November 2008

The Media's Allegedly Impossible Standard Of Beauty: Las Vegas Observation


The theory goes like this: advertisers present female consumers with an ideal, impossible standard beauty. They do this so women feel perpetually inadequate and insecure, which keeps them buying and buying in the hopes of achieving the unachievable, of becoming one of the magazine women. The magazine women, though, have no real world counterpart. They’re not only the product of plastic surgery, personal trainers, makeup artists and hair stylists, but of Photoshop artists. They’re a myth.

There’s a hole in that argument, but you won’t spot it by reading the above paragraph alone. If you spend some time in the Bellagio, though, you’ll spot the hole for sure. You’ll spot it walking by you every few seconds. I did last night, at least. The supposedly impossible standard of female beauty is not only possible, not only achievable, but has been achieved, by every other woman in the place.

A Bit More Complex than the Rules of Fight Club


A month ago I bought a Casio 76-key electric keyboard. It came with a list of 13 “IMPORTANT SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS.” Number five, for example was “Do not use this apparatus near water.” And number 11 was “Only use attachments/accessories specified by the manufacturer.”

I now present you with IMPORTANT SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS numbers one through four:

(Before I do, please believe me when I say this is not a joke. Really. This is what safety instructions one through four say. Swear to God. Okay? Okay.)

1. Read these instructions.
2. Keep these instructions
3. Heed all warnings
4. Follow all instructions

Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers and Roro The Clown


If you’re anything like my parents, you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to these past two days. Here goes:

November 18th: Bought Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers. Better than Tipping Point, worse than Blink. Here’s the one sentence summary: all those amazing people out there, who, by the sheer force of their talent and perseverance, have defied the odds and succeeded wildly…have gotten some help along the way—more than you realize.

November 19th: Cleaned cat hair from all my clothes, argued with a bookstore employee about the existence of ghosts, ate manicotti with a promo model, contact juggling/card manipulation lesson with Roro The Clown, then Root Beer Vodka shots.

Diplomacy in Card Counting, Diplomacy in the Air


Two days ago I got kicked out of Gold Coast for card counting. I was playing at the ten-dollar minimum bet table, so I didn’t think they’d watch me too carefully, but clearly I was wrong. I’d only been playing an hour. The pit boss told me they security had tracked my play over fourteen double-decks. At first, I played dumb, and the pit boss went, “Sir, let’s not insult each other’s intelligence here.”

What a diplomat.

When I get back to Vegas next week, I’ll try counting at a different casino. Hopefully they’re not in sync.


I don’t often say obnoxious things, but often think of obnoxious things I could say. For example, yesterday I was flying back home to Michigan to do a book reading, and on the plane I was reading Psychology Today magazine, and I didn’t have my personal light—the one next to the air jet—turned on because it was too bright and hurt my eyes. So the stewardess came over, gave me a funny look, reached above my head and turned my light on for me, and then gave me another funny look. I just looked back at her.

“What,” she said, “you like reading with the light off?” She said it like I had offended her.

Here’s what I probably should have, but didn’t say in response: “What I like is like making decisions for myself.”

I chickened out thought.

Criss Angel: BeLIEve. Not My Review, But Some Other Ones. My Review's Pending.


Last night I saw Criss Angel’s show BELIEVE at the LUXOR.

A lot of magicians don’t like Angel, but the fact is, the guy has performed more magic on TV than anybody else in history, and he’s gotten to do that because TONS of non-magicians like him. And I’m a fan of anybody who brings interest to the field of magic. It’s a dying art and we need more magicians like Angel, who bring it to different types of people.

As for Angel’s stage show, which opened a week ago…reviews haven’t been good. Actually, they’ve been awful.

There are three types of awful theatre reviews. First of all, there’s the classic “Here’s Why This Show Sucks Review” Example: Joe Brown’s Las Vegas Sun review:

“Cirque throws everything in its considerable arsenal of stage genius at Angel — the expected array of lush, loud music, expert dancers and aerialists, lavish settings and boundary-breaking special effects, all intended to amaze. The single most amazing thing about “Believe” is that it’s still so boring. For a reported $100 million, Cirque has bought itself its first bona fide bomb….A charmless mook, Angel is a rudimentary stage performer—he’s barely believable playing himself.”

Next, there’s the There’s Nothing To Even Review Here, So I’m Going To Review On My Own Cleverness Review. Example: Reed Johnson of the Los Angeles Times wrote this:

“Believe that it's unbelievable. Unbelievably bad. In Las Vegas, his mash-up with Cirque du Soleil is a magic trick gone terribly wrong. If Criss Angel were blindfolded, straitjacketed, run over by a steamroller, locked in a steel box and dumped from a helicopter into the Pacific Ocean, he still might be easier to salvage from disaster than "Criss Angel: Believe," the gloomy, gothic muddle of a show that officially lurched into being on Halloween night like some patched-together Frankenstein's monster.”

Lastly there’s the I’ve Been A Professional Theatre Critic For Two Decades And You Seriously Expect Me To Waste My Time On This? You Do Well, Seeing As Though I’ve Got A Stoner Teenage Boy To Put Through College And I’m Contractually Obligated To Review This Abortion Of A Production, I’m Going To Do So The Way A My Son Would Because That’s What The Show Deserves Review. Example: In the Las Vegas Review Journal, Doug Elfman wrote this:

“Wooooooooow. Criss Angel's new Cirque du Soleil show is terrrrrrible. I had heard firsthand from some people who had seen "Believe" that it was abysmal and maybe unfixable, creatively. So my expectations were rock-bottom low (although open-minded), when I saw it Friday on opening night. And yet, it was EVEN WORSE than how it was described to me…Obviously, "Believe" was not made to be bad on purpose, and that makes things even worse, since they are TRYING to make a great show.”

I don’t think any of these reviews (or any other review I read) truly captured the show. I’m beginning to write my own review today and you’ll find it in my upcoming book…in like two years….but until then, let me ask, why do you think some people either LOVE or HATE Angel so much. Do you guys even watch his show/know who he is?

Let's Try An Experiment


Let’s try an experiment. I want you to take a few seconds to look through the cards in the above photo, and then I want you to select one on them in your mind. It doesn’t matter which one you pick, but be sure that you pick one before you read the paragraphs below or the comments.

Really—pick a card first and then continue reading.

Got one? Good.

I bet you picked the four of hearts. Most people do, and there’s a reason for it, which I will share in a future post…but before I do, I’m curious to hear what YOUR thinking process was like. Did you pick the four, and if so, why? And if not, why?

(I’m asking these things because I’m thinking of putting this trick/experiment in my next book and am curious to hear how often it works.)


Update: The Clerk Now Says They Received And Counted My Vote

A mix-up at the office, I'm told.  Pile of votes that were received but not processed when I had called.  I must have asked TWENTY TIMES whether there were any votes that were received but not processed yesterday, and they kept saying No, No, No....and, well, turns out that's exactly what happened.


They Didn't Count My Vote and I'm Fu#&ing Pissed


I’M FUC*(#&$G PISSED. Pardon my language but that’s what I’m feeling right now. I’ve tried SO FU@#U#@NG HARD to cast a ballot, and it looks like my vote isn’t going to be counted. I requested an absentee ballot from the Clerk’s office TWO WEEKS ago, and when it didn’t show up a week later, I requested ANOTHER ONE. THAT ONE showed up on Saturday. I promptly filled it out and went to the United States Post Office and paid $16.50 to OVERNIGHT the ballot to Michigan. The Postal worker assured me it would be on Monday. Well, somebody f@#*#ked up because it’s not there. I just called the clerk’s office and they told me they hadn’t received my ballot, and that the shipment of overnight mail from the Post Office had already arrived. My ballot wasn’t in it. So I called the Post Office in West Bloomfield and they said they didn’t have my ballot either. I put my parents’ address down as the Return Address, but it’s not at their house either. So, yeah, I’m f#*@king pissed because I’ve been denied my right to vote. I really wanted to participate in this election too. Tell you what, I know you’ve already decided who your voting for, but maybe…if you’re voting in Michigan (which, once again, I’m apparently NOT), you haven’t decided about the ballot initiatives yet. Maybe you don’t even know what they are. A lot of people skip over them ‘cause they’re tough to read and understand. One of them is Stem Cell research, the other is Medical Marijuana, and I encourage you to vote YES on both of them. Maybe everybody in your life is healthy and grand, but if not, let’s help them out. (And even if everybody is healthy and grand in YOUR life, there are a lot of sick people out there who could use some comfort and cures).

The Top Three Reasons Why You Should Vote


I voted yesterday, by absentee ballot. I suspect that if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to vote (or you already have), but if you’re not or haven’t, here are three points to consider

1) If the next president sucks and you vote for the other guy, when people complain about the state of the nation, you can say, “Don’t blame me; I voted for the other guy.” Actually, it’d probably be more efficient to just not vote at all because then, no matter who wins, you can say, “Don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him” when the country falls apart. Come to think of it, if you want to complain about the state on the nation AND vote, just vote for McCain because lets be real, he ain’t winning. Vote for McCain is what I’m trying to say. Unless, for you, issues are more important than complaining. That’s a personal decision you have to make.

2) You can get one of those “I voted” stickers which are great conversation starters. (e.g., “Look at my shirt! I voted! Did you?!” “Uh, do we know each other?”)

3) If you ever decide to run for public office, you can lecture potential voters about the importance of voting without being called a hypocrite.