’bout time I wrote this up, I suppose. Some months I’m just not in the mood for writing. Then I sit down abruptly and spend four hours doing it. Go figure. It was a lot more continuous when I was back in Oz and had more immediate feedback from people. Or just social contact in general. Then again, I mostly just bitched about my housemates. Which is what my day-to-day entries would be now if I did them. So all for the best, probably. :)

Vegas. The Return. I finally had the bloody foresight to book the flights across the weekend, not just the Thursday and Friday I’d actually be working there, so that I could enjoy myself a bit. I still owe myself a trip to Disneyworld from last year’s NSBE.

The fair itself was good – not too hard work compared to the uni fairs, since even though NSBE is the biggest the ratio of Apples to attendees is much more in our favour. Not as busy as I might have expected, given it was in Vegas, though the big ongoing sook about the economy no doubt should be blamed – it’s used as the excuse for everything else these days, innit?

As per usual, the accommodations were rather swank indeed; stayed in the MGM Signature Suites, which while a bit off the strip and thus a little inconvenient, were very nice. Once I got into them; the first room I was given had a broken lock on the door. After three round trips between reception and the room, they transferred me to a different room. Then, that night when I returned to my room I found all my stuff gone; naturally no-one had entered it into their fancy system that I’d been moved, so they presumed it was left by a previous guest. Grrrr.

I flew in Wednesday, though there were minor delays and taxis and traffic and all the usual such that I didn’t really get there ’til mid afternoon. I wandered up and down the strip for the afternoon, grabbed something to eat, and then went to see the Blue Man Group. They were good, entertaining, but didn’t live up to expectations – they simply couldn’t, given how massively over-hyped they are. I was still adjusting to the ticket prices in Vegas, as well – $110+ for pretty much any kind of live show – so, yeah…

The next night, I think it was, I went and saw Ka, one of the several Cirque de Soleil shows based permanently in Vegas. Unlike the travelling variety, these really make the most of their fixed venues; the theatres are custom-outfitted for each individual show, in an insanely elaborate fashion that truly only Vegas could afford. Ka was technically amazing – there were two main stages, both suspended and fully articulated, such that they could alternate between hidden below the floor, front and centre, and front and centre vertical – and all the graduations inbetween. Very, very impressive – seeing people dance around on a vertical stage, swinging and tumbling from point to point, is totally original to me.

Unfortunately though the theatre was maybe 25% full at most, I happened to be sat right next to some middle-aged couple whom talked through the entire show, about all sorts of rambling and meaningless crap. I felt compelled to just knock them both clean out, though I begrudgingly settled with shuffling a few seats away and stubbornly ignoring them. They did definitely wet the show for me, though. Not impressed.

The other show I saw while in town was another Cirque de Soleil, ‘Love’, based around the Beatles. I’m not a Beatles fan… I’m almost an anti-fan in fact, if only in response to all the rabid obsessives who still sit them on some holy pedestal. Pfft. They had some really good stuff, they were good guys, but they were fundamentally tripped-out stoners that wrote teenage bubble-pop. I’m sorry, it’s just true. That said, that show was also really good – they combined the more classic songs with recording studio excerpts and various other snippets, all set to an overwhelming dance ensemble that my only major critique for is the fact that there’s no way you can take it all in; you’d have to go see the show two or three times to have any chance of seeing it all, so to speak. Which so far as critiques go seems almost ridiculous, but it’s really not… anything going on outside my peripherals is at best redundant and at worst an important part that I’m missing. Kind of like video games that pretense to be massively open and non-linear which almost inevitably means massively inconsistent and demotivating.

That bit of literary wank aside – I can feel the channelling of Yahztee coming on even as I write – the three shows were all very good. Combined with the pedestrian sights of Vegas – the casinos themselves, the water show outside the Bellagio, the Secret Garden at the Mirage, the pirate show at Treasure Island…. only, I didn’t get to see that last one. I tried twice on Saturday to see it, but both times it was cancelled. In the first case they started the show, but only a precious few minutes in the sound abruptly failed, and they immediately announced it was aborted “due to technical difficulties” (over what appeared to be the exact same sound system that was supposedly broken). That was unexpected enough to bemuse me, so I let that pass. But when I came back later for another show and, after standing there on their mock dock for forty minutes only to be told right on show time that it was cancelled due to Earth hour, well… we was not amused.

In any case, it’s no longer the classical pirate show but instead some sexed-up thing called “Sirens”, involving what are ostensibly dancers, but certainly of the exotic persuasion, so… it’s in the theme of Vegas, no doubt, so you kind of have to go with it… nonetheless for whatever reason it was in my head to see the “real” pirates show. Never to be, though – it was apparently switched out over a year ago. Sod.

This trip was the weekend after my little skiing adventure at Heavenly. Pleasantly, the hours on end spent walking up and down the strip seemed to do a lot of good for my shoulder – just having that tiny bit of movement presumably loosened it up a lot, for the better – so I was feeling pretty good overall. And then I badly twisted my ankle on some lawsuit-waiting-to-happen pavement outside the Mirage, on Saturday, and was from then on burdened with a ridiculous limp. That healed up more or less completely after a week, maybe week and a half, but nonetheless it was an unnecessary bit of universal comedy, layered as it was upon my existing injuries.

And come Sunday morning my ankle was slightly swollen and stiff as a result, so while it was not a debilitating injury in any real sense, it did pretty much rule out an action-packed day. Conceding defeat, I retired instead to the pool at the MGM. That was pretty sweet – not nearly as much a bikini show as you’d think, given the age spread was almost linear from eight to eighty, but I took the time to listen to some podcasts, read some books on my phone, and just sunbake. Which is really odd for me, but when in Vegas, right? ;)

It’s relevant that I was reading The Time Machine just prior to this trip, on my phone, which was interesting as it differs considerably from the modern-most movie based on it (which I quite liked, let it be said – yes, I’m that one guy). Succeeding that was The Island of Dr Moreau, which is where I was at by the pool. An interesting story, also, though surprisingly brief – it came to mind that if many of these famous early-century writers were writing now, they’d be told by publishers “that’s great for a first chapter; where’s the rest of it?”.

Furthermore, I in fact had a spa, in my room, Saturday night. I haven’t had a spa in forever almost – heck, the last time may indeed have been New Zealand. Eek. On the other hand, after New Zealand spas and spring-heated pools, you’re kind of ruined for the more pedestrian types you’re familiar with. :)

I also had rather nice company for those. ;)

It costs $230US for a cucumbers-on-eyes-and-elbows-in-kidneys “spa” at the MGM, I’m told. There was a horribly cliché guy-vs-girls moment when that was announced, as I just had to feign naivety and ask if that was some kind of juice card system.

The flight into Vegas was with United. They absolutely sucked, as always. Shitty planes, no service, everything’s about extra charges – hell, they even charge you for the so-called privilege of them carrying your bloody luggage as well – etc. In contrast, the way back was Virgin, which was just heaven in comparison; on-demand TV/movies/etc in every seat, complimentary food, [relatively] comfortable seats…. and seriously, the old-boy airlines can keep a straight face while asking why people hate them? WTF?

I had hoped to get out to the Grand Canyon while I was in the general vicinity, but that didn’t happen… it turns out it’s not exactly a short cab ride away, and while it is possible to do day trips to the west Grand Canyon, I ascertained, it’s ten hours or more of travel time, so I can’t imagine you actually get to do much when you’re there. Had I planned better I might have stayed out at the Canyon, or nearby, Saturday night… but then I wouldn’t have been able to sit by the pool and get a tan (yes, I did get sunburnt slightly – Vegas sun has the now-almost-unfamiliar bite of the Australian sun).

I also visitied Madam Tussauds on the Saturday, which was vaguely interesting in a tourist mindset… there were some models that were uncannily realistic, but many there were just kind of creepy… some I couldn’t even recognise, they seemed so wrong. I also got the feeling they weren’t quite to scale… that or Hollywood is populated largely by tall midgets.

And there was a whole section on Nascar drivers and whatnot, which meant nothing at all to me. I wanted to see Master Chief, like they had right there on one of their damn posters, but he was not present. Boo.

My feeling as the weekend fled me was that I need to get the hell out a whole lot more. Also, that I have no excuse for going very nearly two whole years between Vegas trips; I commit to weekend it again sometime sooner, as soon as I can convince some others to go with me.

And as always, the trip reminded me that lo and behold, there are still human females out there, beyond the Californian borders. There is something seriously wrong with California, or at least all the parts of it I occupy. I continue to be befuddled and perplexed by the limited social opportunities of my bedroom, my car and my office.

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