Friends: Just got back from a short stay at the MGM Grand with my brother in law John, overall it was a pretty good, although somewhat short trip. Read on for those portions of interest to you. FLIGHTS: We flew out of Des Moines on Allegiant. Allegiant delivered its usual reliable service, arriving in Vegas 15 minutes early. The flight back was routine, also arriving about 5 minutes early. CAR RENTAL: I got a car via Priceline through Budget rental. I was not impressed whatsoever with Budget. First we waited for over 30 minutes to reach the counter while there were at least two stations at the Budget front desk unattended at all times. After finally reaching the counter the agent gave me a hard sell to buy the stupid liability insurance. After politely saying NO twice I pointed out to him that I had coverage through AAA, my credit card and my own auto insurance plan. The idiot just stood there and repeated that if I insisted on declining coverage I would be driving “without insurance.” That line became a running joke between me and John for the remainder of the trip. It should be legal to bitch slap a car rental agent who can’t take 2 polite no’s for an answer. Once we got down to spot we were directed to pick up the car from (D-2) we then got in another line waiting for one sole agent to do the final check out. His body language spoke volumes about how interested he was in performing his job in a quick or courteous manner. It apparently didn’t occur to the folks at Budget that maybe they should have been using both of their gates to process cars, not to mention using a person with a little bit of energy and personality. When we finally got to the front of the line (approx. 20 minutes) he took a quick look at the car and announced we had the “wrong” car and would have to pull over and go back upstairs to straighten things out. He continued to insist upon this even after admitting that we apparently took the car from the designated spot. I refused to move insisting that he get his supervisor—he told me that his supervisor was “over there” waving in a general eastward direction. I refused to move telling him that he better go over and get his supervisor because I was not moving. In fairness to Budget the supervisor, who appeared to have a brain and a personality quickly resolved the problem without us going through two long lines again. The return of the car was equally painless. Nevertheless, Hertz has my loyalty for all future trips if they are even remotely close in price to what I can otherwise get. THE HOTEL: I was quite impressed with the MGM. Check in was quick and painless at about 4:30 pm. We booked an Executive Queen Suite at the MGM Grand. I was not disappointed. Large sitting area, two flat screen TV’s with another chair and coffee table by the window. The bathroom had a separate tub and shower with a double sink. You can check out via text. Valet parking was reasonably efficient and the pool area quite nice. Some very sold dining options as outlined in latter portions of this report. In short I think I may have found my new base for future trips. SHOWS: Not much to report. We saw LOVE, I for the fourth time, John for the first. As usual it was awesome, or to use John’s word: eyegasmic. For those who had chimed in my prior inquiry on whether to go to LOVE or KA I appreciated all of the thoughts—just couldn’t get worked up about some story of two twins searching for their destiny over the greatest band ever. Blame Yoko Ono. GOLF: John knew a guy who knew a guy who got us fully comped at the Canyon Gate country club. This was the true highlight of the trip. The course was fair but not ridiculously hard, we were treated like kings our “non-member” status notwithstanding. For the golfers out there if you ever have a chance to play this course you should do it. I would have played three more rounds there if given the opportunity. DINING: Some tasty eats were had this trip. Monday night we had dinner at BLT Burger at the Mirage-- excellent burgers and even better spiked milkshakes. Tuesday we grabbed In ‘N Out for lunch after golf, another very good burger. For dinner we switched from turf to surf- sake and sushi at Shibuya. On Wednesday we had the brunch at the MGM buffet via a 2-1 voucher via MyVegas. Other than the tough beef brisket it delivered solid brunch/lunch fare. Our “splurge” meal was dinner at Craftsteak. The service was excellent, the vibe nice, and the food very good albeit overpriced. I couldn’t bring myself to eating the A5 Wagyu but the bone in strip steak I had was still very good. Nevertheless, for a couple of born and bred Midwestern boys who grew up eating corn fed beef it was still just a slight letdown—perhaps of our own making since we opted for something the than the A5 Wagyu. I don’t regret going there but I’m not going to blow up Yelp singing its praises either. If you come from a part of the country (or another country) that tries to sell the false gospel of grass fed instead of corn fed beef, you’ll love it. Interestingly my observations were in line with a couple of other diners who sat next to us. GAMBLING: It was there-table limits higher than I expected; first trip in a while where I lost money, couldn’t get on a good streak at the craps table or blackjack to save my soul. John had a similar experience. Only winning experience was on video poker. MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS: 1) Pretty busy notwithstanding the fact that we there mid-week; 2) More characters on the street than last time, the porn slappers were not as plentiful or aggressive as prior trips; 3) Still a fair smattering of morons pushing baby strollers on the Strip at Midnight with one hand while holding some over sized alcoholic beverage with the other hand. 4) The QUAD and the area around it seem much nicer—the Yardhouse is a great bar. 5) Cupcakes from an ATM are just impossible to resist. Until next time, thanks for reading.