Thank you to everyone who came to the Big Empire events in Las Vegas. We had the largest turnout ever for the events, and it was a highly entertaining group, mostly willing to do stupid things for glory, fame and hardly anything tangible. But best of all were that no vehicles were vomited in this year and nobody was arrested. Oops, a correction. A vehicle was vomited in, but it wasn't one of ours.

Thanks to more expensive ice cream treats and an improved accordionist, we had about 35 Buddies at the second annual Ice Cream Social. The ice cream was a mix of Oreo ice cream sandwiches, gellatto, pure fruit bars, drumsticks and a few cheap, sugary treats for the less discriminating Buddies. Because Mr. Shandis was not there, we let the Buddies eat as much as they like. This event was again a private affair for you, the Buddies, on the reserved balcony of the Fitzgerald's hotel. Legendary author (and frequent provider of free meals for Stinky and Matt) Jean Scott stopped by for a while, only to be driven away by a rousing sing-along version of the "Presto PI" theme and "Misty Eyed Lady" by Dan. The only thing that tainted the event was an appearance by the manager for the "Fozano for Mayor of the Internet" campaign, who tried to turn the crowd against Mr. Randy Shandis, the obvious pick for Mayor of the Internet. Needless to say, Shandis' supporters drove the Fozano campaign off the balcony with jeers and photos of Mr. Fozano's grotesque wife bathing naked in the Ganges.

On Friday evening, Cook E. Jarr, Las Vegas's consummate cheesy lounge act, entertained beyond what anyone would expect from the scrappy go-getter. Big Empire Buddies took over half the showroom and at one point all got up and danced to "Funky Cold Medina." Cook E. allowed Matt to shake my butt on his stage and spin the disco ball several times (literally, not figuratively).

Congratulations to Phil Feldman who traveled out Saturday afternoon, watched us eat Thai food and then won the Fifth Annual Penny Slot Tournament. Mr. Feldman stomped the competition by winning a 480 coin jackpot early on and then maintaining his lead throughout the prelims and the final round. He won over 1000 pennies, a $5 Tropicana chip that Ted Newkirk ( had graciously provided after finding it under the seat of his car, and a fabulous Gold Spike T-shirt. Honorable mentions go to John Jones and Bill who both finished with over 300 pennies. Last year's winner finished with less than 100 cents, proving that the Gold Spike's Copper Mine is getting looser. In total, the Big Empire handed out 47 rolls of pennies, so there were either 47 competitors or a somewhat smaller number that included some cheaters.

NEW NOTE: Phil Feldman is being investigated for cheating at the tournament. The investigation was instigated by a complaint from Stinky. Stinky also has filed complaints against our cleaning service for planting a radio in his tooth, against the government for stealing his soul, against Fox Television for eating his pie, and against the Honda Motor Corporation for stealing his idea for a fuel-powered horseless carriage. We believe the investigation will find Mr. Feldman innocent, but in case it doesn't we ask Mr. Feldman not to spend or use any of his winnings until the case is resolved.

Also, a hearty congratulations to the two teams that tied to win the First Annual Big Empire Photo Contest. The team of Jeff and Jerry received big votes from the panel of Big Empire Buddies for their series of photos which showed the slow dismantling of a white teddy bear at sites throughout Las Vegas. Ghizal, Steve and Michael tied with a series of photos of their mascots on all sorts of private property and equipment.

This year's shrimp cocktail eating contest had three serious competitors, and Skip (who was only out to bankrupt Mr. Randy Shandis). Despite everyone's opinion that the shrimp were "nasty" and "foul" at the event this year, Ghizal Hasan was able to pack away ten, topping last year's champ who was somewhat slowed by the nasty nature of the grayish, watery shrimp. In light of the rapidly declining Golden Gate shrimp cocktail, we may move this event to a better venue next year. Mr. Burt Cohen put up a valiant effort to finish third, and it was obvious his girlfriend/escort Karen was a little crestfallen that he didn't do better.

It should be noted that Ghizal has captured the Big Empire triple crown, having now won the penny slot tournament, the photo contest and the shrimp cocktail contest, although not all in one year. He is the Big Empire Iron Man, and he doesn't even complain that we still owe him two T-shirts.

This year's battle royale for dominance of the craps table was won by the Big Empire crew, with the El Cortez being the losers. We managed to take over an entire table with 15-20 Buddies playing and winning at once while another row waited, and apparently making so much noise that people outside the hotel were complaining. My opinion is the El Co had it coming since they were the ones delivering fresh beers before we could finish the last ones. Our apologies to a few people who unknowingly stumbled into our game. None of them lasted very long.

We would also like to thank Mr. Bob Black for keeping his hands to himself this year. Matt's wife appreciated that. Also, a warm thank you to Mr. John Jones for supplying Shandis for Mayor paraphernalia to the gathering.

Check out the Soiree Photos.

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