It is a joy to stay in a hotel that grasps the idea of Enough Elevators. I count three banks of eight elevators, each serving a dozen floors, so it's close to one elevator per floor of the hotel. I believe my average wait for an elevator this week has been, no shit, under five seconds.
For all that the conference had a dreadful website, I will say that they have had remarkable food service. Fine pastries for breakfast; well-made safe but ethnic food for lunch (today's was essentially make-your-own gyros); not just snacks and coffee but an espresso bar for midafternoon. And a very sensible buffet: to avoid crowding, they simply set up a dozen or so identical clones of the buffet around the expo.
Spent the early evening in a quandary. new_man put me in touch with a friend of his out here; I demurred for lack of time (which was at least theoretically true), but the fact is that the idea put me off, despite it sounding like someone I might get along with. (Fellow comics geek and all that.) I *intended* to go to the Official Conference Party, but after postponing *that* for about 20 minutes I realized that the idea of trying to enjoy myself in a 3500 person party was making the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Okay: I think I'm just peopled out. I love a good party with friends, but dealing with people I don't know (even friendly ones) takes real emotional effort for me, and I don't have the energy. So fine -- let's go where the instinct takes me.
Dinner at the Grand Luxe Cafe, which is basically a tarted-up Cheesecake Factory. Plain simple comfort food, and a decent Mojito -- just the right thing for today.
Finally made my way down to the casino, and found a reasonably friendly Pai Gow table, sitting between a couple my age and his mother; the lot of them were slightly soused but quite friendly, and it made for the sort of no-commitment low-impact social interaction I needed. (Thank you to new_man, BTW, for encouraging me to try it out.) Took a while to get used to playing a game where it is completely normal to show your cards; indeed, the ladies to both sides of me were regularly consulting with the dealer (and me) about how to play them. This is Not Your Father's Poker.
Came in with $200, but decided that I would get sufficient entertainment out of half that, losing a hundred bucks in about 90 minutes. But given that the mother-in-law dropped about $500 in the same amount of time, and the lawyer two seats over managed to lose $1500 in under 30 minutes, I felt like I was at least running ahead of average. (Not to mention the Malaysian lady who left about 20 minutes after I entered. She was apparently slumming at the low-stakes Pai Gow, having lost 3 million in the high rollers room the night before, and then winning it back earlier today.)
I note, not for the first time, that I can always tell when the table luck is turning against me, and am never smart enough to cut and run while I'm ahead.
The subject of children came up, and the pit boss explained the the Disney Experiment is basically over. While Las Vegas continues to try to accomodate families, they're no longer going to try to beat Orlando at its own game. Sin City has accepted its karma, and embraced it.
After losing my last quarter, I go for a short walk, needing to at least see the environs of the hotel and get a little unrecycled air. I walk up the sleazy side of the street and back the posh -- oddly, the Venetian is on the former, and looks distinctly out of place.
Vegas continues to match its image. As I walk, I am passed by not just a stretch, not even just a Hummer stretch, but a *pink* Hummer stretch, surely the greatest mixed message on wheels ever crafted. Shortly after that comes one of those advertisement trucks, the ones that are just a billboard with wheels. At home, it would be for Verizon. Here, it is for "Hot Girls who want to meet you!", with a phone number of (of course) 696-9696. At that point, I decide that I have seen enough of the spirit of the city for one day, and pack it in.
Tomorrow: one more day of conference, then homeward bound. Will our hero and his bags make it back to Boston in one piece? Tune in for "The Horror of the Redeye!"