Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Most Famous Blackjack Player in the World Profiled by One of the World's Greatest Journalists

David Wagner, who's currently in the thick of an A-to-Z blogging challenge, steered me to The Atlantic's profile of Don Johnson, the most famous blackjack player in the world. I'd never heard of Johnson, because my knowledge of gambling and casinos is limited to Las Vegas and surrounding areas by choice, being that I will be home in Henderson in the next few months, with easy access to Las Vegas. I've learned a little bit about Atlantic City by way of Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas by Pete Earley, which, in writing about the history of Mirage Resorts, along with the history of Circus Circus Enterprises, has a few pages about casino mogul Steve Wynn's experience in Atlantic City, running the Golden Nugget, as well as Las Vegas initially losing huge chunks of revenue when casinos opened in Atlantic City, since east coast Vegas visitors didn't have to go far for a casino.

The profile is impressive, about someone who has studied blackjack closely, and not by card-counting. When I started reading it, I didn't even see who wrote it. But at the bottom, there was "Mark Bowden is a national correspondent for The Atlantic," and I should have known. Bowden is one of the greatest journalists in the history of journalism. He not only can find the story, but can unearth details that few other journalists even think to write about. His books are much the same way, with attention fully focused on those he writes about. He is merely the tour guide, subtly pointing out to us what we should know, not having to jump up and down and wave his arms wildly to do it. When he does refer to himself in a story, it's for the story, not himself. And whatever he writes, you can be sure that you'll be grabbed and held tightly to the story from the first word to the last.

Read about Don Johnson, and pay no attention to the journalist behind the curtain. He's all about the story, and you will be too.

My DVD Reviews So Far

At David Wagner's request, and to make it easier for those of you who haven't read them yet, here's the DVD reviews I've written so far for Movie Gazette Online, in chronological order:

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird

The Presidents

In Their Own Words

Adam-12: The Final Season

A World of Ideas: Writers

Tidbits from the Fourth Issue of The Henderson Press

Volume 1, No. 4. December 10 - December 30, 2010. It doesn't look like much can be made of the holidays beyond advertisements, because of when this Henderson Press issue was produced, but let's see what there is here:

- There's a story about an uptick in holiday sales in November. I forgot about that. I love the section in this article about Susan Moyer, one half of the Sweet Bubble Soap Cafe on 147 Water St. with her sister, Mary Romero, "who made an oatmeal soap bar for her brother 10 years ago because he couldn't find a decent soap for his sensitive skin. From there, soap making grew into a business." I hope there's a full-on profile about Sweet Bubble Soap Cafe in a future issue. I don't know if The Henderson Press would do anything like that, because it would basically be free advertising, but they are part of the community, and there should be much written about the community. Plus, that background story is really interesting. I'm sure there's more to write about it.

And yet, there's a full article in this issue about the opening of Hobby Lobby in the Whitney Ranch Center on Sunset Road and Stephanie Street, so a story about the Sweet Bubble Soap Cafe would fit.

- Skyline Restaurant and Casino on 1741 N. Boulder Highway (one block south of Sunset Road), lists in its full-page color ad a $4.95 steak, pork chops, or 16oz. ham special, including eggs, potatoes, and toast, served all day; and "12 Days of Christmas Giveaway!", December 13th to 24th.

- The materials picked up as part of Henderson's Enhanced Recycling Program (which means pickups every week instead of every two weeks) go to a North Las Vegas facility operated by Evergreen Recycling for processing. No griping here about it not being kept local because in Southern Nevada, we're nearly all close enough to be considered local. It doesn't take long to get from Henderson to North Las Vegas and then Las Vegas proper.

- According to Jenny Twitchell's "Family Matters" column, The M Resort apparently has a giant Christmas tree every year.

- At the Henderson Events Plaza, the mayor of Henderson (Andy Hafen in this case, who runs for a second term in 2013) "officiates lighting the" Christmas tree. The calendar listing says "holiday tree," but it's a Christmas tree. There's no problem with that. Too much holiday sensitivity. Diversity's not a burden.

- The theme of 2010's Henderson WinterFest was "Comic Strip Favorites," which included a production of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," a Superman gingerbread house, and Garfield and Friends parade floats, among other things.

- When I read an issue of The Henderson Press last year that Mom and Dad had brought home from their trip, I was impressed by reporter Jeremy Twitchell, who went straight into the matter of an article just like any journalist should. No self-conscious word choices, nothing off-track. He did the work and that was that, and became my favorite reporter. I think in later issues (from the point of this fourth issue), he became the publisher. Deservedly so, if that's true. What's amazing is that in this one issue alone, Twitchell wrote six articles and never showed strain in any of them. All professionally written.

- The Seventh Annual Library Tree Lane Fundraiser for Henderson Libraries was their biggest, raising more than the $21,000 brought in in 2009, possibly going over the goal of $25,000.

- I don't think Dr. Robert Fielden's column, "It's Henderson - Of Course!" will last long. His blog, at, listed at the bottom of his column, is now a Chinese site, and I doubt his e-mail address, which uses the same address, is still active. Plus, I don't remember seeing his column in the one issue I read last year. Or if it was there, I probably didn't notice it. I'm sure I'll recognize that particular issue when I see it.

- In the coupons section, the Great Harvest Bread Co. is offering three separate coupons: $1 off a loaf of bread, free cookie with any sandwich purchase, and free jam with $20 minimum bread purchase. I like Panera well enough, but I'd like to try something different. Similar as it seems, this looks like it. Panera sure doesn't offer a free cookie with any sandwich purchase.

- At 2132 Boulder Highway (between South Magic Way and Wagon Wheel Drive) is the simply named "A Barber Shop." I don't need anything fancy for a haircut, so it suits me.

- Wildcat Christmas Trees at the Galleria at Sunset Mall offers $5 off any Christmas tree purchase. I hope the next issue will have an article two about what went on at various holiday festivities.

This one issue is 24 pages. Without pulling out the issues of Escape for which I was the interim editor, I think mine had either 18 or 20 pages every week, maybe even 16 because why would they trust a total neophyte to fill 20 pages? Yet I think I did ok, and 24 pages of The Henderson Press is far more interesting than what the Escape section became long after I left, just a repository for the same things year after year. There's no mind creative enough at The Signal to change that.

My favorite thing about reading these back issues, besides learning more and more about my future hometown, is watching the evolution of The Henderson Press. More Jeremy Twitchell will make it even better.