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While on the flight to Vegas, I found, in the Skymall catalog, this really cool cocktail table with a clock face under the glass top.

Now, I’ve had quite a time trying to find a table that I like enough to buy and put in my living room. I did, once, a long time ago at The Bombay Company, but it was on clearance (presumedly because it was discontinued) and I have never seen it since. Now that I’ve found this one, I’m latching on, and I’m gonna buy it. The problem is price.

See, Skymall’s got it for $599, which I don’t think includes shipping. I’ve called around locally and I’ve heard prices that range from $670 to $800. I’m pretty sure the Skymall price doesn’t count shipping, which I’m sure is what’s going to kill me off since the table weighs like 90 pounds. We’ll see what happens.

On another note, I’ve got tickets via my work to see the new Star Wars movie. I’ll be going on Thursday at 10. Seems the company has rented out two theater rooms to see this thing, which is cool. I’m doing my best not to get my hopes up. Folks have said it’s better than Episode I, but I’ll wait to pass judgment.

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Well, I’ve returned from my long-awaited and well-loved vacation to Vegas, and let me tell you, it was the bomb. Jenn and I saw so much stuff down there, it was incredible. Here’s the edited play-by-play for those interested:

Day One: Tuesday, May 14

Our flight left at 7:20a, so we got up at like 4:00a in order to get ready, get to the MAX station, get to the airport, and get processed for the flight. Jenn got chosen for a random bag search, so she got to take off her shoes and let the people at the security checkpoint inspect all of her stuff. I got through without a hitch.

The plane left on time (Southwest is pretty good about that) and we arrived in Vegas around 9:25a. Picked up our Alamo rental and we were off for Paris.

Paris Las Vegas is, by far, my favorite place on the Strip. The atmosphere in there is just so cool… I can’t really claim authenticity, since I’ve never been to the real Paris, but as far as I’m concerned, Paris Las Vegas is how the real Paris is. The artistry in there, the attention to detail, all of it is just fantastic.

We got a corner room with a little private entry, which was neat except for the fact it was at the end of the 14 mile long hallway. The room itself was beautiful and had everything you’d want; you didn’t have to ask for a hair dryer, iron, or any of that because it was all already there. I think the highest praise I could give the place is that I felt comfortable walking around on the carpet in bare feet, which I won’t normally do in hotels.

Most of the first day was walking around and looking at stuff. We ran around to the casinos in the immediate vicinity: Caesar’s Palace (and the Forum Shops), Bellagio, Mirage, and Treasure Island, as well as taking in the Paris sights. Jenn hadn’t seen the Bellagio yet, nor the Paris, so we had a lot of fun looking through those.

We made a quick stop at the Star Trek exhibit at the Las Vegas Hilton, but since Jenn’s not into Star Trek and I’d seen it before, we didn’t stay long.

We rode the “Race for Atlantis” IMAX ride at Caesar’s and had a good time with that. I’d been on it before, but it was just as fun this time around. Jenn had a good time, too.

Ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and checked out the Hard Rock Hotel, which is sort of like a big meat market. Nice place to visit, but I think I like the Paris better.

We also watched a fountain show out front of the Bellagio (free shows that start every half hour) around the noon timeframe. It was cool.

Around 11:00p, we went up to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris and were able to watch a Bellagio fountain show from up there, which was very beautiful. They played Elton John’s “Your Song,” which was especially cool because Jenn and I both love the movie Moulin Rouge and that song played a significant part in it. I took some pretty good pictures of that show; maybe I’ll scan them and stick them up here.

Day Two: Wednesday, May 15

Wednesday was probably our busiest day from a walking standpoint. We pretty much covered all the other casinos that we didn’t get to on Tuesday - the MGM Grand, Luxor, New York New York, Bally’s, and the Aladdin. We also went to the M&M store and the Coca-Cola store on the strip.

At the Coke store, we got to drink a Vanilla Coke on the day they were released. That was pretty cool.

The best part of Wednesday happened when we got to the Luxor. First, we rode the “Search for the Obelisk” motion simulator ride which was fun. Jenn liked it, too, but it did thrash us around a lot.

After that, though… it was time to see the Blue Man come out.

Blue Man Group, which plays at the Luxor, is one of the coolest shows I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil (a couple of different productions from them), Stomp, Siegfried and Roy, and many other similar stage productions… but the Blue Man Group is a whole experience unto itself.

It combines a little of the industrial/tribal music sort of thing (a la “Stomp”) with an extremely innovative stage and lighting show that really can’t be described; it has to be seen. Throw in some comedy and a bit of audience participation and stir. The results are unbelieveable.

I won’t ruin all of it for you or drone on about how cool this part or that part was. I will tell you my favorite part: At the end of the show, they start playing a remix of KLF’s “Last Train to Trancentral” (which happens to be my favorite song of theirs; from the White Room album) that contains some of the signature Blue Man instrumentation. During this, these tubes come down from the ceiling of the auditorium and start making these humming noises (imagine a hall of Gregorian Monks), then start spinning around. The black light on them makes them shine in different colors. The Blue Men run to the back of the auditorium, where there are these huge rolls of crepe paper (about the width of toilet paper) and they start unrolling this stuff onto the audience. The guy in the back row hands it to the guy in front of him, and so on. Eventually the whole crowd is passing this paper over their heads as fast as they can and everyone’s covered in it.

We sat in the front row, so we turned around to face a tsunami of this paper coming down on us. About three or four minutes into the song, I could put my arms straight over my head and not reach the top of the paper. The whole time, the song is thumping its techno beat and the crowd is screaming.

It’s the best party I’ve ever been to.

After the show, the Blue Men and their band come out and greet the audience, and if you bring your camera with you, you can get your picture with them. We, fortunately, had brought our camera, so I have a picture with a Blue Man and the band. I also got a Blue Man to kiss my ticket so I have blue lip prints on it. (Note: The paint never dries; it’s like an oil paint of some nature. I’m working on coating it with an acrylic fixative, but let me tell you - those were a bear to cart home.)

Day Three: Thursday, May 16

We covered the last of the casinos on Thursday (Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, and The Excalibur).

At The Venetian, Jenn and I took a gondola ride outside. It was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful gondolier named Natallino who was just hilarious. He sang us a nice song and took a couple of pictures of us during the ride. If you happen to go to The Venetian, ask for this guy. He was awesome.

We rode the Manhattan Express Roller Coaster at the New York New York and got totally thrashed around. My shoulders are still bruised, but it was really fun. Jenn liked that one, too.

At Mandalay Bay, though… well… First, it’s a beautiful place. A wonderful resort with a great pool setup (wave pool, a river ride, etc.), but the parking and the layout were very confusing. I wanted to see the cool griffin statues they have out front, but we walked so much trying to find the way out that we ended up giving up, going to ride the roller coaster at New York, and coming back to the Mandalay.

We also took some more time to explore the Paris and do our shopping. I probably spent a good $200 on shirts, art, and trinkets from Paris. We decided we’re going to redo our living room decor in a Paris theme. It’ll go well with the Moulin Rouge posters.

Oh, and we ate at our first In-N-Out Burger. So good. I can’t wait for them to come to Portland.

Day Four: Friday, May 17

We got up reasonably early (5:30a?) and got our stuff together and checked out of the Paris. On the way back to return the rental car, we stopped at the Excalibur and bought some extra tasty Krispy Kreme donuts.

We made it through the security checkpoint without incident this time and got to the gate for our flight early enough to hang out and eat our donuts.

The downside to this airport stop is that we got there just in time for the stupid television to announce who was voted off of Survivor (Sean) after we had been so careful not to talk to anyone or watch the show, hoping to save it until we got home. Oh well. It was exciting anyway.

Our plane left at 9:25a and we got back into Portland around 11:30a. Not too bad.

All in all, this was a really rockin’ vacation. I got away from work (which was the whole point), I only lost $30 gambling (mostly slots; I’m not a gambler), and Jenn and I got to see and do a lot of stuff that we wouldn’t normally get to. I call that a success. Next time we go to Vegas, I’m going to try not to walk around so much (my feet hurt so bad), but I always say that. Either way, I’ll definitely be staying at the Paris.

I think the next vacation needs to be somewhere restful, like Maui. Somewhere I can just plunk down next to the water and not have to do anything.

Oh, and no, I didn’t see Star Wars. I am not in that big of a hurry to (especially if it’s anything like Episode I). I’m going with the gang from work on Thursday, I think, and then will probably go with Jenn this weekend.

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Last weekend I had the oil changed for the first time in the life of my car. It was a good experience; the folks at the Acura dealership were really nice and overall I loved the service.

The only problem I had was that, for the following week, every time I’d stop while driving around, I’d smell burning oil. I sort of expect this after an oil change; pending on how messy the guy changing the oil is, there may be some oil that’s splattered somewhere on the engine that’s burning off.

But the smell persisted. Today’s Friday, and I should not be smelling things. So I stopped in the parking lot at work and decided to open up the hood to see if there was something glaringly wrong.

Battery looks good… hoses are connected… things look - hey, wait. WHERE THE FUCK IS MY OIL CAP?!?!

Those bastards didn’t put my oil cap back on after changing the oil.

Now, I’m not a whiz with cars. I know a little bit about some stuff, but for the most part, I leave the car stuff to the trained professionals. But I do know enough to realize having no oil cap is not a good thing.

So I called the dealership back and they’re going to replace my oil cap, steam clean the engine, and check things out. I take it in later this morning for that one. I’m just hoping nothing is trashed. I’ve only driven the car 8000 miles. I’m going to get a receipt of some nature so that two weeks from now, when a rod blasts through my hood and kills a pedestrian or something, I’ve got documented proof that it was their fuckup, not mine.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Unbelieveable.

[Days Until Vegas: 4]

Well, for all intents and purposes, I’m off to Vegas. I won’t be adding to the blog over the weekend, I’m taking Monday to pack, rest up, etc., and Tuesday through Friday of next week, it’s Viva Las Vegas.

For those who care (on a whole different note):

I just got a call from the Acura dealership and they have my car ready, which is cool. It’ll be good to have it back, since they stuck me with this Enterprise Rent-A-Clown-Car. It’s a four-door Corolla that I have to fold myself into a contortionist position to get into. And the gas and brake pedals are so close together it’s hard to tell where one stops and the other starts.

Anyway, it’ll be nice to be able to drive again. Even if I was only without my car for a few hours.

And a final sidetrack before I sign off for a week: Today is Fred Meyer employee double-discount day so I get 20% off anything (except food and pharmacy) at Freddy’s via my mom. She had an extra coupon for 10% additional off any DVDs, so I picked up The Godfather trilogy for a bargain - normal price is $75, I got it for $54. Can’t complain about that - $21 extra dollars to spend in VEGAS!

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[Days Until Vegas: 5]

I love The Amazing Race. There’s something about a giant rally that I just sort of dig. I watched the first one and had a good time with it, and I’m having almost as good a time watching this latest installment.

The only problem I have is that every time I finally decide on a team to root for, they get eliminated. In the first Amazing Race, I liked Kevin and Drew (as did pretty much everyone else). They were entertaining, good guys and I hoped they won. They didn’t.

This time around, I also started liking the entertaining team (Gary and Dave), but they got eliminated. Then I didn’t know who I liked, but Team Cha Cha Cha (Danny and Oswald) really grew on me because they were good guys and they played the game smart, no backstabbing or weaselling, just good fun.

Well, as with every team I like, they got eliminated last night, and I think that sucks. How come Wil and Tara, “Team ASSHOLE,” can’t be eliminated? Maybe they should merge Survivor with The Amazing Race so the other teams can vote them off. I’d vote ‘em off.

I don’t think I could ever be on one of these shows, though. I don’t have the patience with other people the way you’d have to have in order to be successful. I think I’d have gotten into a fight with Wil already because I’m sure he’d have done some stupid weaselly shit to me and I’d be forced to beat him. It might make good TV but it’s terrible sportsmanship.

In Survivor I don’t know who I want to win right now. I like both Neleh and Paschal, but Kathy’s also got a lot going for her. I’m sure that saying that out loud has just jinxed all three of them, but I suppose we’ll see what happens when the latest episode runs tonight.