You guys have fun. Us professional alcoholics are in lockdown mode...
I did pick up a decent bottle of "domestic champagne". I won't go all sommelier on you, but Chateau Ste. Michelle makes some extremely decent domestic wines and I chose their Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blanc. I consider the fact I could find a semi-respectable bottle of sparkling wine in Chico, Texas a miracle of it's own.
I did make it known I expect at least some Moet & Chandon White Star next year. Rookies....
Here's hoping everyone has a safe, happy, prosperous and DWI free New Year.
I've just recently ventured into cameraland and I quickly discovered there's a ton of stuff that you get stock that is crap. Mainly, the carry strap and lens. I used the stock strap that came with my Cannon D1100 and nearly sawed the back of my neck off after just a few hours.
I remembered a friend talking about a new speedstrap he bought a while back and how much he loved it. So on his recommendation I went looking for one and ran across Carryspeed. They are a Houston company that uses top quality materials so I ordered a CS-1.
WOW! Talk about comfortable and easy to use. The camera is mounted to the strap via the "speed mount" which also is able to hook to any tripod mount in seconds. When you are not using the camera it hangs at your hip, out of the way but at arm's legnth. The underarm strap holds the Carryspeed in position so it doesn't slide back and forth cutting a groove in your shoulder. When you are ready to shoot it smoothly slides up the strap into shooting position. It's a very natural feeling motion. The weight on your shoulder is much more comfortable than the back of your neck.
The CS-1 also has a zippered pocket in the shoulder pad with room to carry several memory cards and other small accessories like a spare battery or cleaning kit. It's tough, durable and comfortable. And at under $30 on Amazon, it's a great deal.
Now I get it. The genius of American Horror Story has been revealed, altho it was out in the open all along for anyone to see. The story isn't about the family living in the haunted house. American Horror Story is about the haunted house. The family is just the latest chapter in the saga. Welcome to Hotel California 2011.
It wasn't until the final family member died that it all became clear. How would the story live on with everyone dead? You write a new chapter with new owners. Genius! I mean if you try to follow the Harmon Family's story, you've pretty much come to a dead end (no pun intended). Now, AHS has a clean slate for the writers to work with next season and they're armed with the same cast as ghosts, all with different agendas. Win/win.
Best sci-fi/horror/whatever since Hitchcock and Serling.
If you haven't been following American Horror Story on FX, you've been missing the best SciFi since Rod Serling. The big difference between Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and American Horror Story is AHS follows a single fascinating storyline. I won't even try to get you up to speed, but you can find full episodes here.
Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott and Jessica Lange lead a fantastic cast armed with a wicked script.
Wow, what a weekend! Altho I didn't quite go absolute Raoul Duke, I did give it my best shot. I picked a good time to do it, too. With the National Finals Rodeo going on, a Texan in full blown party mode blended in quite well. It's been quite a while since I was in Las Vegas. I saw Ollie Joe Prater at The Dunes if that gives you a clue.
I stayed at the Monte Carlo. It was nice. Not great, but nice. I would have preferred a few extra amenities like an in room fridge and better cable. I'm pretty sure the Decatur Hampton Inn has better rooms, but you don't go to Vegas to watch HBO in a fancy room.
Friday night I saw The Amazing Johnathan at the Harmon Theater outside Planet Hollywood. It was a small room by Vegas standards and I somehow wrangled a front row seat. If you've never seen his act, check him out on YouTube or watch for him on Comedy Central. He is insanely funny. Emphasis on the insane.
After that I tested the waters at Planet Hollywood for an hour or so then started casino crawling my way back towards Monte Carlo. I didn't take my camera with me that night so there are no Hangover pictures and that is probably a good thing because the free booze is still flowing in Vegas.
Cocktails? Don't mind if I do!
Saturday I had to pick up tickets to Ron White at The Mirage. This time I took my camera and caught the famous fountain show at The Bellagio. It is a do not miss and there's a performance every 30 minutes. They also had a very cool Christmas display inside. It was really stunning. Unfortunately, I took my zoom lens thinking that would work better for the fountain pics and it limited what I could get indoors.
To make matters worse I deleted the daytime fountain pics because some genius forgot to take his extra memory cards to Fremont Street and ran out of space. More on that later... I walked from there to The Mirage, got my tickets and started another casino crawl back up The Strip. Let me tell you it's not a 2 or 3 block walk either.
Cocktails? Don't mind if I do!
"Rednexican" Alex Reymundo opened the show and was greatness. He was the bartender at the comedy club when Ron did his very first show and they have been close friends ever since. In fact they're Brother In-Laws! Ron White who bar none is the funniest guy I've ever seen on stage had the entire audience in tears for about 90 minutes. At one point I was seriously close to a coronary. What do you say when Dr. Phil invites you to party on his yacht in Monaco? F%^# YEAH! After the show Ron invited everyone to see his very hot wife Margo Rey perform at B.B. Kings. Did I go? F%^# YEAH! Unfortunately all I had was my crappy phone camera.
Not only is she smoking hot, she's a very talented singer/songwriter.
Ron is a very lucky man and I told him so.
After that I... Cocktails? Don't mind if I do! Where was I? Oh yeah, at this point what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I will say the rooms at The Hard Rock are nicer than Monte Carlo. But I wasn't really focusing on her room.
Sunday, I drug myself out of bed at the crack of Noon and reluctantly headed back to Monte Carlo to hit the seafood brunch buffet. (Note: Go downtown for MUCH better buffet deals than you will find on The Strip.) Then started another casino crawl until dark when I headed to The Fremont Street Experience, another must see.
Instead of a taxi, I took "The Deuce" a double decker city bus. As has been my experience, you get much more out of a ride on a city bus than a tourist bus or taxi. A Vegas local on his way home from work started talking to us and wound up giving a great guided tour. He knew the complete history of everything right down to the dates, costs, mobster info, you name it. This guy was a walking Vegas encyclopedia. So good in fact that people started walking up and tipping him when they got to their stop. He wasn't soliciting for tips, either. I have to say Vegas is an extremely friendly town, much more so than I expected. You ask anyone for directions or help finding where to buy something (like a memory card or USB cable) and they will gladly help you out and steer you clear of the tourist traps.
I was blown away by Fremont Street. I can't possibly post all the pictures I took. Every light show was different. My favorites were The Beatles, The Doors and American Pie. I wish I was a better photographer so I could have done it justice. If you do nothing else in Las Vegas, go to The Fremont Street Experience.
Click on the pics to embiggen.
OK, I know this has taken an ugly turn from The Hangover to Uncle Bob and Aunt Martha's vacation slides, but bear with me for just a bit longer and we can get this over with. Here's some showgirls to make up for it.
I felt guilty after deleting the Bellagio fountain pics and found a place that sold memory cards for only twice as much as they were worth. Plus, I wanted to take more Fremont pics before I left. (Note to Fremont Street Vendors from a former retail guy: If you sell souvenirs, sell memory cards.) Here's the world famous Bellagio fountains at night. These turned out much better anyway.
They evaporate on average 1,200 gallons of water each performance.
I wish I was a better photographer, I can't do them justice.
All good things must come to an end and it was a LONG ride back, but well worth it. Everybody needs a weekend in Vegas now and then. It was a nice warm up for next month.
In case you didn't know, Bevis and Butt-Head are back on MTV! (Wow, an actual reason to watch MTV again.) New original episodes air Thursday nights at 9, reruns scattered during the week. If it's possible, they're even funnier than before.