Saturday, July 25, 2009

What I Know For Sure: About Las Vegas

With several trips to Las Vegas under my belt, I have learned a thing or two. It is less expensive to travel during the week, say Sunday thru Thursday. Weekend stays are usually more expensive and kinda hard to come by.

When going through airport security, remember to pack carry-on toiletries in a clear, quart-sized Ziploc bag. Do not try to bring that bottle of Dasani water on board that you bought outside the airport. No matter how much you paid for it, do not attempt to bring full size bottles of anything including toothpaste, mouthwash or expensive lotion. 3 ounces or less. Don't get angry. You're going to have to toss it. Sorry. Pack early. Check the TSA website for any changes to the guidelines for carry-on items.

If you are borderline OCD like me, be sure to wear some socks or footies when you have to take your shoes off. I don't know where those other feet have been and I don't want my tootsies mingling with what lies beneath us.

In terms of getting there, package deals are the best. Airfare, hotel and a car if you need it, can be priced better than booking airfare alone. and has been the best online booking sites for us. The only drawback has been at times having to take a red eye flight home. Our hotel stay is usually cut short by having to check out about 8-10 hours early in order to catch the midnight flight home. But this is tolerable.

Skipping taxi cab fares by opting for the Monorail service has been a money saver while in Las Vegas. The 1 to 3 day unlimited ride ticket is very economical. The ride from the MGM to the Sahara is totally air conditioned and as a writer like me, you can meet some interesting people who are happy to be on vacation and willing to chat!

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes! I have also found that carrying a backpack is so easy to carry everything I need such as beverages, lotion, sanitizer, umbrellas and jackets. It may be 100 plus degrees in the summer, some buildings can be downright chilly.
Although Las Vegas is billed as being a Grown & Sexy kinda place, traipsing around in hooker shoes with your fanny hanging out, isn't always appropriate. Those sexy shoes may prove no match for the concrete jungle of Las Vegas and you may just hang them up, literally, like the person did in the above photo! Vegas now has lots of family attractions. So it is no longer "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. It all may be viewed by a toddler looking up your skirt!

Be prepared to dodge moms and dads pushing double decker strollers. Be tolerant of tourists taking pictures. Be courteous and ask if they want you to take a picture for them so they can all be in the shot with the waterfall or the Vegas skyline behind them.
Tell them not to worry, you don't need their camera! The one around your own neck costs as much as their whole trip to Las Vegas! Make sure that you bring your camera bag and charger, an empty memory card and an extra new battery or two. It will not go to waste. It's amazing how much zooming in and out on a camera really drains the battery.

Budget for Las Vegas. You can never have enough money or enough time in Vegas. While there is plenty to choose from eatery-wise, it can get expensive. Places off the strip still have some cheap eats. For example, the Tropicana's Garden Cafe has a daily, all day, $9.95 Blue Plate special. Their Legends restaurant also has a $19.95 lobster meal after 5 PM! Present a player's club card at the Sahara Casino and an $8.99 dinner buffet is all yours. Of course it's Las Vegas, if you are a drinker and a gambler, drinks are complimentary. But please remember to tip the cocktail waiters and waitresses!

Take advantage of the free stuff in Las Vegas. The water show at the Bellagio or the Fremont Street Light Show Experience are always fun. . .and free.

If you don't mind giving up some of your time, a time share pitch can net you a couple of free show tickets while in Las Vegas. Personally, we do not like the time share pitches because we don't want a time share and don't want to be pressured to buy one on our vacation.

Perhaps my best tip to give you is to bring your own toiletries. Include routine medicines like Advil or Tylenol, Alka Seltzers and Pepto Bismol! I know from experience. After a late night of riding the Monorail, walking and sightseeing until I was delirious, I was hungry by the time we got back to the hotel. I ordered room service. I wanted a lobster but decided on breakfast. Seemed harmless enough. Sausage, ham, scrambled eggs and cheddar biscuits. Who can't make breakfast? Apparently this particular hotel we were staying in! Within 20 minutes, I was sick. With no medicine of our own, my husband was off to the downstairs pantry to find me some relief. He came back with 2 items,
priced at $5.39 & $5.69. Both could have been purchased at home for far less but at that moment, I would have paid $500!

My last tip, remember to log your frequent flyer miles with your airline. You just may be closer than you think to your next vacation getaway! With a free trip, you may be able to afford to upgrade to first class!

MGM: Metro Goldwyn Mayer???

Over the years, I've stayed at the following Las Vegas hotels:

The Golden Nugget (Fremont Street Experience)
The Tropicana
The Mandalay Bay
The Monte Carlo
The Excalibur

Our most recent stay was at the MGM. I no longer believe MGM stands for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. For me, it is My Goodness Man! Are you kidding me? I was looking forward to it because it has a Monorail station at the hotel. The Monorail

is the best way to get around Las Vegas. A three day pass is just $28 per person and you get to ride up and down the strip in air conditioned comfort. It runs from the MGM to the Sahara. Try spending money on a taxi in Las Vegas and you will soon realize the Monorail is the way to go. At times, it was a little crowded. I heard there was a teachers' convention going on in Las Vegas. What foolish school system would send their teachers on a conference in Sin City? I have heard that they rarely make it to the meetings and never present shiggity when they get back to their home schools! But I digress. My husband and I found it amusing spotting the teacher-types. Some teachers cannot shake the "Mrs. Jones" look--even in Las Vegas.

The check-in lines at the MGM were long. When we finally got to the front, we were told that no more King Sized regular rooms were available but she could give us a smaller King room on a renovated area of the hotel. Renovated. We agreed to accept the room. We were located on the 5th floor, room 558. Seemed harmless enough. After the rough air ride, being just 5 stories up seemed alright with me. The trek to the room took us 3 minutes once we got off the elevator! No lie. It was the absolute LAST room down the hallway and due to the due to the mirrored effects, looked like we were walking "Through The Lookinglass" to Alice in Wonderland I felt sorry for my poor husband who failed to heed my advice of taking his rolling luggage. Mr. "I-Don't Want-To Wrinkle-My-Clothes" took his rollerless garment bag. He huffed and puffed as we bounced down the narrow corridor. My pink and green apple luggage was damaged during the flight but it still rolled! He will now listen to his wife. LOL.

But back to My Goodness Man! When we finally got to the room, it looked ok. But upon further inspection, I was not a happy camper. The smaller room type was not the real issue: The bed blocked the window. Not very feng shui! The view was of the top of the building. Not only was it at the end of the world but right across from the housekeeper's workroom or something. Very noisy. The room was renovated but it was a handicap accessible room. I shuddered to think that we able bodied people could be taking a room from someone who really needed it. We made the trek back downstairs to stand in the check in line. We were assigned a new room, with a view of the strip, at no extra cost, on the 21st floor! Yay! The catch: we couldn't check in until the next day after 3 PM! Oh man! In the future, we will ask all the necessary questions before accepting a room change.

The package from lastminute.comincluded a couple of show tickets. We wanted to see Disney's The Lion King showing at The Mandalay Bay. The first guest services person told us to check at the MGM's Concierge desk tomorrow morning for our tickets. The next day, we stood in the long and eventually wrong line at MGM for over 40 minutes just to be told we needed to go to The Mandalay Bay for the tickets. We were very frustrated with the poor services received thus far at the My Goodness Man. When I saw Zumanity while staying at The Excalibur, getting the tickets were easy. I knew that I needed to check the box office at New York New York. The simpleton at the MG desk should have told us the correct information. We would have had no problem going over the The Mandalay Bay to pick up the tickets. Again, I will digress.

The new room, 21-322 was much better. The view was not a great as the one I had in February at The Excalibur but it was good.

My observations about the MGM. It is in a great location. The Monorail station is located in the building. There are a number of good and reasonably priced restaurants. Not only can you find celebrity restaurants like Wolfgang Puck's, Top Chef's Tom Coliccho's and Emeril's but there is a McDonalds, Starbucks, Nathan's hotdogs and a pizza place with some great deep dish pizza!

I think the MGM is for Party People! There are several nightclubs that seem to cater to the anything goes clientele. Studio 54. Tabu. Need I say more. I could not believe the number of children that we say inside the hotels AND casinos in Las Vegas. They were everywhere and in my way! The lines are always long in the MGM. The service we received was always crappy. Seemed like some of the people may have been slightly intolerant of people of color. How about when we were the last people in line, the agent walked up, after we had been in line for over 15 minutes, and cuts the line off at us! Now we were already the last people in the fucking line. I was pissed. He could have waited on us. But my theory is that if a person doesn't want to wait on me, I don't want to be waited on by them! I'm not the one with the problem and I am not always up to trying to prove a point.

Would we stay at the MGM again? Not even if it were free!

Nearer My God To Thee! was the booking site of our most recent vacation destination: Las Vegas. We elected to leave on a flight the would allow us to finish out the family reunion activities. While I wanted to leave Sunday night, we selected a 7:00 PM Monday evening flight. We arrived in Las Vegas at 8:00 PM Pacific time. The flight was horrible! We flew through thunderstorm clouds and the turbulence was scary to say the least! The beverage service did not begin until late due to the bumpiness of the flight. Beverage and choice of spiced cookies or peanuts. Peanuts? Peanuts?! Hell, I don't eat peanuts in a car and I darn sure never eat peanuts on a plane. Superstious reasons. I'll blog about it in a later post. I always buy my husband the delicious Biscoff cookies online but I wanted a shot of something, anything alcoholic! I settled for a ginger ale. Can you believe we were given whole cans of soda on the new Delta/Northwest plane? I guess they figured that if this would be "it", let them at least have a whole can of soda! The pilot kept coming over the PA apologizing for the ride and that there was nothing he could do about it. As we flew over New Mexico, he announced there were storms behind us and ahead of us, the Phoenix airport was shutdown due to the storms. Oh $hit! The plane was quiet and cold. I check the weather before traveling. Didn't pilots do the same thing? If we landed safely on the ground, I vowed to walk back the 1430 miles back to Memphis!

The captain did a good job getting us to Las Vegas safely. I have never flown in bad weather and from talking to other people, it could have been worse. When I am up so high, it makes me think about my Creator and how far man has advanced to have a huge airbus slicing through the sky. Simply amazing.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mr. Jamie Foxx!!!

How bold were we to miss the get acquainted night of the family reunion to see Jamie Foxx?! My husband's family blew his phone up all during the concert: Blame it on the alcohol!

Jamie Foxx is the man! I rarely sat down during the concert at the FedEx Forum! Do you know how badly I needed to get out and have some fun?! Mr. Foxx was awesome! There was even a guest appearance by Dave Hollister who blew some vocals!

The opening act, comedian Speedy was funny. He put the audience on blast for their choices of wardrobes! Thank goodness we arrived early and looked normal!

We were at the concert he did a few years ago and he told the crowd that he wanted to give us $5000. The crazy man let "Jamie Money" rain down from the sky! One fell directly in my hands that I still have. I'll have to scan it and put it on my blog.

If Jamie Foxx comes to your city: GO!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It Is Done

The SMS text message from CNN to my iPhone has resolved the Steve McNair murder: murder/suicide. Though I already felt this would be the classification, I still have too many unanswered questions of "Why". I may never know the answers. And at this point, it doesn't matter, it can't bring him back. I'm only wishing that I will awaken from a nightmare and find that working summer school had me really exhausted and it was only a crazy Midsummer's Night Dream.

I had so much nervous energy that I had to make a video tribute to Steve. I was so tired of all the negative press about his personal life, I wanted to remember and share the good memories about Steve. He was a nice man who loved football and did a hell of a job entertaining those of us who watched. All the residents of glass houses with their pockets full of pebbles, should take this tragedy as a reason to examine their own lives and mortality.

Michael Jackson Tribute

I don't know about you all but I cannot stop watching the Michael Jackson Memorial Tribute! It was absolutely beautiful! I can't help but to think that Michael would have enjoyed it. Why does a part of me want to think that he is not gone--that he wanted to escape celebrity and live as a normal person with a new look.

While this fantasy may ease my spirit for the moment, I do believe that MJ has truly left the building. I don't think the whole state of California would enable Michael to fake his death. If you guys are avid viewers of the 70s tv show, "Good Times", you vividly remember when "Fishbone" faked his death and was sitting in the audience with the mourners. I did kinda look twice at Latoya in that big a$$ hat. . . just kidding.

All of the speakers and entertainers were marvelous. Usher Raymond got to me the most. If I didn't know it, I know it now: that boy can "sang"! And don't tell me that John Mayer didn't jazz it up for MJ! I was the only person in the room who knew who he was before they put the graphic on the screen. I try to be diverse in my music! Cool points for me. I have no idea who that lady was who sang led for We Are The World and Heal The World, but she had the little hairs on the back of my neck standing up! Wow!

I was at work. Summer school is a J-O-K-E! How can a kid fail 10 months worth of work and pass in 5 weeks?! I will never work this sh!t again. The PE coach wanted to watch the memorial so he asked to bring the kids in the library. Damn. Flashback to the Inauguration. Sharing it with people I did not want to be with. What pissed me off about the kids this time was that they were not paying attention and were making noise. I told him that he had to get them out of there. I did not want to remember being with their asses 50 years from now. The next group was better. Who ever heard of PE in summer school?

Anyhoo, I was inspired by the speeches and talks of Michael's creativity. I felt a fire brewing in my own belly to get creative. Michael may be gone but he has left us a true legacy. Time to get shaking! I did stop by Michael's Craft Store for some supplies. I also started and completed a Steve McNair video. I felt like I had to do something to clear some of the negative press that was everywhere.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Go Home!

Someone please tell the Grim Reaper to go home!

Keep Calm & Carry On

In the last few days, we have mourned the loss of several well known celebrities. Personally, there has been loss. A former co-worker expired the same day as Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Sure, I have been amongst the people talking about & mourning Michael's sudden death. But if there is a message here, it is "Live For Today". Tomorrow is not promised. Death to me is no longer a shocker. We all have to go that way. We get consumed when it happens suddenly. I have most recently adopted the adage, "Keep Calm & Carry On." I believe this phrase was coined by the British government during wartime. I think it fits my life perfectly.

We are not immortal.

Steve McNair

Life is too short. My phone has been ringing off the hook. I do not want to talk to anyone right now. I don't know the details but CNN is reporting that Steve was killed a little while ago.

I was asleep when my BFF called and told me that it was sad about Steve. Steve who? I had a feeling that the reponse was gonna be bad. My favorite QB of all times and fellow Alcorn State Alum has been fatally shot in the head. Why was Steve McNair at an apartment complex? I don't know the details but I can tell ya they won't be pretty. Love triangle, murder suicide, jealous rage.

My most fond memories of Steve McNair are of his days as QB at Alcorn State University. This man always had the stands packed. He could really throw that football.

I had the opportunity to meet Steve and he was a very nice man. The photo above was taken when he came to the J.D. Boyd Library in 1995 to autograph his Sports Illustrated cover.

RIP Air McNair!

Nappylicious T-shirt

The Oprah Effect