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Photos by Dianne R. Davis or Burt Davis

Viva Elvis at the Aria Hotel and Resort

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A special press conference held to discuss the new Cirque Du Soleil production of Viva Las Vegas afforded columnist Dianne Davis the opportunity to talk with some of the movers and shakers behind the production


World Series of Beer Pong V ™ Held at the Flamingo

Top Prize Went to “Smashing Time”

It was like a gigantic fraternity party.  The World Series of Beer Pong V ™ was at the Flamingo Hotel  and Casino  in Las Vegas from Friday, January 1 through the finals on Monday, January 4.  More than 450 two person teams mixed, mingled, and competed for the grand prize while scores more cheered from the sidelines.  And yes, beer consumption ran high.
After3,063 games, last year’s winners Ron Hamilton and Michael “Pop” Popielarski from New York’s Smashing Time came out on top, once again dominating the competition and winning the grand prize of $50,000 after a best of three final round played against Since Sliced Bread.
There have been a lot of firsts for me since I started covering events in Sin City.  This was another one, and honestly, it’s another enjoyable assignment.  When I stopped by on Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Hey, beer and young adults, what would you think?
The competitors were smiling, the fans were cheering, and the atmosphere was carnival-like with tables, beer, balls, and colorful creative team names displayed on shirts.  Although the majority of competitors were from the US, the huge ballroom room also included teams from Canada, Ireland, England and Japan.  There were even some locals there including “Wrap It Up” team players Collin O’Leary and Jeff Merson who own the shop of the same name at the Galleria Mall in Henderson.  Vince Catizone and Nick Manfredo from New Jersey were among the enthusiastic players that I met.  They said they were in it for “the cash and the glory.”
Don’t think this is just a guys’ game either. I was told that 5-10% of players are female.  I met Veronica and Alicia from Long Beach and Anaheim who told me they had done the tournament the previous year and, “had a blast.”  yes, they said, “We’ve been drinking all day.” and said their plans for that evening were to “gamble and get drunk.”
I asked Billy Gaines, co founder of The World Series of Beer Pong what he sees as the secret behind the growth of the sport.  His answer was simple, “Fun, sport, and people having a good time and making friends.”  That was exactly the impression I had.  It may have  started as a college drinking game, but Beer Pong is now apparently being played somewhere every night usually at bars, but in more and more homes as well.  Families with children of all ages can play the game with water or other non alcoholic drinks as a substitute for beer. Billy believes that this sport could someday surpass the World Series of Poker.
What did he think of this year’s winners?  “Considering the caliber of this year’s competition and the fact that every other team wanted to take the champions down, it’s astounding and incredible that Smashing Time repeated as this year’s winners of the WSOBP,” he said. “They played amazing beer pong during the entire event and more than handled the pressure of the national media spotlight, with outlets such as The Jay Leno Show and Maxim all in attendance. We can’t wait to see Ron and Pop try for the three-peat next year!”
Yes, there are rules and a structure to the game.  You can access that information at  And maybe next year, I’ll see you in Vegas.  In the meantime, I’ll tell you that part of the fun for me was reading the shirts with the clever and sometimes not repeatable names of the teams.  Here are some of them to get you started thinking up your team name.
Maybe there should be special prizes for most clever team names.   Hey, Billy, I’m volunteering to judge that one.

Representatives of a local club, Sapphire, were on hand to encourage everyone to stop by.
For more information on The World Series of Beer Pong V visit:

Some of the teams:

Nate’s Shirts Don’t Fit
David and Goliath
See ya later chumps
Just Give Up Now
Electric bananas
Finish Your Breakfast
Plan B Survivors
As Seen On TV
Purple Parrots
The babe with the power


Scenes from New Year's Eve


New Year’s Eve party goers at an invitation-only evening at the Venetian couldn’t stay in their seats when Chubby Checker took the stage and had everyone twisting again like they did last summer.



He even had guests on stage twisting and dancing along with him.




Steve King and the Dittilies were great with Dean Cartwright as a stand-out on the guitar.



In another room at the Venetian, En Vogue was on stage to do the count-down to the New Year with invited guests.


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