No Wire Hangers!

Ever since the amount of closet space available to me unexpectedly doubled, I’ve been jonesing to get to IKEA and stock up on wood hangers.  Don’t know why, but I’ve always dreamed of the day when I could have all wood hangers for my clothing…  I suppose it’s just another example of my genetic predisposition toward anality that this would, in fact, qualify as a dream…

At any rate, schlepping home 80 hangers on BART was unappealing, so I rented a car yesterday – the always-classy-and-elegant PT Cruiser (I think the PT stands for “Pretty Tragic”).  I checked in with my mom to see if she wanted in (an enthusiastic “yes!”) and off we went to IKEA.  Started our day with $1.99 IKEA breakfast (price-to-value ratio about even…). And since I had a car, why not do some other shopping that’s difficult to do via Muni or taxi? After additional stops at Safeway, Pet Food Express, BevMo! and Bed, Bath and Beyond, my haul for the day was as follows:

  • 80 wooden hangers
  • 48 double rolls toilet paper
  • 12 rolls paper towels
  • 2 1/2 gallons laundry detergent
  • 1/2 gallon window cleaner
  • 20 lbs. cat food
  • 150 lbs. cat litter (yes, 150)
  • 1/2 gallon Maker’s Mark
  • 1/2 gallon Ketel One
  • 6 bottles wine
  • 1 bottle Lillet Blanc
  • 1 laundry basket
  • 1 clothes drying rack

Oh, and that doesn’t include mom’s own TP and liquor purchases…  And can I just say how extremely satisfying this shopping expedition was?  I’m thinking I’m set for at least the next six months…  Well, except for the booze, which’ll probably just see me through to next weekend…

I spent Saturday afternoon switching out the hangers in my closet.  And I’m likely to spend most of Sunday just sitting and gazing at my new all-wood-hanger closet with a look of smug satisfaction on my face…  Feel free to join me!

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Vegas Wrap-up

In front of the Vdara, a kind of amazing sculpture made of canoes. That's Aria in the background.

Tina arrived without incident on Monday evening.  We had a dinner at Lemongrass at the Aria – it was quite surprisingly tasty and reasonably priced…  Really as good as Thai food I’m used to getting here in SF.  Then, on to the Aria blackjack tables…  I’ve played before, but Tina is a big fan of the game…  And now, so am I.  It was really a lot of fun and we did OK.  Wandered over to New York, New York so I could get my slot machine fix – and had a not-very-good time.  Was there for half-an-hour and the same cocktail waitress passed by at least six times – but wouldn’t get me a drink because I wasn’t in her section…  Apparently, my section didn’t have a waitress, since I never got a drink, despite pumping money into that machine for the entire 30 minutes.  I was so parched, that I actually purchased a Bud Light on my way out of the joint – for $6.50! Needless to say, I’ll not be revisiting this casino…

The original plan was to check out the gay dance club – but since we are old (me far more so) and tired, we decided to simply call it a night…

Tina, waiting for noodles...

Spent Tuesday doing a little shopping and then back to the hotel for some spa time before dinner at Caesar’s palace.  The last time I was in Caesar’s was at least eight years ago and I recall it being tackily opulent or opulently tacky…  Really seemed dated and faux deluxe.  My how things have changed – the Roman theme remains over the top, but the place is pretty darn luxurious and tasteful (by Las Vegas standards, that is).  We ate at Beijing Noodle No. 9 for noodles (duh) and dim sum.  Again, I was surprised at how good it was…  Vegas has really come a long way when it comes to food options, even for less expensive places like this.

Bette Midler at 7:30.  The show was pretty great – an old-fashioned song-and-dance review with chorus girls, the Harlettes and Miss M’s semi-raunchy patter and a still-amazing voice (not to mention that she was actually singing as opposed to lip synching).  Of course, given that when I originally bought these tickets, I thought I’d be going with someone else, there was a bittersweet quality to the show (both Tina and I were all weepy after “The Rose”).  But I was so very happy to be there and enjoying it with my dear friend…

Fishy-wishy!

Back to Aria for more blackjack.  Had a great table with a couple of really good and friendly dealers and some fun dudes from Orlando playing along with us.  I actually did pretty well – and would have been up by a good amount had I returned to our room at midnight with Tina.  Instead, I felt it wise to continue playing (and drinking) until 3AM.  You can imagine how well that worked out…  I will say however that the couple hundred bucks I had in my pocket when I arrived on Sunday got me through the entire trip, including meals, gambling and taxi fare…  Not too bad…

What was bad was the intensity of my hangover the following day, combined with a mild case of tuberculosis I’d seemed to have picked up.  Made the prospect of boarding an airplane not so appealing…  But despite an hour delay, all went relatively smoothly and I was back home in SF, sitting in my oxygen tent in front of the TV by 4PM.  Vegas is definitely a weird place – but it was sure a lot of fun.  Hoping to plan another trip soon, next time to see another gay icon at the Colosseum – Cher.

It had to be said…

Prior to an enjoyable hour or so spent at the $10 minimum blackjack table at Aria last night with Tina, I had to use the john…  And just down the row of urinals from me were a couple of 20-something dude types, talking and joking about various bodily functions – as 20-something dudes do…

At any rate, I hear one of them cart out that oldest of standing-in-front-of-the-urinal jokes ever, advising his confrere: “Dude, careful, the water’s cold.”

And me being me, I couldn’t resist piping up with, “And deep, too…”

The first dude had a good laugh (and amazingly had never heard that old chestnut) – but he did have to explain it to his buddy…

Still Vegas, baby!

Breakfast of mildly-hungover champions.

Today was pretty low key…  Late breakfast at the Bellagio coffee shop before deciding to check out Ben Sherman store again.  Good thing I did – apparently I wasn’t paying very close attention the first time as I managed to overlook the half-dozen shirts, a sweater and jacket now in my possession…  And all at 50% off markdown – yes, off markdown!

Then I walked approximately 47 miles (Las Vegas is not designed for pedestrians) to Walgreens to stock up on electrolyte-enhanced water (between the dry desert air and the copious amounts of liquor I’ve consumed, I feel a bit dehydrated…) and snacks.  Then, after a little lie-down, I decided to take advantage of my hotel’s gym facilities and completed a full work-out.  Place all to myself save for the last ten minutes – really nice way to go to the gym…

For a small extra fee, was able to use the Vdara spa facilities too: showers, sauna, steam and hot plunge.  The place is smallish and feels very intimate.  Lots of aqua glass and caramel-colored wood…  And let me tell you it was freakin’ heavenly…  I had the entire place to myself for my whole visit (well, except for foxy Bruno the spa dude who showed me to my locker…). The sauna was impeccable.  The steam room was the the steamiest I’ve ever been in (I mean that in the literal sense: their were copious amounts of steam) and fragrant with eucalyptus (not with mildew like most steam rooms).  And the showers are huge and stocked with Aveda products.  It was really a perfect cap to my quiet day and I feel like a million bucks…

My friend Tina arrives at LAS shortly…  Then it’s off to dinner, gambling and general mayhem…  Life is good.

Vegas, baby!

Flight in on Virgin was notable only for it’s annoyingness.  Some teenager with Napoleonic tendencies and the mind of a bureaucrat wouldn’t allow me to bring my one carry-on bag onto the plane – despite pointing out that I had carried-on this exact same bag on this exact same airline using the exact same aircraft.  No dice.  So, I had to unpack all the non-checkables (Bette Midler tix, computer, life-preserving medications) and juggle them in my arms along with the giant hardbound novel I was already carrying, as I cursed my way down the jetway.  The overhead bins on the plane were, of course, filled with bags identical in size to my own…

Lucky for me, though, when the chief FA asked how I was doing, I told her not very well and explained why.  She took care of it and got my bag (along with the three other bags that were marked for gate check) onto the aircraft. Would’ve been a very pleasant flight, too, if her colleague hadn’t refused to allow me to use the bathroom when her cart was adjacent to me. “We only have a certain amount of time to serve drinks.”  Well, I only have a certain amount of time before I piss myself…  Oh, and needless to say, in the time it would’ve taken me to get to the john and back, she was still in the exact same location in the aisle…

Anyhoo, through the airport and checked into Vdara.  It’s quite nice.  The rooms all have different layouts, and mine isn’t quite a nice as the one pictured online in terms of layout.  But it is well-appointed with a great bathroom (I took two showers and a bath yesterday, just because I could – and housekeeping replaced all the many, many towels I’d used when they did turn-down service…)

Headed out to Ben Sherman, hoping for more sale stuff… And they were having the same sale as in SF, but it had all been picked over…  I may go back today just to double-check. Wandered around the Planet Hollywood casino, won $50 and grabbed a sandwich and headed back to my hotel.

"Sex and the City" slots at Monte Carlo. Poor Scary Sadshaws!

Spent the rest of the afternoon checking out casino/hotels.  Aria, the Vdara’s sister across the way is quite nice – even the casino is rather tasteful.  But the slots seemed to be mostly penny slots or $1 slots – one too rich for my blood, the other too poor (who wants to win 10,000 pennies? Ugh.) Popped into Monte Carlo, which ate my money immediately without so much as a cocktail waitress showing up to offer me a watered-down cocktail.  Au revoir, Monte Carlo!

Next door is New York, New York, one of the sort of medium-grade places.  But I had good luck – choosing a Lucky 7 slot that paid me a $400 spin and a couple of others in the $100s.  And I had a really nice cocktail waitress who ensured drinks arrived in a timely manner…

So now what?  It’s only around 7PM – nightlife at the clubs doesn’t start until after midnight. A pit stop at my hotel to have a lie-down, then I headed to Casino Royale.  I’d read somewhere that the more downscale casinos (and this one certainly is downscale by standards of the Strip – for example, their casino restaurant is a Subway sandwich shop) have looser slots.  Now I don’t know if this is actually true, but I did walk out of their with $300 more than I’d gone in with.

I’d also heard that Outback Steakhouse has really good burgers – so I went.  And the burger was, in fact, excellent.  Too bad the fries were limp and mealy…

Why am I up at 8:30 in the morning? I didn't get home until 4... Jeez...

Then off to explore the gay bars…  Yikes…  Pretty pathetic.  Of the two larger ones in the little gay area, one was closed and the other was playing Latin hip-hop or something…  I also tried Krave, on the Strip…  A bit livelier, but still yawn city – and crazy expensive.  $5 for a Bud Light.  A Bud Light! I didn’t stay long…  But I spent a couple hours parked in front of another slot machine in the adjacent Planet Hollywood casino. I was up $150 when I left.  Hope my luck holds out for the rest of the trip…

I just love it… I think it’s so swell…

Two minute clip of Liza Minelli visiting her vocal coach…  But the gem of this piece is the coach’s son, Nicholas, who does a perfect – PERFECT – impression of Miss Minelli (starts at about 1:30 if you want to skip forward)…  I just hope he grows up to be a drag queen, an avocation in which that skill is highly valued…  Seriously,  I just love him…

Johnny Weir performs to “Poker Face”

Presented without comment…   Well, other than that this performance takes place in Japan, thus increasing the awesomeness exponentially…