Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We put the tirkey in the oven about 1:30 this afternoon. Yesterday Sara came over and made two pumpin pies. We are all set for supper tonight...the turkey is almost cooked. We very sadly watched the sad and shocking news in Mumbai and thoughts go to the people suffering there last night and today. Very scary...and here we are playing Bookopoly.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I didn't think Martha Stewart could be any funnier than with Snoop Dogg...but this episode with Stephen Colbert was brilliant!

Martha Stewart bloopers...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peter Gunn

I love Duanne Eddy, in fact, I had a t-shirt with him on it that I wore to the bone...and I love the Peterr Gunn song. Last week Dancing With The Stars did a great version. Is that an accordion?

One of my favourite bands, Art of Noise...did a version in 1986...this version would usually fill a dance floor back in those days.

And Henry Mancini...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Prince Moment

Snoop Dogg on the Martha Stewart show yesterday was really funny. Thats some good tv.

We are sick around here. But I still have tons of projects and housework that I have to keep working on so we've gottena little over tired and punchy. On Sunday, for example, we were laying down watchign movies and surfing channels and I went to Alvin and the Chipmunks a movie I had no intention of watching...well if Stagg and I didn't have tears running down our faces from laughing so hard. I have no idea if it's a good movie or not, but it is really cute. The chipmunks have had a make-over involving hoodies and hip hop and they are a riot. We keep saying "holy nuts" quoting one of the chipmunks. It could have been funny because we were so sick.

After missing some work Stagg went back to work and at one point, he noticed his boxer shorts were riding way over his jeans. WTF? And then he noticed they were way down on his hips. Then he noticed they were flared. He had accidently worn my Stella McCartney jeans to work. Don't tell anyone!

I must have hung up my jeans in his closet while I've been sick and delerious and dozy doing my chores: and Stagg had a Prince moment!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Transcendental Art Part 6

Transcendent Art Part 5

What is transcendent art?

I decided to find some some answers by googling the words and here is what I found today, a Washington Times book review on William De Kooning: The Transcendent Art, Sordid Life told In Telling Detail with this description ....There can hardly be a more treacherous subject for a biographer than the Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. At the time of his death in 1997 at the age of 92 he had, at least in America, almost come to equal Picasso in the popular imagination as a kind of art god, a figure of transcendent, history-changing accomplishment.

And a review and memoir in the Times Online in an article called Mark Rothko: 1961, Tranquil, Transcendent. I was 17, had recently run away from home, and would walk each day from the Lyons Corner House in Leadenhall Street, where I washed up and cleared tables, to the slum in Mile End where I slept on a floor. I was anxious, lonely and unsure of myself. And I survived by creating the image of another and less sordid world. This other world was pure, serene, its silence broken only by the footsteps of hidden friends. There was a cool ambient light, and the shadows were soft and still like pools of water.

One day I was walking back from work, my anxieties heightened by a quarrel with another washer-up, and reluctant to go at once to the house in Mile End, where the only company was that of drop-outs. On an impulse I stepped into the Whitechapel Gallery. I found myself at once in that other world of which I had dreamt. I looked around in astonishment at these cool, quiet canvases, many of them recently finished and exuding a sweet smell of linseed oil.

Their close resemblance to each other was not a fault. On the contrary, it enhanced their effect of stillness - like uniformed sentries standing before a shrine. And they spoke of an other-worldly tranquillity; looking into them your eyes met only depth and peace. For an hour I was lost in those paintings, not able to find words for what I saw in them, but experiencing it as a vision of transcendence. I went out into the street refreshed and rejoicing, and would visit the gallery every day until the exhibition closed.........Something in me wants to remain true to my adolescent vision. The beauty I imagined I also saw, and could not have seen without Rothko's aid. But I do not see it today, and wonder how much it was the product of the stress of adolescence, and of the strange, still atmosphere of the Whitechapel Gallery in those days when so few people visited it, and when those few were all in search of redemption from the world outside.

I found a review of several volumes on the life and work of dostoyevsky called Dostoyevsky's Trascendent Art... one of the most determinant aspects of Dostoevsky's character—the indomitability of his will, what he meant when he referred to himself as possessing "the vitality of a cat." There were many grave cuts across his life, but after each crisis and fall he emerged stronger than ever, eager to make a new start, filled with conviction and with faith.

Dostoevsky delivered one of his most astonishing speeches, one that was followed by a half-hour of convulsive applause and cheering. Speaking simply, directly, without dramatic exclamation, he traced Pushkin's career, emphasizing the portrait of the wanderings of the aimless aristocrat Onegin, contrasted with the stalwart moral beauty of Tatyana that was the natural expression of the Russian popular character; then he launched into his conclusion that Pushkin represented the best of the Russian character, open, generous, and now standing ready to provide a new model against the decrepit West, with its stern Roman Catholicism and the analytical skepticism of the Enlightenment. It is only from Russia that a new vision of Christ would come offering a different model for self-sacrifice and subjugation of the ego. Pushkin was a national poet, the voice of the Russian people, and he was universal by these very means. In the very process of the talk, Dostoevsky himself, now clearly Pushkin's heir, had moved from a pan-Slavism to a pan-humanism.

This brings us to one of his most critical and abiding insights—the need for human freedom, which will inform his next two major works and will set him most at odds with the new radical intelligentsia of the 1860s. In what could be identified as his "Dostoevskian" manner, he sees through the most paradoxical and convulsive behavior into its genuine motivations. Thus, a prisoner will work months at good behavior, even amass a sum of money, only to blow it all in an outbreak of drunkenness and brawling, almost certain to receive the punishment of flogging and increased prison time. Dostoevsky does not look upon this as would a bluestocking but sees underneath it an unquenchable desire to be free, to be somebody, to express one's rights as an individual. In The House of the Dead—and the title increasingly becomes ironic—Dostoevsky shows his fascination with the varieties of human existence, with the importance of life itself and hope, and the ways humans will take to express their individuality, their enduring need for freedom.

The Contemporary Arts Institute Houston had an exhibit titled
The Inward Eye:Transcendence in Contemporary Art
in 2002, and here is what they had to say Conceived as a kind of contemporary cabinet of wonders, the audience will have the opportunity to encounter these diverse works individually and discover the range of ways in which contemporary art can bring us into closer contact with life's intangibles, inspiring reverie and summoning what French novelist Marcel Proust called our involuntary memory.

What Transcendent things might you learn on a skateboard?

To understand what makes skateboarding so compelling, so fascinating to the maniacal hoodlums that dwell in every neighborhood from the ghettoes to the hills, you must look beneath the surface and recognize the internal processes at work. Kids are not risking their teeth, wrists, testicles and spinal cords jumping down staircases into traffic because they think it will make their friends like them more. They don’t do it because it’s anti-establishment or high-fashion or some kind of career path towards being a video game soda guy with a TV show. There are better ways of social climbing that don’t involve rolling around in gutters bleeding from the palms as calls of “faggot!” come from passing cars. Skateboarding is hotter than hell and the source of so much expression and inspiration and mind-blowing progression because it consumes the participant in the fire of self-transformation. Kids — humans in general — need to grow, and we do it by sparking the creative energy that resides in our bones. Skateboarding, the unencumbered progressive form, is a vital opportunity to learn.

Generally speaking there are four ways to learn: rote (practice, practice, practice), informal (learning from life experience), formal (teachers, schools, educational systems), and non-formal (organized learning that takes place outside of formal learning systems). It is worth noting that play is categorized as an informal learning technique, regarded as advanced behavior seen only in developed vertebrates with the security for leisure time: big cats, orcas, human beings, etc. For the sake of this argument, we’ll use a Wikipedia definition of play: “behavior which has no particular end in itself, but improves performance in similar situations in the future.”

"What transcendent things might you learn on a skateboard? How could this knowledge be applied? Contemplate the following: a skateboarder develops advanced fear management by confronting physical dangers and repeatedly conquering the self-preservation mechanisms of the ego. Skating sharpens physical problem-solving skills: discovering different ways to perceive and navigate obscure geometric spaces, finding efficient lines and opportunities where a lesser adept might see nothing at all. Skateboarders understand gravity and radial acceleration perhaps better than anyone alive. Skateboarders develop balance and awareness. Skateboarding fosters skills of focus, perseverance, independence, patience, visualization, actualization, and commitment. It also worth noting that skating well can improve the ability to shine—that is, to perform unexpected and unprecedented maneuvers, cast in a certain light of style, for others to behold. Skateboarders learn to evolve, and learn to communicate those insights so that others are inspired to evolve as well.

As a successful non-formal learning community, skaters tend to eschew imposed regulations and teaching techniques. Skateboarding is constant independent study, so there is no need for school. How you choose to interact and study and learn the art of skateboarding is up to the individual skater alone. But for the sake of Advanced Standing, where we consider the mind-body continuum as experienced through skateboarding, I would like to address a radical spiritual teaching, a formal learning technique, that might be applicable to the material process of sidewalk surfing: the Buddhist concept of Shoshin—Beginner’s Mind.

Transcendental Art Part 1 and here
Transcendental Art Part 2
Transcendent Art Part 3
Transcendental Art Part 4

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why Did Art and Poetry Isolate and Self-Destruct?

A couple years ago, Camille Paglia edited an anthology of poetry called Break, Blow Burn. She recently wrote an article about how she chose certain poems over others, and explains why she feels artists and poets have isolated and self-destructed...because they are not working for the general populace. Although it is not always easy to agree with Paglia, no one can doubt her passion to art, teaching and the lost art of poetry. Here are some excerpts from her dynamo! expose on poetry in America today:

A. R. Ammons’ “Mechanism” upset me severely and still does. This poem should have been the dramatic climax of Break, Blow, Burn. In fact, it should have been one of the greatest poems of the twentieth century. Its vision of complex systems operating simultaneously in human beings and animal nature is at the very highest level of artistic inspiration. But in execution, the poem is a shambles, with weak transitions and phrasings that veer from the derivative to the pedantic. “Mechanism” is my primary exhibit for the isolation and self-destruction of American poetry over the past forty years:


Honor a going thing, goldfinch, corporation, tree,
morality: any working order,
animate or inanimate: it

has managed directed balance,
the incoming and outgoing energies are working right,
some energy left to the mechanism,

some ash, enough energy held
to maintain the order in repair,
assure further consumption of entropy,

expending energy to strengthen order:
honor the persisting reactor,
the container of change, the moderator: the yellow

bird flashes black wing-bars
in the new-leaving wild cherry bushes by the bay,
startles the hawk with beauty,

flitting to a branch where
flash vanishes into stillness,
hawk addled by the sudden loss of sight:

honor the chemistries, platelets, hemoglobin kinetics,
the light-sensitive iris, the enzymic intricacies
of control,

the gastric transformations, seed
dissolved to acrid liquors, synthesized into
chirp, vitreous humor, knowledge,

blood compulsion, instinct: honor the
unique genes,
molecules that reproduce themselves, divide into

sets, the nucleic grain transmitted
in slow change through ages of rising and falling form,
some cells set aside for the special work, mind

or perception rising into orders of courtship,
territorial rights, mind rising
from the physical chemistries

to guarantee that genes will be exchanged, male
and female met, the satisfactions cloaking a deeper
racial satisfaction:

heat kept by a feathered skin:
the living alembic, body heat maintained (bunsen
burner under the flask)

so the chemistries can proceed, reaction rates
interdependent, self-adjusting, with optimum
efficiency—the vessel firm, the flame

staying: isolated, contained reactions! the precise and
necessary worked out of random, reproducible,
the handiwork redeemed from chance, while the

goldfinch, unconscious of the billion operations
that stay its form, flashes, chirping (not a
great songster) in the bay cherry bushes wild of leaf.

Connecting sexual “courtship” to state-guaranteed “territorial rights,” Ammons is using an anthropological lens to focus on the ancient birth of civilization itself in law and contract. And by conflating history, science, economy, and art, he would end the war between the artist and commercial society that began with the Industrial Revolution and that has resulted in the artist’s pitiful marginalization in an era dominated by mass media.

“Mechanism” approaches a view of consciousness itself as a product of evolutionary biology. The minute chemistry of enzymes and platelets is made almost psychedelically visible. The poem makes us ponder huge questions: are we merely flitting goldfinches in nature’s master plan? Is free will an illusion? Is art too a product of natural design? But the poem is fatally weakened by its abstruse diction, bombastic syntax, and factitious format. Why did Ammons choose these untidy staggered triads?

Related Links:

-The entire article is here.
-And if you want a wicked experience of poetry check out her anthology Break, Burn, Blow: 43 of The World's Best Poems.
-New York Times review of Break, Burn, Blow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Housework Hell: "The Reveal!"

Every now and then ya gotta reel it in. Stagg's studio was taking up more and more space on the floor and he would have to take an hour just to set up and get space to work. I've been wanting to get shelves for him for quite a while, and on the weekned Sara gave us a ride to pick up supplies. The above photo is Stagg's studio space on Friday night. Can you see his his black drawing board/desk? It's buried behind canvases and god knows what else.

We share the living room as a work space and this is "my half". Lately...I knew we were in trouble...entering an event horizon when Stagg starting working on my side of the room. Ahem. We both use this "paint caddy"'s a kitchen butcher block, on wheels, that we found in the garbage a couple of years ago and hauled it inside. We can move our paints and a little work area near our paintings and it's great. Lately it's been bending under the weight of paint and tools. Stagg and I have very different styles of I had to come up with something that would work for him.

Some tools of the trade.

"The Reveal!" Well, this is after. You can see where I've made a protective flooring with the first layer plastic, then cardboard duct taped all to protect the original floor. We sorted out all of his boxes with and separated materials. We went through all his variety of collage materials and are putting them on the shelves. Usually he has boxes filled with things he finds on the street, or papers, any kind of empherma...and then he loses them quite often in a box somewhere. We found all kinds of treasures. Tonight he is putting together a bunch of things for Mail Art. I am going to film him putting a couple of Mail Art pieces together and going to the post office to send them on the weekend. And Look! You can see his drawing board/desk! He can actually sit on a chair and use it now. I am hanging plastic on the clear wall next to it, to protect the wall, so he can do larger paintings and drip or spill with no worries.

Here is a definition of Mail Art
Mail Art blog

Monday, November 10, 2008

Chicagoland Party!

We had a wedding reception with our family and friends this Saturday. We all met at a great restaurant called Don Juans in Edison Park. I will post pictures from the family gathering, although you can see some of the friends and family in the following video. (there were 35 of us, lots of margeritias and snacks) Sara and Steve, from my online bookclub joined us. Sara lives in Chicago...and Steve drove with his friend Betty from Iowa! Steve and I have known each other since spring 2000, having written many e-mails and participated in tons of book discussions. But we had never "met in real life"...this was so great! Above is a picture (my cell phone, sorry) of Steve, Sara and I.

I just put this video together of brief outtakes of the weekend. It's kind of disjointed because I was busy all day...reorganizing Stagg's studio, assembling shelves and out all afternoon with Sara, for coffee and groceries. The first face you see is Stagg's good buddy Jim. I couldn't believe it but Steve, Jim and Stagg all love Gov't Mule and Moe!!!! You can get a quick feel for the reception...and then there is a quick solo of Joanna Connor, and then some visiting in the hotel Sunday morning with Betty and Steve.

Steve took most of these pictures. This one is Betty in front of the stage at Buddy Guys. I am way too tired to post much more than these pics and the video. We saw Joanna Connor, Harmonica Hids and Carl Weathersby at Buddy Guys.

Beautiful Steve and Betty.

I am very happy after a huge dinner. Jim had a burger. Betty and I had ribs with mashed potatoes, collard greens, and she had a pecan pie and I had the chocolate cake with khalua sauce! Stagg had chicken fried steak and Steve had catfish. And Stagg ate what I couldn't finish. Click on yellow text to see pictures of ribs and the amazing chocolate cake.

Joanna Connor. I'm sorry I can't remember her guitarist right now...but he played the most beautiful warm oaky sounds on his gibson. (hey on the yellow text and you can see pics of Joanna last time we saw her play)

Joanna Connor.

Carl Weathersby.

Corey, the guitarist with Carl Weathersby.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Words Are Organic

I have thought about my parents a few times this week because my parents loved President Kennedy. They had two hardcover photography books of the First Family. I think one of them was a Time-Life publication. It might have been called Camelot. And sometimes my mum would pull them out...and many times over the years the subject of where they were when he was shot would come up at family gatherings.

I think I understand aa bit more why the motif of that First Family was so dear to their hearts, how J and J Kennedy reflected their ideals at that period of their lives...and even how their eventual pessisim and cynicism...their change in life choices became more selfish etc. I feel now that the robbery of Kennedy's life and the crushing of those ideals...refelcted or connected to the changes my parents went trhough...from hope and family or community to a more cynical and self interested phase: were a little like an act of self-protection from disappointment.

My parents really believed later in life that there wasn't any value in hope or their attitude towards ideals was extremely suspicious. They had seen that dreams and ideals could be killed: community energy could be ripped away. I guess also with Nixon scandal too.

I see a metaphor in Obamas accomplishments the Berlin Wall being torn down (November, 1989). The young people who tore down the Berlin wall had learned vital lessons from Tiananmen Square(spring, and June 1989). They spread word of mouth and knew how to rally much much more prepared than the students in Tiananmen did...because they were able to study the media coverage and the fallout.

In this way...Obama may have a lot of a mess and intense challenges...but his staff and his advisors also have the wealth of history on "what not to do" and how to mobilize from taking notes on the last 50 years...much like the word-of-mouth activists and mobilizing of the Berlin Wall take down.

Contrary to the idea that Reagan was influential o the Berlin Wall coming was actually rock and roll and a movement building slowly unknown by people like Reagan. The influence of bands like Pink Floyd mirror the influence of in the Obama campaign and it's grassroots energy.

I think one thing that has hit me this week is the difference in the kind of sense of hope from us now to the kind of hope of people shocked by tragedy (and then becoming cynical or self protectionist).

I am thinking of Victor Frankl's idea of a tragic that knows about the tragic side of history and humans...but being re-visited and felt by so many of us now...

I have heard in some of my other web board encounters a kind of "warning" like...too much hope is unrealistic...etc etc

But I think part of what the naysayers are missing is that the hope or excitement of people right now isn't a naive hope or a hope with vested interest in materialism or pay back. But hope spiritually or emotionally combined as well as "taking care of business". This is why Obama's popularity and his platforms have not only been a victory for African-Americans and for variety of skin colour...they are a victory for people who have not been part of the materialistic trends or feel they want to re-evaluate society's function of the last 50 years.

I think hope has evolved it's meaning or layers of meaning in the last 50 years...

As an example, according to Victor Frankl meaning can be discovered in three ways:

* By creating a work or doing a deed
* By experiencing something or encountering someone
* By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

The “existential aspect of Frankl’s psychotherapy maintains man always has the ability to choose; no matter the biological, or environmental forces. An important aspect of this therapy is known as the “tragic triad,” pain, guilt, and death. Frankl’s “Case for a Tragic Optimism” uses this philosophy to demonstrate…

“optimism in the face of tragedy and in view of the human potential, which at its best always allows for:

Firstly, turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment.

Secondly, deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better.

Thirdly, deriving from life transitoriness an incentive to take responsible action."

Related Links:

My visit to Dealey Plaza last year
Victor Frankl
An interview with Victor Frankl on YouTube

Thursday, November 06, 2008

About Vegas Part 1

Right this in the Marriage Burreau of downtown Las Vegas where the State of Nevada issues marriage licences. So I am going to go through a bit of our trip to Vegas...I know I am so slow at this...okay. So we got to Vegas at 11:30 Friday night after Stagg got off work. My sis, daughter and J and S waited up for us. They had got in hours earlier. I had never seen any of them ever EVER that tired and loaded...ever. It was hilarious and Stagg and I leaped into action with them at the hotel bar. We dropped off our bags and went back downstairs to catch up. We landed up staying up after they all went to bed...we were all in the same hotel so it made for finding each other super easy. Stagg I ended up staying away till about 4:40. Vegas time! About 6:30 eastern time. We planned on hitting the licence office five minutes before it opened. As I set my cell phone to wake us we decided to instead sleep till 8:30. The court house is open for marriage licences 8a.m. till midnight every day. (except xmas I think). I woke up quite early and went down to the casino for a coffee. Then went back up to wake Stagg. And off we go...with the promise that he could go back to sleep in an hour after we get our licence. Hmmm....Stagg and I are both people who never seem to be able to do things the easy way. Seriously, we both are people who everything sems to be more difficult for us than for's really quite funny. We're not the most "organized" folks...or "logical"...A week earlier with our crazy plan I checked out a bunch of details Vegas promised to be the easiest place in the world to get married. Okay. So we grab a taxi. Half way to down town we take credit cards right? Nope. So we only have 7 bucks. Who needs cash? Right? So the fare is 7 bucks. We give him our money and get out of the taxi. In nowhere. We can see the strip in the distance. We are near some abandoned stores. And a carpet stores. So we track down a taxi that takes credit cards. We didn't go to the bank on the way to the airport. My sister was picking up U.S. cash for me (she bought my wedding dress) so we were fine. Stagg doesn't like debit cards. We'll be fine. We get to the licence place...yeah! No line up!!!! Right straght we fill out the paperwork, very straightforward and simple. We go to the booth and after a few minutes the woman says "okay you're done."

I realized that I should and could take a photo of this moment with my cell phone. The above picture of my wonderful guy is at the precise second the woman adds "we don't take credit cards." as Stagg passes her his credit card and he is about to turn to me and go "Uh oh!". this point we had the tai waiting for us because he takes credit cards and he said "oh yeah, they take credit cards and I'll wait for you. You'll only be a few minutes". So back in the taxi and back to the hotel. I realize hey, I'll call my sister and she can meet us in the lobby with cash. I phone her and she says "Hi. What time is it?" OH shit. I forgot we had woken up so early! So I get Stagg to wait in the taxi whie I run up to my sisters room where she and my daughter are reasonable people...therefore still asleep. We grab some cash and I say "Hey come with us, it'll be fun!". I'm getting giddy because technically...Stagg and I are now married. The peperwork is all all the nervousnessI had been feelig for a few days is SLOWLY melting away. Tiff and the Underground Baker are throwing on clothes and we run down to the taxi to go to the marriage licence place. By the time we picked up the licences...and my sis took pictures of us the taxi bill was getting past 50 bukcs! We keppt him waiting for us...none of us had had coffee yet so we got him to take us to a Starbucks and a grocery store and drop us off. We landed up sitting in Starbucks for over an hour just laughing and talking...and we all realized we had never ever sat and hung out in a Starbucks before. By this time, Stagg had only had about 3 hours of sleep (I had about 2...but was too excited to sleep) so I had woken him thinking it would take about an hour to get to licence burreau...ha! He went back to sleep around 1 till 8. The rest of us went to the pool and hot tub.

View from hotel room deck. Stagg had two fears. His first fear was that I would be bombed. You see Stagg knows I get excited with my family..and Stagg and I are like tea grannies these days. We've been known to have a case of beer, or some wine sit around and never touched, like for weeks. But here we're going to Vegas and the guy was worried. I said, "Don't worry. I won't be bombed because I'll be drinking all day. Once you drink in the morning you kind of reach a platteau. And I can nap." I never did nap...but I never did get bombed either heh heh. Stagg's other big fear is that I would gamble away all the money I could find. I am so not a gamlber. But I have a new found enjoyment of playing slots...I treat them like a video game or cartoon. I pick out the ones I like with the cool pictures. I liked "Wizard of Oz" (won $150), I liked "Alien" (won $185), I liked "Wheel of Fortune" (Stagg and I won $140...he was in shock that you could actually win) and I liked "King Kong" (I won $72)...all in win I only put in $20 bucks and wouldn't go lower than $10. I had a bit of luck.

I haven't posted a lot of pictures of our trip basically because I simply didn't have any-and they had to pass everuon'e's approval...but my sister and J e-mailed some. Not everyone we know blogs so we had to mass respect editing processes heh heh. I took a few on my cell phone...the ones I posted earlier by the pool...and there are a couple here too. We haven't a still camera as ours went on the fritz and we have looked at cameras...but not made any decisions. I brought my handy cam...but at some point gave up the idea of taking video. You see...there is some diplomacy involved in travelling with a bunch of folks. Not every one blogs. And not everyone wants or feels comfortable with their pics on the internet. So my sister e-mailed me some pics and we went through them and edited them out. J spent a couple of hours deleting many of her pictures and was able to send them last night. Think about that next time Vanity Fair has one of those group shots by Annie Liebowitz. The above photo was taken by our bartender...who seems quite gifted, or lucky. Or likely he has taken hundreds of tourist shots just like the above. We are all ready to go out for dinner at the Peppermill. I am wearing one of my favourite tops...right out of "dancing with the stars" with all the fringe...

Above is the Peppermill. I was really looking forward to visiting this joint's featured in the movie Casino (maybe in Swingers too) and has an amazing atmosphere. You can't see it so well in this pic but there are silk cherry trees all in around the lounges, yes, that's a fire pit and pool under the tv screens. Last time I was here there weren't any tv screens. But, it is still deadly cool. In 1971, two life-long friends, Bill Paganetti and Nat Carasali purchased a small coffee shop and lounge on what was then the southern outskirts of Reno. (Las Vegas in film)

Tiff and Stagg among the slot machines.

As we went outside to get a taxi for the Peppermill we landed up pulling a Bob Dylan and we rented a Cadillac Escalade to take us...down the was fun. Mister Anchovy and Tuffy P had a monorail pass, and A and B hadn't landed yet and they all were meeting us at the restaurant. These two are in one of the back seats...

J and S.
After supper at the Peppermill, around midnight, we went to a bar called The Red Room Saloon and danced till about 4 a.m.

I really liked the art work at this club. They were all building landscapes and kind of cool.

About Vegas, Part 2

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Drank The Kool-Aid And It Tastes Like Champagne!!!!



Headlines from CNNBC "Obama's Loss Traced To Candy Minx"

Dear visitors, I know what it feels like today to not be able to vote. The whole world is watching today...what will happen? Thank you Greg, for e-mailing me this video this morning.

Dear Buddha, Ishtar, Isis, Khrisna, Ganesh, Ahtena and all those smooth goddesses and mortals rock the vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008

About Vegas Part 2

All of our rooms had drinks in ice. It must be done. My sis and I LOVE champagne. Cheap. Expensive. Whatever. YUM!

We had heard that the HardRock opens their pool to the public on Sundays. So we totally wanted to check it out. Our hotel kept closing the pool because of "weather". So...we wanted drinks served and a place to swim, hell we're Canadian. Tuffy P and Mister Anchovy and Anita and Behzad ...had gone sightseeing. Again, Vegas is good because it offers a lot of different activities for a group of people. I am so into beach and pool culture...but not all my friends share the love. So, it was great for the day everyone found something to do or check out. This was all new for Stagg who hasn't really spent time swimming since he was a kid. I drag him into all our hotel pools and even the local rec centre. Look at the poor lifeguard...he has a hoodie all done up and towels wrapped around him. This was cold for Vegas residents. The first major difference with this casino compared to the one we were staying in and others we had visited...the customers were so much better looking!!! Over all. We saw Pink's ex who was there with a big biker rally raising money for autism. They had a killer live band warming up as we walked around the pool in an area roped off for their event. We could see all the bandanas and leather chaps and actual bikes in section behind the bar.

When we walked on to the pool area staff looked a little worried. Who were these people? Why would they hang out here on such a cold day? We wandered around looking for a spot to settle but then we saw these cabanas. We asked our server how much they were etc and it turns out they are $250...unless you spend $250...then they are free. Ha. Sheesh we'll drink that in a couple hours! We ordered up pina coladas with our souvenier HardRock cups, Baileys, beer, sliders, fries etc.

Our view from the cabana at the poolside of HardRock Casino. We had the best service. They took such good care of us and lots of staff came over to say hi or see if we were doing okay. Maybe they thought we were so nuts in such cold weather that we were "secret shoppers". I don't know but treat yourself to a day at the pool there sometime. Yippee!

A Canadian in summer black.

I grabbed the camera when I saw my sister redecorating. At this point S. is saying "so the whole family is stubborn huh?" She still doesn't see what is so funny about this sight but these were huge lounge chairs and she is hauling it from another part of the pool area entirely.

The big flat screen tv in the cabana was a hoot!

Okay, so we get all settled into the cabana, order up food and drinks..and then we change into our swim suits. Okay, only three of us change into our swim suits. It's just cold in the air...nevermind what the pool might feel like. But...there is a water slide.J. my daughter and I have to go on the waterslide. You saw the poor lifeguard, these folks are freezing...and apparently the pool isn't heated. At all. We're Canadian. We've swam in Lake Huron in November. Big deal. So we change. And as we walk towards the water slide...I realize no way I can do this without a quick detour. I need a rest room. It's so cold in the air I don't think I can last past the waterslide. We drop off our towels at the water slide and walk to find the rest room. The rest room is all the way around the bar. Oh No. It' appears to be near the location of the bike rally. We approach a bouncer who asks "the rest room ladies?" We say "Yes." He says" just walk past all those bikers and turn left". We move forward regressing right back to walking down the halls at high school. Only worse, we really ARE in our bathing suits. I hear my daughter say "I hate you both". I hear the bouncer say "Work it ladies, work it work it!"

Yes, those are said bikers. Trust me,. the water slide was totally freezing. And actually, for a few seconds it is pitch black and terrifying...I could hear J screaming in front of me and T screaming behind me. I was sure we would all kill each other in the freezing cold tunnel. It was scary how cold the actual pool was when landing off the slide. Ouch! But not as scary as walking past all the bikers in our bikinis.

In this picture you can see Stagg laughing and getting his drink on with his steady flow of Bailey's on ice.

After the waterslide we realized we were so damn cold we needed the hot tub. adventuring women (my sister video taped us coming out of the waterslide on her camera but hasn't found it yet) went off wrapped up warm to find the hot tub. As we approached the hot tub we see four guys with tats mohawks and dozens of beer and smokes set up around them in the hot tub, real cool looking dudes and they also had this major attitude as we appraoched. Like: "This is our hot tub we have tats and mohawks--BOO!". We say "Hi, is how is the hot tub?". One of the guys says "We've been peeing in it since 10:30 this morning, it's nice and warm." As I am stepping into the pool to join my daughter and J...I say "Oh well, that's okay, we're having our periods."

J spit out part of her drink, as the guy says to me..."oh wow...I uh...don't know what to say. I'm stunned" I am smiling. J says "I've known her for 20 years and I don't know what to say." He says "cheers, you win" and they kind of had this huge respect for us and then asked "Where you from?" I say "Canada." He says "Riiigggghhht." Anyways we landed up having a fun time in the hot tub after the real estate and ground rules were all staked out.

Who in their right mind would marry this woman? Rock on!

Back at the Sahara, we had no problem finding ways to hang out and relax. Almost all of them meant starting one's day slightly after breakfast and coffee with booze. Hence it was so diffcult to find flattering pics of us all or pics in focus etc heh heh!

One evening just before J and S had to go, we decide to find a good place for dinner. The food in Vegas is amazing. Sure, burgers at the HardRock you can have anywhere in the world...but since Vegas used to have a reputation as bad buffets at midnight in the 90's the casinos went out of their way to hire some of the best chefs in the world. You can find a nice hot sandwich for $7, a good burger at the Sahara for $8 (It was really VERY good actually) and then you can go nuts. We couldn't afford to go nuts, but when I was on the strip one night, it occured to me we might be able to find a good French restaurant. Oh I love French food! J had done some research and had written down a restaurant at the new Wynn casino. So off we went. The casino is conservative, but gorgeous. Beautiful colours and game areas, and the restaurants are quite lovely in decor. I hope I can remember what we ordered, French Onion Soup (I am addicted to French Onion Soup...been known to have it every day) a $36 burger, muscles, steak frite (freedom fries) artisanal cheeses, roasted beet salad (with cabrales blue cheese, walnuts, endives) escargots, flourless chocolate cake, pistachio ice cream. was awesome! And a couple bottles of modest red wine. Sorry forgot the was the least expensive one on the menu. We each spent $75 which I thought was extremely reasonable and fair for such a good meal. (and atmosphere!)

This is a photo for S because he loved the washroom and when I took it, I also thought of Wandering Coyote...because she teased me about taking pics of bathrooms and also of graffiti. This wonderful ladies room did not have graffiti! I was thrilled we went to Boulud's a celebrity chef because he was a guest judge on Top Chef!!! (the episode and season with Hung, Sara, Dale) (I also kept a chocolate...and some paper serviettes from the washroom to mail to S at a later date as a joke because he was so thrilled with the restrooms!)

If you weren't convinced what a nerd I am for the reality show Top Chef I am actually posting a pic of Boulud from the episode! With this gesture I may have reached new heights of geeking out. I also went to another restaurant in Chicago, with a local chef featured in the series. Help!

Rick Bayliss with Padma. He has a joint in Chicago, and I took a bunch of pictures but keep not getting around to posting them, I should...

Here we are at Daniel Boulud's French Brasserie in the Wynn Casino. How can I describe the light show? Did you ever see the opening of the France 1992 Olympics? Kind of like that married to The Prisoner. Floating balls, lights, giant frogs, giant heads, coloured lights in water crazy music. It was really actually kind of cool. The glowing ball behind our heads is part of the evolving light show...I wish my sister was still with us. We were trying to find her some places...but we really needed more time. My sister as you all know is experience in cooking and sampling Mexican, Vietnamese and many other cuisines and has been to the locations of many of her favourite foods and cooking.

After dinner in the cool foyer of the Wynn Casino outside Daniel Boulud's restaurant. Those are umbrellas kind of was really pretty. I took a pic of these guys on the escalator with a proper camera...but this cell phone one is the best I can do for now. Oh wait, yeah is a clear image of the foyer.

Okay...eventually I have found some video of this fountain dinner water show thingie at the Daniel Boulud Brasserie...see, it really is like some kind of's apparently called "Lake of Dreams".

Having decorated many nightclubs myself over the years I found myself trying to figure out how it was made. S and I have both worked on restaurants opening or some aspect of building or design with a number of new restaurants in Toronto. So we both kind of got into deconstructing the display. Balls like "Rover" in the 60's tv show The Prisoner seem to be on remote controlled "cars" with timers. I am sure many dinner guests have a similar discussion. In the "lake" occassionally a huge three dimensional head comes out which is plain white to serve as a movie screen. Then a variety of forms, faces, colours are projected. Here like the following:
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