Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Weekend in Las Vegas

On our last weekend in Arizona we headed for Las Vegas. I managed to get a good package deal with USAir, which meant a two hour early morning drive to Phoenix to pick up our flight. We checked into our LV hotel, Harrahs, via their airport facility, got the shuttle into town and went straight to our room. Then we headed out in the 44 degree heat to explore.
The Venetian Hotel has a wonderfully kitsch shopping mall modeled on the Grand Canal in Venice. We wandered the “streets”, watched the gondolas ply their trade and had lunch at a nice restaurant, “el fresco” in “St. Marks Square” all the time entertained by wandering minstrels, jugglers and operatic singers. You just have to suspend reality for a while and go with the flow.
Then it was across the road to The Mirage to pick up our tickets for “Love” and do some gambling. The entry to this hotel is through a huge tropical jungle complete with streams and water falls. Closer inspection reveals that every tree, plant and flower is not real, just plastic and cement. Maybe that is why they call it the Mirage. We had a really good run on the machines. We won $200 which would pay for dinner.
We had cravings for an Asian meal but you have to be careful in the USA as Americanized Asian food can be a disappointment. We decided to try the unfortunately named Tsunami Asian Grill which turned out to be excellent. Spicy sate chicken as a starter and seared tuna salad with soy and sesame oil and seaweed wrapped sambal rice (with a huge kick) filled the bill exactly. All this washed down with a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio.
What can I say about “Love”? It’s a musical tribute to the Beatles performed by Cirque du Soleil. Presented in the round with digitally remastered music coming in surround sound from 6000 speakers including in your seat, huge screens with high definition projected images, and the most mind bending acrobatics, trapeze, free dance, amazing props and seamless changes in mood you become completely immersed in the experience. It’s impossible to keep track of everything that is going on. It sucks you in and then spits you out. With the permission of the remaining Beatles, George Martin has remixed a number of songs. Are they better? Maybe they lack the rawness and spontaneity of the original but it does them no harm.
If you grew up with the Beatles you can see a subtle history of their lives interwoven into the performance and it’s a little poignant to hear John Lennon and George Harrison talking and fooling about during their recording sessions, the former with his sarcastic wit and the latter with his quiet reason and ongoing attempts to keep the peace.
I doubt whether it will ever come to Australia because of the huge mechanical infrastructure and the necessity to put lots of bums on seats to pay for it all. But if you ever see a special deal air deal to Las Vegas, take it and go see “Love”
Next day we did a bit more gambling, a bit more eating and a lot of people watching. This is the place to do that.
We were delayed on the flight back because it was so hot at Las Vegas Airport, the air compressors used to help start the jet engines could not build up enough pressure. We had to wait for auxiliary units to be brought in.
During this flight it was announced that “it is illegal to congregate around the flight deck door. For the information of passengers the flight deck is at the front of the aircraft”
This gets the “bleeding obvious” award for the entire trip.

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