Sunday, January 11, 2009

Once Again, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the New Year...

Every year for the past several years or so, I sojourn out to Las Vegas to attend the Consumer Electronics Show, where the newest gadgets for the home and business are displayed for the world to see.

At the Netgear booth, members from the Las Vegas cast of the Second City improvisation troupe did demos of Netgear's new product line...

While at the Sony booth, the television game show "Jeopardy" had a series of episodes taped at the CES show in honor of its 25th anniversary on the air.

But sometimes, an attendee had to lose one's dignity for the opportunity of winning a prize in the exhibit hall, as I did when I won a TiVo DVR at the Real Networks booth.

Still, the allure of the celebrities being sighted is sometimes worth the expense of traveling out there.

Recording star Akon posing with fans.

NBA legends Bill Walton (l.) and Robert Parrish (r.)

"Price is Right" host Drew Carey poses with a fan (l.), while Kathy Kinney (ex-Mimi, The Drew Carey Show) appears as her newest alter ego, storyteller Mrs. P.

A quintet of rising MMA athletes from the UFC promotion.

David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox autographs a baseball for a fan.

"Saturday Night Live" alumnae Jimmy Fallon (l.) and former "That 70's Show" cast member Wilmer Valderrama (r.)

Rising Indy Car driver Sarah Fisher (l.) and UFC legend Randy Couture (r.)

NFL legends John Lynch (l.) and Ronnie Lott (r.).

The attendance was down by about 8%, and for many, finding affordable hotel accomodations even during this economic downturn has proved to be an absolute nightmare.

And still, what I always dreaded happened: On the final day of the show, I was experiencing sadness and melancholia to where I was on the verge of tears. It wasn't just the letdown from four days of excitement and euphoria. It was knowing that everything's coming to an end and we have to return to the day-to-day routine of making a living and a life for ourselves.

But as always, I walk into the exhibit hall with no expectations. There were some vendors who were notably absent from the show this year (Western Digital, Logitech) and others whose continued absence from this event is notable (Apple, Palm). But given the reduced opportunities for prize raffles and other giveaways (reflective of the economic uncertainies of this time), I managed to make out reasonably well, and that includes the two free tickets to a performance by the Blue Man Group at the Venetian that would otherwise have cost me $279. Perhaps this was because I did a better job of picking my spots than usual, and I took advantage of the opportunity to take pictures of celebrities who were at the event.

I also did the little things that left a big impression -- like taking pictures of the Second City troupe in performance and printing them up for them at the Kodak booth; gladly providing pictures I've taken of Akon for a casino employee who works at the bingo room at Terrible's Hotel & Casino, which I frequent when I'm in Vegas.
As always, I freely lend a hand and not expect anything in return.

Until next year around this time...

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