(Fake) Cash Money Dolla Bills

For the UAS Whalesong
I first heard about the Casino Night event, I was a little dubious. An evening of gambling hosted and orchestrated by the campus Housing Department? It seemed a little shady. Almost like a trap. Kind of like that time I was doing jury duty and the questioning lawyer asked one of the potential jurors if he’d ever committed murder. I mean, you can’t just ask someone if they’ve committed murder – but that’s tangential to the subject at hand. I have since attended every Casino Night that’s been held since my arrival at UAS in 2012, and I’ve had a blast at every one.
For those of you unfamiliar with the principal of Casino Night, allow me to enlighten you. When they walk in the door, attendees are handed a plastic cup full of custom UAS poker chips. They are then given approximately 2 hours to try their hand at a variety of classic casino games, such as blackjack and roulette. (There’s also some kind of cowboy card game – Texas Hold ‘Em, I think – but my eyes tend to glaze over after the first 5 minutes of someone trying to explain the rules, so I generally just stick to the former two.) The idea is that for every set amount of chips – 10 this year – you receive a raffle ticket, which you may then place in a box at the end of the night in an attempt to win either one of many general prizes, or one of just a few grand prizes. Grand prizes in the past have included a Tempur-Pedic mattress topper and a flat screen television of not-inconsiderable size. Given what’s at stake, there is obviously no little impetus to try and do the best you can at gambling in order to turn in as many chips as possible to get as many tickets as possible.
Every Casino Night has a theme – post-apocalypse, the James Bond movie Skyfall, etc. I used to think that it was technically at least a semi-formal occasion; a chance for students to dress up and show off the finer aspects of their closets. And I suppose that still holds true, depending on the theme. But this year, things were slightly different. Students were still supposed to dress up – but instead of dressing like they were going to a black tie dinner, they dressed like they were attending San Diego Comic Con.
CasinoCon – the name of which I will clarify was a mash up of Casino Night + Comic Con, due to some confusion when the event was first announced – was, at least in my book, a pretty big success. Lots of people came in costume, either by themselves or as a paired costume with their friend or significant other. CAs Brittni Wisner and Mitchell Cabrigas were a “couple costume” of Korra and Mako from the animated TV series Legend of Korra; friends and roommates Chrystal Randolph and Katie Reuter came as Flounder and Ariel, respectively; and our very own Whalesong staff, editor Daniel Piscoya and photographer Darin Donohue, came as Daredevil (from Netflix’s TV show of the same name) and Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid V. Other costumes that I recognized included Cass Somerville and Kat Southard as a Kyoshi warrior and the Painted Lady, both from the animated TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender; I’m pretty sure one guy was there dressed as Ahmed’s version of Batman from the TV show Community; some mysterious entity was parading the venue doing an excellent Deadpool impression; Paul Dorman, the Associate Director of Residence Life, came as Woody from Toy Story; and freshman hall resident Axel Gillam had possibly my favorite costume, attending as a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce.
In addition to the great costumes, tasty cake pops, and delicious drinks (I still don’t know what’s in a Sonic Screwdriver, but I do know that after the event I proceeded to go home and be wide awake until 4 AM when I finally made myself go to bed), attendees also received a musical performance! The infamous a capella club of UAS, Alaskapella, made an appearance and treated us to a variety of well-conducted songs that had their origins in several different “nerdy” fandoms. After that, prizes were distributed, and then Alaskapella sang one more song before the event was over and everyone dispersed for the night.
Casino Night is great every year, and I think that Casino Con was one of the better-themed ones I’ve seen in my time here at UAS. It’s good to know that while we’re studying in order to get jobs so that we can afford to go to the real thing someday, the people who work in the housing department are using their jobs to make sure that we can at least live vicariously through other peoples’ fandom gear. (Fun trivia fact: all the Star Trek posters and almost all of the Naruto character scrolls belonged to two people, respectively.) Also, does anyone remember who won the piñata? I have some midterms anxiety I need to take out on an inanimate object. With a bat.

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