Posts tagged Las Vegas
While watching the ball drop in Times Square last night, I got to thinking about the time Shannon and I went to see that happen in person years ago. This got me thinking about the remarkable life I’ve somehow lead over the past [insert obscure number to make my age seem insignificant] years.
So this morning I present: “the story so far.”
- Went to the top of the World Trade Center. (That’s where the photo above was taken.)
- Saw the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall on Christmas Day.
- Got engaged on the top of the Empire State Building.
- Saw a couple of Broadway shows.
- Visited Central Park, the zoo, and a few museums.
- We’ve driven as far north as New York (from Florida.)
- We’ve driven as far south as Key West (to the Southernmost Point.)
- Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- The Hollywood (aka Disney/MGM) Studios
- California Adventure
- Universal Studios Florida
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Islands of Adventure
- Busch Gardens Tampa
I’ve been to the Daytona 500 with my pal Joey Snackpants.
- Went white water rafting again the next year… in class five rapids.
- Drove to the top of Mount Evans (the highest paved road in the U.S.)
- Went tubing in Clear Creek near Golden, CO.
Other Washington D.C. adventures include:
- Did a tour of the White House during Christmas.
- Walked ALL of the Smithsonian Museums.
- Visited all the major monuments including the Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.
More Mexico zaniness that ensued:
- We went diving at Cenote Ik Kil Mexico (a giant sinkhole in the ground.)
- We ate tacos and drank beer and tequila.
- I went to a 24 hour Walmart with some friends. (Trust me; this counts as an adventure in Mexico.)
- We once saw the Spice Girls perform at Mandalay Bay.
- We saw Holly Madison’s real fake boobies in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood.
- We saw the Beatles Cirque de Soleil show “Love.”
- Going to the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower.
- Eating pizza (at Gino’s East.)
- Visiting that Art Institute and other local museums.
- Joey Snackpants and I crashed the Occupy Los Angeles protest and grabbed food in Chinatown.
- Shannon and I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway and saw the sights.
- Phoenix, Arizona. It was really boring both times I’ve been. Sorry.
- San Diego, California. We didn’t have much time there, but it seemed nice enough!
- Biloxi, Mississippi. Shannon won money in the casinos there. She still hasn’t let me forget that.
- Miami, Florida. More times than we can count. Food, fun, concerts and more.
- St. Louis, Missouri. I went there one business trip and saw the Cardinals play in series game while there.
Last Monday I wrote a post about the spoils from my travels over the past few years: my Starbucks mug collection. Today, though, is the collection in our house over ten years in the making… Shannon’s Hard Rock Cafe Teddy Bear collection.
I drink a lot of coffee and (as a result) I have a large collection of @Starbucks Global Icon Mugs (with pics!)1
Going to conventions around the U.S. is time consuming, but I get to meet a lot of great people and eat some pretty intense meals (Man v. Food, baby!) One thing that stays consistent, though, is my caffeine addiction – and the insane number of Starbucks locations in major cities.
Thus, I got into collecting the mugs from their Global Icon collection.
These fine drinking receptacles adorn some pretty neat-o Ikea hooks in our kitchen. My collection, though, is incomplete (as it relates to places we’ve actually visited.) Per this list, we still need:
- New Mexico
- New Orleans
- North Carolina
- Orange County
- San Antonio
- San Diego
- Washington DC (NOTE: I’ve ordered this one on eBay recently. Should be here any day now.)
For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Pawn Stars is a popular cable TV show on the History Channel about the goings on at the “World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop” in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show’s popularity is based, in part, on the unusual things that people will part with at a pawn shop when looking for some quick cash in Vegas. As a result, some pretty interesting items pass through the store.
With a couple of hours to kill, Shannon and I drove downtown to check the place out.
As clichéd as it sounds, the place looks bigger inside on TV. The lack of space didn’t stop us from having a great time, though. When we were there, we had a lot fun checking out some fairly nifty items. They had vintage soda machines:
And a ton of “Pawn Stars” merchandise.
That’s right! T-shirts, mugs, shot glasses and more. SOMEONE PAWNED ALL OF IT THERE FOR YOU TO BUY! </sarcasm>
With that said, yes – I bought a t-shirt.
I also spotted a cool late 70′s/early 80′s employee handbook for working at the now defunct Playboy Resort. Troy, a friend of mine, collects vintage items from the Hugh Hefner empire and after a couple of texts and emailed photos I picked it up for him. (Maybe he’ll blog about it at some point; the thing’s pretty cool.)
We did come close to dropping some cash on some really nice Batman animation art, but we decided to pass on doing so.
The short version: We saw Holly Madison’s real fake boobies.
That sentence, as strange as it reads, is correct.
The longer version: I am not a big gambler, so when I go to Las Vegas it is usually to enjoy the resorts, eat the food and see the shows. Since Shannon and I had already watched our obligatory Cirque entertainment for the trip, we decided to seek out a “Vegas Style” show.
FUN FACT: In 2007, we saw a show called Folies Bergère at the Tropicana as our first topless showgirl stage presentation. It seems we caught that one just in time.
SO – being a casual fan of the TV show The Girls Next Door and various MovieTickets.com ads, we opted to see Holly Madison perform in Peepshow at Planet Hollywood. The available discount tickets went from (approximately) $50, $75 to $100. The top level ticket was a private table for two right next to the stage which just sounded all kinds of awesome.
Two hundred dollars later we found ourselves about two feet from the stage. The proximity to the performers made, in my opinion, the money worth it. As the audience was getting to their seats for the show, we waited for the server to come to the VIP section so we could order a couple of drinks. A young lady made her way towards our direction in very high heals. You could tell that she wasn’t used wearing them because 1.) she wobbled as she took each step and 2.) she dropped her tray of drinks and sprayed a light shower of beer at our table and the table next to us.
Now, accidents happen. I get that and I am very patient when something like this occurs unintentionally. Where I LOSE MY PATIENCE is when I ask the local staff for a towel or something to wipe the liquid off of Shannon’s dress and my shirt before it soaks in and no one does anything. I got up and walked out to the lobby, explained what happened and that I needed something immediately. After almost two minutes of watching a dazed and confused staff, a girl from behind the concession counter brought out a dirty dish rag.
At that point, I was pissed. I told the employee that brought the rag to me that it wouldn’t suffice, and I that I needed to speak to a manager IMMEDIATELY. After ANOTHER five minutes, my patience was pretty much gone. The show was about to start, some dingbat server had spilled beer on myself and my wife, and no one working on the staff had enough brain cells to figure out how to find something as complicated as a clean towel or stack of napkins.
The manager finally came to the lobby. He was nice enough and I warned him that I wasn’t angry at him personally, but I was livid with the service. He jumped into action and immediately found me a couple of clean towels. I walked back to see Shannon and wiped up the remaining mess. She was a little shaken from the experience, but we both refused to let it ruin our evening.
Right before the show started, the manager appeared at our table with a bottle of chilled champagne and two glasses. He apologized directly to Shannon and asked her if there was anything she wanted off the drink menu. She selected something fruity and alcholic and, moments later, the manager returned with it… all on the house. CUSTOMER SERVICE WIN.
The show itself finally began. Peepshow is a clever mix of pop music, sexy outfits, fun stage props and some pretty talented folks. The male vocalist performing that night was exceptionally memorable… the dude has an amazing set of pipes on him.
The most off the wall number I remember: one of the ladies singing Milkshake (from Kelis) and pouring milk all over herself and then…
(wait for it…)
Jumping into a clear glass tub of milk with two other ladies and pressing their “bare assetts” against the glass to the music.
I could describe the other numbers (which we all just as much fun) but do yourself a favor: check out the show next time you’re in Vegas. It’s the type of adult show that really plays well to mainstream pop culture. You’ll have fun.
Back to Holly Madison – how was she in the show? She did a well enough job. The guy who sold us the tickets described it best when he said “she’s a living Barbie doll.” Aside from seeing the “real fake” boobies up close, there wan’t anything spectacular about her performance. She added to the fun by just being there, but not through anything out of the ordinary that she did on stage (with the exception of being topless at a couple points.)
Now for the bad: it seems that airbrushing is alive and well in the ads for the show. Holly had a very noticable pudge on her tummy - the type that either denotes early pregnancy or a undying love for cheeseburgers. Ironicly, I saw this on her Twitter after seeing the show:
If you perform in a nightly show as a professional, you take care of your talent. Vocalists conserve their voices; dancers practice their moves; actors run lines. Holly Madison’s one purpose in the show was to follow her blocking and look beautiful. She might want to consider that fact if she’s going to continue doing the show. I’m not trying to be “mean”… I’m just calling it as it is.
Overall Peepshow was a great experience and I would recommend it if you find yourself for some fun Vegas entertainment.
(aka The Vegas Vacation Part V)
Previous Man v. Food locations I’ve taken the time to visit:
- The NASCAR Cafe in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Shula’s Steak House in Miami, Florida
- Gladys Knight And Ron Winans’ Chicken And Waffles in Atlanta, Georgia
- The Jack-N-Grill in Denver, Colorado
- The Buckhorn Exhange in Denver, Colorado
- The Vortex in Atlanta, Georgia
That’s right, kids. We ate at two (TWO!) Man v. Food locations when we visited Las Vegas last month. I can safely say that this was EASILY one of the best meals I’ve had out of the seven eateries we’ve been to so far. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I love shellfish and I love spicy food. Walking in with this in mind made Hot N Juicy Crawfish an all around win from the start.
It should also be pointed out that we discovered, during our honeymoon, that Shannon thoroughly enjoys crawfish. She tried it for the first time when we drove through the bayou in Louisiana. (See this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomcroom/2082644345/)
If you look closely, you’ll note that one bag contains a potato and the other has a piece of corn. They put the vegetables in with the steam and the spice to soak it in, too. Another element not to miss in the photo? The table is covered with a plastic bag. When you’re partaking in serious shellfish action like this, they EXPECT you to make a mess. And we did:
In that mix is also a pound of shrimp seasoned the same way. The shrimp, in order to convey the freshness, are served with their heads still on. Have you ever seen a shrimp’s head? It’s disturbing. I had to remove them for Shannon before she’d eat them.
They call the seasoning I had on my crawfish and shrimp “Hot n Juicy Special.” Me? I call it EPIC. I would definitely go back the next time I’m in Vegas. It’s worth the excursion outside of the strip.
Added note: seriously, folks. The seasoning is epic.
Epilogue: I’m not kidding here. F***ing EPIC. For real. Go. Try some. Partake in the epicness.
FUN FACT: I lived in Orlando for almost a decade and never once went to see the Cirque Du Soleil – La Nouba show at Downtown Disney. I always meant to, but since it was always there I assumed I would just “get around to it” at some point. Getting around to it never happened, I now live in South Florida, and I only just got to see my first Cirque performance.
While in Las Vegas, we saw The Beatles LOVE at the Mirage.
So, why would we choose The Beatles themed show as our first foray into these shows? Simple: Shannon loves The Beatles. If there is anything that really proves that she was born about two decades too late it’s her fascination with the music of George, John, Paul and Ringo. Living in our generation, though, has allowed her countless hours of The Beatles: Rock Band, so, in my opinion, it all balances out.
I am familiar with and have a layman’s knowledge of the Beatles and their music. Who doesn’t? Growing up, though, my house wasn’t the most musically inclined environment. I remember my mom constantly reminding me that Elvis was the greatest and I recalled her not exhibiting much enthusiasm for the Fab Four. When I saw her for Thanksgiving last month, I asked her why she didn’t like the Beatles. Her face grimaced at the mention of their name and she explained to me that “The Beatles thought all American girls were twits and looked down on them. They were very pompous.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why there is chocolate and vanilla.
Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas: I got up early one morning and walked from the Luxor to Tix 4 Tonight (the Vegas equivalent of New York’s TKTS) to snag our seats for the show. Tickets for where we planned to sit usually run about $130, but we scored a great pair for $95 each. Needless to say, for almost $200 worth of tickets I was really expecting something spectacular.
Happily, The Beatles LOVE lived up to the price of admission.
The show is presented in a theater in the round format where the audience surrounds the stage and everyone watching is presented with the entertainment from differing angles. It’s hard to describe the layout and we weren’t allowed to take pictures. So the photo you see here doesn’t exist:
As you can see we had GREAT seats. We were dead center and high enough up to see the full show. If you ever go see a Cirque show, don’t worry about being close to the stage. If you’re TOO close, you will miss out on the variety of things taking place during the performance.
There is so much to describe from The Beatles LOVE that I could write an entire blog dedicated strictly to the details: the sound system in the theater, the retracting drapery screens, the lighting, the fiber optic rain, the remote control props, the break away sets, the shadow puppetry, the giant cloud sheet in the audience, the cool disappearing effect of the giant cloud sheet in the audience… it goes on and on.
Two of the most delightful elements of the show came in form of the performers and the music.
The performers are a site to behold. Just watching the focus on their faces as they perform feats achieved through years of near perfect physical perfection and coordination is something that can mesmerize even the most stoic observer. Looking at the ripped muscles on their physique immediately made me feel like I had somehow failed human evolution because I wasn’t as awesome as them. The dancing, the webbing and sheer acts of acrobatic amazement made the show something you just couldn’t take your eyes off. I mean, they even had rollerblading on half pipes live on stage, people!
The music was cleverly selected. Did I know all of it? Nope. THAT is the genius to it, though. The writers and creators didn’t just go the easy route with the dozens of pop hits to choose from. The music of The Beatles is an eclectic mix spanning decades, and a number of selected tunes were obviously during the experimental drugged up years. The song choices played directly to the narrative and worked in concert with the stage presentation to make you feel carried along in an experience. It was an audio and visual bonanza that serves less to tell a story and more to create a feeling.
If the other Cirque du Soleil shows are HALF of what The Beatles LOVE was, I may have to take the drive back to Orlando sooner rather than later.