Every wondered how to (properly) eat sushi, throw a punch, pick the perfect karaoke song, bargain at a flea market or get past the velvet rope at Marquee? This week, we're sending you back to school with our How-To Issue, the Weekly's manual for a better life. So, read up, start practicing your French and get ready to chug a beer really, really fast.
Punch like a girl
In her 2008 MMA debut, the first punch Kim Couture took broke her jaw in half. She battled through three five-minute rounds with no equilibrium, swallowing blood, somehow managing to land a few good punches of her own through the pain. The 36-year-old’s natural toughness and dedication to the sport have made her one of its most notable female ambassadors.
Between training, working with other fighters, raising her teenage kids and overseeing her own supplement line and local weight-loss clinic Thin-X, Couture (fighter Randy Couture’s ex-wife) loves to put on the gloves and lose herself in the power that comes from a strong core, good form and focus. Women can hit hard, though she says there are gender differences in the ring.
“Guys are all ego. … They’re not emotional about each other. And girls? Girls want to draw blood; they want to scalp you. Either they have a chip on their shoulder or they’re just really vindictively angry. Women have that in them, that crazy bone. I don’t really have it. I think if I had that I’d be a better fighter,” Couture says. “Once you learn how to control your mind in the scariest of environments, you get addicted to that rush, but you also learn and build character every time you’re in there. There’s nothing that will teach you more about yourself than getting locked in a cage with somebody who’s trying to kill you.”
1. Stand with one foot forward (usually opposite your dominant hand), with the other foot back and on the ball for easy pivoting.
2. Drop your hips, bend your knees and engage your thighs in the stance, keeping your back straight so you don’t lean in.
3. Lower your chin and raise your fists to meet it, keeping one shoulder forward and your elbows in.
4. With your upper body as compact as possible, engage your core and throw a punch straight out from your chin, twisting your hips and back foot with the movement (almost like you’re putting out a cigarette) and extending your arm all the way.
5. As your arm extends, your shoulder should naturally pop up to protect your face, while your fist rotates over as you connect with your target.
6. Reset to your chin and repeat as needed. –Erin Ryan
Look at art
People are way too intimidated by art. How best to appreciate and understand work varies greatly with whom you ask and what you are looking at.
1. There are guidelines, theories, references and important tidbits to keep in mind, but it’s okay once in a while to break the rules and blindly breeze past the artist’s statement when walking into an exhibit. It’s more enriching to know what an artist does and why, but once the artist completes the work, it’s there for you to appreciate, loathe, absorb, engulf and interpret any way you want.
2. If you don’t understand why a rowboat is sitting in the middle of an empty gallery, that’s fine, but it’s really great to wonder sometimes, to contemplate the sublime or ridiculous, open new channels in your brain that will alter the way you see the world, visually or philosophically—if you let it. –Kristen Peterson
Eat sushi (properly)
That guy at the next table picking up his pieces with his bare hands? Turns out he’s doing it right, or at least, the way they do it in Japan.
When eating nigiri (individual pieces of fish over rice), leave the chopsticks in their holster. Use your fingers to pick up each piece, then dip it in your soy sauce fish-side first. (Dipping the rice-side in will soak up too much soy and destroy the flavor of the fish.) Most nigiri comes with wasabi tucked inside, so you shouldn’t need to mix more into your soy. And the ginger? That’s intended as a palate cleanser, for between bites. –Spencer Patterson
Shuffle like a poker dealer
1. Spread the deck on the table, in two rows.
2. Jumble the cards together with flat palms.
3. Combine and scoop up the cards.
4. Straighten the cards out.
5. Using your thumbs, shuffle the cards three times. Be sure to keep the cards’ faces flush against the table.
6. Pick up the deck and set the top eight to 10 cards on the table. Then set the deck’s next eight to 10 top cards on the table pile—and continue doing this until you’ve gone through the whole deck.
7. Square up the cards and shuffle them one last time.
8. Cut the cards and deal. –Rick Lax
Live without a bank card
People often wonder how it is that I became a billionaire. For that, I have one word: cash.
Having only a few twenties in your wallet will keep you from splurging on something you don’t really need. ATM machines are there to vomit bills when you’re in a casino, having drinks or on a mad shopping spree and can’t save yourself. Ignore them. A weekly trip to the bank teller is all you really need.
Most importantly, know this: Saving 10 percent on a purchase when you sign up for a credit card at a store means that they’ll have that 10 percent back from the interest rates that will double your debt in no time. –Kristen Peterson
Pick the perfect karaoke song
His name is Danny Gobel, but you know him as Danny G, the sweet-singing karaoke man who makes everyone feel like Elton (or at least like an Elton impersonator) Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Dino’s. The 20-year karaoke vet shared some tips for picking a karaoke tune that will leave them begging for more.
1. Consider your range. “You want your range to match the original artist,” Gobel says. So, if you’re a Cyndi Lauper, best to stay away from the Adele.
2. Pick something you know. “The more familiar you are with anything, the better you do it,” Gobel says.
3. Go for the classics. If you’re after a crowd reaction (and really, who isn’t at a karaoke bar?), picking a number the audience knows is key. Gobel says tracks like “Santeria,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Love Shack,” “Mack the Knife” and “Summer Nights” from Grease are among the most popular.
4. And finally, accept that you might tank. “It’s no big deal. The audience is quite supportive.” –Sarah Feldberg
Who doesn’t love whiskey? But odds are you’re not really getting the full experience when you drink it. Adam Carmer, owner/operator of the Freakin’ Frog—which just happens to contain the nation’s largest selection of whiskey in its Whiskey Attic—has come up with a method of tasting that goes against every classical notion.
Up to now, the traditional technique for any spirit has been: Look at it, smell it, sip it. But Carmer says that misses out on many flavors, many nuances. The next time you pour your favorite single malt, try these simple steps:
1. Don’t smell it first. Instead, take a tiny sip, and let the spirit come to rest around your jawline to the front of your mouth.
2. Wait about 10 seconds. There will be some burning, but Carmer says to fight through it, as that’s the alcohol burning off, leaving you with pure taste.
3. Take very small swallows. You should be able to get about 5-7 swallows per sip of whiskey. When you swallow, take your time. Let the whiskey simmer in your throat. Keep your mouth closed, breathing through your nose.
4. Once all the whiskey is gone from your mouth, wait about a minute, inhaling and exhaling through your mouth. Then grab your glass of whiskey, put it up to your nose and smell. “You’ll find you no longer smell any alcohol,” Carmer explains, adding that you can now sense the undertones of the spirit, like oak, fruit, and heck, even bark.
It may take a few tries before you really get the hang of this, but once you do, you’ll want to try all your favorite spirits to find their true character. –Ken Miller
Write a song
Anyone can sing in the shower, but belting out something completely original? Not so easy … or maybe it is. We picked the brain of Mike Weller, the man behind local outfit Hungry Cloud, for some Songwriting 101. (He typically works on guitar, so apologies to the piano players.)
1. Build around a feeling. “Figure out a direction for what you want to accomplish, then come up with a few chords that fit with that vibe. Usually I feed off my energy that day: If I’m excited, I might start out playing some major chords pretty fast; if I’m feeling down, I might play slower and maybe minor.”
2. Listen to your best ideas, and see where they take you. “I record on my phone—I would say to record everything you do, because you never know. After you’ve got some chords you like, listen to those and the vocal melodies kind of come out.” And don’t feel like you have to sing them from the start. “One way to do it is to write a vocal melody on guitar—that’s a tool for writing melodies you might not think of with your voice.”
3. Word up! “Let the composition dictate the lyrics. As I’m writing the vocal melodies, sometimes words will come out that I like, and I’ll keep those. It’s usually a stream of consciousness for me, and then I’ll go back through it later and make the lyrics more thoughtful.”
4. Simple doesn’t suck. “There are tons of great songs that have three chords in them. And as far as structure goes, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus has been working since rock music began. That’s a good place to start.”
5. Don’t give up. “If you have trouble connecting the pieces, step away from them and try again later. If something is good, it’s worth coming back to.”
Listen to Weller’s songs at hungrycloud.bandcamp.com. –Spencer Patterson
Name a Las Vegas nightclub
1. Gather your raw material. If you can’t get your hands on the full 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary (with etymologies), then opt for a good online thesaurus.
2. Make a list of words that trigger endorphins. Any word having to do with sex is worth considering. Words that have to do with mechanical engineering or tax audits will not make the list.
3. Use wet words (Rain, H20, Haze and Lavo), since moisture plays an essential role in nightlife. You want clubbers to think glistening skin, not drowning, so “plunge” is fine, but “submersion” might be going too far. Try rich words (the Bank, Crown and Gold Lounge) or terms evoking the feel of money, like Chateau and Gallery. But be careful! Nobody wants to windmill at a place called Bucks or Dough. And think rule-breaking words (Voodoo, Tabu and Tryst) that suggest going against the standards of good behavior without any jail time. The seven deadly sins are worth exploring, because they can all be forgiven (think Vanity at the Hard Rock).
3. Once you’ve got a list of words, start to narrow. See if you can up the cool factor through spelling (XS, Krave), but try to avoid confusion—turning “lust” into Luhstt is too much. Finally, try an acronym, like RPM and LAX did. What does LMIRL stand for?
4. Lastly, consider if you’re going to indulge the preference Vegas clubbers have for one word or one-syllable nouns. Pure works; Shimmering Heretic probably needs rethinking. –Dawn-Michelle Baude
Flip a sign
Las Vegans know how to flip a sign better than Caleb Jordan. The 24-year-old has been doing it for six years, and trains up to 40 flippers a year as “spinstructor” and general manager of the local branch of San Diego-based AArrow Advertising, which employs spinners across the globe. He’s also ranked No. 32 in the world after competing in this year’s World Sign Spinning Championships in Las Vegas. We got Jordan to show us a few moves.
1. Presentation: Holding the sign out in front for everyone to see.
2. Basic spin: Turn it over with your strong hand, then cross over with your weak hand and bring it back over.
3. Basic flip: Starts off with basic presentation, then with your strong hand, throw the sign up, making it do one flip, then grab it with your left hand and bring it back down to your right.
4. Behind the back: Start with basic presentation, then rotate as you would with a basic spin, but also twist your body in the same direction the sign is spinning. Then you bring it around to the back; your thumbs meet behind your back, and then you spin it back around as your body turns to basic presentation.
5. Toe-flip: This is a great move if you drop the sign. While it’s on the ground, start with your toe under the sign while it’s laying flat, then lift up your foot and jump to the same side as the foot you had under the sign.
6. Head spin: A huge leap in difficulty, it starts with you holding the sign behind your back with both thumbs together. Then with your strong hand, bring it out around your body and then, and using all of your wrist and forearm strength, spin it on your head. If you’re going to try these, good luck with No. 6. –Ken Miller
Bargain at a flea market
1. Ask how much something is.
2. When you get an answer, say, “That’s a bit much for me,” and start to walk away. One of two things will happen: 1. The seller will let you leave (in which case, you know she’s not negotiable) or 2. The seller will stop you and ask you how much you’re willing to pay.
3. Quote her a price that’s half of what you’re actually willing to pay. She’ll tell you that the figure is too low, and then she’ll quote you a price that’s somewhere in the middle.
4. Lowball one more time, and she’ll reduce the price even further. 5. Accept, pay up and leave with your new prized possession. –Rick Lax
Shop at Whole Foods without going broke
Diona Carrillo, marketing manager at the Las Vegas Boulevard Whole Foods, has heard it, the nickname some people give her store: “Whole Paycheck.” And she’s on a mission to do something about it. “We don’t want you to blow your money. We want you to be happy and healthy.” Carrillo took us on a tour recently, detailing the various ways you can get in and out of Whole Foods and still have money in your pocket:
1. See red. Wherever there’s a red sign, it means sales. The store offers one-day and three-day sales on everything from salmon to shrimp to take-and-bake pizzas. In addition, on Wednesdays the salad bar is $2 off per pound, and on Sundays, hot dogs are $1.
2. On your way into the store, get a “Whole Deal” publication, which contains $48 worth of savings. In addition, the store accepts all vendor coupons. And if you can’t find a “Whole Deal,” there are coupons on the website as well.
3. Buy in bulk. If you buy wine in bulk, you can save 20 percent, and for any other products, the savings are 10 percent. But the bulk idea works in reverse, too—if you’re making a recipe and only need a little, or if you just want to save extra cash, you can buy candy, nuts, trail mix, flour, sugar, oats, rice, beans, granola, cereal—and a lot more—in small amounts.
4. Look for local. There are many local products sold throughout Whole Foods, and these save you money because the stores save on shipping costs.
5. Talk to someone. You can often work out deals with departments. “If you want to buy a lot, we are going to give you a good deal,” she says. “There’s a lot of circumstances where we work with our customers, because we want you to come back.” And never be afraid to ask for free samples. “We love to let people try our products.”
6. Explore. In the cheese section, there’s a “Cheese around $3,” which means you can experiment with different cheeses for a very good price. And if you see a cheese you like, but don’t want the whole block? Guess what? They’ll trim it down for you. –Ken Miller
Chug a beer using the Wyoming snorkel
First, attempt this at your own risk. Second, Western beer drinkers know all kinds of ways to chug, but the snorkel is the slickest. A 12-ouncer will disappear in about a second, with no gulping or gurgling whatsoever. If James Bond liked to shotgun his suds, he would do it Wyoming-style.
1. Open 12-ounce bottle of beer.
2. Place long end of plastic bendy straw inside the bottle, holding the short end against the outside of the bottleneck with your thumb.
3. As you take the bottle vertical, seal the entire opening and the bent part of the straw inside your mouth, leaving the straw’s end sticking out so air can flow freely through it.
4. Open your throat.
5. Burp in triumph—and you will, because the beer goes down so fast your stomach won’t know what hit it. –Erin Ryan
Get into Marquee
By Larson Legris, director of VIP services at Marquee (So yeah, he knows what he’s talking about)
The front door of Marquee can be intimidating if you don’t know what you’re getting into, and it can be difficult to get to the other side of the velvet rope if you come unprepared. Here are a few tips to help you gain entrance to the busiest of Vegas nightclubs:
1. Dress the part. Do some research on current fashion trends. The more up to date, the more you’re going to stand out among the crowd and the quicker a good doorman will notice you.
2. Travel in smaller groups. It’s much easier to take care of four rather than 12-plus, unless you have a table (see No. 6).
3. An even number of guys and girls in your group is always helpful.
4. Ditch the chains, baggy clothing and hats. They are against the door policy and not a good a look.
5. Be humble, patient and polite at the door. Being patient and polite goes further than you think. The worst thing you can do is be aggressive, confrontational and loud, if you’re not getting the attention that you want. That’s a surefire way to not see the inside of the club.
6. If your financial situation allows, table reservations are always a safe bet to get inside. Arrive early, dress the part and enjoy the good life at your own table.
Be a sexual ninja
How to be a good lover, like so many things in life, is something you can learn. Whether it’s mastering the art of kissing, honing your oral sex techniques or developing communication strategies for a successful threesome, there’s a booming “how-to” sex education industry—books, DVDs and workshops—geared toward helping you become the sexual ninja you’ve always wanted to be.
“Nobody is born knowing how to do any of this stuff,” says Charlie Glickman, the education program manager at Good Vibrations. “The assumption is that nature takes its course, but that works as well with sex as it works with food. You have to learn how to cook. You also need to learn how to have sex.”
Sexual curiosity has driven the market for sex education resources, Glickman tells me. As people have heard about a wider range of sexual practices—from pegging to g-spot play, for example—they’ve sought information and the market has responded. Here’s a small sample of just some of the resources available to help make you sexy-smart in the bedroom:
1. The Smart Girl’s Guide to the G-Spot by Violet Blue - For some, the g-spot is the Holy Grail of women’s sexual anatomy. Does it exist? (Yes!) But how do you find it and what do you do with it? Author Violet Blue demystifies the g-spot with a book loaded with helpful information to start you on your g-spot journey.
2. Head’s Up: The Official Guide to Fellatio by Good Vibrations - If you’re a visual learner, sex education videos such as this one might be more your thing. Produced by Good Vibrations, San Francisco’s revered sex toy emporium, Head’s Up features real-life couples and sex professionals discussing—and demonstrating—what men love most about oral sex and how you can hone your skills to do it even better.
3. Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Pegging - Author, sex educator and director Tristan Taormino tackles the topic of straight male anal play and pleasure in her latest installment for Vivid-Ed. The video features hot chemistry between performers while, at the same time, treating pegging and prostate play as just any other act on the sexual menu.
4. The Ultimate Guide to Kink: BDSM, Role Play and the Erotic Edge edited by Tristan Taormino A compendium for kinksters, Taormino sums it up best in the book’s introduction: “This book is for everyone who dares to expand their erotic horizons beyond the ordinary. For all those who like to give and receive intense sensations. ... For anyone who loves to dance on the line between pleasure and pain. For folks who nurture naked creativity and make fantasies come to life.”
5. Closer to home, you can find a number of sex education workshops at the Erotic Heritage Museum. Next up? The Art of Oral Teasing and Pleasing for Couples, on Thursday, April 12, 7-9 p.m. The workshop will cover sexual anatomy, communication and a variety of techniques for giving pleasure to your partner. Price: $30 per person or $50 per couple. To reserve your space, email Amanda Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org. –Lynn Comella
Understand cats Dogs have marvelously convinced the world that a pet is to be your emotional servant, there to wait on you hand and foot, enthusiastically greet you at the door, laugh when you laugh, cry when you cry. That’s nice. But cats have dignity. They’re independent thinkers with their own boundaries, agendas and interests. Knowing (and understanding) that enables a new appreciation for complex relationships and selflessness on your part. Cats will be the first to tell you, “It’s not all about you, so get over yourself.” Many cats will play fetch, greet you at the door, sit in your lap and walk on your head. But just as you aren’t feeling social and subservient every minute of the day, neither are they. It’s best to lower your expectations. A cat sitting in a room with you most usually means that he loves you very much or he wants to kill you so he can have the place to himself. Don’t you feel that way once in a while? –Kristen Peterson
Do a card trick
1. Ask your friend to shuffle a deck of cards.
2. When she’s done, pull out a “secret prediction” card, but don’t let her see which one.
3. Here’s how you determine your “secret prediction” card: Combine the value of the deck’s top card and the suit of the deck’s second card. For instance, if the top card is a four and the second card is a spade, your secret prediction card will be the four of spades. (If both cards on top are the same suit, you’ll have to cut the deck.)
4. Set the prediction card aside—perhaps under a glass.
5. Ask your friend to deal cards from the top of the deck into a pile. She can stop at any time. Get rid of the leftover cards.
6. Now, ask your friend to pick up the pile of just-dealt cards, and deal them into two piles, in alternating fashion.
7. Flip over the piles’ top cards. (These cards will feel random, but will actually be the deck’s original top cards.) Say, “We’ve got a four and a spade, so let’s combine them to make the four of spades.”
8. Turn over your prediction and hold for applause. –Rick Lax
Become a CSI
You’ve watched the shows, and you’ve decided you want to gather evidence, interview suspects, catch killers and lead a life of intrigue. So how exactly does one become a crime scene investigator? Linda Krueger, executive director of the Las Vegas Metro Police Criminalistics Bureau, and Randy McLaughlin, director of Metro’s CSI section for the last four years, explain:
1. Keep your nose clean. “Any drugs, gang affiliation, felonies will automatically disqualify you,” McLaughlin says.
2. If you’re between 16 and 21, you can apply to become a Crime Scene Explorer (Las Vegas has the only such program in the nation). Explorers spend time in both the classroom and on ride-alongs to get a real taste of the life. This, Krueger says, is a great way to figure out if this is the career for you. “TV is not smell-o-vision,” she says. “I’ve been doing this 35 years, and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the smell of death.”
3. Higher education is a must. Even Explorers are required to either be in college or college-bound. The basic requirement to become a crime scene analyst is the equivalent of an associate’s degree in a physical science—biology, chemistry, forensic science, etc.
4. Figure out which you want to be—a CSI or a forensic investigator. CSIs only do field work, while forensic investigators are in the lab. Unlike in the show, the line is never blurred. And McLaughlin recommends gearing your education—a bachelor’s degree in physical science—so that you can do both if you choose. “There’s many people who believe CSI is the road they want to go down and then realize it’s not for them,” he says. “It’s not an easy job. You’re out there in the elements. Many decide they’d rather be on the forensic side.”
5. Realize you’re in for a very competitive ride. Even though the minimum requirement is an AA, Krueger and McLaughlin say their departments have some employees with multiple degrees. And yes, the show has increased interest. “Generally, we close our recruitment the same day it’s open, because there’s 3,000 applicants the first day,” McLaughlin says. Of those 3,000, maybe eight or nine good candidates will emerge, and that’s after a written exam, practical exam and an oral board.
6. Even after you’re hired, be ready for another reality check: You have to go through a 10-week academy, then a 12-week training program. After that, you’re assigned to property crimes for at least two years (no homicides for newbies). Toward the end of your first two years, you’re allowed to work more serious crimes—robberies, sexual assaults. At your two-year mark you advance to Crime Scene Analyst II, where you’re able to work any type of case. After two years there, you’re eligible to become a Senior Crime Scene Analyst, at which point you can perform advance analysis, conduct shooting reconstructions, etc.
7. Get ready for a life of continual training. The learning never stops for CSIs, McLaughlin says. “There’s always a new, innovative way of doing things—techniques, chemicals, powders, everything. We spend thousands of dollars a year training our people in the latest, greatest techniques.”
8. Oh, one last thing: Unlike the show, CSIs don’t sit down and interview suspects. “We’re objective middle people in this whole process,” Krueger says. “We let the evidence speak for itself.” –Ken Miller
Make a piñata
If you saw Too Soon! at Mundo restaurant by artists Sam Reza and Justin Favela last November, you know that piñatas need not be limited to children. Too Soon!, an exhibit of dead celebrities rendered in piñatas, covered the gamut, from Michael Jackson to Farrah Fawcett, Tammy Faye and Amy Winehouse.
We might not have the skills to create art from media traditionally used to make party toys, but we can dabble. There are scores of websites offering piñata-making instructions, but here’s the gist:
1. Inflate a balloon (or two) to create your basic shape.
2. Dip strips of newspaper into a paste made by mixing water with glue, flour or wheat powder, and layer the strips onto the balloon until it’s fully covered.
3. Allow strips to dry and repeat a few times.
4. Paint the piñata, cut colored tissue paper into strips, grab a bottle of glue and decorate as you wish. –Kristen Peterson
Pick someone up in French
1. Find someone who doesn’t speak French.
2. Pick the right phrase for the situation: Puis-je vous embrasser? (Can I kiss you?), Je peux vous inviter a boire un cafe? (May I buy you a coffee?), J’aime vos chaussures, elles sont originales (I like your shoes, they’re unique).
3. If you can’t remember any of the previous suggestions, put together any combination of random French words (except fromage, that’s a dead giveaway) in a sexy voice. Or just screw it, and try Spanish. –Sarah Feldberg
Make caramelized curry yam fries (for the cooking-impaired
If it isn’t easy to an almost stupid degree, it’s not in my repertoire. I don’t have the patience or instincts for real cooking, so I’m always hunting for effortless recipes that make me look good. The first time I baked my own fries I followed the Cooking Light method, but over the years I’ve tweaked it into my own creation. You can do this with just about any tuber and any combination of spices, but garnet yams have velvety texture and complex flavor that scream to be dusted with accents and devoured. They turn into fries that are just as good cold out of a Ziploc as they are hot and crisp from the oven.
Ingredients: Two medium garnet yams, curry powder, sea salt, olive oil
Method: Preheat oven to 400. Rinse yams, scrubbing the skins clean but leaving them intact. Slice into sticks about a half-inch thick. Toss in a 13x9 glass casserole dish with a sprinkling of salt, a generous dusting of curry and olive oil to coat. Spread them evenly and pop in the oven. After about 25 minutes, give them a good stir. Cook for another 25 minutes and check for doneness. Depending how crisp you like your fries, you may want to cook them for a few more minutes. I like mine with a little crunchy char and clumps of caramelized curry on the skins. They’re delicious naked or dipped in everything from ketchup to savory yogurt sauce. –Erin Ryan