“Dark Parking Lots, Unlocked Doors, Where the @#$% Am I?” -Or, “Mother's Wisdom” I am smack-dab, right in the middle, firmly entrenched in a Vegas dry spell. I haven't been since early last spring, and I find myself RE-reading other people's trip reports. It is that bad, folks. So bad, in fact, I caught myself reading a 'penny slots only, off-strip resort, we don't drink alcohol, in bed by 9 PM, $2.99 or less buffet' report just yesterday. Not that there is anything wrong with that. My mom used to say - "'Everyone to their own taste' - the old lady said, as she kissed the cow". That trip report actually had a similar affect on my Vegas Jones as imagining Rosie O'donnel naked does to my libido. But soon after, the fog cleared and I am right back at attention....We'll cut that analogy off right about now. Anyway, much like a broke addict, smoking banana peals or licking toads, I decided to try and cure what ails me with the writing of a trip report. I had so much fun going back in time reliving/writing about my first trip (two hicks do Vegas); I thought I would follow it up with my second. I guess this could be considered Part II of a series with an unknown number of parts, of sorts, sort of, partly, wuttevr.... from trips I took years ago. It is interesting to me that I seem to remember these trips so vividly, yet quite of few of my more recent trips I seem to draw a complete blank, or blurrrrrr as it were. Hmmmmm. Excessive alcohol intake has far more reaching effects on shorter-term memory than long-term. I shall ask for a govment grant and commission a study. This trip took place in January around 1993-5 ish. I could probably figure it out, if'n I wasn't so mentally lazy. The most notable details to help determine the year are that both the Luxor and the MGM Grand were fairly freshly open for business. The purpose of this trip was to attend the annual CES convention. I graduated from college right at the peak of the '92 recession, so jobs in my desired field were few and far between. Heck, that is an understatement. There weren't any. People with 20+ years experience were getting laid off left and right. So instead of doing something smart, like just stay in school and get my MBA, I went broke looking for a job. With $32 left in my checking account, I took a job at a local stereo store. I should stop right here and explain a couple of things about myself. I figure it might clear a few things up about whom you are dealing. As you read on, keep two key things in mind: 1) I can rationalize absolutely anything. See above. 2) I spend the better part of my life with my tongue firmly planted against my cheek. I find that even during verbal communication, sometimes my humor (some people refer to it, right or wrong, as 'dry') misses the mark, or is missed on certain people. Chances are, it won't translate too well to paper either. Therefore, if you find yourself offended by something I have written, take these words to heart and reread it. If you are still offended, well, TS. Last time I checked, "Not to be offended" isn't listed in the Bill of Rights. Moving on. As the highly respected Assistant Manager of said electronics store, it was my duty to accompany the owner, and a couple of others to the Consumer Electronics Show. Aside from it being my duty, who wouldn't go to Vegas for free? For those of you keeping track, this is my second trip to Vegas on someone else's nickel. I'm batting a thousand, baby! My first memory of the trip is sitting at a bar in the SLC airport. Someone suggests we kick things off with a drink, at 8:30 AM. After all, its happy hour, at least in Vegas. Everyone ordered a beer. Being the sophisticate that I am, I ordered Dewar's on the rocks. I should mention that I don't eat breakfast. Anybody want to know how straight Scotch feels in a stomach that is completely devoid of anything, other than the sour bile left over from last night's bender? Then add 60 minutes of the worst turbulence you can imagine to the mix. This left an impression. On to Vegas. Getting off the plane, I reminded myself why I was in Vegas, and why the owner of the store had brought me. Then I ran for the slot machines like hogs to a trough. I wasn't remotely subtle. Seems like I even won a few quarters. You will all likely treat everything else written from this point forward as suspect. I know. Check in- No strip for us. The owner got us rooms at some motor lodge type place. Seems like it was Northwest of the strip. No matter where it was, (other than a long ways from everything convention related, which got us moved later) it sucked. After getting checked in, it was off to the convention center. Wow, what a place. As a first timer, I was mightily impressed with its size. I was also mightily impressed when I found out that the AVN convention was being held at the same time. Back then, you didn't need a pass to get in. I went. Was it the Sands that was next to the convention center? Holy crap. That is sexy. That is borderline gross. Ok, that is flat out gross. Oh Jeeesus! That is disgusting!!!!! File that one under "been there, done that, and don't need to do it again". I did manage to get a few posters autographed (with personal messages) from gay porn stars for friends back home. I love to give. There is nothing worse than a trip report where someone rambles on about actual work related issues while in Vegas. But being an electronics junkie, please humor me. I saw several things there that were very neat, especially with 10+ years of hindsight. It is interesting how long they took to hit the market, however. I saw the debut of High Definition television at the Pioneer booth. Very impressive, and right around the corner, so they said. I also visited the RCA booth and listened to them talk about launching a satellite to bounce TV signals off of. Not too different from current technology, except the dish will be 18 inches instead of 6-8 feet. I think the later came out a year or two later. HD took forever. What is also interesting is the Sony folks were talking about a blue laser for DVD's, better suited for reading compressed data. That just came out a few months ago. And Dolby Laboratories had developed DD 5.1, hoping it would be chosen as the standard format for broadcast HD TV once it hit the market. Really interesting to look back on that now. Enough of the convention, I promise. One exception, I guess, is the wining and dining that goes along with this deal. The first night left me playing tour guide. I had been more recently than anyone else. So after looking around a bit, it was time to head back to the Ole BC. My only disappointment was with inflation. My previously enjoyed 75-cent drinks had undergone 33% inflation, and were now a dollar. There should be laws............. No matter. Because tonight, in fact for the entire trip I wasn't planning on paying for a single drink. Every cocktail was either compliments of a casino, or Alpine, Soundstream, Pioneer, McIntosh, etc. What transpired over that evening is probably the most fun and memorable time I have ever spent in Vegas. I plopped a 20 dollar bill down at a $2 BJ table and proceeded to play for 6 solid hours. I smoked 2 cigars, and consumed more drinks than I have fingers, and perhaps toes to count. I also had a blast. The dealers and players were a very fun bunch, both changing numerous times over the course of the evening. Sitting there that long, I also finally understood the free booze. I knew all along what the intent was, I just never saw living proof. Especially since I, am immune to the common affects of alcohol on judgment. Yeah right. So for the first 5 1/2 hours, I played smart....wait, stop. Nothing I did that night in reference to my play was smart. I hadn't any idea what basic strategy was. Quite frankly, I am not much better off today. Back then you could say I was unconsciously incompetent. Today I can say I am consciously incompetent in that I know I should use basic strategy, but have come no where near close to memorizing it. I suppose I should post my picture. That way none of you will unwittingly sit down next to me. Disclaimer over- I guess a better way to state what I was doing was betting smart. That is probably doesn't pass muster either. How about this - I wasn't betting like a drunk dumb---. But somewhere around hour 5 or so, my liver had given up the good fight and could no longer protect my brain from itself. My max $5 bet went to $20, and before I knew it, I was down to the felt. BC won that round. Well, not so fast. Even at wholesale in 1995 prices, I'm fairly sure I drank at least $10 worth of premium booze. So the way I look at it, $10 for 6 hours worth of that much fun is the best value I have ever encountered, bar none. Plus, I didn't get yelled at as much. I did get the obligatory ass chewing for resting my elbow on the plexiglass shroud around the roulette wheel. Turns out they don't like that so much. By my way of thinking, a simple tap on the shoulder and a stern "Sir, you need to remove your arm from there" would definitely suffice. But since I am obviously a distant descendent of Pavlov's dog (there could be worse things up the ole' family tree), her approach worked equally as well. I still have scars. I wonder what that crack does when her kids spill the milk? This put me back to the motel at about 6 am, roughly 2 hours before I needed to be back up and presentable at the convention. About 30 minutes later, the guy I was sharing a room with shows up. He immediately informs me that he "Got hosed". "You got a hooker?" Nope. Turns out he hopped a cab and wanted to be taken someplace dirty and wet. You know, revealing the whole enchilada (maybe I should change that cliché' to taco) and serve booze. I guess that turns into a fairly expensive cab ride. The "hosed" part is the joint he went to had an outrageous cover, but included two drinks. 2 dances and half way through his first drink, lights come on and "everybody out!". I told him I didn't think things like that in Vegas ever closed. He said neither did he. Next we hear a woman screaming very loudly, using superlatives like a longshoreman. Lot's of choice words, and it sounded like it was right next door. This story is even more choice, as it was right next door, in the room of another coworker. Little background- before we left, this guy let us know that he was Mr. Vegas. Been dozens of times. He also claimed that his best friend was in charge of security at the Mirage (this plays in again later). The point being, he supposedly knew everything about Vegas. So see if you buy this line. After the gal left, we asked him what the commotion was about. He said he decided he wanted a massage. So either from the yellow pages or something that got "slapped" in his hand, he got the phone number of someone who performed that service and had her come to his room. Upon arriving in his room, she was none too pleased that all he wanted was a massage (isn't that false advertising?). Anyway, to this day I don't know what to believe. Again, he was supposedly very steeped in the darker side of Vegas. So he couldn't be naive enough to think the scantily clad skank named "Trixie" on the card was really just coming to work a couple knots out of his shoulders. Hmmm. That gives new meaning to "deep tissue massage". [Life is funnier in the gutter, in case you were wondering.] However, he did have a wife and child back home. Perhaps his conscience got the better of him between the phone call and her arriving. Either way, no sleep, time to hit the showers. "Tonight I am not going out". Famous last words. Night number 2 was vastly different. This night we went to a big party put on by Alpine Electronics at the MGM Grand. It was here I first started noticing casino carpeting. This is a joke, right? I must have unwittingly made a time warp into a 70's disco Tec. This is probably blasphemous, but I think the carpet in Wynn (particularly in the public restrooms) is right in there. This is another concept that I guess I understand. Make the floor so incredibly revolting that people focus on the games. But is it really a good idea to have carpet that looks like, and could therefore easily conceal, day-glow vomit? Anyway, it was quite a shindig. Open bar, awesome food, great ongoing entertainment, and a private Beach Boys concert. I was never a fan, so I don't know how many original members were actually there. But what I refer to as the "Butt Meter" (This is how I judge how good a movie/performance is. The more my ass hurts and the sooner it starts, the crappier the show is). Let's just say the meter was pegged in the red from the get-go. But again, not a fan. "I wish they all could be California"...............pthththth. After this I was heading to bed. Ok, no I'm not. So me and Mr. strip club cab it all over the place, from one casino to the next. He was on some sort of mission. At each place, I would just finish looking the place over and he had disappeared. I would usually find him eventually at a BJ table. So I played here and there, but nothing like the night before. Next we wound up at the Luxor. Again, I am busy rubber-necking it, and he disappears. I finally find the casino, but can't find him anywhere. So I go buy a cigar and just wander around. I am duly impressed with the moat. I decided at that moment that I needed to live in a castle, just so I could have a moat. About an hour later, he comes up behind me as says, "come on, let's get out of here". WTF? I don't know what I thought, but I complied. Once in the cab, he tells me he won big at BJ, but some creepy dude was following him around after his visit to the cage. He claimed to have 2-3 grand in his shoe. Who knows? I thought at the time that he was full of crap. Because after that, we went back to BC, but he said he couldn't risk taking the money out of his shoe to gamble. I took him at his word, but later juxtaposed that what he had actually done was blown through 2-3 grand. He turned out to be a porn and gambling degenerate, by the way. Gee, who saw that coming? So I gambled more there and next door at the Flamingo that evening. My nickname for the rest of my time there was "14". New people would sit down at my table, and within 10 minutes be calling me "14". I wish I could earn the nickname "21", or "Hard 4" at the craps tables, or "9" at Bacc, or any predetermined number (you pick) at roulette. But no, "14". Got back to the room at 6:00 AM. Slept 1 hour, showered and said, "I'm not going out tonight". The next day at the convention was a little tougher. All of the neat gadgets just couldn't overcome the hangover and lack of sleep. The storeowner asked us to give her our receipts thus far. Everyone handed her pocket fulls of receipts for cab fare. She wasn't pleased. So she said the solution was to look for accommodations a little closer to the convention. Center strip turned out to be key, since we had vendors with booths all over the place. Around lunchtime she informed us that we needed to go check out of the motor-dump, as we were moving to a strip hotel. Sweet!!!!! Then we go check into the Imperial Palace. I have read dozens of terms of endearment for this place. My personal favorite is the "House of Broken". For this stay, I just called it the Urinal. Every corner of the place smelled like piss. I can kind of see some of the quieter back rooms, stairwells, hallways, etc. smelling like piss. It would be pretty easy to get away with relieving yourself undetected. But do people really piss on the floor while playing blackjack? Do they piss while the receptionist is handing them their room keys at the front desk? How about in the restaurants? I tried to chalk it up to new carpet glue, but after seeing the condition of the carpet, I just couldn't fool myself. But they had rooms with beds, which smelled like piss. This left an impression. I haven't stayed there since. My mother used to say that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Oops. Too late. Wait. I didn't say it, I wrote it. King of the loopholes, baby. So after the last day at the convention and another evening of excesses at some vendor's expense, I decided that tonight was going to be the walkabout. Mr. massage and I decided to do a little shopping for the ladies, and take a nice long look at some of the center strip casinos. We went to the brand new Forum shops at Caesars and hit the Victoria's Secret. It turns out that Victoria's "secret" is that in Vegas, at 10 PM, some women are willing to come out of the dressing room in see-through lingerie to model for their man. Jackpot!! "Can I help you sir?". "No, just looking". Then we went over to the fountains and joined the huddled masses, as we knew something was a brewing. After 10 minutes, we decide to ask someone else what we are waiting for. Oh, the new robotic Caesar show. So we wait, and wait, and wait some more. Then it starts. It's rubbish. Next is the Mirage. I really want to take a long look at this place. Ever since my last trip I had been enamored with this place. I wanted to see every corner, crevice, and public restroom. So we are basically walking everywhere we can, only being stopped by locked doors. We were past the pool, down toward the convention rooms when we came upon an exterior door. It was unlocked (uh, from the inside) so we went outside into the pitch black. Realizing that we were probably where we shouldn't be, we tried to go back in. No dice. Where in the hell are we, and how do we get out of here? If you will recall, Mister massage was also supposedly best friends with the head of security for the Mirage. So the entire time we had been walking around, he was explaining that you are being watched at all times. You can't scratch your beans without it being caught on camera. So we were both waiting for the big spot/flood lights to pop on at any time, and the security team in full tactical gear to repel off the roof and put the smack down on us. It didn't happen. So we decide we better try and find a way out of there. I haven't the foggiest idea where we were, as I had never been out around the pool area. Plus, it was dark. Perhaps we were around the dolphin habitat. It was like a jungle. We were tripping over things, getting smacked in the face with brush of some sort, and I think we encountered a sprinkler or two. We finally found some semblance of civilization, just beyond a fence. We assumed that no one noticed us going out the door. Once out there, it was probably too dark for cameras to pick us up. But in order to get out, we had to climb a fence into a well-lit loading dock area. I am fairly certain that we are going to be taken into some one's custody shortly after hitting the ground on the other side, but I don't care. I want out. Besides, Mr. Massage can just name drop his buddy and get us out of this deal. So we scale the fence, and walk past the loading dock like we belong there. I'll be damned. Next thing we know, we are watching a Siren's show at TI. So much for surveillance. I suppose they are far more concerned with people stealing black chips from the dealer's racks than what is going on in the Dolphin Habitat after dark. Just a guess. We are jackasses. Next was a run in that I will never forget. It was the old "locals rule" routine. We were crossing Las Vegas Blvd. right in front of the Mirage. Having been shopping, we were both carrying a bag or two. That coupled with both of us craning our necks this way and that, gawking, made us a shoe in for being tourists. Coming in the opposite direction was Mr. Bitchin; leather coat, smoking his cig like a tough guy. I guess an ugly Jimmy Dean would be the best description. He takes one look at us, laughs, and says "F-ing tourists". Despite being rather timid, I don't take crap very well, especially when I am well lubricated. So I quickly rebuked, "well, if it wasn't for us tourists, you wouldn't have a job cleaning toilets in our hotels". Surprisingly, he did nothing. I didn't think it through very well before saying it, but just in case, Mr. Massage was a black belt in something. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate all legal lines of work, and the benefit I receive for it. I have the utmost respect for anyone who puts in a hard days work doing anything. Been there myself. What I do have a problem with are incredibly ignorant people who offer up unsolicited opinions to complete strangers. I also have to call "BS" on someone who gives me crap for being a visitor in "his" town, when the economy of said town, and likely thus his livelihood, depends solely on my tourist dollars. Jackass. And yes, I am well aware of the fact that LV's economy consists of far more than just gambling/tourism. Back then, however, that was slightly further from the truth. No matter, if I haven't sufficiently qualified my remarks, see #2 above. My last memory that evening was playing blackjack back at the Urinal. I earned my nickname rather quickly, if memory serves me correctly. My recollection of the room we were playing in is rather odd. The vision I have is almost more of a convention room than a casino. I remember the room being fairly small, with few tables, and almost totally devoid of any other people. That and the tables were no taller than the one in my dining room. Weird. Maybe that part is all a dream. Unlikely, as I don't think I ever slept long enough to have one. Speaking of which, I distinctly remember getting exactly 3 hours of sleep in 4 days. To date, I had never been able to sleep on a plane. I remember getting seated in an L-1011 leaving LV, and being stuck smack in the middle of the middle isle. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep. But I pulled my coat up like a blanket, tilted my head back and closed my eyes. People were still boarding at the time. I woke up an hour and a half later when our plane touched down in SLC. I got home and slept like I was dead. I had to be to work early the next morning. Upon awakening, I realized that the lack of sleep must have crippled my immune system, and I had caught the LV-bird flu. I had explosive diarrhea for 3 days. Sweet. Thanks for humoring me through another read. Next up is trip three; "Where have you been?", or "The Awakening"