If anyone's got a right to complain around here, it's my readership, who were deprived of their cookie break last week. For shame, Carl. It's Halloween, so let's have one with the Count. Ah ah ahhhhhhhhh.
Could someone tell Pei Wei Asian Diner that kung pao chicken is supposed to have peanuts in it? Empahsis on peanuts, the plural? Rather than the ONE peanut I got in mine today.
I don't mean for the blog to become a big bitch-fest. But COME ON.
UPDATE: I found Pei Wei's web site and dashed off a cranky e-mail, and a couple hours later, I had an apologetic reply and an offer for two free meals. So, props to them for trying to make things right.
Let's see how dictionary.com defines "suite":
2. a connected series of rooms to be used together: a hotel suite.So if I told you I was standing with my back to the hotel room door when I took this picture, and the only thing out of view to the left is the bathroom, would you think this is a suite?
If you said "no," you are a normal, rational person who understands what a suite is. If you said "Yes, because the presence of that love seat you can just see the arm of there makes it a suite, even though it's all one big-ass room," then you must work for the Quality Inn in Batavia, New York.
Holy CRAP have I got some links for you today.
There's been some interesting discussion about the changing nature of activism today versus the 60's. I'm not exactly young anymore, but I can tell you why I don't take to the streets with regularity: because the potential costs to me are very high (getting arrested or worse, which is magnified by having kids), and the potential benefits are pretty low. If I thought our government or even our media took protests seriously, I'd be more interested, but to be brutally honest going down to march on the Mall feels like a waste of time. The media portrays us as crazy nutballs and BushCo goes on doing whatever they were going to do. Defeatist of me, sure, but that's the modern reality.
Our terror suspect list has grown so large as to be a joke. I keep waiting to be stopped at the airport for anti-war blogposts, or for attending the inauguration protest in 2000. Also, remember that it's not torture when we do it, or threaten to have our allies torture someone's family to get a false confession, and then try to cover it up.
Sports: obligatory Buck O'Neil item.
News flash: College is goddamned expensive.
James Lipton: Pimpin' ain't easy, but somebody gotta do it.
Lastly, happy Halloween, evry'buddy, and be thankful the stress around picking a costume has lessened with age.
WAIT WAIT I FORGOT SOMETHING: I can't stop listening to Club 8.
Actually, it has its moments. The other day we were watching The Upside Down Show, and Shane and David spent the entire episode trying to figure out what a little orange ball was meant to do. They finally figured out it was a golf ball and headed to the mini golf course, where they said to the ball, "Why won't you go HOME? Are you too good for your HOME?!?"
So, props to them for that. On the other hand, there's this: "It's a special day for Boots, un dia especial. Let's see what special things we can find for Boots!" Repeat approximately four thousand times because you have a knack for these things getting stuck in your head.
"Please don't sit on that. And don't lick it."
First off: Who in their right mind takes two little kids to Vegas for three days? Blame extraordinary circumstances. See, thanks to an online sweepstakes form that I filled out and then forgot, I won a trip for two to Las Vegas, including a stay at Caesars Palace, from the AVP pro beach volleyball tour and Crocs. After some deliberation and financial wrangling, we decided it was worth it to spring for two extra plane tickets and take the whole family (the fact that I loves me some Vegas and hadn't been in over three years helped that decision immensely, as did the lack of local grandparents to take the kids for several days). It was a family adventure, and while it was nothing like any Vegas trip I'd ever taken before (well, perhaps a bit like this one, it was still a good time. This is a long one, so I'll post the rest after the jump.
I'll dispense with the details of flying out, except to say that I love JetBlue and their little TV sets, and also Nick Jr. We got in to McCarran around 2 PM, and headed for the Harrah's amalgamated check-in desk, where the $20 upgrade worked its magic. We ended up in the Augustus tower, the newest part of the hotel, with an enormous room with a view of the Bellagio. The bathroom alone was larger than the girls' bedrooms at home, with a huge jacuzzi tub, and a TV (which proved useful when trying to get the girls to go to sleep; I'd camp out in the bathroom and watch TV in there until they were down).
But when we got to the hotel, the room wasn't ready yet--not until some time between 4 and 6 PM, they said. This was our first sign that the Caesars brand in Vegas seems to be on the decline. We checked our bags with the bell desk and went over to the buffet at the Flamingoooooo (mediocre at best, the worst buffet we had all weekend). When we came back, we got our room key, only to discover someone else's bags in the room, and had to get switched out to another room. Now, I know people like to check out later in Vegas, but rooms not ready until the late afternoon? My completely uninformed hypothesis is that they're short on housekeeping staff, probably because they don't pay those people enough. Greater consolidation on the part of Harrah's has probably taken its toll, too; Caesars may not have the latitude to spend the cash necessary to stay at the top of its game. Another clear sign was the once-wondrous living fountain show in the Forum Shops; some of the lasers that project on the domed ceiling are flat-out broken, and Dionysus' chin is frayed and floppy. If they can't go in there and fix that stuff, it just looks pathetic rather than cool.
Not that it was all bad at Caesars, of course, and I sure liked that TV in the bathroom as I watched the Colts beat the tar out of the Saints while the kids went to sleep and Mrs. Fool went out for a bit. I have an issue with sports betting, in that every time I win, I think I should have bet more. I put $20 on the Colts, and after the game I thought "Of COURSE they won, it was so obvious, I should have put down $50--no, $100--no, $300!" I suspect, however, the first time I put big money on a sporting event, my sure thing will miraculously get crushed. When Mrs. Fool returned, I went out to collect on my football bet, and made my way to Casino Royale, my favorite gambling dive on the Strip, for about an hour of craps, which proved moderately profitable. It was a busy weekend, probably the busiest I've ever seen it, between the volleyball tournament (more on that later), the MTV Video Music Awards (no good celebrity sightings, though), and the Wisconsin-UNLV football game, which meant red-clad Badger people everywhere.
Friday morning came early. Mrs. Fool suggested keeping the kids on eastern time, but that would have meant putting them to bed at 5 PM Vegas time, and that just didn't seem feasible. We put them in bed around 7 PM, but nonetheless they woke up at 5 AM--that's 8 AM eastern, a totally normal time for them to get up, and they remained early risers for the whole trip. Gotta look at the bright side, though: when we went out to breakfast, we didn't have a whole lot of competition that early in the morning. We did spot a few people just getting in from the night before, though.
Breakfast Friday was the buffet at Paris, which was fantastic as expected. Buffet meals suited us well, and we managed to hit four of them in three days. Then it was time to hit the Strip's fancy shopping areas, which we'd figured would take up much of our time. We schlepped down to Planet Hollywood, where the entrances and first couple hundred feet have been re-imaged as "Miracle Mile Shops," but the remainder is still the Aladdin-era Desert Passage. The indoor rainstorm is still there, and it was a hit.
We came back to Caesars and trundled off to the pool, where we were the only party with inflatable swim rings (there were a couple of other kids though). Caesars' pool is just OK by Vegas standards, but the place was packed nonetheless. Dinner was the just-OK buffet at Bally's.
After the kids went to bed and Mrs. Fool had some time out, I decided to check out the volleyball thing in earnest, and went to the women's final. The women's game is quite a bit more interesting than the men's (and I don't just say that on account of being a straight male). The men's game usually goes serve, volley set SPIKE and that's the end of the point. The women's game is played with longer rallies and somewhat more subtlety, and as a result it's far more entertaining. I spent the first game of the match in the grandstand, and then between matches the emcee got everyone to do the wave and referred to "the VIP area" up on a platform at one end of the arena. I looked at the VIP pass around my neck and realized "I can go up THERE." Not that there was much to going up there, but I did get a beer from the player/staff cooler. I also eavesdropped on a conversation between a player and a staff guy; the player reported losing in every match he'd played that day, and proceeded to talk about where people had gone out the night before and where they were going that night. While this was going on, two of the top men's players (Dalhausser and Lambert were continuously practicing down below us, and they'd been practicing earlier that afternoon with two other dudes when we'd stopped by the arena. So my unvocalized thought to the party-happy player next to me was, "That's why those two guys are the kings of the sport, and you lost every match you played today."
Saturday morning, up almost as early as the day before, we hit yet another buffet. Harrah's this time, and it was surprisingly good; I don't recall ever hearing it praised before. It helps that it was breakfast, which is of course the best meal in America. Then we trooped up to the Venetian, which turned out to be the girls' favorite casino/hotel of all. They were fascinated by the canals and gondolas, and we got to see the gondoliers report for duty en masse, singing in Italian. As they got in their boats, I shouted to one young man, "Do you enjoy your job?" and he replied in a cheesy Italian accent, "Oh yes, you meet the nicest people and the weather is always great." It made me smile. (But not enough to shell out $12 a head for a gondola ride.)
We headed back to Caesars for an attempted nap and another round at the pool. Then it was back to the Forum Shops for a trip through the three-story FAO Schwarz toy store. News flash: this place is popular with the kids. Mrs. Fool's splurge of the trip was a massage at Caesars' fancy-schmancy spa, so she went off for that as I guided the girls through dinner at Caesars' food court and gelato at the Forum Shops. After she returned much relaxed, I set out to accomplish the major gambling objective of the trip: play in a poker tournament. I'd spotted a nightly $40+4 at O'Shea's, a Strip dive that was actually bought by the Harrah's conglomerate. But it didn't work out so well; I was out in about 20 minutes. I went all-in with K-Q on a K-Q-10 flop, and the other dude turned over A-J. What can you do.
Now with no agenda, I hiked up to check out the Wynn, which is ostentatious to the point of obnoxiousness. The waterfall is nice, but I can't imagine willingly spending much time in that place. I marveled at the ongoing construction at the Palazzo (add-on to the Venetian) and other sites; I keep wondering when the supply will exceed the demand for expensive hotel rooms and over-the-top luxury, but it hasn't happened yet (though I do think some formerly upper-middle class joints like the Luxor and NYNY have been forced to move downscale a little). Stood in the throng for the sexed-up pirate ship show at Treasure Island and couldn't see much from my vantage point. Not to sound prudish, but I don't think it's an improvement, and I was a bit taken aback when one of the performers said of the lambada-dancing couple in the crow's nest, "Looks like they've got some business to take care of up there!" Just go ahead and shout "Look, they're gonna have sex up there!"
As I walked the Strip, I waffled about gambling further; the table limits were high, I needed cash for a cab and tips Sunday, and didn't want to get whacked with another $5 ATM fee. In the end, I asked myself, "Haven't you spent the last three years wishing you could go back to Vegas? Did you come here to gamble, or did you come here to be a wuss?" I headed back to Bill's (formerly Barbary Coast) and found a pai gow table, where I had a very nice run before turning in. In the end, my weekend's limited gambling exploits totaled a win of fifteen dollars. Nothing to write home about, but it beats losing.
Sunday took us home, with a three-hour layover in New York. JFK airport is so awful, it actually makes Dulles look halfway nice. The Blue's Clues Kids Play Area, announced not even a year ago here, now consists of one painted flat of Blue stuffed behind a row of chairs, two plastic tables and one plastic chair. I actually e-mailed Viacom to suggest they go over and have a look at it.
So in the final analysis, would I recommend Las Vegas as a vacation destination for families with small children? Eh, not exactly. This town is not exactly made for us, and if you're used to gambling and carousing on your Vegas trips, you'll have to dial down your agenda. But I'm not going to categorically say "don't do it," either--we had a fun time, and there's plenty for a family to do and say. Just not my first choice if I was planning a vacation and forking over my own money. It might be a better option for those on the west coast who don't have to deal with long travel and the time change.
Full photo set at Snapfish (free registration required).
Saturday: Sweet potato and chorizo soup. There's a stand at the Fairfax farmers' market that sells Argentinian-style chorizo; not exactly what this recipe calls for, but tasty nonetheless.
Sunday: Very soupy chicken and dumplings. Kind of an elaborate preparation for such a homey dish, but it came out well. The kids liked it.
Last night I learned we get to host Thanksgiving this year. w00t!
Apparently Iím one of the few who didnít think the Lofton stop sign was unreasonable (without the benefit of hindsight). At first it looked like a rocket into the corner, but then it kicked back out seemingly right to Manny, so I can see how the third base coach would throw up a stop sign. Not saying it was a good decision, but just that I donít think the third base coach was completely insane. Of course, once it played out like that you knew Blake would hit into a double play.
Buck and McCarver seem overly fond of second-guessing the managers. Any chance they get to pile on and say someoneís making a wrong decision, they take it. They kept calling for Westbrook to be pulled, as early as the first, and not to say Westbrook was great, but I think letting him pitch turned out just fine. (P.S. Joe Buck is crap.)
Best take on the upcoming World Series: Here.
Props to Pete Stark for bringing up the economic case against the Iraq war. Of course, this triggered all kinds of outrage from Republicans, because the Iraq war is worth every penny, and suggesting otherwise insults everyone who's ever worn an U.S. uniform.
Good post at Slacktivist on the American auto industry's self-professed incompetence.
Shirtless flash mob at Abercrombie & Fitch. Flash mobs are mostly played out, but this is pretty good.
Make fun of hockey all you want, but it's still got the Stanley Cup and your favorite sport doesn't.
Lastly, I am pleased to announce that WULAD has re-opened for business.
As I was driving home yesterday, WTOP was doing a top-of-the-hour rundown of their top stories, and that included "Joe Torre says he will not return as the Yankees' manager."
That was pretty much all I needed to know about that particular story. One sentence. How ESPN and company manage to get so much out of it, I'll never understand.
Went out of town, been away from the office, blah blah blah. As such, not that many links to bring you. But I likes me some progressive patriotism, Graeme Frost's attackers are still total assholes, and wiffle ball is extremely awesome.
Haven't done one of these for a while.
Friday: penne with spinach, portobello and porcini mushrooms, and fresh asiago.
Saturday: chicken and spinach salad with bacon dressing.
Sunday: pork roast with plums poached in wine.
What do they have in common? They were all pretty frickin' good.
Considering how often they claim Democrats are trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives, the wingnuts sure think they know how other people should live their lives. They will say and do anything that advances their agenda. Horrible.
Down 0-2 or not, it's still mostly about baseball this week. Even if the Phils get swept this weekend, we'll always have memories of the Mets' collapse, particularly the effects on Mr. Met. Jose Reyes has his own problems. The Rockies seem to have given themselves good karma by voting a playoff share to Mike Coolbaugh's widow. Up in Baltimore, long-time season ticket holders are giving up.
Politically speaking: Have I mentioned lately you can make a case against the Iraq war based on money alone? Also, Rush Limbaugh is still evil.
I have no wacky items this week, but the Beast recommends Kitten Cannon.
I've been to a lot of Nats games over the past three years, but none of them hold a candle to a playoff game in Philly. What an atmosphere, just outrageous. Not a single visiting-team fan to be seen. Rally towels and shouting.
Unfortunately, the game didn't work out as well as we'd have liked. After Hamels' one bad inning (aided, possibly, by his long shirt sleeves), the deep-seated pessimism of Philly fans took hold, and the crowd took it down a notch. We erupted again after Rowand and Burrell hit home runs, but that was as good as it got. When the top four spots in your lineup go 0-for-15 with a walk and 9 K's, that's not a good sign.
And why on earth didn't Michael Bourn steal second base in the 7th inning? For all the talk of the Phillies as a running team and Bourn being fast, in the limited games I've seen him in he sure doesn't run much. That situation screamed stolen base--down one run, pitcher with a easy to read motion, catcher who apparently hasn't thrown many guys out this year--but instead Bourn stayed put and got erased on a double play. Maybe Manual was "managing to avoid blame" like Easterbrook always talks about, or perhaps Bourn was too jittery to run. Whatever. Lame.
See the Beer Leaguer comment thread linked above for the suggestion that Rockies' closer Manny Corpas was throwing spitballs. Also, something I see from Philly fans more than anywhere I've ever been is the one or two guys in the middle of the section who decide it's time to stand up even though no one else is standing up. Got on my nerves a bit.
Gotta win today. Expect no work from me after 3 PM.
Left: Cheesesteak. Provolone, onions, ketchup. Right: Roast pork sandwich, straight up. John's Roast Pork, 17 Snyder Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
After the game we went to Geno's. Now, Geno's and Pat's make perfectly fine cheesesteaks, and they do provide a certain atmosphere. But if you want the best cheesesteak in town, seek out John's.
Damn genies, always finding a way to screw up your wishes. Gotta be specific with those guys. On the other hand, if Cookie Monster had succeeded in wishing for a million cookies, the genie would have caused them to fall from the sky, crushing him.
I've gotten used to this annual exercise in which I decide which baseball teams to cheer on in the post-season. But this is the easiest year on record, with one of my favorite teams actually making the playoffs. Over in the AL, I despise both the Yankees and Red Sox, so it comes down to the Indians and Angels. And that's a pretty easy choice: Cleveland has a Philly-esque history of sports suffering, and C.C. Sabathia was instrumental to my fantasy baseball championship, so go Tribe.
That's right, nobody cares about anyone else's fantasy team, but I'm publicly celebrating my victory. Here, check this out:
How you like that? Yes I am a huge nerd, what's it to you?