Various Vegas thoughts

I planned on blogging more from KonCon in Las Vegas last week, but I didn’t, because I am lazy. I probably should write a synopsis of the trip, but the TL;DR is that it was way too fucking hot – usually at or above 110 each day, and even hours after the sun set, it was still above 100. So that’s why it’s so cheap to go in July.

Someone asked me for some advice on Vegas while I was gone. I have not spent much time there in years, and everything I mentioned in my book about Vegas is largely gone. But my response to this question in an email is an interesting companion to the trip itself and my thoughts during it, so I’ll just leave this here for your amusement.

  • I waste a lot of time on this site when I am planning: http://www.lvrevealed.com/deathwatch/ – their casino reviews are decent, but I am sort of obsessed with who is rumored to get imploded in the near future.
  • If you look at a map of the strip, most of the mid-strip properties are what I’d consider first tier (Bellagio, Paris, Harrah’s, Caesars, etc), and the Wynn is north strip, but I’d group it in with those mid-strip properties. Same with Aria/City Center, which is technically south strip. It’s the newest; I’ve never stayed there, but from eating/shopping there, it’s pretty high end.
  • The south strip was the big deal maybe 10-15 years ago, and that stuff is now dated, but can be tolerable to stay there. It can be cheap, and the location is decent. So Mandalay Bay, MGM, NYNY, Luxor, Excalibur in that order. (Most of those are owned/run by the same monopoly, so they’re similar.) Tropicana got bought by Hilton and redone, so the rooms are nice, but there’s not a lot in there.An example: the Luxor is not that trendy of a property – I think it was so-so when I stayed there in like 99, and now it’s really lost its focus. It used to be Egyptian-themed, and they decided that maybe flyover rednecks aren’t into that, so they started de-theming it and ripping out the king tut stuff, but it’s still got these random stone pyramid walls in places.  But, the rooms are now ridiculously cheap, and it’s a really good location, and connected to the big mall by Mandalay Bay. So if you don’t plan on spending a lot of time in your room, it could be an option.
  • Everything north strip is shit. Everything downtown is total shit. Everything that’s not on the strip is mostly shit, unless you stumble on some deal to stay in a timeshare at Trump or something weird like that.
  • Absolutely do not stay at Hooters like I did.  I won’t go into the horror stories, but I’ve stayed at hotels in rural Mexico that were much nicer.
  • I used to never rent a car and cab it from the airport and around town. But the last few times, I’ve found an okay deal on a rental car bundled with the hotel (I think I used Expedia this time) and if you drive at least once a day, it’s usually a better deal. You can generally park at any hotel for free, or valet for almost nothing.
  • If you are driving, don’t actually drive on the strip to get north/south. Either go west to I-15, or go east to Paradise, Maryland, or Eastern.
  • Think of whatever amount of water a person would drink in a day that would be entirely excessive, and double that.
  • You can drive off the strip and buy a case of water for four bucks or whatever, or you can buy two bottles of water at a hotel for seven bucks. The problem is almost none of the hotels have a fridge. You can buy a crappy foam cooler at the grocery store and then commit to filling it with ice every other hour, but that’s a huge pain in the ass.
  • Opentable is a good way to get reservations for dinner.  There’s a surprisingly large number of high-end restaurants with decent food.
  • Every buffet is a ripoff. Wynn is almost tolerable, if you pace yourself and don’t eat all day and go in with the plan of fucking them by eating five pounds of lobster. But I made the mistake of going to the MGM buffet, and paid $35 for about $10 of Sizzler-grade food.
  • If you’re into steak, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM has a fairly insane three-course beef selection that is not cheap but is awesome. Or in the opposite direction, there’s the Golden Steer, which looks a little dodgy because it’s ancient and has never been remodeled, but it’s cool because it’s ancient and has never been remodeled – it’s one of those old-school places where the brat pack used to hang out.
  • Everyone associates the Grand Canyon with Vegas, but really it’s like a 4-5 hour drive each way, and easy to kill an entire day to spend a few minutes there.
  • If you are actually interested in going to Area 51/Rachel I could fill up another post with details on that.
  • If you are there and hit the wall and need to bug out and go somewhere quiet to get work done or whatever, go to UNLV. You can hide in their library and use wifi without any hassle.
  • There’s a huge Fry’s Electronics south of the strip, at a big outdoor mall right before 215. There’s a Target at Flamingo and Maryland. There’s a few Vons grocery stores (Safeway-owned, I think) on Tropicana and Flamingo.
  • Pinball Hall of Fame on Tropicana is worth checking out. The atomic testing museum on Flamingo is neat, but their Area 51 exhibit is pretty cheesy.
  • If you want to tour the neon graveyard, book it early.  They have limited tours and they always fill up.
  • Don’t stay at Hooters.

Thoughts?  Leave ’em in the comments.

Share

Sanjay Gupta and Jack Kevorkian went to the same medical school

  • I hate end-of-year lists. I didn’t even know it was 2014 for half of the year, and I can’t remember what I wrote, read, bought, or otherwise did. I published two books, and worked on two others, but you probably already know that.
  • I fell down a brief Jack Kevorkian k-hole the other day, probably because I spent too much time at the airport. I really want a copy of his jazz album. It always fascinates me when someone famous for one thing has a side-passion in something completely different.
  • This isn’t a good example, but I always found it interesting how prior to his career in blowing shit up, Ted Kazczynski was a math prodigy, and published several academic papers, mostly about boundary functions.
  • Both Kevorkian and Kazczynski went to University of Michigan.  (Not at the same time.)
  • I went to the same school as Jim Jones, Meg Cabot, and Joe Buck. (Jones was obviously before my time. Cabot lived in my dorm, I think, but I never knew her. I refuse to discuss Joe Buck.)
  • I went to Wisconsin for the holiday. I got sick. It did not snow. I’m still sick.
  • I guess a new year’s resolution, even though I hate them, is to not get sick anymore. This would probably involve jogging or something, and maybe not eating at Taco Bell four times a week.
  • A k-hole I plan to fall down, when I get off the DayQuil/NyQuil roller coaster, is Oulipo, and Raymond Queneau’s movement on constrained writing. He did this thing called A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems, which is like a paper version of those random headline generators, but from 1961. I don’t know any French, and I have no idea what I’m talking about, but it’s a good rabbit hole to fall down, maybe.
  • I have some fascination with constrained writing only because I wrote a ton of stuff just like Atmospheres, and then after the audio book and having to re-read it a dozen times, got really sick of that kind of writing, and thought I needed to write another book where the prose was much more simple. I don’t know what rules I would follow, other than to make it less manic, and maybe stop drinking Red Bull.
  • I was futzing with this app called Hemingway, which calculates the grade level of your writing and points out passive voice and stuff that’s hard to read. Most of the stuff I wrote in Atmospheres is way above the 12th grade level. I think I should just write books of lists at the 3rd grade level.
  • Not to be confused with The Hemingwrite, which is a hipster digital typewriter for about $400, and a kickstarter, which means you probably won’t get it until 2027.
  • I am about 4 for 17 on kickstarters, and just got in the mail this stupid pet camera I must have ordered in like 2011. It showed up right after we got back from vacation, so it’s sort of useless.
  • In 13 minutes, I get to take another dose of DayQuil. I’m pretty happy about that.
  • Other vague resolutions that aren’t are the usual: write more, ignore the news, lose weight, hail satan, etc. You?
Share

Nuremberg

Good to be back here.  I have walked a lot and ate too much and just bought a hundred pounds of art books.

OK, a bulleted list summary:

  • The flight out was brutal. Couldn’t sleep on the plane, other than little half-hour naps here and there. Left SFO at about 8:30 PM after a mechanical problem, got to Frankfurt at 4:00 PM the next day (but a nine-hour jump in there) and then had to wait for a 9:30.
  • I wandered the concourse, found a place to shower for 6 €. You got a little booth with a lock, a sink and counter in one half to put your stuff, and then a shower.  It’s Germany, so it’s all sterile and looks like an Ikea showroom.  I brought a change of clothes in my carry-on, and it was the best shower ever.
  • Screwed up meals royally – ate dinner at 4:00 the night before, skipped the meal on the plane, and then the “breakfast” we got was a dinner roll and a packet of jelly. Got off the plane and promptly ate an entire McDonald’s.
  • Handed over $200 at the airport exchange and got a handful of coins.  The Euro is doing much better than the buck.
  • I wandered around the airport and it was absolutely abandoned, then realized I was on the wrong level, and had to clear customs and go down one more level to the actual departures area.  Sat around and spent about a hundred bucks on hot dogs and tiny bottles of Coke.
  • Got to Nuremberg, got to the hotel, slept like a baby for eight hours.
  • Sarah had to go to her trade show on Saturday – she’s been at it all week.  So I loaded up what I still call the walkman (iPhone now, I guess) and walked about 2.5 miles west to an absolutely incredible little guitar store.  They had a ton of Fender basses.  I played some of the Custom Shop heavy relic Jazz basses and they were absolutely incredible.  Also played a Rickenbacker, which looked cool, but I found I am not a Ric guy.
  • Walked around Nuremberg for a long while, taking pics.  There was some kind of vegetarian festival going on, which was interesting.
  • Walked to the big train station, ate, dumped more dollars, bought some NyQuil, walked back to the hotel.
  • Went out for dinner with Sarah’s work people and spouses and ate a tremendous amount of Nurnburger (sp?) sausages, white asparagus, and hard pretzels.  Ended up getting sick from all of this shit.
  • Walked over ten miles for the day, and got a 20,000-step badge on the fitbit, which was a first.
  • Today, we woke up and found a triathlon was going on, and all of the streets were blocked off in a giant loop for the racing bikes.  It was too cold to swim though, so they made them run twice.
  • We went to a railway museum, not because I am Sheldon Cooper, but because it was attached to this communication museum, and it was a two-for-one.  The railway museum was all in German, so we made up descriptions for all of the exhibits.  (“Very few people knew Harland Sanders was a Colonel in the German Army prior to World War I, but was secretly a Jew and fled the country for Kentucky” etc.)
  • The communication museum was also mostly German and confusing, but they had a bunch of old telephones and crypto machines.
  • Ate lunch at the German National museum, but did not go in, since I’ve seen a lifetime of Gutenberg bibles and suits of armor.
  • Went to the New Museum and there was a Laurie Simmons exhibit there.  Who is… wait for it… Lena Dunham’s mom.
  • Bought a ton of books at the book store, including this giant Chuck Close book that was marked down to 7€ and a Damien Hirst book big enough to kill someone.
  • Walked not as much today but still a lot.  Everything was closed on Sunday, which was weird.  Even Dunkin Donuts was closed.
  • Leave for Frankfurt tomorrow.
Share