Monday, July 14, 2008

Vegas Part 3: Ditties And Dykes or Dumbo #5

A wrenching experience
Okay, one final Vegas story:

One thing I like to do when in Sin City is sing, and that means Kar-A-Oke (as opposed to a singing Okie, which I'm not). Somethng about the glitz of the city makes even the smallest karaoke dive seem special - I can actually fool myself into thinking I Made It. Plus, I meet a lot of nice folks.

So, Wednesday night we go out to get a bite to eat and end up (after a little brush with the ultra-fancy B&B's) at Battista's. If you like Italian, I highly recommend it. It's pricey (it averages about 30 bucks a person), but you get a complete Italian dinner. It's also a real "joint" as in a Fun Place. This is the kind of eatery where your folks and relatives like to eat and have a good time: small booths and tables and bric-a-brac all over the place, menu on the walls, autographed pictures, that kind of thing. And the house vino is great.

Anyway, the upshot was that it's popular and we didn't get there all that early, so we had to wait for a while, which means we didn't get to Ellis Island (My karaoke place from two years ago ) until about 10. The list was kind of long, so I said the hell with it and we left - not after making some coin on their big Wheel of Fortune machine, though.

SO, fast-forward to Thursday. We just get out of the early performance of Jersey Boys (an excellent show, BTW - I highly recommend it) and we're looking for something to do. In the room, I hop on the Net, find out that Dino's Place up the Strip is doing karaoke tonight so I change my shoes and we go.

Dino's Place is a bar up north Strip. Typical bar set-up, pool tables in the back, stage for live performances, regular clientele, the usual. I feel at home already. I give my name and selections to the KJ and order drinks, margarita for Becky and Meyer's Dark and Coke for me. About Drink #3, we strike up a conversation with a youngish gal, who think Becky's "fantastic - and so are you" referring to me and my Golden Tonsils.

Meanwhile, the KJ (after my lament that I can never find certain songs I want to sing) showed me another songbook he had, one that had titles but no disc numbers. I asked him where the numbers were and he says "that's okay - just write the title down." I perused the book and was astonished to find a lot of songs I couldn't find elsewhere. After picking out and singing Artificial Flowers, I asked him where he got these. He replied (in a guarded monotone) "sorry, I can't tell you..."

Meanwhile, a couple are taking Becky up and I came back for more booze. Becky herself was buzzed, but coherent - not so with me. I was on R&C #5 and I was flyin' (except onstage - when I sing, I'm stone-cold sober - actor's training). I'm totally oblivious to what Becky and them are talking about.

As the night wears on, we split, me vowing to come back tomorrow night (we never made it). In the car on the way back, Becky was happy and I was feeling no pain. After realizing she was jovial over something other than the alcohol, I asked her what's up. "You didn't notice what happened back there?" I answered in the negative. "I was being hit on by a lesbian and another couple." I blinked. "Really? Cool!"

"Cool? I thought you'd be upset because of what Anne did to you."

"Nah, " I said, attempting to right myself, "I got over that quite a while ago. I just like the idea that my wife can get someone of either sex. Kind of a thrill."

"You're not jealous?"

"Nope. I may be stinko, but I know that one, you don't go in for that stuff and two, I know who you're going home with." I said these things with a "come hither" look in my eyes, although Becky later said I looked like I was rolling them back into their sockets.

"You know what?", Becky said with a smile as we pulled into the Palazzo valet, "You're right."

That night we had a real good time with the lights out. My turn to make Becky sing, heh heh heh...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vegas Part 2: The Deuce You Say

De Double Deuce
Okay, more Vegas things.

Thursday, with Becky off to meetings, and bored with the casino thing, I decide to go aaaaaall the way down to the South of the Strip (cue Mexican music) to visit Fry's Electronics. Now this will be the first time I've stepped into a Fry's in ten years after doing a short cashier gig for them in their Palo Alto store.

Since I don't have use of our rental, I hop The Deuce. What's that, you (non-Vegas folks) say? None other than Las Vegas Rapid Transit, or to be more specific, the LVRT line that services The Strip. See, they got these double-decker buses (like in the picture) that travel up and down, all day and night. For a couple bones, it'll take you one-way and a fin will get you a day-pass. I opted for the latter.

Now let me say that I haven't been to Merrie Old England or any other places that have these type of buses, but if this is an example of a hard-top DD, I'll pass. Here's the Complete, Middle-Of-The -Strip Experience (as opposed to the Star Trek Experience, which I missed...again): I get on. It's crowded. Check that: packed is more like it. The back of the bus is where most of the seats are, due to the rig for handicapped folks. Still. if the Wheeled Brigade is not riding, it's got lots of folks standing and holding onto the straps, poles, change machine, your buddy, anything to keep from being thrown onto the floor as it's moving.

Okay, maybe there's room upstairs, so I push my way through to the stairs, climb them, and get clocked on the top of the head. By what? The roof. Yes, the upper deck works for kids and midgets, but not for a 6-6 All American Slob like me. So, doubling myself over, I find a seat close by and sit. Sitting, I'm okay.

Now, let's examine the trip. I'm going from the Palazzo (kind of middle north) to the Town Square Mall, alllll the way at the end of the strip. Of course, it wouldn't be a bus ride without a couple dozen stops, so we move down the strip, picking up and dropping off willy-nilly, Well, more like lurch. It just so happens that there's a lot of construction going on on the Strip right now, with two new casino-resorts and (just so Mr. Trump isn't lonely) five new condo-towers going up, so traffic is of the stop-and-start variety.

About fifteen lurches later, I ring the bell, unfold myself (making sure to bump my head a couple more times), climb downstairs and exit. I see a mall before me and to the left (far to the left), Fry's, my destination. The surrounding area can charitably be described as desolate. Brown as far as the eye can see, with the occasional small tree and bush, with brown mountians in the background. By the way, did I mention it was hot? Something like 90 degrees?

While the taking short (?) walk to Fry's, I hallucinate I'm Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas. Finally, I'm at the front door. I hang out for about an hour, looking at stuff, purchasing a DVD set, eating lunch. Time to head back. Taking a short-cut by the mall (thus avoiding Wendersland), I'm at a hot bus shelter. The bus comes soon after, and it's pretty much Same Song, Second Verse back up the Strip.

Minutes later (quite a few, actually - I went through The Venetian as to get away from the heat) I'm lying on the couch in my suite, contemplating what I just went through. I came to the conclusion that There's Gotta Be A Better Way.

Oh yeah, there is. Wait for Becky and use our rental next time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Face Time In Vegas or The Doofus Doubles Down Deux

Where are we again, Hon?
Spring cleaning time here at TMJ. Time to dump the junk, clear out the cobwebs and start with the writing again.

Also, time for a recap: At the GEM awards, Arsenic and Old Lace won nada, Becky got a new laptop (which I'm using at this moment), Older Stepson moved out of girlfriend's apartment (surprise surprise) and moved in with his brother and not with us (a genuine surprise). I also got a temp job to get some vacation money together later (still wanna got to California with Becky and Gage).

Oh yeah, I'm now on Facebook. I resisted and resisted, but a lot of my theater friends are on there and I wanna keep in touch.

BTW, I'm writing this from a beautiful suite in the Palazzo resort/casino in the heart of The Strip on a gorgeous Tuesday, about 12:30ish. Behind me is a big window with a spectacular view of Las Vegas.

How did this happen, you ask? Well, Becky got tapped to go to some sort of Leadership Seminar through Boeing and we decided to take me along for the ride. It was a struggle, But I said "sure, I'll go". :-)

We got here Sunday morning and I'm already exhausted. I knew I'd be walking a lot, so I got some walking shoes and sandals before I left, but it's still a pain. First day here we get corralled into listening to a timeshare presentation. I hate these things, no matter how good it sounds (and this one sounded damn good). However, they waived cheap tickets to Mystere in front of our faces and hooked us.

The presentation was nice, but when it came down to it, Becky was the Bad Cop and said no. I owed her one, so last night when we went to eat, we ended up in an ultra-fancy Italian joint that, even with Becky's per-diem was way too high. So we left, Becky claiming I was a "fussy eater" Truth be told, I am, but I hate it when people say that about me. This is something I never could understand. With the myriad sins in this world, being a "fussy
eater" is a very minor one. Yet, when
someone says I'm a "fussy eater", all of a sudden I'm Pontius Pilate, Robbie Rotten and Hannibal Lechter all rolled into one. Sheesh.

Anyway, Mystere was fantastic, I'm up 40 bucks at the casinos and Becky will be off later so's we can go have more fun. Hope I get to do karaoke tonight. I also hope Becky's luck changes; she hasn't won any large amounts yet and she's waaaaay overdue.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Splenda In The Glass

Hauling ass in the fridge
Two months ago, my sister-in-law Kristi moved in with us, which is a good thing (we could use the $). Another good thing is that it gives Becky someone in her family to talk to on a regular basis. The best thing (to me) is that last week they started a low-carb diet along with a couple more of their sisters, which means I don't have to.

Now anyone who was still reading this knows that last year I made a commitment to lose weight by GenCon (September), which I didn't follow through on. I wasn't really surprised, as my history of dieting is spotty at best. If someone pushed hard enough, I'd try to lose weight, but I backslid very easy. Started when I was a kid with my mom trying to get me to diet, something I didn't really take seriously, but it did give me a lil' gremlin at the back of my mind, telling me my body was too fat (a few years ago I found some pictures of a show I did in colleges and the first thing I thought was "Ye cats, I wasn't fat - why the heck didn't I date?"). That and I grew to be 6-6 and my parents were average size (and in the case of my mom, a bit below average). But, it's gotten a bit worse since I turned 50 and now have grandkids - I wanna be around to see them grow up.

So, while I'm glad she has someone besides me to diet with, I also feel myself being pulled toward the diet thing. And, once again, that really isn't a bad thing. I find myself not drinking soda as much as I used to, eating their foods more often, etc. Who knows, I may lose some weight (and I definitely will if I start up with the gym again).

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Nuthin' like the end of the year to bring me out of my cave and back into blog-land. I'm looking ahead into the new year and I see the usual: sea-poop. Yes, the future is murky but I do know that ahead are some trips to who-knows-where (hopefully one to Long Beach and one to Vegas - Becky owes me 'cuz we had to put the kibosh on Con On The Cob at the last minute), at least one more stage show and much-needed financial prosperity. Let's see what residue I left behind in '07, shall we?

The year started off with a bang by 1). not working at Renda anymore and 2). getting to play Murray in the Jewel Box Theatre production of The Odd Couple (not to mention winning a Gem award for said role). In other entertainment areas I was continuing with the karaoke including a brief stint on the other side of the mike. I signed up with a producer who hires out KJs and had a short stint (think weeks) at a local bar. That ended when the manager decided I was "too old for the crowd." I'm still with the producer and I probably should call him, but I'm not in that big of a hurry.

On the Librivox front, I managed to add Lovecraft's The Statement of Randolph Carter to the catalog. I was also contacted by a gent in the UK to do a radio drama with a couple other Librivoxers of said story. It turned out so well he asked me to do The Beast in The Cave for him, which I did. It's in editing on his end, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Also, I did a reading of A Christmas Carol for LV last year I forgot about (because I didn't get it done until February seeing as I had a cold through the holidays). Anyway, I've been getting quite a few nice emails (and a few comments here) on them. To those of you who have downloaded them from Librivox and enjoyed them, thanks. It was a pleasure to do it.

This was also the year I entered into the Wonderful (?) World of WebBlogging at YouTube. I did about a half-dozen, I'll pick out back up soon.

Later on I proved what a glutton for punishment I am by reprising a role I did at the Jewel Box in 2000. I played Jonathan Brewster in their revival production (their 50th season) of Arsenic and Old Lace. Packed houses and rave reviews with a kink in the tail when we had to cancel the final Sunday performance due to an ice storm that swept through the area (left us without Cox for four days - no internet, no phone, no cable - good thing I have a large DVD collection).

Speaking of DVDs, it's time for the Annual What I Bought Disc-Wise for 2007. ReadySetGo:

Animaniacs: Volume 1
Batman: The Animated Series - Volume 3
Charlotte's Web*
A Christmas Carol (Alstair Sim)
City of Lost Children*
The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection: Volume 2
The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset (upgrade)
F For Fake: Criterion
The Fallen Idol: Criterion
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Criterion (3rd time!)
The Film Crew: Killers From Space
The Film Crew: The Giant of Marathon
Film Noir Classic Collection

Film Noir Classic Collection: Vol. 2
Film Noir Classic Collection: Vol. 3
Film Noir Classic Collection: Vol. 4
A Fistful of Dollars
For A Few Dollars More
Fox Horror Classics
Hard Boiled
Harry and The Hendersons
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Disney)
The Invisible Man: The Legacy Collection
The Iron Giant (replacement copy)
Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie*
Jonny Quest: The Complete First Season
The King Kong Collection
Les Miserables: Cinema Classics Collection
Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 5
Looney Tunes: Back in Action*
The Love Bug
Matt Helm Lounge
Monsters and Madmen: Criterion
Nero Wolfe: The Complete First Season
The NeverEnding Story*
Night at the Museum
Not Just The Best of The Larry Sanders Show
Peter Pan Platinum Edition (Disney)
Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938
The Princess Bride (upgrade)
Raging Bull Special Edition
Red Green Stuffed and Mounted Six-Pack
Reservior Dogs 15th Anniversary Edition
Rio Bravo Ultimate Collector's Edition
Sin City - Recut, Extended, Unrated
Strangers on A Train Two-Disc Edition*
Superman Returns*
Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense
The Third Man: Criterion (upgrade)
The Three Stooges Collection: Volume One - 1934-1936
Transformers: The Movie
Transformers (Michael Bay)
The Triplets of Belville
True Grit: Special Collector's Edition
The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection
Universal Horror Classic Movie Archive
Vincent Price: MGM Screen Legends Collection
Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald Volume Three
The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection

* The result of Becky joining Columbia House

Oooo-eee. I count 62 discs and/or sets. Makes for a nice assortment along with enough noir to choke Mr. Ed.

Well, looks like my stepson and his kids are staying with us for a while. The stepson is suffering from strep and just had a fight with his live-in girlfriend and mother of his two boys, so time for them to camp out here for a while. Guess the holiday stress isn't quite over. Until next time, lemme leave you with a hint of coming attractions - Becky may get a professional "bump." Cross your fingers...