Friday, May 29, 2009

Viva Las, oh forget it.

I have returned from Vegas in one piece! But honestly, there wasn't that much of a danger of any other outcome. When you're in bed every night before midnight there's not much trouble you can get into. Yes, I'm getting old, and yes, I went to bed early. I jet-lag pretty bad, ok? Back off!

So, Vegas: first impressions. Dirty. Like, disgustingly, grimy, dirtiest shithole of a town ever. Sorry if any of y'all out there are really enamoured with Vegas, but the city itself was not impressive. It's a microcosm of what ails America; it stands for our obsession with consumption, greed, tackiness, and disposable life.

But I actually had a really great time. The company was great (Chris, Kent, Carly, and Stephanie), the resort we stayed at was awesome (Tahiti Village, located on Las Vegas Boulevard just a little over a mile from the casinos), but the Strip itself was just...ick.

Before I get to the pictures, here are just some quick recollections:

--Funniest moment (by far) was me falling into the hot tub. I'll just say that I misjudged the distance to the step and leave it that. And I swear that child was fine; I barely grazed him!

--We went to a ghetto casino off the strip where they had dollar craps and I 1) learned how to play craps which is totally fun and 2) won $200! In fact, we all won and ended up taking the casino for over $800! Take THAT, probably mob-connected casino owner.

--Laying by the pool constituted my entire activity for almost 2 whole days which was TOTALLY worth it.

More stories coming in future posts including fun with Patrick and my new friend Rosa, hiking in Red Rock Canyon, and M&M World!

Here are some pictures from around town....

The famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign!

New York New York Casino at night. Note the roller coaster on which Chris, Carly, and I had a ride.

The Venetian.

Fremont Street, for that old school Las Vegas feel. And random Queen tribute-ness.

Famous Las Vegas neon cowboy. He got moved to Fremont Street some years ago. Booted from the Strip, so sad.

Carly and Chris in front of New York New York

Looking down the Strip from a pedestrian walkway.

Excalibur! Now with even more Arthurian sparkle magic!

Paris casino.

The view of the Strip from our room's balcony.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

But it's a dry heat.

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving on a jet plane for a week long vacation in sunny Las Vegas. It's my first time to Sin City, but I don't intend to do anything too crazy or even gamble.

I intend to lie by the pool as much as possible.

So why go all the way to Las Vegas? Well some friends have a timeshare which means almost-free lodging and a group of awesome people are also going which means fun friends to hang out with...but it also means almost guaranteed sunshine. Sure my pool is opening this weekend, but with our high temperature only reaching 70 degrees during the past week, I'm not entirely convinced we're going to have usual Memorial Day weather.

Also, I've been planning the trip for about 8 months. It's kind of like that quote from Ghostbusters. If someone asks you if you want to go to Las Vegas, you say yes!

Despite my pool (and lazy river) plans, there are some other things I want to do. See LOVE at the Mirage, visit one of those famous Las Vegas buffets, hike through Red Rock Canyon, visit M&M World, go to a nightclub, and just take some time to walk along the Strip. And with the news that my college friend Patrick will also be coming into Las Vegas for the weekend, there are surely some 99 cent margaritas in my future. But for the most part, the week will consist of as much lounging as I can squeeze in.

Of course, as with all best laid plans....things are subject to change. I'm just going to play it by ear and see what happens. And isn't that really the best attitude to have when visiting a place like Las Vegas?

I can make one promise: I promise not to come home married. That's what annulments are for!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kicking it (really really) old school.

I've been wanting to visit Medieval Times for some time now. Even before The Cable Guy came out and brought the absurdity of the place to the masses.

The $50 price tag always seemed steep for about 2 hours of entertainment, but offered some discounted tickets the other day, and who am I to pass up a bargain? So Chris, Kent, and I made our way up to Hanover, Maryland (ugh...Maryland) for an evening of knights, kings, jousts, and eating with our fingers. Because they won't give you silverware, but you bet they have a whole array of Coke products!

Our trip didn't get off to the best of starts, what with the hellacious traffic on I-395. We were armed with Chris and Kent's GPS (named Judy) who led us on an alternative route through the ghetto of South East, but we emerged safe and sound onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and still had plenty of time to make the 7:00 curtain. Or whatever the alternative is for a show of this nature.

Medieval Times is located at the end of a mall in the middle of urban sprawl. Which somehow seems appropriate, don't you think? You're seated around a large arena divided by colors which designates the knight you cheer for. We were in the blue knight section, who may have gotten his ass kicked in the sword fight part of the show, but was by far the hottest knight. So I prefer to think that we actually won.

It's true they don't give you silverware; you eat with your fingers which is...interesting. But fun in it's own way. First course: tomato soup that tasted like spaghetti-Os without the pasta. Second course: Half a chicken (not kidding) that was really well cooked and seasoned, a piece of pork ribs that were also delicious, a large potato wedge, and a piece of garlic bread. Third course: an apple pastry that was kind of eh. Not even as good as McDonald's apple pie. But then, those things are pretty delicious.

I had to splurge for the strawberry daiquiri in the signature glass, because come on. Everybody needs a Medieval Times signature glass, right?

The show itself was entertaining; there was a loose plot about the Prince being captured by a kingdom that wanted to break away and be independent, represented by the green knight, but blah blah. There were sword fights and jousting and merriment and rivalries and that's what we were there to see. We booed for the evil green knight, cheered for our guy (even when he got his butt whopped) and in general had a great time. It was about 2 hours, but actually felt a lot longer so I think we got our money's worth. I'm not sure about paying $50 for it though.

Here are some pics!

Outside the mall entrance.

The empty arena.

Capturing the Prince.

Parade of the knights.

Me and Chris with our crowns.

Me and the Queen, er, Kent.

Sparks fly during a sword fight.

Bringing it in at the end of the show.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The family that nerds together, stays together.

The lights were dimming, the trailers were starting, and all of a sudden, I had to call my brother.

“The movie is starting!” I whispered into my cell phone.

“We decided to go see it tonight too!” my brother replied.

“Call me as soon as you get out!” I told him.

Why the fuss? The newest Star Trek movie is finally out, and my brother and I both went to advance screenings on Thursday night.

I really liked the movie, but what made it special was all the little nods to the old school fans that were included. Sulu knowing how to fence, Uhura’s eyeliner, Bones with his eyebrow raise…every time I spotted some little homage, it made a big grin spread across my space.

But I was surprised by how emotional I got. Due to a nifty time-travelling plot device, Leonard Nimoy showed up as old Spock and when he comes face to face with young Kirk he tells him, “I have been and always will be your friend.” It made me tear up a little.

But why? I mean, I’m not a die-hard Trek fan. I’ve seen every episode of the original series and TNG (Picard is my favorite captain), and I know a good deal of the mythology and stories behind the show, but I don’t dress up, I don’t own any of the DVDs, I haven’t even watched anything Star Trek-related in probably 5 years. So why was watching this movie making me so emotional?

And then I figured it out.

Growing up, my brother and I couldn’t have been more different. I was a ditzy chatterbox who was constantly singing and dreaming of one day appearing on the Broadway stage; extrovert = me. My brother was three years older, quiet, bookish, a guy who preferred to stay in his room and work on his computer or design a hovercraft than interact with his little sister.

But the one thing we had in common was Star Trek. I can’t remember when I started watching it; it was probably out of some typical little sister impulse to emulate my older brother, to like something because he liked it, to get him to pay attention to me. The result was family evenings spent watching marathons of classic Trek on television. Of weekly viewings with my mom and bro to watch the new episodes of TNG. Having my Dad take me to my first ever fan convention: a Star Trek convention at a hotel in Maryland. At holidays, when the new Trek movies would come out, my brother, Aunt, and Dad would go see them. And it also meant I would borrow my brother’s Star Trek paperback novels as soon as he was done reading them, paying heed to his threats of what would happen if I dared open the book wide enough to break the spine.

So when it comes down to it, Star Trek was pretty much the first thing my brother and I had in common. When we were as different as night and day, it was the one thing we could share. So when he called me at 10:30 last night after having seen the movie and we kept interrupting each other to mention one other cool thing about the movie, it just made me really really happy.

“It had the creepy bug things from Khan!”
“When he came onto the bridge and said, ‘Bones,’ it was just like William Shatner!”
“Did you see how he sat in the Captain’s chair with his legs crossed?!”
“The uniforms were perfect; like more believably futuristic version of the classic ones.”
“Captain Pike was perfect”
“And they had him in the wheelchair!”
“I know, the wheelchair was awesome!”