Wednesday, April 2, 2014

El Cortez's Burger Deal Still One of the Best Around

As is common in the spring, several new specials have sprung up around town.

Actually, one of the Super Sale isn't all that new, but with $11 and $12 hamburgers becoming the norm, El Cortez's half-pound burger and a 12-ounce beer for $5 is a deal that deserves its due. These burgers, served in Café Cortez, are just like the ones everyone crows about at Binion's snack bar, only a little bigger, and you get a bag of chips on the side. The deal is available around the clock.

* If you want prime rib for a buck less, drive north on Las Vegas Boulevard. From 11 a.m. to close on Fridays and Saturdays, the Silver Nugget has a prime rib special, served with mashed potatoes, corn and a roll, for $3.99 in the Hometown Kitchen coffee shop. It's been awhile since I've seen one this low, and it's not bad. If you want to carry in a beer, Bud in the bottle is just $2 at the main bar.

* Here's a pretty potent lobster play. The Hard Rock Hotel is still running its $17.95 whole lobster special on Fridays in Mr. Lucky's, but you can get a similar dinner on Wednesdays at Miller's Ale House in Town Square for $16.95. Better yet, take a chance at Miller's on Thursdays when-if lobsters are left over-the same dinner is just $12.95 till they're gone. I'm 1-for-2 on the Thursday play, but even if they're gone, there's a decent $12.95 prime rib special to fall back on.

* Looking for a good way to spend a buck? All South Point casino bars have $1 Bloody Marys and mimosas daily from 6 a.m. to noon throughout April. Longhorn on Boulder Highway has $1 Miller Lite 24/7. And keep your eyes open for drinking deals all day on April 7, National Beer Day, including 20-ounce Ellis Island microbrews for $1 and 2-for-1 beers in Rockhouse at Palazzo.

* The Mob Bar at the Downtown Grand is running a comedy club on Friday and Saturday nights with a two-drink minimum. Given the ever-rising price of show tickets, this is a welcome addition Downtown.

* This month's video-poker deal at Home Plate bar on Blue Diamond Road is a pizza-buffet comp from 3 to 6 a.m. daily. Buy in for any amount on a bar game and eat up. And if you hang around for a while, you can play in a race to set the card of the day. The first four-of-a-kind that's hit after 8 a.m. becomes that day's card, and you get a $50 bonus for your trouble. I love these creative bar deals!

Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Man accepts plea deal in 2008 Grand Chute homicide

CREATED 8:19 AM

APPLETON - A man charged in a 2008 Grand Chute homicide has been found guilty after a last-minute plea Promotional Codes during trial.

Post-Crescent Media reports that hours before the jury was supposed to begin deliberation Thursday in his second trial, Michael Potts accepted the deal and was found guilty of an amended charge of first-degree reckless homicide.

District Attorney Carrie Schneider attorneys came to the last-minute agreement during the jury's lunch break Thursday.

Prosecutors will recommend a 28-year prison sentence, although Judge Mark McGinnis could still impose the maximum 40-year sentence. McGinnis also found Potts guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon and jumping bail.

Potts said he was thankful and happy. Defense attorney Jeffrey Jazgar said Potts was at peace with the decision after six years.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Baseball insiders reveal who is best of the best

By the time you read this, two regular-season games already will have been played in Australia. Only 2,428 to go.

For those of us who love the sport, this feels like a superb time for competitiveness - there is a lot of contention belief all over the landscape - and for prospects. One scout rattled off Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, A's shortstop Addison Russell, Mets starter Noah Syndergaard and Cubs shortstop Javier Baez and third baseman Kris Bryant as generating a lot of buzz this spring, making this "an exciting period for prospects, maybe the best depth we have had in 10 years."

Does anything make a baseball fan feel better than expectation that his team will contend and that more top-tiered players on the way? It felt like a good time to ask about the best of the sport. So I did. And 18 scouts and executives were kind enough to respond to my request for their five best players, starting pitchers, relievers, managers, general managers and teams going into the 2014 campaign.

A few things: Not everyone answered every question - some were particularly squeamish on the GM subject. But some obvious patterns were established. For example, Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera were named on every ballot for best player, and Clayton Kershaw on every ballot for best starter.

But there also were some surprises. Here are the results:

Best player

Trout and Cabrera were 1-2, Andrew McCutchen was named on all but one ballot, then there was a huge dropoff to robinson cano to dodgers Cano fourth, and a tie for fifth among Yadier Molina ("Insane offensive production, excellent defense, and durability at the hardest position in the game. He is the furthest separated from his peers"), Buster Posey ("really striking what he's able to do offensively given his position and the ballpark he plays in") and Paul Goldschmidt. Troy Tulowitzki just missed out, while Dustin Pedroia, Giancarlo Stanton and Chris Davis were named on multiple ballots. Joey Votto, Evan Longoria and - fascinating to me, at least - Ryan Braun were tabbed once each.

The admiration for Trout's "overflowing toolbox" was universal, with one GM saying, "He is basically the real-life version of Robocop."

A scout offered: "Where is the weakness in his game? And he is just 22." Cabrera universally was cited as the toughest hitter in the game. One personnel head said, "No one you want to see come up against you less in a big spot - and it is not close."

One scout summed up McCutchen this way: "He is drama-free, cool and unselfish."

Best starter

Kershaw was on five more ballots than anyone else, with the panel gushing not just about his skills on the field, but what a terrific ambassador for the sport he is off the field. One assistant GM lauded, "power stuff, power mentality, true ace." A personnel head said, "What you want on the mound, in the clubhouse, in your community."

Justin Verlander, coming off for him a down season, and Jose Fernandez, in his first campaign, finished tied for second.

On Verlander, an AL assistant GM said, "He can hit triple-digit velocity with three secondary pitches that are all above average. They don't make them like this."

An NL assistant GM on Fernandez: "He has a 94-98 mph fastball, maybe the best curve in the sport, and maybe more than anything he has that drive that he wants to beat you. You can feel it. Like when Pedro [Martinez] was in his prime."

Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish tied for fourth, with Adam Wainwright, David Price and Max Scherzer deadlocked just behind them, and Chris Sale and Cliff Lee tied in the next group.

Want some encouragement, Mets fans? Matt Harvey got two votes, despite the likelihood he will miss this season. A GM said he was going to vote for Verlander, "but there's a chance that he just is the new Verlander."
Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann each received a vote.

Best reliever

Craig Kimbrel was listed on all but one ballot, with one scout describing the Atlanta righty as "the definition of a power, shutdown closer." Aroldis Chapman finished just one vote short of unanimous. So you have an idea what the Reds will be missing with their closer gone for at least six weeks after having a bone fractured near his left eye last week when he was drilled by a line drive. An assistant GM on Chapman: "If you ever wondered what Randy Johnson as a closer would look like, this is it."

Kansas City's Greg Holland ("a fastball/slider combo that rivals Kimbrel's") and the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen ("a gentle giant with a power cutter") tied for third, and the World Series closers, Boston's Koji Uehara ("his strikeout-walk ratio of 101-9 was ridiculous") and St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal ("When he takes something off for extra command, it's still 95 mph") tied for fifth. The only other reliever to get multiple votes was Detroit's Joe Nathan, who is the active save leader with Mariano Rivera retired.

Among those receiving one vote was Rivera, with an NL personnel head saying, "If he comes out of retirement he would still be the best closer in the world." Rivera's Yankees successor, David Robertson, got one vote, as did Oakland's Sean Doolittle and Jim Johnson, Tampa Bay's Grant Balfour, Miami's Steve Cishek and Minnesota's Glen Perkins.

Best managers

Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon received the most votes, getting appreciation for the loose yet professional atmosphere for his roster. St. Louis' Mike Matheny was second. One scout summed up the duo: "Maddon has created a tremendous culture in a non-traditional way; Matheny has created a tremendous culture in a traditional way."

Cleveland's Terry Francona ("great mix of old school and new school. Players love and respect him") and San Francisco's Bruce Bochy ("Not many clubhouses buy into what the manager is selling as much as the Giant clubhouse does") tied for third, and Boston's John Farrell was fifth. Baltimore's Buck Showalter and Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle were tied for sixth and the Yankees' Joe Girardi and Oakland's Bob Melvin for eighth.

Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire, the Dodgers' Don Mattingly and the Angels' Mike Scioscia also each got a vote.

General managers

"Moneyball" might not have won the Oscar, but Oakland GM Billy Beane led in this voting, with one personnel man saying, "He continues to find ways to be ahead of trends." Beane was followed by Tampa Bay's Andrew Friedman ("I vacillate between calling him a ninja or a Jedi"), Detroit's Dave Dombrowski("year in and year out gets the job done - small trades, big trades, free agents, never scared to make a move") and St. Louis' John Mozeliak ("has stayed the Cardinal course, allowing good developers and scouts do their jobs, with a good blend of smart Sabremetric and baseball people").

I was stunned by the fifth choice, Minnesota's Terry Ryan. He was the Twins GM from 1994-2007 and took over again in 2011 with the organization floundering. Ryan is respected for his honesty, integrity and development of players. He actually has missed spring training while recuperating after having a cancerous lump removed from his neck.

The Yankees' Brian Cashman, Atlanta's Frank Wren and San Francisco's Brian Sabean tied for sixth, followed by Boston's Ben Cherington. Arizona's Kevin Towers, Texas' John Daniels, Cleveland's Chris Antonetti, Pittsburgh's Neal Huntington and San Diego's Josh Byrnes.

Crimea goes east, Ukraine goes west in two new deals

<Promo Codesp>BRUSSELS - Two almost simultaneous signatures Friday on opposite sides of Europe deepened the divide between East and West, as Russia formally annexed Crimea and the European Union pulled Ukraine closer into its orbit.

In this "new post-Cold War order," as the Ukrainian prime minister called it, besieged Ukrainian troops on the Crimean Peninsula faced a critical choice: leave, join the Russian military or demobilize. Ukraine was working on evacuating its outnumbered troops in Crimea, but some said they were still awaiting orders.

With fears running high of clashes between the two sides or a grab by Moscow for more of Ukraine, the chief of the U.N. came to the capital city Kiev and urged calm all around.

All eyes were on Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they have been ever since pro-Western protests drove out Ukraine's president a month ago, angering Russia and plunging Europe into its worst crisis in a generation.

Putin sounded a conciliatory note Friday, almost joking about U.S. and EU sanctions squeezing his inner circle and saying he saw no reason to retaliate. But his government later warned of further action.

Russia's troubled economic outlook may drive its decisions as much as any outside military threat. Stocks sank further, and a possible downgrade of Russia's credit rating loomed. Visa and MasterCard stopped serving two Russian banks, and Russia conceded it may scrap plans to tap international markets for money this year.

Despite those clouds, Putin painted Friday's events in victorious colors, and fireworks burst over Moscow and Crimea on his orders, in a spectacle reminiscent of the celebrations held when Soviet troops drove the Nazis from occupied cities in World War II.

At the Kremlin, Putin signed parliamentary legislation incorporating Crimea into Russia, hailing it as a "remarkable event."

At nearly the same time in a ceremony in Brussels, EU leaders sought to pull cash-strapped Ukraine westward by signing a political association agreement with the new Ukrainian prime minister.

The highly symbolic piece of paper is part of the same EU deal that touched off Ukraine's political crisis when then-President Viktor Yanukovych rejected it in November and chose a bailout from Russia instead. That ignited months of protests that eventually drove him from power.

Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a leader of the protest movement, eagerly pushed for the EU agreement.

"This deal meets the aspirations of millions of Ukrainians that want to be a part of the European Union," Yatsenyuk said in Brussels.

The agreement includes security and defense cooperation, he said, though it is far from full EU membership and doesn't include an important free-trade element yet.

But the EU decided to grant Ukraine financial advantages such as reduced tariffs to boost its ailing economy until the full deal can be signed. Those trade advantages are a blow to Russia, which had hoped to pull Ukraine into a Moscow-focused customs union instead.

In exchange for the EU pact, Ukraine's government is promising economic reforms.

"In the long term, the biggest challenge will be to build a strong Ukrainian economy, rooted in strong institutions that respect the rule of law," British Prime Minister David Cameron said at the EU summit.

The deal comes at a critical moment financially: Amid its political crisis, Ukraine is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, struggling to pay off billions of dollars in debts in the coming months. The U.S. and the EU have pledged to quickly offer a bailout.

Russia's foreign minister dismissed the EU pact, saying the current Ukrainian leadership lacks popular support and should have held elections before making such a decision.

Meanwhile, in what was seen a possible slight de-escalation in tensions, Russia accepted a plan to send an international fact-finding team of at least 100 members into Ukraine to assess security in the country.

For more than a week, Russia had stonewalled the push by other members of the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send in monitors. OSCE hopes the mission will prevent an escalation of tensions in Ukraine's east and south - regions with large Russian-speaking populations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, visiting Ukraine's capital, urged talks between Kiev and Moscow.

"At times like this, it is vital that all parties refrain from any provocative actions that could exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation," he said.

The EU hit 12 more people with sanctions Friday over Russia's annexation of Crimea, bringing its list of those facing visa bans and asset freezes to 33. They include one of Russia's deputy prime ministers, a Putin adviser and the speaker of Russia's upper house of Parliament, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

Annexing Crimea "is a flagrant breach of international law and something we will not recognize. This behavior belongs to the Europe of the last century not this one," Cameron said.

Still, the EU roster fell short of the high-powered U.S. list, in an apparent reflection of European wariness of going as far as Washington to punish Russia - Europe's neighbor, energy supplier and trade partner.

President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered a second round of sanctions against 20 members of Putin's inner circle and a major bank supporting them. The list included four businessmen considered to be Putin's lifelong friends.

Moscow retaliated by banning nine U.S. officials and lawmakers from entering Russia.

Putin tried to play down the sanctions at Friday's televised session of the presidential Security Council.

"We should keep our distance from those people who compromise us," he said, a jocular reference to the officials on the sanctions list, some of whom attended the meeting.

Putin added sardonically that he would open an account to keep his salary in the targeted Bank Rossiya, owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, considered to be Putin's longtime friend.

At the same time, Putin said he sees no immediate need for further Russian retaliation over the U.S. sanctions, adding that Russia will keep funding a program jointly with NATO to service Afghan helicopters and train their crews.

However, just a few hours later, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow will "harshly" respond to the latest round of U.S. sanctions, and Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia will retaliate.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin on Friday that 72 Ukrainian military units in Crimea have decided to join the Russian military. His claim couldn't be independently confirmed.

At the Ukrainian military air base in Belbek, outside the Crimean port of Sevastopol, Col. Yuly Mamchur told reporters he was still waiting for orders from his commanders on whether to evacuate.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

GDC 2014: An Updated Look at 'Framed' from Loveshack Entertainment

<Online Dealsp>One of my most highly-anticipated upcoming games is Framed from Australia-based Loveshack Entertainment. It's sort of a puzzle game mixed with a noir style graphic novel, where you must place the various frames of each scene in the proper order to ensure your character can make their way past various guards and other obstacles. It's really unlike anything I've ever seen before, and about this time last year we had one of our Australia-based writers pay them a visit and get a firsthand look at an early version of Framed. Then this past December, Loveshack released an updated trailer for the game, and it continued to look re ally great. Here at GDC, Loveshack was showing off the newest version of Framed, and it comes with some new mechanics and even the first look at a new character. Check it out.

Like I keep saying, I'm incredibly excited for Framed, and the release can't come soon enough. Loveshack is hoping to get Framed out the door by the middle of 2014, so if you're excited for it like I am be sure you have it on your Watch List and we'll bring you any more news as it becomes available.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Five teams that got a raw deal from the NCAA tournament selection committee

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With bracketology turning into a national phenomenon and extra room to work with four more teams in the field, the NCAA selection committee has done a fine job in recent years of filling the 68 spots of the NCAA tournament bracket. Gone are the years of Selection Sunday rage, replaced by Selection Sunday mild indignation. And though this year was no different, the committee is far from perfect. Here are the five biggest problems with the 2014 NCAA tournament bracket.

1. Wichita State's impossible draw

Wichita State's reward for becoming the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated in almost 25 years: The hardest road for any of the top seeds. There's the potential third-round game with No. 8 seed Kentucky - a team that took No. 1 seed Florida to the wire a few hours before and probably should have been a No. 5 seed. Get by John Calipari and Rick Pitino's Louisville team likely awaits. And let's say the Shockers manage to stay upright and get to the Elite Eight? It's easy sailing there, just a potential game against last year's runner-up Michigan or some team coached by a guy named Krzyzewski.

2. Louisville getting a No. 4 seed

For The Win has already covered the most egregious seeding snub of the tournament. The key thing to remember is that all snubs aren't created equal. Whereas Wichita State's road is made more difficult by Louisville, Wichita State's presence actually makes Louisville's road easier. It's far from a perfect draw, mind you, but better to be a four with Wichita State than a two with Florida.

3. SMU being left out of the field

We'd have all loved to see 73-year-old Larry Brown back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since leading Kansas to a title in 1988. But it's hard to get too worked up about SMU's snub considering the team couldn't beat 16-15 Houston in their first game in the AAC tournament. If the Mustangs had won that game and were left out in favor of an N.C. State team that lost to North Carolina Central and Wake Forest, then there'd be an issue. As it is, SMU practically sent the selection committee an invitation to be snubbed.

4. New Mexico as a No. 7 seed

Here are the Lobos' results the past two months: Going 15-2, with the only two losses coming in the final 15 seconds to Boise State and due to a wild 19-1 run by eventual conference champion San Diego State. In that time, New Mexico won the Mountain West tournament and defeated San Diego State, a top-10 team during the season, in two out of three games. And for that, New Mexico gets a lowly No. 7 seed and a potential first weekend date with Kansas. It says a lot about New Mexico's seeding that the Jayhawks will be the team most worried about that potential matchup.

5. Iowa getting a play-in game while BYU gets a No. 10 seed

How is BYU, without its star player Kyle Collingsworth, who will miss the NCAA tournament with an injury, a No. 10 seed, while Iowa, a tournament lock, is a No. 11 and heading to Dayton for a play-in game? Iowa wasn't even thought to be on the bubble, while BYU was either in or out depending on which prognosticator was making the call. It's fine to reward the Cougars and not hold Collingsworth's injury against them. It's also difficult to seed BYU because of the school's policy of playing no games on Sundays. Still, a No. 10 is too high. Iowa can't complain though. Don't lose to Northwestern in the Big 10 tournament if you don't want to go to Dayton.

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Gameloft's 'Asphalt 8' is Getting In App Twitch Streaming, So They're Streaming Asphalt 8 For 24 Hours

<On Salesp> Remember a while back when we posted about Twitch streaming coming directly to iOS devices in any game that adds the new mobile Twitch SDK? Well, Gameloft's Asphalt 8 [ Free] is going to be one of the first games to support it. I'm super interested to see how this turns out, as it eliminates all the barriers to streaming specific iOS games, as all you need is a decent WiFi network, but it remains to be seen if the typical mobile pla y session will be conducive to the kind of stream that seems to do well on Twitch.

For instance, channels that seem to do really well are League of Legends streamers who stream for hours versus your typical mobile game play session which might only last for minutes. I'm not sure how the Twitch community will take to it, but Gameloft seems to be willing to prove that it's possible to stream Asphalt forever with a 24 hour streaming marathon which started a few minutes ago:

The Asphalt 8 update should hit inside of the next couple weeks, at which point you can stream it to for similar 24 hour sessions.