Saturday, March 17, 2007

March Madness Vegas style

March Madness is here again. A Chicago research firm calculated that the people who watch the NCAA tourney on their computer at work wil cost the nation's employers $1.2 billion in productivity. Using that formula, my blog (widely read in the workplace) will cost this country $.0000000001. Sure I feel guilty. Some years I go to Vegas for the first weekend. Here's my travelogue from one of those past trips.

March Madness has arrived again -- the NCAA basketball tournament. Thus the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for me and three of my middle aged sports nerd television executive buddies. Slater, the Banger, and Mr. Syracuse. Slater brought his girlfriend (who goes by either Karen or Valerie -- long story) thus increasing his chances of "getting lucky" by maybe 1%. Mr. Syracuse brought his wife thus decreasing his chances. My son, Matt flew in from Boston. He's now 21 so what better way to see Las Vegas for the first time than with his dad and three guys who look like the Pep Boys?

We stayed this year at the Paris Hotel. The theme is French hospitality (an oxymoron). I'm sure I would have been given a nicer room if I registered as Himmler. The casino features a low ceiling that is painted to look like the sky, a la the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. It's an odd shade of blue however, one that suggests nuclear winter. There are cobblestone streets and carpeting. A replica LePont Alendre III bridge overlooks the nickel slot machines, and there is an Eiffel Tower that is fifty stories high. Tours are offered. There is a sign at the entrance that reads "No food, beverages, smoking, weddings" (true story).

I don't know why these hotels opt for these elaborate themes. The truth is: NO ONE CARES. People schlepp around in t-shirts and shorts and flip flops. If I ever put up a hotel in Las Vegas I would use as my theme the HOME DEPOT.

Matt and I went to Le Cafe for breakfast. They said "inside or outside?" What??? Outside of course meant under the sky painted ceiling. We chanced that it wouldn't rain and took the outside.

The in-house cable had a channel that spelled out emergency exit procedures. Leave it to the French to provide a surrender strategy.

Remember when Frank Sinatra used to play Vegas? This weekend it was Carrot Top and (at the Riviera) "America's Tribute to Neil Diamond". Not even the real Neil Diamond, an impersonator. In two weeks the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (true) will be appearing. I'd love to see Shecky Green open for them.

Of course you could always pay a gazillion dollars to see Celine Dion screech out five songs a night. Or is that just a Barbra Streisand impersonator??

The Paris had "Arabian Nights Spectacular", something else to make the Jews feel comfortable.

This stunned me: The Mirage features "Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat". The ad says: "come face to face with Royal White Tigers". How drunk do you have to be or how much money do you have to lose to want to do THAT?? And we all know the end result.

One thing you can say about Vegas, it has the most amazingly beautiful women in the world. And so where did we spend 90% of our time? At the Sportsbook, the one place that none of them would ever be caught dead in. There were 48 games in four days. At times four were going on simultaneously. I'm betting on teams I've never heard of. The place was packed with rowdy men and good old boys chugging long neck beers. We ordered White Russians, Tequila Sunrises, and Rusty Nails. No one messed with US.

One hazzard: you see the same commercial seventeen thousand times. Especially the one for "Cialis", designed to keep a man ready for 36 hours. Too bad I'm not single. One of those magic pills would be perfect for me. 35 1/2 hours to find a woman then a half hour to perform.

The Banger bet on exhibition baseball. Even Pete Rose never did that.

Matt was carded at the Sportsbook for ordering a Sprite. If you bet $500 a day on horses by the way, you get a coupon for a free drink. Again, French hospitality.

In keeping with the French theme, accordion music came out of the urinals. Finally, the correct venue for that music.

Elegant dining = no Keno boards.

I rode down the elevator with a beautiful girl who was wearing a white top with two Chinese letters on it. I said, "Do you know what that means?" She said, "No, I bought this because it looks good with the pants." "So you have no idea what that says?" I repeated. "What does it say" she asked. "Kill me!" I said and stepped out of the elevator leaving her aghast.

Slater's girlfriend Valerie/Karen is vegan, which means there are only six things she can eat and she's allergic to four of them. She and Slater are the two nicest people on the planet but I have dubbed them "America's Waiter Killer Couple". Slater switches every table and sends back every order while Valerie/Karen has the kitchen prepare items not on the menu every meal. I would give anything to see these two on SURVIVOR.

Valerie/Karen's back was bothering her so she toted around a pillow to make sitting more comfortable. But a hot girl walking through the casino with a pillow -- she looked like a hooker who advertised.

On Saturday night Mr. Syracuse and his wife hosted a dinner for sixteen of us. They got a private room in the Paris restaurant. I was sure Slater was going to walk in and ask if there was ANOTHER private room for sixteen?

Spotted at the Paris pool -- a guy in a ball and chain. I'm guessing (hoping) it was a bachelor party but there he was with a bowling ball attached to a chain handcuffed to his arm. Either that or the hotel was presenting "Les Miserables" poolside.

What is Pai Gow poker???

My sincere thanks to the Banger for getting down to the Sportsbook every morning at 5 to reserve us some seats. Personally, I think he was "In-Seine".

Never, NEVER take America West (America WORST) airlines if you can avoid it. Truly the most inept "shitbirds" in the sky. ALWAYS late, sardine cans for planes. And when you finally do arrive to Totie Fields Field (or whatever the Las Vegas airport is called) it takes a good hour to get a cab.

What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas primarily because you can't count on an America Worst flight to ever get off the ground.

Featured at the Paris Hotel: drinks in plastic Eiffel Tower glasses. $12.50 (true). There was a line. I wonder how many of those people thought they were buying the "actual" Eiffel Tower?

At the end of the weekend all of us either made a little money or broke even, Stanford and Kentucky got eliminated, and the waiters at the Paris hotel got together and paid for Slater's cab to the airport. It was great great fun. Go Bruins!!!


Anonymous said...

You're darn right about the women! Went to Vegas last August and I immediately knew I'd been vacationing in all the wrong places. Wow!

They don't look that good in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Anonymous said...

And it's worth noting that the public restrooms off the casino in the Paris are the finest in Vegas.

It's worth holding it while you hop on the tram to take advantage of these facilities.

Anonymous said...

Kentucky got eliminated?

Mark Mascolino said...

From what I understand, Pai Gow Poker is an excelletn game because you push a lot and takes forever to play so you can rack up the free booze without loosing too much money.

Anonymous said...

Pai Gow Poker -- a game where you loose your money & get drunk. But, in an hour, you're sober and feel like you can do it all over again!

Ken, thanks for last weeks blog for mom.
Also, thanks to all your readers for their warm coments. It's greatly appreciated.


By Ken Levine said...

Note to readers:

Corey is my brother. What really helped me get through last weekend was having him here.

Anonymous said...

I realize that a 7 for 15 day from the line should garner no sympathy, and couple that with Butler hitting 48% from beyond the arc, it's no wonder Maryland lost today.

But, everyone has to admit that we got screwed on that false charge call on DJ in the final minute. A possible 4 point swing....

damn shame.

oh well. on now to the only season that really matters.

Anonymous said...

Pai Gow poker is very easy (my 4 year old son plays against me). You get seven cards. You make a five card poker hand and you have a 'two card' hand with the leftovers.

Your five card hand MUST beat your two cards. (You can't have two pairs and put out the higher pair as the two cards.) If you've got nothing, all you can do is put your highest card in the five card hand, and the next two highest as the two cards.

You go heads up with the dealer. If both your hands beat theirs, you win. If both theirs beat yours your lose. Split and you push.

In Vegas usually you have to pay a commision on a win. You can also be the dealer where you go against everyone at the table, including the 'dealer'.

VP81955 said...

Anonymous said...
I realize that a 7 for 15 day from the line should garner no sympathy, and couple that with Butler hitting 48% from beyond the arc, it's no wonder Maryland lost today.

But, everyone has to admit that we got screwed on that false charge call on DJ in the final minute. A possible 4 point swing....

damn shame.

oh well. on now to the only season that really matters.

You mean the Maryland women's basketball team? The defending national champions beat Harvard today 89-65 in the first round. Go Terps! (Hey, it's good to beat Harvard in the tourney, because in life, Harvard wins most everything else.)

Mike Barer said...

You gotta love my Cougars, if nothing else, for taking the Bible Thumping Oral Roberts out of the tourney.

Anonymous said...

I kind of like the painted ceiling in the Paris hotel (in a cheesy way). It has a twilight shade to it.

The one in the forum shops at Caesar's is better, though.

Stephen Green said...

I still believe that Manhattan has the most amazingly beautiful women in the world. In Vegas, though, they're displayed a bit more effectively.

Anonymous said...

RE: Drinking at the Sportsbook -- If you'd ordered Chablis or Sloe Gin Fizzes, you may have gotten the crap beaten out of you by a bunch of guys with shaved heads, scars on their faces, motorcycle chains for key rings and tattoos the size of Rhode Island on their arms (no room for tattoos on their chests -- they were covered with too much hair)...