Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back From Vega$

Well, I'm back from Vegas, about 50% recovered, and chock full of stories.

No, not really. The truth is that nothing happened as wild as Bruce's and my journey to get there. All apologies for not doing anything terribly outlandish just for the story. I guess I really am getting old.

Watching rugby was outstanding; there are few sporting events I enjoy attending more than these international rugby 7's tournaments. Seven-minute halves and 32 seven-a-side teams from around the world makes for a lightning-fast pace all around. 24 matches a day full of high-speed breakaways interspersing the big hits and amazing plays. Drinking beers from 10am til 7pm in 69-degree weather with old cronies and watching the finest athletes from New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa, Samoa, Australia, Wales, etc., engage in some rucking and mauling is a damn good day. I highly recommend it, and six years from now rugby sevens will be a part of the summer Olympics in Rio. Here's hoping by then NBC has relinquished its long standing death grip on the Olympic rights so that we might actually see this sport on the tube.

Samoa won the tournament, which I think is perfect considering that Girl Scout cookies made their annual debut this week. They knocked off the All-Blacks to take the US stop on the eight city tour.

So, Vegas. It was okay. I had high hopes, and either I did all the wrong things while I was there or Sin City is a soulless pit of high-dollar extravagance and visual marvel intended to rape its visitors of every last dollar. Maybe it's a bit o' both. I enjoyed my time at the craps table, but it wasn't as boisterous and fun -- and definitely not as lucrative -- as I had hoped. Bad luck on both counts, perhaps. Going out to clubs isn't my cup of Jager anywhere, and that feeling was only intensified in Vegas. Our place was pretty sweet, a 2BR suite in the Palms Place. Six guys in there kept costs within some reason and was more social than separate rooms, and I recommend that route as well.

One of the more enjoyable episodes was landing a ride back from UNLV's stadium in a limo packed with a women's rugby club from Rochester. We stopped at a Sev for more beers and drank all the way to their place on the strip. Our guys began singing the old rugby songs -- and these girls finished them. The most hilariously filthy songs -- mostly based around their vaginas -- I've ever heard, and five years of college rugby exposed me to a lot of bawdy lyrics. We got to their hotel and performed a series of girl v. guy shotgunning beers competitions directly in front of the main doors. The girls won a lot; I lost on a crap call.

We saw those same girls later at some drunken event the rugby tourney was sponsoring at the Hooters casino hotel. I joined their flip-the-cup team. They were better than I was. Dear lord, my daughters can never play rugby.

On the downside, late Saturday night I was (sounds like BS, but truly) talked into going to Spearmint Rhino, a stripclub the likes of which I've never seen. Dozens, maybe hundreds of knockout strippers were assaulting the clientele with calculated, sexy pleas for attention and all our money. I fought it off bravely for at least two dozen girls, made the mistake of buying an incredibly hot young girl a drink... and got out of there half a mortgage payment later after merely an extended discussion with "Montana" on why she should abandon her boob job surgery scheduled for today. Very shady billing process the club has; very annoying all around.

There have been more than a few folks who have referenced Las Vegas and New Orleans in the same breath. I suppose it has to do with the "anything goes" mentality. I guess this raised my expectations as well, but I adore the Crescent City and Vegas simply left me wanting a little more. There's a song lyric that "New Orleans ain't no city, it's a scar." Well, after going to that town semi-routinely for 15 years, I don't feel that way at all. It's more like a cool, colorful tattoo. Vegas, that place leaves scar tissue after just one trip.

New Orleans has fantastic music in many, many places; Vegas has thumping club music and the ubiquitous sound of slot machines.
New Orleans has the best food of my year; Vegas had $300 steak dinners and several trips to McDonald's.
New Orleans has history, Vegas has history re-enacted.
New Orleans has born and raised cabbies with sad stories and good attitudes (and weirdos and freaks, of course); Vegas has import cabbies who have terrible stories about people's mortgages, marriages, and lives destroyed by the city.
New Orleans has a few shady, cheesy, gross spots in the French Quarter; that describes much of Vegas.
New Orleans needs your money but won't take it all; Vegas is intensely focused on squeezing every penny out of you.
New Orleans is supremely Gheorghey; Vegas is decidedly not.

Vegas does have hookers, mind you. Loads of them. There are little dudes on every block on the strip trying to hand you stacks of hooker trading cards. Well, I suppose they're meant to be advertisements for them, but at 2"x3" or 3"x5", they might as well be made by Topps. Somewhere in a drunken stroll on Friday, I convinced our group to stop saying no thanks to the handouts and take all they would give. In just saying yes to the hooker-card-dealers for 20 minutes, we collected hundreds. The cards then spent the rest of the trip piled on our coffee table and used for games like hooker concentration, hooker go fish (give me all your lesbian couples going down on each other... go fish), or just browsing through. Nope, we didn't call any of them. Again, sorry.

Anyway, I did disappoint the oddsmakers in at least one regard this weekend; I didn't die on my premier trip to Las Vegas, NV. I'd go again if the occasion called for it. The weekend was great because of the dudes I went with, the rugby, and yes, because of Vegas. But I guarantee there are better times to be had and actually some money to be made. Perhaps the boatload of cash getting into and out of the town colored my time more than it should've. (My flight home was cancelled, and I had to take 4 flights and pay for a Southwest ticket to get back. Neat.) But in my mind there's zero comparison between Vegas and New Orleans.

And finally, speaking of New Orleans, here's a belated clip you may have already seen, but unbridled joy from a sports play is always something I get a kick out of watching.

43 comments:

mayhugh said...

For the early risers, I Come in Peace Again on HBO. FOr some reason this movie only plays well after the sun goes up and way before it rises.

TR said...

Nothing beats a stomach virus when you want to lose 5 lbs. in a hurry.

Whitney said...

I should mention that clicking on the close-up of the hooker cards is NSFW, but lately Gheorghe is getting a PG-13 rating most of the time, anyway.

zoltan said...

I like how a post about Vegas turned into a post about New Orleans. Nicely done. And I like the rock-paper-scissors photo too.

TJ said...

Sade is back? http://bit.ly/aTNuPq

Dan said...

whit - you should get a job with the "visit new orleans" tourism committee.
for future reference, if with a group of 6-8 guys, it's always in your best interest to pony up for vip section at the rhino - rather than be fare for the piranha, the sections provide protection from the most aggressive people on our planet.
today's traveling tip from the danimal.

cgormley said...

Were you all drinking Bud Light Lime in the Limo? Looks like it from the picture. That's not really beer.

Jerry said...

Here's my bit of knowitallism - the problem was that you did what you thought people are supposed to do in Vegas rather than what you wanted to do. It's logical for a 1st time where you want to get the "full Vegas experience" but the next time you'll just do the stuff that you like and you'll have more fun.

Dan said...

yeah, like the gay strip bars...you didn't go cuz you didn't think it was "cool" or "hip"

Whitney said...

Jerry is correct. I deferred to the folks who'd been there before. Next time, assuming there ever is one, I will hunker down in the sportsbook, try to find some bars-not-clubs, and feel less of a need to do what people do in Vegas.

Oh, and hit the gay strip bars.

Whitney said...

And the "girls" were drinking Bud Light lime. We had Bud, Bud Light, and Heiny. Big old Heiny.

The rugby tournament sponsors were Heineken and Newcastle, though they served a bit of everything. Best deal was the 24 ounce Coors for $7. Unless you wanted to drink liquor, since they sold it at the stadium as well. That's a very big plus for Vegas.

cgormley said...

By using the term "girls", there obviously were some fellas in the party drinking the BL Lime. Fess up who was it?

TR said...

I will counter Dan and give a thumbs-down to the VIP recommendation at strip clubs. We did that for a BP and they tried to fleece us. I think it was Jaguars. Lap dances were more expensive and the girls were just as hungry to fleece you.

Vegas Tip #1 - If you want to make a buck going to a strip club, go to the one across from the Hard Rock. But first, stop at the Hard Rock to drink there and gamble b/c it's a scene. Take a cab to the strip club across the street and try to get the cabbie to pay you $10/person. Cabbies make $20 for each person they dump at a strip club. You can convice the guy to make $40 in 5 minutes by dropping 4 of you across the street. Of course, that $10 buys you only one drink, but you feel good about yourself.

Vegas hint #2 - load up on beer at a convenience store and keep it in your room. It makes the night a little cheaper when you always have your own beers nearby.

Vegas hint #3 - kill some down time one afternoon/early evening by heading to the "old Strip" to take it in. Tons of $5 blackjack tables, very cheap beers and classic characters. I'm blanking on the places we went to, but they're fun for walking around, sipping a beer and chomping a stogie.

Vegas hint #4 - Find out how you can get Vegas Phil or Vegas Dave (or whoever the Dr. Feelgood of the month in Vegas is) to come to your room. These guys are loaded up with anything you want to make your trip more fun. The offerings range from cool to iffy to shady to VERY SHADY to prostitutes. Scary, but cool. Sorta.

Maybe these tips would've been more helpful the week before your trip, not the week after.

Dan said...

tr - yes, true on the vip section, unless you're with a "vegas insider"/local who knows everyone in the joint.
this experience was had w/about 8 of your fellow alum. in fact, the trip is upcoming (march 18th)
another tip - bring your own beer pong tourney to have in the suite ('08 winner).
i second the byob & byol. the luxury of having a so cal'ian drive w/carload of costco goods is priceless.

Whitney said...

TR - fortunately, we were all over hint #2. There was a convenience store across the street from our place and two full size fridges in our suite, so we loaded up on beers and stocked them. Shoulda done more pregame and less . . . game.

We also took the limo and got a car/driver a few times, bringing the beer backpack each time. And walked around town with our beers. Like Nawlins, nobody paid us any mind in doing so. A very good call.

Should have done #3. Heard similar recommendations but never made it there.

Dave said...

using only this post as my criteria, i will NEVER go to vegas. for the always sanguine whitney to even allude that it wasn't excellent means i couldn't have survived twenty minutes there.

i give a giant thumbs up for the sea isle polar plunge, however, and we're doing it again next year. i expect the gheorghe staff to plan accordingly . . .

Whitney said...

The rugby tourney we saw is airing this Saturday at 5pm ET on ABC. You probably glossed over my post and don't know who won, so that's good.

TJ said...

Blockbuster NBA trade:

The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to a trade that will send Jodie Meeks, Francisco Elson and a second-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey, two league sources told ESPN.com NBA Insider Chad Ford.

Mark said...

Despite TJ's efforts to diminish the NBA trade deadline, there have been a number of interesting deals with ramifications on the playoffs and/or this summer's free agent bonanza. Color me interested/excited to read more on the details of said trades. That makes one if us, I'm sure.

TJ said...

Another exciting trade deadline update for Mark:

The Indiana Pacers were in talks to send T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson and Nazr Mohammed, a source close to the talks told ESPN.com. However, those talks fell apart in the last hour of the trade deadline, sources told ESPN.com.

TJ said...

Marbury at the deadline last year, Nate Robinson this year for the Celts. Whatever.

The Knicks also reached agreement Thursday on a trade sending Nate Robinson and a second player to Boston for Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens.

Mark said...

Why us Charlotte trying to get rid of Gerald Walkace? Did he cancel BET with his local cable provider.

And the Nate trade is fun, if only to see how long it takes racist Boston fans (though they'll tell you they are just fans of "real" basketball) to turn on him. I say it takes one half.

TJ said...

Cuse/Gtown at 7pm tonight. Should be a doozy.

Whitney said...

If Magic had gone to the Celtics and Bird to the Lakers, and each had found the same exact amount of success they actually did, would Magic have been as embraced in Boston?

rob said...

of course he would have. doesn't make mark's point wrong, though.

zoltan said...

For context, if you go to the Garden they sell four different t-shirts with player names: Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and Scalabrine. They probably added Rondo this year.

TJ said...

Mark, I had to go reread that blurb as well, you had me confused. Charlotte was trying to dump Dukie Gerald Henderson, not Gerald Wallace.

TR said...

I've been watching Nate Robinson for almost 5 years and I'm happy as hell he's leaving town. For every big play, there were 2-3 head-scratching bonehead moves.

And I'm less than excited about admitting Jordan Hill was a bust and packaging him with the awful Jared Jefferies for T-Mac's corpse. The Knicks can now probably get 2 max guys, but what kind of team will they surround him with? Toney Douglas, Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry's corpse and Marcus Landry is all they'll have under contract. Lee will leave and the new team will be a mess.

I see us getting Rudy Gay and Bosh and winning 35 games next year.

TJ said...

Wesley Johnson is really f'ing good.

rob said...

these girls are making doing a bunch of crazy flippy twisty stuff on a snowboard look hard.

Mark said...

Excuse me for throwing everything out of whack by mistaking Gerald Henderson for Gerald Wallace. Pretty big difference between those two.

As for Nate, I'm not a fan. I once thought he could be a good sixth or seventh man and 3rd guard but he seems like a guy who'll never get it. Then again, I gave up on Jamal Crawford and he's found a bit of a home in Atlanta. Celtics fans won't like Nate for many reasons, not just because they're racist.

I also happen to agree with TR's take on the Knicks. Unless the presence of Lebron (assuming he signs...which is a BIG assumption) and Wade or Bosh can just attract quality vets willing to take less than market value (like what we saw with the 07 & 08 Celtics but on a larger scale) there just isn't anything worth a shit there. You're building this franchise from scratch at this point. So why would LeBron or Bosh or Wade trade situations they either were in (LeBron/Bosh), or currently are in (Wade) for another rebuilding project. Is MSG really THAT cool? So, yeah. Gay and Bosh or Joe Johnson sound about right.

The Jordan Hill pick is worse by the day. I know he's essentially playing behind Lee but thats still not a valid excuse for barely playing at all on a terrible team. Too much talent in last year's draft to end up with nothing. Especially since the Jazz have your first round pick in the upcoming draft.

Okay, that's a lot. Anybody know why Gerry McNamara was sitting on Syracuse's bench in a suit tonight? Is he their Rally Monkey.

rob said...

cute aussie snowboarder chick? yes, please.

Mark said...

So...there's a movie called Brooklyn's Finest and a Jay-Z song is used in the trailer but that song isn't Brooklyn's Finest?

Fuck you, movie people.

rob said...

switzerland/canada in overtime - men's hockey. whoa.

Mark said...

Nice call Roberto.

rob said...

shootout upcoming

rob said...

suck it, crosby

rob said...

crosby's response: suck it, rob

rob said...

nice win, canada. over switzerland.

Mark said...

That was fun. Jerry's boy made his goal look exceptionally easy.

Mark said...

Quite a sports night. Cavs-Nuggets is one of the more entertaining NBA games you'll watch. Right down to LeBron and Carmelo trading clutch buckets over the last 8 seconds.

zoltan said...

Thus guy has a bunch of dicks embroidered on his shirt. Sweet.

TR said...

Speaking of Cavs-Nugs, Bron Bron went for 43 pts, 15 assists, 13 boards, 4 blocks and 2 steals. But 1 of 9 from the 3 pt line. Heckuva night, as Aikman would say.