Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Under The Boardwalk Documentary Showcases Monopoly

If you were asked to name the first board game that comes to mind, would that game you name be Monopoly? Arguably, Monopoly is the most celebrated board game in the history of board games. It has recently had its 75th anniversary and there is no sign of it’s popularity slowing down. Monopoly is as much part of pop culture as it is a board game. And there are so many ways to play the game, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone these days that hasn’t heard of the game. With a game as popular as Monopoly, you almost have to wonder why it took so long for there to be a documentary about it.

What is it about Monopoly that has made the game such an enduring success for so many decades? San Diego based filmmaker, Kevin Tostado decided to find out. Not only did Tostodo explore the history of the game, he traced the enduring legacy of the game in popular culture, met with serious collectors that like to collect just about anything that the Monopoly brand has licensed, and even spoke to a winner of the million dollar grand prize in McDonald’s annual Monopoly game. Perhaps the highlight of Tostado’s exploration of Monopoly was following some of the game’s most competitive players through the 2009 international championships, where every four years the national champions from over forty countries compete in hopes of being crowned the newest World Monopoly Champion. Kevin Tostado compiled his findings and presents an extensive look at the world of Monopoly in his new movie entitled “Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story.”

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Farmer Boys Hamburgers Uses Twitter To Reach Out

Yesterday, I decided to stop for some food after work and while driving through Escondido, I decided to stop at the Farmer Boys Restaurant on Valley Parkway. Farmer Boys is a chain of restaurants throughout Southern California although they have next to no presence at all in San Diego County. They have 2 stores in Escondido, but are mostly located in Riverside and San Bernadino counties. (They even have 2 locations in Las Vegas.)

The restaurants are pretty cool as a kind of hybrid fast food/sit down restaurant. You place your order at the counter like a fast food place and if you’re dining in, they give you a number and serve your order to your table on real plates with real flatware, not the disposable paper products of traditional fast food places. The place has a more rural appeal in terms of appearance and fits in with a country style home feeling, and is really quite a pleasant environment to dine in. And the service is quite friendly too.

Farmer Boys has the tagline “World’s Greatest Hamburgers” and while many places make that claim or something very similar, usually it’s just over inflated hype. Would I consider the burgers at Farmer Boys to be the World’s Greatest, no, not by a long shot. But what I would say is that they’re definitely on par or slightly above the average sit down restaurant. And while the tagline really focuses on burgers, they really do offer quite a selection of different things, burgers are just a small portion of the menu. They do offer a rather large breakfast menu, so they have a greater bit of variety than you’d expect for a place claiming to be a “burger” joint.

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A Modest Proposal For San Diego Indian Casinos

Las Vegas StripUnlike Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay entitled “A Modest Proposal” that suggest the Irish should sell their children to rich people as food, my modest proposal is a thought on how to improve Indian Gaming especially here in San Diego county. What I view as a big problem for Indian Gaming here is that the reservations are on land that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and in a lot of cases have fairly treacherous roads to get to them, and all the casinos are spread out way too far apart from each other to be a real draw.

The proposal I am suggesting is that the tribes should get together, and select one of the reservations that is either centrally located within the county or one that is easy to get to and in exchange for land or revenue from the other tribes, allow the other local tribes ownership rights to a section of the land in order to build their resort casinos. Essentially allowing for all the local Indian tribes to set up their casinos in one location and create a San Diego version of the Las Vegas strip. With all the local Indian casinos in a single location, it would create the ultimate Southern California gaming destination.

The benefit of a San Diego Strip of Indian Gaming casinos is that it would eliminate the problems of having horrible winding roads to get to the casinos. The reason being is that with ten current gaming tribes in San Diego county putting all their casinos in one place, between the ten of them, they could afford to create a set of large and safe roadways in and out of the strip area. The amount of effort to police the casinos could be consolidated, plus it would easier to market the casinos as all it would be easy to just advertise each casino as being part of the San Diego strip.

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Spending My Birthday At The Disneyland Resort (Part 2)

Grizzly River RaftingAs I made my way out of the Disneyland Park to meet up with both of my parents and my grandfather outside of the Rainforest Cafe in the Downtown Disney area, I realized I should have just gone over to Tomorrowland and gotten on the Monorail to ride over to the Downtown Disney area. What I ended up doing was heading back to the main entrance of the park, exiting through the entrance plaza, passing through the exit of the security check lines, and then having to basically walk the entire distance of the Downtown Disney area because I forgot the Rainforest Cafe was on the far side of the Downtown Disney area. And I also forgot it’s parked right next door to the Monorail station.

Normally I don’t mind the walk but after having done the previous day at Knott’s Berry Farm and all morning in the park in close to 100 degree heat, my legs were starting to get rashes from all the walking, so I was a bit sore by this point in the day. I was surprised I made it over to the Rainforest Cafe before my parents and grandfather. The Rainforest Cafe is near the parking lot and I was coming on foot from the middle of Disneyland and having to walk through the entire Downtown Disney area just to get there. I didn’t end up having to wait too long though, it was just a matter of trying to find a somewhat shady spot as the mid afternoon heat was really starting to take its toll.

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Roxy Monoxide Rocks The Beauty Bar For CD Pre-Release Party

Roxy Monoxide Beauty BarOne of my favorite local bands, Roxy Monoxide, announced they were going to have a pre-release party for the CD entitled “Another Day, Another Episode” at San Diego’s Beauty Bar located near the intersection of El Cajon Blvd. and Euclid Ave.

Having never been to the Beauty Bar, I looked them up online and comes to find out they are a chain of locations with Beauty Bar’s in a variety of cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Austin, and Brooklyn. They seem to have quite the concept. In style reminiscent of a 1950’s or 1960’s style beauty salon, it’s a full service bar. Think “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease crossed with alcohol and you’ll get the idea. Go to the bar and get your martini and sit under an old style salon hair dryer. Let’s just say, the B-52’s would never look out of place here. (Check out the photos of the venue here.)

San Diego’s Beauty Bar consists of a main bar area and a tented performance space in behind the bar that is connected via a roll door. It definitely wasn’t the most modern looking venue, but I liked the them of it. You have to appreciate the double meaning of calling the place the Beauty Bar, as it was certainly a bar in the alcohol sense of the world, and wouldn’t have been out of place with bar as in bar of soap. Personally I’m surprised the venue isn’t in Hillcrest.

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Sad News: Avenue Q And 9 to 5 Closing On Broadway In September

Avenue Q & 9 To 5I’m sad to report that two great shows on Broadway are closing down in early September. Avenue Q, which has been running since July 2003 will close on September 13th, 2009. The musical 9 to 5 which opened in April of this year will be closing on September 6th, 2009. I’m really disappointed because I love both shows and was hoping at least to see 9 to 5 when I go to New York in late September and both will be done and gone by then.

Avenue Q, I first saw during its run in Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel and then saw it a few more times when it was here in San Diego before launching its national tour. I saw 9 to 5 during it’s pre-Broadway tryout in Los Angeles. The sad part with the 9 to 5 closing is that it was announced the day after the cast album was officially in stores nationwide.

If you happen to be in New York before these shows shut down, try and get tickets. For information on Avenue Q, visit AvenueQ.com. For 9 to 5 visit, 9to5TheMusical.com. In any case, both shows will live on in Touring versions. Avenue Q is currently on tour and 9 To 5 will launch on tour in Nashville in September 2010.

“Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie

Mamma Mia! Parody With Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Joanna LumleyMy friend Merrick Wolfe, who served as the Company Manager for the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! at the Mandalay Bay for the first year of the production, always thought that the roles of Rosie and Tanya for a film version of the movie should be played by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders of the British comedy team, French & Saunders. Merrick thought this long before a filmed version of Mamma Mia! was ever set to become a reality.

Well Mamma Mia! The Movie swept the world last year with Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the roles, but now Merrick has sort of gotten his wish in that, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, have chosen to do a send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie for the BBC’s annual Red Nose Day fundraiser celebration. They also drafted Jennifer Saunder’s partner in crime from her hit BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous”, Joanna Lumley, and have created a brilliant send up of Mamma Mia! The Movie. Dawn French plays Julie Walters in her role as Rosie, as Merrick had wished so long ago. However his desire to see Jennifer Saunders as Tanya, didn’t quite pan out exactly. Here Jennifer sends up Meryl Streep in the role of Donna, and Joanna Lumley comes in to play Christine Baranski as Tanya. Continue reading “Absolutely Fabulous” Send Up of Mamma Mia! The Movie

Play Blackjack And Win

As a dealer in a casino, I get to see people win and lose money on a daily basis. I often get asked advice on how to play many of the games that I deal and more often I get asked how to win. In Blackjack in particular, I get asked constantly how to win. Well I don’t have a foolproof way to win every time, I do have advice that will help you cut your losses tremendously. Don’t play the game for money without understanding the game.

The city of Las Vegas, especially the Las Vegas strip, is a shrine to the power of gambling without strategy. What do you think builds those exciting casino resorts? Its the people who go there, don’t understand the games they’re playing and walk away with empty wallets.

Most people walk up to the game of blackjack and think it’s basically 50/50 odds, you basically win or lose. While technically on each hand, that is true, your bet will either, win or lose or tie, but it’s the rules of the game that alter the odds and give the casino (called the “house”) over you as the player. For example, you must always play out your hand before the house plays out its own hand. If you bust, you automatically lose and the house doesn’t have to play out its hand.

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Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas Closes

After a little more than a decade, Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton shuts it’s doors. The closure comes as contract renewal talks between Paramount/CBS, Cedar Fair, and Colony Capital stalled. The main hold out was Colony Capital who owns the Las Vegas Hilton, who bought the Hilton from Caesars Entertainment (formerly Park Place Entertainment at the time Star Trek: The Experience opened) didn’t like the deal where Star Trek: The Experience was like a retailer just renting space, and not sharing in the revenue generated from the attraction. Cedar Fair, the company that bought the operations of the attraction from Paramount Parks and Paramount/CBS who owns the Star Trek franchise weren’t able to secure a renewal of the contract and as such has decided to close Star Trek: The Experience.

The last day of operations for Star Trek: The Experience was September 1, 2008 and concluded the business day with a decommissioning ceremony normally only afforded to the decommissioning of naval vessels. Star Trek gets a lot of it’s lore from naval tradition except instead of sailing the waters, its the stars. Despite the fact the current contract doesn’t expire until the end of the year, the decision to close on September 1st, is to allow Cedar Fair the time necessary to return all the Star Trek property back to Paramount and gut the complex to hand it over to Colony Capital as empty space.

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21 Movie Makes Card Counting Entertaining

21 Movie Card CountingThe new movie “21” has just hit stores on DVD and Blu-Ray disc from Sony Pictures. As a dealer for a casino, I was interested in seeing a Hollywood glamorized version of what I do for a living, and I was not disappointed. Granted the perspective of the movie is a loose retelling of M.I.T. Blackjack Team story of how they made and lost a fortune card counting at the blackjack tables of Las Vegas. And the story is about the card counters, not the dealers. In any case, while the plot takes tremendous liberties with the facts for the sake of making an entertaining story, the premise is simple, that students from M.I.T. who are good with numbers spend their weekends away from campus moonlighting as high rollers in Las Vegas. They work as a team and take Las Vegas for hundreds of thousands of dollars through card counting and team work to stay under the radar.

The group employs disguises and fake names and ID cards to become different people every time they go. Profits get split and everyone stays happy. Of course, cockiness sets in and trouble sparks as one member of the team gets jealous of the new guy because the new guy is outperforming the former star of the team. Then as the new guy starts to build up his confidence, he too is unable to escape the temptations of gambling and starts to ignore the rules of the team and continues to squander away on tables that have grown cold and past the time to stop playing on that table. It becomes a race against greed and being caught. The outcome of the story resolves itself through backroom deals, begging for forgiveness, and even more blackjack. To know how it resolves itself, you’ll have to check it out.

Now as a dealer, there was some amusing aspects about the film that really only people in the casino industry, specifically table games, and fans of Las Vegas would notice. One of the things I found amusing was that for all the scenes at real tables in Las Vegas, that all the cards used are canceled cards which you would never find being used on tables for real money. If you aren’t sure how cards are canceled, when you pay attention to the movie, look closely at the edges of the cards, where two of the four corners of the cards on diagonally opposite sides of the card are rounded while the other two are more square. This becomes especially apparent when the dealer places his face-up card over his face-down card and the corners don’t line up cleanly. Continue reading 21 Movie Makes Card Counting Entertaining