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Trips are better than gifts for Christmas!

For Christmas this year, instead of buying presents, Jenny and I took our families to Las Vegas for a few days. We figured a fun trip to a warm place would be better than battling holiday shoppers to buy everyone some gift that would most likely be re-gifted or sit unused 99% of the time.

Vegas isn’t doing so well these days, so we were able to get a pretty amazing deal to fly 10 people to Vegas, get 5 rooms for them to stay in for 3 days, and get to see a show. I think the total was just under $3000… so the cost was approximately $300 per person, which really isn’t bad for all that.

We checked in to Treasure Island, which I’d never stayed at before. I’ve always just watched the pirate show as I ambled down the strip, so I thought there would be at least some kind of pirate theme inside… or maybe the rooms had like wooden ship decor or something.

Treasure Island pirate ship

Unfortunately, that was not the case. It was just like any other hotel once you were inside. After getting to our room, the first thing I noticed was the quality fire suppression equipment.

Quality fire suppression

Quality fire suppression

However, during my stay I came across one of the best inventions in years. This might be a shock to you ladies out there, but since the dawn of the urinal, every civilization has struggled with a particular problem… how to design a urinal to minimize splash-back. Any man who’s ever wizzed at a urinal with shorts on knows what I’m talking about… the constant search for the best place to aim the stream to minimize that horrible misting your legs can get if the urinal you’re at wasn’t designed just right. The problem with Vegas is, everyone is in shorts (everyone who’s remotely sane)! Well fret not… The Urinal Beard (as I like to call it) is here to save the day!

The best invention in years!

The best invention in years!

You just aim at the beard and it foams up quite a nice lather, but nothing escapes! Walk away with fresh clean legs every time! Simply amazing!

So, with liquids coming out of the body covered, let’s address liquids going in shall we? I’m not really a drinker at all. The most I have to drink is the occasional cider at the local RetroTech meeting. I just don’t like the taste of beer and most (if not all) wines. Cider is just about all I can tolerate when it comes to those types of beverages. However I do enjoy things like the licorice flavor of Sambuca/Uzo, the coffee/minty flavor of Irish Creams, and really really fruity ports. Basically, the more it tastes like fruit juice, the more I like it.

However there is such a thing as too much sugary sweet… on a whim I poured some Sambuca into a glass, then poured just as much water in. The 50/50 mix turned white for some reason, but the end result was actually really good. It tasted just like Sambuca, only 50% softer. The flavor was exactly the same… which, as I understand it, isn’t what usually happens to alcoholic beverages if you add water to them.


Thick sugary Sambuca

Thick sugary Sambuca

Watered down Sambuca

Watered down Sambuca

Over at The Venetian, there is a setup of fake Blue Men mannequins that are so good, people often stand there for at least a few minutes taking pictures and trying to figure out if they are real people or not. Every time I’ve come to Vegas since the Blue Man Group has been there, I’ve seen this behavior. Everyone keeps their distance and just stares. It’s the eyes that do it… the whole body is covered in blue paint, so nobody expects that to look real… but the eyes fool you every time. Even standing up close they look so damn real that everyone assumes there are four VERY talented living statue performers in front of them. That’s why it’s such fun to run right up and toss my arm around one, knock on it’s hollow head, and pose for a disgusting picture (see below). People usually freak out at first, then everyone jumps in for photos of their own as soon as they realize the blue men are actually fake.

Hangin on a blue man

The shows are what “normal” people who don’t fancy gambling their money away or hounding after whores actually do in Vegas… aside from eating themselves silly at various theme restaurants. I’ve seen several Cirque Du Soleil shows, but nothing beats the Beatles Love show. If you only see one CDS show in your life, see this one. The basic “circus show” gymnastics are the same as any other CDS show, but the music and costumes and story make the biggest difference… it’s the only show I’ve actually welled up a bit at.

Cirque Du Soleil - Beatles Love

Cirque Du Soleil - Beatles Love

Every other CDS show tells a story through characters, costumes, props, and gymnastics. The problem with every CDS show is that the story is really only known to the writers and performers. The costumes and props are totally foreign, and everything is just a fanciful jaunt for you to sit back and experience. Nevermind if you don’t get the storyline, or even understand the props… you just watch and they perform. Most of the time the show is sufficiently stunning… at least enough to make you forget the $120 you plunked down for front row seats.

By contrast, the Beatles Love show has all the right elements. Stunning acrobatic feats, mixed with a storyline you are already at least vaguely familiar with, classic music, and costumes and props that make perfect sense. All that mixed together makes Beatles Love an event you can really get into, instead of just sit back and passively absorb.

Cirque Du Soleil - Beatles Love

Cirque Du Soleil - Beatles Love

There are lots of restaurants in Vegas, but I have to say my favorite one so far is Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel. It has good food at surprisingly good prices. I don’t have any pictures of that because we were too busy eating and people watching… lots of interesting people in Vegas. In fact, I’d say that’s probably the number one reason I’d even bother going back to Vegas. Just sit me down in the craziest part of town with some shades and a cold drink and I’d be happy the whole day.

Actually, once the sun sets, I’d head over to “old vegas”… downtown… Fremont Street. There are some crazy ass people there let me tell you… and it only gets better when the sun goes down. One guy actually fell down while watching the canopy light show, then started doing this drunken sing-along to the music while he writhed around on the ground.

After we all had our fill of crazy people, the bus ride back to the strip was packed with Canadians all telling crazy ass Canadian geography jokes only Canadians would get. At least I was able to stay amused with the route notification system, laughing each time it rebooted itself.

Route notification system rebooting

All in all, any sane person can only stand 3 days in Vegas. If you want to stay any longer than that, and I’d start to suspect you of being a less than respectable member of the human race.

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