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Big blue party machine

Our second night of Comdex party prowling proved one thing: All soirees are not created equal.

Our second night of Comdex party prowling proved one thing: All soirees are not created equal. IBM cranked up its military-industrial party machine once again with a lavish display of decadence at Bally's. But, before joining IBM at its event for international customers, we sauntered over to a low-key affair, a Monday Night Football party thrown by Luckman Interactive at the MGM Grand.

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Willie Gault, former Chicago Bear and ballet dancer
Apropos of football, Luckman had Willie Gault, 11-year NFL wide receiver, Olympic hurdler, and erstwhile ballet dancer, acting as emcee for its party. Sporting a Super Bowl ring the size of a doorknob, Gault gave CNET his views on the Net as though he were telling Brent Musberger about a complicated touchdown pattern. Luck was with us at the Luckman bash, though: We won a regulation-size football in a lottery and had Willie autograph it.

Pigskin aside, it was a cramped, hot, and loud event. At least 30 people and a big-screen TV jammed into a hotel suite meant for ten. People snacked elbow to elbow on mushrooms stuffed with snails and cabbage stuffed with mystery meat; the room buzzed with the sounds of Al, Frank, and Dan doing the play-by-play.

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Door-bunny cheerleaders with cursive Ls stitched to their sweaters--reminiscent of Laverne and Shirley--bid us farewell as we headed for the elevators, but not before Willie gave us a critical prediction.

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Luck was definitely in the air, or maybe we were drawn inexplicably forward by the scent of corporate excess. About a mile up the strip at Bally's, we stumbled upon yet another IBM bash, this time in honor of its international customers and employees. Big Blue dropped big bucks--a cool hundred grand, according to Bally's staff--and prompted guests to say things like: "They don't have parties like this in Switzerland." Indeed. The chilled Stolichnaya, caviar, oysters, and poached salmon with the name of its favorite casino proudly displayed were the first clue.

IBM also proved once again, just as at Sunday night's toga party, that they know how to hire a band. This time, the Zippers from Los Angeles got a ballroom full of normally staid biz card swappers to form a conga line and shake some Big Blue Booty. 1,000K 1,000K

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One happy fellow from the island nation of Japan--with a belly full of frutti di mare, no doubt--needed no encouragement to get down. After all, IBM spent approximately $80 for him alone, according to our calculations. Las Vegas does that to people.

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