Saturday, April 23, 2005

Vegas Travelouge: Day Two.

Viva Las Vegas!

By the time we got up for the day, my Mom had already been up for a few hours, and visited some of the shops on Fremont Street. We had a late start, which would be a continuing trend for the remainder of the trip. Getting babies ready to go in the morning is such a tedious task, since they're really not ready until about 9:30 or 10 in the morning. Changed, Diapered, and Fed.

We decided to start off the day at Circus Circus, which was a favorite of our the last time we visited. We had planned to stay there this time, but since they wanted to rob decent people for use of their cribs (12 bucks per night, for each crib), we passed on them. We found our breakfast in their hotel buffet, and that experience pretty much convinced my mom that buffets in Vegas really aren't that super. They're overpriced and pretty much mediocre. During breakfast, Alex was feeding himself and managed to stick a huge piece of pineapple in his mouth when no one was paying attention. His choking episode had been the longest we've ever experienced, about 30 to 45 seconds of us just pounding on him to dislodge the food. He was fine, of course, but it was quite the scare.

The Adventuredome at Circus Cirus is always fun, though it's geared mostly for bigger kids. We hit the quarter rides for Alex while Zoe zonked out hard. This girl was so tired that she folded over in half fast asleep in her stroller. After a few comments from passerbys who seemed concerned that she was doing a little too much yoga, my wife picked her to take her shoulder instead. We also caught a free clown show, and the highlight of that was when a kid from the audience inadvertedly flipped off the crowd when he stick out the wrong finger for the clown to twirl a basketball on. Again, it was a free clown show, though I shudder to see what paid clowns do.

We then hit Midway, which is another arcade type area where the carni games are featured indoors. We caught a couple free Circus acts there, won a few stuffed animals. We also blantantly ignored all signs about strollers on escalators. After all, it's Sin City.

Not a few hours after we left the hotel, it was time to return for the children's naps, and yes, it was as lame as it sounds now. We stuck them in the room and had them cry it out over the baby monitor, and my mom took a nap while I watched news about Britney being pregnant, and the collective world not giving a damn.

After the nap, we ambitiously headed back to the Strip toward Bellagio's. We parked at Caesars and had a look around, and visited one of those fancy fashion shoes where a pair of pumps went for $565. The winner is still the $500 umbrella. We decided to leave before they charged us for breathing on their merchandise. F.A.O. Schwartz had some toys, and we got a few cute pictures there, including the dynamic duo sitting in a $30,000 kid Humvee. I don't know why I let them sit in there, I suppose I thought it'd be the only chance they got. By the way, if anyone is wondering about what to get for their birthdays, the toy store does offer $100,000 gift cards.

We walked to a few other casinos before hitting the Bellagio fountains (which skipped a performance, so we had to wait for about 25 minutes instead of 15.) and the Sirens of TI, which sounds like some advanced alarm system for some Technical Institute. The show was hypersexual with layers of cheese - sample line being, "I'll allow any Seaman to be inside my cove...", but the pryotechnics was the bomb. My wife and I were 50% watching the show, and I was trying not to let Alex kick another person since we were all shoulder-to-shoulder and he had just tried to grab this girl's hair, and my wife was trying to calm Zoe down after some intense explosion made her climb up my wife's face.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was close to 11pm and we would decide that we wouldn't start the Grand Canyon drive any earlier than 7. We were just too tired.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Vegas Travelouge: Day One.

This is a vacation?

Perhaps it was best that we had travelled down to Seattle the day before, because at 12:40pm, about an hour after the Shuttle Express was scheduled to pick us up for the airport, I would've lost it if I had just drove down to Seattle in the morning to wait for their stupid asses. They finally arrived and picked us up, but the driver had the nerve to argue with me that the address that I had given was wrong. Even as we were running late for the check-in. And he said he didn't know anything about the dispatcher telling us that it was going to be half-price because of his tardiness (which, incidentally was another lie, because we were charged full price). I told the man, no, the address is correct. I know this because my mother lives there, and she's been living there for years and she evidently gets mail there, and manages to have other shuttle express drivers pick her up with the same address. I left him disgruntled with no tip.

Luckily, the check-in and security lines were really quick, so we made our way into the airport, had a quickie lunch before we boarded the plane. Onboard, more plans thwarted when the stewardess told us that we had to separate the babies to both sides of the plane. There are only four oxygen masks for each side, so it wouldn't be safe for both babies to be one one side. I took Zoe, who was lacking in sleep and abundant in restlessness, and for about two hours, I had my nuts kneaded on, my headphones yanked on, and got flashed a bunch of really cute and closeup smiles from my little girl. At one point I put headphones on her little noggin, and the stewardess thought that was really cute. Did that score an extra bag of peanuts? No.

So I'm fighting extreme drowsiness from overdosing on Dramamine, because I'm a chronic motion sickness sufferer, and I doubled the recommended dosage to keep my head on right and my stomach where it belonged. On the downside, I was trying hard not to doze off while Zoe did about 53 rotations on my lap; from sitting to standing to yanking on my headphones. Of course, my wife's baby fell asleep. I was envious and perturbed. And yes, all that advice about packing toys and snacks? Garbage. We used maybe about 5% of what we brought. The rest of it was just extra weight.

We get to the airport finally, and I make my way to the car rental kiosk, which had a rather friendly guy. I couldn't get overly mad at him after he gave me an estimate, which was about $150 more than the online estimate that was given to me whilst I made my reservation, but I was worried. $400 for a car rental seemed a little much, but we had no choice in that matter. Wasn't about to walk to the Grand Canyon.

Our minivan was a Silver Dodge Caravan, a newbie with low mileage and trippy controls. We took a while to get the carseats in, and then foolishly tried to find our hotel sans map and just a tourist phamplet. We didn't get lost, but it sure was scenic. It would be Friday before we got a sense of where we were really going.

Checked into Binion's Horseshoe, and was actually quite surprised that the rooms were not bad at all. For $30 a night, it wasn't really too bad. We unpacked a little, and went downstairs to Fremont street to catch the tailend of the Fremont experience, which was just too cool. The kids, tired as they were, seemed to be overwhelmed with astonishment and a little bit of panic.

We found dinner at a buffet, which was overpriced and a little weird. The thing about buffets are that sometimes they're a good deal if you're a seafood fan, because you're getting your money's worth. But for plain old people like me, it's like paying for odd chicken and overpriced dessert. My mom was good to foot the bill (as for all our eating for the trip), but the food was just okay.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was late and the babies, who were already really off schedule, kept us up till one. Their cribs were in clear view of us, and those babies do not sleep if they can see us. So, after a few minutes of staying ridiculously still and pretending to be logs, they finally fell asleep.

End Day one.

Sometimes, when I lose faith in myself as a filmmaker, something bizarre and out of the blue happens. Then I'm okay with myself a little longer. This is an email I got when I was on vacation.

I just stumbled across your short film "Authorship" and it was
wonderful! I am writing because we are having our annual copyright symposium
in June, titled " Pirates, Thieves and Innocents:
Perceptions of Copyright Infringement in the Digital Age", and we would
like to show your short film to introduce one of the panel discussions.
Please see the material for the symposium linked here-

The symposium will include topics such as:
>> P2P file sharing: pirates or revolutionaries?
>> Culture or copyright: a creative clash?
>> Copyright infringement: what universities need to know
>> The copyright legislative landscape
>> Responses to copyright infringement at university campuses

I would very much like to talk to you further. Please feel free to
call me or e-mail me in return. Thank you for your consideration.

-Olga Francois
Sr. Research Librarian
Center for Intellectual Property,
University of Maryland University College