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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

80 years of Railroad Pass, Gateway to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam

Not every historic casino in the Las Vegas Valley is imploded. Railroad Pass Hotel & Casino, the oldest operating casino in Nevada, plans to celebrate its 80th anniversary Monday.
"We escaped the implosions," said Keith McDonald, a spokesman with Railroad Pass, 2800 S. Boulder Highway. "We were the fourth licensed (casino) in Nevada. The first (license ) was a test run, and the other two have gone under, leaving us the longest-operating casino."

Railroad Pass stands the test of time

    The Railroad Pass Casino is shown in this undated photo. The casino, which started in 1931 as a 6,000-square-foot dance hall and saloon, now has a hotel with 120 rooms, 331 slot machines and six table games.

The Railroad Pass Casino is shown in this undated photo. The casino, which started in 1931 as a 6,000-square-foot dance hall and saloon, now has a hotel with 120 rooms, 331 slot machines and six table games.

Railroad Pass's history dates to 1890, when a railroad was proposed as a shortcut from Las Vegas to Searchlight.
Even though that railroad was never built because the mines were not producing enough gold to make the project worthwhile, the name stuck.
According to Mark Hall-Patton, administrator with the Clark County Museum, the first dirt road was made in 1929 even though the area had been used as a passage between the Eldorado Valley and the Las Vegas Valley.
"This was done to facilitate travel to the Colorado River in anticipation of construction on the Hoover Dam," Hall-Patton said.
A different railroad project was built by Union Pacific in 1931, connecting the U.S. government r ailroad that went into Boulder City.
That same year, developments such as the first gas station opened. The gas station opened Feb. 12 and was destroyed by a fire in 1935.
On June 4, 1931, construction began on a 6,000-foot dance hall and casino, which was to be named Railroad Pass Club .
The casino was l icensed July 7, 1931, and opened Aug. 1.
Progress continued as a new gravel road through Railroad Pass leading to Boulder City opened Sept. 11, 1931.
Hall-Patton said the area even had its own school district until a 1956 law merged all smaller school districts into one. From 1942 to 1945, Basic High School in Henderson was referred to as Railroad Pass High School.
Even though the casino had several owners from 1936 to 1975 and even faced closure more than once, it has survived the test of time.
"We have made the typical changes over the years," McDonald said.
Railroad Pass was incorporated into MGM Resorts International in May 2005.
The casino has 120 hotel rooms, 331 slot machines and six table games today.
McDonald said that at 11 a.m. Monday , the casino plans to host an anniversary celebration . The nine other MGM Resorts International properties, including Mandalay Bay and MGM, are slated to make a cake in honor of the anniversary.
McDonald said VIP guests are expected to judge which cake is the best.
"We will also be serving our famous strawberry shortcake," McDonald said.
For more information, visit

Restoring Political Civility

Are we losing the welfare of the common good, the bounds that tie human beings together that politics and religious convictions should not destroy.  We need to learn to respect the rights, beliefs, needs and dreams of our fellow citizens. We need to return to the founding father's dream of the common good. That does not include name calling, lies and bitter battles over things we should work together to accomplish or protect,

Christians, and most other faiths, have at their core service and civility. Yet in both the Muslim and Christian world hatred has led to persecution of the Jews, wars between the faiths, deep rooted and lasting hatreds and modern day acceptance of the language of  disrespect and hate in even the most civil of discourse.

Are we becoming a bitter hate filled society, as our current election cycle could indicate? Are lies, twisting of truth and a war of slogans instead of substance becoming the way of our society? And if so, will this lead to a decline and decay in overall society.

The landscape is changing.

Traditional America found Methodist and Presbyterians at the center of towns and town activities, with Catholics and Protestant evangelicals on the "other side of the tracks". This is the America of the 20th Century.

Today Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches are located in the best parts of  town or are the center of  urban renewal, with super-churches and supermarket or Walmart sized video heavy sacristies. The 21st century is seeing changes, rapid changes.

Language about Catholics, Jews, Muslims and even other Protestant faiths has become steeped in hatred or at the very least a complete abandonment of any attempt to understand, accept or compromise as human beings inhabiting the same communities and the same secular world.

With today's Christians being fast, easy and loose in political campaigns by party, or in our fear of immigrants or Muslims, the basic core principal of "thou shalt not bear false witness" and the underwriting message of  love seem lost. Yet the not-so-christian right seems fast to "toss the first stone" and "damn" those they disagree with.

Jesus himself was accused of lining his own pockets, cavorting with prostitutes and being too easy on the Romans and other faiths, yet those fast and hateful claims were far from the truth we know of the man.

The above are not from my observations, or for that matter beliefs, but are legitimate issues raised on Public Radios "Speaking of Faith" ("Being").  Minister and author Richard Mouw,the president of the Fuller Theological Center in California,  challenges his fellow conservative Christians to civility in public discourse. He offers historical as well as spiritual perspective on American Evangelicals' navigation of disagreement, fear, and truth.

First published 10-17-2010

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ISP's and Your Privacy


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Dreamworks dumps HBO, Union Label for Net-Soaps, Ups and Downs for Netflix

Soaps Looking for the Union Label, for a lot less. Moving television shows from the TV screen to the computer screen is not easy, as the folks who want to give new life to soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" are learning.
Prospect Park, a company headed by former Walt Disney Co. executive Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz, the former head of the talent management company the Firm, made big headlines earlier this month when it announced plans to take the two soaps, which are being cancelled by ABC, and put them on the Web. "All My Children" goes away at the end of summer and "One Life to Live" ends in January.
Details about plans to do this have been scant, and on Monday the company said it is "in the process of working out the essential terms of our proposed collective bargaining agreements with the appropriate guilds and unions," which needs to be done before other plans can go forward.
The company did not elaborate, but producing the two shows for the Internet will mean persuading the unions, including the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to swallow a lot of cuts. Soaps have large casts and writing staffs and cost as much as $50 million a year to produce. Those are numbers that probably won't work on a show done for the Internet unless Prospect Park can come up with a subcription model or perhaps a secondary window on a cable network.
Besides trying to sign up the cast and crew -- likely for less money -- Prospect Park probably would also have to find new homes to shoot the soaps. ABC is planning on using the New York set of "One Life to Live" for its Katie Couric talk show launching next year.
Reading the Peter meter. Peter Chernin's first really big movie ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes") and really big television show ("Terra Nova") will have their debuts in the coming weeks. But will running a production company be enough to fulfill one of Hollywood's most respected executives and a former No. 2 to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. The Los Angeles Times looks at Chernin's new company and whether there is something else on his mind.

Imax stock plummets on box-office concerns
3D slump is killin' Imax stock. Imax Corp. stock plummeted more than 11% after an analyst raised concerns that the company's digital and large-format screens don't have as much box-office mojo as previously believed.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Ben Mogil downgraded box-office projections for the second half of the year and lowered his target for the company's stock price to $27, from $32. His report came a week after similar predictions were made by Merriman Capital. The stock was trading at $25.33 late Monday.
"We believe that estimates for IMAX for [second half 2011] are too optimistic given that the [fourth quarter 2011] slate has three kids' films, a genre which this year has seen considerably lower 3D share this year compared to last," Mogil wrote.
Most, but not all, Imax movies play in 3-D, a technology that has been dropping in popularity among domestic movie audiences.
Thor's Hammer more powerful than Captain America? It turns out that "Captain America" wasn’t the fastest superhero out of the gate at the box office this summer after all.
On Sunday, Paramount Pictures estimated that "Captain America: The First Avenger," the 3-D film starring Chris Evans as the Marvel comic book character, would gross $65.8 million over the weekend. With that figure, it would have had the biggest first weekend of any superhero film released this summer -- just barely topping the $65.7 million debut of the 3-D "Thor" back in May.
But when the ticket sales were accounted for on Monday, Paramount said "Captain America" had actually collected $65.1 million over the weekend. Of course, that's still a solid opening -- one that's more than $10 million higher than the debuts of both "Green Lantern" and "X-Men: First Class" in June.
And even though "Thor" was able to throw down the hammer in the initial box office battle, "Captain America" may ultimately have more power than the Norse god in the long run. Audiences who saw "Captain America" this weekend loved the film, giving it an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore; "Thor," comparatively, scored a B-plus.

Are you ready for some football? NFL owners and the players have struck a new agreement and are now going to start scrambling to get ready for the football season, which is scheduled to start in about six weeks. The television networks are no doubt happy. Now they have something they know people will watch while the networks promote their news shows. Coverage of the new deal and what it means for television from the New York TimesSports Illustrated, and Los Angeles Times.
Who will play Chris Berman? 20th Century Fox has acquired the rights to "Those Guys Have All The Fun," which is an oral history of the creation of ESPN and how it became a sports juggernaut. Frankly, I think HBO would be a better place to try to make a movie out of the book, and I wonder whether this will ever get to the big screen. The dirt from Deadline Hollywood.
No more pay to play. ABC News says it won't find clever ways to compensate interview subjects anymore. The network, like others, has been criticized for compensating subjects for interviews. Although never outright saying so-and-so was paid for sitting down with "Good Morning America," the network would instead strike deals to "license" photos or videos from the subject of a story. It sounds sincere, but let's check back in six months and see if the network is sticking to it. Details from the Daily Beast.

Dreamworks Animation's Kung Fu Panda 2

Leaving HBO. News that DreamWorks Animation is cutting short its output deal with HBO in order to work with Netflix sent the "Shrek" producer's stock to its highest point in more than a month.
DreamWorks Animation's current agreement with pay-TV channel HBO was to run until 2014. Under the terms of the deal, DreamWorks Animation movies go exclusively to HBO during the "pay cable window," which typically starts about six months after theatrical debut.
However, DreamWorks Animation has gone to HBO and obtained an exit from the contract so it can instead make its movies available on Netflix's Internet streaming service during that window, a person familiar with the matter confirmed.
The deal with Netflix would only be for DreamWorks Animation movies released in 2013 and 2014. Older movies from the studio would remain available exclusively to HBO for the next several years.
DreamWorks, led by Jeffrey Katzenberg, will be the third independent studio to agree to use Netflix as its pay-cable partner, along with Relativity Media and FilmDistrict.
Investors were apparently pleased with the news, first reported Sunday by Bloomberg, and sent DreamWorks Animation stock up 4% in midday trading Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, were both down for the day.
Not making it a Netflix night. Netflix released earnings Monday that beat projections, but the company still took a little beating from Wall Street over its projections for what's ahead and the continued backlash against its new subscription rates. More from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart has launched its own streaming service, using Vudu, which the company bought 18 months ago. More on that from Variety.

NetflixHQA legacy of Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination hearings means Americans won't get to use Netflix on Facebook.
In a letter to investors that accompanied its financial results Monday, Netflix said that this fall it will launch its Facebook integration in Canada and Latin America but not in the U.S.
The reason: The Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law 
IATSE and American Idol reach an agreement. Fremantle, the production company behind Fox's "American Idol" and the upcoming "The X Factor" as well as NBC's "America's Got Talent," has signed a three-year agreement with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
The new deal will cover programs made for U.S. broadcast and cable networks. 
"This new enhanced agreement underlines our commitment to working with Fremantle Media North America on some of the biggest programming brands on television," said Matthew D. Loeb, international president of IATSE.
Previously, IATSE had agreements with some individual Fremantle shows but not the entire company.
Take me to the river. ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker may look a little different to viewers as some of the traditional advertisers -- online poker outfits -- will be missing because the government is going after online gaming. The Wall Street Journal looks at what the Justice Department crackdown means for televised poker.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at the lasting impact of "Boyz N the Hood" two decades after its release. The plan to move ABC soaps "All My Children and One Life to Live" to the Web has hit another hurdle.
-- Joe Flint and others