Eek - this dude's only a low- low- low-roller gambler, and doesn't drink. So if you need a Hurricane Mikey fix, I can't help. This'll be more about the hotels, the food and the feel of the town. Delta out of Hartford on Tuesday was a bumpy ride, but OK. Connecting flight at MSP, not so much: Hour-long delay for a mechanical, then another 15 minutes taxiing because the control tower had just switched around the takeoff/landing pattern. MGM registration desk at McCarran was closed ... sigh, thought the $20 trick would be interesting to try there. Executive Shuttle was cheap and fast, though, and very late afternoon check-in line at the MGM was minimal. Got the 25th floor, McCarran view, for the $55 a night package (2 spa admissions, 2 lazy river tubes, some other goodies) that I found here a couple of months ago. Thanks as always, T2V. Can't understand the squawks I've read about the MGM. The hallways are immaculate, carpet and walls looks fresh, faux brass in the elevators is polished, the lobby is sharp. Damn pleasant room for a standard - large, attractive bathroom, fantastically comfortable king bed, well-done desk area. A coffeemaker would be nice, but this is Vegas. The sofa along the huge (and CLEAN windows) is a great place for nighttime plane watching and soaking in the lights of the city. (Personally, I love the green glow of the MGM ... there are curtains to block it if you like, but who'd want to?) It was 90 before 11 a.m. today, so the kick-ass A/C in the room (and hallways) is appreciated. Spice Market last night: Agreed, it's lost a step from 4 years ago (the last time we were here). Still awfully good, but not great. The Asian/Chinese section was really sad-looking takeout-style food, and was widely ignored. Mexican was only a notch or two better. The Moroccan stuff was still exceptional - ground lamb on a half-tomato was exquisite & seared on the edges just perfectly. The chicken and lamb kebobs were splendid. But c'mon, is any form of "curry chicken" really a Middle Eastern dish? (This stuff surely wasn't). Seafood was mostly crab legs (meh) and shrimp (allergic), with salmon drowning in too-pungent soy sauce. Oddly, the American station - one I used to skip years ago - was first-rate: Fresh ham, a nicely spiced beef and a decent mushroom ragout. Desserts were as good as remembered, with the creme brulee being a big hit (OK, it's not Montreal-quality ... but WHERE else do you get unlimited creme brulee? I swear some day I'm going back and having NOTHING but the best of the Moroccan offerings & a half-dozen creme brulees). Service was pleasant and fairly prompt even though the place was full. The obnoxious music and big-screen TVs are definitely a step down from the old days. Dinner was also a reminder about the joy of Vegas people watching. Floods of folks of every possible style and type on the street, all pretty much having a good time. Well, alright, four ultra-mega-ginormous people at the buffet were not joyous to watch, nor was the short, 200-pounder with the physics-defying bod .... truly, "sagging" doesn't describe it. We're talking the opposite of a compass; they were pointing due south. Garish, tight purple top ... and no bra. As Groundskeeper Willie would say, "back in the loch with you, Nessie." Early walk this morning to the north Strip. Observations: Sound pollution has taken over Vegas since '06. Every inch of the Strip was another pulsating drumbeat or bass line, way over-amped ... and played for nobody. At 7 a.m., it was deserted. The South Strip just seems ... too much. New construction almost obscures the older landmarks like New York New York and the Bellagio. Got as far north as the Sahara . Didn't look good. Ghost-town casino at 8 a.m., with one old woman slumped & asleep in front of a slot. Took a ride up to 24 in the Tangiers tower just to see if the upper floors looked at all fresh. (I've thought of trying their upper-tier rooms, which are supposedly fully remodeled). Ugh. Carpet worn to a well-beaten Holiday Inn level, and the corridor was damn warm, even at that hour. NASCAR didn't appeal for breakfast. Kady's at the Riv was really surprisingly good, though. The hostess agreed to seat us on the patio (only one person was out there), and it's a great little spot for shade & breeze & fresh air. (Damn, I sound old here, but it was also so blessedly quiet. No jolting music or blaring announcements or needlessly screeching TV. When the pool opened, though, the piped-in music began. Time to go). Monorail back to the MGM was empty. Bought the 3-day pass because I'll be shuttling a lot in the next few days. Sights from the first 18 hours: Three guys (unrelated, as far as I can tell) walking with wooden crosses along the Strip, one guy preaching Scripture to pornslappers, one drunk & nasty-ass chick on the sidewalk near the Riv at 7:30 a.m. absolutely SHRIEKING into her cell "I done looked for that bitch in every casino in town!!!" Super-friendly staffer outside the LV Hilton showed us the 'secret' entrance to the monorail station (reach in the grate of the monorail exit doorway out by the limo parking, turn the handle & just go in. You're still outside the fare collection area, of course, but it spares you having to tour the hotel to reach the station). Fun news of the day: Dave Attell AND Insane Clown Posse are in town this week.