Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy birthday to me, part 2

I spent my birthday in Vegas again this year. It was a fine time.

This horned lizard greets you when you deplane in McCarran's American Airlines terminal. It was nice to be reminded that I was in the desert, for as I arrived in Las Vegas, a record snow was beginning to fall in Chicago. It made getting away just that much nicer.

We stayed at the Excalibur, and it was fine. Certainly not great, but not bad at all, either. As soon as we arrived, a pair of scantily clad men shanghai'd us for a photo op. So the good, clean, dirty fun began before we even checked into the room. I'm going to enjoy showing my copy of the photo around, but today I checked my Citicard bill and discovered I paid $25/ea. for those silly things. I'd regret it, except, well, that's Vegas.

Saturday, my friend slept in. She has trouble moving in the mornings because of all the meds she takes for her depression. So I went down to the all-you-can-eat buffet and pigged out. Eggs, bacon, ambrosia fruit salad, cinnamon rolls. When I was filled to the gills I returned to the room and she was getting ready to move.

She gave me my birthday present -- a signed copy of Dick Cavett's book Brief Encounters and an NCIS tshirt -- and then we went and wandered about The Strip. We especially liked New York, New York. There's an enormous Hershey's store in the lobby. We have one in Chicago, and I never go. But I'm on vacation, so here I am, wandering around agape like the perfect little tourist. I bought myself a pair of Hershey's Kisses earrings. Upon our exit we stopped at The Chocolate Bar and toasted my birthday. This is a chocolate-coconut martini, garnished with an Almond Joy.

Then we went back to the room and dressed for dinner and Diana. We got to The Venetian in plenty of time to pick up our tickets and have dinner. The Venetian has many restaurants to choose from and we settled on The Grand Lux Cafe. Then we went to see The Supreme Miss Ross.

It was virtually the same show I saw last year in Chicago, which is fine with me. I want to hear her sing the hits. She was in wonderful voice and wonderful wardrobe (five costume changes).  I was delighted, but when I kept looking over at my friend, she was just staring ahead. I wish she got more joy out of these things! She told me she was having fun, and I guess I believe her. After all, everyone of our generation knows and loves all
these songs. "Stop in the Name of Love," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You Can't Hurry Love," "Touch Me in the Morning," etc., etc.

Sunday we went to the spa at the Excalibur. She had a massage while I had a facial, and then we settled into the jacuzzi to relax and blab. It was delightful. I think this was the most fun she had.

Then we went downtown to The Mob Museum. I learned a lot -- for example, the phrase "mug shot" comes from the way New York thugs used to smirk or "mug" at the camera as they were booked, and some mob endeavors were known as "rackets" because they were designed to disrupt (or make a big noise) the status quo. The building that houses The Mob Museum was once the Federal Courtroom where some of the Kefauver hearings were held. George Raft not only played a mobster in the movies, he had real-life mob connections. In the mid-1930s, Screen Actors Guild president James Cagney (yes, "Yankee Doodle" himself) resisted letting the mob infiltrate industry union. The Mafia was going to assassinate Cagney until George Raft intervened on his behalf. (Gulp!)

The exhibit that gave me pause was this one. In Chicagoland, it still casts a massive shadow. This is the wall from that Clark Street garage where 7 men met their end on St. Valentine's Day. The city did nothing to preserve this -- Al Capone is not Chicago's favorite son. Just before the building was demolished, some Canadian numbered the bricks and rebuilt the wall for his nightclub. When the wall became available again, this museum bought them and rebuilt it again in Vegas.


  1. Sounds like you're having a good time celebrating your birthday!

  2. Vegas is officially on my bucket list!


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