I Heart Las Vegas… or not.

Las Vegas – the (+)ves

  • It’s home to all the cool Cirque du Soleil shows.  This is sufficient reason to visit IMHO!  I’ve seen Mystere, Ka, and Zarkana; and now ‘O’ and Zumanity twice!
  • Hotels and Casinos are fabulous, they are all hyper-real and over the top, and tend to have their own interesting themes in an attempt to stand out from the pack.
  • There is lots of stuff going – on all the time.  24/7
  • Shows, restaurants and shopping choices are wide and varied and to suit every taste and budget – awesome sauce all round.
  • Easy gateway to the Grand Canyon, you gotta do the champagne helicopter tour thing, if you ever get the chance.
  • You can find more ugly carpet in Vegas than anywhere else in the entire world!  It’s really quite spectacular.  🙂
  • There’s a oddity on every corner, from showgirls posing for photographs to cookie monsters handing out cards for hookers.
  • The local constabulary don’t seem to have a problem with open containers in the street, so people are walking around with yard glasses full of margaritas!
  • There are weddings everywhere you look… 60 yr olds in formal bridal wear on a Sunday afternoon… 20 year olds in cheap costumes wedding gear on Friday nights.
  • There is plenty of parking – all the casinos provide free self parking for guests, so getting around is really easy.
  • The Thunder from Down Under billboards make me smile every time I see them, apparently they are really quite popular with all the hens nights (sorry, bachelorette parties) that hit Vegas every weekend.
  • The Breakfast Red Bull Margarita is practically the State Drink.

vegas sign Las Vegas – the (-)ves

  • CIGARETTE SMOKE indoors everywhere. It makes you feel sick.  Literally.
  • Drunk chicks all over the place.  There is little that is less becoming than well dressed, but excessively drunk woman falling down at barely 2pm in the afternoon.
  • Beggars are in your face where ever you look… it already feels like the entire town is trying to put their hands in your pocket, but that goes double for the beggars, hawkers and solicitors.
  • Weird arse dress standards – girls on the town are all in low cut, tight dresses and stupidly high heels, while the guys they are hanging out with are in daggy cargo pants and sneakers?!  What’s with that?
  • There are signs in most bathroom warning people, not about the dangers of gambling addiction (like we have here), but instead warnings about alcohol and pregnancy… is this a bigger problem than gambling away your house here?
  • One step back off the strip is totally Skeezy Town, ramshackle strip clubs and tired looking streetwalkers.
  • Freemont Street, once a focus point is now a shit hole that attracts people willing to half strip in ridiculous outfits, to pose for photos with tourists for a $1 (think large black woman in a nuns habit with massive boobs hanging out and pasties covering her nipples… or guys dressed up with KISS make up, fake instruments, studded belts etc, and g-strings and no other items of clothing!).  It’s nothing more than creative begging.

freemont street costumes

Famous Dave’s BBQ

Last day in the States and had to hunt down some BBQ to slake Mr K’s new found appetite for ribs, ribs and more ribs!  Can’t blame him though, nearly every place we’ve been to has been excellent for it’s BBQ compared to what passes for American BBQ in Australia (it’s the whole Chinese food thing all over again).  We found a Famous Dave’s not far from the Gun Show and sort of near the airport and it seemed like a good place to hole up for a while, and grab a decent meal before being faced with the horrors of 13 hours stuck in a plane and nothing but airline food.famous dave's bbq


Just getting out of your car near this place makes you salivate, you can smell the smoke and BBQ meats from the car park.. add to that, Happy Hour beers for $1.99 or $2.99 for a pint… and you got a lot of happy campers inside.  Not a great photo – but first thing that greets you is a case full of trophies for their award winning meats, and a claim to have the ‘World’s Best Greatest Ribs’… that’s a pretty big call.  🙂award winning ribs famous daves

worlds greatest ribs famous daves

I loved the menu with the picture of a very happy porker, showing both what is inside the piggy as well as the best cuts that come off them.famous dave's cuts

Apparently this is a chain/franchised restaurant, and the decor kinda reminds you of a Hog’s Breath Cafe (without the over clutter), the red check table cloths, and the faux indoor iron patios make for an interesting ambiance, well as interesting as it gets for a place that uses license plate in their decorating!  I thought their ‘Recipe Vault’ was kinda cute though.  🙂famous dave's decor 1

famous daves decor recipe vault



But the decor isn’t really why you turn up – it’s all about the BBQ.  We order and appetiser to share – Famous Dave’s taster platter of awesome!  It contained, chicken tenders, fried catfish, naked traditional buffalo wings, onion rings and four dipping sauces from blue cheese dip to hot and spicy BBQ sauce.  Delicious and plenty to share – this was just an appetiser!image

Knowing full well that the appetiser was likely to pretty full on, we decided to share it, and to share a meal as well – can’t imagine how you’d fare if you ordered appetisers and a meal each!  This was a 1/3 Rack of St Louis Ribs served with two sides (potato salad and mac ‘n’ cheese), and cornbread.  The ribs are served rubbed and there are six different sauces of varying levels of hot, sweet, mild, chipotle etc for you to drown them in.  Tasted bloody awesome!  image


famous daves bear

At the end of our meal, Mr K took the time to compliment the owner/manager and next thing you know we are walking out of there with a bottle of Famous Daves most popular BBQ sauce – the Rich and Sassy, as well as a dozen little taster sachets to take home.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) Mr K had already bought FIVE bottle of various BBQ sauces to bring home as he is intending on becoming a master of the American BBQ.  We are very much looking forward to sampling his efforts in the coming months.   🙂famous daves sauces


Famous Dave’s was pretty fucking good… if you get the chance, you should check it out, and definitely try the baby back tips.   Delicious!

Las Vegas Gun Show

Well, our last day in the Vegas and our last day in the US… what to do? what to do? The South Pointe Casino and Convention Centre is hosting a gun show, what could be more ‘Merican than that?!? I mean, we can’t take anything home, and even if there was stuff I wanted to buy there’s no way I can fit anything else in our over stuffed luggage, but, what the hell. Seems like a good way to spend a few hours. 🙂

Las Vegas gun show ticketsWas a bit weird wandering about and seeing so many firearms that are either, A) completely illegal to own in Australia, or B) legal in Australia but so much cheaper than what we have to pay, or C) being worn on someone’s person in a social context or D) a combination of the above! imageimageimageimageI know right! Doesn’t everyone need one of these for, err home defence or something.
imageimageimageimageOh dear, made the mistake to point out to a friendly sales guy that ‘This, this, this, this and this, are all illegal in Australia due to their diminutive barrel length’… which wouldn’t have been a huge problem except that started a discussion about how Australia has strict gun laws and I mentioned that even if I wanted to buy something at the show.  I’d have a process to jump through with the Qld Police Department and the Federal Customs that could potentially take months.  Again not really a problem, except a woman standing nearby joined in the conversation with the pithy observation: ‘See that’s what could fuckin’ happen here if Obama has his way and they take away all our guns’.  Now, I probably should have said ‘Too right, you gotta watch out for that’ and beat a hasty retreat… only I stupidly responded with ‘Well, the government is not trying to remove all firearms from the population, just restrict certain firearms that are capable of mass shootings, and introduce better background checks, for things like mental health issues, so that shootings – like this one that happened just this week in Texas, stop occurring.’  Next thing you know there are three people standing around telling me that the ‘gummint ain’t got no right to go telling me what type of guns I can have, or how many guns I can have.’  Not even a little bit unexpected.  I might have inadvertently started the conversation, but I made a tactical extraction and left them there getting all worked up in a 2nd Amendment circle jerk as they vociferously and aggressively agreed with each other on the matter.  ‘MERICA! FUCK YEAH!imageimageGrrr… $20 each.
imageimageSafes for sale is encouraging, most states have no enforceable storage requirements for firearms. imageLittle further on, and a guy is asking me if I’m interested in a little Sig P238 that I picked up, (Fark, is a frogs arse watertight?  Of course I am!).  So, I am playing with this cute little Sig and thinking, it is so not useful for any comps, it is not a target shooting handgun at all, it’s primary purpose is to be as concealable as possible for self defence, but it feels just my size and I likes it!  He then starts to say that, “That purdy little gun is perfect for a purdy little gal like you,  ‘nd I can probably knock a few bucks off the sticker for y’all.”  At which point, I dejected explain, again, that I am flying home to Australia tonight, and even if I could get it in the country, I don’t think that the barrrel length is legal, it’s too short.  This time the response was, “Oh, that’s right, y’all have them damn strict gun laws Down Under don’tcha.  So tells me, has it cut down the murders, ya think?”, and then ensued a discussion about homicide rates, general gun related crime and gun related suicide… all stats in Australia of course, point to, less guns = less deaths.  He was quite impressed and said that ” ‘sponsible gun ownership is something ‘Merricans need ta get a grip ownnne.”  Well, that was the last thing I expected to hear at a gun show in Nevada!  imageimageimageimageWhy do concealed carry purses have to be so ugly? And as a side note, I am now somewhat alarmed at how many of these sorts of ugly purses I have seen during our travels!imageimageimageimage


I’ve seen these little Double Taps in handguns magazines and on the interwebs, and thought it was an interesting concept.  Very neat and compact form, designed to be as flat and concealable as possible.  Of course because they are not legal or available in Australia, I had never seen one or handled one before and as soon as I picked it up I thought, ‘Urgh… feels like crap in your hand.’  Not because the make feels cheap and nasty or anything – it seems really well made and obviously precision manufactured, but it is not in any way shape or form ergonomically designed.  Even the guy selling them admitted they were a little gimmicky and the only people buying them were women wanting to put them in their purse without the bulk, or because they like the unusual design.  Apparently they shoot well, but they’re never going to sell well because they feel like crap to handle… even in my little hand, they’d feel worse for men.
imageSo, with all these cool toys in the room… ahem:  “I went to the Las Vegas Gun Show and all I got was this lousy ‘Merican flag card case.” Sigh…image

Cirque du Soleil – Ka

Can’t believe I finally got to see Ka! Well, come to think of it, I can’t believe I am back in Las Vegas barely 9 months since I was here last, but I go to Ka! (Which is the proper exciting bit, of course). Last year, when I was in Alaska with Aunty Mary, there was a tragic accident at Ka – one of the performers fell to her death during a performance, causing an immediate enquiry and a temporary cessation to all scheduled performances for the following three or four weeks – which was when we had tickets to go see it. Of course I was disappointed not to be seeing the show, but I remember spending a lot of time thinking about that woman and her family, and how her death must have effected the cast of the show as well. I never thought I’d be back here with another opportunity to see it…cirque ka poster
The show opens with a narration of a plot – bit of a first for a Cirque show in my experience, they are usually light on plot or based on more esoteric themes rather than narrative. This is the story of twin brother and sister, who get separated and embark on a journey of self discovery, doing battle with Ka to find destruction or enlightenment… or something along those lines.
cirque ka twinsThe real business of Ka is the spectacle; while it is unlike any other Cirque production with it’s story line, it definitely follows the Cirque modus operandi when it comes to providing a truly memorable visually arresting production. The experience starts with the purpose built theatre, the large dragon greeting you near the bar, through to the theatre space itself, which provides an impressive space that envelops the audience. cirque ka dragoncirque ka theatre
There are many great characters in the production displaying the full array of creative, gymnastic, and acrobatic talents that we associate with Cirque productions. Somehow they have even made baton twirling appear exciting and stimulating. cirque ka archerscirque ka batons
I also particularly loved the ‘clowns’ or the comic relief element that is in most Ka shows and usually brings everyone back down after a particularly impressive act. In this show they appeared as creatures, like a turtle, a crab, a starfish and a centipede. In keeping with most other Cirque shows, the ‘clowns’ do not speak and work predominantly in mime which allows them to communicate exceptionally well across language barriers.cirque ka turtlecirque ka centipede
But one of the real starts of this show, the importance of which shouldn’t be underestimated, is the unique Ka Theatre. The stage itself is without a floor and instead operates with two large, elevating platforms and five smaller lifts which move the workspace and the characters around. There is a ship platform which flails violently out over the audience, another platform covered in gravel for quiet scenes which then tips up and allows a fast paced climbing/acrobatic scene. The stage itself is a technical marvel and may well be one of the most sophisticated stage designs ever seen. Without it and the large purpose built apparatus, Ka just would not work.
imagecirque ka wheel death
At the end of the show we were almost rendered speechless – the show is soo good. Many people dislike the unusual (for Cirque) plot and feel it detracts from what they came for, which more often than not is to see the impossibly talented performers doing unbelievably difficult things – so Ka tends to pull mixed reviews. I think you need to know what you are getting into before you line up… Ka is a Cirque show, full of physically demanding and breathtakingly difficult and yet beautiful acts, but it is also a production brimming with theatrical drama and brash spectacle. Well worth seeing, imho. And Mr K (who was not really warming up to the Cirque) absolutely loved it – enough to ponder the possibility of going to see it again before we left! Now there is a recommendation for you1

Las Vegas & Penn & Teller

Whoa, what a long day in transit! Portsmouth to Boston, to Chicago, to Vegas… took about 13 hours, door to door. But we arrived safely and Mr K sweet talked the check in clerk at the Bellagio and got us a room upgrade to a high floor with a view of the strip and the famous Bellagio fountains, which is really quite spectacular. So after a few hours settling in and enjoying the enormous shower, we dressed up and decided to head over to the Rio to see Penn & Teller – because Vegas is all about the tickets, and we have tickets! 😀imageOn heading out the Bellagio north entrance you can see the Rio on the other side of Frank Sinatra drive, and after being cooped up in planes all day we thought we’d walk there – it looked predominantly flat, it was cool without being cold and we really needed to stretch a bit. OMG. Big mistake. You can see it, and it LOOKS like there are sufficient pedestrian access areas around the freeway, but not so much. We walked for a couple of kilometres and seemed to be getting further away from our destination, not closer, and then there turned out to be a couple of non-traversable escarpments and culverts in the way too. So, we eventually had to give up and flag a cab to get us to the show. Lesson learned, if it’s not on the strip, don’t even bother trying to walk!

But we got to the show in plenty of time, and had great seats, Row D front and centre. I’m not a huge Penn & Teller fan, I haven’t seen them before and I haven’t watched a lot of their TV shows. You can probably sum up what I know about Penn & Teller from a recent pro-vaccination campaign that’s been going around, and from an old episode of the West Wing where they do a trick burning an American Flag wrapped up in the Bill of Rights in the White House for Zoe’s birthday…

So I had no idea exactly what to expect of the show, except that it is likely to be part politics, part atheism, and a little illusion and misdirection throw in on the side – and that is largely right. What I wasn’t expecting was for them to start pulling apart and explaining how other illusionists are doing their tricks, debunking how mentalists and mind readers do their thing – they’re calling Bullshit on nearly all of their colleagues, which I thought was quite funny considering they are doing the exact same sorts of things, but with a political and religious conscience.
image Anyway, they did do the American flag burning trick, which was very cool, but they did it twice and second time around showed you how it was done… all the while poking fun at China and their lack of rights. They did the old sawing the girl in half trick, showing you how all the other magicians pull that trick off, but then they pushed it a bit further leading you to speculate, ‘well, if that is how the others do it, how did you just do that?’ Teller did some very accomplished sleight of hand tricks where he appeared to be turning droplets of water into coins, and then coins into goldfish which was very cleverly done, and the big finale at the end was a ‘magic bullet’ trick.

They got two firearms savvy guys up on stage (a Texas Deputy Sheriff and a US Marine) on either side of a wide yellow ribbon, and gave them each a .357 revolver to check over and determine if it was a real gun – apparently yes, no tricky guns. Had them confirm that two panels of suspended glass were in fact real glass. They gave them each a bullet to write on – their names on the projectile and a picture or something else on the bullet casing, and then they loaded these two revolvers and set them into a stand while P&T got dressed in protective eyewear, a kevlar vest and helmets. Then they stood at opposite ends of a bare stage and with laser sights on the revolvers, and telling they audience to plug their ears, they appeared to shoot directly at one another. The panels had bullet holes in them and Penn & Teller were each standing there with bullets between their teeth. They called their experts back onto the stage and had them confirm that the bullets and casings both looked and smelled like they had just been fired, and that Penn had indeed caught Teller’s bullet between his teeth and vice versa. At no time did either Penn or Teller appear to cross or interact at all over the divide of the big yellow ribbon, making it appear that there is no way they could have swapped the bullets. It was quite impressive. imageWe’ve been wondering how it was done… it’s going to need some more thought, this one. 🙂