Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lesbians in the Fire Pit

Hey Everybody...

I'm enjoying what should be a relaxing day off, but since I was a nice guy and traded days with my friend Jen so she could do Halloween with her young son, I'm preparing for my sixth straight day in the green felt jungle. But before you think, Aw shucks, what a nice boy!, my main motivation to make the trade was so I can have Thursday night off to go out and play craps with Courtney and Steve B. The plan is to hit the Golden Nugget for awhile, then drive out to my new favorite spot, Green Valley Ranch, and give them a try.

Anyhow, I got a good eight hours sleep last night after what had to be the longest shift I've ever worked. I can't really afford to take any time off, so I had to endure last night all the way to 4am. It was sooooo slow all night, but for whatever reason, while all the tables around me were dead, I was busy the whole time. I also got moved to the dice table for my last hour of the shift, and wouldn't you know it I had six players at my end while the other base dealer had nobody at his end. So I was working my ass off while they other guy just flipped the marker puck from ON to OFF every couple of minutes. Sometimes life just ain't fair. Oh well, I can't complain too much--I hardly ever get to deal dice anymore, so it was good practice.

But nobody was more thankful than I was to see the graveyard shift show up. I was so tired, but I managed to stay up long enough to watch my Tivo'd episode of "Heros" before passing out. It was the end of a very long day.

It began after four hours of sleep--the alarm was turned up loud enough to wake the dead, otherwise I would've slept all day, as I'm still fighting the effects of last weekend with the buffoons. Anyhow, the plan was to meet up with Steve B, George, and Marlisha at the Peppermill for breakfast.

I actually got there a few minutes early, and had time to get a tall cup of coffee and Bailey's and have a nice visit with my favorite bartender, Krista, before everyone showed up. There was also about a half-hour wait for a table (The SEMA convention with a hundred thousand attendees was happening just down the block, and half of them, it seemed, wanted to eat breakfast at the Peppermill too), but my regular waitress, Sandra, gave us the hookup and as soon as a table emptied in her section, she held it for me and we snuck in ahead of everyone else.

Sometimes it's nice to have a little juice in this town...

It had been awhile, so I took another run at the chicken fried steak and eggs, with the requisite sourdough toast. I almost finished it, but both Steve and George gave it a try, too. Steve had also brought a buddy with him, who went the lunch route with some spicy wrap thingy, and said it was excellent. Marlisha had a plateful of the largest pancakes known to man, along with bacon and sausage and stuff. The cocktail waitress kept us stocked with Irish coffee and Bloody Marys, and with the great conversation and good company, it was a very enjoyable breakfast all around.

Steve B insisted on covering the bill for the whole crowd, which was most generous of him anyways, but considering the bar tab, it was a downright saintly gesture. He and his pal (who's name I can't remember for the life of me...) decided to take off and head downtown and get checked into the Main Street Station (they'd come straight from the airport), while George, Marlisha, and I decided to spend a few hours relaxing in the Fireside Lounge with cigars and fancy martinis.

Krista hooked us up with some of her famous Chocolate Martinis--crystal clear, sweet as candy, but more dangerous than a box full of scorpions if you weren't careful. So tasty, but don't plan on getting up and doing anything after drinking a couple of them... While we were lounging about enjoying the good company, fine cigars, and excellent martinis, we were witness to the best free show of the day.

A couple of chicks, on what was clearly their last day in Vegas, had spent the evening at a strip club getting lap dances and such. And they had managed to pick up one of the hottest chicks to ever grace a brass pole and bring her to the lounge for drinks after her shift. (Yes, we were watching intently and picked up all of this information...) Anyhow, they spent their day drinking champagne and making out by the fire. Good times all around!

I don't think there is anything more enjoyable than watching a little PDA from lipstick lesbians. I mean, since there were no sports on tv and all...

I kind of wish we would've had a video camera with us, for professional purposes only, of course--it was good footage that could've been used in one of those "What happens in Vegas..." commercials.

Even without the free show in the fire pit, it was still a wonderful afternoon. As tired as I was, it was nice to relax with a good cigar and good friends. We eventually settled up the tab and walked across the street to visit the Stardust one last time before it's appointment with the wrecking ball. I picked up a couple of chips, hoping that in about 30 years they might be worth something, but I doubt it.

For a casino on it's deathbed, it was surprisingly busy in there. Of course, a few tables had already been taken out, and the chip banks were taken off of all but two of the dice tables, but there were still plenty of people playing blackjack and drinking at the bars. We didn't spend but a few minutes in there before heading back and saying our goodbyes. We made tentative plans to get together again in December, and a few minutes later I was back home trying to get a quick nap in before heading back to work.

It's been a long week, but a pretty good one.


One Year From Today

Happy Halloween, everybody!

I'm a little bummed that I have to work tonight--of course I'd rather be out partying and enjoying all of the slutty nurse/flight attendant/vampirette costumes on display, but I'm hoping a few make an appearance at the casino. I'm hoping to get out of there a little early tonight, too, but I'm sure everyone else is thinking the same thing. There's a party going on at our local watering hole, and most of my friends who aren't working are going to be there in costume.

But as much as I wish this Halloween were more fun for me, I'm already looking forward to next Halloween. This time next year, I will be down in the Caribbean, specifically spending the day in Dominica. I don't know how they celebrate down there, but I plan on enjoying the nice scenery of the island with a good Cuban cigar and tropical drink in hand.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Tell Me Why I Don't Like Mondays

Good Morning everyone. If you haven't noticed already, I've posted part 2 of my NSF trip report for your reading enjoyment, just scroll on down...

I managed to talk the boss out of the half-hour early out again last night (best deal ever--full tokes, but out at 3:30!) and avoided the exhaustion head-bob long enough to drive home safely. We were dead slow last night after midnight, so cutting out early was no problem. Of course, now that I'm home I'm wide awake thinking about all the stuff I have to do later today.

George and Marlisha are in town, and we got together and had a great time yesterday afternoon. We met for lunch early in the afternoon over at the Elephant Bar in The District at GVR. Food was excellent, drinks were tasty but weak, service very good. We had some excellent calamari and veggie spring rolls for appetizers, and I had something called a Fiery BBQ Platter with ribs, chicken, shrimp, rice, and grilled veggies. It was all very tasty, but I especially liked the tropical bbq sauce. George wouldn't let me buy my lunch, so I have no idea what the tab came to for the three of us. But the prices on the menu seemed very reasonable.

While we were sitting there munching on our lunch and enjoying a great conversation, Sticky called us, so we passed the phone around a bit, and at the same time, one of my best friends from work--Anna Banana--came in with her husband. It was like a convergence of all my favorite people in one place, if only the commotion in the bar would've been Angy getting tossed out...

After lunch, we headed across the street to the casino at GVR, and found a couple of empty lounge chairs in the sportsbook bar. Marlisha went off to play some blackjack, while George and I worked our way through his travel humidor of premium cigars. (Got to smoke an extremely rare Fuente Fuento Opus X--thanks George!). We had a couple of snifters of Grand Marnier, several rounds of Captain & Seven, and a little bit of ice water here and there, courtesy of our smokin' hot Latina waitress, Niki.

Of course I also bet on the Rams today, they were getting 9.5 points on the road against the Chargers. And of course they lost, again. They are 4-3 this year, all three losses coming in games where I bet on them. So I'm never betting on them again, and clearly that means they'll go 13-3 and win the Super Bowl.

It's a good year to be a St. Louis sports fan.

After the games ended, Marlisha rejoined us, and we spent a couple of minutes at the Pai Gow tables. I pulled out the twenty I was going to spend on lunch--money plays!--and was promptly dealt a queen-high pai gow against the dealers two pair.

Money down!

It was getting late in the afternoon, so we split up. I had to get home and get ready for work, and they had an anniversary party to attend for a friend of theirs.

But we're getting together again in a few hours. Steve B from DC is winging his way west as I type this, and the plan is to have breakfast at the Peppermill at 11:00. George and Marlisha are going to join us.

I've got to get a nap in at some point, because this weekend is going to be another long one. In addition to Steve being in town, my 'One phone call when I get arrested', Counselor Courtney from Florida, is coming to town on Thursday looking for a dice lesson or two. Our plan is to go down to the Golden Nugget and relieve them of several thousand dollars of gaming checks from the craps table. Word around the campfire is that there *may* be some drinking and general buffoonery included, also...

Anyhow, that's what I've got going on for the next couple of days, along with some of that work stuff, too.

Right now, though, Sleepy Time!


Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Sticky Mess, Part II

Dinner at Gonzalez y Gonzalez wasn't too bad, but I think I enjoyed it more just because of the good company. While waiting for our food, we were just loopy enough to get some good laughs entertaining ourselves by tossing Ron White quotes back and forth while sipping on our fruity drinks from the bar.

I can't remember the name of the concoction I was drinking, but it was damn good. It tasted like a rasberry smoothie, but it packed a whallup. It was so good I had two. And the tortilla chips with green salsa were a good appetizer to nibble on at the same time, too. I think Sticky had a beef burrito, and I went with a chicken chimichanga. Yeah, there were more exotic offerings on the menu, but whole "You must wait an extra 20 minutes for anything on this section of the menu" kind of turned us off from trying any of their specialties. So the food we got was typical non-descript Mexican fare--not bad, didn't blow us away. Wouldn't make a special trip to go back, but if we're in the neighborhood, it's a decent spot. I think the bill for two entrees and three fruity drinks came to about $55 total with tip.

Just as we were leaving the restaurant, I saw Angy and Marty wandering through the 'neighborhood' there in the restaurant area of NYNY, so we flagged 'em down. They were heading back up to our room so that Angy could change, so we said we'd catch up to them a little later and all head over to the Rio together. We told them to come find us at the Pai Gow table.

Sticky and I got to play for about 45 minutes or so before they found us again, and the four of us wandered the casino a bit, window shopping for overpriced Rolex watches and availing ourselves to the services of the temporary bars they have set up in various spots around the casino.

Marty and I had to use the facilities at one point, and we got a good laugh when we were following this chick all the way into the men's room. She totally passed up the entrance to the ladies room, and we were walking behind her saying "Oh, this is gonna be good..." She walked in, saw all the dudes standing at the urinals, and the panicked look on her face was priceless. Of course we started laughing, and she gave us a look like "Thanks a lot, dicks..." before scurrying out.

We finally caught a cab over to the Rio to meet up with the rest of the buffoons from T2V, the plan was to meet up at Bamboleo for drinks, then go up to the Voodoo Lounge. But Sticky and I had absolutely no desire to go to Voodoo, so our plan was to make an appearance, then ditch everyone and go gambling. It's not that we didn't want to hang out with the crowd, it's just that going to Voodoo Lounge has run it's course as far as I'm concerned--it's like every time the gang gets together, we just *have* to go to Voodoo. But my attitude is now 'been there, done that' and neither Sticky or I felt like paying a $20 cover charge for a place where you can't sit down unless you pay $350 for 'bottle service' and drinks cost nine bucks a pop if you don't.

Anyhow, the four of us headed up to the restaurant, but instead of hanging out in the lounge, everyone else was sitting down to dinner. Since the four of us had already eaten, we just stayed long enough to say hello to everyone and then we took off for greener pastures. Another reason not to go to the Rio on the weekends, we soon realized, that it was impossible to find a table with less than $25 minimums that had seats available. We wandered the entire casino looking for some Pai Gow or even cheap blackjack, but there was none to be had.

We finally settled on four seats at the Rapid Roulette pit, and spent a little bit of time watching the ball chase our numbers. I actually did pretty well in the half-hour or so that we were there, more than doubling up my $60 buy-in. Marty didn't hit a damn thing, Sticky lost a bit, and Angy was just happy to be there. After cashing out, we split up. Angy and Marty took off to find the rest of the crowd, while Sticky and I hit a penny machine or two. We also made a quick stop at Starbucks, and while waiting for our drinks to be prepared, we decided to bail on the Rio and get some gambling done elsewhere.

We caught a cab back to NYNY and immediately walked over to the valet and picked up my truck. Since Sticky is addicted to anything Vegas on TV, she wanted to go check out Green Valley Ranch after watching every episode of American Casino these past couple of years. I was cool with that, so we headed out towards Henderson.

Once we got on the freeway, it's only about a ten minute drive out to GVR. I hadn't been there in almost a year, so it took me a few minutes of circling around to find the valet entrance, but once we did we dropped off the truck and headed inside.

For those of you that have never been, Green Valley Ranch is a beautiful casino/resort, every bit as much a flagship property as Red Rock, and can certainly compete with anything the Strip has to offer. We wandered a bit, but eventually made our way to the pit and found a couple of seats at a $10 Pai Gow table.

By this time, Sticky was a Pai Gow pro, and needed very little input from me on how to set her hand, so she was ready to go. We both bought in for a hundred bucks, and I told the floor supervisor to put all of our play on my Boarding Pass card.

It was a grind at first, lots of pushing and losing, and I remember that it wasn't until we'd been at the table for an hour and a half that I'd won my third hand of the night. I was down to my last $15 bet out of $300 before I finally turned it around and started to win again. Sticky pretty much broke even the whole time, taking advantage of the free smokes and attentive cocktail service. I switched back to bottled water after about three hours, and it took us almost five hours of grinding away before I got back ahead of the game.

It was about 3:00 in the morning before we stopped, and I walked with a $15 profit. And a $60 average bet, according to the floor. Not a bad evening at all.

We made our way back to Gotham-in-the-desert, and played even more Pai Gow, this time winning a bit more in an hour or so. Since the truck was parked for the night, I had some catching up to do and we kept the cocktail waitress busy.

Eventually, we saw some familiar faces stumbling through the crowd, and a very inebriated crew of Sin, Angy, Shock, and Patti found us. Angy was good and silly, and they left her in our care before taking off and heading back to their hotels. Apparently, she'd lost her room key and her name wasn't listed on the room, so the front desk wouldn't give her a spare.

So we wrapped up our gambling for the night, cashed out our winnings at the cage, and the three of us headed up to the room. It took awhile, but eventually we all got changed and went to bed, although the sun was coming up before we finally quit laughing and being silly and actually got some sleep.

Saturday had been a ridiculously long day, and we were exhausted. As we were about to pass out on the bed, I leaned over to Sticky and whispered the most romantic thing I could come up with...

Sometimes, I wish you were a Korean midget.


Yeah, then I could have you walk on my back!

We giggled for a few minutes and finally fell asleep to the sound of Angy's snoring.

I don't know how long we slept, but when I woke up again, Sticky was putting her shoes on, saying she was craving fresh donuts, saying she'd be right back. I turned on the tv to 'watch' some of the early NFL game, but dozed off as soon as she left the room. When I woke up again, she was walking in carrying a tray of coffee and a bag of Krispy Kremes. Gotta love her for that.

Angy started to stir about that time, and while we drank coffee and munched on donuts, we tried to put together the pieces of the night before. It was an enjoyable conversation, and we also took stock of our winnings for the weekend. At that point I realized I was up almost $500.

Even with the coffee and donuts in our systems, we were still moving very slowly. Angy was pretty much stuck to her pillow, but Sticky and I get dressed and went downstairs to play some more Pai Gow.

We should've just stayed in bed watching football, because I suffered another one of those smackdowns that only seems to happen when Doc Al is watching. In two hours I lost over $300 of my winnings. It was an awful beating. If I had a full house, the dealer would pull a flush with a pair, if I had two pair, the dealer would get three. I couldn't win a hand to save my life. I was getting decent cards, but the dealer always had just enough to beat me. I finally said enough is enough when I got a strong two pair--Jacks over Kings--and watched in horror as the dealer snagged my $40 bet when she turned over Queens over Aces.

I'd had enough. About that time, Angy came downstairs dragging her suitcase, heading for the airport. We took a few pictures and said our goodbyes, and if the beatdown wasn't enough to depress me a little, Angy's leaving did the job.

Sticky and I decided to quit gambling for a while, and she wanted to get some shopping done down at the Desert Passage at Aladdin. Me, I wanted more sleep, so we went our separate ways. On the way back to the room, I was starving--two donuts earlier that morning didn't do the trick at all, so I stopped at the Chinese food stand and got me a teriyaki beef rice bowl to go. I sat up in the room munching on that before passing out in front of the late game and catching a couple of hours of much-needed sleep.

Just as I was getting in the shower, I heard Sticky come stumbling in with her shopping bags. While I got dressed and ready for work, she told me about her afternoon at the Aladdin.

I just had *no* desire to go to work that night, but there was no way out of it. But I told Sticky that I was likely to be able to get out around midnight and that I'd give her a call--word on the street was that the buffoons were gathering down on Fremont Street later that evening, and I certainly wanted to join them.

Work was nice and slow that night, and by 11pm I was standing on a dead blackjack table. I looked around to see six other dead games in the pit, and figured it was only a matter of time before I got cut loose. I was second on the early-out list, and as soon as they told me to bring the lid up on my game, I knew I was ten minutes away from freedom.

I punched out at midnight, got in the truck and pointed it towards Fremont Street. Sticky didn't hear her phone ring, but Larry the surfing sailor, sitting right next to her at the time, heard his. They told me to meet them down at the Vegas Club, and twenty minutes later I was standing behind them at the table with a beer in my hand.

The gang had completely taken over their own Pai Gow table, as Sticky had spread the gospel to a willing congregation. Unfortunately, all seats were taken, but after the morning's beat-down, I was more than content to just watch and offer my own unique brand of commentary. There was a good laugh when Larry had the cocktail waitress deliver a Shirley Temple to Silversmiff at the next table, but what happened after that has haunted my nightmares ever since...

Silversmiff, after being the butt of the joke, got up and walked over to Larry, who was pinned in at the first-base seat of the Pai Gow table, and proceeded to get right up in his face and try to deliver a sloppy wet kiss right on the mouth. Larry hadn't been at sea *that* long and started to panic and lean back and away, but Smiff would not be denied until he got his tongue right up on Larry's mouth.

Talk about creepy...

After that, it was just a little too weird there at the table, so Sticky and I got up and headed for the dice game, while Larry spent a few minutes in the men's room with a bottle of bleach doing his This-is-what-the-dude-in-The-Crying-Game-must've-felt-like routine.

We played craps for about a half hour or so, but couldn't get anything going at all. And Dora, who *used* to be my favorite cocktail waitress is totally on my shiat list for coming up and tugging on my arm while I was throwing the dice, causing me to Seven out. That's a serious faux pas.

Anyhow, after that, we decided to try our luck elsewhere. Thinking that the Golden Gate had a $3 game going, we walked over there. Whoops, we forgot that they shut it down late at night, so we were denied. Instead we walked over to Binions and bought in to a dead game. We hadn't even gotten all of our checks from the dealer before the table completely filled up.

Larry and I continued our crummy dice-throwing, but Sticky had a great roll that earned us some cash. Of course by that time we were all pretty loopy--but they were way ahead of me. The dice worked their way around the table, grinding us down, but we caught a few numbers here and there.

I remember one bit of good comedy, as one of the most annoying players ever showed up at the other end of the table, not knowing a thing about the game, but getting her hands and hitting the dice in flight, causing a seven out. Everyone was pretty pissed about that, but she kept at it, holding up the game, getting her bets in late, and just being a nuisance. It didn't help that she was a nasty old skank with waaaaay too many miles on her, either.

But when the call was "Four, easy four!" when she was shooting, she stopped the whole game, again, and wouldn't roll, asking What do you mean by easy four? I don't get it. What's an easy four?

The stickman, already fed up with her, looked our direction and said "I think we have an easy four shooting the dice..."

That got a lot of laughs at our end, and everyone pretty much started bagging on her until she inevitably sevened out.

By that time, we'd had enough dice. We wandered a bit and took seats at the only Pai Gow table in the joint, but didn't last an hour. We just couldn't win. I think Sticky won a buck or two, but Larry and I had some sorry luck.

We decided to call it a night, and offered to take Larry back to the Flamingo on our way back to NYNY. After visiting the cage, it was off to the valet to wait for the truck. As soon as we sat down on the bench, it was derailment time for Sticky--all of the drinks she'd had that evening caught up to her. The world started spinning, and I was afraid of the imminent mess.

We got in the truck, and as long as she kept her head down and eyes closed, she was ok. I broke the land speed record to the Flamingo, dropped off Larry, and then we headed back to NYNY. The only thing I heard coming from the passenger's seat was a slight moaning and the occasional Sticky drunk....

I was seriously worried about her redecorating the interior of my new truck, ruining that new-car smell once and for all, especially after hearing Please, no more speedbumps, but we made it back to our hotel without a mishap. Once we got out, stood up, and took a deep breath of fresh air, she was fine--like nothing happened.

We made it back to the room and got to bed with only a few minor mishaps--as she rolled off the bed and got wedged between it and the wall. Sticky down! was all she said, and it was pretty much all I could do to not crack up and just leave her there. But I got her unstuck, and after a bottle of water and some aspirin, we shared a good laugh.

The next morning, however, wasn't so funny. I felt like a Zombie, and the taste in my mouth certainly reminded me of the undead. Sticky was up an hour before me and while I happily snoozed away, she'd gotten dressed and packed, ready to head back to O-Canada. She was kind enough to let me sleep until just a couple minutes before we were due to check out, but I finally got up, cleaned up, got dressed and packed my bags too.

We did the whole video check-out thing on the tv, then dragged our asses to the valet. We needed coffee, badly, and some good morning-after food, and we pretty much stood there in silence with the rest of the Leaving Las Vegas contingent waiting for my truck to show up.

Having had such a great time at Green Valley Ranch on Saturday night, we decided to go back there and kill the four hours or so until Sticky had to be at the airport. So back to Henderson we went, and a few minutes later we were waiting for a table at the Original Pancake House.

After the much-needed coffee was delivered, we spent some time going over the menu. I opted for pancakes and bacon, while Sticky went with eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. While waiting for the food to arrive, a random lady from another table walked up to us and handed me a coupon for Buy One Get One Free, so our breakfast bill was instantly cut in half. As soon as she laid it down, Sticky grabbed the coupon and said "Breakfast is on me!" Woo hoo! I don't know why, but both of us couldn't stop giggling about it. We must've still been pretty tired.

The food arrived, and it was excellent. If you order pancakes there at the Original Pancake House, they bring you a plate covered with six of them. Oh hell yeah. But they weren't really heavy--nice and light enough that you could *almost* finish them. And Sticky's hashbrowns were probably the best we've ever had. Even better than the my favorites at the Peppermill.

As hungover and tired as we were, that meal was just the ticket. It was better than we expected, and even without the coupon, it was still a good value, and I'm looking forward to another visit. I think the total bill came to like twelve bucks, but you'll have to ask Sticky how much that is in Canadian money. But the waitress was happy with her 50% tip.

After breakfast, we had three hours to kill, so we headed over to the Pai Gow tables. We both bought in for a hundred bucks, and I asked for another cigarette comp for Sticky. They were out of tokens, so they wrote me a comp ticket for the gift shop. I stumbled over there and back, not realizing till I sat down that the lady in the gift shop had given me SIX packs of cigarettes instead of just one. Whoops. She misread the comp ticket--instead of six dollars, she thought it said six packs. I offered to give 'em back, but the floor supervisor said to just go ahead and keep them. Of course, after that, the dealer asked her to write him a cigarette comp too.

We had a very enjoyable afternoon there at the Pai Gow table, not losing much, not winning much either. By that time it was all fruit juice, coffee, or bottled water from the cocktail waitress, but we finally started to wake up.

I almost had a full-on panic attack there at the table. On one hand I turned my cards over to see the four through nine of hearts, all in order. At first glance I thought I had a 7-card Straight Flush, paying 8000-1. Unfortunately, there was an eight of spades in there too. But sitting right next to me, Sticky had the ten of hearts in her hand. Wow. I think I had two bucks on the bonus, so I was this close to winning 16 grand...

Can you even imagine?

Oh well, I still got paid 50-1 for my straight flush, but for a moment there I was living the dream!

A few hands later we called it a day, cashing out just north of even. We went to the cage, got our money, and the realization hit us that our Not Sober-Fest weekend had come to an end. A few minutes later we were back at the airport saying our sad goodbyes, already counting down the days to March Madness.

Sticky waved goodbye as I drove away, and although I needed a nap before heading back to work again, I would've done it all over again the next day, given half a chance.

We had a great time.


A Quick Update

Hey Everybody!

Yes, I'm still alive, and I apologize for the delay in getting the second half of the NSF installment posted, but there are two issues at play here. Since I posted part one, I've been having *severe* technical difficulties at this end--my computer is having issues again--and I've been very short on time. I haven't been home much, and right now I'm in the middle of a six-day stretch at work, also. I will get the rest of it posted, but it looks like it may not be finished until Monday morning at the earliest. Sorry 'bout that.

Also, I've heard from two different people that the first installment has all kinds of visible html code and other crap scattered throughout the post making it difficult to read. On my end, it looks fine. I wrote it in MSWord and then just copied and pasted it over here, like I always do. Unfortunately, for some of you, it displays the editing code and such. Nothing I can do about that, except that Part II is being written on my Blogger dashboard input screen, so it's taking a bit longer--it's not the best word processor I've ever used. But it'll look 'normal' when it finally gets posted.

I would've liked to get it finished and posted today, but that's just not going to happen. My typical trip report usually takes about 10 hours or so behind the keyboard, and I just don't have a chunk of time like that set aside right now.

I also wanted to write a big post about the Cardinals winning the World Series, but again, time constraints keep me from doing so. Just know that I am extremely happy today, and yeah, I did a little celebrating and trash talking last night...

I went out with a bunch of friends once the work was done last night--it ended up being about 20 of us over at the local watering hole. And just as I was about to pass out from exhaustion, Stephanie walked in and joined me, so I stayed a couple hours longer than I probably should've. I finally crawled home around 8:30 this morning and went to bed, so I've done nothing but sleep all day.

George and Marlisha are also in town this weekend, and the plan was to do lunch and spend the day lounging around smoking a cigar or two and working our way through a bottle of premium rum. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted when I got home this morning that we re-scheduled for tomorrow, instead. The plan is lunch at the Elephant Bar over in The District at Green Valley, then maybe find a lounge with comfy chairs and cocktail service over at GVR for the balance of the afternoon before I head to work and they go to a party they're in town for.

So that's what's going on with me. As much as I'd love to hole up here behind my desk and write tons of stuff to keep everyone entertained, I actually have a life outside of my room, and it seems especially true this week. I'll get to it, eventually, but you'll just have to wait a little longer than usual, that's all.



Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Sticky Mess, Part I

Ok gang, I'm going against my code, but I've gotten so much grief about posting a trip report that I'll go ahead and give it to you in installments. Here is part one of Not Soberfest 2006:

My Not Sober-Fest weekend began on Friday afternoon at 1:30. I was to meet Marty and the gang at Grand Luxe CafĂ© at the Venetian for a kickoff lunch. I arrived on time and shortly thereafter saw Marty lurking around. While we were chatting it up next to the slot machines, Shock walked up and introduced himself. Kikky called, saying her and Silversmiff were running late and to just go ahead and get a table and they’d catch up to us.

We waited just a few minutes before they led us way back deep into the bowels of the restaurant and hid us in the corner away from the proper guests. Apparently somebody had tipped them off.

Our waiter came by and introduced himself, and Marty and I, both ill-mannered louts, couldn’t help but laugh at the guy. He was the most overtly stereotypical gay man you could possibly imagine. Seriously, the guy who plays “Just Jack” on Will & Grace looked like Charlie Sheen at the Playboy Mansion compared to our waiter. He was just a little too eager to put the napkins in our laps, and when we stopped him from doing so, he looked genuinely hurt.

As far as the meal goes, I can’t remember what everyone else ordered, but I stuck with my Asian Nachos and a Coke.

Kikky and Silversmiff found us after a few minutes, and we had a pleasant conversation over lunch. I happened to say something about how I wished Angy was there, and before I knew it, she had called. We passed the phone around the table, and before the meal was over, frequent flyer miles were used up, a ticket was booked, and Angy was on our way to join us! Woo hoo—Party on, Garth!

Marty insisted on paying the lunch tab with his winnings from the dice tables if we would cover the tip. Sounded like a bargain to me, so I think my meal at the Grand Luxe cost me a grand total of about four bucks. Nice.

We all had to go our separate ways after lunch, so we split up, agreeing to meet up at Paris at 9:30 that evening for our party bus ride.

I headed home, threw some laundry in the washer, and packed a bag with a clean shirt or two, a jacket, and a couple other essentials just in case I didn’t make it home that night.

Sticky’s flight landed at around 5:30, so I got to baggage claim a few minutes before she did. We found her suitcase without too much trouble and before we knew it we were heading to NYNY with Elvis tunes blasting on the cd player. Welcome to Vegas!

There was no line at the registration desk at NYNY, and it took us a grand total of five minutes before we had keys in hand. I was dying of thirst, ready for my first beer, but we had to wind our way around to the Chrysler tower. The elevator bank is right next to the Zumanity Theatre in the rear of the food court, and everyone was lining up and waiting for them to open the doors. As we were cutting through the line, I said something along the lines of ‘Damn, them nekkid acrobats sure are popular’ which earned a chuckle or two.

The room was damn near on the penthouse level, way up on the 35th floor. Luckily it was literally ten steps from the elevator, although the view of the I-15 interchange was less than ideal.

We dropped off the bags, changed clothes, and headed back downstairs. The first order of business was to get a beer, so we went back to the lobby bar for a couple of bottles of suds. Then it was off to find a penny machine that would become Sticky’s personal ATM for the weekend.

Video penny slots are a total f*cking mystery to me—I have no idea what pays what, and I can’t tell the difference between a winning screen that pays a thousand credits or a losing screen that takes all your money and leaves you feeling a little violated. But Sticky is a pro, and found one of her favorite Money Storm machines, so we sat down. Part of her package she got for the weekend was $100 in free play, but it was activated by your first cash bet. So we put $5 in the machine and in about half an hour we’d built it up to over $160, with half of her free credits still unused.

Cocktail service was good, and we’d had a few beers in us before moving on and wandering about the casino. We hit a few more machines before deciding to head down to Paris, and I think Sticky was up $175 after the first couple of hours.

We cabbed it down to Paris and did a bit of walking around and browsing in the shops and such. I tried to convince Sticky to play some Pai Gow with me, but she insisted that she’s a slot freak and didn’t think she’d like table games. We tried for a few minutes, but she wasn’t into it. I, however, made about $50 and gladly cashed out. We wandered over to the sportsbook to use the restrooms, and while I was waiting outside for her, I got a text message from Kikky saying “Party Bus is HERE!”

So I stuck my head inside and yelled, “Hey Sticky, the bus is here!!!” which earned me a few confused looks from all the ladies standing around inside. She emerged a few minutes later, and our chariot was awaiting us outside. Not everyone had arrived just yet so we didn’t climb in right away, but when we saw Marty and Tonya walking down the sidewalk toward us, the party was on.

We climbed aboard and realized that there was the party bus was stocked with nothing but ice and plastic cups. What the…? So we told our driver to get us to a liquor store post-haste. We ended up at the one across the street from the Hard Rock, and we poured out like a bunch of kids on a field trip needing to use the facilities. We descended upon the liquor store like locusts and stripped the shelves not-quite-bare, grabbing bottles of The Captain, some mixers, and a few smugglers worth of tequila and bourbon.

Back on the bus, the party mix cd was cranked up, and Marty started pouring the drinks. Much dancing, drinking, and general buffoonery ensued as we made our way up and down the Strip. Well, I think it was the Strip. We could have been circling the parking lot at the Motel 6 on Tropicana and wouldn’t have known any better. Eventually we found our way to the airport, and a few minutes later Sin bounded up the steps, downed a quick Corona and started grinding on every available lap.

We drove around some more, made a few drunk dial phone calls, had another drink or two, and before long we were back at the airport for my third time that day. Sticky, Sin, and I went up to baggage claim to fetch Angy, and Marty was kind enough to pour a nice and strong Captain and Diet for our latest guest of honor. Gotta love the T2V crew takin’ care of each other at the airport—the rest of the fellow travelers at the baggage claim were very jealous of the booze delivery.

But we got out of there again, and spent another hour or so driving up and down the strip, looking at the pretty lights, dancing, drinking, and yelling random obscenities and propositions out the windows to people on the sidewalk. At some point, the Sharpies made an appearance, and several of our crew were sporting home-made tattoos. My personal favorite was the one on Sin's breasts that said "Doc Al Was Here". We also made it down to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign for a few pictures before wrapping up our limo ride.

We got dropped off at Harrahs, and gave Angy’s luggage to the bell desk. Sticky and I were fairly drunk by that time, and the lunch from several hours earlier was long digested, leaving me nothing in the tummy to filter all of the alcohol through. She hadn’t eaten all day, so our mission at hand was to find something to grub on. Unfortunately, there is no quick food available at Harrahs. So we wandered up to O’Sheas. On the way up there, I saw Scotty Nguyen and his wife walking towards us on a collision course, so I gave him the ‘Hey Scotty! What’s up?’ as we walked by. He patted me on the shoulder and said ‘Good to see you, Mikey!’

Actually, I made that last part up. I only met him once before—we shared an elevator one time back in the day, he just said ‘Hey Bro…’ But he*did* pat me on the shoulder…

Anyhow, we eventually found our way to O’Sheas and had some pretty shiatty pizza. It filled the hole, so we can’t complain too much. But I had better back in my high school cafeteria.

After we ate, we went to look at the tables, thinking they might have a $3 craps game going, because Sticky wanted to try dice, but only on a low low low limit table. Unfortunately, as big of a dump as O’Sheas is, their craps game was a $10 minimum. Oh yeah, Mandalay Bay minimums with Westward Ho ambiance. No thanks… We left, went back to Carnaval Court and found ourselves on the dance floor a few minutes later grinding away with strangers and friends.

A couple of previously unknown hotties were groping me and being naughty, and it turns out that it was Cheran and her friend Jamie. We got a few drinks, did a little dancing, and then eventually a bunch of us decided to take a break from dancing and just grabbed a table.

I still had a couple of Sharpies in my pocket from the limo ride/tattoo fest, and Cheran had those damn nametags she threatened to bring like we were a church bingo group on a tour of Graceland. But between us, we came up with a few pretty funny nametags to stick on each other and a few more on random passers-by. Sticky had a couple that said “If found drunk, please return to Canada” and “New Sugar Mama”. I gave Angy one that said “Old Sugar Mama” and she was none too pleased. Jamie had one that said “Buy Me A Drink” and “You Know You Want Some of THIS”.

I ended up with one stuck on my zipper that said ‘Sticky was here all night!’ which, like a dumbass, I forgot about until several hours later when a dealer at NYNY asked me what was on my crotch…

I can’t remember what we put on Cheran, but rest assured that it was off-color and somewhat humorous. We also stuck one on Silversmiff that said “Chicks Dig Me” which seemed extremely funny at the time.

We also played a little blackjack—the $15 limits pretty much turned everyone off on playing, so after an hour or so they lowered the table limits to five bucks and that got us involved. Sticky actually won a few bucks, and I won over a hundred, so it was nice to cash out with some small wins before calling it a night. Angy got up to use the bathroom, and a few minutes later she was hanging over the rail behind us telling us that they wouldn’t let her back in.

Apparently, we’d closed the joint down. Somehow in the course of the evening, we’d lost Kikky, Sin, and Marty (later finding out that they were hungry too and went to Ellis Island), so Angy, Sticky, and I headed back to NYNY.

We wandered a bit, stopped in the Big Apple in front for a couple of drinks, and I won a quick ten bucks while waiting for my ‘free’ drink for playing the VP machine. I cashed out, and Sticky and I went to find a Pai Gow table. Angy had two guys hitting on her there in the bar, so she stayed behind to drink free and tease them a little.

We made a few bucks at pai gow, but after an hour, we were spent. We cashed out, hit the cage (I won again), and headed for the room. Angy stumbled in sometime later, but had managed to ditch her suitors. We got a (very) little bit of sleep, but woke up again the next morning around eleven, raring to go.

After getting dressed and such, back downstairs we went, in search of a decent meal. I’ve wanted to try America there at NYNY, because lots of people have been singing its praises over the years.

We were seated immediately, but our server was obviously none to happy about it. Sticky ordered coffee and I ordered a Coke. But NYNY is a Pepsi joint, so he brought me out two glasses of that vile shiat. I ended up sharing Sticky’s coffee with her. We waited for-frickin-ever to get our food, and the damn waiter even dropped off the bill before our food ever made it to the table.

Sticky had a club sandy and fries, while I had a roast beef with horseradish mayo on rye. I asked them to add a slice of Swiss cheese, but it was delivered with both Swiss and American. The top slice of bread was also stale and dried out, too. I would’ve complained, but our waiter never came back to the table once he delivered the food. The sandwich had potential, except for the ungodly amount of red onions piled up on it, but I scraped them off.

The bill came to about $25, and we left the waiter a more-than-deserved $1.40 tip. Dirtbag. Overall, I’d say our experience at America was pretty crappy. I probably won’t be going back there again anytime soon.

After our meal, we fetched the truck from the valet and headed down to Treasure Island. I’m thinking of staying there for March Madness, and was hoping to give them a little action and maybe get some room offers in the mail. Sticky also wanted to maximize her play at MGM/Mirage properties, so it seemed like the place to spend the day. We wandered around quite a bit looking for suitable penny machines to play, and settled on one that she’d hit on previous trips, some dolphin-themed machine she referred to as ‘Marty’. But the dolphins were not in a giving mood, and we lost a few bucks before moving on.

We bounced around the casino, trying different slot machines, but we found no success. I finally convinced Sticky to give the green-felt games another try, and we found seats at one of my favorite $10 Pai Gow tables. Sticky was a little less intimidated by this time, and after awhile she was doing really well, even helping out some of the other players when they had questions with setting their hands.

She also liked the fact that cocktail service was a little more frequent at the tables than it was on the slot machines, although after a couple of hours I switched to bottled water due to the fact that I had to drive.

We camped out at that same Pai Gow table for a few hours, but eventually figured we should probably get back and find out what Angy was up to and also prepare for our evening at the Rio with the rest of the Buffoons. I actually made about $80 profit there at Treasure Island, so my winning streak there remains intact.

We colored up, cashed out, and hit the road. I just dropped Sticky off at NYNY—she said she needed a nap, while I took off and headed home—I needed a change of clothes, a shower, and my phone charger. I got home and cleaned up, packed a bag, checked messages, etc. Just as I was about to hop in the shower, my phone was ringing, and it was Sticky calling to tell me that she put $5 into that same Money Storm machine and cashed out for $150. Woo hoo! Yep, that whole nap idea went out the window.

I was back at the hotel less than two hours later, cleaned up, pretty, and smelling good. I dropped off my bag in the room and we decided that this time we should probably eat some dinner before our night of debauchery. We wandered around the casino a bit, undecided as to where we should go, before finally settling on Gonzalez y Gonzalez, the Mexican joint at NYNY. We put our name on the list and only had to wait about ten minutes for a table.

To be continued...

Gettin' My Grub On

Yes gang, not to worry, I've been writing a bit of a trip report, and spent most of the afternoon yesterday working on it.

But I took a break from the keyboard and spent some time on the grill. One of my roommates was talking it up the night before, and we grilled some brats and beer. So yesterday I did a little grocery shopping and picked up a few items.

Von's had some huge filets on sale this week, so I got a couple of them already marinated in roasted garlic and onion. I also stopped by the service deli and picked up a couple of cartons of macaroni salad and potato salad. We rounded it off with a loaf of fresh garlic bread in the oven. Oh hell yeah...

It would've been nice to open a bottle of Pinot, but Mikey has no wine glasses. Instead, I went the Michelob Light route instead. And somehow, the green salad took up the smallest amount of real estate on the plate. And we totally forgot about the shrimp cocktail ring I'd picked up--it's still sitting in the fridge.

But it was an extremely enjoyable meal--we used the charcoal grill instead of the gas grill and damn, it sure was tasty.

While we were sitting there at the kitchen table our other, old-hippie roommate came in and started making cinnamon rolls. He's sort of a vegetarian and only eats weird stuff for the most part so Brad was messing with him and asked--Hey Bob you want a steak? Knowing that he'd turn it down, of course. He didn't, saying he was full from dinner. We asked where he had dinner and he told us some Vegan-style restaurant which I'd never heard of (and will clearly never make the list). So we asked Are you a Vegan or just a vegetarian?

He answered with Neither, pause, I'm a spirit living in a human body...

Alrighty then... Koo-Koo Ka Choo! Glad we got that settled... And apparently, "spirits" have a two-pack a day smoking habit...

Anyhow, dinner was excellent, regardless of our freaky roommate lurking about, and it was a lot of fun to cook a nice meal at home for once. Today's meal won't be nearly as elaborate--I'll be chowing in the teammember's dining room at the casino. Let's see, it's Thursday, it'll probably be fettuccini alfredo with grilled chicken.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Today's Sign of the Apocalypse

Clearly the World is Not Enough. Somebody please stop her.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Hey Gang.

Rumors of my demise are a bit premature, and happily I am no longer on my deathbed. I got home from work around 2:30 this morning, and after eleven hours of recovery, I have crawled out and re-joined the living.

Once I get some food in me, drink a couple of gallons of water, and dump all of the smoke-scented laundry into the washing machine, I'll try and sift through the wreckage of the previous four days and come up with some sort of coherent reporting of the activities.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Cards Win!

Man, Thursday night was just fantastic all around. First of all, my Cardinals beat the NY Pond Scum Mets in a classic Game Seven. We're goin' back to the World Series, baby!

The thing was, during the ninth inning of the game, I was dealing a $50 blackjack game with my back to all the TVs in the bar, so the floorperson and the guy playing at my table were giving me the play-by-play because I couldn't turn around and watch. It was absolutely killing me, hearing everyone cheering and screaming and not being able to turn around and see what was going on.

But the absolute worst was the end of the game--I could feel the tension--everyone was glued to the tv, and there I was dealing my game, and knowing that the bases were loaded with Mr. Cardinal Killer, Carlos Beltran, at the plate.

The first two strikes were reported accurately to me, and I was getting excited, but when strike three came, the floorguy standing next to me yelled Beltran hits a home run--Mets win! just to be a dick. I almost collapsed in a heap right there on the floor, but him and the player at my table were laughing and high-fiving, then fessed up that they were just messing with me. Damn near killed me. But right then there was a lull in my blackjack game so I took a quick peek over my shoulder to see all the Cardinal players celebrating on tv, so I knew they'd won. Whew.

How about Wainwright's nasty curveball on strike three? Wow...just a sick pitch!

Even better--no teams from New York are going to the World Series! Hey, East Coast media--Suck it!

Ok, but now they go to Detroit and are a *heavy* underdog. I don't care. I'll still root for them right up until the bitter end. Because you just never know... Go Cardinals! Man, what I wouldn't give to be in St. Louis right now. I'm telling you, that city just has the greatest vibe ever when the Cards are in the post-season. I can't describe it, but those that have lived there know exactly what I'm talking about. What a great time to be a Cardinal fan!

Whew... I think I got that out of my system. Pardon me for being excited, but damn, that's my favorite sports team of all time... I can't help it.

As far as work goes, it was a busy night for your humble scribe. I was stuck on one single blackjack table almost all night long--a $50 shoe game. But I only had one player all night long--just me and him for six hours straight. And he was a dream player--somebody known as an Uber-George. He sat down just as I was opening the the table at 8:00 pm and asked the floorperson if we could make it a $50 game instead of a ten-dollar minimum to limit the doofusses that walk up. The bosses said yes, so it was just him and I for the long haul. And as soon as he got into positive territory, he always had me up for anywhere between $5 and $25 per hand. Oh hell yeah. We started with an empty toke box, and by the time I left the table at 2:20 in the morning, it was about three-quarters full, and I lost count of what I dropped somewhere north of $700. And he kept leaning over the table looking at the toke box and saying, Nope, not full enough yet--guess I'll have to keep playing!

The bosses want us to deal about 450 hands per hour on a shoe game, but damn, I was just flying. I must've been pushing 600 hands an hour with this guy. Fastest blackjack game ever--the only thing slowing me down was all the time I had to take to drop tokes in the box.

Not only was this guy taking care of us--we had a couple other of our favorite players on the dice tables tonight, dropping huge money for us. The dice dealers dropped so much money that we had to change out the toke boxes before the shift was over--they had so many checks in them that we couldn't squeeze anymore in. I'm hoping that because of all that we end up somewhere north of $200 for the night. That would be most excellent.

Finally, about twenty minutes to three, they moved me to dice for the balance of the shift. It was a busy game, and I haven't dealt dice with a lot of action in probably two months. But all was well and I did fine. In fact I really enjoyed it--it was a nice change of pace from all the time I've spent in Chinatown these past couple of months.

I finally punched out at 4:00 am, and now I'm pretty beat. I've got to get a few hours of sleep, then I'm meeting Marty, Shock, and Kikky for lunch at the Grand Luxe. Then I kill some time before picking up Sticky at the airport around 5:30 or so this evening. After that, it's all going to be a blur.

Time to get some rest.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Gonna Be a Good Day, Tater!

Yesterday I got plenty of much-needed rest, and went to bed at a reasonable hour. So I was wide-awake at 5 am this morning, checking the email, surfing the net, and listening to Mike & Mike on tv.

And around 5:20 my phone started ringing. Only one person calls me at those oddball hours, and that's my friend Stephanie. We chatted for a few minutes, and eventually she talked me into meeting her for cocktails. (Oh yeah, twist my arm...) She was just getting off work--she's a waitress down at a Strip resort--and wanted some company. Of course I was willing to provide it...

So I put on some pants, did a swish of Listerine (I remembered to spit it out this time), and gave myself a once-over with some of that Tag body spray. Ten minutes later we were happily pissing away ten bucks in the video blackjack machine and sipping on 'free' drinks. Ultra for her, Baily's and coffee for me after my first Newcastle. We had a great visit for about an hour or so before she had to go and drop off the car she was borrowing back at her parent's house.

We haven't hung out together in months--she'd been dating someone, so I didn't hear from her for awhile. But she told me that it's over now. I kind of figured that was the case when my phone started ringing again in the middle of the night these past couple of weeks.

But it's all good. Most of the chicks I've met in this town have tons of baggage, and she is refreshingly issue-free. Of course we're just friends and all--she could have any guy in this town she wanted, but it's certainly nice to have a 'normal' person to hang out with. I just wish we had the same days off. Since we don't, it's early morning drinks or breakfast only.

So I settled up with the bartender, and came back home just as the sun was starting to light up the valley.

I had a mild case of the munchies when I got home, so I've been sitting here nibbling on a unique snack. Yesterday when I was at Target, I picked up a couple of bags of Archer Farms nuts. The most interesting one was a pack of Chili-Lime Pistachios.

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

I dig pistachios anyways, but damn, these are tasty. If I owned a bar, I'd set bowls of these out, along with dried Wasabi peas. And I'd make a fortune on beer sales! It's not that they're hot, but they've got just enough zip to them to make them addictive. They're quickly becoming a new favorite.

Anyhow... I've got one more night of work before the next chapter of buffoonery begins, so I'll probably post some more tomorrow afternoon, and then after that, you might not hear from me again for a few days. Hopefully the digital camera is still working and can fill in the memory gaps come Sunday afternoon.

I've got no plans for the day except to do last-minute errands and rest up. Something tells me I'm gonna need it.


My Week 8 Tribute to Dazed & Confused

In honor of one of The Greatest Movies Ever Made, I shall incorporate, Sports Guy style, lines from Dazed & Confused into my Week Eight college picks.

1) You know that Julie chick? Loves you. You want her? Gotta play it cool, you know. You can't let her know how much you like her, cause if she knows, she'll dump you like that. Believe me. Like, if she asks you if you want a ride, you say, "No, I've got my own ride, but *maybe* I'll see you later." Sounds stupid, doesn't it? It works.

Dawson's timeless advice to Mitch at the Emporium is something that I seem to have forgotton when I've made my homey picks with Georgia these past several weeks. I really like those Dawgs, and I keep picking them, and they keep letting me down. I gotta play it a little more aloof this week and maybe they'll come around.

Mississippi State +18 over Georgia. The Dawgs will win, but only by 17 points.

2) I only came here to do two things, kick some ass and drink some beer. And it looks like we're almost out of beer.

I should've been riding the Wisconsin bandwagon earlier in the year--if I had been, I'd probably be in a more respectable position than 13th place in this pool. I'm guessing that the Badgers will toss the plastic cups, stumble away from the keg, and beat down the Boilermakers like a shirtless Clint when he pounded on that guy who played Chandler's roommate that time Joey moved out.

Wisconsin -6 over Purdue. *Pick of the Week*

3) Mitchy. Mitchy, mitchy, mitchy... Mitch Kramer! We're lookin' for you pal. Your ass will be purple before the day is over!

Ok, so Vanderbilt got lucky and beat Georgia in Athens last week. But it looks like a below-average team is set up perfectly for a let-down game, to the benefit of the Ol' Ball Coach. I see the Gamecocks running it up on the Commies, with the extra bonus of twisting the knife in Georgia's back.

South Carolina -3 over Vanderbilt.

4) Let me tell you what ol' Melba Toast is packin' right here. All right, we got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We're talkin' fuckin' muscle.

Both Texas and Nebraska are the gridiron equivalent of old-school muscle cars, although the Longhorns are stronger off the line and have breakaway speed. The Huskers lose their pink slip this weekend, and Wooderson couldn't be happier.

Texas -6.5 over Nebraska.

5) We're not in Junior High any more. We're freshmen. We're in the big time now... where the girls will be puttin' out all the time.

A completely overmatched Indiana team has to travel to the Big Horseshoe and spend four quarters getting kicked around by a superior Ohio State team that's gonna score more often than Randy 'Pink' Floyd at a moontower keg party with a bunch of drunk cheerleaders. Welcome to the Big Time, Hoosiers. If it weren't for the football game, you'd just be spending the day sporting a monster wedgie and being stuffed in a locker.

Ohio State -30.5 over Indiana

6) Slater: This place used to be off limits, man, 'cause some drunk freshman fell off. He went right down the middle, smacking his head on every beam, man. I hear it doesn't hurt after the first couple though. Autopsy said he had one beer, how many did you have?

Mitch: Four.

Slater: You're dead, man, you're so dead. Look at the blood stains right there.

One has to pity Tulane, going into Auburn for an SEC smackdown. Auburn wants to climb the BCS rankings pretty badly, so they'll take it out on the Green Wave and run it up. I hear it doesn't hurt after the first couple of touchdowns, though.

Auburn -32 over Tulane.

I'm hoping to do a little better than 3-4 this weekend. If not, than you can just bust out the Soul Pole and call me O'Bannion.

Dawson: Did you hear that O'Bannion flunked?

Randy: Yeah, what a dumbshit.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Scratch One More

Even though I work the swing shift, I'm still a morning person. And as such, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day--if I'm going to cook, usually it'll be breakfast. I haven't cooked dinner in months, usually deferring those duties to the staff in the employee dining room at the casino, and sometimes instead of dinner I'll have them grill me up a bacon/egg/cheese sandwich instead. I generally hate buffets--an odd outlook in a town full of excellent buffets from somebody who enjoys eating as much as I do--but I'll go to a breakfast/brunch buffet without too much argument.

Interestingly enough, when I posted that huge list of all the restaurants I'd like to try here in Vegas, there were very few breakfast places. Except for one notable exception--Hash House A Go Go. And when reader Clint (some of you might be more familiar with him as Jolly Green Giant) shot me an email last week offering to cover the tab for crossing it off the list, of course I happily accepted his invitation.

Our plan was to meet up at the sportsbook bar at the Orleans at 11:45, and he'd even made a reservation for us at 12:15. He even offered to drive, but since he was kind enough to pick up the lunch tab, I couldn't make him do that too, so we took my truck. The restaurant was a quick less-than-ten-minute drive from the Orleans, and we got there with time to spare. Our reservation wasn't needed--we were seated immediately.

The restaurant itself was much smaller than I expected, and I was surprised to see that the bar up front was notably video poker-free, definitely unexpected in this city. As soon as we sat down, the first order of business was to order drinks. Clint had mango iced tea, while I went with an iced praline latte.

It came in a tall glass with a generous portion of whipped cream on top, and I enjoyed it just as much as any pretentious venti-sized offering from Starbucks, minus all the save-the-planet angst.

I had time to check out their menu online beforehand, but was still undecided as to what I was going to order. We saw one of our fellow patrons happily digging his way through a blueberry pancake that was about the size of your average hubcap, and another one eating salad from a bowl so big that it looked like it originally featured fixtures for hot and cold water and a drain in the bottom.

But that's not what I was in the market for. When our waiter listed the daily specials, one in particular caught my attention. It was called a Boston Scramble. It featured potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and cheese, topped with huge crab cake that was drizzled with a horseradish cream sauce, with scrambled eggs, a homemade biscuit, and fruit on the side. It sounded pretty damn good to me, so that's what I went with. It arrived piping hot in a huge iron skillet.

Clint wasn't in the mood for breakfast, and he went with the one-pound double-cheeseburger with bacon, and a side of macaroni and cheese. It looked pretty tasty, too.

Although the food was pretty good, there were a few minor quibbles--the bun on that huge burger wasn't hefty enough to handle the patties, and was pretty much a crumbled mess after just a couple of bites. And the potatoes used in my scramble were cut way too big--I prefer smaller diced home-fry style potatoes, and these were just huge chunks--like they just quartered a bunch of spuds and threw them in the skillet. When the chunks are that big, they don't hold much flavor and it's just like eating huge starch ball. No thanks. Because of that, most of the potatoes remained uneaten after all the veggies, fruit, and other goodies were polished off.

And even though I just took a swipe at Starbucks pretentiousness, Hash House A Go Go is also guilty. Breakfast food is simple food, and they go out of their way to try and add descriptiveness to some ingredients that just sound ridiculous out of context. We all know what Roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes are. But they insist on calling all of their tomatoes 'market' tomatoes. Whatever. They were just plain old tomatoes.

But my favorite epicurean adjective was the 'airline' chicken breasts. I have no idea what that means, but they looked pretty much like regular earthbound chicken breasts to me. Reading clownish descriptions like that on the menu reminded me of one of the funniest lines ever uttered by Homer Simpson, in the episode where the navy recruiters/village people were singing their lyrics backwards, loaded with subliminal messages.

To paraphrase--

Lisa: Dad, I don't understand what they're saying--what are they singing about?

Homer: Oh it's nothing Lisa, those are just nonsense words they put in songs that don't really mean anything, like rama-lama ding dong or Give peace a chance...

Anyhow, minor quibbles aside, it's decent food, aside from the pomposity of the menu. And while the food, service, and ambiance were good, the company was even better while Clint and I had a great visit while noshing our 'twisted farm food'.

Not wanting to eat the equivalent of three baked potatoes, I didn't quite finish all of my meal, but Clint did a little better and earned himself probationary membership in the Clean Plate Club.

The bill arrived, and the total tab came to $35. Not the cheapest meal I've ever had, but not too painful on the wallet, either. Even though the portions are huge, I still don't think it's that great of a value--I still think you get more bang for your buck at the Peppermill. But the restaurant is certainly worth a visit, and maybe even worth a return visit. But next time I'm ordering something without so many damn potatoes.

After our meal, we had an afternoon to kill. I didn't want to come to the table emptyhanded, so I brought along two of my favorite Partagas #10s to smoke, so our next order of business was to find a couple of comfy chairs and some cocktail service, and we headed back towards the Orleans. On the drive back, we made one quick stop for a few minutes of window shopping, and we got to put our hands on a couple of items on those wish lists I posted a few days back.

Once we got back to the Orleans, we headed back to the sportsbook lounge, lit up the cigars, and had a few drinks while enjoying pleasant conversation and the Vegas vibe going on around us.

It was a great afternoon and one of the better days off I've had in the past few weeks.

Oh, and to top it all off, the Cardinals beat the Mets last night, too. That was better than dessert.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Smartest Guy in the Windy City

Woo Hoo! My weekend is here--I left work an hour early just to get a head start. Well, that, and it was pretty slow in the casino. I spent an entire hour sitting at a dead Pai Gow table watching SportsCenter on one of the plasma TVs 30 feet away in the Gaudi Bar. And truth be told, I've actually got two weekends this week. I go back on Thursday for one day, then I'm taking some floater/vacation days off for Friday and Saturday when Sticky and Marty come to town. Word around the campfire is that there will be some sort of party-bus/limo type of buffoonery on Friday night, but the details are sketchy.

Anyhow, after I pulled the Eject handle last night, I scurried out before they could change their mind. I got to the roof of the parking garage and dang near instantly froze my ass off. Of course, 3:00 am is probably the coldest time of day, but the wind was howling up there on the fifth floor, chilling me enough that I actually buttoned up my flannel shirt (several of which have now made an appearance for the first time since last February). It reminded me of the three bitterly cold winters I spent in Rexburg Idaho, where no matter which direction you walked, the wind was always in your face. Can't say I miss that place very much.

It was still breezy down at ground level when I got home, making me miss my old condo back in Phoenix with it's fireplace--perfect for nights like this. Hopefully this wind doesn't bring a storm with it though. That's one thing I've learned from all these years living in the desert. If the wind doesn't stop blowing, expect a storm to follow. I'm hoping that the weather doesn't dampen our buffoonery this weekend, that's all.

And speaking of the Windy City, how about them Chicago Bears? Gotta love how they came back and beat the hapless Cardinals. But good teams always find a way to win, and Chicago is a great team this year. And the corollary is true also--bad teams always find a way to lose, and I've been watching the Cardinals choke away games and seasons for years. I was the least surprised person in the casino when the final gun went off. (In fact, I was a season ticket holder for a few years and was present at the last Cardinals game that was featured on Monday Night Football back in 1999--it was the game that ended Steve Young's career). Earlier in the evening, I was in the break room, sharing a table with four or five other dealers and watching the game in the fourth quarter when the Cardinals were up by 13 points. I believe my exact words were Don't worry, I guarantee that Arizona will find a way to blow this game. Mark my words...

Of course, less than an hour later, they proved my point and everyone reminded me that I called it.


But Chicago was favored by 13 points, and although they came back and won the game, they didn't come close to covering the spread, much to the chagrin of thousands of gamblers here in Las Vegas. But the sports books were thrilled--they made a killing.

After my god-awful performance this weekend, I was very tempted to go large on Chicago and make it all back at once. But for whatever reason, I forgot about it on Sunday night, having been patting myself on the back all evening for not making the bet against the Raiders that I had planned on doing (if I had, I would've lost, again, because the Raiders covered). Anyhow, when I got up yesterday around noon, I was very tempted to run down to the bank, take out a hundy and go bet it on the Bears, thinking I'd make some extra cash before the weekend. But this time my inherent laziness saved the day. I just didn't want to go down to work twice in one day.

So, when the game kicked off, I was lamenting the fact that I didn't get a bet in, but very soon thereafter I was sooooo glad that I didn't. The Cards jumped all over them right out of the gate, and had I made the bet, I would've been down 33 points at halftime.

Talk about dodging a bullet!

But the Arizona Cardinals, historically being the most inept franchise in the entire NFL, proved once again that they can't be taken seriously as a team. Denny Green is Dead Man Walking as far as coaches go, and my only hope is that Matt Leinart didn't sign a long contract. He's gonna be great some day and deserves to be on a real team.

Anyhow, I just feel especially lucky for *not* betting on them like I'd planned on doing all weekend.

But now the weekend is behind us and we can avoid football talk for a few days. I've got to get a couple of hours of sleep, and then I'm meeting up with one of my readers over at the Orleans. We're then heading over to Hash House A Go-Go for lunch. I can't wait to try it--it's been on my list for a long time.

I'll have a full review later this evening.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Forgot One

Apparently, a very small minority of readers (as in, ONE) took exception to my posting of gun pictures the other day. But shooting really is a fun hobby that I enjoy, and things that interest me, and obviously several of my readers, are things that I'm going to continue writing and posting about. And I certainly get more interest in this than my sorry-assed football picks every week.

With that in mind, let's move on.

When I posted my new wishlist the other day, I made a glaring omission. You can't have just one military-style rifle, and although the M-1 (not the Garand, but Springfields's civilian version of the military's M-14), is probably the rifle I'd buy if I could only have just one. But blasting pumpkins and such with .308 ammo can get pricey, so having an automatic on hand that shoots cheap ammo has an appeal all it's own.

So I'm adding an AR-15 to the list. And it's an evil black rifle that anyone can own, not just gubmint agents or law enforcement types-- so it drives lefties crazy (always a bonus!). Here's a picture of a model I find especially appealing:

There are innumerable variations of the AR-15, which is basically a civilian model of the military's M-16, but this particular one is a Colt A3, Model MT6700C, firing the affordable .223 Remington cartridge with either a 55 or 62 grain bullet from the naughty end.

I've never been a fan of the black plastic Glock-style handguns very much at all--I think they're ugly, and to me they remind me of most mid-sized sedans offered for sale nowadays--besides being visually unappealing, they all look alike. That distaste for plastic also carries over to most rifles, but for some reason, I like the look of a 'traditional' AR-15. Even though it looks like it could've been built by Mattel, it's design is all-business.

I think owning one would pretty much complete the collection.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Midas Touch

Anyone remember the scene in A Bronx Tale, when Sonny made Eddie Mush go stand in the crapper while the kid was rolling the dice in the basement craps game, because Eddie Mush was the most unlucky guy in the world? Or when they were all at the track, their horse was leading at the first turn, the whole crew is excited, then Eddie Mush walks up, rooting for the same horse, and all the gangsters rip up their tickets and walk away before the race ends, because if Eddie Mush has picked the horse, it's a guaranteed loser--and thats exactly what happens--the horse falters on the home stretch and doesn't even show.

Remember that?

Well folks, as far as sports betting goes, I am the new Eddie Mush. I am the reverse Midas. Everything I've touched this week has turned to complete shiat. Or as Sonny might say, I can't even pick my own nose...

Lets start with college football. First of all, Georgia not only couldn't cover against Vanderbilt at home, they lost the game outright! I don't know how many of you follow SEC football and know what a laughingstock Vandy is when it comes to athletics, but there's a reason that Georgia scheduled them for their homecoming game. Of course I bet on the Bulldogs, and they got embarrassed. I think I heard that Vandy had a 53-game losing streak going against ranked teams. Not anymore. What a joke.

And then there is Louisville, a team whose bandwagon I've been riding all year. They've been blowing out everyone, and they were playing a weak Cincy team at home. So they were favored by 25 points--the game should've been a laugher, with a final score along the lines of 49-6 or something like that. Nope, they didn't even score 25 points total in the game, barely escaping with a slim victory--just the thing you should do the day before the first official BCS rankings come out. Morons.

And we can't forget about Iowa, a team that just a few weeks ago was feeling all butt-hurt about being left out of the national championship talk, then promptly got their asses handed to them by Ohio State. Hah. But they rebounded nicely by pounding Purdue by 30 points the next week, trying to salvage their season. So beating a 3-3 Indiana team should be an easy task, right? As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. Of course they lost outright yesterday, forget about even covering the spread.

But that brings us to Sunday. I'm fully aware that the NFL is the hardest sport to bet on. Even with all of the information available, with so much parity in the league, it's almost impossible to consistently bet the NFL with any degree of success. Even so, it's a lot of fun and every now and again you get lucky. After studying the matchups all week long and trying to figure which games I felt most comfortable with, I decided that the following three teams were most likely to win today:

Bills over the Lions
Rams over the Seahawks
Bengals over the Buccaneers

So I bought the appropriate parlay ticket on Saturday night.

As you may know, all three teams lost outright. But it gets even better--most of you know that St. Louis is home to my favorite teams, and after the Rams lost to the Seahawks earlier today, they are now 4-2 on the season. As much as I like the fact that they have a good record, I wasn't convinced that they were that strong, so I've only bet on them twice this year.

Those are the only two games they've lost.

So I guess that means if I don't bet on them again for the rest of the season, they'll go 14-2 and get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, right?

With that in mind, I have to wrap this up. I've got to hurry up and get down to the sportsbook and get a bet in on the Mets to win the World Series.


Friday, October 13, 2006

The Night Stalker

(Clicky for full sized goodness)

Have a great weekend, y'all!


NFL Week 6

I realized late on Sunday afternoon, while on my little blog-vacation last week, that I forgot to post my picks from last week. Sorry 'bout that, but I went 10-4, bringing my total for the year to 48-24. While I was in the sports book last night looking over this weekend's action, I saw that over 800 people went 14-0 last weekend, splitting up the weekly prize money for second place. Everybody got six bucks. I was not one of them.

This is my attempt at winning one stack of High Society this weekend.

1) Bills over the Lions. Lately I've been betting against the Bills and for the Lions. No wonder I can't win any money. I reverse the trend this week.

2) Panthers over the Ravens. Carolina is back doing what we expected, and McNair is throwing most of his passes like a chubby shortstop in an over-the-hill softball league making a play to first base from deep in the hole. Tough to pick up yards when the ball is two-hopped to the receiver.

3) Bengals over the Buccaneers. Bucs are in bad shape, Bengals are coming off of a bye after getting knocked around by New England, and they'll be ready.

4) Cowboys over the Texans. I'll still be happy if I lose this one. The downside would be the nonstop T.O. coverage on ESPN next week.

5) Falcons over the Giants. I'm still not convinced that the Giants are for real. And I don't really like them, either.

6) Saints over the Eagles. I'm probably gonna lose this one, but there's an upset every week, right?

7) Rams over the Seahawks. My Rams, at home, against a banged up Seattle. Gotta go with my team.

8) Redskins over the Titans. I admit, it gives me great pleasure to see the Titans suck so bad this year.

9) Steelers over the Chiefs. They're still the champs, right?

10) Jets over the Dolphins. Miami has no quarterback, and aside from the 41-0 ass-whipping they suffered last week, the Jets had been playing well.

11) Chargers over the 49ers. Oh yeah, this was a tough pick.

12) Broncos over the Raiders. This one too.

13) Bears over the Cardinals. I don't think anyone is picking the Cardinals to win this one. I just hope Leinert survives. My tiebreaker score for the game is 43. As in Bears 40, Cardinals 3.


Last Week: 10-4
Season: 48-24
Winning Percentage: .667

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Another Wish List

Since the ocean is still too far away from Las Vegas to indulge in my sailing hobby on a regular basis, one of my other favorite things to do, perfectly suited for living here, is shooting. Whether target shooting, practicing at the range, or putting down the beer can insurrection out in the desert, a gun is not only a useful tool (for any number of reasons), but it's also just a damn good time.

I've owned several rifles and handguns in the past, but financial circumstances forced me to sell when times were tight. Those days are behind me now, so now it's all about the aquisition. I don't want to end up with a Tackleberry-sized arsenal, but the following is enough to get me started.

Here is what I'd like to get:

First of all, a Browning Buckmark .22 pistol. Great looking gun, easy to shoot, and ammo is cheap cheap cheap. 500 rounds for less than ten bucks, and you can shoot all day no ill effects, like a sore hand.

The next thing I'd like to get is a Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP. I love the 1911-style .45s--it's probably my all-time favorite gun. But the Springfield GI-45 just chews up my hand. The Kimber is a more-than-suitable upgrade. Everybody who ones one, loves it.

A 1911 seems too hard to carry concealed--it is a large-framed gun, so for a carry piece, I'd love to get a Smith & Wesson Model 686 in .357. Yep, Nevada is a concealed-carry state, and I'd like to take advantage of that fact. Besides, a .357 is a fun gun to shoot. Gotta love the "boom" it makes, along with the huge jet of flame that comes out of the barrel when you pull the trigger.

A Winchester Defender 12 gauge shotgun is the ultimate home defense weapon. I used to have a Mossberg 500, but the barrel was too long and unwieldy--it was only good for shooting geese. I'm not a bird hunter, and I've never really got into trap and skeet, so the only shotgun I'd want to own would be one within easy reach in case somebody shows up in the middle of the night with evil intent. And the 'ch-chunk' sound when you pump a shell into the chamber is even more effective in stopping a crook in his tracks than a German Shephard with a bad attitude. You might not like the looks of this gun, but you'll wish you had one when the Zombies attack.

Of course, I can't be without a military-style rifle, and the Springfield M-1 fills that hole nicely. Not only is it a beautiful rifle, it delivers powerful .308 goodness out to 800 yards from the naughty end. Ever wonder what to do with all those pumpkins that go on sale dirt cheap the morning of November 1st? Here's your answer!

No arsenal is complete without a couple of old commie-style battle rifles. And truly, if the shiat ever hit the fan big time and it was time to load up the truck and bug out, this is the weapon of choice that I'd take with me every time, the Romanian version of the AK-47. Tough, reliable as hell, easy to clean, accurate enough to get the job done out to about 200 yards, and ammo is relatively plentiful and cheap. You can't break it, and it's a helluva lot of fun to shoot too.

Another truck gun that you can beat to hell and not worry about it ever *not* functioning is the AK's predecessor, the SKS. It uses the same wonderful 7.62 x 39 cartridge as the AK, but it's cheap, reliable as a hammer, and of course you gotta have a rifle with a bayonet on it. I'm partial to the Yugoslavian model pictured here.

And finally, the rifle I lust after the most, the CZ 527, chambered in .223 Remington. It's not a battle rifle, and not a particularly great hunting rifle, unless your quarry is groundhogs, rabbits, or squirrels. But it's beautiful, more accurate than the operator, and will consistently send rounds into the same exact hole downrange. Hopefully after the holidays, I'm going to join the Boulder City range, and on weekends they have smallbore matches. This is the rifle I'm going to use.

That's it for now, and if I had all of these guns, I'd pretty much be set. Of course, collecting guns is kind of like eating bbq potato chips. Once you start, it's pretty tough to stop.