Wednesday, April 28, 2004

What Happens in Vegas. . .

Be happy I left my math book at home and can't get my work computer to open the right version of my history paper, because due to my stupidity you're getting another update. Enjoy!

When last we left off we had left the Palms due to MB 20 imposed exile. On the cab ride back, we had a hilarious cab driver who told us about a male strip club that featured a man with a very large "pickle." While this was a bit TMI, it was still very amusing. Friday we awoke, refreshed and ready for another day. Today we decided to take a stroll down the other end of the Strip in search of lunch, roller coasters, and other amusements. Our first interesting encounter on our walk was a guy wearing a T-shirt that said, "I don't like laserbeams." Bill informed me that this was a Phish lyric. Recent t-shirt slogan note: in the past 2 months, on separate trips to Samy's, I have encountered a guy wearing a shirt that said something to the effect of, "I have the d**k, I'm in charge," and a girl with a tee reading, "I have the p*ssy, I'm in charge." Unfortunately this wasn't on the same night, so there was no confrontation. After that we walked by the Treasure Island resort, where access was cut off due to some filming for the Miss Hawaiian Tropic competition. Basically the contestants were dancing on pirate ships singing a bastardized version of "Rock the Boat" that I think was called "Shake the Boat." This was quite hilarious. We finally ended up eating lunch at some really old casino/hotel called "The New Frontier," chiefly because their Mexican restaurant advertised $1.99 margaritas. Mexican food note: every time I hear the commercial for Chipotle with the "Burrito Lady" song, I hope that it's a real song. It's very catchy and sounds kind of like Jack Johnson. The food was not bad and the drinks were rather tasty. We kept heading down that way, passing trashier and trashier resorts. My favorite name was Westward Ho. I took a picture by that one, of course. We eventually decided to walk through Circus Circus and headed up to their carnival/boardwalk area to look at their games. I played a little DDR, we walked by some games, including one run by the scariest female carny known to man (she was quite aggressive in her approach to get people to play her games, and had crazy eyes), and passed a "Fanky Malloon" machine. What, pray tell, is a "Fanky Malloon"? I knew not, so of course I tried to purchase one. The machine had balloons on it, so I assumed it was balloon oriented. However, it seemed to be out of commission. Fanky Malloon became somewhat of an obsession on our trip, and when I got home I did some internet research, and eventually came across a Canadian website that had a Fanky Malloon machine. I emailed the proprietor of said website, and he informed me that it is simply a coin-operated balloon machine. This kind of took the intrigue out of Fanky Malloon, but I still wonder why they can't just call it a balloon machine.

We headed out of Circus Circus and went over to the Stratosphere, a skyscraper of a hotel with a few roller coasters on the top. Jeffrey, Julie and I decided to check out one of the coasters. We didn't want to do the free-fall one because it seemed kind of generic, so we did the one that the woman working there said was scary. Unfortunately, she was dead wrong, as it was one of the cheesiest roller coasters ever and a complete waste of money. It was cool to see the view from the top of the Stratosphere though. After that, we wandered through the odd, Jefferson Square Mall pre-ghost mall, post-real mall-esque shopping area in the Stratosphere and headed back to the Flamingo.

Brian was napping, so we picked up Bill and walked down the other end of the strip for a while. We checked out the Venetian, which was absolutely gorgeous, and got some gelato there. As we were leaving the Venetian, we noticed that their famous fountain show was beginning. People were running so quickly to see the show that you'd think they were giving away free money. My opinion of the show: pretty, but it's water set to New Age music. I was hoping they'd use classic rock or something. I entertained myself by leaping down the sidewalk in time with the fountains, but I just couldn't get into it. Note: I saw Rebecca Romijn (no longer Stamos, sorry Uncle Jesse) on Leno recently and she said that she and a friend are petitioning to choreograph the fountains at the Venetian. I'm all for it if she uses some Jesse and the Rippers music. Also amusing was the way that people clapped when the show was over. Way to go H2O!!!!

We ate dinner at a cafe in Paris, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for another exciting evening. Brian wanted to check out one of the area's gay nightclubs, so we tagged along with him to a club not far away called Gipsy. Apparently clubs with misspellings are not only common in Joliet. We weren't there for long before I had an amusing encounter. There was a somewhat odd looking man in a bow tie hanging out near the bar, and I noticed that he was staring at me. I wondered if I had something hanging out of my nose or my fly was open or something, as being at a gay bar, this was most likely not a romantic interest. Eventually he came over and informed me that my waistline was "to die for." Very odd. Soon after a drag queen (who had a really amusing name that I can't remember) came out for a fashion show that featured clothes from a store called "The Male Bag." After that I received a call from Andy, the guy I'd met the night before, to tell me that he was over at Studio 54 at the MGM Grand. We decided to head over there, and proceeded to wait in line for a while before getting in. Luckily, this wasn't anything like the real Studio 54, and no one had to take their shirt off before entering. However, inside, it actually did look like the Studio 54, at least from what I've seen of it in that crappy 54 movie and Studio 54: Behind the Music, they even had the big ass moon backdrop. 54 also features acrobats on trapezes coming down from the ceiling. Again, I liked this club, but I'm not used to such a sensory overload. I think I prefer things a little more laidback. We hung out there for a while without much incident, then headed back to the hotel.

Part 3 coming soon!!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Holla at your Vegas!

Ah, it's such a beautiful spring day. I don't know about you, but springtime makes me want to get out my favorite old CD's that I never listen to anymore. A friend in college and I used to discuss what our favorite spring CD was, hers was the Clueless soundtrack and mine was old school Alanis Morissette. And as entertaining it is to contemplate whether or not Dave "Joey Gladstone" Coulier would "go downtown" in a theater, I've abandoned Alanis and have now been listening to old school Live, from the "our love is, like wa-ter" days. It's good times. I think next on my list is the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, I need to hear Lovefool.

In other weather news, tornado=scary. Though my neck of the woods was not affected and the fam and I watched American Idol (Jennifer Hudson was robbed!) in ignorance, it's hard to believe how much damage was done. Also hard to believe: this crazy man described in the Herald News: "One frustrated motorist, worried about the welfare of his ferrets, complained when police diverted his route home."

In the mail the other day we received a catalog entitled "Collections Etc." Collections Etc. consisted of a wide variety of crap, including a lot of garden decor. The item that entertained me most in the catalog was of the garden decor variety, and consisted of a "lifelike" representation of the head, shoulders and hands of an old man on a garden stake that you could put in your garden over your hedge or fence, Wilson on Home Improvement style. Unfortunately I can't put the picture up on my site, but click here to see a pic of this garden delight. The best part of all? It's called "Old Peeper."

Ok, I think I'm going to work backwards to tell my recent stories. First, I want to give a shoutout to my 3 recent birthday girls, Melanie, Wendy and Nancy. Melanie's birthday was celebrated by a trip to Chicago to a club called Entourage, and was a memorable evening which included, on the way back to the hotel, a brief altercation with an angry Cadillac driver who yelled at the people in our vehicle for going to clubs and "mustache joints." I have no idea what a mustache joint is, but I assume Mr. Caddy knew, as he had a mustache. We rang in Wendy's birthday with a particularly rollicking Samy's Thursday that involved a lot of dancing, and Nancy's birthday was celebrated last night with another trip to Chicago. Nancy, Brandon, Courtney, Rob, Aaron, Miguel, Mike, Kelly and I stayed at the beautiful Hotel Allegro and did the annual Chipotle dinner and Rush and Division bar hopping. Highlights of the evening included Kelly tripping over a midget at Bar Chicago, Mike being mistaken by two different full length fur wearing bargoers at Mother's for their limo driver, peanut throwing at the Lodge, my interview about Mother's with a B96 cameraman (yes, I'm confused too, I don't know why the radio station had a cameraman, and all I could say when he asked what I liked about Mother's was "I like the free shots, and I like the music, and. . . and . . . I like Mother's") and yet another brush with a reality tv "star."

Some of our party had headed back to the hotel, and Miguel, Mike, Kelly and I went on our second trip of the evening to Bar Chicago. I was on the phone with Nancy when a girl with braids walked by. I yelled out, "Hey, aren't you on Road Rules?" Braids (now known as Christena) said yes, and asked me where the bathroom was. I told her, finished my conversation with Nancy, and ran off to tell Mike about what happened. We eventually decided to go wait outside the bathroom so Mike could see her, but we must have missed her since she never came out. We headed back to the dancefloor and Miguel pointed her out to us. Mike and I ran over and said hi, got our picture taken with her, and danced with her and her friends briefly. The highlight of our short conversation was Mike saying, "Holla at your Road Rules!" When I get the picture developed I'll be sure to put it up on the blog.

Ok, now it's time to share with you the stories of my adventure in Las Vegas. I headed to Sin City with college friends Julie, Brian, Bill, and Jeffrey for a few days of debauchery. Julie and Brian and I flew out on Wednesday night. The plane flights weren't too exciting, except that since we didn't have a direct flight and had to switch planes in Denver, instead of getting a full movie on the plane, we got various sitcoms and shows including Spin City and random interviews with Sheryl Crow. This was not entertaining, though I was happy on the way back when we got That 70's Show. Our flight from Denver to Vegas was filled with a whole lot of hippies. Eventually we figured out that Phish was playing in Vegas that weekend which explained everything. When we landed, there was a lot of cheering, and when I yelled out, "Holla at your Vegas!" one of the hippies responded in kind, "Holla at your boy!" I was thrilled.

We had a brief but pricey cab ride to the hotel with a female cab driver who hailed from Palos Park and was very upset about spilling Pepsi on her pants earlier in the evening. Brian had a feeling that we got shafted by Pepsi Palos Patty, and this was confirmed later in the evening by an elderly Walgreen's employee on the Strip when we informed him how much we paid. We arrived at the lovely Flamingo and were informed that there had been a snafu in overbooking the rooms. The result of said snafu was us getting to stay in one of the hotel's presidential suites for the evening. My kind of snafu! Our suite was called the Trinidad Suite, and was decorated in a style that I would best describe as "Grandma Got Rich." The suite was mostly festooned in shades of mauve and Pepto Bismol pink, included giant statues of pears on pillars, and looked like it hadn't been updated since 1970. I briefly wondered how many Vegas celebrities had snorted cocaine off the marble tables. After getting settled, we headed out for our first evening on the Strip. We walked around the Flamingo (not the classiest joint on the strip, but in a fabulous location) and headed in the direction of the newer hotels. After exiting our hotel I learned my first exciting Vegas lesson: you can drink on the streets. I don't know why I never knew this, but it definitely was cool. We walked through Paris, where I believe a Creed cover band was playing (yes, these things exist outside Joliet), the MGM Grand, where we purchased my favorite old school drink, the Pink Squirrel, which the bartender had not made since she had begun her bartending career, New York New York, where we got some pina coladas and watched a couple give the rest of their bottle of Captain Morgan to a somewhat transient, but quite pleased looking man, and the somewhat ghetto but not without charm Boardwalk, where I won a few bucks on the slots. Note as I continue my Vegas story: I don't really enjoy gambling too much besides a slot machine or video blackjack here or there, I think I probably broke even (which was about $20) or lost maybe $5 in total for the trip. However, the casinos in Vegas didn't seem as depressing as the ones in Joliet, which was great. We headed back around 3 or so to the hotel and got some sleep.

Our first full day in Vegas began as Bill arrived from Michigan. We decided to check out a Vegas staple: the buffet. Brian is an avid gambler and was doing quite well for himself, so he treated us to some buffet action. Now I hate buffets. I always have, I remember going to the Joliet Country Club for Easter in like second grade and being REALLY disappointed that it was a buffet rather than a sit-down meal and I think I dined on lemons and limes. Old Country Buffet is a very frightening place for me, and I just find buffets totally sketchy. But we were in Vegas, and I wanted to try it. Yeah, I still don't like buffets. I felt like I was eating at a Northwestern dining hall, and it was as sketchy as I remembered. I had some salad, part of an omelet, smoked salmon, and saltines (a lot of s's), which was fine, and the desserts were pretty good, but I will never be a buffet fan. After lunch we got situated in our new room, much smaller and less Pepto-Bismolesque, with a great view of the sign for Danny Gans' live show. I don't understand what Danny Gans does or why he is worth $100 a ticket, but maybe I'll find out next time. Then, while Brian headed back to the blackjack tables, Bill, Julie, and I ventured over to the shops at Caesar's Palace so I could get some sunglasses. We did some shopping, watched a really strange animatronic show about Roman gods or something, and checked out the casino. As you may know, Canadian ambassador for elevator music Celine Dion performs at Caesar's, and the casino features a shop of all things Celine, ranging from fake Celine Dion cd coasters to pants that say "A New Day" on the ass (I guess you should only wear them once before you wash them), to my personal favorite, pajamas that coyly read, "If You Asked Me To. . ." across the chest. I don't what kind of kinky act the person sporting these PJ's is agreeing to take part in, and maybe that's a good thing. I purchased a black and hot pink Celine Dion shot glass for Nancy and a postcard featuring Celine writhing in a pile of half-naked men for whoever I feel is lucky enough to get it (maybe I should have a website trivia contest, and I can send it to the winner!!!), and we only had time to window shop at the Elton John store (highlight: shirts that say, "The Bitch Is Back" and shorts that said "Bitch" on the ass, tres tasteful) before we headed back to the hotel to meet up with the newly arrived Jeffrey.

While I may not be a buffet man, I am a Buffett fan, so we went to Margaritaville for drinks and appetizers. We sat outside and listened to a singer whose varied repertoire included Prince and (shudder) Matchbox 20, and also some original music that he said had been on Dawson's Creek and MTV sex opera Undressed, then walked down the strip a little further to the Venetian. We passed by the first of many kiosks showcasing these cubes that have a 3d hologram of your face, kind of like the hologram of Princess Leia at the beginning of Star Wars and quite scary. I wish I knew what they were called so I could post a link. After wandering around the Venetian, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and a night out on the town.

We got ready and went to an Asian restaurant in the hotel, and then went over to the Palms to go to their club, Rain. The Palms was the location of the Real World Las Vegas, and they often hung out at Rain, but luckily we didn't see Trishelle. Rain was a pretty cool club, a little smaller than I expected, but it had great music. They also had go-go dancers in the worst outfits ever, and there were a lot men walking around in kilts for some reason. Julie and Bill made some fellow dancers happy by telling them who won The Apprentice, and I made friends with Andy, a fellow Illinois resident who gave me the 411 on the hot spots on The Strip. It was a fun night but the trash content was really low, so I felt a little out of my element. After we left the club we sat out in the casino for a bit until they started playing Matchbox 20, which was our cue to head back to the hotel.

To be continued tomorrow or Tuesday. Adios!

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