Tuesday, December 26, 2006

There Is No "Xmas" in "Las Vegas"

So the wife and I took the desolate I-15 to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend. For a lotta reasons, since you ask. One, attendance drops in that town as Christmas people prepare for the holidays so there are bargains to be snapped up. We got a room at the Golden Nugget for $29 a night. Two, Vegas is almost completely Xmas free. Sure there are Santa hats here and there, and a few shows throw in token nods to the holidays (no specific holidays, of course) but for the most part it's the second best way to avoid Christmas. The first is a sensory deprivation tank, but that will wrinkle you up something furious if you stay in for a whole weekend.

The Golden Nugget is quite elegant for a downtown hotel. If it were on the strip perhaps they would put in a shopping mall and a showroom or two, but they most they do is provide a single lounge (very nice, BTW), an enormous hunk of gold in a glass case and, out by the pool, a shark tank. Yep, right in the middle of the pool bar. It only makes sense that the closest you'll get to a great white shark is downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown, even with the weird 3-block-long light show over Fremont street, is a depressing experience in the dead of winter. It's more like old Vegas downtown, which means less kids but more of a pervasive evil vibe. It's as if everywhere you walk you are passing through the ghosts of mob bosses. In front of the Orleans (I think it's called that, the whole place is blurring in my over-stimulated mind) a couple of girls in colorful Cajun outfit pass out free beads. They look tired, like crack whores with second jobs. A few doors down, there is another casino with the same girls in black-and-white Cajun outfits doing the same thing. Downtown freaked Mrs. K out enough that we have vowed to never stay there again, bargains or not.

To me, the clearest indication that the holidays were nigh came at the Rio, where they have an hourly Mardi Gras parade with a stage show and overhead floats. The dancers all wore sexy elf costumes instead of their usual Caribbean fare; and it was over-amplified Christmas music. A couple of floats which were built to accommodate 8 dancers had only two.

A lot of shows were dark this weekend, which made choosing much easier. We scored a couple of discount Penn and Teller seats. I've always wanted to see those guys live and they did not disappoint. We also caught 2 lounge acts, Dirk Arthur's Xtreme Magic show at the Trop and Hypnosis Gone Wild! at the Aladdin. I think I've finally maxed out on Magic shows. I spend the whole time watching and thinking, "it's not her real hands" and "he's been out of the box for a minute already; when the cover drops it will probably be the white tiger." I'm almost certain now that I can't be hypnotized, and I don't understand people who can. Next time I'm sticking to music.

For some reason this trip I became fascinated by people in casinos in wheelchairs. What are their stories? Are they in that chair permanently or are they just recuperating? What if they're just lazy? Why can't I get a wheelchair? That bald guy - did the same thing that made him bald put him in the chair? How much has be bet?

I liked the spa at the Nugget. Reminded me of Burke-Williams but with exercise machines.

Because we were downtown, I kept my eyes peeled for the Amazing Colossal Man. He didn't show up, perhaps because it was too cold to be running around in just a diaper; or maybe he couldn't get to that cowboy sign because it's blocked by the Fremont Street Canopy. Good thing too. Until someone knits the Amazing Colossal Sweater we should assume he's staying in a cave somewhere.

For the record, I bet about $6 and won about $7, so I'm finally ahead for a change. I'm going to spend it on stamps!

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