April 2019
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Montecito syndrome

It’s just like how the Montecito in the TV show Las Vegas can’t stand still.  That ficticious casino must have occupied just about every possible spot on the Strip by now.  In the latest season, exterior shots put it on the far south end of the Strip opposite Luxor, whereas the view from James Caan’s office looks like it’s taken from inside Treasure Island, nearly three miles away.

The Bank Casino featured in Ocean’s Thirteen has Montecito syndrome.  It appears to have slid about a mile along the road in between being built and opening.

I finally have the photographic evidence I was so obsessively trying to find, and with it an excuse to post a whole bunch of Vegas pictures.  I actually got these screencaps from a German language bootleg – the added bonus was being able to hear the translation of Don Cheadle’s craptastic English accent.

In this scene, during the construction of the hotel, you can see the Mirage dead centre and the letters "PHAN" from a banner for Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular to the left of Al Pacino’s back.  The location has to be somewhere between Venetian and Wynn, presumably it was filmed in the shell of Palazzo, or possibly Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

They appear to be very proud of the CGI for the Strip’s latest monstrosity, and we get to see it from several angles as well as different lighting conditions – during the day, in the evening and after sunset.  This close up shows what the architecturally impossible, twisty brown thing that’s meant to be a hotel actually looks like.

And here a wider shot shows its location on the Strip.

So we’re looking North along the Strip with the Stratosphere in the far distance.  Monte Carlo is at the bottom left and the top of New York New York is just poking into the frame.  The Bank sits right between Polo Towers (bottom right) and Aladdin/Planet Hollywood (white hotel with two jutty out bits).  Follow the road and you’ll see the fake Eiffel Tower, and just across the street the dancing fountains at Bellagio are in action.

Look really hard and you’ll see the Stardust is still standing.  To be fair, you have to know what you’re looking for, so I’ve added a subtle visual clue below.  This is surely the last time you’ll see it in a movie.

The Bank’s outward location is somewhat confirmed by a southerly view from inside the hotel.  Polo Towers is the building with the neon outline at bottom centre, and towards the upper right corner you can see the MGM Grand Marquee, a hotel tower which I think must be the Tropicana (where did the big green MGM go?), and Mandalay Bay.

Also from the ground, this still looks about right.  Our POV is behind crowds standing outside the casino looking across, and down the street a bit, at the Bellagio.

However here’s the view that I’m just not sure about.  Ignore the silhouette of Matt Damon’s legs, and you’ll see Paris, Caesars and Bellagio all visible.  How does that work then?  I just wouldn’t be doing my job as a Vegas nit correctly if I didn’t point out that in the second photo on the far left you can just see the same Bellagio marquee as in the ground-level shot above; but from a totally different angle.  I guess it’s just a big hotel, or something.


Anyway, enough pedantry and gratuitous photos of Las Vegas, what did I think of the film?

I loved it.  I’m pretty sure I was always going to, so I know I can’t really review it constructively.  To be fair, it’s a very average heist movie, with an over-the-top cast of big names, too many to squeeze them all into a coherent storyline.  So the end result is a bunch of megastars doing a bunch of stuff in and around Vegas.

On that basis: A+, movie delivers.

Welcome to the fabulous capital of foulness

As I still haven’t found the screencaps I wanted for the stuff I was going to write about Ocean’s Thirteen (watch this space, I’m sure it’ll be worth it, no unnecessary hype here) in the meantime I will leave you in the more than capable hands of a somewhat ranty Mark Kermode, expressing his dislike not only for the movie, but also for the city I will one day call home.  Cheekily borrowed from the podcast of his BBC Five Live show.

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I’m not transcribing the whole thing – just press the damn play button, it’s only a minute long - but here’s a taster.

"If truth be told, Las Vegas needs to be wiped from the face of the earth because it is an evil abomination and, you know, bad and a blight upon mankind.  Obviously."

Power, Corruption and Big Brother

Separated at birth?

Colour code wheel used on New Order record sleeves, circa 1983

Big Brother logo, 2007

The oven is in the bedroom.  The fridge is in the garden.  The men are nowhere to be seen.

A stalker, the whistle posse and twins?

And there’s clearly a hidden message in the eye, somewhere.

As usual, my summer is over before it’s begun.


I’m not gay or owt

Saw the Pet Shop Boys last night, in Wolverhampton.  It sounded a little something like this.

When I look back upon my lie-uf
It’s always with a sense of shay-um
I’ve always been the one to blay-um

The fact that this clip is the best I could find from about twenty thousand cellphone bootlegs on YouTube is surely reason enough to allow people to take decent recording equipment to concerts these days.

If a whole bunch of people are going to stand in front of me holding their phones up in the air, rush home and see who can be first to upload a tiny, shaky recording of half a song with terrible sound that’s not even in sync with what video you can see, I’d much rather they were getting in my way with a decent camera and a boom mic.  At least that way I’d be able to see the bits I missed when I got home.

Anyway, what’s so gay about an on stage shiny gold cowboy teaching another cowboy on screen to swing his pants? Am I not allowed to find this entertaining?

New Order Split

It’s as close to official as it can get.  Sounds like nobody was meant to say anything but Peter Hook let it slip last week, and confirmed it on his MySpace page yesterday:

"so i went on and lo and behold mentioned the N>O> split so i suppose because it was me sayin it it was out at last. im relieved really hated carryin on as normal with an awful secret"

So how do I pick one song to post to mark the passing of my all time favourite group of all time?

If I had a recording of it, I’d post the dreadful version of State of the Nation that "my band" performed at Kirby Muxloe Church Hall circa 1991.  With a bonus added rap - I kid you not.  There’s many reasons I don’t have a career in music.  For this travesty, even though it was a one-off, I’m very very sorry indeed.

Thankfully, this will have to do.  Incidentally, this is also the song I want played at my funeral.

On that happy note…

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LOL Trickaments

On tonight’s show, Derren Brown went to Las Vegas and brainwashed an American lady into thinking that red was black.  The effect was dramatic.  She was pretty freaked out to see that her red car had apparently been resprayed whilst she enjoyed an evening at the Peppermill.  But what the cameras didn’t show is the complete meltdown, possibly followed by night in jail, she must have had trying to play roulette shortly afterwards.

In the Trick or Treat feature, he apparently taught a 75 year old granny to play poker.  For this show victims are asked to choose from two cards to pick whether they’ll get something nice or something nasty.  I have to admit I thought the whole series would be manipulated so it was always a trick, but tonight’s sweet old lady got a treat.

There’s no psychology involved in forcing the choice: both cards are identical, with a cunning and overly elaborate typeface used so that it reads "trick" when held one way up and "treat" when flipped over.  I confess: I had to pause the show using Sky+ and turn my head right round to check this out, and had to use Google to find out that the word I didn’t know I was looking for is "ambigram".

Super Gran is given a crash course in Texas Hold’em and then dropped into a tournament situation with five professionals.  Probably not ones you’d have heard of.  Derren has taught her superlative reading skills, which is apparently enough to ensure that she will win a made-for-TV crapshoot poker-style tournament.  They said it lasted a 90 minutes start to finish, fast even for a six-handed tournament.  We only got to see three hands.

She called an all-in bet with a king-high flush draw.  Perhaps she learned to recognise weakness from the bettor, but depending on stack sizes and money in the pot this could be a pretty standard call anyway.  They didn’t say.  We don’t know how much she’d learned about playing draws.  Perhaps it looked like the nuts against a player with a twitch, but with one overcard and a draw you’re rarely a favourite.  Except the few times you come up against a smaller unpaired flush draw.  Which she did.

Facing an all-in preflop with K9s, Derren’s horse makes the call.  The other player has T7o.  Given the emphasis on how good these other players all are, we have to assume that he made an automatic push with a short stack, so this was probably an automatic call.

With AQ on a flop of A88, our hero decides that her hand is good.  Maybe I still have a lot to learn, but I’m going broke here every time the other guy has AK or any hand with an 8.

She came second.  A one in six chance to win, and she still missed the glory by one.

A similarly close-but-still-busto result in Derren’s Russian Roulette stunt would have been much more interesting.

The current UK series is available for free catch-up on 4oD.  Apparently a new six-part series is being made for US television by Sci-Fi channel to air in July.  Perfect timing!

I like to hip hop

I’m going to see The Pipettes tonight.

And I don’t care what you think, so ner.

Is this the best dancing ever to hit YouTube?

Do doo be do do

There was a text vote on 6 Music this morning to choose a Muppets song to play later.  The candidates are Kermit the Frog, Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and the one that I’m sure you’re already thinking of.

I had to Google around a bit to find the spelling of Mahna Mahna (and I’m so glad I did, because I also found the complete lyrics).  To be honest, I’d never even thought about it before, but I was a bit disappointed to see that it contained vowels.

So how the hell did this win a text vote?  What a fix!!

Six Great Movies?

This began as a comment for an entry in Mike’s blog, but then I selfishly decided I’d keep it for myself instead. :)

Last week finally got to watch Tom Cruise running lots and doing very little else in War of the Worlds.  I’d been looking forward to this for ages, and then it was such utter bobbins that we had to watch a good film afterwards to try and forget about it.  I picked six DVDs and Claire was to have the final say – the way we choose what to watch so very often in fact.

Given the circumstances, this shortlist could be considered my de facto greatest movies of all time.  Or at least greatest movies that I have the DVD of.  Not sure I’d completely agree with that – I chose one of them purely for it’s short running time, and avoided some I’d seen recently or didn’t think there was any chance of Claire actually picking! – but it’s definitely not without its merits.  And quite diverse too.

In alphabetical order:

And the winner is….?

My musical legacy

I’m finally getting round to selling a load of old stuff on ebay and my Creative Zen MP3 player is amongst the casualties.  I just cleared off 20Gb of stuff (resenting the fact that as sweet as my iPod nano is, 8Gb just isn’t enough) and then thought I should probably leave somthing on there so the buyer can see that it actually works straight away when he or she gets it.

So, having to choose just one song to leave behind (with the condition that I couldn’t be bothered to rip anything from CD, so it had to be on my hard disk already) here’s the absolute cheesiest thing I could come up with, proving that I really do download some utter crap.

Legendary composer John Williams’ theme from the classic movie Jurassic Park.  Remix.  Press play and be ready to cringe.

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