I woke up earlier the next morning and at some reasonable time I called my parents from the phone in the bathroom (I love hotels!) to get the plan. Here's the plan. Meet at 10:30 in the coffee shop to have breakfast with Uncle Paul, Aunt Judy, and cousin Evan who live in Vegas. Evan is in college in San Diego now and was just in for the weekend to visit with my cousin Debbi's husband who's in real bad shape, which is why we didn't get to see them and Angela, their daughter.
It's a big mess at the coffee shop because we asked to be seated near the rest of the gang who'd started eating at 9:30. Oh, we do pick up Martin and Lauren, so we end up being 9, but they refuse to let us push tables together. But we're close enough for government work. Hoppie and I catch up with Martin and Lauren. Dad and mom catch up with Paul and his family.
I had a strange conversation with Martin, probably because I asked a stupid question, but I was curious.
Me: Hey Martin, why do you call Aunt Estelle "Estelle"?
Martin: As opposed to...? Mom? Mommy?
Me: Well, yeah. That's what I call my mom.
Mom: Yeah, she does.
Martin: Hrm. George (George is his older brother, in case you didn't get that from previous posts), what do you call Estelle?
George: Mom. Sometimes "Mother" if she's annoying me.
Anyhow, I never got my answer, although I'm not sure Martin has an answer, so that could be why.
Anyway, this was the time before people left. (Pictures 56-68)So we started saying goodbyes. After breakfast and various and sundry farewells, mom and dad went up to the room with Martin and Lauren and hoppie and I played a bit more Dilbert. I won, hoppie lost and we went up to the room, which is to say mom and dad's room, where they were watching the end of the UK game with Martin and Lauren. Very disappointing game.
Then we shuttled to the Barbary Coast, crossed over to Bellagio and viewed the gardens Pictures 59-62). Then we continued on to Caesar's which has been redone and now includes a shrine to Krishna. I think if I'd realized before the pictures started it was an active shrine, we probably wouldn't have taken pictures with it. I think there's something sacrilegious about taking pictures of shrines. I would ask my Hindu friends, but I'm afraid they would think less of me for even thinking about taking pictures of myself with it. Anyway, for my unwashed public, it's 63 and 64. Then we walked into the Mirage to view the tigers. There was one tiger out and he was pacing around hopping to get let back in. We headed across the street to the Venetian.
We stopped to pose with the wax works (pictures 65-69) but weren't interested in doing the wax museum. I was hoping for a gondola ride. So we took a gondola ride while mom and dad went off to see if they could get cheap tickets to join us at the Penn&Teller show that evening. It was awhile to wait for the next free Gondola, so we watched one of the live statues. This one was cooler than the one on the other hand. This one posed for pictures and made show graceful gestures of thanks to people who left money. We were lucky enough to be there when it was statute change time answering that question that hoppie had. In case you don't view the movie, what happens is that about 10 minutes before change time, the marionette came out with the puppeteer (on stilts) and worked the crowd a bit. Then they approached the statue at change time and collected the money while the statue stood impassively. Then the marionette held out his hand to the statue who took it and gracefully descended, walking stately off the podium. Then the marionette performed with a band who had set themselves up unobtrusively about 10 minutes prior. We didn't stick around for the street minstrels who showed up as we were leaving to catch our gondola.
While were in line for the gondola, there was a couple getting out of the boat with the preacher and a flower girl who'd obviously just gotten married. That happens a bunch apparently. The bride had a sucking lemons expression on her face, but I only saw her for a moment, so perhaps I'm projecting.
The flower girl was adorable. She looked like anjillmarie's daughter about 2 years ago when she was 3. Precious.
Anyhow then it was our turn and we ended up by chance having the same driver as the bride and groom. He was a sweet and romantic fellow, actually Italian and he sang "O Solo Mio" and "That's Amore!" and by request, "Volare". He also told us about life in Vegas. He lived in NY for awhile and is much happier here. We told him being from Boston, we can understand being happy away from NY. He grinned and admitted he'd been to Boston a time or two. He told us stories about life on the boat and as we went under the last bridge, told us to make a wish for our lives together and to discuss our wish after we were off the boat. It was VERY romantical.
My parents showed up just as we were getting off the boat, which kinda bummed my mom out. She wished she could have gotten there a moment or two sooner.
Then we left and sorta got lost which turned out to be good because we watched the end of the shift change for the gondola drivers and got to say goodbye again to our driver.
You know I wished I'd gotten email addresses for some of the people we met like the driver and Stacy. But then I probably wouldn't keep in touch anyway. I meant to mail my cousin Jonathan when spring training started and I haven't done that either.
Anyway, then we went back to Harrah's and caught the shuttle to the Rio. And now begins the countdown to Penn & Teller.
So we got cards to play at the Rio (I think that's where I lost my driver's license, more on this later).
And then hoppie and I went to get our tickets while Mom and Dad played 3 card poker.
Mom won 150$ bucks in short order then we traversed the casino looking for a nice place for dinner. Being unable to find something that appealed to everyone, we went to the buffet. After the buffet, it was time to go to the show. We wanted to go when the doors opened so we could hear Penn play bass for an hour. Really, it was only 45 minutes that Penn played before sneaking off to do hair and makeup for the show.
That hour was Mike Jones playing jazz piano. It was great music. We picked up one of his CDs (more on that later too.) During his playing, he invited people to come down and inspect boxes that were going to be used in the Challenge Box Escape during the show. I sent hoppie down, as I had blister most foul on my foot. Hoppie examined the boxes and I tried to stop myself from taking a picture of him with them. I almost pulled out the clie to film, but I thought I might need the backlight, and there were "rules" and "regulations" about filming and I thought hoppie would be upset if I got his Clie confiscated, so I was good.
He came back and reported that they were indeed boxes. We talked about the boxes and the music for a bit, and enjoyed it (just as I am enjoying it now) and then the show started with the familiar opening,
"Hi, I'm Penn and this is my partner, Teller."
Penn and Teller graciously allowed the audience who wanted to be fooled by the illusion of the escape to close their eyes so they wouldn't see how the trick was done, and I of course, will not betray you or their ideas by telling you, but they took the smaller box, the Plexiglas one with holes, and placed it inside the other box. Put Teller in it. Closed the box. Locked the outer wooden box, and then...Teller escaped. It was, wow. Amazing.
Then they moved on to the Vegas act, where Penn de-constructed Teller into three parts and they they deconstructed that act by using a Plexiglas box, so you could actually see that Teller had actually split himself imto three pieces by complex cellular division learned from the fakirs (read: fakers) on his travels in the far east. No magic at all. The music for this was a showy complex piece that hoppie really liked.
I wrote down my list the morning after the show so I'm not sure I got them all right.
They put Penn in a straight jacket and hung him while Teller did shadow puppets on the curtain he was behind to the tune of "The Last Unicorn" by Shel Silverstein. After Teller kicked the chair out from under him, it was revealed that Penn was sitting in the audience.
Then Teller brought out the shredding machine and narrated (with no noise) the shreading of things, including himself.
Then Penn came out and juggled fire. And explained why it was relatively safe to do so.
Penn: You want to know how I catch the wrong end and avoid injury? I let go. Ouch. That's hot. I let go and get nothing more than a little carbon on my hands. It's very simple. If something is hot, drop it.
He then explained how as part of the evolutionary process, people who didn't let go of hot items, didn't exactly jump first into the gene pool, allowing those who were genetically programmed to let go to dominate.
Then Penn went on to juggle bottles of uneven size and weight, and then he broke the bottles to make them of unpredictable uneven size and weight and pointed out this was the most difficult part of the act, but it doesn't look nearly as splashy as fire, but the fire sticks were designed and built to be juggled with. You practice with them, they weight the same, they feel same, always same same same, requires less reaction and more smooth practice. How can you practice with bottles that are different everytime?
He managed somehow to not cut his hand off...this time.
Teller brought an audience member on stage, and did some slight-of-hand, filling an empty fishbowl with water and pulling coins out of it, and eventually dropping the coins back in and turning them to gold fish.
Penn did an erotic fire eating trick with the very beautiful Georgie Bernasek.
Then Teller did this beautiful rose pruning trick where stood between the rose and the rose's shadow and pruned the shadow and as he did, pieces fell away from the rose. It was lovely.
Then Penn explained why he was King of Traps while Teller tries his luck at stealing food from Penn's traps including getting into a large hammock and swinging over the last trap to grab the sandwich.
Then they did a trick I like to call "Why America is a better country than china" in which the faked burning the American flag in a copy of the bill of rights. China's bill of rights being able to be summed up on a blank piece of paper (Teller produced a tranparent piece of paper) doesn't make nearly as interesting a trick, as they demonstrated.
Then they closed out of the show with the bullet trick. Where they get two people to personalize bullets, then they shoot at each other, through Plexiglas shields catching the bullet in their teeth. (they don't tell you where they are going to catch the bullet, just show it off after the shots have been fired.) Then the volunteers who personalized the bullets verify the switch. Very impressive ending.
Then they ran through the audience waving and waited out in the lobby to talk to fans, sign things and pose for pictures.
While Teller was posing for pictures, we heard Mike Jones the pianist telling a story of how during one bullet act, they had a drunken woman waving the gun around and they had to get it away from her and that was the only time they'd had a problem with the trick. Mike pointed out that the guns are actually live and it's really not the kind of thing you want people waving about. We wandered over and started talking to him. He's been with P&T about 3 years, although he's known Penn for about 17 (yow!). He's engaged. During his downtime from the show, he plays in New York and Chicago, and he's hoping to come to Boston during August and play at Scullers and I forget the other place, because I know where Scullers is and there's a reasonable chance I'd go see him there.
He signed our ticket and posed for a picture with me. And was generally a really sweet guy. Besides being an awesome pianist.
Then Teller signed our ticket in an exchange that went something like this:
Hoppie: Would you sign our ticket?
Teller: Well, I do have a pen, coincidentally.
Hoppie: And where there's a pen there's something to sign.
Me: I thought where there's a Penn, you find a Teller.
They groaned simultaneously. I snapped this picture
You want to know what the highlight of my trip was? I made Teller groan at a bad pun. Family, I love you, but NOTHING tops this. I don't want to invite comparisons between this and FRONT ROW AT ALICE COOPER but I walked out of both with the same dazed feeling. Only instead of "He touched me." I walked out thinking, "I made Teller groan." Baby, it does not get any better. And yes, I know he's probably heard the joke a 1000 times. It probably was a courtesy groan, but it was all for me. My very own Teller groan. And whenever I watch Rebo and Zootie or Bullshit, I can think about it. I can think about it right now, even!
Anyway, here's a happier picture of of Teller and hoppie.
And this one is Me and Teller. Don't I look flush with success? And isn't he smirking like he enjoyed the pun secretly.
Then we went and bought some merchandise. We got Music to Look at Boxes by on CD and got a free program with it. Woo hoo!! Hoppie got (oh, you'll never guess) a shirt that has the Penn and Teller Living in Las Vegas; Live at the Rio on the front pocket area, and says on the back, "Evil, as it turns out, has two names." And hoppie got me the Mike Jones CD I am currently listening to, Mike Jones: Stretches Out.
Then we got Penn to sign the ticket. and post for pictures with both me (notice how far he has to slouch to keep up in the picture. I'm standing on my toes) and hoppie (less slouching. More cuddling).
We stopped off to play a little bit at the Larry the Lobster slot machine. Both winning some pocket change. (literally: I won like 20 cents. Hoppie won more. But we won!)
Then we headed back to the hotel. This is not as uneventful as it sounds.
In the middle of the street, halfway between the Rio and the Gold Coast, my blister broke. You never heard such swearing and carrying on from me. Hoppie's like, if it broke it should hurt less. Well, believe me, it didn't. It hurt much, much more. I limped across the street, up the stairs, into parking lot, across the parking lot, and into a chair in the hotel lobby while hoppie wandered off to get me some bandaids.
Walking was much easier with the bandaids. We sat down at some more slot machines, Chinese Fortune Cookie for him, and The Munsters for me. He lost and I ended up not playing because I just couldn't find my driver's license and I was freaking out tearing through my purse looking for it.
We caught the shuttle back to the Orleans, where we saw an Austin Powers: Goldmember slot and realized we must play it. It was groovy baby. We came out with more pocket change, which still beat the hell out of losing.
Then I started calling the Rio to see if they had my license.
Then we went to sleep. This was around midnight.
I woke up the next morning around 3:30, but was able to get back to sleep.
Then at 5:30 the alarm, which had no business being set, went off with ear splitting force.
There was no getting back to sleep after that. I opened the curtains and read until 7 when it was late enough to call my parents. They didn't answer, so I didn't think much of it. At 8:30 my dad calls me and tells me we're having breakfast with Aunt Estelle. I wake hoppie, he finished packing (I'd already finished during my hours awake) and we meet for breakfast and final pictures. Meanwhile, I'm still calling the Rio. While hoppie checks out, I give the Wheel-bert (Dill-wheel?) 20$. First time that machine hasn't come through for us. Maybe it's good that we're leaving. Then we get the stuff and cab to the airport. Then we say goodbye to the parents at security and head off to our own terminal.
Flight from Vegas to Philly is long and full, but otherwise uneventful. Hoppie sleeps for most of it.
The change-over to Boston is moved to a different gate, but they're both close, than delayed an hour getting in and a little bit getting out, although they did their best to expedite the process.
The short hop to Boston is lovely, half empty, and hoppie and I spread out and sleep. Actually I don't know if hoppie slept. He was always awake when I looked at him, but I know I got sleep in 5-10 minute increments.
Then we got the shuttle to the parking area. The car was completely aaccessible, the snow was gone. We realized for the first time we were in a handicap spot, but they didn't ticket us, probably because the snow had only melted off the signage recently? Or maybe because they realized we have absolutely no way of knowing it was handicapped because the only indicator was painted on the ground which had been entirely covered.
Anyway, the drive home was uneventful and I went straight to bed. Hoppie was on the computer for an hour. I was awake when he came to bed though. Don't know if I woke up or never got to sleep. It really doesn't matter does it? Anyway, I'm done.
Those of you holding your applause till the end, lets have it!