Archive for category Reviews

Can You Party Like What Happens in Vegas?

I was wondering the other day whether it was possible to party like “What Happens in Vegas” – a fun movie featuring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher – I mean – is any of that wild stuff they did like the awesome luxury suite and VIP treatment possible for normal tourists visiting Las Vegas? I love going there and am looking forward to my next trip but I’m hoping to live the high life a little higher next time around. Here are some thoughts on the kinds of stuff they did in the movie and how average people might accomplish the same thing in the real world.

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Getting a Luxury Suite in Las Vegas

The first thing Cameron and Ashton do on their trip is check in to their luxury room – where they ultimately meet being double booked into the same suite. They parlay the hotel’s error into a luxury suite at no extra cost so they end up with an awesome luxury suite. Is that something normal people can do?

Well while we can’t guarantee that your hotel will screw up royally like they did for the movie stars we can find ways to book luxury party suites in Las Vegas without breaking the bank. Better still once you have secured your luxury suite you have some leverage to start squeezing resort staff for perks and other VIP treatment that the stars of the movie got.

Cruising Las Vegas Boulevard in a Limo

This has got to be the ultimate partier’s goal, right? I mean we’re talking getting down in a stretch limo, popping the moon-roof open and being seen whooping it up like a complete fool. Can it be done? Well here’s where your resort service really needs to kick in. What kind of schmoozing can you do with your concierge to get some VIP passes? Are you willing to do a little time in the games room? Can you get them to believe you just got married (we’ll cover that later) or are there on a special anniversary or other occasion? The better sales job you do the more likelihood you can swing a quick drive down the boulevard. I mean they have the limos (you know they do) around – no reason not to sweet talk them into a cruise downtown on their way to pick someone up or after dropping someone off. It can’t hurt to ask so what do you have to lose, right?

Table Slide in the Nightclub

Ok, this one is probably the easiest. Are you going to be able to find a nightclub where you can party like a wild animal and do a victory slide a la your favorite soccer player right off the end of the bar? Probably, if you look hard enough and promise not to sue the nightclub. Seriously though, doing bar-slides probably isn’t the best idea, even though it looks awfully fun and could be very tempting. You wouldn’t want the ladies rugby player to follow you off the end of the bar though, right? Stick to a little safer fun, party like a wild child on the dance floor. Skip the bar slide – seriously.

Getting Hitched in the Marraige Capital of the World

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Viewers familiar with the movie know that Ashton and Cameron wake up the next morning after their night of debauchery legally hitched. Now the rules are a little different in Las Vegas than depicted in the movie but if you’re determined to get married to someone, there are plenty of places in town to do it. Heck, you can even do it in a drive through! My advice would be to do at least a little planning and find a nice chapel (out of the many you have to choose from) that suits you and your beloved’s tastes. Do try to do it sober though, you don’t want to wake up next to someone you hardly know after the party like in “What Happens in Vegas”.

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No Comments updated January 26, 2013

Gold Rush Season 3 Spoiler

Do the Hoffman’s find gold in season 3 of Gold Rush? The teasers indicate that someone strikes it rich in the Alaskan klondike but will it be one of the three featured mining groups? We make the case here that we can discern from what little we’ve seen so far that we can make a good guess as to who comes out on top in 2012. Otherwise, let the speculation begin! Comments welcome!

Is 2012 Finally the Year the Hoffman’s Strike Gold Meaningfully

You read it here first. I’m going out on a limb and proclaiming this is the year Todd Hoffman and his crew hit big paydirt. This year they are financed like a real mining operation, already have two claims to work (and have produced gold in week one of the mining season at Quartz Creek), and have far better equipment and a larger crew. Obviously they will run into some stumbling blocks along the way given some of the crew members are greenhorns, but with Dave Turin leading the second crew on the new claim and Quartz Creek already producing in week one I think Hoffman fans have a lot to look forward to this season.

Troubled Times for the Pressured Parker Schnabel at Big Nugget

We honestly don’t have much to go by after just one episode but early indications are that Parker Schnabel has put himself under a lot of pressure in 2012 and it is likely that being under that kind of pressure is going to lead to catastrophic mistakes for the young man. Teasers for the season after episode 1 indicate a serious roll-over accident on what looks to be equipment on the Big Nugget claim. An additional quote from grandpa John Schnabel indicates the possibility of serious injuries or possibly a very near miss for crew members. We have to be careful not to jump to conclusions however as the soundbite does not necessarily give adequate context nor a time-sequence of events.

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Dakota Fred Showing True Colors and One-Way Nature

As previously mentioned, we are still only one episode into the Gold Rush Alaska season 3 and we have already seen yet another example of the short-sightedness / one-way help of Dakota Fred. Before the season had even begun he asked young Parker for a favor to help him dig out the road to his gold mine claim at Porcupine Creek – which Parker was more than happy to do despite the cost of fuel – which is not cheap. That’s just being a good neighbor up in the Klondike.

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However when time comes for Fred to return a favor – offering up a spare electrical board worth a couple thousand dollars – he leaves Parker hanging in the breeze, telling him effectively to go buy his own. Apologizers will buy Fred’s argument about warrantee and all that but we all know what it means to help a neighbor, and quoting an absurd price to Parker was a pretty poor way to return a favor. Good luck in 2012 Fred, you’re sure going to need it because Lord knows no one else is going to help you out.

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26 Comments updated January 26, 2013

Hatfields & McCoys on History Channel Review and Lessons

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Hatfields & McCoys on the History Channel

I am going to try to write a few paragraphs about the amazing mini-series recently aired by the History Channel: Hatfields & McCoys. It is hard to describe just how entertaining this mini-series was. People around the country were simply riveted by the compelling story of two post-Civil War families locked in a blood feud – dramaticized into a made-for-Tv mini-series airing over three days on The History Channel.

Stars Come Out for This Epic Mini-Series

There are certain actors and actresses who, for whatever reason, have the right skills and understanding to portray historical characters with the dignity and respect they deserve. Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton – to name two – playing the lead roles of Devil Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy fall into that category. Likewise Tom Berenger (whom I didn’t even RECOGNIZE playing the role of Jim Vance), Powers Boothe (Wall Hatfield), and Jena Malone (Nancy McCoy). Each member of the principal cast had the responsibility of portraying an actual historical character with the intensity the available historical record demands without drawing attention to themselves.

I would hope that somewhere drifting in the after-life those portrayed in the mini-series would feel that their personalities and frailties were demonstrated with the dignity and honesty (of spirit if not of actual fact) they deserved. I certainly felt that to be the case, although being neither Hatfield nor McCoy – nor having any true appreciation for the emotions and intense feelings which fueled the rivalry I hardly feel qualified to make that judgement. Perhaps only a deep-rooted Appalachian could answer that.

Some Facts Surrounding Hatfields & McCoys Feud and Motivations

The difficulty in producing any sort of historical theatrical piece is the availability and depth and breadth of documentation itself. A wise person would tell you that in truth history is written by the victors – and victors don’t typically treat the vanquished with much dignity. In this case though it’s pretty clear there were no victors, but there was quite a bit of documented history in a legal sense. This West Virginia interview transcript is quite detailed in describing what facts are known about legal issues between the two rival families.

What is most clear from the interview transcript with the West Virginia historian is that the McCoy family – for multiple reasons, some of which was their own doing, some of which can be blamed on Devil Anse Hatfield – was seriously economically disadvantaged. Their family values (one generation prior to Randall) were badly displaced relative to other families in the community. This is not in dispute given the detailed court records regarding a divorce proceeding (source: interview link above). This economic disadvantage, combined with some early legal maneuvering (and hard-heartedness in my thinking) led to a massive land-windfall for the Hatfields at the expense of one of the relatives of Randall McCoy (Perry Cline).

Historical Lessons We Can Learn from the Hatfields & McCoys

I have to believe my previous paragraph should be telling what lessons are to be learned from the Hatfield / McCoy feud. I would add that any lessons given on the subject were not learned by later combatants on a more global scale in World War I. Thankfully I believe that someone must have taken note by the end of World War II – with the rebuilding of Europe (and particularly Germany) after the war. Sadly these lessons appear lost to present day leaders in the financial world both in America and more pointedly in Europe.

The lesson, if you haven’t already guessed it, is to be a gracious victor and not hoard the spoils of victory. What we can glean from historical records is that the McCoys (and Randall McCoy’s sons in particular) had very poor future economic prospects, whereas Devil Anse’s family went from rags to riches basically over-night with a land settlement secured from Perry Cline. Was it absolutely necessary for Devil Anse Hatfield to secure every last piece of property owned by Perry Cline in his land settlement? Was it not foreseeable such a total devastating loss would create a festering cancer very close to home – short of eliminating Perry Cline himself? I doubt Anse Hatfield could have foreseen how one man’s hatred of him (Perry Cline) could be so effectively poured into another (Randell McCoy) – but such are the ways of devious people – and clearly Perry Cline was one devious person.

Economic Lessons Found and Lost Again as History Repeats Itself

One need only look at the tone and outcome Treaty of Versailles ending World War I to see the dangers of onerous terms in settling conflict. The seeds of discontent and unending economic disadvantage in Germany post World War I led ultimately to the rise of the Nazis and subsequent plunge into World War II. Clearly Harry S. Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin did a better (albeit with its own problems) job of concluding the second world conflict.

Sadly however modern references to economic disadvantage and long-term disparity show clear indications that once again the lessons about distribution of economic opportunity have been lost. Last year we watched in horror as Greek citizens rioted over austerity measures imposed by the European Union over debt insolvency. Similar riots have happened in Spain. Regardless of how or where you see the source of the debt-load taken on by these countries, the resulting economic imbalance is a huge untapped source of resentment globally. The wealthy bankers and investors (with the means to influence legal and political outcomes) are using their power to impose by legal force onerous economic austerity measures on the debt-stricken in an effort to preserve what in reality are BAD INVESTMENT DECISIONS ON THEIR PART.

Will European Leaders and Global Bankers Learn from the Hatfields and McCoys?

Fortunately – to at least some extent leadership in Europe has made efforts to negotiate debt-write downs to share in the losses, but it clearly has not been enough. The only way out for Europe is via agreements which produce the possibility of long-term economic opportunity for all members of the European Union – not just those who speak German. If that means capitalism needs to take its course and certain banks to fail as a result of their poor investment choices then that needs to happen. But that doesn’t mean all the losses have to be borne by one party or another. The “victors” of that European debt mess would do well to heed the lessons of the Hatfields & McCoys feud – and negotiate a mutual settlement of shared sacrifice – not an onerous “winner take all” one. All of us will suffer in this lifetime if they don’t.

About Hatfields . (2012). The History Channel website. Retrieved 18:07, May 31, 2012, from

Transcript of interview with Altina Waller for the film “West Virginia” (June 27, 1992), West Virginia Film History Project from

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No Comments updated August 5, 2012