11-09-06: vegas

I was in Vegas for a week to attend a conference, hang with pals and see a bunch of shows. Good times!

Thursday 11/02: I got my bearings, ate dinner solo, took a bath, went to bed early.

Arrived in Vegas on Thursday the 2nd, and ate dinner in a big, loud, super-populated restaurant by myself for the first time in my life. I was worried I'd feel like Steve Martin in The Lonely Guy when he quietly asks the maitre d' for a table for one and the restaurant goes silent-- everyone stares at him as a white spotlight follows him to a very brightly-lit table square in the middle of the otherwise dark, moody restaurant. It's classic. Anyhoo, the waitstaff was very cool and attentive, and they even stopped by every so often to chat a bit so I didn't feel quite so losery. I brought a book along, but keeping the book open and flat proved to be a two-hand endeavor. Since I lack a third hand (I know, surprise surprise!) I couldn't eat and read at the same time, so the book lost. I headed back to my room and unwound from the snug flight with a long soak in the tub. Good stuff.

Friday 11/3: Day 1 of class. John arrives. Dinner, shopping, beverages.

Went to my first day of class. The instructor was great-- he's from Quint Wellington Redwood, and he's a full-time ITIL consultant and instructor for them. The class was very full, and we were seated three to a table. I was very happy to have had the only buffer seat in the class... until some lady came to class late and naturally sat in the only open seat next to me. And more naturally: she was super-sick and was snurking and sneezing and nose-skin-peeling and lung-meating all over everything. I had noplace to move or I would have. Bleagh!! I drank lots of Airborne (well, Wal-borne-- thanks to Walgreen's) and crossed my fingers.

DrJohn arrived that afternoon from Seattle and we amused ourselves within the confines of the Venetian -- helloooooo Star Wars penny slots! Had dinner at the Tsunami Grill, and farted around the shops gawking at the cheezy Vegas-wear. I bought my bi-annual pack clove cigarettes, had a few fancy drinks at V Bar and then adjourned since I had to get up early for class the next morning.

Saturday 11/04: Day 2 of class, practice exam, Devo at the Hard Rock, roulette. Went to class, and had my brain bent a little. By the end of the morning I was starting to tucker out. Met John for lunch at the Grand Lux Café onsite, and ate some super-tasty Vietnamese summer rolls. I headed back to class to take the practice exam and was relieved that I did pretty well on it, so I wasn't quiiiiite as panicked about taking the test the next day. I headed back to the room to get changed, and then John and I headed over to the Hard Rock Hotel to grab a cheapie dinner before seeing MOTHER-F-ING DEVO (or should I say "mothers-baugh-ing Devo"?) at The Joint (their little venue there). Holy crap, what an amazing show! Absolutely awesome! We were standing mere feet from them, just out of tossed-stage-prop reach. Mark Mothersbaugh's pipes are in awesome shape, and I think he's got some of the coolest hair (next to Trainor, of course). The band wore their yellow suits and red flower-pot hats, and slowly "devolved" over the course of the show by ripping the yellow thing off piece by piece, ultimately performing the last 7 or 8 tunes in black T-shirts, black boxers and knee pads. The guys make no attempts at hiding the fact that they are doughy and old which is so totally refreshing. Some audience members were dressed as Devo, and I got talking to a few guys who came from California and Texas to see them. They played the hits and some deeper cuts... Highlights included Satisfaction, Jockohomo, Girl You Want, Freedom of Choice, and of course Whip It. Click here for pictures and two short video clips shot with my phone. They're not that bad!

After the show (or was it before?) I impulsively played $5 on "Casino War" - which is just like the card game you played as a kid. After one hand I walked away with $15, which I traded in for $1 chips and sat at the roulette table. After I won $5, I gave John $10 in chips and we played for about 30 minutes, walking away from the table with $74.00. It was a fun time waster. :-)

I had to get back to my hotel because it was coming up on 11pm and I had to take my test in the morning.

Sunday, 11/5: Test, mall, Nobu, schoolgirls.

I woke up early and took my test, and it felt pretty good. Results on Friday, so keep your fingers crossed 'til then. John went shopping for radiology books at the Vascular Imaging conference. We then headed to the mall to just kinda get the heck out of the hotel-- had a nice tapas lunch at Café Ba Ba Reeba, and then got lost in the Sanrio store where I bought a Hello Kitty iPod holder. (You know, the necessities.) Sunday night all the kids got into town (Patty and Mike (aka "Gorm") from L.A., and ) and we had an amazing dinner at Nobu at the Hard Rock on Sunday night-- holy crap, it was so delicious. The salmon sashimi was to die for, as was the magic steak thing I got. Pineapple and also raspberry sakes were enjoyed... I also tried lobster for the first time, and I must admit, it was très tasty. (I still don't think I'd order it myself, but now I know not to run screaming, at least.) The chocolate mousse and bananas foster desserts were also fabulous. I will definitely go back there.

Jeremy had to turn in after dinner, so the remaining four of us we went to the Hard Rock's fancy-pants foofoo dance club (Body English)-- it was "Dress as a Schoolgirl" night. Patty and I dressed as schoolgirls and were seemingly the only ones who got the memo. Anyway, the music sucked, it was a total meatmarket, the people there were just not our people (nothing wrong with them, but ya know... more interested in being hotttt in Vegas than in having a fun wheeee time), etc. etc. Patty and I got in for free since we were in costume, but the guys had to pay $30 cover, so we stuck around a little while to justify the $30, and then admitted defeat and went home. I giggled over the dwarf elevator guy. (Don't ask.)

Monday, 11/6: Star Trek lunch, Pinball Hall of Fame, Cirque/Love.

Monday day I slept in. None of the lectures at the conference sounded really apropos, plus I was exhausted from all the test-taking, so I decided to play hooky. John, Jeremy and I ate lunch at Quark's Bar, which is part of the Star Trek Experience thingy-thing at the Hilton. Geek factor was very high, and I think John's opinion of me and Mosk has dwindled a bit because we were kvetching that prune juice was not offered on the menu, since it is most definitely a Warrior's Drink. Jeremy grilled the Star Trek characters as they harassed us at our table, asking the Vulcan what her parents' names were and asking the Ferengi what the 10th Rule of Acquisition was. I don't know what's dorkier: that he asked the questions, that the actors knew the answers, that Jeremy knew they were correct, or that I got such a kick out of watching him get so excited about all of the above. :-)

After lunch, the three of us made our way to the Pinball Hall of Fame Museum which is waaaaaay out in a strip mall somewhere-- about a $25 cab ride. We arrived and played the heck out of some pins-- they had a Hit The Deck, which is the game and I had in our basement growing up. I hadn't played one since my dad sold the machine in 1990, but after playing it once it was just like riding a bike-- I think I got 4 free games on it. Rock! One of the highlights was playing Pinball Circus, which was a prototype Williams pinball machine that never made it into production. It looks very different from a regular pinball machine-- it's in a classic Space Invaders-type cabinet, so it is tall and cubicular (how's that for a word?) and not not very long/deep like a pinball machine. Only two were made, and one was donated to the Pinball Museum. How cool is that? It was incredible to play and very challenging. I sucked. :-)

After some taxi-hailing trauma, we bused back to the strip and said goodbye to Jerm, who was headed to the early show of Le Rève. John and I met Patty and Gorm at The Mirage for dinner at Samba, which is a Brazilian BBQ place where they bring you food on sticks. (In the future, all food shall be in tubes. All food from the past, however, was on sticks.) The food looked amazing-- but sadly most of it was kinda bland. I was expecting to have my socks knocked off but they just weren't. Oh well. Anyway, after dinner we headed to the theater at the Mirage to see Love, the Circque du Soleil Beatles show. I absolutely loved it. It wasn't O by any means, but it was so well done, the costumes were breathtaking, and it was worth the price of admission alone to hear the deep cuts and alternate tracks of the tunes they used. Strawberry Fields Forever rocked my world... I would love to see this with my brother.

Tuesday, 11/7: Sneaking into the Spa Expo, ITIL conference schwag, job offers aplenty, Mapplethorpe, Blue Man Group.

Tuesday was a productive day. Had some hot breakfast at the Grand Lux Café (super-tasty omelette), and then I headed up to the Conference Expo to get some conference schwag and tchotchkes. The expo hall didn't open for another 30 minutes, so I sneaked downstairs into a different conference: The International Spa Conference. Holy crap, this was a huge, huge event centered around spas, salons, spa products, you name it. They had booths for every kind of face cream, lotion and treatment you can think of: massage tables, fluffy robes, massage table sheets, aromatherapy patches, oils and diffusion devices, fountains, walls, relaxation CDs, nail polishes, manicure/pedicure stations, paraffin wax dips, peptides (ha), everything. Since I am a total sucker for all things spa-related, I was in heaven, and I tried to scam as many freebies as I could without having anyone actually notice that my badge was for a totally different conference.

Once noon rolled around, I headed back to the mundane land of IT Service Management and wandered around the hall. I expected to get some some good schwag and certainly got it: A universal memory card reader, some cool gadgets and books, magnetic pens, blah blah blah. What I didn't expect to get were three job offers-- one absolutely serious, like, in a start tomorrow kind of way. Wow. You tell someone you're an ITIL consultant and fwam, you're hot hot hot. Nice!

Around 2:30 they were having the prize drawing for a bunch of terrific gifties from the ITIL conference sponsors; stuff like GPSes and Tivos and iPods and XBoxes and dates with Kevin's mom. I won nothing. Oh well. :-) Afterwards, we checked out the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at the mini-Guggenheim museum they have there. It was smaller than I expected, but a striking exhibit nonetheless. We grabbed a late lunch and ate it in my room so we could gank the company-paid internet access... was nice just to have some quiet time to decompress, fart around online and print out boarding passes. Yay: It's nice that the Venetian has printers in each room. Bummer that they charge you $1.00 a page, bastards.

We headed down to the theater at the Venetian and saw Blue Man Group. The show was very similar to the "Tubes" show they were doing in NYC a few years back... and even with the familiar material, it was still a really good time. Lots of happy bouncing in my seat. La la la!

After the show we were hungry, so we headed back to the trusty Grand Lux Café and had the world famous Asian Nachos... sweet lord, a little bit of heaven, they were. (Thanks, !) And then, beddy-bye.

Wednesday, 11/8: A quick breakfast, frantic packing and the usual airport schlep.

I had a great time, but ooooh lordy, it feels good to be home. I cannot wait to get my expense check-- Vegas ain't cheap, that's for sure.