that yellow blazer or Barack taking notes, or whether or not John made googley eyes at a female lobbyist.

A little blogging music maestro… a silly song for the silly season: “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd,” by Roger Miller.

Dr. Forgot

Monday, February 25, 2008

Are We Afraid Yet?

Chicken Little

The sky is falling: The space junk from a spy satellite has fallen to earth after a successful shoot down by the U. S. Navy. The real estate market has also plummeted to the earth in Las Vegas, right? I mean, that is what the media has been pounding into us for the past year or so, right? Well, let’s just take a closer look.

Have you quit beating your wife? Like that trick question pundits say that the Las Vegas housing market has taken a beating. Media repeats what the pundits say like so many seals clapping their flippers and moaning, “Urp, urp.” A recent article in the local paper focused on one particular zip code in Las Vegas in which the housing prices are down by 24%. However, a chart that accompanies the article gives a better perspective. The AVERAGE depreciation for homes in the Valley of the Dollars is a tad over 4%.

Down compared to what? Suppose you purchased a home in Las Vegas in 2000 at a cost of $ 200,000. That year your home saw 8% appreciation so the home where your heart is increased to $ 216,000. In 2001 the house increased in value by 9% for a grand total of $ 235,440. In 2002 it went up 8% for a value of $ 254,275.

Hold on to your hats: Then the market in Vegas began to really do wild toad ride. Beginning in 2003 home values increased by 13% which resulted in your digs jumping to $ 287,331. It got even better in 2004 with an additional 40% increase to make the value a whopping $ 402,263. In 2005 your Vegas shanty increased by 20% for a value even greater at $ 482,716. Things started to slow in 2006 to add only 4% making your old $ 200,000 house worth $ 502,025. Then the housing market crashed according to real estate pundits. Alas and alack in 2007 4 % depreciation occurred making the hovel worth a paltry $ 482,000.

Be sure to not live in the wrong zip code: The illustration above speaks to average appreciation and decreases. The 89169 zip code that shows the 24% decrease is near the Strip where the Wynn and Palazzo construction has been going on making single family dwellings drop in value. Other areas that saw speculators rush to buy and flip which pumped their values up like a Ponzi scheme are now showing the steepest decline.

Parallel to the tech stock crash of 2000? Comparisons have been made between the current housing market in Las Vegas and the tech stock crash. While some similarities exist many factors are not the same. With tech stocks people bought in many cases what businesses call “blue sky,” or a concept with little actual value. Those who borrowed to buy stocks usually borrowed what they could afford. With the real estate run-up the product was solid – housing, but lenders were anxious to loan money on housing regardless of the borrower’s strength or without closely examining the property because they were betting on future value. The market may be down but if you still live in your Las Vegas home that you purchased in 2000 for a market value of $ 200,000, the current value of nearly $ 500,000 makes it a good investment.

A little blogging music maestro… “Home of the Blues,” by Johnny Cash.

Dr. Forgot

Friday, February 22, 2008



Did you miss me? We just returned from a trip to Guatemala and did not have time to write while gone. The country is beautiful. It has had a peaceful and stable democracy for the past couple of decades and recently elected a new president. As an American in the political season we sometimes get caught up in our own affairs and do not realize the wealth of other cultures. This is ironic since we are the melting pot of the world.

Habla usted? One reason that we often don’t outward is that we are such a large country. Many of our states are larger than most countries. Another is our wealth. If California were a country, and some believe it should be (just kidding), it would be one of the world’s wealthiest. Another reason is that we can travel coast to coast and border to border for thousands of miles and everybody speaks the same language. In fact, Europeans often tell this joke: “A person who speaks many languages is multi-lingual. A person who speaks three languages is tri-lingual. A person who speaks two languages is bi-lingual, and a person who speaks one language is American.”

Surprises and excitement: I was surprised by the beautiful college campuses in Guatemala. San Carlos University is public and has some 40,000 students and a gaggle of areas of study. Francisco Marroquin University is perhaps the most lavish with stunning architecture in a gorgeous tropical surrounding. The university of the twenty-first century in Guatemala is Galileo University. It is headed by Dr. Eduardo Suger, a brilliant visionary who was a presidential candidate in the recent election. Galileo University is aptly named for the Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who led the scientific revolution in sixteenth century. Today’s students at Galileo emulate their namesake with studies and technology to rival that of any U.S. University.

A religious experience: Guatemala has much to offer and a rich history. Indigenous Mayans performed dentistry and brain surgery in today’s Guatemala when Europeans were fighting with spears. Ruins of the ancient cities are visible in many parts of the country. To get to those places requires a car or bus ride that is guaranteed to bring religion to the hearts of any American who thinks the LA freeways or the I-95 corridor is a traffic experience.

We visited several locations including Chichicastenango, a historic mountain village about three hours from Guatemala City. It is famous for the market that draws many different indigenous Indian groups who sell to locals and tourists. The village is breathtaking as is the trip to get there. Mountains roads, many of which are being improved to four lane highways but are still often under construction, mixed with bus and truck drivers who are out of the best chase scene in any James Bond movie make the trip one that will cause any atheist a reason to find religion.

Back to puns, politics, and satire next week: We will likely need the weekend to recover from our travels but fear not. Our tongue-in-cheek election coverage and Las Vegas updates will return next week. In the meantime we will pause to reflect over the Guatemalan experience where we met some of the most intellectual and hospitable people and saw some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.

A little blogging music maestro… Rick Nelson’s “Travlin’ Man.”

Dr. Forgot.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Money Talks - It Can say, "Goodby"

If #2 Pencils are so popular – why are they still #2?

Really, who IS #1? Seems like everybody wants to be number one. Sports fans and players extend their index finger whenever a play goes their way. Sometimes they extend a different finger of things do not go their way. Vanity license plates can hold the status of being #1. So when a man in Abu Dhabi decided to auction off his car’s #1 tag, folks lined up to bid on it. I’ mean, if the $5 plate brought $ 6.8 million last year (it did), what would #1 bring. ‘Tis a mystery no longer. The plate was purchased for a cool 52.2dirham. Oh, in American money that would be $ 14.3 million. The buyer has his #1 and more cents than sense.

Some people don’t have good cents: We’ve all seen kids throw pennies onto the street. Nobody bothers to pick them up. A movement exists to get rid of the penny (see post of 10/26/07). Readers old enough to remember penny loafers can remember wearing money in their shoes. And every penny arcade had a machine that encased a penny in an aluminum horseshoe that said, “Keep me and you’ll never go broke.”

Some folks actually save pennies. Walter J. Husak is one such person. His penny collection was recently sold. His collection wasn’t very big – 301 pennies in all. Probably not the most impressive of collections. Although it did have so0me rare pennies including one minted in 1793 for two weeks but stopped because of complaints that Lady Liberty looked frightened. Another minted in 1794 had raised stars to discourage counterfeiting. Those two alone brought over $ 632,000. The entire collection of 301 pennies? $ 10.7 million. That averages out to a tad more than $ 35,000 per penny. That ain’t hay.

Up, up, and away: That is where the money went. Silver State Helicopters owner Jerry Airola’s company filed for bankruptcy protection a couple of weeks ago. Airola flew high including financing his own campaign for sheriff – which lost. The difference between Airola and Mitt Romney is that Mitt spent money he had. Jerry exemplified those immortal words of the great philosopher Francis Albert Sinatra who once crooned, “The higher the top the longer the drop.”

Students at the helicopter school were left high and dry and broke after investing as much as $ 70,000 per student to learn about whirlybirds. The company operated schools in 18 states and collected millions in tuition. For now the school remains grounded and flight students learned a difficult economics lesson.

Where’s Andy Sipowicz when we need him? The old NYPD show, still in reruns was a longtime hit. Members of the precinct caught bad guys and had their share of weirdos to deal with. The show is gone but weirdos are still running loose in the Big Apple. A Parks Department employee who did his job on a golf cart went on a rampage running over and killing at least five birds in a park in Lower Manhattan. The 45-year old birdbrain was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and intentional injury to an animal.

See you next week: Finally, we will be on hiatus until next Thursday or so. See you then. A little blogging music Maestro… Freddy Fender’s “Going Out With the Tide.”

Dr. Forgot

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's Follies

A Closed Mind is a Good Thing to Lose

Day in the life: Today’s news has been bleak. The shooting of perhaps dozens of students and killing at this writing of six on a bucolic Illinois campus. Not a good way to start the day. Adding to the angst was the conviction of an ex-cop of murdering his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her unborn baby. An early morning blizzard I-8 in San Diego County stranded as many as 30 motorists and a teenager got a tiny cut on his finger that led to an infection and his death.

Smothers Brothers prophetic: Those kings of parody did a song in the 1960s or 70s that still rings true today… “They’re rioting in Africa, They’re starving in Spain, There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain. The whole world is festering with unhappy souls, The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles, Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch, and I don’t like anybody very much.” Perhaps that is why the campaign message of hope resonates with so many young people.

Wash your eyes out with this: The writer’s strike is over so your favorite shows will continue and late night jokesters will have new and clever material. U2 lead singer arranged a Valentine’s Day charity auction of contemporary artworks to raise money for HIV/AIDS relief programs and earned nearly 43 million for the cause. An Israeli Arab woman applied for a new ID card. As required she showed her birth certificate which seemed to confirm her age – 120. She has 10 sons, the eldest of whom is well into his 80s. Remember, it is reported that it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, so be lazy. Smile a lot.

What’s eaten in Vegas stays inside: Locals in Las Vegas are no different than fans of the NY Giants football team. We love to boast, “We’re number one.” We have the most shows, biggest hotels most rooms, best gambling, prettiest women, sunniest weather, fattest people… WHAT???? Men’s Fitness magazine claimed this week that Las Vegas is the fattest ‘hood in the country. And they did not mean the wads of money in our pockets folks, they meant we are portly, rotund, gordo, obese, plump, tubby and gargantuan.

Could it be? Could the city of dancers and performers that has some of the world’s finest restaurants and largest buffets and a gym on every corner also be the community of the greatest blobs? We’re not too sure how this ranking was reached. Of course, anytime a survey is involved magazine sales increase. Add anything about Las Vegas and sales increase more. Of course, the near naked goodbody on the cover of the magazine doesn’t hurt sales.

Local reporter Brendan Buhler did not take a day off when the story appeared. He instead researched some data from the CDC (Center of Disease Control) and discovered that the corner of Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia held the honor of fattest area. The CDC ranks the Valley of the Dollars a paltry 33d. We have to fix that. Drop those dice, get out of the gym, and run from the slots. Go home, lounge in your Lay-Z-Boy and order a pepperoni pizza. We don’t want to see you again until you’ve added a couple of dozen.

A little blogging Maestro… Anything by Fat Joe or Fats Domino.

Dr. Forgot

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

More Valentines

Today I send the following valentines to the women in my life:

To Rose: My mother. Without her I would be nothing. In fact, without her I wouldn’t be here. I was born at home because I wanted to be near her when the big event happened. Had she not been taken from this earth too soon, albeit age 90, she would now be in her 92nd year. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom.

To Patricia: My wife. She has tolerated my idiosyncrasies for more than three and a half decades. The shy schoolmarm that I married had no idea the “E” ticket ride that she’d be on the rest of her marriage. A couple dozen roses and a special dinner at our favorite Valentine’s Day restaurant is a pittance compared to the love and support she brought to the marriage. Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart.

To Maryann: The eldest of the sisters. She meets all the criteria of a firstborn – responsibility, discipline of the others, rules follower, and extreme achiever. She knows no bounds when it comes to giving. Happy Valentine’s Day, Maryann.

To Kathy: The second of the sisters. She was the textbook version of the middle child – outgoing, risk taking, social, and constantly pushing the limits of the rules. It was good that she had these traits as she would have to deal with them with her own daughter and granddaughters. Happy Valentine’s Day, Sis.

To Mitzi: The youngest of the sisters. She was supposed to be a boy named George but surprised everybody by being born a girl who was named Georgine. Georgine became Mitzie which morphed to Mitzi. She has more energy than any dynamo. She also has many of the physical and intrinsic traits as Rose. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mitzi.

To Crystal: My daughter who bore me four grandchildren and was also taken from this earth too soon. She was kind, loving, and her primary goal in life was to be a good Mom. Her legacy lives on in her children. Happy Valentine’s Day, Crys.

To the other women in my life: Alexandra, Adeline, Aimee, Karen, Kathy Jean, Kristie, Kari, Kelly, Jessica, and Mina Rose. If I list all outside the family and wives, and lovers of family members I’ll either run out of space or get into trouble for overlooking somebody. So I’ll stop here.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Valentine Girl” by the New Kids on the Block.

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Myths and Other Trivia

You’ve gotta believe: People love to believe in myths, superstitions, and the like. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why you take pains to not break a mirror even though you “know” the seven years of bad luck thing is balderdash. Still not convinced? Walk into any bowling alley and watch the contorted position a bowler ends up after a strike. He will try to mimic that position every time he rolls the ball in an effort to recreate the strike. Ditto golfers, coaches and gamblers of any ilk. Despite the psychology truth that “correlation does not necessarily imply causation,” people find it easier to believe than to seek.

St. Valentine’s Day is for the birds: One myth held that if a young girl saw a particular bird on St. Valentine’s Day she would marry a particular type of man. Blackbird = man of the cloth, bluebird = man of humor, dove = man of kindness, goldfinch = man of wealth, robin = man of the sea, sparrow = man of the country and if she saw a woodpecker on Valentine’s Day she’d remain a spinster.

Top 10 gifts for her on Valentine’s Day: #10, a personally cut CD with her favorite music, #9, tickets for a weekend getaway to either her favorite spot or a romantic place you want to explore (hint: DO NOT take her to the romantic place you and your ex enjoyed so much). # 8, lingerie. Be sure to tell her that she looks better than the models at Victoria’s Secret. #7, dinner out at an upscale restaurant and make it a very special night #6 by getting there in a limo. #5 Chocolates in a heart shaped box, #4, a huge bouquet of roses complete with baby’s breath and greens. #3, jewelry, depending on your budget this could be a heart-shaped locket or lots of diamonds. #2 is poetry. If your ability is limited to “Roses are red, violets are blue,” or if you can only rhyme love to above, perhaps a fine poem from a commercial source would be your choice. And the #1 gift for a most special Valentine’s Day is the renewal of your vows. Take her to a chapel. If I may use the line that you used when wooing her, “Trust me.”

Nothing says “I love you” like a… dolphin? For as long as there’s been romance there have been symbols of love. Today we are most familiar with flowers, especially roses, hearts, lovebirds, doves, and of course Cupid and his arrows. Scholars tell us that Valentine’s and romantic symbols over the years have included pendants, crystals, butterflies, and even dolphins.

Cupid is the son of Venus, the Goddess of Love. According to mythology whomever his arrow hits will fall in love with the first person s/he sees. The love knot concept was born in the Muslim culture where women would send a message of love to a man by tying the knots of a carpet in a certain way and sending him the carpet. It is believed that on Valentine’s Day love birds and doves found their mates. And of course, the heart is the very center of life. Hence, the symbol of cupid’s arrow piercing the heart has come to represent true love.

A little blogging music Maestro…. Today there can be no better selection than John Paul Young’s, “Love is in the Air.”

Dr. Forgot

Another Hump Day in Paradise

Politics, Weather, and Other Olios

Hell hath no fury: Today's temperature in parts of the Valley of the Dollars is expected to reach the low 70s. A couple of Easterners we know left these balmy temps yesterday and crossed the country and walked smack into an iceberg. Snow, ice, sleet, road closures and pileups. Those are but a few of the reasons why so many Las Vegan have chosen to relocate from the rust belt.

Stick 'em up: That phrase has a whole new meaning these days especially when listening to baseball players and other athletes. The great steroid scandal continues to be played out as former baseballer Roger Clemens maintains his innocence. Perhaps his testimony was full of mispronunciations of names, misuse of words and rambling because he was nervous. I don't think one of the side effects of steroid use is the stupids. Come to think of it that could be a prerequisite for injecting that poison into one's body. But try as they might to blame the user, it is becoming clearer with each testimony that the use of performance enhancing drugs, if not subtly encouraged, was at least ignored by those who should have been watching - and we don't mean the fans.

Sorry Bill, it's for the good of the party: David Wilhelm, former head of the Democratic National Committee and former national manager of President Clinton's campaign is going to (or from, depending on your point of view) the dark side as he has agreed to team up with Barack Obama. He claims it is for the good of the party. That has to come as a severe blow to presidential nominee candidate Senator Hillary Clinton who is watching the wheels come of her campaign bandwagon with the replacement of two top campaign workers.

Build it and they will come: The lights of Las Vegas still shine despite the recent report that Lake Mead will dry up and quit producing electricity in a decade or two. Last year those lights were enjoyed by nearly 40 million people who left the one-arm bandits, table games and other forms of entertainment 11 billion of their money. The record setting pace of visitors and money to the Valley of the Dollars is welcome news to the hoteliers who currently boast an average occupancy rate in excess of 90%. Other communities would kill for that rate. And by 2009 thousands of rooms will be added to the inventory.

How 'bout them Rebels? Congratulations to the UNLV basketball team. Talk about underdogs! Just before the season began their star center left the team. He had been the only tall guy among the hoopsters, leaving a group of midgets - the tallest player is 6'8." Problem is, somebody forgot to tell the Rebels and their coach Lon Kruger that they couldn't cut the mustard. They are a whisper away from another 20-win season and a game behind league leading BYU.

A little blogging music Maestro... how about the UNLV Rebel fight song?

Dr. Forgot

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Bet on It

Dry, On the Rocks, or Straight Up

Lights dim to in Vegas? Dam bad news: A study released recently by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla predicts that within eight years there is a 50-50 chance that water levels in Lake Mead will have receded to the point that it is impossible to generate hydroelectric power. If it proves true not only will the Valley of the Dollars and famous Strip be effected but few realize that the lion’s share of the power generated by Lake Mead turbines goes to Southern California.

The Colorado river which flows into Lake Mead currently operates at a deficit of one million acre-feet of water per year. That amount serves the needs of eight million people. Rather bet on a long shot? The same experts predict a 10 percent chance the lake will dry up within six years and a 50-50 chance the lake will disappear and the Colorado River will become a dry gulch in about a dozen years.

Take my poodle… please: Ever watched those silly dogs prancing around in circles leading their masters and mistresses by the leash? Each year mutts of every uppity description drag their doting owners to the Westminster Kennel Club annual dog show in New York. The canines tolerate their humans and indulge them in allowing for all sorts of grooming, stroking, coaxing, and making absolute asses of themselves (the people, not the dogs) as they prance around the track with their charges.

If you are not steely enough to bet on whether or not Lake Mead will dry up and Las Vegas will return to real desert landscaping in a few years, perhaps a canine wager is your cup of tea. If you happen to meander into the nearest casino sports book – the Wynn for one – you are now able to prognosticate on the odds can be found among those of basketball, hockey, and horse racing winners. Buss your beagle, pick your poodle, sidle up to your shepherd, or cheer for your chow. The televised dog contest was moved from USA to CNBC so as not to conflict with “WWE Monday Night Raw.” Must be quite a spillover between the two audiences.

My mortgage has fallen and it can’t get up: It is no news flash that the real estate market is down and foreclosures are up. Rates are down but repos are up. Feds want to help but aren’t sure how so mortgage holders have gotten step with the frigid weather and have decided to freeze foreclosures for now. Project Lifeline as it is called, will meet with seriously overdue mortgagees and try to work out a plan to help them keep their homes. Three cheers for the companies who have agreed to the plan. They may be a day late and their borrowers a dollar short, but it is a start.

A little blogging music Maestro… “Home is Where the Heart Is” by Elvis.

Dr. Forgot

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, Monday

USA and Chinatown

Who’s Your Daddy? Candidates on both sides of the aisle continue to cry, “Me…. Me…. Pick me.” To the right of Senator McCain stands Governor Huckabee. Those right wing religious conservatives seem to heart Huckabee more than a Big Mac. Many openly complain that Mac does not lean as far to the right as they would have him. Reverend Huck has embraced the so-called Religious Right and together they have faith that without their endorsement Big Mac will be unable to sustain his march to the party nomination or a victory in the subsequent election. Pundits favor Mac as the victor but we know how accurate their predictions have been in the past (Think Rudy).

Would the Opposition Rather Pillory Hillary? Or Bomb Obama? Everybody has an opinion regarding who the Republicans would rather run against. Sleazemasters Rush Limbaugh (self proclaimed “On loan From God”) and Anne Coulter (quoted as “I’d rather vote for Hillary than John McCain”) have opinions that inflame and while rarely are on the mark are always in the money. One set of theories is that the Republicans would prefer to run against Hillary because they’ve been preparing for her longer and she and her potential First Laddie seem to be an easier target. Others accept the fact that it will be a horse race regardless of the Democratic nominee.

When your team is losing fire the manager: Such is the policy in baseball, football, and so it seems in politics. The campaign manager for Hillary recently had her sword broken, stripes ripped from her shoulder, and sent packing in favor of a replacement. Whether the newbie can stop the flood of Obama victories remains to be seen.

Happy New Year, Rat: Chinese New Year is typically a big celebration in Las Vegas. Last year it happened to coincide with the NBA All Star Game and the two constituencies meshed like Democrats and Republicans during an election year. Suffice it to say a culture clash was evident that made many Chinese visitors rethink their future visits to the Valley of the Dollars.

Chinese tourism which represents only a small fraction of tourists is expected to Shitake, uh, mushroom in the future. Gaming is still forbidden on Mainland China but with the replication of much of the Las Vegas Strip in Macau, many Chinese residents have had a taste of the Vegas experience and are expected to come to the Valley to experience the real thing. Oh yes, this is the Chinese New Year of the Rat. Local promoters hope stands for Register At The Strip.

A little blogging Maestro… How about the theme from “Chinatown?”

Dr. Forgot

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wowsa, Meowsa!

(I'm no critic, but....)
Student Stalwarts Straddle Stardom

High School Musical Extrodinaire: Today we will digress from politics and satire and talk about some stupendous students in Las Vegas. Las Vegas High School is on the east side of town. But some local readers might remember the old Las Vegas High School on South Seventh Street - the first and original. When the "school" was moved the original building remained and became a magnet school: the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts. Students must audition to earn a slot. The school houses some of the nations future artists and performers and puts on displays and performances that rival those seen on Broadway. Whether Beauty and the Beast , Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, or the other thirty-plus performances over the past half decade, these kids put on a first class operation.

Of course, every mother's son or daughter is the pride of performers, but these kids are the stars of tomorrow. The cast, crew, and faculty directors put on hit after hit that rivals nearly any performance on the Strip. Last Night we enjoyed opening night of CATS, based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," by T.S. Eliot adapted to a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. We've seen the musical performed in London, New York, and Los Angeles. The performance last night compared strongly with any of the others we've seen.

The cast and ensemble, which seemed like thousands of cats, were all superb. Philip Cerza as Munkustrap took the audience on a walk through the lives and haunts of his fellow felines. Among them Lynda DeFuria's Grizabella, Jamie Crider and Arielle Panarae as Mongojerrie and Rumpleteazer, Cody Canyon as Skimbleshanks, and Elija O'Connell as (Aspara)Gus brought their characters to life. The musical solos, especially "Memories" enraptured the audience. Professional Neal Taffe as Old Deuteronomy set an example for the students to emulate as his deep and powerful voice brought it all together in the final Ad-dressing of Cats.

Few who have not been part of a production can appreciate the work and effort that goes on behind the scenes. Musicians enhance the singing and dancing of the cast, the production staff under the direction of Producer/Director Glenn Edwards choreograph, design sets, provide the stunning technical effects, lighting, costuming, sound, hair and makeup, on and on. Without the expertise of the people the audience does not see, the performances would be impossible.

So a flip of the paw and flick of the ears to the Las Vegas Academy Theater and the Las Vegas Academy Dance and Music Departments. If you are a Las Vegan or in town for a visit, CATS is a must see.

Dr. Forgot

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hey Big Spender

The Agony of de Feet

Oh nooooooo: Mitt Romney could have borrowed a line from a TV celebrity today. As the cartoon character Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live used to say whenever he was about to get pulverized, "Oh noooooo." Perhaps he ran out of pocket change after spending $ 50 million of his own money, or perhaps he got tired of being beaten up by his fellow Republicans, or perhaps he cut a backroom deal to provide for a Big Mac. Regardless of his motivation, the Mitt has been smit from the race. That leaves only Reverend Mike to stand in the way of the Commodore. It also means that each party is down to two little candidates (see January 30 post Hungry Candidates Await Supper Tuesday and "Ten Little Candidates").

Mitt Wastes $ 50 Mil? He's a piker: Those of us "Little People" as described by the late Leona Helmsley might think that the ability of Governor Mitt to spend $ 50 million of his own money is a huge commitment. Wonder how much he has left (whoops, sorry about the use of the word "left"). I guess it just depends on one's perspective. Steve Wynn, chair and CEO of Wynn Resorts has seen his stock holdings decline by $ 1.4 billion (with a B).

Could it be worse? It could if you're Kirk Kerkorian, majority stockholder of MGM Mirage has seen his portfolio slip by a whopping $ 4.6 billion (also with a B), more than triple the loss of Steve Wynn. And his losses weren't the worst for Las Vegas stake holders!

Local hotel magnate Sheldon Adleson, dreamer and builder of the Venetian and Palazzo Hotels in Las Vegas has had seen an adjustment in his portfolio of nearly triple the amount of Kirkerkorian's loss - $ 10.8 billion! That is a big hit, even if last September he was cited as the third richest American with holdings of $ 28 billion. It reminds me of the sage who once said, "A million here, a million there... pretty soon you're talking about real money.

"Please sir, can I have a little more?" Compared to the guys above, Las Vegas schoolteachers seem a bit like the Charles Dickens character, orphan and beggar Oliver Twist when he dared ask for another morsel of food. Local teachers, hat in hand, have for years begged the legislature for a humble increase in their pay but state budgets have kept them ranked among the bottom few states in pay. One justification is that perks such as no state income tax should make up the difference.

But teachers have come up with a different tack, asking that Fagin, er, the gaming industry's tax rate be increased by a mere three percent with monies designated to be spent on teacher salaries. The state's largest industry compensating teachers??? What a concept!

A little blogging music Maestro.... How about the old Cricket's tune, "Money (That's What I Want)."

Dr. Forgot

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hump Day

Super Tuesday Settles It… Or Not

Mac, Mitt, Mike: Those to the right of center – but far enough right according to some in the party are each claiming victory. Mike cried “Hallelujah and Amen” as voters in ‘Bama, his homies in Arkansas, peaches in Georgia, volunteers in Tennessee, and mountaineers in West Virginny all decided they hearted Huckabee best. Brother Mitt found Alaskan Eskimos, Colorado Rockers, three M’s (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Montana) were mmmm-mmmm good to him, as were ballot punchers in N. Dakota and Utah.

The big winner, despite rantings and ravings from a certain pill popper in Florida, was Mac who knifed through nine states (AZ, CA, CO, DE, IL, MO, NJ, NY and OK), all of which were okay to Mac by delivering 423 delegates on a silver platter. Mac must have been singing Abba’s “The Winner Takes it All” as he relished in the Republican rules in most states which give all the state’s delegates to the winner. Super Tuesday’s outcome did not dampen the spirits of either of the other two candidates, however as they still consider themselves contenders.

Tales from the left of center: Hillary must feel that yellow blazer is her lucky coat. Either that or she is considering becoming a school crossing guard after her political career ends. Whether it was the magic yellow blazer or Bill’s lip being zipped, she came out on top Arkansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma as well as states with large urban centers and heavy Latino makeup – AZ, CA, MA, and the two News; York and Jersey. However, in all states except Arkansas (69%) she took 56% or less of the vote.

If Hillary took the diverse urban states, Barack cruised in the mostly white rural states including 80% of the ballots cast in Idaho, 75% in Alaska and Kansas and 65% in his home state of Illinois. The results made one thing clear – there is no clear winner on the Democratic slate and probably will not be for another month or so. One thing is for sure – there is no sure thing.

When is a flag just a rag? Las Vegas’ Liberty High School colors are red, white, and blue and its mascot is a Patriot. What better setting for a self-proclaimed 18-year old atheist to refuse to stand during the morning flag salute because he objects to the phrase, “One nation under God?” The student was sent to the Dean to get things sorted out but instead called Mommy who told him to come home. He now could be in trouble – not for refusing to stand. The law allows for that. But for leaving campus without permission. What a country!

A little blogging music Maestro… Tommy Blakes, “Freedom.”

Dr. Forgot

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Food For Thought

Election Day Around the Country

The following came to me in an email and is credited to "Anonymous." People around the country will be voting and are often influenced by their local newspapers. Below is a profile of the respective newspaper readers.

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country .

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time -- and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a poor job of it , thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who is running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure if there is a country or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leaders are handicapped minority feminist atheist dwarfs who also happen to be illegal aliens from any other country or galaxy, provided of course, that they are not Republicans.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. The Oregonian is read by people who have recently caught a fish and need something in which to wrap it.

13. The Arizona Republic is read by people who need to shield their face from the sun.

A little blogging music maestro.... "I Got Some News For You Baby," with Bobby Lee

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sunday Olio, Super Chooseday

New York, Political, and Other Giants

Show class in victory and defeat: No longer can the i be removed to make them the New York Gnats. The Pat Riot is over. The Patty-cake from the land of baked beans found that cactus country ended the dry spell of their cross-a-couple-of-states rivals. Brady did not have the beauty from all the other games as the Beast belittled the Pats. As any Monday morning quarterback can say, I saw it coming. The Perfect Pattys could easily have not been so had it not been for a bad call at Baltimore or a bad bounce against Sand Diego or even their previous meeting with the NY Ogres. Eli is due his gin as is the rest of the team. Pat Coach Belichick's belly-ache post game interview could have shown more class. I'm sure his radio played "Hurt So Bad."

Yes We Can: get as many endorsements as possible. Who is winning the race for California backers? Hillary seems to be leading the pack with some 30 high profile backers including politicos Gary Davis, Diane Feinstein, Maxine Waters, and seven city council members as well as entertainers Ron Howard, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, and Steven Spielberg. Barack trails with some 22 major endorsements including less well known politicos and George Clooney among his actors. On the Republican side Johnny Mac claims 12 endorsements from Sly Stallone, Guv. Arnold, and a host of politicos. Mitt boasts endorsements from 11 politicos including the Orange County GOP chair, and five boosters heart Mike Huckabee including the co-founder of the Minuteman Project, former candidate Duncan Hunter, and tough guy actor Chuck Norris.

CSPAN Class Act: The get-together of the girls for "O" man included "O" ladies Oprah and Michelle, along with supporters Caroline Kennedy and Maria Schriver - wife of the Governator. Oprah was.... well, Oprah. Caroline was fine and Maria made a strong case for her support of Senator Obama. But in this writer's opinion, Michelle Obama stole the show. If was one of the first times she has spoken at length in a national forum. Ms. Obama was as eloquent as she was "down home." Her message is sure to touch the hearts of the young and restless. My only concern is that some conspiracy theorist will start looking into Obama, Oprah, Iowa, and find that there are just too many vowels.

Flipping real estate in Las Vegas: The media gives us our daily dose of the shaky Las Vegas real estate market but we can prove that there are still bargains out there. One report gave upbeat sales figures to commercial buildings and more recently the Gold Spike, which had been purchased six months ago for $ 15.6 million, was recently flipped, or resold for $ 21 million. Not a bad profit.

Bits of Tid: We reported in a post recently that the Monte Carlo and MGM Mirage management showed class in the way guests were handled in the aftermath of their fire. Several guests have spoken out and most seem to be in agreement that personal trauma was kept to a minimum and many were upgraded to suites at other properties. North Las Vegas has grown from its "Northtown" image of a bedroom community for Las Vegans to a formidable competitor to Las Vegas and Henderson. The community or 200,000+ plans to add 330 acres of new gaming and hotel rooms in the I-15/215 area. Remember, Las Vegas was once little more than a watering hole.

A little blogging music Maestro... Kenny Rogers, "The Gambler."

Dr. Forgot

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunday pre-Super Tuesday

Songs That Might Have Been

Three Conservative Hopefuls (to the tune of "Three Coins in a Fountain)

Three Conservative hopefuls, Each one with a name of "M."
Mac, Mitt, and Michael, all three to the right do bend.

Just one M will be selected, One M will be the GOP.

Who will represent the GOP?
Will the voters Heart Huckabee?

Three conservative hopefuls, Each one with his strongest points.
Mike, Mac, or Mitt Romney, Who will the Republicans anoint?

Just one M will be selected, One M will be the GOP.

Who's the one that will remain?
Will the voters select John McCain?

Three conservative hopefuls, Each one with a treasure chest.
John Mac, Mitt, or Michael, who will stand the toughest test?

Just one M will be selected, One M will be the GOP.

Who will be the Republican star?
Will the voters select Mitchell R?

(all three singing in harmony)Make it me.... make it me... make it me...

Billary, Oprabama, and Ted (to the tune of Abraham Martin and John)

Has anybody here seen the Democratic hopefuls? Can you tell me where they've gone?
Around the country seeking delegates. To make their candidacy Number One.

Has anybody here seen the candidate Billary? How can they be two places at once?
While Hill shows emotion and Bill spews fire. They try to make Oprabama out a dunce.

Has anybody here seen hopeful Oprabama? From coast to coast at delegate events.
They've taken center stage in several places. To pitch their passionate eloquence.

Campaigns are hard fought and expensive. Some candidates spend themselves to the red.
Will this race be decided by an ex-president? Or endorsements by Caroline and Ted.

When the primaries are over. The anger and sniping put to bed.
They'll walk the campaign trail against their opponents...Billary, Oprabama, and Ted.

Dr. Forgot

Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday's Follies

Super Summary

Super Bowl Sunday: This weekend's game in Arizona will be another boon for Las Vegas. From the prop bets - Hilton alone offers 50 pages worth - to betting on the outcome of the game (Pats are hands down favorites but will they cover the spread?), to packages that go through Las Vegas, this will be one of the biggest sports weekends of the year. Beer and snack sales are up, big screen TV sets and recliners are being lugged out of stores, and pizza makers are bracing for an onslaught. A call-girl cal has even gone out since there are not enough escorts to escort fans. The big bowl helps to keep Las Vega$$$ green.

Slip sliding away: Taxable sales slipped in November - a whopping 1.3% according to those who report such things. Can't help but wonder why they did not report that November sales were at 98.7% of last year's record? Still, the weekend should boost sales taxes as well as casino spending. The Valley of the Dollars is usually considered a destination but many Super Bowlers stop here for a few days then mosey on down to the game. Those without tickets opt to stay and see it locally. It is cheaper that way and they get to see replays and those fancy new commercials.

Are candidate debates de bait? It is looking more and more like both parties have their two finalists for the pageant. The Republicans had their debate the other day on the right side of the left coast and Mitt and John seem to be the emerging candidates. Last night the Democrats had their Kodak moment on the left coast as Hillary and Obama continue to be center stage. Seems like it should be a movie - actually two movies. The Rebub debate was cast as "Grumpy Old Men" and the Dem debate was cast as "Love Story."

Where have all the flowers gone? We don't know about the other flowers but if a Rose by any other name (as in Thomas Rose) doth appear as a Peter Piper of Paradise Plumbing, he may have pilfered a peck of palettes from the public pavilion. Police partook plenty of packages from the pigeonhole that belongs to the owner of Paradise Plumbing. Problems persist pursuant to pilferage of University Medical Center property that has pitfallen into places where they should not be perched. Paradise Plumbing was paid 50 grand to replace valves without the benefit of a bidding process. That is perplexing.

Won't you be my friend? It wasn't Mr. Rogers but President Bush who flew into the Valley of the Dollars looking for friends. But most of the Republican officeholders were conspicuously absent to greet him for photo ops. In fact, members of the media were kept at such a distance that it was nigh impossible to get a photo shot of him. The Pres was able to dig up a few supporters including the Guv, who is having many of his own problems that are not unlike those of the Prez. During a 30-minute speech the hand picked audience that gave the biggest round of applause to his correctly pronouncing "Nevada."

New meaning may come to The Strip: Like Rodney Dangerfield, some people just don't get no respect. Take strippers for example. Wait, let me rephrase that. An estimated 10,000 strippers - uh, exotic dancers, actually pay for the privilege of getting naked as independent contractors. But a group of the ladies have sued to become employees and be paid wages by club owners for whom they work. When they say "minimum" they are talking about attire, not wages. A recent ruling cleared the way for a class action lawsuit that some may consider no-class seeking to change the work status. One might say the new law would cover the uncovered.

A little blogging music maestro..."Your Mama Don't Dance" by Poison.

Dr. Forgot