Friday, October 09, 2009

It's A Little Early For Halloween, But....

Paris Hilton plays “a demon who feeds on the disorienting power of celebrity.”

Suck. On. This.

Apparently the right is apoplectic about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, in the memorable words on Thomas Friedman regarding Arab protests about America's forthcoming invasion of Iraq: Suck. On. This.

Didn't someone (Tom Lehrer?) say that irony was dead after Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize? What goes around comes around, as they say.

Obama Wins The Nobel Peace Prize

How odd! So early! But nevertheless welcome, since it gives him enhanced prestige and leverage to push his policies along. Often, prestigious prizes come along too late to do much good. But not this time around!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Oh, So THIS Is Leopard Man!

About that second show, no problem, Nate! I thought I was Kylie's biggest fan, but maybe you are!

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Sit Down

Jack LaLanne turns 95 and he wants you to get some exercise:
LaLanne has made a fortune, but he won't retire. He carries on his crusade with the zeal of a man whose jumpsuit is on fire.

"If you believe something, live it!" LaLanne barks.

...LaLanne at 15 was "a miserable goddamn kid. It was like hell." He was a sugarholic, gorging on sweets then barfing to make room for more. He was constantly sick, underweight, had zero energy, headaches so bad he would bang his head against a wall. He had an explosive temper, severe depression and a head full of demons when he dropped out of Berkeley High.

Then a neighbor gave Jack and his mother tickets to a lecture by clean-eating advocate Paul Bragg. Boom! Jack LaLanne was born.

Says LaLanne, "Bragg said, 'My dear friends, it matters not what your physical condition is. If you obey nature's laws, you will be born again.' I went home and prayed, 'Dear God, give me the willpower to refrain from those foods that are killing me.' "

Soon LaLanne was healthy beyond his dreams. He became a football star, a wrestling champ and a babe magnet. At 22, he opened a gym in downtown Oakland, and when business didn't boom - maybe because in 1936 nobody knew what the hell a gym was - he told himself, "Jack, people are not coming to you. You gotta go to them!"

He trained cops and firefighters, he recruited at high schools, and in 1951, he began hosting a daily exercise show on KGO (Channel 7) - where he met Elaine - that became a network smash, running until 1985.

Using his personality and pep - with his muscles serving as his background singers - he bullied a nation into rethinking its nonapproach to nutrition and exercise. He invented and pioneered the fitness industry.

"My whole life," LaLanne says, "is, 'How can I help people like that man (Bragg) helped me?' "

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Missing Lung

If you find an extra lung, let them know and collect the $ 2,000.00 reward:
A travelling exhibition of human cadavers wants a stolen lung back.
The left lung was taken in Peru from "Bodies: The Exhibition," which has travelled the globe displaying cadavers preserved through a process that replaces water in biological tissues with polymers.

The organ disappeared from an area where visitors can touch preserved cadavers.

"In the whole world this has never happened," said Susan Hoefken, manager of Lima-based Impacto, the company presenting the exhibition.

Vegas Miscellany

Violin Outlet.
Lillies at the Mandalay Bay.
Well, why not?
Here is the Chapel of the Blue Fountain at Circus Circus Casino. My sister Michelle was married here at the end of 1989, and I just wanted to see how the place looked 20 years later.

Kylie Minogue - "Better The Devil You Know" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

Kylie Minogue - "Red-Blooded Woman/ Where The Wild Roses Grow" - Las Vegas - KylieUSA2009

After her breast cancer surgery in 2005, Kylie was quoted somewhere (the reference appears lost somewhere in the sands of the Internet) as saying that one thing she would, regrettably, never do again was to line up her backup dancers and step gingerly from one man's open palm to another. So daring, but so dangerous to attempt! No, one must put youthful cavorting into its place in order to age gracefully.

Well, as this video testifies, it appears the little minx lied. My heart burst with pride to see her execute that difficult stunt, here.

Kylie Minogue - "Love At First Sight" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

Finale and bows.

Kylie Minogue - "The One" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

An emotional rendition of "The One".

Kylie Minogue - "Got To Be Certain" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

A cappella rendition, from the encore of the show.

Kylie Minogue - "Like A Drug" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

Monday, October 05, 2009

Return From Vegas

I thought this was the hamlet of Verona, but upon reflection, maybe not.

Flying over nevada, two haze layers were apparent: one at approximately flight altitude (aircraft exhaust?), and a layer higher. But coming into the Sacramento Valley there was an abrupt transition to extreme haze, or smoke. SOMETHING was burning in northern California!

Hawthorne, NV. The town is surrounded by arrays of munitions bunkers.

This looks a lot like Beatty, NV (but I'm not sure).

The beautiful mountains just west of Las Vegas.

Cirque du Soleil "Mystère"

On Sunday evening, Sally and I went to Treasure Island to see the 8 p.m. show of Mystère.

Only one problem. The show starts at 7 p.m. I hadn't checked the show time. Oops!

So, instead, we saw the 9:30 p.m. show.

What a great show! Per request, I took no photos. The summary of the show is here:
Mystère™ is classic Cirque du Soleil®, combining the powerful athleticism, high-energy acrobatics and inspiring imagery that has become the company’s hallmark. Deemed a theatrical "flower in the desert," Mystère thrills generations of audiences with its exhilarating blend of whimsy, drama and the unimaginable brought to life on stage. Presented exclusively at Treasure Island, Mystère provides the ultimate discovery that life itself is a mystery.

Honored eight times as "Best Production Show" by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mystère has an international cast of 72 performers featuring dancers, singers, musicians and champion-caliber acrobats. The Chicago Tribune called Mystère, "one of the most innovative and exciting shows to be seen anywhere". Directed by Franco Dragone.
The trailer of the show is here.

We were seated very close to stage level. It was thrilling to have the clown walk right past us and choose a couple two seats behind us for his amusing antics. Later on, the flying trapeze-like acrobats were spinning right above us and we felt almost like we part of the action.

Go see it!

Abstract Vegas

The Cleveland Clinic (under construction), which will focus on the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's Disease.
The Trump Tower, as seen over Neiman-Marcus at Fashion Show Mall.
World Market Center.

Las Vegas Shopping

Fashion Show Mall.

Left: Oddly enough, a fashion show was underway at Fashion Show Mall.
Left: Shopping at the Outlet stores on Sunday.
Left: Marc, wearing a gold masque of some sort...

Last week, John reported back from Vegas, and said:
It seems about the same as last year except there is a bit more desperation in the air
Indeed, at Circus Circus, one cosmetics merchant accosted Sally and said:
You've heard of the Dead Sea, right? The Dead Sea?
Sally was startled and couldn't quite puzzle out the merchant's accent and denied ever hearing of the Dead Sea. We had to skedaddle out of there!

Nevertheless, there are more urbane, suave ways for merchants to approach customers. Charm helps. Thus, and so charmed, we unexpectedly found ourselves in an unfamiliar environment, in an elite shopping establishment, in between the Luxor and the Mandalay Bay, looking at the OroGold line of cosmetics. The fellow said that celebrities frequently come by (which I would believe, at this location) and even dropped a name or two.

A charming fellow named Tony informed us about the value of putting gold onto our skin. He said something to the effect that gold contains electrons and that those electrons infuse the skin and help pull it taut.

Nerd that I am, I wanted to inform him that the gold atom has complete electron shells, and is remarkably inert - in fact, inertness is one of gold's most important features - and that gold can't do much more to your skin than sit on it. But the fellow was so charming I chose to let the point slide....

Both Sally and I tried on the masque, and some eye serum, and thoroughly-enjoyed shopping at a level somewhat above our usual demographic. Because, when business drops off, the high-end merchant has to reach one-level-below to help sustain that precious cash flow.

The cost of what he showed us is about $700.00, which sounds high, but for a two-year's supply of high-end cosmetics, is actually quite reasonable.

I told the fellow I sometimes go to Sephora for cosmetics, but he pooh-poohed that establishment. "They make their cosmetics in China," he said. "Why would you put inferior products on your face?" And the fellow had a point. Why put Chinese seaweed on your face when you can put Italian seaweed on your face?

I mean, really.....

Kylie Minogue At The Pearl Concert Theatre, Palms Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV, USA, October 3, 2009

Vegas backdrop (in Oakland, the backdrop featured the Golden Gate Bridge).

"Can't Get You Out Of My Head"
A toe-touch leap from a backup dancer!
Nice pose!
"Confide In Me"

To my great surprise, in the audience participation part of the evening, Kylie requested whether "Leopard Man" was in the house. Even though I didn't see "Leopard Man" in the distant crowd, Kylie seemed satisfied that he was there. As I reported before audience participation at the October 1st Oakland show fell flat because "Leopard Man" wasn't there as she expected (he had apparently been there at the September 30th show). So, just who is this mysterious "Leopard Man", and why is he such a flake?

Kylie also brought a young girl (maybe age 3) from the audience onto the stage during one of her numbers for what must have been a memory-making event for the young girl. I was so surprised I naturally failed to get any photos of the event.

Acoustics were substantially better in the Pearl Theatre than they had been at the Fox Theatre, and the modern stage was better suited for the light show and dance numbers. In retrospect, the only thing the Fox Theatre really edged out the Pearl Theatre was with a better curtain.

Kylie Minogue - "Light Years" - Las Vegas - 2009 North American Tour

My first YouTube video! Hooray!

Oh, this is fun! People seem to like the quality, even with occasional glitches!

A Visit To The Liberace Museum

Usually, on my visits to Vegas, I hurry past the Liberace Museum. Last time, in August, I hurried past to get my oil changed at Jiffy Lube, farther east, on Tropicana Blvd. Saturday was different however....

Some people had negative views of Walter Liberace. He was America's precious, spoiled baby brother. Men steeped in machismo (e.g., my Dad) found his mincing ways grating.

Nevertheless, the women adored him, and with good cause. His flamboyantly kitschy ways disguised a true lover of good art, and he had a remarkably generous spirit. This Museum is a testament to his generosity. Indeed, with its elegance and derring do, it may be one of the best museums on Earth!

Left: What to wear; what to wear?

One of these outfits cost $ 750,000 in 1975 dollars. Another was in the 600K range (in 1984 dollars). Since Liberace's fortune was in the $100 million range, he could actually afford these extravagant costs!

Left: Cars, cars, cars!

Left: Pianos, pianos, pianos!

What did I forget?

Art, art, art!

Jewels, jewels, jewels!
Left: Turkey feathers. A million turkey feathers!

Below: A sort of Czarist Russian look.

Left: A man who loved his dogs!
Philip Fortenberry, associate conductor for the Las Vegas show "Jersey Boys", came to the Liberace museum on this day to rehearse his accompaniment for a UNLV flutist's recital. As a courtesy, he played 'Strangers In The Night' on this amazing piano with the lucite top. The piano was notable for its clarity, and Fortenberry was notable for his powerful and emotional style.
Of course, musical instruments are meant to be played; they make rather forlorn museum pieces. Thus, the Museum will allow people who sign a release to play on Liberace's Rhinestone piano. Here, a music student named Alan from Long Beach, CA, tries out the piano.
Left: John Broadwood Piano (c. 1788). This rare Broadwood piano made by John Broadwood of London is one of the oldest pianos in existence.

Departure To Las Vegas

Left: departure from SMF.
Left: Red Rocks, just west of Las Vegas.

Left: The Las Vegas Strip from the air.