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Hello, Adoring Fans! It’s Steph here once again for another evening of live blogging. It’s Oscar night, and a tradition at the Warehouse to watch the pageant of contemporary popular culture and eat round candy. Last year we added a blogging element to the festivities. A few weeks ago I was joined by several friends in live blogging the Golden Globe awards. Our cast of commentators has returned this evening and expanded to include one more. Joining me tonight we have Bingo, Smokes, niqui, Bitsy, and Princess.

The six of us will be adding our thoughts, comments, retractions and unfounded speculations to the spectacle that is the 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Kodak Theater. Red carpet coverage begins at 6:00 pm CST. Hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin open the show at 7:30. Join us.

The Barbara Walters Special preceding the Oscars includes interviews with Sandra Bullock and Mo’Nique. Walters has announced that this year’s special will be the last one. She’s done the interview for 29 years.

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(Mark J.Terrill/AP Photo)

Hi All! It’s Steph here for the evening. After the rousing success of the live-blogging of the 2009 Oscar Awards I’m back to share thoughts about the first Golden Globe awards of the new decade. I’m joined this evening by four other contributors. Bingo is a would-be photojournalist with a particular penchant for inappropriate remarks and unfounded skepticism. If you were to imagine a time and place where everything were pure, and the laughter of children would fill the air like the music of angels, Smokes would be the boy clawing at the walls until his fingers bleed — then he would start biting. Only occasionally susceptible to fixation, niqui is a connoisseuse of the finer things in life, like cult TV, Scotch whiskey, and various things to be done with string. Bitsy is queen of all she surveys.

The five of us will be adding our insights into the thrills of victory and the agony of defeat wrought by those hard-hearted journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Red carpet coverage begins at 6:00 pm CST. Ricky Gervais opens the awards at 7:00. Join us.

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Steph here. John K. suggested we live blog the Oscars this year and since I’ve never live blogged, I thought it seemed like an interesting thing to do. So, here goes. The Oscars 2009.

All times listed below are Central Standard Time (CST), because that’s our territory.

6:59pm: The sound just went out on our television, so this has potential to be the quietest Oscar eve… oh, there, it’s back. Disaster averted.

7:00pm: Robin Roberts informs us that “the excitement is starting on the red carpet,” so I prepare appropriately by fluffing my pillow. She and Tim Gunn are hosting this embarrassment.

First up, Kate Winslet. Her hair looks pretty cool – nice and sleek. The dress is gray and I’m reminded of elephants, which I like. So, I guess that means I like her dress. She’s thankful she’s not tripping. Sadly, I wish I was.

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In honor of John K’s new X-box 360, I’d like to share a one of my favorite memories regarding video gaming with John and company over the years. The following took place years ago and is, perhaps, my earliest memory of playing a video game with this group.

I played Myth all the way through without one, single casualty using a combination of advanced strategy, astounding patience, cunning and meticulous use of level replay over and over and over until my stats were completely perfect. As I finished the game, John decided we should link up online with Mick and try some group missions, so Sean set up our end and we all convened one fateful evening.

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I wake up surprisingly peppy, considering I’ve only managed to sleep an hour and a half. We pack, then stroll down to the lobby to check out. As we leave, I turn around and take one last look at the Trop. As fast as things change in Vegas, it’s always hard to know if she’ll still be around next year.

Thanks for yet another good trip, Lady Trop!

Awhile later, I watch Las Vegas shrink to nothing as our plane lifts into the sky. I smile and lay my head on Sean’s shoulder.

“You know what, hon?

“What?”

“Life really is a highway.”

“Yeah. Ok,” he says, smooching my forehead. “Why don’t you try to get a little sleep, baby.”

“Yeah. Happy Brainniversary, by the way.”

Back home. The smell of the Trop moves in after having stowed away on our luggage and clothes. It stays with us a couple of days and then, finally, fades.

Sean and I elect to sleep in – it’s Sunday after all! We manage to snooze until 7 am before noise from the adjacent room and hallway forces us up. We ready for the day and then trudge down to Island Buffet for some nosh. John joins us as we finish breakfast to show off his new haircut, which looks quite fetching, we both agree. “Life is a Highway” warbles from the overhead speakers and he sings along idly.

Mirage from the Venetian PorticoJohn fills us in on the rest of the group while we sip the last of our coffee. Apparently, Melissa stayed up all night playing $1/$2 no-limit in the Trop poker room. She won a decent amount of money, but John isn’t sure how much. Brian also played very late and won a good amount, but did go to bed for a few hours. Presently, the two of them are back at it. Insane!

Liz has gone to Mandalay Bay for breakfast where she also intends to purchase a ticket for Cirque du Soliel’s 7 pm showing of “Love”. Jim got up early and is on his way to meet us. As we get up to leave, John receives a text message from Liz saying she’s on her way back.

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Tropicana 2The high-pitched squeals of children wake Sean and I barely three hours later. Blurry-eyed and disoriented, I can’t instantly place myself, but as my brain slowly comes back on-line, I realize I’m still in Vegas. I’m in Vegas and children are waking me up with squealing. I groan, roll out of bed and consider whether or not to call security. I figure they must have some sort of child lock-up facility somewhere in town – Alcatraz Kindercare, perhaps. This is one of the last remaining big kid’s playgrounds, after all. Sean shoves his pillow over his head and starts to snore again, so I let it all go and hope the shower will drown the noise sufficiently.

Somewhat refreshed after my long shower, I get ready for another day in Vegas! The thought makes me so cheery that when I come out of the bathroom and note the kids are now, for some reason, kicking the wall between our two rooms, I actually laugh while playfully pretend shooting the little rascals repeatedly with my finger gun. *BANG* kids, *bang* *BANG*!

We decide the time has come for a big breakfast and wander on down to the Island Buffet’s champagne brunch. By our second glass of champagne, John, Melissa and Brian have joined us at our table and we discuss trekking northward to Fremont Street. Sean decides he’d love to take the bus, because he’s never seen the entire strip. Melissa and Brian gamely agree to that adventure and John says he, Liz and Jim will take a cab and meet us down there. He waves goodbye and I hear him laughing as he walks away. Buses crack John up.

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Excalibur 3 Our alarm blares at 6 am and Sean and I jolt upright, hearts trip-hammering. Time to try to make 7 am sign-up at the Excalibur! We take quick showers and hustle down to the Trop’s coffee shop to meet up with the gang. The non-poker obsessed, Liz and Jim, wisely decide to either sleep in and/or have a leisurely breakfast at the Island Buffet. The rest of us hurry off to the Excalibur. On the way, Brian tells me that their alarm nearly gave him a heart-attack too.

“We can’t adjust the volume. It’s stuck on deafening.”

To our collective shock, when we get to the Excalibur, the sign up sheet is already half-filled, even at this ungodly hour. Soon after we jot our names down and randomly pick our seat assignments, all 40 of the tournament spots fill and the host starts signing alternates.

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Tropicana 1After a long six month wait, the “Sean Brainiversary 2: Electric Boogaloo” Vegas trip is FINALLY here!! Although some of the Vegas regulars can’t make it this year, seven of us have booked passage on three different flights bound for Glitter Gulch, the adult entertainment capital of the world.

Sean and I arrive first, at 1:15pm, after a very comfortable United Airlines’ Ted flight, on which we were inexplicably and without charge bumped up to “economy plus” class. Very comfortable and 45 minutes early into LV. How often do you hear that?? We grab our bags and catch a cab to our favorite old jewel of the strip – the Tropicana.

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The previous day, while waiting for the bus from Appolonia to Kameres, Sean and I ran into two fellow travelers with whom we had a passing acquaintance. The two ladies, probably in their late 40’s, hailed from Paris. They’d come in on the same ferry as us and were staying in Kameres for a similar duration. As well, the four of us seemed to be on a similar feeding schedule and tended to pick the same restaurants, so we’d seen them every night. Before the bus arrived, we slipped into easy conversation about our day’s adventures. They’d spent the entire day at a beach on the southwestern coast called Vathy and convinced us that we shouldn’t miss it. Done and done!

The bus to Vathy left at noon, which allowed plenty of time for us to eat a leisurely breakfast, chat with Spiros and then roam the quiet paths of Kameres before boarding. Soon, we were on the bus heading towards Appolonia. At the capital city, we turned west and started down the rather breathtakingly steep switchback road to Vathy. It didn’t take long for most of the people on the bus to switch seats, leaving me and Sean alone on the side nearest the rather precipitous drop-off. We had the best view the whole way down. Suckers!

VathyVathy turned out to be more beach than town, but what a beach it was. The white sands stretched all the way around the bay to the west and drifted right up to the small town’s doorstep to the east. To the north, set back a ways, was a rather ostentatious looking resort – a rarity on Sifnos. Sean and I followed the 20 or so souls down the beach and found a vendor where we procured beach chairs and an umbrella before we stripped and dove into the water. For the next three hours, we swam, chased fish, sunbathed and read.

Sean decided to take a little afternoon nap under the beach umbrella, leaving me on my own to explore. I noticed we were getting low on water, so wandered off to the east for town. Most of the structures in Vathy town turned out to be private residences, but I did find a small general store. Unfortunately, they were fresh out of bottled water, but the woman helpfully pointed me towards the ostentatious resort. Although I looked rather disheveled from hours of swimming, I wandered back down the beach and onto the property. The change in “feel” was instantaneous. The ground went beyond manicured. In defiance of the aridity of Sifnos, the resort maintained acres of lush grass, which, at least to me, looked horridly out of place and unnatural.

About five women lounged around the HUGE pool, all about 7’5” tall – really just impressive sets of legs topped off by prodigious boob jobs and immaculate hair. I didn’t see anyone swimming. A pair of models posed near a giant chessboard painted into a portion of lawn, the man leaning casually against a rook, the woman flirtatiously toeing the bottom of a pawn. I tried not to read too much into that placement.

I felt a touch out of place, but soldiered on, finally reaching the lobby building. I walked in and waved to the desk clerks. They looked up in tandem and identical smiles lit their perfect faces. I looked behind me to see if someone else had come in and by the time I looked back, two of the resort clones were at my side. They both held brochures.

I’m not exactly sure how this happened. I said I needed water. I got a 30 minute sort of high-pressure sales tour of the resort and a bit of an interrogation regarding where we were staying (“Oh, how quaint! But, entirely unsuitable. You don’t HAVE to stay somewhere like that”). Finally, they told me that my husband and I could take a suite at their resort starting now. They would have a driver go to Kameres and retrieve our things. The low, low price? Off-season, so a reasonable 800 euro a night! Wow! Go to hell resort goons! Give me my 10 euro bottle of water and buzz off! If I had that kind of money, I would STILL be staying at the Alkyonis in Kameres.

The goons weren’t particularly reluctant to let me leave. I don’t think I fit their “type” of clientele anyway. I have a feeling they were just practicing on me because they were bored and it was slow – you know, slickifying their slickness. I did get to see the inside of a suite, though. As plush as it was, if I didn’t look out the window, it could have been any luxury suite in the states. It completely lacked any character or local flavor. Just not my type of gig.

So, back I went across the grounds to swim freely in the sea with my husband, who had woken up some time before and was starting to wonder where I’d gone. Interestingly, over the next few hours, we both noticed a number of helicopters would now and again fly in a line across the entrance to the bay. Later, someone in Appolonia told us that there was a helipad for hotel guests. We also found out that the resort was NOT popular with many of the locals. They felt it was built using “black money” (explained later as money from organized crime) and attracted the types of people that might just change the flavor of authentic, non-touristy, wonderful Sifnos if given half the chance. I truly hope that doesn’t happen.

About an hour and a half before the last bus for Kameres was to leave, Sean and I took another Barrett recommendation and sat down at a taverna in town called Manolis. Right smack in the middle of the tavern’s veranda stood a huge clay oven from which the most mouth-watering smells emitted. We simply pointed first at the oven and then to the large house wine keg in back when our young waitress arrived and she laughed and nodded, understanding perfectly. The house red had a very pleasant zing and came to the table ice cold in a rather large pitcher. We shared a plate of fresh roasted rabbit from the clay oven and it virtually fell off the fork. Holy cow, my stomach just growled. Damn, that was good food. We also had a large Greek salad and the cheese tasted completely different from the cheese served in Kameres – both fantastic, but quite distinctive.

Sated and a bit tipsy, we boarded the bus back to Kameres. Our stomachs were too full to eat again that night, so we mostly wandered around town. Every shop was open and brightly lit and there was almost more shopping activity after dark than during the day. It made for a very festive atmostphere. As usual, Spiros waved us over as we passed and we got our ice creams and chatted. I just want to say, Spiros really typified the warmth and genuine nature of the people we met on Sifnos and Milos and I am so very glad we met him. What a neat person.