Sunday, January 22, 2006

Our New Miss America!

Behold, our new Miss America, Jennifer Berry, of Oaklahoma. Here she is, eating her french fries and ranch sauce just moments after taking the crown. She mentioned it on stage, and Art McMaster (MAO Acting President) was quick to provide durring her Press Conference after the competition at the Alladin this evening. What a show...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Famly Night

Warning. Big.

Megan's family and friends have arrived (as of Thursday evening). They were just here, looking over photographs, the website and more pictures or Megan on stage. After, they left for a nice (al-beit, large) family dinner. She looked, as usual, fantastic, and we all wish her the best of luck tomorrow in the final competition.

Please excuse my spelling, they left seconds ago, and I am trying to set a record for getting a post up.

Swim Wear and Evening Wear.

Megan’s Preliminary Thursday was before a practicaly full theater. The crowd is getting bigger and bigger everyday, with an opening night attendance of over 3000 guests! Megan competed in Swim Wear and Evening Gown. She appeared on stage as a glow of light. The smile was so beautiful, it distracted your view of everything else on the stage. She looked amazing! Each contestant is presented to the audience by the person of their choice and Mr Beals escorted Megan down the stairway to the stage. With grace and dignity of a royal, Megan presented herself in an unusual brown floral velvet and beaded gown that caught the crowds attention.

Many of Megan’s family arrived today for the Saturday Pageant activities.


Miss California Dustin-Leigh Konzelman was named Thursday night's preliminary Talent winner for her performance of “The 12th Street Rag”. Miss District of Columbia Shannon Schambeau, was the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit winner.

Tomorrow Megan will compete in interview. It won’t be long now...only a few more days!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2006




The producers have seen it. I have seen it. Now YOU have seen it. FIRST! No one has seen this beauty, but the chosen few. Here it is folks, the 2006 Miss America Crown!

I pulled some strings to get this baby out of her box and into the hands of the lovely Kellye Cash (Miss America 1987). Isn't she beautiful?

The crown I mean (Kellye looks good too though).

On-Stage Question

Robert Towle, Miss Maine’s hairdresser, met with Megan prior to last night’s competition. Megan’s, spirits were high even though she is still dealing with her cold. After another day of rest and doctor’s care, she was prepared and ready for the night’s competition. Megan presented her on-stage question and her personal video interview was shown. The video included her platform discussion (Mentoring to Empower Tomorrow’s Leaders) photos of home and Megan “in flight” at Beals Airport. It was very well done and shared that ‘personal touch’ with the audience. Her presentation was relaxed,enthusiastic and sincere.


Miss Oklahoma Jennifer Berry was named Wednesday night's preliminary Talent winner for her Ballet en Pointe performance to "Within" by William Joseph. Miss Virginia Kristi Lauren Glakas, was the preliminary Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit winner in an orange and black Speedo swimsuit.

Megan’s Group (Alpha) were guests at the Aladdin VIP Club following the competition for autographs and refreshments.

Thursday night, the last night of Preliminaries, Megan will compete in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear and Evening wear.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Miss America Press Conference

Today (Wednesday) was a day of meetings with the Miss America Organization. The man responsible for bringing the Pageant to CMT was introduced, along with Bob Bains who has been the producer for the past 5 years. The goal is to bring a “Contemporary representation to a Traditional Pageant”, meaning Swimsuit, Evening wear, Talent and Winner Presentation. Art McMaster, interim president and CEO of the Miss America Organization was referred to as the “Hero” in the room, for expanding the field and being a major proponent for the organization. MAO (the Miss America Organization) was referred to as a “Sleeping Giant”...only just beginning. The Pageant will be taken back to the tradition of getting to know the contestants. NAMASP (the National Association of Miss America Pageants) President, Valerie Clemens (Maine) presented Art McMaster and two key representatives from CMT with a pin and honorary membership to NAMASP. It was also announced that 40 of the 52 State Teen Pageant title holders will be present at the Fourpoints Seminar scheduled for Friday. The Miss America Organization Volunteers were referred to as the “Ultimate Mentoring Program” in the country. Pageantry Perfume also made its formal debut today. Each state will earn scholarship Funds with the sales of the perfume. Louanne Gamba of Rhode Island was presented with the first ever Volunteerism Award by Mr. McMaster. Bruce Robert of Massachusetts is the recipient of the 2006 Academy of Honor Award, earning his home State Pageant of Massachusetts $10,000.00 in scholarship funds!

Now for our Miss Maine, Megan Beals. Megan spent the day resting and is still trying to recuperate from her cold. She will be presented with her on stage question this evening, as well as her television profile to be seen on Saturday nights telecast. MAO representative, Marie Nichols said that even though Megan was performing her talent last night with a cold, it was clearly obvious that Megan could really sing! Indeed, we all agree...Megan did a fantastic talent performance!!

Now we are off to cover tonights preliminary, updates comming soon.

Just a taste.

I Just got back from the MAO meeting, and I will have photo's of that, as well as a write-up by my mother, shortly. However. I just wanted to give you a taste of how big they are making this around here. These are only a FEW of the photographs I took of a FEW of the signs. The casino floor is saturated with them, and there are quite a few outside that I haven't gotten to or missed. But here are a few that I found just Monday.



The First Preliminary

I will let the photo’s speak for themselves, as there isn’t much more to be said than what they can tell you. Suffice it to say, Megan was fantastic. Poised, in command with style, grace, delivery. Like I said of Vegas; diamonds don’t have the sparkle that Megan brought to that stage.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, Megan just came through a bout of bronchitis, but you would never know it. She performed exceptionally well, and all of us here are incredibly proud of her.

Tonight's Preliminary Winners were Miss South Carolina, Erika Grace Powell, for her performance of “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Borcelli, and Miss Utah, Julia Marie Bachison for the Lifestyle and Fitness category in her two-piece gray and white Speedo swimsuit with green piping. They did a fantastic job, and throughly earned their placement this evening. Give them a hand.

Now, about the photos of Megan (what you’ve all been waiting for). Be carefull, these photographs are full-size, and untouched. That means they are huge and will kill a 56k. There is also a photo of the Miss America stage, and a photo of Valerie Clemens from this afternoon's NAMASP meeting (this one will be going up shortly, check back in a few hours).

The Aladdin Theater is elegant with crystal chandeliers and white chiffon backdrop. There is no stage ramp as in Atlantic City but it doesn't seem to matter. The judge's panel is seated right "in" the floor! Total privacy and full stage view. With no ramp down the middle of the audience, it allows for theater seating throughout. Most eveyone is seated by state, which means "grouped together". The "Maine Group" is seated about middle floor with full view of the stage. The photo above is pretty much the view from our seats. Another great feature about the theater is that it is only about 15 minutes from our Room at the Aladdin and about 10 minutes from the Contestant Visitation Hall after the Pageant.

Dinner with Megan

I left you last night as Megan and her parents arrived for dinner. We ate at "The Buffet" at the Bellagio and it was indeed a buffet to be reckoned with. From sushi, to steak, to tofu salad, to jumbo shrimp, this buffet had it all!

As we arrived and toured the lobby and casino floor on our way to dinner, it became quickly known by pit bosses and passerby alike, this was no ordinary woman touring the floor. No ordinary woman brings a train of people and one photographer. No, this was someone extraordinary, and they knew it, or quickly asserted that fact.

Dinner was nice, chatting about the packed schedule of events while in California, the arrival in Vegas, upcoming competitions and her recent recovery from a brief bout of bronchitis. I talked with Megan about her feelings about pageant week so far and what message she would like to share with those at home. This is what she said:

“I am really excited. Because, its like a story... Because you’ve read a little about it... you think you know the ending, but you don’t know what lies between.”

No doubt this speaks to Megan’s will, regardless of Saturday’s outcome, to continue to be a stellar role model for the women of our fine state, and our country. I am sure we all share the same vision of how this story, doesn’t end, but takes off in these next few days, into full flight.

These photos are of Megan and Dianna Baitinger, Miss Connecticut. Megan and Dianna flew to California together and are roommates while in Vegas.

It was a fun dinner that ended too soon!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Sitting... Waiting... Wishing I brought more money...

So, getting ready to have dinner with Megan and her parents, and I thought I would throw a little something out there. Some things look into.

I took a nice causal stroll through the “mall” here at the Aladdin, which is designed to look like a GIANT Arab marketplace, complete with facades, a faux sky, and “weather” (the lights dim every now and then, and there are designated areas that can experience “storms”, with rain, lightning and the works). I saw some fantastic merchandise, and thought I would throw some names out there:

Tommy Bahama: i can’t even describe these clothes; all 100% cotton, cool/Bahamaish designs; very casual yet formal (you can have both) pants; they even sell furniture (which I didn’t get a chance to see). On eBay, a few select Tommy Bahama shirts can sell for figured in the thousands, check them out.

Shaunz Clothing: again with the amazing silk shirts, but more of a New York kind of style to them, if there is such a thing.

Michael Godard: you have to give it to the man, he loves his martinis. Really cool, hip, edgy artist. Paints with airbrush, for the most part, and nearly every piece features a martini or an olive (which he has perfected by the way).

Thomas Mangelsen: the best nature shots I have ever seen, bar none. Beyond description, check him out at all costs. His scenic shots will charge anyone’s soul.

Thats it for now. I believe Megan will be here at any moment, more on that later. Chao.

Wait... It's REAL?

After a sleepless Saturday night, with everything packed, typed up, printed out and organized, we left for the airport. It wasn’t until we got to Portland that we realized we forgot the charger to one of our cameras. Hopefully, that would be the worst of our problems, and so far, it has been.

Our plane was delayed for take-off, one of the runways got shut down because a plane skidded off the edge and took out all the lights. That is NOT something you want to hear from your pilot. Neither is (once you’re in the air) “sorry for the delay, we had to wait to make sure everything was alright to take off from the shorter runway, and man was it short.”

Two cheers for professionalism.

The delay caused us to be late for our flight out of Philly, and in turn, we didn’t get in to Vegas until 11pm (Vegas time).

All I can say is “WOW.”

If you get a chance to go to Vegas, you should do so, if only for the view from above. It was fantastic. Diamonds don’t have the sparkle or the definition. We had to come around Vegas to land, and luckily it was right outside our window the whole way around. It was like a lake of light in the middle of the desert. A fantastic pool of colors with a razor sharp shore surrounded by... nothing.

As a testament to how this place works, when I stepped off the plane, ten paces in front of me and about six to either side, I was surrounded by slot machines. The airport ITSELF reminded me of Foxwoods. We are currently staying at the Aladdin Casino and Resort, the new home of the Pageant. It is nice being in the middle of it all.

“Enough about the trip in, Mike! What about Miss America?”

Miss America? Well. I haven’t left the Aladdin yet, so I can’t say for the rest of the city, but you can’t go anywhere without hitting a poster or (quite literally) billboard. This is a BIG deal here. The monitors have advertisements on rotation. Our room keys are “special edition” MAO cards, even the elevators are wallpapered Deidre Downs. It was a little overwhelming at first.

Last night the contestants put on a fashion show at a local mall (yes, Las Vegas has a mall, it's actually a city. It even has a McDonald’s, which I half expected to have a giant neon sign).

Today is a simple day. No meetings for the press yet, our first meeting is tomorrow, so I am probably going to go walk the strip, or see what 25cent blackjack holds in store for me. Feel free to leave comments, and keep checking back, I will have an update this evening about the day around midnight (Vegas time).

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Last Night Home

This is it! The final hours before catching our flight out of Portland and into Las Vegas. Our flight leaves @3:30 PM and I haven't even begun to pack. I have been too busy with work, and getting my equipment ready for the trip (cameras, laptop, mailing lists, etc.). This was my last task, get the blog up and running, and here it is in its stunningly simple glory. The first time I have ever used a generic template in my life, and it was freeing.

You can't even begin to imagine my excitement. My experience of the world to this point has included Maine, its bordering states and Canadian provinces, the entirety of Route 95 up and down the East Coast, and Colorado, and whatever road we used to get there. Also, islands in the general vicinity of the equator... Ok, so maybe I have seen a bit, but still, as far as I have been concerned uptil this point, Vegas is a post card and some really cool commercials. This is going to be something else entirely.

Megan (Miss Maine 2005) left this past Monday (we had her send-off party on the 8th). Since she has been gone, she has been on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a number of other things I simply can't remember right now (with, of course, all the other Miss States). Tomorrow, we join her. As for right now, I need to pack!

The first thing I am going to do when I arrive at the hotel tomorrow is upload some photographs and give you all an update. So keep tuned. Until then, check out the NEW! I finished it a week ago.

Good... night.