Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obligatory Politics

Hey Folks-

I feel, generally, that it's important for me to keep super divisive opinions out of this particular blog. That said...

Today I'm proud to be an American for one of the first times since the Clinton administration. Yes... I had an overwhelming sense of patriotism around 9/11. Yes... I had my "Support the Troops" magnet on my car for several years, and still would if I still had that car. Yes...that's a simple gesture that really doesn't SAY anything.

Today I feel that surge of "love of country" again. Why? For the first time in my eight bleak years I feel like something important happened politically that may actually show there's hope for a turn-around. I was emotional watching the "roll call" of delegates from each state. I was emotional when I saw a woman openly weeping for joy on national television, calling today "Christmas". I was emotional when I listened to John Lewis ( that link), a congressman from Georgia, who marched with Martin Luther King. The man said something that struck me more than anything any politician has ever said. His exact words are important enough that I found a transcript....

"Well, I’ve been knowing the Clintons for a long time. President Clinton has been like a brother. And I’ve known Hillary Clinton has been my friend for many, many years. And they’re still friends of mine. And I supported them in the very beginning. And along the way, I saw something happened. I had what we call an executive session with myself. And I said what Barack Obama is doing is akin to the movement of what we were fighting for, struggling for. And I said to myself I want to be on the right side of history. And I made the decision to change and commit to Barack Obama . "

The man realized that he wanted to be on the "right side of history". Coming from a man who has such a sense of history, that means something important.

So yeah... I'm pumped about the official nomination of Barack Obama. I don't know if he'll win, but I know that it says nothing but good things about our country that the Democratic party's candidate for president came down to a choice between a woman and an African-American. I know also, that his ability to stir people, to inspire them is a gift that I've so rarely seen in politics that I want to get up and act for the betterment of the world. The only other person that inspired me was Bill Clinton. (I'm about to watch Clinton's speech from tonight. I DVR'd it.) That dude is still a rock-star. Still the greatest speaker I've ever seen. Still the most charismatic. That said, I think Obama can surpass him.

(Clinton has just had a 5 minute insane ovation. Awesome)

I think Obama will. I'm finally feeling like a turn-around is possible, and that's why today means something to me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

If I Had a Billion Dollars

Hey Folks-

I had a dream the other night where I found a Genie, and it granted me 3 wishes. My first wish was infinite wealth. Why did I choose that over anything else, like... World Peace, Immortality, a killer bod. Well....essentially, I think I could use my other 2 wishes for those things, and also... I think my infinite wealth would cover a lot of bases.

So, in the spirit of my dream, and to take a long-lost blog post a step farther, I give you...

First, some rules:
1) I can't ever run out of money, so there's no such thing as being irresponsible.
2) For the purposes of this game, my money doesn't effect the world's financial balance in any way. For example were I to purchase all of the gold in Serbia from the Serbian government at 150% retail, that wouldn't immediately make Serbia a super-power.
3) Assume that I've already helped out the parents and siblings and friends with their needs.

And now...

5 Things Dan Would Do with Infinite Wealth.

1) Buy an NFL Team. Yeah... I would totally buy an NFL team. First, I should mention that this is what I did in my dream, so even if it's not totally in my top 5, I guess subconciously it is. There are a lot of reasons I'd do this. a) The "team of choice" are a fucking horrendous nightmare, and I feel that this is directly related to the idiot owner (Mike Brown). Yes.. I think I could be a better owner. b) I don't LOVE Mark Cuban in general, but I do kinda envy his lifestyle, and I love that he just got really rich and immediately bought himself a franchise, like it was Fantasy Basketball or something. Now he hangs out with rock stars and athletes and he seems like he has fun all the time. I couldn't deal with the basketball players...they kinda drive nuts. Baseball players are boring. I think football is the perfect sport in which to own a team. So...there's another addition to this one.. I wouldn't want to run the team. I would want to be involved on a semi-day to day basis, but I think that my buddy Alan could be a better GM than almost anyone in the league now, so instead of paying off his house directly, I'd hire him as General Manager of our team. Give him 3 years and we're a contender. I guarantee that. That would be awesome.

2) I'd donate a full scale, fully equipped theater facility to Thomas More College (my Alma Mater). I have reasons for this too...and conditions. a) I really think that the long-time head of the drama department at TMC deserves more than to see his program stagnate and die. He's a living legend, as far as I'm concerned. b) The department is fading, and I think that's mostly because there's not a lot of public attention on it. People don't even know it's there. A new state-of-the-art facility would solve that issue. c) They really need a new space. Versatile. d) I fully believe in giving back to the places that affected you and your life in a positive way. TMC Drama did that for me. Now...the condition? I'd get to be managing artistic director. For life. I'd want to see that my donation was being used wisely. I'd want to see a great effort in attracting local theater prospects. I don't want it to compete with CCM or NKU exactly... I think a BA is still valuable. But they need a larger group. A group that is less a club and more a department.

3) I'd purchase an Island. On this island, I'd build a giant home. Much like my Billionaire Role Model, Richard Branson. I don't have much to say about this, because I think it's pretty self explanatory. Actually..this item involves the purchase of several properties around the world. I'd have my island paradise. NOT Orlando (see item #4). I'd have a condo in Vegas (though there IS something to be said about staying in those crazy suites... I'd have a home in Cincinnati. That's probably it. I like the idea of having homes.

4) Disney World for LIFE. I'd call up Steve Jobs (CEO of Disney) and I'd ask him what I needed to do to get a lifetime pass to Disney World (with Golden Fast Pass) and a permanent suite just for me at whatever resort I wanted to stay in at that time. A million dollars? A billion? Does it matter? Nope. I'd pay them a million a year forever. I just want unlimited access to the parks for the rest of my life. I think that I've said enough.

5) I'd buy a ranch and a herd of horses. Probably in Wyoming or Colorado. It'd be open to guests. My cousin Abbey would run that portion for me, and she could live there. I'd have my own part of the property there too, but for the most part, it'd just be a really cool, beautiful place to visit that would make my cousin happy. I've always been drawn to the idea of being able to go somewhere peaceful and beautiful and clean and somewhat secluded. I think that with all of my responsibilities with all of my money, a place like that would be important.

So...there it is..what would YOU do?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Il Mio Italiano è Orribile.

Hey Folks-

So, I think I mentioned in a previous blog that Briana, my sister, is going to Italy for 4 months. She's leaving a week from Monday. I'm gonna miss her.

Anywhooo... She had a going-away party the other night at the homestead, and I told her that I had a few ideas of gifts that she could bring back for me. Being the thoughtful brother that I am, I tried to come up with things that would certainly get her arrested for taking into the airport. Even if they ended up being totally innocent.

So, in honor of Briana's awesome upcoming adventure, I give you:

The Top 5 Gifts Suspicious Enough to Get Briana Questioned and or Arrested.

1) This one is double awesome... She could get arrested just procuring the gift in the first place... I want her to take a heavy duty file and collect some good white powdery dust from the Collosseum. Then she should take the white "pillar powder" and put it in a zip lock bag in her carry-on.

2) A small Italian child. I don't know what the purpose of this would be, but Briana's a little weird, and it's the thought that counts.

3) One of those monkey's with the hats that dances to the hurdy gurdy. I don't need the hurdy gurdy itself.

4) A crucifix from the Vatican. Not like... from the gift shop(pe) but an actual one. Like...from the Pope's private crib.

5) *Courtesy of Briana's boyfriend Drew... She could bring me back a "bowling ball candle". Just picture that going through the x-ray machine... Allow me to provide a visual:

In any case, Buona fortuna Briana. I'll miss you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Omnivore's 100

Hey Folks-

So my friend at Wine Me, Dine Me (a Cincinnati Food Blog) (linked here and also at the right), posted her own version of the "Omnivore's 100".

The Omnivore's Hundred is an entirely subjective list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life. I've decided to do my own version. May I think Wine Me, Dine Me for giving me the doing it herself.

He offered this list as the starting point for a game, along the following rules:1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

I've not tried nearly as many as I'd like to have, considering how much I love food, and how I'm pretty much unafraid to try anything once. (Though, when Bear Grylls from "Man vs. Wild" drank the moisture from a clump of elephant poo, that went over the line.)

The ones I've tried are in bold. My comments are in parentheses.

1. Venison (thanks Gramps!)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I have had alligator.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue (What a weird fad. My family still does the fondue at Xmas.)
8. Carp
9. Borscht (I really need to though. I just referenced it at lunch the other day)
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari (Delicious.)
12. Pho
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Roman meal bread, strawberry jelly, crunchy pb)
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (I'll contend it's the perfect meal)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Strawberry)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (Another fave of my mom's)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (Just had one for the first time 2 weeks ago. They really are better.)
22. Fresh wild berries (The ride to the hospital was awesome. Kidding.)
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (What is the point of doing this?)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (Not a favorite.)
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas (If I ever have a craving, my friend at work keeps them on her desk.)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (Something I hated when I was a kid, but love now.)
35. Root beer float (Oh my god. When I was in Vegas I wanted one so fucking bad.)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo (when done well, one of my top 5 favorite foods)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (In cheese form...and at Sun Rock Farm. In "from the teet" form.)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Totally wasted on me.)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (Sushi variety only, but I liked it well enough.)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (Sigh)
56. Spaetzle (more fun to say than to eat.)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV (Trois Pistoles. Check it out. It's Canadian.)
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores (hate 'mallows, but it's hard getting through childhood without at least one S'more)
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (Wow... Stinky.)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (no, yes, no, yes)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain (oh yeah. Awesome.)
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (I only assume.)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef (While in Vegas, I checked out a ton of menus. Bradley Ogden in Ceasars had the most expensive single dish... Kobe Beef filet at 39.00 per OUNCE)
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam (Apparently deep fried is great.)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox (I was eating them as young as 4 or 5 years old.)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (Tastes like chicken. Incidentally, I think that things don't really taste like Chicken. Chicken doesn't have a distinct flavor of it's own. It just sucks up the flavors around it, really...things don't taste like chicken, chicken tastes like them.)

How about you? Feel free to copy it in the comments.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ongoing Olympic Coverage 3 Phelps is now 6 for 6 with World's Records in each. I'm sure I'll mention him again.

Tonight, I want to mention one of the things I love most about the Olympics...embodied by Nastia Luiken, the new American female Olympic champ.

I love the Olympics because there are people who realize lifelong dreams. There's nothing BETTER to do in the sport of gymnastics than win a gold medal. When you put a kid in gymnastics at age 5, the best you can hope for is that. Not so with basketball or baseball. Those sports have higher places to go. More money. All of that.

I love watching people achieve the most absolutely possible in their sport.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ongoing Olympic Coverage 2

Hey Folks-

I just watched the Men's 400M Freestyle relay.... pretty unbelievable. Phelps' quest is still alive, and it's already being called the greatest relay race ever raced. I'm inclined to agree. The 5th place team swam faster than the world record. The winners broke it by 5 seconds.

Go USA. Jason Lesak is awesome.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ongoing Olympic Coverage

Hey Folks...

I mentioned this with the Phelps post, but just thought you should know... I fucking LOVE the Olympics.

A quick thought for this afternoon...

Men's Gymnastics kinda rocks. There's something impressive about the way those dudes fling themselves around.

Specifically there are 2 events that are like... I don't care how long I practice, I could NEVER do that. The rings and the high bar.

The rings... I mean what kind of cruel bastard comes up with this. I am not certain that I could hold myself just hanging from the rings at all...these guys are flipping around, twisting and then hoisting themselves into strange contortions that look so effing painful that I want to cry just looking at them. Still...there's few images in sports that are as striking as a well executed Iron Cross.

The high bar.... are these guys INSANE? They're swinging around and tossing themselves up in the air and flipping and twisting and all that nonsense, and the craziest thing are those "release elements". I don't know how to even describe it exactly. It's just that they are swinging around and suddenly they shoot up in the air and do something crazy, and then they have to somehow have the presence of mind to grab the bar again or... plummet to their deaths? I dunno. They rarely miss.

Watch that shit.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Poetry. Inspiration. Greatness

Hey Folks-

So I wanted to get this post in before any of the events had occured, because I don't want any of my copious readers to think that my opinion was in any way built around this Olympics.

As it is, the men's 400 Individual Medley has literally just started, and I'm about to watch Phelps get his first gold medal (I assume)

I'm a huge sports fan. I follow a lot of different ones. Swimming is among my favorites, but it's clearly not the most popular of the ones I follow.

Here's the thing... Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time. any sport.

This post is going to include a lot of statistics, because let's be honest no sports argument is worth much without stats.

First, some facts about Phelps in general...

--The race I just watched...the one that he claimed would be his toughest race of his quest to win 8 Gold Medals in China. He won by a solid 2 seconds and broke the world record by almost that amount. No athlete I've ever seen consistently performs so flawlessly under pressure.

-- He currently holds the world record in 6 separate events.

-- He has set separate records 26 times (including tonight).

-- He has NEVER lost the 400 IM. In the 6 years of his swimming that race at that distance, no one has ever beaten him.

-- There are 4 different events where he holds at least 5 of the top 10 times EVER in those events.

-- In the 400 IM, he's set the last 7 world records

-- Same with the 200 IM.

-- The last 6 200 Butterfly records.

-- In 2007 he attempted to win 8 Gold Medals at the World Championships. He won 7. The race he lost was a relay where his teammate caused the USA to be disqualified in an event they were heavily favored.

-- At 15, he was the youngest American man to qualify for the US swim team for 68 years.

-- He currently (with his gold medal tonight) has 7 career Olympic Gold medals and 9 overall. With 3 more Golds at this Olympics, he'd be the all time leader not just in swimming, but over-all. If he medals in each of his events he'll move into 2nd all time with 16 total medals.

-- Keep all of that in mind, and then remember that he's only 23. He will certainly be still in his prime in 2012 at the age of 27. It's conceivable that he swims in 2 more Olympics after this.

Here's my argument:
No athlete in any sport has been as dominant at an age that should by all accounts be BEFORE their prime. Michael Phelps was widely considered to be the greatest swimmer in the world at the age of 18. Most great International swimmers swim in 2 Olympics and compete in 3 or 4 events at most. He's doing 8, and is favored to win them all. He'll have the most gold medals of any athlete ever if he wins half of the events. People can always say "sure...great...the Olympics." Well yeah. The Olympics. Imagine the pressure of working toward a goal that only happens every 4 years. You work that hard for that long and one fuck-up and your dream is done. Over. Yet, the guy comes through every time. He's totally focused. It's unreal.

Lastly, and perhaps my biggest argument. Please name for me an athlete that not only was the best in their sport, but the best by such a great distance. Jordan had Drexler and Magic and Barkley who were not as good as him, but not miles behind. Tiger has had his challengers. Federer has Nadal. There's no one. NO ONE that comes close to Michael Phelps. He's so much better than everyone else that Rowdy Gaines was criticizing him for not coasting in a preliminary because his presence in the finals was already such a foregone conclusion that he should just relax.

People talk about other athletes...
Michael Jordan
Wayne Gretzky
Tiger Woods
Roger Federer
Jim Brown
Muhammed Ali

Yes...those guys are all in the conversation, but lemme break it down for you..

Michael Jordan: A good choice, but arguably not the greatest ever in his sport. There are too many other options that make sense. The Big O? Russell? Bird? Wilt? Also, while Jordan was truly great, he was always but one man on a team of 12. Not until he became slightly less selfish with the arrival of Scottie Pippin and Phil Jackson did he ever WIN anything. Essentially... I don't believe anyone in a team sport can be the greatest, because they always rely on others to ultimately succeed.

Federer: Totally dominant for years at a time? Yes. So far above the rest that no one even challenges him? Raphael Nadal would say no. He's never won the French Open. He's great, but not even yet the definitive best tennis player. It's an individual sport, yes, so he has an edge, but it's a little hard to argue for him this week, as Nadal just overtook him in the World Rankings.

Tiger Woods. Speaking of World Rankings... Tiger is so far ahead of everyone else in the golf rankings that he's going to be number one at the end of the year, even though he won't even play in 70% of the events for the year. Of course... Golf's not a sport, it's a game, so he's not really an athlete as much as a "gamer". He's clearly the worlds greatest gamer though.

Jim Brown... Not dominant for long enough. Team sports. Those are the things against him. For him? In the argument for "Greatest Athlete" in 2 sports. LaCrosse and Football. It's close, but his 8 years in the NFL just isn't enough of a sample.

Ali... An interesting argument could be made for Ali... Gold medalist, several heavyweight titles, longevity. Those are all in his favor. The biggest thing I'd say against him...he was legitimately beaten on the big stage a couple of times. My buddy Alan could weigh in on Ali better than I could. The thing with Ali is that there's a mystique that seems to sort of create a "greatness" aura in his favor. It's hard to say though.... He's the one that I think gives Phelps the biggest race, but I have a hard time separating the actual athletic performance and the legend.

Gretzky... He definitely fits the bill as far as being miles ahead of his contemporaries in HIS sport. He's got the records. He's got the championships. He's got the trophies. If Gretzky's performances hadn't been dependent in any way on teammates, I'd give it to him. He's so clearly the greatest hockey player ever that he transcends a sport I hate and made me want to watch on a occasion. He gets credit for that. Still... there's no way to judge him 100% as an individual because he was never on the ice alone.

Michael Phelps just amazes me. The scariest part though? He's maybe only half done in his career. Dara Torres is 41 and is a favorite in the 50 Freestyle. If he swims in 2 more Olympics after this one, he could potentially have 15-20 gold medals. That would be more Golds than all but one person has MEDALS at all.

Anyway, I know this was a boring one, but I wanted to throw it out there before the hype gets crazy if he breaks Spitz's record.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Hey Folks...

Tattoo thoughts....

1) My sister is a total badass. That tattoo is huge, and on her ribs (a notoriously painful location) and she handled it like a champ.

2) I am so fucking happy with my tattoo it is ridiculous.

3) My leg is gonna be sooooore.

4) I love the little touch that Jake (The coolest tattoo artist I know) added by making her koi's eye the color blue (the color of my koi) and my koi's eye the color pink (the color of her koi). It provides that further connection between the two. The guy is awesome. Go to him. I'll give you his number.

So without further ado... Briana and Dan's Matching Tattoos. (Pictures taken with my cell phone....please excuse the quality. And my pasty leg.)

Yes... Those are bubbles on my leg. Cute little watery bubbles.

How's that for badassery? I can't decide if I think hers is cooler or mine, but I know that it's a close contest either way, and neither of us lose.

Happy Birthday Briana.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Further Trivialities

Hey Folks...

Nothing much to report for the last few days, but I do have a couple of quick we go.

-- Briana and I are getting our tattoos later today. I'm a little nervous. Why? I'm not gonna front... Tattoos HURT. They hurt like a mother fucker. It's never stopped me before, though, so it's gonna happen. I'm gonna get some pictures posted tonight, I hope.

-- I've noticed how much more I want to go on vacation now that I've JUST been on vacation. It's very similar to falling off the "diet wagon". It's really not hard to stick to a diet as long as you don't slip. That sounds obvious, but hear me.... Will-power is an interesting beast. When you start a diet, it's's's really not that hard for the first week or so, and then if you get through the first week, there's often a pretty good period where you can coast. The biggest thing is... you can not cheat AT ALL. Every time you cheat the resolve to NOT cheat weakens. Trust me on this. Vacation is the same way. Sure.. before I went to Vegas, I was really excited to go and all that, but now that I've just been on vacation, all I think about is where and when I can go next.

-- I have an audition this Saturday for 1776. I'm singing "Old Red Hills of Home" from Parade, and I'm using a monologue by Craig Wright from The Pavilion. I'd really like it to go well, though I admit that I feel pretty much at peace with my plan to only accept 2 roles. If I don't get one of those, I'm fine with doing something else. Cross your fingers for me.

-- I have been thinking that I should e-mail Brett Favre's agent and offer my company's private jet charter services. The guy flies CONSTANTLY. I've been trying to get a good look at the planes he's been getting on and off, but I'm having a tough time getting a good view. It'd be helpful to know if he's a Hawker guy or a Citation guy.

Thats all. I keep thinking there was something I really wanted to talk about on here, but I can never remember what it was. I have to learn a monologue.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Las Vegas... Hookers and missionaries on every corner.

Hey Folks!

I am returned from Las Vegas. With that... a few thoughts.

1) I alluded to my love for Las Vegas previously. That love has not diminished. That said, I never realized until this trip exactly how singular Vegas is. I mean... I knew it wasn't a normal place. I knew that you could see things there that you'd never see anywhere else. I guess I never thought about the depths of such things. Allow me to explain by offering 5 things that make Vegas the most unique place in America.
a) At "Mermaids Casino" downtown, (immediately next to the hot dog/ fried twinkie stand where my dad was enjoying both of those delicacies at that moment), I saw a cocktail waitress so drunk/high that she stumbled into the restroom, barely making it. It was... 11 AM.
b) As I rode the monorail back from the MGM Grand to my hotel, a man sat next to me. He then put his arm around me. I was too shocked to react at all. I figured it was best.
c) For a place that is so completely devoid of entertainment geared toward children, there sure are a ton of them. At the Bellagio for "O", I sat next to a family of 6. The poor bastard who purchased the tickets paid 173.00 per person for their family. The child closest to me sat still for MAYBE 10 minutes of the 100 minute show. And that show might be the most kid friendly thing I saw all week.
d) Nowhere else can you see a person winning a huge amount of money on the slot machines, and not only NOT act happy in any way, but actually look pissed because the credits are taking too long to tally, and they want to get back to their mind-numbing slot machine-ing.
e) The only place in the entire world where in the span of one block you walk past a girl on roller skates and a thong, a homeless man admitting he only wants beer, an Asian family taking pictures (again with the insanely inappropriate presence of children), 5 latinos passing out brochures for neighborhood prostitutes, a gaggle of drunken 40 year-old women who haven't been to bed yet (at 11AM), and a living statue.

2) As much as I love Vegas, the gambling part has lost a tad-bit of it's luster. Perhaps it's because the slot machines totally obliterated me. Perhaps it's because I'm mad at myself for not playing more Pai Gow Poker (I killed that game this week.) But the thing is... All of those things I mentioned above are reason enough to make Vegas a yearly stop. The gambling is fun, but is also a decided bummer if you're losing. The place is pricey enough as it is.

3) Another reason to check out this place? The sheer, ridiculous size and scope of the whole place. You see pictures, and since the casinos are all next to eachother, you don't realize how fucking huge these places are. The MGM Grand takes 15 minutes just to walk from one end to the other without stopping. Ceasars Palace is so big it's entirely conceivable that you not only could get lost in the casino itself, but you'd probably be wise to factor the time it takes to get from room to lobby when making any plans. The Forum Shops at Ceasars has more stores in which I couldn't afford a single item than all of the stores in Cincinnati. Fendi, Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Gucci...all of them. It's actually quite insane. The new "City Center" is the single largest private construction project in American history. 8 BILLION dollars. There are more hotel rooms in the MGM Grand alone than there are in the entire city of Cincinnati. It's hard to even put it into perspective. All I can say is that nothing looks like it'd be a long walk, but it ALWAYS is.

4) I have a vague feeling of embarrasment about the place. It's like.. In one place, there is every single excess and display of ridiculous oppulence that seems to make everyone hate Americans. When Bin Laden was talking about our priorities being misplaced, I wouldn't be surprised to find out he'd just come from Vegas. That said... I'd say that EASILY half of the people there are not American. So... who exactly is there to witness my shame? It's a place built on foreign money. Yo go past the high-rollers area at most places and it's dominated by non-Americans. Usually with a hot blonde on their arms. So... there's a cognitive dissonance to Vegas that is hard to wrap my brain around. On the one hand, you're embarassed to be a part of it, but on the other hand... everyone else seems to be playing along, so... who cares?

5) I'm still astounded by the number of quintessential "Vegas Style" shows that are around. Today, after I left, Dad and Dee Anne went to see this. There are the same tired comedians. The same weirdo shows with people like Cher and Bette Midler who both...I don't know if I'm right about this... might be in their 90s. It's just so odd when everything else is geared toward drawing in the younger crowd with their clubs and music things...but they still name Danny Gans (the impressionist) Entertainer of the Year. It's like... 2 worlds colliding, but only...happily.

6) GOD DAMN was it hot. I mean...seriously. I believe we hit 109 yesterday. And yeah...the old joke "It's a dry heat" is funny, and mostly true. I was significantly more comfortable there in that heat than I would in Cincinnati were it 20 degrees cooler with the humidity. Now, in honor of my dad, who may not have made up this joke, but sells it pretty well...

Guy 1:'s fucking hot.
Guy 2: Yeah, but it's a dry heat.
Guy 1: Great. So's an oven.

I digress... I'm not sunburned either, despite my not wearing a hat for much of the trip, and being out in the Sun.. that's a good thing.


6) The food thing is a real bummer. As you all know, I have a difficult time eating these days, after the surgery. So... previously, if I'd been in Vegas it'd be all about the Buffets and the steaks and the deli and burgers and whatever else. Deep Fried Oreos perhaps. I'm lucky if I am able to finish a bowl of soup. It's discouraging to not be able to eat all of these great things.

In any case, I wanted to thank my Dad and Dee Anne for being awesome this week. I had a great time, and I look forward to another...or maybe Disney.