Commentary Track

I had a weird experience last week. I had been told it could happen, but it wasn’t something I’d run into in a major way, personally. I had a premise, and I started writing, and the characters, totally on their own, started doing and saying the most astonishing things. It was wild. I was absolutely not in charge of the things coming out of their mouths, I was just transcribing what they said. It is deeply surreal, to have a thing in your own imagination behaving in wholly unpredictable ways.

I wasn’t even drunk.

**

This is my favorite fable ever:

A beautiful princess was walking along a mountain ridge one day, when a great wind swirled in, bringing clouds, and it became cold. She wrapped herself tightly in her shawl and prepared to return to the snug valley below, where it would be warm and safe. As she reached the top of the path down, she heard a voice cry out to her, “Help me, Princess, I beg!”

She turned to see a rattlesnake, curled on a rock, shivering, and saying weakly, “Please, Princess, pick me up and carry me down to the valley below!”

She said, “I will not touch you, for you would bite and kill me.”

The snake hissed, “But I will freeze and die! I swear to you, I will not harm you, if you save me. Even I could not be so evil. I wish only to see my children again!”

The princess’s heart was good and kind, and she agreed. She picked the cold snake up and slipped him into her shawl and carried him with her down the mountain to the warm valley below. She spied a rock that was still warm from the sun, and she reached into her shawl to retrieve the revived serpent.

As she pulled him from her garment, the snake, quick as a blink, bit her twice on the neck. She threw him to the ground in shock.

“But you promised,” she cried, “not to bite me if I helped you, and I helped you, and now I shall die!”

The snake just grinned at her, and as she lay down for the last time, she heard him say,

“You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

**

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I took Kyle up on his request for Brainwrap guest-host gigs. I babysat his characters with what should have been predictable results but weren’t, bless their little black hearts.

Kyle, to his credit, did not tell me that some things are inappropriate even by the standards of the internet, nor did he selfishly save the destruction of his reputation for himself.

It’s work-safe, so long as no one is actually reading over your shoulder. This link goes to the safe version, just in case you decide from the profusion of nametags that a DO NOT READ THIS label is merited.

Ford Ev'ry Stream

Monday, August 16th

I climbed a mountain!

Granted, I did it on a path, rather than with ropes and pitons and things, but still, I did it. Went from the far side of Jenny Lake up to “Inspiration Point”, 7300 or so feet above sea level. Given that my primary form of exercise is sneering, I am proud about this.

After climbing the mountain, I was tired and peckish. Betwixt the mountain and our hotel, there was a little cowboy-themed store and restaurant, so we stopped off for a round of traditional western-style Red Bulls and some dinner. Dinner was described as “Real Chuckwagon Cookin'”, which I felt deserved a chance. Turns out there is a reason “cowboy” has died out as a career choice.

Gluey mashed potatoes with from-a-can beef gravy, undercooked beef short ribs, undercooked and unseasoned white beans, and “beef stew”, which was carrots boiled with stew beef for maybe fifteen minutes. It was, I swear to you, airline food. They also had a traditional old-west trailridin’ salad bar and an authentic pop dispenser removed from an actual covered wagon. The pop dispenser featured Dr. Pepper, which was the high point of the meal. The dinner might have seemed even worse had I not been ravenous.

En route home, we paused at the Snow King Ski Resort to ride the chairlift to the top. View from the top erased all lingering bad feelings left from dinner. Looking down into Jackson Hole was like looking at the gold-medal winning setup at a particularly lavish model train show. Unbelievable sight. A nightcap was had at the Million-Dollar Cowboy Bar, which has barstools topped with saddles, providing both sexiness and comedy in similar but separate doses. Following my local beer — Snake River Ale — it was time to climb into the Horrendous Bed.

Tuesday, August 17th

Tuesday morning we drove through a tedious misting rain to Yellowstone. Much of Yellowstone is under construction — both of the orange cone sort and the wholly biological sort — as the result of forest fires. Pains were taken to tell us that these recent fires were of the naturally-started variety but that we should be extra-attentive to things alight anyway, which I thought was fair. We drove though a telephone pole farm for maybe thirty miles to the geyser area.

The Florida Keys call to me. Vegas calls to me. The restaurants of southern Maine call to me. Old Faithful used to call to me. Old Faithful is one of those things that you should see once, and that once you have seen it, you are done. You can check “See Old Faithful” off your life list, and move on to “See A Volcano” or whatever without feeling the pangs to return that are usually associated with nice vacation spots. Old Faithful no longer calls to me.

This is not to detract from the thing’s impressiveness, you understand. The geyser area of Yellowstone is majestic, spectacular and like nothing else on Earth. It is also damp, crowded, and foul-smelling. (This space left blank for you to insert your own version of the fucking-Angelina-Jolie simile I want to put here but can’t quite phrase to my satisfaction: __________________________________________________________________________.)

One of the more spectacular geyserly behaviors was a geyser that started out looking like a rock-hole in the ground, slowly filled with water, burbled a bit, and then blasted out an enormous cloud of sulfur-steam, after which it drained completely of water. This process repeats every 15-20 minutes, and is most impressive. The impressiveness of this geyser combined with my excellent eyesight to create a fine vacation anecdote:

As the geyser filled with water, my traveling companion monitored it closely for signs indicating eruption. This was fairly easy, as we were standing on the five-foot-wide boardwalk that snakes through the geyser zone, and this particular steamer is no more than three or four feet from the boardwalk, nestled into the elbow of a sharp turn. She was peering at this geyser extra-closely when it blew, instantly and noisily engulfing us in steam. Apparently the sound of the detonation was more than she had expected, because she instinctively grabbed my hand and turned to bolt. (I was not entirely free of this impulse.) “Bolting,” however, was the least safe thing I could do right at that moment. She who had my hand was yanked back like a bad dog on a short chain, because I was rooted to the spot.

Were I more accustomed to wearing glasses, I might, while waiting for the geyser to shoot off, have anticipated the effect steam was going to have on my sunglasses. Given that I don’t often wear glasses — or didn’t, prior to the iron filing removal — I was not expecting the instant blindness I got when the steam met the shades. It was a startling and disconcerting effect, and I suspect I am not the only one telling a variation on this anecdote today. (“Daddy, remember that man who yelled “I can’t see” so loud the elk stampeded?”)

We also saw a bald eagle catch a fish, which was magnificent, but not as funny.

After departing Yellowstone, we were caught on top of a mountain on a dirt road in a rented Grand Am in a hailstorm. The metal roof combined with the hail to cause me to drop the Wiggles a few notches in the “Worst. Noise. Ever.” rankings.

We went to the Million-Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse that night for dinner, where we all ate too much. I had an aged buffalo sirloin, which was superb, and some elk, also excellent. I was way too full for dessert, which may be an unwelcome side effect of weight loss, or may be the result of the appetite loss associated with the realization that I was soon to retire to the Awful Bed.

Wednesday, August 18th

It rained. Some people went shopping. All day. It was awful. I can’t talk about it. I should have stayed in the Horrendous Bed.

Thursday, August 19th

We got up at 430am for a rafting trip. It was forty degrees and raining. But vacation time is precious and sacred.

We arrived at the boat ramp after a lot of grumbling. Our guide had thoughtfully placed an inch or two of water in the bottom of the boat, to avoid us experiencing the annoying feeling of one’s shoes gradually filling with water. We floated along in the dark for six or eight months, listening to the river rushing, the birds waking up, and a man in the front of the raft yammering endlessly about how he was the biggest expert the on western woods since Meriwether Lewis. Ye gods, what an asshole. I thought about ripping off my pinky toes and stuffing them in my ears — they were conveniently numbed already — but my fingers lacked the feeling necessary to untie my shoes.

Once the sun came up, things improved. Slightly. We saw herons, and ospreys, and pelicans — they summer in Jackson, which I didn’t know either — and otters, and mule deer. I’ve spent more comfortable four hour periods, but I’d do it again. Beat sleeping late in the Hideous Bed.

We breakfasted on triple-berry pie at the Bunnery, which I enjoyed very much — you know you are well-met with someone when you like crust and they like filling — and departed for the Salt Lake City airport.

But Vegas warrants an entry of its own.

Heyyyyyy Boo Boo

Sunday, August 15th (continued)

After departing Brigham City, we continued traveling north on I-15 to Rexburg, home of Yellowstone Bear World. The park supplying the exact kind of conditions under which I was hoping to encounter a bear on this trip — from the car and with visible armed security nearby — we stopped for a visit. We paid a number of different fees and got to drive through a large field stocked with photogenic native wildlife. Got a few good pictures of deer and elk from Zone A, and some really cool pictures of bears from Zone B. (In consideration of the conflict of interest, Zone A and Zone B are separated by the sort of fence you’d expect to see around a Bentley dealership in, say, Compton. That said, I suspect the smells wafting through the fence lead to a lot of consternation on both sides.)

We also participated, again for a fee, in Cub Feeding Time. This was cool. There were five bear cubs split between two pens — a set of twins and a set of triplets — and we got to feed them milk from little bottles. The hand not being used to hold the bottle could be applied to the little bears, which was fun for all concerned. We get to say we petted bear cubs, and the bear cubs got to drink while being petted. (At least, I assume this was fun for the cubs, though I may be overextrapolating from my own fondness for having a bottle and a pat.)

We rolled out of Bear World and headed for Jackson, home of the legendary Bubba’s Barbecue and, of less interest, our lodging. The trip betwixt the bears and dinner was noteworthy for two things:

  • The series of magnificent views, especially the one from the top of Teton Pass that rolled down to Jackson Hole, which I would have enjoyed more if I hadn’t been putting such an effort into not sailing the car off a cliff.
  • The amusing moment had by 2/3 of the car when my mother realized, after consulting a uniformed Mormon for directions, that she had stolen from the necktie-wearing gent his copy of the How To Be A Mormon Bishop Handbook, which tome she’d borrowed to use as writing desk. We hope he was not en route to class at the time.

    Bubba’s was excellent, for non-Dixie barbecue. Foodie note: Garlic toast is a better accompaniment to brisket than Wonder bread. Wonder bread, however, remains the only permissible bread for sopping up pulled-pork remnants. Bubba’s is also BYOB, a practice of which I approve.

    During dinner, I successfully convinced Honey that our cabin was equipped, potty-wise, only with an outhouse. She took it reasonably well, by which I mean she got misty but did not actually burst into tears. She was so relieved when she found out I was kidding, though, that it took her nearly twelve hours to start complaining about the atrocious bed. This was the worst hotel bed I have ever slept on. In terms of comfort and surface angle, it was not dissimilar to sleeping on the base of the Picasso in Daley Plaza.

  • …crickets…

    This is what I’m currently capable of writing. One more day, please, for my various internal organs to clear my system of Vegas and resume normal function.

    Meantime, here’re the two best gags I had in my Inbox upon return:

  • Jim McGreevey resigned as Governor of New Jersey. Can’t understand why. I mean, the guy had supporters up the butt.
  • The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth have been attacking John Kerry’s war record. They say he doesn’t deserve his medals. Kerry has responded by saying, “They can take away my medals, but they’ll never take away my necklace of human ears, or the baby’s skull my wife uses as an ashtray.”
  • Well Begun Is Half Done

    Saturday, August 14th

    Southwest Airlines, 315pm departure, MID-LAS. 90% of flight handled without incident. 10% unpleasantly turbulent or spent in deep bank. Improvement continues.

    Arrived in Vegas 502pm local time. Luggage collected and resubmitted to airline counter for Leg Two of the flight, departing LAS at 9pm for SLC. Airline, commendably, neither confused by nor suspicious of schedule produced by Home Layover Kit. As planned, we have two and a half hours to kill, and summon conveyance to Mandalay Bay, home of Charlie Palmer Steakhouse. We have a 6pm dinner reservation, and make it. Meal graded out thusly:

    Arugula, tomato, and fresh mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette: B (Low on the mozzarell’)
    Hanger steak, chef’s recommendation, sauteed spinach and chanterelles: A (Note to self: Find source for hanger steak)
    Filet mignon, medium rare, cabernet reduction: A
    CP steak fries: A- (Ratio of crispness to mealiness was below ideal)
    Sauteed wild mushrooms: A- (“Wildness” suspect, though inclusion of onions a welcome surprise.)
    Trio of creme brulee: A+ (Chocolate, orange, and vanilla)
    Chocolate ice cream: A+ (Presentation Award of the night; four packed-to-the-tip mini-cones)

    Service: A (Advised of impending flight, moved with admirable swiftness without making us feel rushed)
    Bill: C (Fair pricing generally, but Diet Coke should be a bottomless refill, particularly at a restaurant of that level.)

    Brief unsuccessful gambling interlude, followed by a return to McCarran. Flight departs without incident. Lousy weather over Rockies makes flight challenging. Two in a day on purpose is still an accomplishment.

    SLC airport layout confusing and tedious. Inadequate consideration given to possibility that travelers moving from baggage claim to rental car area to rental car pickup might bear luggage. Also, Dollar desk at SLC gives hardest extra-insurance pitch in continental United States, not my favorite thing to listen to at midnight in the day’s third timezone. Airport Best Western reached – in a gold Grand Am, the car of choice for the less successful pimp – without further incident, whereupon desk clerk attempted to haggle on internet-booked room price. Supreme effort made not to reach conclusions about clerk’s culture based on said negotiation. Supreme effort inadequate. Just give me the fucking key, Apu, and take up the rest with Travelocity.

    Sunday, August 15th

    Departed bright and early for Temple Square in Salt Lake City. My perfectly-chosen company for touring the galactic center of a religion based on conversion:

    1) My Catholic mother, who cannot brush off an inquiry from any person for any reason, in case that person might have gone to Cornell or Penn State.
    2) Money Honey, who, off-duty, dresses as though she might at any moment receive an urgent summons to the set of a Christina Aguilera video.

    Tour given by two very nice girls on their eighteen-month service mission, which is done out of love and duty to blah blah blah because yadda yadda yadda and so forth. Tour lasted thirty minutes, and would’ve lasted ten without the constant reminders of how very intensely Mormon our guides were. They weren’t engaged in any kind of obnoxious recruiting, just filled with the kind of tedious earnestness one hears on Air America or from callers to the Sean Hannity show. Given our party, it is possible they thought we were sent by their supervisors to test them.

    We were shown the outside of the temple, the inside of the Tabernacle (which was amazing) and the seagull monument. Apparently, during a time of great hardship, a plague of seagulls was dispatched to Salt Lake by God to eat a plague of crickets dispatched to Salt Lake by an unnamed other party. Windshields, silk suits, and statuary not being common in the farming community at the time, the seagulls were revered for saving the harvest. This miracle is memorialized in a giant bronze piece, and in seagulls being the dominant motif of Salt Lake City much the same way lobsters are in the state of Maine. There was no similar monument to the Stockton-Malone pick and roll, which I thought an oversight.

    As I understand Mormonism, they believe that God didn’t slow up on the prophets after production wrapped on the Bible, and is in fact still sending them to us today. (Or to them, at least.) As best I understand it, their line of holy-holies runs unbroken from the Moses-Jesus-Mohammed crowd all the way to a man named Gordon Hinckley. Gordon – whom they refer to as the “President” – will be replaced by another prophet when he dies. It is assumed that this will be one of his two vice-Prophets (my term), but it can also come from one of the twelve Apostles, who are pictured in the Visitor Center in very board-of-directors-style photographs. (One of them, I swear to their God, looked exactly like the photo of Dave Thomas hanging in your local Wendy’s.) The tour guides’ earnestness combined with the to-me-bizarre semicorporate structure of the leadership to make it very difficult to ask questions without seeming like I was either deeply interested in signing up or just being an asshole for no reason. (Contrary to popular belief, I do try to avoid the latter.) How does one ask about the line of succession if one is going to be skeptical of an answer involving God’s choice? Were I a Mormon, I would abuse this. “Good morning everybody. Guess who got The Call last night? No shit – the Big Guy promoted me. Sorry, Gordo. You’ll get two weeks’ severance plus full vesting. He said so.”

    We departed Salt Lake City without baptism or lunch. However, as with the seagulls, God provided. Brigham City, Utah, was in the peach harvest, and one of the ways in which this bounty was being put to use was in ice cream. We had lunch at a soda fountain with handwritten FRESH PEACH ICE CREAM signs in the window. (Handwritten window signs is money in the bank, local-specialty-wise.) We also tasted something called “fry sauce”, which is ketchup mixed with mayonnaise, and which is not bad on fries at all, and ignorance of which drew an astonished look from the waitret. The peach ice cream was excellent.

    Next post: “Yellowstone Bear World”, where we got to pat bear cubs, and where Money Honey first fell in love with the phrase “pick-a-nick bas-KET”. (Gimme a break – Yogi is tough to imitate in text.)

    Mankind Never Learns

    From bondgirl:

    Allergy Vaccine Could Hit Market Soon -Researcher

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Belgian researcher was quoted on Wednesday as saying a vaccine to tackle allergies could hit the market within two years following promising results from trials involving birch pollen.

    Professor Paul Van Cauwenberge, who coordinates a European allergy and asthma research project, said researchers at the Medical University of Vienna have been able to protect a trial group of 124 people against the effects of birch pollen allergy.

    They were injected with a genetically modified version of the pollen.

    Van Cauwenberge is the coordinator of the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network (GA2LEN), of which the Medical University of Vienna is a partner.

    Brussels ‘Greened’, Thousands Feared Dead

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU headquarters lies in ruins today as the rampage of emergent supervillain “The Tree” continues unabated. This being, nearly twelve feet tall, white, and grotesquely slender, possesses power over the plant kingdom to such an extent that visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was killed by his own boutonniere, apparently at Tree’s behest.

    “My family has been enslaved far too long, and today we begin extracting our terrible vengeance,” boomed the newest pledge to the Legion of Doom, as he casually crushed UN tanks with a gesture to his cruel army of conifers. “Our first order of business in the retaking of Earth will be the conquest of the continent ‘Europe’…unless our demands are met.” While The Tree was not specific, it is believed that his ransom will reach well into the hundred-billon dollar range.

    Legion of Doom General Secretary Lex Luthor was cautiously optimistic about prospects for a settlement, saying “I’m sure the people of Europe can come together and meet Tree’s asking price. I believe our point has been made. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.”

    Reached by phone at a secure location, prominent supervillain expert and wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne was at a loss to explain The Tree’s origins, though he indicated that preliminary research suggested the transformation could result from “the injection of genetically modified tree cells into a living human body,” but added that further research was warranted, as “no one would be crazy enough to try that.” (Reuters’ interview with Mr. Wayne was cut short when he excused himself to take an urgent call.)

    NEXT PAGE: Allergy Researcher Paul Van Cauwenberge Still Missing

    T Minus Two Days

    Down to the Banana Republics, down to the tropical sun
    Go the expatriated Americans, hopin’ to find some fun
    Some of them go for the sailing, caught by the lure of the sea
    Tryin’ to find what is ailing, livin’ in the land of the free

    Some of them are running from lovers, leaving no forward address
    Some of them are running tons of ganja
    Some are running from the I.R.S.

    Chorus:
    Late at night you will find them
    In the cheap hotels and bars
    Hustling the senioritas while they dance beneath the stars
    Spending those renegade pesos on a bottle of rum and a lime
    Singin’ give me some words I can dance to
    Or a melody that rhymes

    First you learn the native customs
    soon a word of spanish or two
    You know that you cannot trust them
    ‘Cause they know they can’t trust you
    Expatriated Americans feelin’ so all alone
    Telling themselves the same lies
    That they told themselves back home

    Down to the Banana Republics, things aren’t as warm as they seem
    None of the natives are buying any second-hand American dreams

    Chorus:
    Late at night you will find them
    In the cheap hotels and bars
    Hustling the senioritas while they dance beneath the stars
    Spending those renegade pesos on a bottle of rum and a lime
    Singin’ give me some words I can dance to
    Or a melody that rhymes

    Down to the Banana Republics, down to the tropical sun
    Go the expatriated Americans hopin’ to find some fun

    – Steve Goodman, Jim Rothermel, Steve Burgh

    Doggy Style

    Now, I do not live in a box. I have seen performers throw things to clamoring fans before. Jimmy Buffett throws beachballs. The Bulls pep squad throws t-shirts. The Bears throw gloves and sweatbands. Steven Tyler throws scarves. This weekend, I saw the bar on this practice raised. A lot.

    I was given tickets to the Projekt Revolution tour for my birthday. Under normal circumstances, I would not have gone to see the Projekt Revolution tour, or even known it was in town, or even known what it was. This year, though, the concert was not operating under normal circumstances. This year the show was co-headlined by two bands I’ve heard just enough to register distaste and Snoop Dogg. Snoop rules. I think he even won over she who gave me the tickets, which was an achievement, as being a hot girl or an old guy is generally critical criteria to winning her musical fandom.

    The Dogg does put on an impressive show — especially backed by a live band — and it was he who set the new high-water mark for souvenirs. He was leading the audience in a singalong, the tune of which gets nestled in the head like an egg-laden tropical parasite: “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, Snooooop Doggggg

    This was, I believe, the band’s break, and they were relaxing in the way one might expect the “Snoopadelics” would. Snoop was, too.

    When it came time to restart the show, hell-mo-ther-fuc-kin’-yeah, Snoop stood up, took a long draw on what I assume is his mid-set break joint, and directed his roadies to provide credentials to the girls that had been invited to dance onstage during the down time. (Or, as he put it, “Go get a backstage pass fo dat backstage ass.”)

    Then, as the band ran off the first strains of “Lodi Dodi,” he waved his turkey-leg-size doob at the cheering crowd, said “Y’all wants to get fucked up tonight?” and threw the LIT JOINT five rows into the crowd. Mayhem ensued.

    It was a great show.

    Vegas Week III With Bonus Material

    I keep trying to fulfill my committment to Vegas, and I will, but first, a couple of news-inspired things I need to get out of my system.

    *
    *

    London (ABC) – British police said Thursday they had arrested a British man wanted on terrorism charges in the United States.

    The Metropolitan Police said Babar Ahmad, 30, was arrested in central London on a U.S. extradition warrant.

    A spokesman for the Police revealed that they have also taken Ahmad’s wife Celeste in for questioning, and are actively seeking an associate identified only as “Zephir”.

    While the spokesman issued a strong denial, multiple sources within the department have reported that there is a feeling at the highest levels that information obtained as a result of this arrest may finally lead to the capture of the much-wanted General Cornelius.

    *
    *

    DAVENPORT, Iowa — There are more than 1.3 million square miles of battleground territory in this year’s election, but on Wednesday, President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry managed to end up practically on the same block.

    As Kerry presided over a roundtable discussion with businesspeople in Davenport, Bush held an outdoor rally before several thousand supporters down the street at LeClaire Park on the banks of the Mississippi River.

    “He could come here for a good discussion, if he could just turn the corner,” Kerry told about 350 business and labor leaders.

    Bush ignored Kerry’s presence as he touted his record and urged voters to give him four more years in the White House.

    “The other folks talk a good game. We deliver.” Bush said.

    Kerry responded, “I don’t need to listen to this. I’m a billionaire. I could buy and sell George ‘DUB-yuh’ before breakfast. I spent more money on this suit than he spent on his ranch. He delivers all right — come this time next year, he’s gonna be delivering pizzas.”

    Bush issued a statement decrying Kerry’s negativity, saying “As the President of the United States, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to engage in this kind of talk. Talkin’s done. I’m going to come down there right now and whip his monkey ass all over the Quad Cities!”

    Upon having this message relayed by a reporter, John Kerry (D-MA) issued a stern reprimand to the Bush campaign: “Any time, any place, any way that punk-ass preppie wants to do it, let’s do it. I’ll make him my bitch any damn time he wants. I’m ready when he is.”

    Mr. Bush met with reporters later that night, and said, “I don’t believe I’m rich enough to be Senator Kerry’s bitch. Furthermore, I would like to address the American people — you know who they are, John, they’re the two hundred and seventy million people calling you an asshole — directly: My fellow Americans, if any of you people want to see me stomp a mudhole in John Kerry’s ass, give me a ‘Hell Yeah’.”

    The two are expected to face off on “Nightline” next week to sign a pay-per-view match for November 2nd.

    *
    *

    Ahhhhh. Much better. Now I can think straight.

    *
    *

    When in Vegas, one occasionally needs a break from the Big Three. (I’m told.) You really ought to use one of those breaks to go sightseeing. There’s a lot to see — and fuck the architecture. Buy a postcard. Look for these….

  • People who have been sitting at the same slot machine or gaming table without pause for fourteen hours. You can spot them by looking for the elderly person in clothing that’s obviously too young for them — that person is not old. Just tired.
  • Hookers. Spot-The-Hooker can provide hours of entertainment in casino bars. Extra Credit: Spot The Paranoid Guy En Route To His Room With A Hooker. (Variations: Spot The Mobster/Underage Group/Sole Underage Member Of Of-Age Group/Second Wife/Third Wife/Plainclothes/Celebrity/Gambling Addict/Cheapskate/Big Winner.)
  • Casino carpets. For rugs designed to conceal cigarette burns, vomit, and spilled cocktails, the patterns and colors are surprisingly attractive. Imagine a Jimmy Buffett fan convention, crushed flat and recreated in synthetics.
  • Folks with no grasp of math. Zero. None. Not even the most basic concepts. They’re in little zoos called “Keno Lounges”.
  • Serious buffet-goers. I am no slouch, but there are some folks in Vegas who’ll grab a buffet seat at 9am and stay for the day. Entertainment value peaks around 4:30pm, when the buffet changes over from lunch to dinner and there’s a big group waddle up to investigate the refreshed goodie bar.
  • New Construction. It is impossible to truly appreciate the scale of a hotel/casino but for one way: Walking around the hole dug for it’s foundation. The Aladdin doesn’t look as big now as it did when it was a pit. I don’t know why this is, but it is, in the classic sense of the word, awesome.
  • Stores filled with clothes that cost more money than my current car. Do not enter. You might stain something, or ruin the store with the stink of poorness. Just stare through the window and jeer.
  • Nightclub lines. Studio 54 in original time period with original crowd and original generosity level of house coke isn’t worth the time people devote to this. I have seen groups in line to get into clubs as I was en route to dinner that I saw, still in line, after dessert. Use your time on Earth wisely, beau monde.

    I know I missed stuff, but I’m getting too excited to go on. Help me out, Veterans.

  • Intermission

    About an hour ago, Dairy Queen brought to my place of work free samples of this month’s DQ Blizzard, “Brownie Batter”. There was an announcement on the overhead page and everything.

    I did not partake, though I did discuss with one of our sales managers, who was slurping away on one of the things, that I thought maybe the marketing department who named a frozen beverage “Brownie Batter” shouldn’t be employed by Dairy Queen in any capacity at all. He chided me for not partaking of free ice cream.

    Time passes.

    I’m standing in the men’s room not five minutes ago, washing my coffee cup. Next to me is one of the morning shift guys, who is brushing his teeth, as one does at the end of a coffee-fueled shift that began at 330am.

    Together we are engaging in two pillars of personal hygiene and chatting amiably while doing so, when in sweeps the sales manager I was speaking to before. He’s moving toward the stalls with alarming swiftness, and without breaking stride, says to us,

    “Run.”

    It seems perhaps DQ Marketing was more on the ball than I’d initially thought.