Abyss of Silence

Thursday, May 24, 2007

American Idol Finale

Yes, I'm a tool. I watch American Idol. I think this was a pretty good season. Unlike last season, I actually really liked several contestants. In fact from the final four on, I've liked everyone. I even liked a few who were eliminated before.

So the show kinda took on a sad note for me starting with the episode where Lakisha was eliminated. I thought, "aww! I really like Lakisha. ... oh wait, I like Jordin and Melinda and Blake too." Spoiled for choice really.

Anyway so that was a welcome surprise from last year when it came down to Cathernine McPhee and Clooney-tard... er I mean, oh whatever that dufuss' name was. Seriously his name escapes me, we just called him Clooney-tard. I'm sure he's a lovely person but that soul-patrol bullshit made my ass twitch.

I'm not surprised that Jordin won. She's delightful and a very good singer and more importantly regarding American Idol results, more palletable to the country music-enjoying audience. It seems that this country is overrun with country music loving people who are more inclined to vote in a contest like this. I've only ever voted during the Idol Gives Back event because it was for charity. I voted for Blake. Oh well.

Yes, Blake was my favorite but oh well.

Anyway what I really wanted to write about was the Finale itself: not a great episode. Ok first of all do they really need to make a two-hour meal out of it? I didn't really enjoy the performances much. I've never been able to stand Tony Bennett, Gwen Stefani (meh), Smokey Robinson was good as was Gladys Knight. I get why they had Melinda up with the people she used to back (frankly she was better then both of them) but the song was some scary religious thing. Carrie Underwood sang, "I'll stand by you" as she did during Idol Gives Back but the orchestration was too simple and didn't build as it should have. Sanjaya was as terrible and embarassing as ever. The worst performance of the night had to go to Bette Midler however.

WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO BETTE MIDLER? It sounded like she'd been smoking a carton of cubans every day for the past 3 years. She fiddled with her earpiece at one point but I'm sorry there is no excuse for what I heard. Both attrocious and shocking.

Anyway, and now it's done.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Viva Las Whatever

We left for Las Vegas on May 4th. I worked from early in the a.m. until about 3:30 that day until Rick showed up at my office. One of my bosses, Olivia, gave us a lift to the BART station. I work with such nice people! So from then it was BART to the AirBART to Oakland Airport. We were very early but it beat having to get the bus to BART.

Security check in was fine except that I didn’t think to pack my make up in my suitcase. They were very concerned that I might set fire to my foundation and nail polish and blow the plane up. But apparently it was ok when a woman in line with me had a clear plastic bag to put them in. See it’s ok to have these things as long as they are in a clear plastic bag. Apparently you can’t blow up a plane with your nail polish if it’s in a clear plastic bag in your carry on bag. Remember when taking a plane trip wasn’t such a fucking pain in the ass? Whatever…

The plane trip was about an hour and twenty minutes. We took off just as a very red sun was setting and the view was pretty fantastic. Rick had a chatty guy next to him on the plane. So they chatted while I mainly looked out of the window. I couldn’t see much for long but it was still interesting. The winds were tremendous that evening. We had to come in for a landing in an unusual direction. I wasn’t sure the guy was going to level out the plane before we touched down, the winds were that strong! Apparently another plane (private) had been blown onto Las Vegas Blvd. about an hour before we landed. That was only one of several strange events that occurred while we were there.

Our luggage came out of the carousel very quickly, such a nice change from Oakland airport, and we were off to the rental car center. We sprang extra for a convertible since our accommodations were free. Our convertible wasn’t ready however so we got this incredibly fancy (yet horrendously ugly) Chrysler 300. Ok so I was annoyed and this car was a bit obnoxious because it had so many fricking buttons and levers. Nothing was intuitive! This car however was a blessing in disguise. The house we were staying in was off the beaten path and the 300 had a navigation system. I can find places with maps but this was OFF THE BEATEN PATH! There were no street lights so reading tiny street signs was almost impossible until you were right upon them! We were expecting to come across a sign reading Rule of Law Ends Here. If our convertible had been ready we wouldn’t have found this place as easily. So yay!

We met the fellow who’s house we were staying in. His house was nice just not very lived in. He was leaving the next morning for a trip thank goodness. I mean he was nice and all that, but it would have been rather awkward with us coming and going as we pleased. So yay again! We were staying at his place because Rick was giving a talk to a group out there and he offered us accommodation.

We woke up the next morning pretty early due to the extraordinary brightness coming in the window. Well, that and I felt like a dried sponge. How on earth do people live in the desert? So we got up and showered and went to this sleazy place for breakfast. I don’t remember the name of the place, the food was fine but it was so dark inside it felt like night (I hate that, especially at breakfast), the décor was harkening back to the Dino/Sammy days, and the waitress kept making a big deal that the toast that came with our breakfast was “Italian Bread!” You know what lady? Not that special.
We next went back to the rental car place for our convertible. We made the exchange pretty quickly. And I had what was to be our car for the remainder of our stay. Much easier to figure out (fewer buttons & levers) and best of all I had my convertible. [Insert heavenly choir sound here]

So we went back to the house and got ready for the wedding and headed over to the Sunset Gardens, the venue for the ceremony and reception. We were there a bit early so we hung out and watched some of the bride’s before the ceremony pictures being taken. Then Rick and I headed over into the chapel which was lovely if not freezing cold! The ceremony started a bit late but was really sweet. I was such a girl. Brian and Victoria were both so happy they had tears streaming down their faces during the ceremony. So of course, I was crying too.

Note to self: bring tissue the next time you go to a wedding

Then there were photos again after the ceremony and then the reception. The speeches were fun. The food was pretty good. There was a lot of dancing though Rick and I did very little of it. We’re just no good. The DJ was ok I guess, he was just a little into Michael Jackson for my taste. I mean what the fuck?! Anyhoo, after the ceremony we took Natalie (Rick’s youngest sister) back to our place while I changed and then we headed off to the Stratosphere to meet up with Rick’s parents.

The house we were staying in was about 5 miles south of the strip. The Stratosphere is at the north end. So our drive up was my first time seeing the strip. Meh. Maybe it will look better at night. The Stratosphere wasn’t that impressive either. It was just like a really big Holiday Inn with a casino. Where’s the swank? Ok. I did learn one of the great things about Las Vegas: all parking is free. Valet parking is free too, you just give the guy a tip when he returns your car. Sweet!

So we met up with Hal & Monica (Rick’s parents). Monica’s back was hurting so she wasn’t going to join us. Hal, Nat, Rick and I went down to the casino. Ok, first of all the smoking inside SUCKS! I’ve gotten so spoiled by not having to deal with smoking indoors. This was awful but I put up with it. We found Victoria and Brian in the casino. I joined Victoria and some of their friends at a blackjack table. Rick and Hal went off in search of a Texas Hold’em tournament.

I bought $20 worth of chips and played for a while. I didn’t do too badly. I was up $20 at one point. I was about to quit but Rick came and sat down, so I thought I’d play some more and lost it all. Well shit. Since losing $20 bothered me so much I decided that gambling just isn’t for me. Rick broke even then headed over to his Hold’em tournament. Everyone else was gambling still so I was at a loose end. I poked around the shops upstairs a bit and bought some sunglasses (I had forgotten to bring mine).

Then everyone was going to head over to Fremont Street. This is the place that is covered and has sort of light shows. Ok, cool. It was just about that time that Rick washed out of this Hold’em tournament and another $60 down the tube. He was out of his league. Oh well, I suppose one must accept that you will lose money when you go to Las Vegas. Ok so off we go to Fremont Street. We met up with Brian and Victoria (still in their wedding garb), Natalie and a bunch of their friends from the wedding. Rick and I wanted to see the lights show. The thing about Fremont street is that there are a lot of drunk people about. I’m ok with that but since I was driving I couldn’t have a drop which was a bit of a bummer. We caught about three seconds of the next light show that came on. Ok so it’s not a "light show", it’s just a big frickin television. What came on was a country music video which is so not a way to impress me! Ugh! Fuck this shit! So I went back inside where most people had gathered to eat some really mediocre deli counter food. I’m lookin for the swank and gettin the cheese. Sigh. The party then headed over to a bar. Rick and I were done at this point. We really didn’t know anyone very well in the party and we really are fuddy-duddies. Loud parties aren’t our thing. It just wasn’t our scene. So we excused ourselves and drove back to the house down the strip. It was bright and shiny at night. Still, meh.

We were up kind of early again the next day because of the bright white nuclear explosion they call a sky in Vegas. This time I was determined to get some swank. So we went to Mandalay Bay for brunch. We ended up parking at the Four Seasons and walked over to Mandalay Bay. Ok, now we're in some swank. Brunch was pricey and pretty good but I like the hush that usually comes with swank. I think I was spoiled by the couple of times I had brunch at the Plaza Hotel in New York where you hear is the clink of the occasional plate, muted conversations and a string quartet. The older I get the more I realize that all I want is QUIET! This place wasn’t very quiet (as it was TEEMING with bodies) but the food was pretty good.

Following brunch we thought we’d check out their “Shark Reef”. We were clearing our palettes with a bit of gum and I told Rick to ask the hostess at one of the restaurants we were standing near where the Shark Reef was. So he went up to this young lady and said (still chewing his gum) “So where’s the shark?” She countered with a slightly annoyed, “You mean the Shark Reef?” Rick answered “Yeah”. So she pointed out the way to go.

We got all the way (it was pretty far, these places are HUGE) to the Shark Reef but after dropping so much on brunch didn’t want to pitch another $24 for the Shark Reef. However, we were highly amused by the obnoxious Norm MacDonald quality of his brief conversation with that hostess and continued to amuse ourselves by imagining different scenarios of annoying this one person. Like because we were headed back in that direction we thought it would be funny if he went back to her still chomping on his gum to say something like, “I wasn’t impressed by the shark, you shouldn’t have recommended that.” And other things that would force her to give frustrated answers ending with “Sir” through clenched teeth. I guess you had to be there but we were laughing pretty hard.

This was all on the way to the Luxor. Since they are connected you can walk from Mandalay Bay to the Luxor. So what the hey? I didn’t know that the Luxor was hollow inside. That was pretty neat! They also have elevators that travel diagonally up to the different levels called Inclinators. So, I’m sure like every other tourist, we thought “ooh, let’s ride the inclinators!” Unfortunately you can’t unless you are a guest and have a room card thingy. Poo.

So we started the four mile journey back to the Four Seasons and our car. We were supposed to be at the venue for Rick’s talk around 1:30. It was still a bit early so once we finally got back to the car we headed up the strip and decided to go into the Venetian. The Venetian is very pretty inside and a really good idea with the canals and gondolas. Unfortunately, as with everything else in Las Vegas, it was pack with humans. Damn those humans! They’re such annoying, loud creatures. I’m glad I’m not one. We walked around a bit with all the slack-jawed gawkers. We thought we’d go across the street to have a gander at Treasure Island but realized that we needed to get back to our car if we were going to be in time for Rick’s talk.

We made it to the venue for Rick’s talk. I’ve got to stop using the word “venue”. This was not a venue, it was a small, creepy room. Apparently they had just gotten the space and hadn’t been able to do much with it yet. So ok. Monica, Hal, Natalie & Brian all came to the talk. The talk went well. Rick always shines the most during the Q&A portion though. I already know the boy’s incredibly smart but he always amazes me because he’s so damned knowledgeable as well! I mean, being crazy smart is one thing but he also knows a lot of shit! That’s my guy! Q&A lasted quite a while and then we sold books (14). When I go to his events I handle selling the books for him so he can chat with people while he signs their books. Monica, Hal, Brian & Nat then took off. We went with the core group to Marie Calendars for dinner. They were a really nice group of people and pretty darned funny too. We had a good time.

Since we were up in the vicinity of the Rio I decided that I wouldn’t go to the house to change for “Penn & Teller”. So we headed over to the Rio. We were really early and really tired. We parked on the roof of the parking structure in the shade of the Rio. There was a cool breeze blowing. So we just reclined our seats and relaxed for about 25 minutes. Did I mention that I really love having a convertible?

Ok so we went into the Rio. They advertise this Masquerade Show in the Sky thing. It happens every hour or something like that. We thought we'd catch one of them. What a crappy obnoxious bunch of noise! So we hear the thing start and made our way over to the area. We couldn't see the stage where I'm guessing some dancing was going on but the big attraction was supposed to be these floats (which run on a track on the ceiling) that come out and go around the room. The floats were sort of neat looking but the music was irritating! It was just a bunch of reworked Prince songs and on the floats (best of all) were a bunch of bored looking dancers wearing tight, red leather outfits which were completely incongruous with the floats they were riding. And literally, they were bored and barely mustering up the strength to go through the motions. So once that bullshit was done Rick and I discussed how, with half a brain and a bit more creativity, they could have made the whole thing really beautiful and exotic while we made our way over to the theatre where "Penn & Teller" was playing.

Christ, this post is so fucking long!

Sorry, anyway... We met up with Toria & Brian. After a little hiccup with their tickets we went into the theatre with our drinks. They had this thing where you go up onstage and sign an envelope so Toria, Brian and I did. It was Toria's first time signing her married name. The show was great! Really fun and funny and interesting. And best of all Rick played a part in the final trick. It was the magic bullet trick and they wanted two people who had experience with weapons who had either been in the military or law enforcement. It seemed only two in the audience qualified. So Rick went up. He was with Penn, the other guy was with Teller. Rick looked like a gremlin standing next to Penn. Anyway he blogged about the trick, if you're interested. So extra yay. We parted ways with Toria & Brian and went to the Bellagio to catch a fountain show. The fountain show as impressive and the setting idyllic. It scared the fricking hell out of me when it started but was really great! Following the fountain show we walked over to Caesar's Palace and looked around. That place is gorgeous! It's a bit much in places but still really cool. If we have a bunch of money some day and decided to go to Vegas (however unlikely that sounds) I think we'll stay at Caesar's Palace.

We then drove down the strip back to the house and went to bed exhausted.

Hoover Dam day! We got up and went to breakfast at IHOP. Yeah, we're fancy. We intended to get there the same time as Victoria & Brian so Rick coordinated it and it worked out. I was totally loving the convertible already and the drive out to Hoover Dam confirmed it. Fast, breezy bliss!

Hoover Dam is amazing and beautiful and thoroughly interesting. We four spent several hours there first on the tour, then walking around and across it and finally in the a souvineer/snack shop where we sat and talked for a long time. It was a really, really great time and I'm so glad we were there with Toria & Brian, it was a lot of fun. For me it was the highlight of the trip.

We got back to the house around 4pm. We were tired but there was absolutely nothing to do at the house except watch local television and marvel at hacks on the local news stations. So we got up and went to South Point. It's a large, garish casino/hotel well past the southern end of the strip. We had noticed their sign mentioned bowling so we thought that would be fun. After freshening up we went to South Point. Unfortunately the bowling alley was taken up by league bowling until 9pm. But hey, they have a movie theatre too. Eh, no movie totally interested us. So we went to dinner at their buffet. Oh my god, the food was CRAP! Such a tremendous contrast to the quality of food at Mandalay Bay! Blech. Don't ever go there to eat! And if you do, don't say I didn't warn you.

After chocking down the meal we decided that South Point held no more interest for us and we went back to the house very tired, watched an episode of The Bachelor (boring!), packed up our stuff and went to bed.

Time to go home. I got up early, showered and packed my stuff in the car. We went to breakfast at Denny's (again, we're so fancy!). We had some time to kill so we drove up and down the strip once more. Can I just say that Circus Circus looks totally obnoxious? I think that is my idea of hell. Anyway then we drove back to the rental car place and with a tear in my eye I returned that lovely vehicle. I then parted with Rick and headed back to the airport. Rick waited at the rental car center for his family for his separate trip to Lancaster.

The flight was good, much nicer in the daytime. I kept trying to figure out where we were but only really figured it out once I saw the I-5. There is some gorgeous, wild country between here and Vegas! I especially liked flying over the snow-capped mountains.

Anyway I made it home safe. Paiwacket was happy to see me after a brief period of weirdness. The rest of the week I spent relaxiating.

End of VERY LONG story.

Oh wait, not yet. Just a few more things....

Weird happenings while we were there (is this just a typical weekend in Vegas?)
plane blowing off runway
  • drunk driver kills a family of 8
  • some famous dude is killed in a motorcycle accident
  • a guy commits suicide by jumping off the Stratosphere tower
  • a murder was committed via car bomb at the Luxor

  • Bad things about Vegas

    • Smoking everywhere
    • It's so dry, it's hard for me to live
    • There's no real orange juice (even at the swanky places), just an orange-like beverage substitute. Is there some law against real orange juice in Vegas. We're fine with the gambling and hookers but we must keep the scourge of fresh orange juice out of our state!

    Good things about Vegas

    • free parking
    • my hair goes flat in dry climate

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    It's probably wrong...

    that I so enjoy things like this.

    The Gashlycrumb Tinies

    I'm probably the last person to find out about this. But if you are unfamiliar, you'll need to click on every letter of the alphabet to learn the child's fate. Poor little Neville!


    Happy, happy, joy, joy! I'm going away, hooray!

    My sister-in-law is getting married in Las Vegas this weekend so we decided to make a vacation out of it. I'm so excited!

    We're flying out Friday night. Hubby's going to give a talk while we're there so we're staying free at someone's house. I've rented a convertable. It's a bit more extravagent than I'm used to being but screw it!

    Saturday afternoon is the wedding.

    Sunday Rick gives his talk and in the evening we're going to see Penn & Teller. Hey, we're fans of Bullshit.

    Monday we're going to take that convertible out to Hoover Dam and dangle over the edge just like Jimmy Olsen in Superman, unless of course we're hassled by the man in which case we'll just look.

    Tuesday I fly back alone. Hubby will accompany his family back to So. Cal. I will get back to the Paiwacket, poor lamb who will have been cooped up in the apartment all this time with only two visits a day from our neighbor.

    But it doesn't end there. I took the rest of the week off! So, I'll be able to chill and go on hikes through the trails and all things lovely and good.