Pick of the Week – April 27-May 3, 2015

This week I continue a series of Picks of things to do in Las Vegas that don’t involve drinking or gambling.  This week’s Pick is actual several mini-picks in one.

One of my favorite things to do in Las Vegas is walk along the Strip visiting the various casino hotel complexes.  Complex may sound like a bit of an overstatement, but these places are massive.  It’s just about 4.5 miles between Mandalay Bay at the south end of the Strip and the Stratosphere to the north, but really the Strip basically stops at the Wynn Las Vegas, which is 3 miles away.  North of it is a whole lot of nothing except for Circus Circus (possibly the saddest casino I’ve ever entered) and construction.

While a 3 mile walk may not sound like a lot, there are plenty of interesting detours along the way to fill your day and get you walking much farther than the 3 mile straight shot.  Many of the casinos are attractions in themselves and just about all of them are worth a visit.  There are casinos with fun theme, exhibits, galleries, great eateries, and the occasional show.  But here are a few of my favorite stops as you work your way up the Strip.

New York, New York – The façade of the New York, New York Hotel and Casino is a spectacle all on its own, but the inside is very nicely done as well with several eateries housed in a recreation of the streets of New York City.  The food is good and quite reasonably priced for the Strip.  Also, on the second level there is a large arcade and a roller coaster, the track of which speeds around the façade of the hotel.  Unfortunately, the coaster was closed for upgrades last time I was in Vegas, so I haven’t had a chance to ride it yet.

The Bellagio – I already talked about the Bellagio fountains in my previous post about Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Hotel and Casino.  Inside the Bellagio just past the lobby is the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.  This space is always beautifully-decorated for the particular season.  I’ve been there for Christmas, Spring, and Chinese New Year, all of which were gorgeous.

Caesar’s Palace – Caesar’s Palace has become synonymous with Las Vegas in recent years, and the lobby has been seen in many films, such as The Hangover.  The Forum Shops sitting at the north end of the Caesar’s complex are filled with high-end stores as well as restaurants and animatronic show about the fall of Atlantis. 

The Mirage – This is an evening stop.  Starting at 7PM and running every half hour after that, the volcano outside the Mirage “erupts” in a display of fire accompanied by pounding music. 

The Venetian – The Venetian is home to the Grand Canal Shoppes, an indoor shopping area modeled after, surprisingly enough, the canals and buildings of Venice.  The St. Mark’s Square section is particularly impressive.  Also, both inside the Canal Shoppes and outside of the hotel, you can go on a gondola ride, complete with a singing gondolier.

This is only a very small selection of possible attractions to visit.  There are MANY others.  For example, our beloved site mistress is partial to the CSI Experience at the MGM Grand.  Take a walk and explore.  There is tons to see and do.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter

Nathan's Laserium: Saviours

Suddenly, at a very precise moment in time, everyone in Edmonton was screaming the name "Connor McDavid". I had no idea who he was. The new member of One Direction? The name of an actor playing someone on Game of Thrones? The last remaining immortal in some real life Highlander? No, turns out he is the most marketable hockey player since Sidney Crosby, and the Oilers, my beloved and beknighted team, won the lottery for the first pick in the upcoming draft. They haven't actually drafted him yet, understand, they just won the right to draft him when it's time for the draft. Sometime after the playoffs, which are happening now and which the Oilers aren't in for the manyeth time in a row.

That and the new arena and maybe the ole Oilers will finally start having some life again. It's a lot to put on the shoulders of a kid, though. He's a hockey player, not the second coming.




(Mild spoiler alert if you haven't watched Daredevil yet.)


"Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him." Revelation 3:20

Finished watching Daredevil last week. So good. I kind of want to watch it again, taking special note of all the times closed doors held some sort of significance. That's a valid reason to watch it again, right? Right!

Someone's always just outside the door, in shadows. Is it a monster? A devil? A saviour? Or better yet, a drinking partner!

With all the overt Catholic themes in Daredevil, you have to think that passage from Revelation was on their mind. Matt wondering if the devil is in him, Wilson wondering what kind of monster he is, both of them eager to become the saviour of Hell's Kitchen.

So yeah, doors. Maybe I'm looking at it too closely. As my wife pointed out, they are also really handy ways of entering a room.




I'm digging the new Q. Or rather, q. Lowercase, now. Not quite a new name, but close enough. I think they did all the things I suggested months ago in this very space when the whole thing with the asshole blew up. As of this writing I've only had a chance to listen to the first show, and there's only been two editions of the relaunch, but I have high hopes. I think Shad will be a great host. He seems to be genuinely humble and sincere. I really like his music. Plus he had a poet on the first show! A good poet! All good things. I was a little worried when they announced him, they had this intro episode of Q where they had all these CBC luminaries come out and welcome him and thank him for coming on, and the background music was like "Shad! Shad. Shad! Shad. SHAD!" Hmm, I thought. Did they not learn anything from the precious asshole? But I think Shad himself is not interested in being the star.

That's kind of what you want from a saviour.


- Nathan Waddell

The Modern Woman's Dating Manifesto

The Modern Woman’s Dating Manifesto

I determine my own fate.  I choose my own adventure.
My sexuality does not define me nor does it limit me.  Love is love.  I believe what Nat King Cole sang: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
I deserve respect.  I deserve to be seen and treated as an equal.
Consent is of the utmost importance.  It isn’t optional.  No means no.  Stop means stop.  Don’t means don’t.  
I don’t owe anybody anything.  If you have a dick and you pay for dinner, I don’t owe you sex or a blow job afterwards.  If you show up / open the door / make me laugh / shower / whatever, good for you.  I did all that too.  And we don’t owe each other anything but respect.
If I sleep with you on the first date, that’s my choice.  It’s my right as a sexual being to express my sexuality as I desire in a consensual setting.  It does not make me a slut.  If I don’t sleep with you for fifty dates, that’s also my choice.  It’s my right as a sexual being to not sleep with you.  It does not make me a prude.  
“I won’t be ignored, Dan.”
I won’t be objectified for your amusement because I am not an object.  I am a fully realized and nuanced human being.  I am not a sex toy.
Sometimes you’ll pay and that doesn’t make me a gold digger.  Sometimes I’ll pay and that doesn’t mean I’m emasculating you.  Sometimes we’ll split the bill because we’re both functional adults that way.
Eating should be fun.  I might want three desserts and that’s my right.  I might only want salad and that’s also my right.  Eat and let live.
Don’t be offended when I refuse to tell you where I live or come to your place on first dates.  It’s not personal to you but it is personal for me.  #YesAllWomen.  
The Friend Zone is something you made up to soothe your own ego.  Stop saying it.
I reserve the right to end the date at any time if you are offensive or dull.  It doesn’t make me a tease.
I am woman, hear me roar.  

- Corinne Simpson

Pick of the Week – April 20-26, 2015

This week I continue a series of Picks of things to do in Las Vegas that don’t involve drinking or gambling.  And for today’s Pick of the Week, we’re going to move off of the Strip and up to downtown Las Vegas.  There, housed in the city’s old federal courthouse, is the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, colloquially known as the Mob Museum. 

Let me state right up front that I have never had any interest in the mafia.  I know some people are fascinated by it and love movies based in that world.  Me…not so much.  I’ve seen The Godfather films, which I can appreciate from a filmmaking standpoint (at least the first two), but nothing about them grabbed me.  Also, I must admit that I have never seen a single episode of The Sopranos

That said, I found the museum to be quite well done.  It covers the history of organized crime in the United States, not just how it relates to Las Vegas.  However, as you would expect, Vegas does get its due.  There are three floors full of exhibits, several of which are interactive.  One I particularly enjoyed uses one of the old courtrooms, one where congressional hearings on organized crime actually took place in the 1950s, as a multi-screen theater for a film about those hearings.

The museum is also home to a number of artifacts, including, creepily enough, a section of the brick wall where several men were murdered in the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago.  There are also several costumes from mob-themed films and shows, including the aforementioned The Sopranos.

If you’ve had your fill of the Strip for a bit and want to do something different (and even educational) for several hours, the museum is worth your time.  And when you’re done, you can walk the short distance to Freemont Street, which is just a couple hundred yards away.  Freemont Street is home to several of the older Vegas casinos, including the Golden Nugget and Four Queens, both of which have appeared many times in TV shows and movies.  A long section of Freemont Street has been covered with a large canopy containing a massive LED screen, which periodically shows videos set to music.  While I wouldn’t call Freemont Street my favorite place to go, it will give you a taste of Las Vegas that’s very different from the Strip.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter


And Then...

There’s a chance that you might have heard about that new Star Wars trailer that was released this week.  It was covered by a few news outlets after all.   OK.  I’ll stop with the ridiculous understatement. 




DID YOU?!?!?!?

If not, it’s right HERE.

Now that we’re all on the same page, I have to admit that it was a great looking trailer, and far better than the first one, which I also liked.  I know I expressed trepidation about the new film back in THIS POST.  Here was my main point, which still stands:

I think what bothers me isn’t worrying about whether the movie will be good or not. It’s that I didn’t need more of the story after Return of the Jedi. I never followed the Expanded Universe or read the post-Jedi novels. For me Return of the Jedi ended, and they all lived happily ever after. I know that sounds childish, and it’s absolutely coming from the child I used to be. He fears that something terrible is going to happen to Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, or C-3P0 in one of these new movies. Stories abound that Harrison Ford wanted Han to die in Return of the Jedi. Maybe now he’s getting that chance, but that’s not what I want to see. Haven’t they been through enough? Luke lost a hand, found out Darth Vader was his dad, and got zapped by the Emperor. Leia was tortured for information, chained to Jabba the Hutt, and shot. Han was tortured, frozen in carbonite, and...okay. I can’t come up with a good third one for him. The point still stands. The adventures of the crew of the USS Enterprise should go on forever and ever, but Luke, Han, and Leia earned their happily ever after.

Despite saying that, the trailer actually has me excited.  There are some fantastic shots, and I think hearing Harrison Ford say "Chewie" again woke up my inner child. 

Let’s be honest, though, even if Star Wars wasn’t worth literally billions of dollars, the stories wouldn’t stop because we as humans seem to be incapable of letting a story end.  It all comes down the title of this post, which is really more correctly stated as a question “And then?” 

There are two driving forces here, as far as I’m concerned.  First, we always want to know what happens next.  Sure maybe that one adventure ended, but what happened the next day?  Second, once we fall in love with characters or a world, we want to spend more time with them/it.  At its most basic level, this is why fan fiction exists.  “I love this thing or this place so much that I want to tell stories about it, too!”

Stories that seem to have definite endings are no match for fan fiction writers.  Soon after the final Harry Potter book was published, I ran across a very long piece covering the next year at Hogwarts.  As I recall, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were there to make up what they missed by basically skipping their Senior Year to save the entire wizarding world. 

While you can find fan fiction for pretty much any fictional work ever online, some of these continuations are available as published works.  Dying to know what happened to Cosette after the end of Les Miserables?  There’s a book.  What about Scarlett O’Hara after Gone With the Wind?  We’ve got you covered.  Just read this.

The constant barrage of sequels we get at the movies often feels like Hollywood just going back to the same well over and over again in order to make a buck, but the simple fact is that studios wouldn’t keep cranking out sequels if the practice didn’t bring in audiences.  People want to see their favorite characters again.

Going back to the new Star Wars trailer, sure there are, as I already mentioned, a lot of great looking shots, but if you read a lot of the comments, people really went nuts about seeing Han Solo and Chewbacca again.  And viewers were parsing the trailer trying to figure out if a couple of the figures seen were actually Luke and Leia (I think they were.). 

We’re excited because we’re going to get to see these characters that we love in action again. 

We’re getting watch new stories with them.

We’re finally getting to know what happens next.



OK. We already knew what happened next because of the Expanded Universe, but Disney wiped it out.  Besides, none of it was filmed.  Unless Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher are on a movie screen, it doesn’t count!

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter