Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekend in Las Vegas - September 2009

No, I wasn't hit by a bus. I'm still here. Yeah, I haven't posted in awhile. I do apologize. I've been busy with other things on my mind.

I was in Las Vegas over the weekend. Had a great time. There seemed to be less people this weekend. Maybe because I didn't go during a holiday weekend? Anyways it seemed like there were 20%-30% less people. It made walking through the casino and strip sidewalk much more pleasant. And the driving was much nicer too as the 15 freeway was reasonably smooth. We did hit a few rough patches but it was much nicer than our previous attempts.

I watched a few shows. That's what I do actually.. I watch shows and eat. I don't really gamble, as I don't understand the exhilaration of the act of putting money into a slot machine and trying to get it back out. I'll review all the shows I saw. I watched Matsuri, Rick Thomas, and David Copperfield in one day and went to the Titanic exhibit the next day. I had already seen the 'Chinese Executed Prisoner' Bodies Exhibit which is more fascinating that the Titanic one.

Matsuri @ Imperial Palace - Not my type of show. It featured about 15-20 performers (half guys, half gals, all japanese) on stage doing basic gymastics (bouncing off the horse and onto a rubber mat) to basic dancing. They did bring out the dancing dragons (with 2 guys in them) at the end. Something ethnic and authentic like that is far more interesting than generic gymnastics and dancing. There was also some basic magic performed by one guy with a mask. They need to have more than one person printing tickets at the box office! And I almost didn't make it (made it 9 minutes before the show started) as I got stuck (standstill!) in construction on Koval, coming from Tropicana. After I spent 10 minutes not going anywhere, I decided to turn around and go around the mess. I found out Paradise is one way on Tropicana. I found out later that if I turned into UNLV, it would joined with Paradise again. So I went to the next street and finally back to Koval and entered the Imperial Palace parking area and garage. Btw, the garage and entrance to IP were mutually exclusive. You had to jump, skip, hurdle, and drive through various passages and doors to get to the IP casino. I paid about $40 for the ticket. Being cheap, I always use Tix4Tonight and their $2 off coupon off a $5 per ticket service charge. Their location next to Riviera is always convenient as we usually stay at Circus Circus. They're the only casino on the strip that gives free rooms on the weekends anytime we call up. Anyways, you have to show up in person to the tix4tonight booth the same day of the show. They don't sell tickets through the website.

Rick Thomas @ Sahara - Great magic show! I'm a big fan of magic. When I think magic, I think of Ben and Tim disappearing trillions of dollars in front of me. Hahahaa. Apparently, Rick is a award winning dancer all they way from his youth. You will see him integrate a lot of dancing into his his performance. Apparently, he has a 'zoo' on this property where he breeds and brings up tigers, and it's somewhere around Las Vegas. Anyways, it was a great show (great for the whole family) and not that expensive. Apparently, my parents did will with the slots there. I paid $25 for the ticket (see tix4tonight above). I do recommend the show for those on a budget.

David Copperfield @ MGM - There was a boxing match that Sunday. They were exhibiting the ring near the parking garage entrance inside the casino. They had a 3-4 guys sporting white robes with the name Mayweather on the back. There was one guy that everyone was posing with to take pictures. But he looked too scrawny and he was short (~5'9") to be a boxer? Could that be him? He looked like another person off the street. He didn't look that beefy, not like Tyson, George Foreman or Holyfield. I thought I might shake the guy's hand and ask him if was the boxer, cause he didn't look like it. But then that would be taken the wrong way and I wouldn't have known what the outcome would've been, plus he was busy with pictures, so I left to find the box office. Coming back out of David Copperfield, I noticed a really good, attractive, buzz/atmosphere at the MGM casino. They sure know what they're doing! Anyways, back to the David Copperfield show. The horror of chairs around a small round table or bench seating with 3 other people at a table! No stadium seats! Looks like they were banking on drinks ($8 a pop!) and compact seating! Luckily, I got a bench seat with 3 great UK visitors (parents and a college guy). We talked about Vegas and the various shows and how I'm not attracted to gym shows like O. I mentioned that Monty Python's Spamalot was the greatest show on the strip ever! Anyways back to the show.. The show was half entertainment from audience participation and half magic acts. David does have an ego! And I noticed he's the only show with all male assistants. Hmmm... Anyways, there's something about David's performance that make him so desirable to watch. I think he's mastered theatre! He's more special effects and show and entertainment and comedy than actual magic. Lance Burton is a refined master magician, David Copperfield is a refined entertainer. I do notice Steve Wyrick's acts ring similiar to David's. I don't know who copied who. David does a few magic acts. He starts off by appearing in a box on a motorcycle. He makes a goose appear in a bucket, and second time, in 'slow motion'. He also shrinks himself into a mini me, and shows from a safe, numbers and phrases that 3-4 participants tell him beforehand. Somewhere in the show, he shows a film on his hanging from burning ropes trick. Somehow the ropes don't break where the fire is (near the top of the tied bundle) but where his left leg is tied. And it just so happens to break at x time. What a showman lol. The last act is disppearing 13 audience members sitting in chairs in a box and having them appearing at the side of the theatre. It's quite quick. What technique did he use? I still remember a red theme of the theatre. The ticket was expensive. I paid $77 at tix4tonight. The regular price is $100. It was fun and David sure knows how to suck hard earned money from you! I would recommend the show to those who want to see some spectacular special effects combined with some magic, and funny audience participation.

What did I eat?
First night we stopped off at Whole Foods to grab some food from their bar. It's $7.99 per pound so it does get expensive. They don't call it Whole Check for nothing! It was quite good and the parents enjoyed the samosas. Of course they're not to 'Indian' standards. I prefer the 'American' version anwyays.

Next morning we went to the Green Valley Ranch casino just to eat at the Original Pancake House. Their quality is high. Their price is only slightly higher compared to other breakfast places. Maybe there's a better place in Vegas? I've tried a few and like this one. We had cinnamon raisin pancakes (which weren't that cinnamonny), and the famous apple pancake. My mom had the cheese melt sandwich. Of course, their large orange juice is freshly squeezed and always excellent/ Everything was good but I think I prefer thin pancakes like the Swedish ones. Next time, I'll get those. The leftovers got me all through the next day until Origin .

Next night we were Origin Restaurant, which is opposite the Hard Rock Casino, on Paradise, in a retail shopping center. Accoding to me, their food is high quality except for the samosas. There was some grumbling that the food wasn't indian enough and their lassi drinks were not up to par according to others at the table. Anyways, the 'sak' quantity was much smaller than other restaurants. Their naans and rotis were the same size as other places and quite good. I think that's their sweet spot as they are priced reasonably. The prices are higher than other indian restaurants. So if you want to eat at a good indian restaurant in Vegas that's about 30-50% higher in price, then Origin's your place. I used a $25 off coupon (which cost me $4 with code ENJOY) from which saved some money.

Next day, which is our exit day, we hit the Red Rock casino buffet as we had a 2 for 1 coupon that we had received in the mail. The buffet is $17 per person with their players card and the coupon cuts that in half. For the price the buffet is unbeatable. It's on par with Silverton's offering. They had lamb. I had lamb. Their mexican stuff, like the chimichanga, was quite flavorful. Of course, the king of buffets for the common folk is Wynn, which was great when it first opened years ago. It's gone straight downhill since then, perhaps due to complaints from competiting restaurants at Wynn. Yes, it WAS that good! I did try Bellagio's. It was good but I remember Wynn's being superb. But maybe that's because I tried Bellagio's a year later than Wynn.

The parents liked Red Rock because my dad came out ahead by $70 on the slots. Seems like Saturday is the purge day for casinos and the rest of the week they loosen the slots for the locals. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

[Youtube] Here's a David Copperfield act. He didn't perform this one at the show I was at.

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