Thursday, June 28, 2012
We actually did some stuff in Las Vegas besides eat, drink and gamble, honest!
For me, a highlight was going to the CSI: Experience at the MGM Grand. The show is an inter-active presentation based on the original CSI, which takes place in Vegas. It does cost about $30, for adults, so I’d advise you going only if you are a big fan of any of the three shows. No spoilers, but the “job” you have as a rookie CSI is to investigate one of three murders/deaths that have occurred by using observation at the crime scene. There you list or draw in as many clues as you can use a rough sketch provided on your worksheet. You are given a clipboard, pen and a two-sided sheet where you list the evidence and lab results as you find them. The various labs contain the “evidence” and computer workstations where you check the clues and view video of actual forensic scientists and the actors from the Gil Grissom era of the show. It is Gil who gives you the initial presentation and your orders. Donna, Fran and I went through and were all able to solve the crime. Just so you know we had Case #1 which involved a man killed after apparently driving his car into his own house. You even get a ‘junior investigator’ diploma after the successfully finish. Cool!!
While Donna & Fran were off to the spa on Friday, I took the opportunity to ‘preview’ and review a new TV show. Each day different television pilots are shown to small groups (about ten to twelve each showing), roughly every couple of hours. The shows vary from half-hour sitcoms to full-hour dramas, so expect to be in the viewing room for a little over an hour depending on the program. Before the show you are asked some questions about your age and where you are from. Basically, because the shows range in subject matter they need to know if you are within the acceptable range. Primarily this might limit it to older teens or adults, but most shows are of the 8-10pm network variety according to the person leading the presentation.
The ‘reviewers’ are taken to a room on Studio Walk and shown into a room containing ten computer stations, there you sign into a station with your ID and asked a few more demographic questions. You have a small box with a dial next to the terminal marked from 0 – 100. As you watch the program you indicate (with the dial) if you are bored (0) or completely interested (100) with what you are viewing.
The day I was there they were showing the pilot for PARTNERS a sit-com already on the Fall schedule of CBS. It’s from the creators of WILL & GRACE, and like that show features a number of gay characters as the leads. In this case, two life-long friends who have both become architects and ‘business’ partners in the small firm they created. The show’s title also refers to the respective partners of the two main characters, Charlie (David Krumholtz) who is straight, and his business partner Louis (Michael Urie) who is gay. Not sure if the cast will change after the pilot (given my input at least two changes should be made), but neither of them the leads. I thought Brandon Routh (who wore the blue tights in SUPERMAN RETURNS) was very, nice as Louis’ partner, a male nurse whom Louis continues to introduce as a doctor. On the other hand, I found Sophia Bush who played Charlie’s fiancé was a total cipher going from sweet to harpy according to the whims of the script. There was, IMHO, no chemistry between them either. The one other character, set up as a regular apparently, was the Tracy Vilar (best known maybe as Nurse Regina on HOUSE, M.D.) who plays their secretary and is wasted in the role. I think she is supposed to remind folks of Rosario on W&G, but comes across as someone auditioning for a minor role in a touring version of WESTSIDE STORY. Not great, but a fun show I thought and one that I might watch for a few episodes to see if it improves. For our efforts, we were given some coupons for free items at the Food Court and discounts in other places around the hotel. I actually used one to get $5 off my CSI: Experience admission.
After breakfast on Saturday, the three of us were picked up by Kristina & Sarah for a trip over to the Venetian, where Fran wanted to find a shop that sold blown glass and jewelry. She had been there on a previous visit and wanted to see what they had, all items being from Italy and Venice in particular. Donna and I had been to the hotel/casino before, but had never gotten beyond the casino part. Going to the shopping/restaurant area was a revelation, as you actually feel that you are walking along a canal in Venice (or at least what we Americans believe it would be like). Donna, who has been to Venice, felt it smelled a bit better. :-)
Being who we are, of course, we had to sample some of the Italian baked goods at a small café. Everyone seemed happy with their choices and Sarah was a good sport, sampling each of the items she had never had before. Guess cannolis and Napoleons weren’t part of her upbringing.
Went on longer than I had planned again, but wanted to give you a general idea of what we did while away. Not sure the next time we’ll get out there, but I think we might pick a bit cooler month, if that’s possible.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
We had a great time in Las Vegas last week and I'd like to share some of that with you.
Donna and I both only worked a half day last Wed. so we were able to get on the road by around 4:00pm. You'd think that on a mid-week there wouldn't be a lot of traffic, but you'd be wrong. Fortunately, it cleared off by around Fontana, CA and we didn't hit anymore until outside Primm, NV (about twenty miles outside LV). We stopped for gas there and were at the MGM Grand and checked in by about 9:00pm that night. We were up on the 13th floor (so much for superstition in Vegas), with our room overlooking the Tropicana, the airport and the Hooters casino/hotel across the avenue. Who knew that Hooters even had a hotel/casino? I joked about going over for wings one night, but nobody else seemed up for the experience. Something about being the only guy in the group, perhaps?
We still had some sandwiches that Donna had packed and other snacks, so we skipped trying to find a restaurant that night. This gave us a chance to meet Fran & Christina Stoffo for drinks at the Rouge bar just off the casino floor (as is just about everything to be honest). Nice to catch up, even though you had to get loud to be heard over the music.
Not going to detail everything but I did want to hit a few highlights. One being the inevitable Elvis sighting, this time in the Food Court after midnight. Where else, right?
Three of us (Fran, Donna & I) had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe on Thursday, which took a bit of searching to actually locate. Lack of signage, plus some renovations being made in the West Wing made it harder than it probably normally would have been. The food was good, with Donna and I both having a steak/ribs/shrimp combo. Service was a bit slow, but the place was packed so I'll forgive them that. To be honest, I think the place is a bit over-rated, despite the food being good. They advertise a 'show' but all it amounts to is them flashing the lights every twenty minutes or so to the sound of thunder and rain. It was more fun watching the tropical fish in all the tanks. I'm sure kids would like it, and the place was packed with families who seemed to be having a good time.
On Saturday evening,the three of us also got reservations to Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill at the MGM. I had an amazing Pancetta Wrapped Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy, Yukon Gold Potato Puree and Buttermilk Onion Rings. Donna & Fran each had the Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Blue Cheese Butter, Red Wine Sauce and French Fries (which were more like quartered potatoes fried extremely crispy). We shared a very, nice Riesling (from their decent wine list) and were all very happy with our meals.
In between, on Friday, we met up with Kristina & Sarah who were staying in town. We met Sarah's family and had dinner at Metro Pizza over on Tropicana Ave. It's Sarah's favorite pizza place and I can see why. The pizza is pretty good (even coming from a Brooklyn guy, like me), the chicken fingers had just enough of a kick and they had a really, nice selection of beer (which we sampled, of course). Everybody had more than enough and we finished the evening by going to a frozen custard place (the name escapes me) where we all had dessert standing outside in the parking lot.
Believe it or not, we actually did things besides eat, although that seemed to involve gambling, drinking or planning our next meal. Did you know that when you gamble you get free drinks? To be honest, that was one of the first things I learned in my first visit to a casino in Freeport/Paradise Island in the Bahamas, when I was in the Navy. I also learned that you can hold a drink in one hand and pull the lever on the slot machine with the other. A skill, I'm proud to say, I still have. :-)
This has gone on longer than I meant it to and I still have a few more things to talk about (some of which may also involve eating and drinking). I'll try to get to that later today or tomorrow. By the way, did you know that it gets hot in Vegas in June? But...it's a dry heat!
Been a while but I wanted to catch you up once more. Looks like the Library will be expanding hours and trying to move a bit more into the modern era by offering eBooks to our patrons. My understanding is that, prior the recontruction of the new building the system did have eBooks for a period. It will be interesting to see the circulation of these items once word gets out. Staff has been asked to refrain from downloading any in order to give our patrons the opportunity. Things are always in flux here so it's never sure what is going to happen in the future. As is always the case, you have to prepare for anything. Remember to keep those resumes updated, kids! Hate to sound like I'm so down, but we all have to face reality. On a more positive note, Donna and I are heading to Vegas next week to meet up with the Stoffos. Some others may join us, but that seems up in the air at the moment, so I'm not going to jinx things by saying anything. We've gone back and forth about whether to fly or drive, but the prices of airline tickets is a joke, plus the hassle of either taking a shuttle to the airport or parking for several days. As of now we're going to drive and I'll keep my fingers crossed that I don't annoy Donna and end up walking across the desert. If you are keeping up with my Facebook and Twitter posts you probably have a better idea of things anyway, so nothing else needs to be said. Anyway, after Vegas the next big thing is heading down to the San Diego Comic Con in July. Only able to get a one day pass for Sunday, due to the wonderful new ticket
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Been a while but I wanted to catch you up once more. Looks like the Library will be expanding hours and trying to move a bit more into the modern era by offering eBooks to our patrons. My understanding is that, prior the recontruction of the new building the system did have eBooks for a period. It will be interesting to see the circulation of these items once word gets out. Staff has been asked to refrain from downloading any in order to give our patrons the opportunity. Things are always in flux here so it's never sure what is going to happen in the future. As is always the case, you have to prepare for anything. Remember to keep those resumes updated, kids! Hate to sound like I'm so down, but we all have to face reality. On a more positive note, Donna and I are heading to Vegas next week to meet up with the Stoffos. Some others may join us, but that seems up in the air at the moment, so I'm not going to jinx things by saying anything. We've gone back and forth about whether to fly or drive, but the prices of airline tickets is a joke, plus the hassle of either taking a shuttle to the airport or parking for several days. As of now we're going to drive and I'll keep my fingers crossed that I don't annoy Donna and end up walking across the desert. If you are keeping up with my Facebook and Twitter posts you probably have a better idea of things anyway, so nothing else needs to be said. Anyway, after Vegas the next big thing is heading down to the San Diego Comic Con in July. Only able to get a one day pass for Sunday, due to the wonderful new ticketing program the Con has in effect. It gets worse each year and not better, so I may just begin skipping the whole thing entirely. I enjoyed Wonder Con and liked the Long Beach Comic Con, so I may just go to those from this point on. San Diego may have grown too big and too much of a hassle for older fans like myself. Unless you are more into media (other than comics) or already a pro there isn't a need to attend. I mean if you aren't going to have fun why bother? I'll try to remember to get back with a Vegas report and maybe other things in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, look for me on Facebook. I can still afford a few more friends.