Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas in Las Vegas

As you prepare for Christmas and all the holiday traditions, take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of the season. And nowhere is that more present than in Vegas -- Bethlehem with slots. Here's my holiday travelogue from a few Decembers ago. Gather up the whole family and enjoy.

Deb and I just got back from a brief weekend in Las Vegas, or, as I like to call it, "Three Card Monty for the Red States". Many big attractions there this holiday weekend. The annual rodeo, the Anti-Aging conference, the Jose Luis Castillo/Joel Casamayer title bout. But we were there to see Linda Eder. Ms. Eder is a spectacular singer -- Barbra Streisand but at affordable prices and you never have to suffer through "Evergreen". We've become friends with her manager, Dave, who graciously invited us to join him for her concert. Since we likely would have gone to Vegas for Christmas anyway, we gladly accepted.

Stayed at the Mandalay Bay. Dave is also a VP of something for the House of Blues (who knows more about the blues than the Jews?) and arranged for us to get a room on the "House of Blues" floor. It had the two things Debby and I require in a hotel room -- a fabulous view and voodoo decor.

I'm not joking about the annual Anti-Aging conference. But am I the only one who finds it odd to hold an Anti-Aging conference in the one place where people stay up all hours drinking, gorging, smoking, and enduring the enormous stress of losing their money? I guess it's held there out of respect for Joan Rivers. My feeling is if the President of the Anti-Aging organization isn't 117 then it's a sham.

Had dinner Friday night at Rumjungle in the hotel. Very classy. Girls dance in cages above your head. To me that is classy. To Vegas it's positively elegant.

Interesting crowd at the hotel because of all the special events. A lot of shitkickers (I assume for either the rodeo or "Mamma Mia") and the prizefight attracted several hundred Ruben Studdards decked out in jewelry and Oakland Raider sweatsuits. Rode in an elevator with one -- a mean looking dude in black sunglasses. He said, "you here for the fuckin' fight, man?" I sheepishly had to say "No, the Linda Eder concert". I'm lucky I'm still alive.

This week a boxing title match, next week an ice spectacular featuring American Idol loser Diana DeGarmo.

The headliner at the hotel was Larry the Cable Guy. If Shecky Green were dead he'd be rolling in his grave.

And as I said, a full Broadway production of "Mamma Mia", not to mention a separate "Mamma Mia" STORE. Someone had a great line about Abba. It's like being hit in the head with Ikea furniture. You appreciate the craftmanship but it hurts.

I won $20 in blackjack. Debby lost $.55 in the slots. I doubt if we'll be comped the next trip.

I think there were Christmas lights and decorations up all over town. Who could tell?

The waitresses were all attractive with massive chests. If there was a flood on the casino floor they would float to the surface.

The most beautiful girl I saw there was a parking valet attendant bundled in a heavy coat. If she got a boob job I'm sure she could get an inside job. Maybe Santa will be good to her.

Next day we hit the beach. Yes, Mandalay Bay has it's own beach. Unfortunately, the ocean was turned off. No waves. But Debby and I took a long walk along the grid that serves as the shore and gazed out at the horizon to see the Lance Burton Magician billboard on Las Vegas Avenue.

From there we hotel hopped. Had to stop in at the Excalibur -- a casino in Sleeping Beauty's castle. This is home to the black socks, shorts, and wife beater shirt crowd. You know you're in trouble when they have a special parking lot just for motorhomes. Handing a pair of dice to one of these idiots is like handing a gun to a monkey.

Then on to the Bellagio, where Debby and I checked out the Monet exhibit at their fine arts gallery. (How can you go to Vegas and not stop in a museum??) I imagine when most of the tourists saw the ad for the exhibit they said, "Hey, they spelled money wrong!" The paintings were glorious and it was just nice to be in the only room in Las Vegas where everybody voted for Kerry. I can only imagine the paintings Monet himself would have made had he been to Las Vegas. "The Imperial Palace as seen from the Luxor".

The highlight of the trip was the Linda Eder concert. It's the third time I've seen her. I realize that if I see her one more time I'm officially gay. But I don't care. That will happen in March when she performs in Northridge. The only problem was that her concert hall was impossible to find. It's somewhere on the UNLV campus -- the Jerry Tarkanian Music Hall, or something like that -- and even cab drivers have no idea where this is. Dave and I set out for the sound check. The venue is five minutes from our hotel but we wound up somewhere near the Mustang Ranch. The only map on how to get there was on the ticket envelope you pick up at the box office. But we ultimately found it and the concert was wonderful. Celine Dion can't carry her Chloraseptic.

Headed home early this morning. McCarran airport is the worst in the country re security checks. You actually DO have to allow two hours. It's bad enough you have to remove your shoes, but the spurs must come off too and that takes some time.

And now we're home, shopping for voodoo wallpaper.



Tammy Trueheart said...

Okay, okay. This might seem like I'm a nitpicking, but how does a girl with parents from Austria and Norway respectively end up as a dark-haired Mexican looking girl? I think there's something going on that no one wants to talk about...

Pedantic Pete said...

Mamma Mia, not Mama Mia. Surely your Abba knowledge is rusty Ken :-)

Baylink said...

And it's McCarran.

Or was that a joke?

Stiverap: .. Amazingly, I got nothin.

Patrick said...

"Someone had a great line about Abba. It's like being hit in the head with Ikea furniture. You appreciate the craftmanship but it hurts." - just f'n brilliant

DwWashburn said...

As a Vegas resident, I can only say you get what you seek. I know it's the same for me and LA. I was there for three days in late December 2002 and it was most depressing. Unlike the other times I've been there when it's only been quite depressing.

Joey H said...

The valet girl probably makes way more money than the cocktail waitresses.

It occurs to me that Larry the Cable Guy's frequent co-star, Ron White, is the Shecky Greene of this decade.

-Lostboy- said...

I used to work for House of Blues before my Dad got sick. It was the best job I've ever had.

VP81955 said...

Perhaps the Anti-Aging Conference rotates its site between Vegas and St. Petersburg, Fla.

The waitresses were all attractive with massive chests.

Elaine Benes plans to investigate!

wv: "proolec" -- the latest wonder drug from Pfizer. Heaven knows what the product's for, but that won't stop the company from incessantly advertising it.

Abby Bettencourt said...

Ken, I'm so tired of your random little digs at the supposed "stupidity" of the rest of America, namely Republicans. So no one who voted for Bush could possibly have the desire to see a Monet? Oh my God you're such an elitist. I know it was a "joke" (whatever) but this has been a common theme in your posts. For what it's worth, I voted for Bush and McCain, am a working writer... and... hold on to your yarmulke... Jewish. I'm telling you this in the hopes that it would help you reevaluate your world view that pigeonholes Conservatives as undereducated, black-sock-wearing idiots, but I'm sure it won't, because while liberals preach "tolerance," they are, in fact, only tolerant to those who agree with them.

By Ken Levine said...


I don't contend that ALL Republicans are idiots. In fact, one -- Rob Long -- is one of the smartest, funniest people I know. And I'm sure you are too. But I'm sorry, anyone who voted for Bush is fair game.

I'm currently in Hawaii when Sarah Palin just left. Do not read my travelogue when I return home. You will hate it, I warn you.

Politics aside, have a great holiday.


YEKIMI said...

Perhaps the Anti-Aging Conference rotates its site between Vegas and St. Petersburg, Fla.

Hey, I was born in St. Pete, they threw me out when I was 12 and told me not o come back till I turned 75 or died....whichever came first.

Matt Patton said...

There are really two Las Vegas-es(?), according to a friend of my mother's. There's The Strip (suckers big and small), and then there's the suburbs and such, which revolve around aerospace (or at least did for a long time) and UNLV. The only real point of intersection is charity--a fair number of headliners over the years have performed gratis at local benefits.

As for the black-sock and shorts crowd at the Excalibur, are they really that much worse than the Armani-clad emotional cripples who get comp suites at the Bellagio or Mandalay Bay because they come in and lose hundreds of thousands over a weekend at the roulette table, pausing only to return to the aforementioned comp suites where they have joyless, unsatisfying sex with expensive call girls?

By the way, the latest scientific evidence suggests that you are only gay after you have gone to see Linda Eder nine times, own all of her albums, and have put in an online bid for at least three of the costumes she has worn while appearing on Broadway.

Sammy Davis Sr. said...

Yeah, but Rob's a homo, so he doesn't count. (I keed!)

Damn, Abby. I was just about to tear Ken a new one for snarking on my black brothers and their hillbilly compatriots. (We're the real Americans, in case Ken didn't get the memo. Again, I keed!)

But Abby, you're hypersensitive and DUMB. So you're Jewish. Proof, if proof were needed, that all y'all ain't smart.

Seriously, you're offended because he portrayed Republicans as people who don't know how to dress, and have no interested in fine art? Ken portrayed your fellow know nothings with the gentlest possible stereotype (a fairly accurate one at that) and you're the one who's offended?

Okay, okay, Abby, you win.

There are never any fat black guys in track suits and jewelry at Vegas prizefights. And there are never any drunk rednecks fighting in bars when there's a big rodeo in town. And as a rule, Jews hate to complain.

And, Abby? For your information, Ken never wears a yarmulke unless he's alone with his wife and feeling naughty. (He doesn't wear it on his head.)

Rory L. Aronsky said...

And as a rule, Jews hate to complain.

Damn right! We merely inform sharply. ;)

Greg Wolfe said...


I can't wait until your Cadillac WGA health plan is destroyed by Obamacare, and then you can tell us all how smart you "progressives" were to vote in an unqualified first term senator to run this country.

I can't speak for all conservatives, but while I didn't agree with nearly half of Bush's policies, in the 2000 election it was a choice between him and a pseudo-intellectual proven liar (I can only assume you went to Hawaii in an attempt to escape the "global warming" ravaging the East Coast), and in 2004 it was Bush or a charisma-less golddigging elitist. Give the options, I still feel I chose right.

Um, Sammy Davis Sr., no offense, but if you fancy yourself a comedian, I don't get it -- are you trying to be funny, or are you playing a lame stereotype? Well, whichever it is, I suggest writing what you want to say out, on a separant piece of paper, perhaps, then reading it over a few times, and finally asking yourself, "would I laugh at this if I read it somewhere else?" It will really help in the future.

Happy Holidays!

Todd said...

My standard joke, after spending several Christmas's in Vegas:

"Seasons Greetings and I'll raise you twenty."

Patrick said...

Sorry to say Mr. Wolfe, but if you even think for one second that a blizzard on the East Coast negates any possibility that our industries are affecting local weather patterns, than you are in no position to rebuff any previous "progressive" comments. Global warming will never be proven, or dis-proven. It is a concept drawn from data that is constantly being manipulated (by both sides of the aisle). And before I rant any further, I will end by repeating; to suggest that the concept of global warming has been dis-qualified by a large snow storm is just STUPID.

Ultimately though, I think it is oncredibly jouvinile and petty that a comic take on a visit to Las Vegas has been turned into a political joust. And this thought almost makes me want to eliminate my comment. But I won't. I'm so tired of hearing the silly right wing rants around this blizzard. Mr. Wolfe should be on Hannity's All Star/All American panel (whatever he calls that non-sense).

Unknown said...

I've managed to win a lot of money in Las Vegas on several occasions-almost always to lose control and lose it a little later (as the games and psychology of the town are designed for you to do) and clearly Las Vegas is a town where a lot of really bad decisions are made (that's on the commentary track of The Hangover and it is absolutely true) it is still a place that is fun to go to and watch others make bad decisons for a change (gambling was the only dangerous vice I ever became addicted to and after a few years I weaned myself off it, much like an alcoholic with a strong will) still Las Vegas is innately beautiful in its own way and I have many stories about Las Vegas. The Cutting Confessions script always ended in Las Vegas, but now with the opening of City Center, I've included that venue as well (since that part was already set at other MGM Mirage casinos, anyway) among the many bizarre things I've seen and experienced in Las Vegas is watching a drunken cowboy at the craps table win and win and win-literally hundreds of thousands of dollars-because it kept doubling every time-and knowing what the inevitable result would be, wanting to warn him, wanting to take a cut for myself if possible, knowing that warning him would be seriously frowned upon and met with God knows what and would he listen to me anyway? Not likely. Finally, when the craps table was covered with chips he had won-almost to the point you could not see anything on the pass line side of the table-it happened and down he went, staggering back to his room. Such is just one of the many stories I have of Las Vegas and the script itself has just a few of them. I've also partaken of the escort services with some really pretty girls but that I will leave for another time, another place.

Greg Wolfe said...


It's not that it was just a "comic take" on a trip to Vegas. It was the insult to a particular "type" of person. Believe me, you wouldn't think it was such a minor dig if it was, "when we went to San Francisco, it was nice to be in the only room in the city where everyone there didn't have the entire 'Rent' songbook memorized."

See, Patrick, in the real world, when you take a cheap shot at someone, don't be surprised if that person, or someone like them, gets offended, and shoots back. The internet is a public place -- things are seen, disagreed with, and commented on. If full-contact debate isn't your thing, I'm sure there's a nice article at the Huffington Post talking about Dick Cheney waiting for you, all warm and cozy and agreeable.

And speaking of warm, "Global warming will never be proven or disproven?" Glad Isaac Newton didn't have that keen scientific thought process. When it's cold, it means cooling, when it's warm, it means warming. It's cold, ergo, where's the warming? Just saying...

And finally, of note, both Abby and myself have been called "DUMB" and "STUPID" by those disagreeing with us. Interesting debate tactic. Therefore, allow me to respond in a similarly straightforward and intellectual fashion: "I'm rubber and you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you." Neener neener, and Merry Christmas!

Sammy Davis Sr. said...

Um, Sammy Davis Sr., no offense, but if you fancy yourself a comedian, I don't get it -- are you trying to be funny, or are you playing a lame stereotype? Well, whichever it is, I suggest writing what you want to say out, on a separant piece of paper, perhaps, then reading it over a few times, and finally asking yourself, "would I laugh at this if I read it somewhere else?" It will really help in the future.

This is incoherent.

What's a "separant piece of paper"? Do you use it to write right-wing rants? Can I buy it on Glenn Beck's website along with the gold doubloons and autographed copies of Mein Kampf?

Greg Wolfe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Wolfe said...

Incoherent? Really? Reads just fine to me, save for the one typo. Oh well...

Wait, I get it! You're naming a lot of FASCIST things all in a row! And then you went ahead and said the name "Glen Beck" -- because he's on the Right! And then Hitler's manifesto! Oh, man, you're good! My apologies to a very funny guy!

By Ken Levine said...


This is a humor blog. You've made your point. There are many other blogs that this political argument would be better suited to. Please visit one of them.

From time to time I shall be taking shots at Republicans. I take shots at a lot of targets including myself. If this bothers you, offends you, or you just don't find it amusing, my feelings will not be hurt if you leave and find other blogs that you're more comfortable with. Really, I'll get by.