Sunday, July 27, 2003

We just returned from three + days in Las Vegas. Great trip, once we got there, very tired now. A few highlights, to possibly be expanded upon later:

BB King & Jeff Beck co-headlining a great concert. Two legends, each performing brilliantly. BB King, especially, was brilliant. That 77-year-old diabetic with the bad knees can Rock circles around any punk 1/3 his age. This was one of the best shows I've seen in years. The warm-up acts were a mixed bag, however. Mofro was great, and I wanted to hear more. Galactic were pretentious pretenders who just wasted my time.

Beyond the "real concert" we went for, there were countless free lounge acts wherever we went, most not worth discussing. The one that was actually seriously entertaining (in a good way) was Soul Desire at NYNY. The one that was most entertaining (in a Vegas-y campy way) was Big Elvis at the Barbary Coast. Now weighing in at 550 pounds (no exageration; that number is from his press materials), he is the world's large Elvis impersonator, and claims that he just may be Elvis' love child (but his mother isn't talking). The worst was the sorry, no-talent musical "comedian" at the Tropicana (didn't even bother to catch his name) who sang joke lyrics to a Karaoke machine. Example of his best: to the tune of Eric Clapton's version of Cocaine, he sang "Rogaine" while trying to do a comb-over.

Of the dinners (and we did a lot of eating - it seemed this trip was not so much about gambling, but about eating and drinking), the best by far was at the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio. If fine dining and Vegas seems like it should be and oxymoron, check out Voodoo and change your mind.

Only bad time was the flight there. The flight from San Jose to Las Vegas is scheduled for about an hour and a quarter. It took us a little over four hours on Thursday. We had a bumpy approach, but that sometimes happens over the dessert due to high winds. This was a little different and got very rough. From the left side of the plane we had a clear blue summer's day. On the right, however, a solid wall of brown dust was moving closer and closer, with thick dark coulds obscuring any sight of daylight (it was about 11 AM).

When we were probably within a quarter mile of the runway, we felt the engines kick in, and we were heading back up. We tried the second approach from another angle, this time getting with a hundred feet or so of touching ground, when again we aborted and took off for re-evaluation. Circling the town, we could see that the Strip was now totally covered by the storm, which now included clouds looking ready to burst with lightning. Looking to my left, I saw that the woman across the isle from me had used her little white toss-up bag. I don't believe she was the only one.

We circled, started a couple of approaches, and circled some more. Finally, we returned to California and landed at Ontario (near Palm Springs) to re-fuel and wait out the weather. For nearly an hour we sat in Ontario, not being allowed to de-plane. At least they let have more soda and peanuts. The return flight to Las Vegas was less eventful, except for that moment when we crossed the wake of another plane a little too close and were thrown violently off course for a moment.

The worst flight of my memory, followed by a wonderful few days (we met up with some old friends there, and had lots of pool-side and bar-side recreation) that was way too short.

Anyway, home now, tired, and with 185 emails to review and delete (and that's before looking at my work email). Perhaps I'll post more details about the trip later.

Big Elvis at the Barbary Coast

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