28 November, 2008

Las Vegas and Hugh Hefner

Don and I are back from our one year wedding anniversary-honeymoon combo trip to Las Vegas. Although after our wedding last year, we went to San Juan Capistrano for a brief getaway, being the huge Beatles fans that we are we had always planned that our "honeymoon" would be to see the Cirque du Soleil production of The Beatles' "Love". Much to our chagrin, the only place offering that production happens to be in Las Vegas. As our one year began to near, we booked our flights and reservations to stay at The Mirage.

Last Sunday, was the actual anniversary date and after doing church, we came home to pack before driving to the Sacramento airport for an evening flight to Las Vegas. By the way, the Sacramento airport is one of the nicest little metropolitan airports around. Easy access, cool luggage art and now they have a terrific new narration that plays over the public address system. Instead of the canned and robotic announcements to which most of us have become accustomed, there is actually a friendly male voice using witty patter to get across the requisite information about not leaving your luggage unattended, etc.

Since our trip was to only be two short days, we chose to stay at The Mirage where both "Love" and Siegfried and Roy's "The Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat" were being offered. That way, we didn't need to rent a car nor did we really need to venture out onto the Strip. You see, neither of us really like Las Vegas. The crowds, the noise, the smoking, the excess, did I mention the noise and the smoke? Or how about the hustlers on the strip snapping cards that would get you in for free to see a Girlie show? Ewwwwwwwwww. Now I realize that many people will disagree with me on this --as evidenced by the attendance numbers and dollars spent there-- but for me, Las Vegas is Kryptonite to my soul. The city and its inhabitants work so hard to be BIGGER and BETTER in their oneupsmanship that there is no sense of equilibrium. If I were stay in my room, inside the theatre or inside The Secret Garden with the animals and foliage, I would be all right. But you have to walk through the casinos and the crowds in order to get ....anywhere! Sometimes, I would hold my literal and proverbial breath just to get from point A to point B.

However, it was all worth while.

"Love" is awesome, spectacular, amazing, colorful, inventive and best of all, musically perfect. Original Beatles producer, Sir George Martin and his son, went back into the recording studios and re-mastered a canon of music from the Beatles that was the inspiration for the show. What a time-travel, back-to-the- future show this is. The creative talent involved in this production is beyond your wildest imagination. I so wanted for it to have been possible for both John Lennon and George Harrison to have lived to see this paean to their life's work.

Seated next to us were four guys from Manchester who were in town to see their mate in a boxing match in town. It was eerily perfect to have these four lads with their accents (only 40 miles from Liverpool) chatting us up and singing along to all the songs. But then who wasn't? The Beatles were the musical landscape of our lives. Even to this day, their music and lyrics have a significant and positive impact on my life.

The other highlight to our trip was in seeing the white lions and white striped tigers in The Secret Garden. There were five, seven month old white striped tiger cubs that could not have been cuter. These big kitties were romping and frolicking like domestic kittens playing with plastic balls, chewing on pieces of cardboard and each other. Adorable. The white lions and the other adult cats truly earn the adjective majestic. And in the same eccentric weirdness that befits the city itself, there is also a dolphin pool in The Secret Garden. Bella is the new two-month old dolphin that was swimming in the second pool with her mother and uncle. It was so dear to watch her swim around with her family and try to emulate their actions.

Siegfried and Roy have been able parlay their talents into entertainment value that allows for extensive educational work and support that benefits the animals. And yet, it is still simply weird to be in a hotel the size of Cleveland and see lions and tigers and dolphins, oh my.

On the return trip home, because of the shuttle scheduling, we had extra time at the Las Vegas airport. Did you know there are slot machines in the airport? Situated in the middle of the departing gates were almost 50 slot machines in case you had not see any during your stay. At least as you made your way past these machines, there was no smoke to avoid. Don had decided he was going to play $1.00 on the Wheel of Fortune machines when the total prize money reached a certain amount. However, our plane was beginning to board and it became clear he would have to leave before that chosen amount flashed overhead. Don went over to the machines and I curiously followed. Up till that point, I was happy -- no, self-righteous is more accurate --that I had neither interest or desire to discard money--even $.25 -- into these mechanical noise makers. Don asked me which machine he should play and I wanted to select the one on the end but felt I couldn't say so because that would indicate a interest of sorts. Suddenly, however, I asked if I could play one of his credits. Of course, says he. The dials were spinning and I felt slightly inadequate or intimated and I pressed a button and nothing happened. Don played the other two credits and nothing happened.

I shouldn't say nothing happened because what happened was that I got peeved. First of all, Don played $1.00 on a quarter machine but only got three credits. What's up with that? And secondly, he had just 'lost' (wasted?) a dollar and for what? Then I was angry with myself because in my effort to not play at playing, I ignored my feelings and instead, went into anger and judgment all over the place. As we were walking towards our place in line, I grumbled and mumbled something about all this and Don relinquished another dollar and told me to play it in the machine I had wanted to use in the first place.

Instead of protesting, I stomped over to the machine I liked. Looking at the pictures of what I was trying to achieve, I got clear. I hit the button, spun the wheel and got some matching cherries totaling $3.25 and I cashed out right then and there. I had accomplished what I needed to in order to understand the process, move past being indignant and simply play to win. As much as it would have been nice to win more money, if I had played further I would have been trying to prove something and that would have colored my intentions and my actions.

And what does all this have to do with Hugh Hefner?

Well, I have often wondered (not out loud or anything) if I might be the illegitimate love-child of Mr. Hefner because of my propensity to be in my pajamas as often as possible. I happily spent the majority of Thanksgiving day watching the Macy's Day Parade and the Westminster Dog Show in my PJ's until we had to dress to go out for dinner. I love reading, watching T.V. and hanging out in my flannel pajamas as often as I can. I hope this is not T.M.I. for my readers. It might be a bit of a gamble to share this information with you, as I am not trying to be prurient, but rather, I am allowing our trip to Las Vegas help me reflect on the indlugent merit of pajamas. In fact, ala Hefner, I have recently added some silky PJ's to the mix in order to augment my extensive collection of flannels.

I'm betting that I am not the only one to feel this way. And despite what experts say about keeping the bedroom free of anything other than nocturnal activities, I have always found validation in the fact that John Lennon loved to work and create from his bed. Me, too.

"Whatever gets you through the night, is all right..."

City Slackers

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