ARRIVAL LV Terry: Hurry up! Fly faster! Me: Working on it. Have another SoCo. LVT: No way! Gotta stay pure! Me: You? Pure? hahaha Touched down at McCarran and went looking for my boys. Found Terry and Marty at some Nascar-themed bar above the baggage claim area, with three rum and cokes on the table. You could almost taste the coke. Oh yeah. Finished those and grabbed a cab to the IP. Turns out the cabbie wasn't just handing us a line about the traffic on Paradise, but that's ok. Gave him time to tell a dirty joke or two and offer to hook us up with Natasha or whoever. Marty got on the phone to somebody already at the IP: "We're in a cab, on our way. And when I get there woman, I want my dinner ready, and it better be *hot*!" We thought he was talking to Sin, and were a little sad that he wasn't long for this world. But Sin was on her way to the IP as well. Checked into the hotel and threw our bags in our rooms. I was right across the hall from Terry, Marty was elsewhere. Found out later Larry specifically requested "elsewhere" vs near us, maybe that was Marty's plan too. While Terry got changed I unpacked the shot glasses he got again this year. I saw one of his keycards laying out on the dresser. Faced with the opportunity... I folded. Stupid conscience. We were kind of on short timing getting downtown, but it seemed wrong to not go up to the penthouse suite, so we gathered up there for a drink or two, then grabbed a limo down to MSS where Eric, our host for the evening, had us set up at the Pullman Grill. They put us up front, I guess so the bouncers wouldn't have to haul us far. The food was good, but we were pressed for time and needed to dash down to the Nugget for the Rickles show. We got up to the showroom just in time to get bent over for a couple drinks (a $12 red bull and vodka???) and catch Larry King's skeletal wife singing as the opening act. Actually, she had a good voice and I was fairly in awe of the live band backing her up. You may never see that many years of musical experience on stage in Vegas again, lots of guys and all with lengthy resumes. Anyway, Mrs. King finished up, the lights went down and came back up, and the band did a rousing little opening number as this bald octagenarian kind of toddled onto the stage past the bandleader, grabbed a microphone, turned towards the bandleader and it was GAME ON In show parlance, Rickles killed. Honestly, if I told you what he said, you'd probably just find it offensive and maybe not all that funny. But he was killing us. Every 5-10 seconds Sin is having another laughing fit and beating on my arm. It was a time warp. Here was Joe E Brown at the Desert Inn, or Jimmy Durante at the Flamingo. Jokes, a few little song and soft-shuffle numbers, some showbiz name-dropping, and a live band on a little stage in Vegas. Eric, that was an awesome call. Not worthy, man. But all good things must come to an end, and this one did -- somewhere between 5 and 12 times. It was all the hooting and hollering after the many encores that did in my voice. Of course, if you're lucky, one good thing ends and another begins, like getting a private poker table over at Binions with all of your friends. And what could be wrong with that? Gerald Ford: My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. LV Terry: Oh but Al's is *just* getting started... hahaha Terry comes around a corner at Binions, see's me over at an ATM, and thinks to himself "this trip just keeps getting better!" I didn't really think all that hard about cash, figured I'd bring some, and get some here. So after paying off bad sports bets (hey, thanks for that #12 tip guys!), dinner, show, cab, etc, already needed to get another hundy for cards. When I got to the table, Terry's already shown around his new favorite picture. Hand #1, my top pair gets busted when Sticky hits her flush. Hand #2, I raise with QQ, sticky reraises, Terry (who doesn't even have a rack yet) reraises, I call, Sticky caps, and I'm pretty sure unless I see a Q on the flop I need to get out of Dodge. No help on the flop, so i get out. At the end, Sticky shows KK and Terry shows AA -- and the board shows J-T-9-8-x. Hand #3, somebody else busts my 2 pr with yet another flush. So three hands in I'm short stacked with no voice. How the heck am I supposed to play poker this way? It's a nightmare from which I can't wake up. I hung in for a while, but in the end I couldn't push Terry off his small pair (funny how that's always what he's holding), nor could I catch overcards or a diamond to beat him the old fashioned way. Screw this game. Gave up on poker and went dancing with the girls, half to keep an eye on them, because honestly, they find trouble like it's their job (yeah, all of you say it together -- "who, me??"). Anyway, somehow we wound up back at the IP suite, listening to tunes and watching the sun come up, whereupon it was time for me to go to bed. Next morning I discovered that they play tunes at the pool area, which echoes nicely up into even 16th floor rooms. Got a few hrs sleep, got breakfast -- IP Teahouse hash browns were great -- got assorted items down at the Walgreens, then back to the IP to crash again for a little while. Planned on heading down to the pool, but stopped by the suite "on the way" and, well, never made it to the pool. Somewhere along the way I thought, I could go home even now, and it still would have been worth the trip. PARTY OUT OF BOUNDS Slowly we assembled more of the living dead from the night before, and we bundled together a few and walked down to Maggiano's in the mall to "put down a base". I mean, some of these people needed breakfast. And although they complained, I think maybe a couple needed the walk too. Maggiano's was an excellent call food-wise, and dining with this group is always a good time - just ask Sin. But don't ask the parents of small children sitting nearby. Terry and Snert and I walked back. As we got back to the IP, he made some comment like "you gotta watch your back in this group." If he had followed is own advice, those porn-slapper cards wouldn't be in his backpack now. Heh. Back up to the suite, where it was a couple dozen happy people vs. $600 worth of booze -- and though we gave it a good shot, the booze lived to fight another day. The party was a great time. Good people, good conversation, things to see and maybe to unsee (if possible) -- hope everybody had good time, and I hope Larry's butt isn't still smarting (oops, did I say that out loud?). Oh, and I took the opportunity to drunk-dial somebody in Vegas -- turns out some of the people who live there actually sleep at night. Or try. Heh. Eventually, though, we needed to clear the room, and headed down into the casino, once again, getting a private poker table. That cigar BigStogie had provided (thanks man!) had finished off whatever was left of my throat, and I was reduced to QPP: Quietly Playing Poker. I didn't even check-raise Sticky, sitting to my left, although I'd promised to. But overall it worked out to my favor, covering the stupid sports bets, but this time I called it a night before it was day. Again up earlier than I wanted to be, again to the Teahouse, again went back to the room to crash before again heading up to the suite. Fewer living dead than the day before. Got some roulette numbers from Ross and JonnyU and went down to give them a spin before the poker tourney, but got no love whatsoever. STFU AND DEAL Once again, great turnout for the poker tourney, and I hope everybody had a good time, I know I did. And once again, I busted out of the tourney early, just missing the reverse "in the money" - the shirt and whatever the 2nd person out got. I'm thinking that 14% alcohol Sammichlaus that Becky brought didn't help me. Actually, though, I have no complaints. I took at least one pot down, and had a shot at doubling up off of Terry. He was the only caller on my preflop raise with QJ hearts. When the flop came A + two hearts, and Terry went all-in, I took a shot. Figured I wouldn't get a chance at Captain Flop'nFold's stack unless he was ahead anyway. So that's my story and I'm stickin' with it. I wandered around watching and taking pics until Mike the Dealer Nazi shut me down. Once we got down to one table they opened up another one at 2-4 to pass the time. Didn't do squat at that table either, but I got a near-orgasmic massage from Sin, so it was all good. Meanwhile, "my boy" Eric was making quite the move for somebody who was so convinced beforehand he'd be hitting the rail about, uh, the time I did. I don't know the whole story, but I think once or twice he had to stand up to pull a river card out of his ass. That was very cool to see him win, though. We played on a bit at the Loser's Lounge table until they rotated Mike the Dealer Nazi back onto the table and he killed the buzz. Anyway, it was time for dinner. DOWN AT DINO'S BAR AND GRILL Just like last year, Doug and I had the privilege of enjoying George's (excuse me, Marlisha's) totally smooth ride over to Del Frisco's Double Eagle steakhouse. And just like last year at the Palm, the food (and the company) was outstanding, although this year, no creme brulee's would be meeting a gruesome end, it was more than I could do to just get through the outstanding slab of beef in front of me, not to mention the sinful au gratin potatoes and the sauteed mushrooms. Getting out of there for under a benjy with tip was like stealing. Unfortunately, the smoking uber-ban closed their completely-sealed-off cigar lounge full of leather sofas, so we could only peek in and imagine. After dinner, George was nice enough to chauffer us up and down the strip to our respective destinations, me winding up down at Mandalay Bay. Took me a while to find out which elevator banks lead to the Foundation Room. After a couple minutes Eric stepped out of the elevator and waved me past the door man and the crowd of well-dressed people to the elevator. At the top of the Mandalay he led me through dimly lit corridors of red velvet, through curtains to a small room off the floor. Whoops, starting to sound like a "Lacy" story. Anyway, Becky and Angy were already there, along with Drea and the two girls from DC whose names I don't recall. Also finally met Mike (JoeSchmoe) whom I'd texted earlier (I'll let him tell that story). Very cool, and a great time. We drank a bit, talked a bit, danced a bit and took in the view from the balcony. Becky took her leave, and our host Eric also had to finally turn in to get some shuteye before flying out. Thanks a million Eric for hooking me up with two *outstanding* evenings man, dinner's on me next time. While we were out on the patio, somebody mentioned Hogs 'n Heifers. Angy was kind of iffy about it, but the girls from DC were keen on it, and if we weren't the group to take Mike downtown, I don't know who was. Six people in the group at this point, so naturally we *had* to take a limo. Hope somebody got a pic of Mike sticking his head out the moonroof. Bit of a downer, though, as the girls from DC got turned away at the door of HnH - did these guys fail bouncer school?? In we went anyway, and dialed some reinforcements. In what seemed like no time, we were surrounded by the Usual Suspects - Sin, PattifromVegasClub, Scott, Marty (sans robe) and Marty's buddy, who as a fellow cheesehead seemed right at home in this place. The bartender chicks were entertaining, although no undergarments got added to the collection behind the bar this trip. Actually, for Saturday night it seemed strangely quiet. When we closed that place, we shook off whatever remaining glitz we had on us and headed down to the El Co. Again, who better to introduce Mr Fairway Villa to Jackie's Last Stand than us? No baccarat tables in sight, so the group descended on a blackjack table, where Marty and his buddy proceeded to alarm the pit crew with their high-rolling ways. I'm pretty sure those two are comped at the El Co for the next year or so. While they were whoopin' it up, Scott and I escorted Drea and Angy to the "fine dining" section of Careful Kitty's, where among other things, an interesting variation on darts was discussed. We headed back to the table to find Sin and Mike heading off to Pai Gow and Marty demonstrating the "orangutang". It was now about 5 am, and I had made two critical mistakes - eating, and looking at my watch. I was done, and headed back to the IP with the rest of the crew from Kitty's. AND ALL GOOD THINGS... Still can't sleep much though. I think I was up at about 8 am, and again unable to get back to anything resembling sleep. So I got up, got my stuff together, dropped it off at the suite (thanks Sin, sorry for waking ya), and headed off for breakfast. Caught up with Snert heading out on his morning promenade and we got some eats at the old standby, Grand Lux. Unfortunately I was in the mood to try to make up for 3 straight days of meat/eggs/grease, otherwise I would have gone with what Snert had, some excellent looking eggs benny. After breaky he went on with his walk and I headed back to the IP. I finally did the Auto Collection tour, which was cool, even though I was running pretty much on empty by that point. All I really wanted, though, was to head back up to the suite (where there was now a little life) and take a snooze out on the balcony, which I got, and helped me feel a little less shaky. BTW, thanks a million Angy for getting that suite and letting so many of us make a home base out of it. You rock girl. And that's pretty much it. Flight home was uneventful except that I managed to get some sleep on it, which for me is no small miracle. It was a great trip. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones. But that doesn't mean I was unhappy to go home -- everything in it's own time and place, I guess. Anyway... Doc oot.