Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Eats Counter

Interestingly, there seems to be a problem with people in Las Vegas understanding Beerhaus is a bar that happens to have some food available. Most people get it: we have an Eats Counter where, if you're drinking and want some food, you can go get some. Servers and bartenders serve drinks, and there's a place to get food if you get hungry.

But there are still a few who act like this is the craziest thing they've ever heard. We even have a cool neon sign showing them where to order. This is wasted on such people. We have pagers we give out to alert patrons when their food is ready, and they come and get it, and they are happy with our simple menu, but still there are others who throw up their hands and won't have any of it. It's strange to me.

Anyway, I've been working at Beerhaus. I work 12-15 hours a day and haven't had two days off in a row in almost four months. Everything I was doing in my life has been put on hold for this project, and it's been a crazy experience I hope to write about more as we go.

Do you like bars? Do you like beer gardens? You should check out Beehaus. You'll love it. If you get peckish, follow our retro neon illumination to a successful sating of your hunger.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ducati and San Pellegrino Join Forces

Who doesn't want to propel oneself at unsafe speeds on a beautifully designed Ducati Motorcycle? Who doesn't enjoy the prickly sensation of a perfectly carbonated bottle of San Pellegrino. I think their working together to design a special edition of the bottle we all know and love is pretty cool. The design is subtle and simple and everything the Italians do well. There's a slogan on the bottom: "Share the Italian Passion."

It makes me think of Italy. That's not something I normally do when I drink a San Pellegrino. But right now, I'm drinking the glass version of the bottle above, and I'm thinking about lazy afternoons in Florence piazzas and late night walks round Trevi Fountain.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Goodbye, David Bowie

David Bowie has influenced my life as long as I can remember. I love how his life itself was a work of art. He reinvented constantly, somehow remained relevant, and never seemed to falter under the burden of success. An iconoclast and creative force over so many decades, it's hard to imagine a time when David Bowie wasn't. 

His death is affecting me more than most musicians' have because he is more than most musicians are. Bowie was a mogul of music, art, fashion, literature, film, and  more. This is the guy who produced Iggy Pop. This is the guy who made the suit cool again. He could take anything and make it cool. In Young Americans, he quotes the Beatles' A Day in the Life, creating elegant intertextuality and subtle commentary you just don't find in pop music every day. He wrote Heroes in German about the Berlin wall and translated it into English so we could all partake in his emotional journey about the tension between east and west. And the way he recorded that song is insane, but simple. He was over the top and minimalist at the same time. He wrote songs about space men playing them with acoustic guitars. He was everything an artist should strive to be, and managed humility. 

I'm sitting listening to Blackstar, his swan song. It was released on his birthday. Even in death, he was a transcendent artisan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Sheltering Sky

Many years ago, an American friend of mine in Germany handed me a book and told me I had to read it. I promptly ignored him but carried around the book wherever I lived convinced I would one day make good on my promise. 

I'm in this minimalist mode right now. I'm going to read all the books I possess either for the first time or one last time and then cast them unto the world via Goodwill. It was finally time to read The Sheltering Sky.

I understand why my friend wanted me to read this masterpiece by Paul Bowles; I am one of those spirits who explore the world looking for an escape from the cold, a place to be warm, like the one of the three protagonists in this novel, Port. I too have searched and been tortured by the very people who told me they loved me.

This friend of mine also used to always say,"the right book at the right time." Prophetic. How could he have known I would be newly wounded and alone when I finally came to it? An omniscient narrator tells the story of three friends, two of whom are married, who travel into Africa for new experiences. Their American sensibilities become haunting ghosts, and their own selves develop into lupus. They tumble into tragedy and madness to a point that the story almost resembles Lovecraftian tales of horror. 

If you read it, read it in winter when the nights are long, and the cold is oppressive. Read it when the darkness seems interminable, and friends seems sparse.

David Copperfield

When I was a kid, I saw David Copperfield twice. His show was incredible and sparked my imagination for a lifetime. He was a childhood hero. Last night I finally got to see his Vegas show at my work.

My friend Yosuke was visiting from Japan, and we walked around on the strip, and we ended up at MGM Grand because it's on the way to my house. I live in waling distance from my work, so I kind of had to walk through the casino to get home. We stopped for a drink at Centrifuge and the Manager there, Adrian, recommended that we go see David Copperfield. I'd been meaning to see the show, and the timing was perfect.

We got seats right in the middle of the room; fantastic hook up! 

Copperfield's new show isn't the daring, death-defying act that I remember from 20+ years ago, but it is still an awe-inspiring 90 minutes. His illusions are a mix of ones you've loved to see him do on TV a million times and a few that blow you away. There's a dinosaur-sized dinosaur skeleton and a spaceship-sized spaceship that leave you wondering how such huge props were built and how they got them into the theater. And where did they come from? Where were they while the illusion was staging? David Copperfield actually exclaims, "It's a god damned spaceship!" And it is! It's a god damned spaceship. How the hell did they get a god damned spaceship in here?

En bref, j'ame David Copperfield. If you're in Vegas and thinking about seeing a magic show, why not see the greatest illusionist of our time? It's a remarkable display of talent and nearly a half century's worth of experience. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Negroni Variations for Negroni Week

My bars, the Lobby Bar at MGM Grand and Rouge Lounge are participating in Negroni Week (6.1.15-6.7.15). I'm excited about it. Here's what we're offering in addition to the tried-and-true, traditional bitter aperitif. 

Negroni Variations for Negroni Week:

  • Equal parts Rye, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

Cherry Negroni
  • Equal parts Gin, Campari, Luxardo Maraschino

Negroni Sbagliato
  • Equal parts Prosecco, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

  • 1 oz Gin, 1 oz Campari, a splash of soda 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Gazelles, Baby Steps...

I'm usually not into books like this. . . I still don't think I am, but I found this one at a book event I was volunteering at, and it happened to fall into my lap when I was thinking about debt and finances, so I decided to give it a whorl.

I don't really know who Dave Ramsey is. I won't Google him because I really don't want to read a dozen books about saving money. We all know how to save money. And I've already read about the envelope budget system, so I don't feel like I really have to study that. I don't think it's for me. Dave Ramsey is some kind of financial/debt guru. I've never been a huge fan of gurus. But I like some of his philosophies.

Jon Acuff is a Christian blogger. Had I known that before I read this book, I wouldn't have read it. But you know what? I liked this little book. It made me laugh... about debt. If you can make a reader laugh about crippling student loan debt, you're doing something right. It was a quick read that made finances and attacking debt almost fun. So, I'd recommend it.

While reading this, it reminded me of two other books:

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. This is a self-improvement book that I thought was lame while I was reading it but ended up thinking about for years. I still find myself going back to it in my mind when I'm faced with challenging situations. I especially like the Time Warp Game essay.

Life After God. I went through a Douglas Coupland phase a long time ago. I think about his books a lot still. I hadn't thought of this one in a while. Something about the language and style of Jon Acuff's ode to Dave Ramsey brought back the magic of Life After God. Douglas Coupland will always have a place in my heart because of this book. I think it's an unsung masterpiece.

Anyway, I'm thinking about debt again. I'm thinking about how I've lived as an artist and allowed women and wives and friends and bosses take advantage of my capricious approach to my own financial health. I'm thinking about how when I put student loan behind me I'll be less worried about the future. I'm thinking about how I've never worried about the future. I didn't think I'd make it to the future. I didn't think I'd have to worry about the things normal people worry about. I certainly didn't think I'd be reading a book about finance by a guy whose claim to fame is a blog called Stuff Christians Like.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Damned Tax Season

I usually don't think about taxes too much. I went years without filing. I just paid the bill when it came and had it done with. But now that I'm trying to keep track of every penny I spend, especially on drinking, I've been responsible and have gone to an accountant to sort my taxes out and get some advice for the next year. It turns out I owe a tiny bit of money. So what?

But then my Audi, Friedrich, broke down. The low-pressure fuel pump was making the car stall. The fuel line was damaged, too. The first week of April is probably the worst time for this to happen. I finally took it to the Vegas Audi Dealership, and they gave me a loaner. It's going to be an expensive fix, but I'm still crossing my fingers that everything will turn out fine.

It's been a stressful few weeks. Friedrich broke down at the worst intersection in America, Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd., a block from where Tupac got shot. Stuck in the middle of the road for an eternity during rush hour until a tow truck came for me. I replaced the high-pressure fuel pump and filter, and the engine light went off, and everything seemed fine. A few days later, the engine light came on again and it started acting funky again.

With any luck, I'll be back in my ride in a week's time, and all will be well, and I'll be back on track financially.

They've got me in a 2015 A3, which is righteous, but I miss my own car.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I read a book called Proof: The Science of Booze. I happen to love science and drinks, so when I found out about it, I couldn't resist a trip to the library.

The book goes from yeast to fermentation, to distillation, to tasting and smelling, and ends with a hangover. Although, for some reason Adam Rogers refuses to use an article when writing "hangover," which made me wonder what the proper way of using that word really is.

It's a cleverly constructed project that somehow manages to spice up some pretty dry material with some pretty witty fun. It's like a conversation with your favorite nerd about everyone's favorite drug. Plus, there are Star Trek references.

Rogers travels the world with microbe hunters and yeast cultivators and booze hounds, which is one of my favorite things about the power of beverage: its ability to connect with people and places across time and space with the simplest of gestures. And I've said for some time that we are in the scientific era of beverage in which we'll eventually develop the ability to crack the magical codes of aging and the effects of every congener. So I loved this book.

The adventures of a scientific reporter are enviable, and I wish I knew Adam so that I could have a drink with him and nerd out about Single Malt Scotch and Romulan Ale.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Financial Wellness

I hate thinking about money. My way of money management has always been one of least resistance. Oh, there's some kind of savings plan through the company? Fine, take some of my paycheck. I can split up my direct deposit into a savings and checking account? Fine, take 40%. I'll spend the rest.

I'm great at spending money. I don't buy many things. I don't care about big TV's or new couches. I prefer the lending library to the personal one. I prefer the radio to the record collection. My zen-like approach to the corporeal comes from crossing continents and oceans, shuffling off worldly possessions like a molting crow. Vinyl and paper are just too heavy to lug around the world. Since I don't want much, I basically buy whatever I do want and if there's something left over in the end, great. If not, who cares? I'll make more money.

Student loans have essentially destroyed my credit. I never paid attention to my credit score, so I never did anything to combat the effect of my federal student loans. I went to buy a car a few weeks ago and learned my score for the first time in my life. Low. I still got the car I wanted, but only because I'm making pretty OK money these days.

My structural engineer is a financial genius. He chastised me for not being smarter about my money.

I've decided to take a more active role in my financial future. I downloaded a budgeting app, took the personal budget online course on MGM's M-Life Insider Education site, and I've been talking with experts.

Here are a few things I've learned about myself:
  1. I spend more on alcohol and bars than any human ever should.
  2. I spend less on clothing than anybody would ever guess.
  3. If I spend only $200/month on alcohol and bars, I could pay off my student loans in just three years(!)
  4. Investing in my 401(k) makes me feel a lot better about getting old.
  5. With apps now, financial stuff can actually be fun.
I'm starting to look at this like a game. I always looked at it like a chore. If I'm clever, I might have a crazy credit score, own a cool condo, and have all my federal debt paid off soon. I never thought any of that possible.

I'm using Mint. Maybe you'd like it ↯
I like this article about how attracted people are to financial stability ↯
I'm looking forward to digging into this blog ↯