Category Archives: This Writer’s Life

Keeping Up With the Pawn Stars

One of the things about living in Vegas is that people (read: tourists) always want to know if you live in a casino, gamble all the time and hang out with the cast of Pawn Stars. This phenomenon is especially true on airplane rides to Vegas. I often find myself writing out a full itinerary for my curious seatmate on a Southwest Airlines napkin by the time we’re touching down in McCarran airport. Even though it’s kind of annoying  to play tour guide, I’m happy to help because I see it as my duty as a Las Vegan to keep our city’s livelihood happy and healthy.

So, to answer those cliche queries about casino housing, gambling and Pawn Stars: Nope, almost never and sometimes, kinda yes.

As A&E editor for Vegas Seven magazine, I live in the weird, liminal space where the Vegas fantasy and journalism collide. In such a land, I recently found myself spending a delightful afternoon sharing my love of all things literary with Pawn Stars’ rare book expert and Bauman Rare Books manager Rebecca Romney.

The interview came out a couple weeks ago, and you can read it here. She’s truly such a wonderful and intelligent woman that I URGE you to read the interview just to bask in her smartness.

I’ve also interviewed Pawn Stars’ lovable clown, Chumlee, at least twice. He’s an equally likeable guy, but, as you might imagine, with vastly different attributes.

Read those interviews here and here.

A New Personal Essay: The Eternal Offseason

After a year of practice, I finally made it onto the B team, where I went on to have a short and unspectacular volleyball career.

After a year of practice, I finally made it onto the B team, where I went on to have a short and unspectacular volleyball career.

I was such a joiner as a kid. Heck, I still am. That’s why journalism fits me so well. Often my desperate attempts at joining were blocked by the cold hand of ineptitude. The below instance is no exception, but at least I got a fun personal essay out of it for Vegas Seven’s 2014 Storytelling Issue.

I made it into the junior high yearbook holding a basketball! Too bad I wouldn't make the team!

I made it into the junior high yearbook holding a basketball! Too bad I wouldn’t make the team.

THE ETERNAL OFFSEASON

Street basketball reigned at elementary school recess. If fate sent the ball into my hands, I would freeze in the confusion and exhilaration of everybody suddenly calling out to me. Cindi, pass the ball! Pass the ball, Cindi! Cindi! Cindi! Cindi! It was heady stuff for an invisible 11-year-old with delusions of grandeur. Dribbling would get me nowhere. Shooting would result in shame. So I clutched that orb of attention as long as I could, savoring my moment of glory. And then I passed. It would always be a letdown, my name forgotten as my classmates played on without me. READ MORE

My “Amazing” time with Chippendales’ Jaymes and James

 

Sometimes, dreams (and dream assignments) really do come true. Recently, I got to follow around Chippendales’ Jaymes Vaughan (and his Amazing Race partner James Davis)  as research for a Vegas Seven profile. The best part was that the guys were super nice. Ever the Southern gentleman, Jaymes would tirelessly pose for pictures with fans and, even better, open the car door for me when we flitted from location to location.

Above are some behind-the-scenes photos (not pictured: me pinching myself to make sure it was really happening). Below is the finished product:

Jaymes Vaughan’s ‘Race’ to the Spotlight: Can the Chippendales host extend his 15 minutes of fame before the time runs out?

It’s Friday night at Chippendales, so the audience of mostly bachelorette parties is rowdy and sloppy-exuberant. The emcee, Jaymes Vaughan—tall, tan, blond, blue-eyed, square-jawed with Indiana Jones regrowth and muscle-y muscles—is basically a human Ken doll with a goofy sense of humor. And I have spent all day following him around in the name of … um, research. Watching Jaymes cavort onstage, I realize the effort I spent politely averting my eyes when he changed clothes throughout the day was wasted. Read more …

Her One-Night Stand of a Writing Career

Wurtzel image_with bagWhat the world does not need is another blog response to Elizabeth Wurtzel’s angsty personal essay in New York Magazine, “Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life.” But as a woman writer, I cannot resist. Because everybody else already has, I won’t get into the most obvious complaints. (The New Yorker offered my favorite critique; Slate’s was great, too.) I will focus on the two things that bother me:

1. She relates marriage to prostitution.

“I am committed to feminism and don’t understand why anyone would agree to be party to a relationship that is not absolutely equal. I believe women who are supported by men are prostitutes”

To which I say, what’s so wrong with prostitution (if it’s between two consenting adults)? Certainly that’s not my life choice, but I don’t begrudge the choices of others. Why would such a self-advertised feminist free spirit who is so proud of sleeping around be so into judging other women’s choices? It just seems so un-feminist and so un-free spirited!

2. Her self-imposed trainwreck of a life makes for some great rubbernecking. But all this self-indulgent self-destruction seems so dated. Her writing is like the literary equivalent of wearing Doc Marten’s and a flannel shirt. In a national climate where everybody is just trying to recover from the Great Recession, how can readers tolerate her gleeful boast of being poor because she chose a designer purse over a savings account?

“But I never saved or invested, because I believe if you take care of the luxuries, the necessities will take care of themselves. When I got a huge advance for Bitch, my second book, I bought a Birkin bag…”

Somebody introduce Wurtzel to Suze Orman’s Women & Money. This Huffington Post critique says it best, but it bears repeating: An independent woman has gotta be responsible for her own finances. How else do you keep from being a prostitute?

New Year’s Resolution: 1 Short Story a Month

Seconds into 2012 at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. (Yes, that's Stevie Wonder.)

Sure, it’s a little late to start talking about New Year’s Resolutions, what with it being the end of February and all. Nonetheless, I have an awesome 2012 Resolution, and I’m writing to see if you want to play along with me.

Here goes: I’m sending an unpublished short story to publication every single month of 2012.

As for length or genre or type of publication, that’s up to you. I personally, am choosing to have fun with it and go for as wide a range as possible, like walking down an all-you-can-eat buffet and sticking my finger in every dish as I pass. (Not that I’d ever do that in real life, though a great buffet, if you were so inclined, is the one at the Wynn. Yummy.) So far, I’ve sent a sci-fi story to Asimov’s for January and I’m finishing up a literary-fiction confection for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers (February).

Worried about the anguish of rejection? Don’t be. At the end of the year, I’m going to publish whatever isn’t already published on Amazon e-books. Each short story will go for a dollar. And then I shall get rich or at least get a lot of practice.

Won’t you play along with me?

Visiting The Goon Squad

I just had another birthday and I just read Jennifer Egan’s spectacular novel “A Visit from the Goon Squad.” Coincidence? … Yes, actually. But, the two events are intimately related. Both involve agonizing over the inevitability of getting older. One involved a pulitzer. And another involved cake. Guess which is which.

Egan’s story is fabulous, and although I’ve always hated for my age to go up, I’m looking at this birthday as another chance to live long enough to win a Pulitzer of my own. Okay, now back to novelizing.

Christmastime at the Double Down

Merry Christmas everyone. I’m stuck at the airport. I’ve been here for hours. Hours! So, by process of elimination, I have chosen to blog. Thank goodness for free wi-fi at McCarran airport. It’s a low-grad Christmas miracle.

Since my mind is somewhat numb, I will write about the easiest thing: things I’ve already written about. So here you go, some recent articles with some commentary.

* Merry X-Mas Dammit from the Double Down Saloon. So, I found myself at the notorious Double Down Saloon last Saturday afternoon celebrating the little known but beloved holiday of Pastramikah. Next thing I know, I’m sitting next to the charming chef Kerry Simon, and P Moss is giving both of us his holiday CD. I didn’t consider writing about it because the CD is from 2007, but the music is so fresh and fun, I couldn’t resist. In Vegas, something from 2007 counts as classic anyways.

* Boyz II Men at the Flamingo. Although I’m not a huge fan of this band, I had a lot of fun writing this article. A lot of fun. And I won’t lie, I stood up in my chair and danced when they played their song that keeps repeating their name over and over again.

* Frank Sinatra Dance with Me at Wynn. This show was great. And I forced our managing editor to let me review it. Although I wonder if the show will stick. The problem is matching the right audience to the show. With all the sexy dancing, I think it appeals to the Zumanity crowd, and yet they’d never know it from the show posters.

* Leonard Cohen at Caesars Palace. This show was simply transcendent. I am literally honored to have seen him perform. It was also one of the easiest reviews I’ve ever written because the show lasted 3.5 hours, allowing me to write copious notes. BTW, I saw Cohen at Coachella a couple years back. I didn’t know it at the time, but the outdoor venue in no way did his music justice.

minUMENTAL INVITATIONAL at Trifecta Gallery. One day, when I am rich, I will collect art. That day has not yet come, so I was really excited about this mini art show at Trifecta. However, I was so disappointed because the art was still out of my price range. Don’t get me wrong, it was reasonably priced. Just not journalistically priced.