Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 11)

I saw a show.


At the Wynn, with each room comes a ticket to “Showstoppers” which I guess is a Broadway greatest hits of sorts. I’m not exactly a fan of musicals, but was told that I might as well check it out for free. 

So I headed down to the casino from my room and walked up to the ticket center. 

I asked a couple people in line if they had seen it. It was around 10 minutes prior to show start and I was not sure if I wanted to commit that much time to this experience. 

Then I met who I call “The Excited Man in the Safari Hat.” He was noticeably excited and couldn’t contain it. He said if I loved Broadway that I would love the show, because it is just the hit numbers. I guess translating that to stage play speak that is like a dinner of all deserts. 

He said this not realizing I don’t even recognize what a hit number is, outside of movie adaptations.

The guy was decked out with a backpack as if he had been on a hike. A large blue water bottle hung from his pack. 

Based on his demeanor he looked like he came to Vegas just for this show.

Then the lady behind him chimed in. “It’s great, I’ve seen it 3 times. What’s wrong? Why is your nose scrunched up?” 

I said I had a free ticket and they agreed I should give it a chance.

My seat was in the 4th row but all the way to the edge. This made my getaway plan feasible. 

Do you want concessions? I guess this works the same way as a movie? The prices were about the same.

There is a balcony for those who want a higher view.

The theater is a pretty good size. It might be a little smaller than the Penn and Teller show I last saw.

The show began with the main singers opening it up. I didn’t know what to make of it. They were well dressed and sounded pretty good to me. 

I think this was the Cabaret set. This is where I noticed how hard the performers were working. Everyone on stage has a role to play. The smiles were all at max capacity, cuz I was so close to the stage I was almost trying to spot if they got tired enough to break a smile and take a deep breath. From my seat I could even see the little wig-lines on their foreheads.

This was a Vegas set of some sort and I have no idea what the songs were, but I did like the lighted signs. A few of them had to dance and sing on top of those benches and I closely watched if any of them got close to stepping off.

I did recognize the songs from Grease. There are 66 performers in the show and they are all giving it their best on a Monday night. 

This was some number I don’t know. People seemed to like it and the balloon popping. They did this spinning feather move that was pretty cool though one girl totally messed up a little. 

They had a pretty nice set from Chicago. I mean, I am not a theater guy, but watching the girls dressed in very little dance was pretty entertaining to me, despite the music being about how they all killed some dudes. 

The show ends in a line dance of some sort. I guess this is popular, or was at some point in theater history?

The crowd loved it. I was a little confused to what I had just watched. My observation is the quality of the performers are top notch and they all work their asses off each night. Some of the singers are especially good. Good on them. 

As for me, it was only 90 mins and I didn’t walk out. 

Movie Reviews: Vegas Vacation

It has one of the biggest deus ex machinas in a movie, but hey, so did the other Griswald films. (Old white guys with money always bail Clark out)

While I am here gambling in Vegas I felt it would be very fitting to review this not-so-classic film. To me, it doesn’t hold up to the original or Christmas Vacation, but does have its charm, notably capturing Vegas in the mid 1990s in a not so seedy way that say Leaving Las Vegas did. 

Having lived in Vegas for 4 years, the humor also hits on some marks. When Randy is cooking food outside on an atomic test site, that is pretty funny. 

The funniest part of the film to me is after Clark loses the family savings in a massive cold streak (what I call simply refer to as “gambling at the Mirage” or “getting Miraged”) and joins forces with Randy and his secret stash to test their luck at a sketchy casino with sketchy games. What is funny is that some of those games, like War, actually became a casino game, as an example of life imitating art. 

I also enjoy watching Rusty go on a heater of a lifetime. Most stories of Vegas is about big losers, so it is fun to watch because in my mind, Vegas kind of operates like this.

Yes, Wayne Newton is cheesy as hell and nonsensical, but Vegas itself was cheesy in the 90s. Shi-yit. The entire city is one giant city of fake. They built a pyramid, Statue of Liberty, volcano, pirate ship, clown casino, castle, and a replica of Venice. There is nothing original about Vegas. 

But I enjoy going just like I enjoy this movie … sometimes. 

Move Rating: 5/10 complimentary upgrades

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 5)

I took this picture on Thursday as I walked out of the Palazzo to find my rental car. It’s a subterranean oven that is hot as hell during the day. 

Today, when I arrived early due to some weird as hell hours, the parking garage was mostly empty. It was around 4:50am and I was honestly chilling in the rental car eating some Pringles and hydrating on Gatorade because I was hungry as a hippo and needed to get back to gambling after winning over at the Rio. 

I don’t know about you, but I believe heaters are meant to be pressed.

Then I heard what I think were a couple of some sort arguing on the way back to the car. It got louder and louder with the dude ordering her to take a taxi back home, so I assume they were locals. The girl was saying “I don’t know” and the guy was saying “I told you not to talk to him.” There were expletives and name calling all on a woman with no coherent comeback.

Then the guy began yelling like a maniac,  “I told you not to talk to him. It’s over.” Then he started punching what I think was his steering wheel or dashboard like a maniac. He then repeated himself over and over as if this was his “redrum.”

I was trying to peice together what the hell was going on. I narrowed it down to a few scenarios. 

1)She was a prostitute and the guy didn’t pay up, and the pimp was like “what the hell? I warned you.” But to be honest, this didn’t make sense for how angry he was. Do pimps get that angry?

2)The nightclubs had closed maybe an hour or so before, and maybe she went with some guy in the club back to the room, and the boyfriend couldn’t find her for a damn hour while two people went with the flow of it. 

3)The guy was truly a jealous psychotic and was drunk and enraged she simply talked to some dudes while she got drinks. Maybe he had caught them bumping and grinding, or is just the possessive type (but why the hell would you go to a high end club on a Friday night if she can’t have a little fun too?) 

The fight ended with the guy saying “it’s over.” And the girl was kind of disbelief-crying. Then like the douchebag-who-cried-wolf, the guy said “well, if you get in a fucking taxi now and go home you have a chance.” 


If she knew better, she should have probably gone to the airport and flown as far away as she could. 

But this is Vegas, where dreams go to die. 

I stayed in my car and ate more Pringles. 

Travel Blog (Las Vegas Adventure Part 3) 

All I need is a chip and a chair, or so goes the old WSOP tournament adage. I’m here for the 7th year in a row, discovering news ways to splash pots and watch money get shoved in different directions. You see, the card play is usually the same, but the characters playing seem to be from a different planet at times.

For those not familiar with “nice hand” at a poker table, that pretty much translates to “fuck you.”

Today, many people told me “nice hand.”

Doesn’t matter. I am now on a 3 day heater and feel like I can’t lose. Tomorrow, I want to play the $1500 millionaire maker tournament, but last year I only have bad memories so I might stay away. 

Will this be the year? Who knows.

Some quick observations: If you enjoy cash games, the Rio has the softest lower limit games in town, however there are drawbacks. 

1)70% of the dealers this year are new, so there are a ton of mistakes. 

2)The Rio uses the same seating as banquets and conventions, so they suck. Your back will be hurting after 5 hours.

3)There are no shuffle machines which slows the hands per hour, plus the hands are not shuffled enough. 

4)There are no chip runners this year (everyone has to go up to the cage). This means when people get knocked out, instead of grabbing cash, they have to do a walk of shame and then return. Many choose not to return.

5)The food service still shuts down at like 11pm. Why can’t they do 24/7 like most places? 

Not sure if you can zoom in or not, but as you can see there are a shit-ton of events to gamble with “chip and a chair” dreams. 

See you at the tables.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 2)

So there I was at Aria, my first stop. I’ve been there many times on previous trips, and the first thing that shocked me was the new parking system MGM installed yesterday. In a bizarre move, all MGM properties except Circus Circus will charge for parking after the first hour. How much? $10 a day. This is pretty mind boggling for an industry known for loss leaders like free drinks when gambling and $1 shrimp cocktails. 

I’m pretty sure based on the parking (first time in 3 years I could park on main parking level instead of 3 parking levels up) that people are already avoiding MGM to go to Wynn, Harrahs, or Las Vegas Sands properties.

So I was going to play 2-5NL holdem and took a 1-3 table to wait, however the game was fun and easy. There was some Scottish dude next to me who explained his global travels and how he doesn’t pay any taxes; I guess in England if you are abroad more than half a year you don’t pay any taxes. 

I splashed some pots and got in crazy hands and was moved around to one of the crazier 1-3 NL games ever. At around 4am the game kind of turned into $100 blinds because a few players were shoving $60-200 into the pot preflop without seeing their hands for around 45 minutes until one crazy gambler got it all. Everyone waited and prayed to nab at hand during the crazy “tired gambling.”

Too bad it wasn’t me. 

All in all, the first session went ok. Up $775 for getting rust off before I head over to the WSOP later this week. 

This is the halls of Aria at 4:50am. I kind of roamed around looking at what had changed in a year. Aria kind of looks like an airport in a weird way. It is mind boggling MGM spent $10B on City Center as the design is one of the most un-fun atmospheres in Vegas. 

So as I was walking out to pay my damn $10 for parking, I stopped at the craps table, a place I have seen all sorts of stuff go down. At the table there was a guy in a whittle hoodie and brown hat playing $25 craps. After 10 minutes the guy next to me said “hey, the shooter is Neymar jr.” I had no idea who he was and had to google it, and sure enough it was him. On his Twitter page, his posse is pretty distinct and they were all there cheering him on. He was a pretty gracious friend; constantly refilling his friends racks when they went broke. Banker Neymar Jr has a nice ring to it. 

I would have asked for a pic with him, however, the guy was obviously trying to be stealth during a weekend with his friends in Vegas. Why be an asshole and interrupt if I honestly didn’t know who he was and the fact that he will be starring in Vin Diesels next action film. 

In any case, it’s early and I still technically don’t have a room booked until Sunday.

Movie Review: Good Will Hunting


Good Will Hunting directed by Gus Van Sant

This was the movie that was the launching pad or maximum altitude for many careers.

Robin Williams won the Academy Award (comedians acting serious tend to make better films than when they try to act funny, the same phenomenon with Will Ferrell)

1997 was the rare breakout and crash of Minnie Driver’s career (despite her also being fantastic Gross Point Blank). I coin this as breakcrashing. Name me other actors that pull off the rare feet of breaking out in two iconic breakout roles, only to have their career blow up the other way. For example, F.Murray Abraham goes from Scarface to winning an oscar for Amadeus, then faded to career oblivion. Anyone can screw up after a big hit or breakout role, but to have two in a row, then blow up is another talent all together.

Stellan Skarsgard plays himself. I truly think so. He has played pretty much the same character in every film I’ve ever seen him in. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers; it doesn’t matter. He is the opposite of Mini Driver in a way. His maximum altitude peaked 20 years ago and he keeps on coasting along in some imaginary typecast glider of solitude.

Then there was Gus Van Sant. He hasn’t been trusted to make a big budget movie since, and in his relative creative hibernation has chosen not to make any good indie movies ever since. He even reteamed with Matt Damon in Promised Land, an boring movie about the dangers and corruption of fracking, but he forgot he needed a good script. There was some critical acclaim for Milk, however, I believe this has less to do on the merits of the film rather than being the “agenda film” of the year and having Sean Penn go all-out for the role. By both box office and rotten tomato-rating, his career never surpassed Good Will Hunting.

For Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, and Matt Damon, they took all the good leaf clovers in Boston and stuck it down their pants. This was superfly TNT in a jar. It was the launching pad to solid careers, in terms of commercial appeal and longevity. Ben’s career is just as successful as Matt Damon’s, with box office returns and critical acclaim. Branching out to directing has been a solid move. Say what you want about Casey Affleck not getting any huge breaks for summer tent pole releases, but he did mighty fine in the Ocean’s 11 series and did a wonderful job acting as the coward Robert Ford. The opening and closing narration scenes of that film is heavy and deep and epic, something I would imagine a literal adaptation to a Cormac McCarthy novel would be.

The movie itself is wonderful. You all know this. You’ve watched it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, HBO, CBS, TNT, and for you younger folk probably even watched it in High School as some inspiring tale of overcoming obstacles. In a way, this film stretches reality a bit farther than his potato movie in a series of coincidences. Not only is Matt Damon a gifted genius with unparalleled mathematical talents, but just so happens to be recovering from an abusive past, in a bad neighborhood in Boston (a southie). But because he is in Boston and not say, Wichita, Mumbai, Bogota, Timbuktu (the Wichita of Mali) he chooses to work as a janitor and solve equations at MIT. He doesn’t put his skills to use earlier for reasons unknown. Nope, the magic happens when he wears those overalls and works with a mop. Then he also chooses to solve the unsolvable after already solving another problem, except this time, he chooses to do it while he knows people are in the building, Ok. I get it, the movie needs the plot to move forward. Then it just so happens an old friend (aka the last resort) of the professor is Robin Williams. Fine. Coincidence. Just like when Matt Damon finally meets a nice girl, it is during his counseling, not before or after and as a side plot point, she just so happens to go to Harvard. The entire film is like this, but to tell you the truth, I don’t care. The movie works. I want to hear the stories in the bar, I want to hear Matt Damon tell off that snobby elitist student, just like I want to tell you to see this movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it already.

How about them apples?

Movie Rating: 9.5/10 Apples

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