Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Gilded Cage

Shop Window, Forum Shops, Ceasars Palace, Las Vegas

We are tame birds, fluttering between the varied, lovely, shiny, traps of consumerism. They look different, but underneath they’re all the same.

A Dream of Paris

Paris Hotel seen from the Bellagio, Las Vegas

It’s been nearly two decades since I visited Paris. I can hardly believe it. How have I managed to stay away from one of my favorite places on earth for so long?

This is not Paris, although for half a second, through squinted eyes, I can almost pretend.

Project 4: Directions FAIL

Strappy Bag

For once, I followed directions. The directions in Small Stash Sewing: 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters (by Melissa Averinos) for the “Strapping Bag.”

Well, okay, I substituted a regular print fabric for the suggested corduroy sides and skipped the decorative stitching, sue me. But otherwise, I followed instructions to the letter. The result, while cute, does NOT look like the photograph in the book.

The book:


Do you see the difference? The book illustration shows the strap width staying constant all the way around as it becomes the gusset for the bag. But if you follow the directions, using the construction technique as described, that is an UNPOSSIBLE outcome. I knew this as I was doing it, but I said to myself: “Oh self, you’re an ignorant know-it-all, you are. They published this book! It must be right!”

Needless to say, it was not. I can clearly see how one could construct the bag to get the illustrated outcome. And if I were gonna make it again, that’s certainly what I would do.

The result is, once again, a bit hippyish for my taste.

I love the lining and the inside pocket, though. I also added a magnetic snap.

I used the bag last night when I went forth to forage for food, and it’s nicely sturdy and functional for a smallish bag. Most important to me, however, I realize now that ~ with a little trial and error ~ there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to design these things for myself. I already have an idea in mind.

But clearly I need to be sewing these things using my own fabrics.

The end.

In the Tank

Beijing Noodle No. 9, Restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

“Beijing Noodle No.9 is the kind of casual noodle shop you’d expect to find on the bustling streets of Shanghai, Hong Kong or Beijing… With an inviting and warm atmosphere.”


Stunning, yes. Warm, nuh-uh.

I wish I’d been hungry at the time. The place was deserted, and it would have been a trip to actually eat there.

Beijing Noodle No. 9, Restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas Beijing Noodle No. 9, Restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

98% Payback

98% Payback

This is where dreams go to die.

The parking garage behind the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas houses a little graveyard of slot machines. The shiny, flashing, chiming machines are silent, dismembered, and gathering dust in the oppressive summer heat.

This one, Chthulu’s second cousin by way of R2D2 and C3PO, presides over ranks of less glitzy minions. These are the troops upon whose loyal corpses the wealth of casinos is built, two percent at a time. They are programmed that way, and no amount of human hopes or tears will alter their cold equations.

Note that, even in death, this specimen clutches a cup. Its overlords know all too well that if you provide a drink for free, the house edge may drop to 1.7%, but the player will have even more fun when winning and less misery when losing. She will play more and longer, and time is on the house’s side. Keep the anodyne flowing!

Too Busy

Outside Four Queens Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

This image is Exhibit A for “too busy.”

I’ve written before about my love for complex images that don’t read in an instant, simple manner. This one has every “fault” in the book. There’s no point of focus or rest. All the lines overlap or intersect. It’s contrasty out the wazoo. By any reasonable aesthetic standard it’s a mess.

I shot several images at this location, and some are much more easily resolved than this one. But this one? I adore it. There’s an itch somewhere in my brain that this picture scratches just right.

[Update: just after writing this post, I noticed the principle of order underlying this image. Yes, there actually is one. Do you see it?]


Plastic Bouquet

Sometimes you just have to embrace the aesthetic of the false, the vulgar, the bogus, and the silly. The plastic lushness of this bouquet, complete with dust and cobwebs, is irresistible. In the background, you can see one of the many towers of Las Vegas. These two things go together like ham and eggs: Las Vegas is among the fakest places on the planet, and that’s part of its cheesy charm.

Consider the motivation behind fake flowers. The decorator wants to appropriate the beauty of nature, but not its expense. If the fake fools the eye, there are significant benefits: no water to change, no unsightly wilting, no cost to refresh the display every few days. Subconsciously, however, I think we always know the difference, even at a distance. We know when something is a cheat, and we know that part of the beauty of real flowers is that they fade, that their scent goes from sweet and fresh to rank. Their beauty is built on an essential transience.

Artificial blooms have their place, and they can be lovely. But for god’s sake, dust them every now and then, would you?

Golden Gears

Golden Gears at Payard, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Payard at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas wishes to assure us that its desserts are not entirely hand made.

Apparently, the creation of confections must be mechanized, or our society will collapse from an excess of pampered indulgence. After all, if it’s Mr. Wonka’s chocolate factory, then it’s a healthy capitalist venture, right?

No sissified socialized sweets for us! No third-world sweatshop hand-crafted treats! No Royal Patissier’s let-them-eat-cake delicacies! Nossir: we eat teethrotters proudly made by good old-fashioned MACHINES like an industrialized nation oughta!

Just watch out for the Candy Worker’s Union, though. You don’t want to mess with them; those CWU guys play gumball.

All You Need Is Love

Sgt. Pepper Live, Cheap Trick @ Paris, Las Vegas

I’m back from my sojourn in Las Vegas. While the gambling side of the trip was pretty much an epic FAIL, everything else about it was pretty swell. I ate good food, spent lots of time in good company, and was mightily entertained throughout.

I don’t think it’s true that all you need is love. But it’s a damn good start.

Likely Hiatus

I’m going to be out of town for about a week, visiting Bob in Las Vegas and playing in the World Series of Poker. I have no idea how much opportunity, if any, I’ll have to post while I’m away.

Please bear with me in the interim.