Monday, February 19, 2007

The Las Vegas Remix

Until my company’s conference two years ago, I’d never been to Las Vegas. I’d been all around it…Phoenix, Los Angeles, Reno…but never Las Vegas. To be honest, Sin City was never really high on my list of necessary travel destinations. This was certainly not due to its sinfulness, per se, but more due to my perception of how Las Vegas sins are packaged. I think I must have bee rebelling against a perceived commodification of sin, which, all too often, dilutes the fun.

Upon my first visit, two years ago, I stood corrected. I was there officially for an unreal estate conference, I didn’t drink, I gambled really minimally…and I still had a BLAST!

For those not in the know, for the past several years, I’ve been applying my graduate degree in Comparative Sociology and Socialism by selling out to the Man and doing marketing and transaction coordination for a real estate team. A couple of months ago, my team semi-dissolved and I was temporarily without job. In addition to the possibility of homelessness and starvation, I was really bummed that I wouldn’t get to go to the upcoming annual conference in Las Vegas. But, alas, I was quickly hired by another team…same company, different office…and BAM! I was, once again, headed to Vegas!

Since Tony works for the same company, we got to go together and, enjoy a romantic, partially company-subsidized Las Vegas Valentine’s Day. We both had a great time. Here are some quick highlights:

*Blue Man Group – it was my third time (once before in Las Vegas, and once in New York) and Tony’s first time. Blue Man is possibly the coolest show on the planet. I really think that truly great post-modern art can be defined by its ability to simultaneously touch the primal and the futuristic, its abililty to provoke both complex introspective thought and childish giggles, and its ability to be interactive. Blue Man Group epitomizes great post-modern art.

*David Hasselhoff – we saw him walking through the MGM Casino. There are few possible celebrity sightings that could’ve matched it.

*The Stratosphere Tower Rides – at the top of the 110ish story tower are three cute and relaxing rides called the Big Shot, the X-Scream and Insanity. Yeah, um, if you need to take a load off, and relax after a long day of walking from casino to casino, this is the place to be. If you don’t have a lot of leisure time, Insanity is particularly relaxing.

*Dollar Rent-A-Car – when renting a car for a two-day road trip to the Grand Canyon, we were amused as the perky and professional rental agent let us know that we needed to return the car with a full tank of gas, and that since the car had just been turned in, we should inspect the glove compartment for anything that might get us arrested if we got pulled over for anything. She wasn’t trying to be funny.

*Big Horn Sheep – we saw a small group of them climbing a rocky slope near the Hoover Dam. As you can imagine, I nearly caused us to careen out of control as I screamed for Tony to pull over. So, so cool.

*Flagstaff, Arizona – we spent the night in this peaceful hippie-ish mountain enclave. Love the vibe, but fuck does it get cold at 7,000 feet.

*The Grand Canyon – we took a helicopter tour, and after, just stood on the rim, speechless. I really don’t have words to describe the soul-shaking beauty of the Grand Canyon. You think you’ve seen it on tv, or in movies…but the awesomeness of it just can’t be conveyed in any other way than to experience it for yourself.

Oh, yeah, and I nearly met Vegasgustan. I tried. He tried. Missed him by that much (said in Maxwell Smart voice). Now, he and Audra and Noah have to come to Miami.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Okapi's Favorite Nibbles

A little more than 2 years ago, this blogging thing was still a mystery to me. It just seemed a little self-important…to think that the public would be interested in your diary. Then, my little lamb, started The 9th Circle, and I found myself coming back again and again – mainly to keep up with her life in New York. She’s great at getting her voice into her writing, and I could just hear her in every snarky viewer mail post and every scathing observation on public transportation. It somehow made her seem not so far away.

So, just out of curiosity, I started the Lair. I knew that I didn’t want to do a daily diary type blog, and I didn’t want to do a specifically themed thing. I thought it would be less obligating, and more my style to think of my blog as more of an online scrapbook for ideas, pictures, stories and stuff. I started to read other blogs from The 9th Circle blogroll, and found myself “getting to know” a few bloggers – Jackie, Hof, Van, Vegas, Dan and Moo. Through Moo, I met Val. And she made me laugh with her cricket finger puppets. Then I went through a “not so good” period, and I was surprised by how my blog friends really rallied around, when I needed a few kind words. I, myself, couldn’t put much into words then, but I spent a lot of time surfing blogrolls and filling my temporary emptiness with other peoples’ lives. During that challenging time, both Val and Marisol suffered terrible losses, and my heart just ached for them.

My life did get back on track, and as I became interested in the world again, I expanded my blogroll with blogs that caught my attention because they were smart or funny or particularly well-written – like Scott-O-Rama, Get Your Life, Random Speak, The Martian Anthropologist, Afarensis, Meanwhile and Joe.My.God.

Recently, I noticed that a lot of the blogging friends I’ve made over the past 2 years, have, for one reason or another, bowed out, and my blogroll was looking like a museum collection of blog relics. So, I searched and I lurked. And I pruned and grafted my list of daily reads. And I’m getting to know a few new fantastic sites and their really, really talented authors – like Cooper’s Corridor, Circumlocutor, Getting Myself Together, Intelligent Design , Sad and Mad, Juliepatchouli, Angry Black Bitch and It’s Just Ice Cream.

I’m leaving for Las Vegas today for a week. While I’m gone, I’d love if some of my “old” friends introduced themselves to some of my “new” friends – and vice versa. Go ahead. Most of them won't bite.

Now tawk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

More Rant, Less Rave

At the moment, these are the top 5 things wrong with America...excluding, of course, the upcoming War on Iran and Syria.

1. Family car decals. I think this annoying trend started as a way for soccer moms to justify their gas-guzzling, global-warming SUVs. "Look, I have 7 kids ranging in age from 2 to 14, so I need a Ford Explorer, dammit!" What I can't figure out is why otherwise decent suburban parents would want to advertise to every sexual predator sitting in traffic, the ages and hobbies of all of their children. As a side observation...though these decals are offered in "dark-skinned" versions, you will never see black folks partaking in this silliness.

2. Leaf blowers. Seriously. The leaf blower really is a prime example of what is wrong with our society. It's an overly obnoxious, clumsy pollution machine that does nothing but blow your waste onto somebody else's property. Oh, yeah...and wake me up at 7am on an otherwise lovely weekend morning. Grab a fucking rake, and shut the fuck up.

3. Self-checkouts. I'm stunned speechless by the stupidity of retailers' move towards self-checkouts. Just look under the sign at Home Depot or Winn-Dixie that points to the new "ultra-convenient" self-checkout mess. It's complete chaos. A significant percentage of the public will never understand how use them. And, for the people who, for all intents and purposes, should be able to use them, they don't work. And the store still has to hire someone to stand there to help nearly every single person. What genius came up with this pennysaver? I'll take a surly cashier who hates his/her job anyday over this mess.

4. Glenn Beck. How did this hateful, racist, xenophobic bumbling Baby Huey-looking dork get his own show on CNN? That Bill O'Reilly really riles them up. And, that Ann Coulter...grrrr. But, I can't imagine that even hateful, racist, xenophobic middle Americans find Glenn Beck entertaining. Even Faux News didn't want him.

5. "Santorum to Think About U.S. Enemies." Rick Santorum has been drafted by a conservative "think tank." I thought this was an article from the Onion when I first saw it. But, apparently, Rick Santorum is one of the conservative rights most important, um, cough, um, thinkers.