Great news! VRT has been listed in the Victorian Trading Company catalog! My mom called me last night to tell me. It's up near the front of the catalog, on their halloween themed page. I've heard that catalogs tend to sell a lot of books. So I have high hopes that this will help our sales, which had dropped alarmingly, one might even say plummeted (that is if one knew how to spell that word, which seems to be beyond me at this moment), in the last royalty statement. Actually I've been wishing Victorian Trading Company would carry us for the past year. So yay Llewellyn for getting it in there!
I had fun at the radio this morning. Pretty good show too, if I do say so myself. One of these days I'm going to remember to bring casettes and tape my show. I had a trainee from 10 to 11; a nice fellow named Leonardo who was a lot more comfortable on the air than I was for months. He said he had been living in Mexico for the past 6 years, and played mostly Latin music (although I did make him fulfill his playlist requirement). He was really into Cafe Tacuba, told me they were the best live show he'd ever seen. I pulled a couple of things I liked from the Latin section of our library to show him. Leonardo hadn't heard of Kinky and seemed to dig them, but he was, ahem, very diplomatic when I asked him what he thought of Aterciopelados. Oh well, no accounting for taste.
Unfortunately, the training director hadn't left me a handout or checklist, or even warned me Leornado was coming, so I'm not sure if I told him everything I was supposed to. I tried to hit the highlights like transmitter readings, writing down your PSAs, etc., but mainly stood back and let him do his set. Well he had already had a training session with Brad last week, so here's hoping anything I forgot was covered by Brad.
I forgot to mention that with Lina having to go back to the vet and all, I didn't end up going to the state fair with Georg and Rob. So I missed out on the mini donuts after all. Oh well, next year for sure!
OK, I'm all set up on the couch with warm socks, a full belly and a two hour show about Morcheeba for background entertainment, and I am going to finish that danged Vegas trip report. On which I think I had gotten to Tuesday morning.
Tuesday morning we walked down to the southern end of the strip to see the MGM Grand, Tropicana, New York New York, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay. The past two trips we stayed at the Tropicana and spent most of our time down at that end of the strip. But this time we mostly hung out around the Bellagio and Alladin, naturally.
We took the tram from Luxor to Mandalay Bay, where I made a quick cell phone call to our friend Pru. A little background: Two years ago Georg and Pru and I all went to Vegas together. We were highly amused by the people everywhere with cell phones surgically attached to their heads. It seems like some people can't stand to be silent for more than five minutes; they have to be on the phone as often as possible. We saw one woman literally stepping off the tram shouting "I'm at Luxor! I just got off the tram!" into her phone. That was so funny it became sort of a catch-phrase for us. I'm at Luxor! I just got off the tram! It doesn't look that funny written down; I guess it's one of those things that's only funny if you were there.
So, of course I couldn't resist calling Pru on my cell phone at the tram station, and saying "Hi Pru! We're in Vegas! We just got off the tram!" I don't know if she even knew we were there. It was lucky I still had her number in my phone from our trip to Baltimore over the summer.
Anyway, the hotels down at the south end were pretty much as I remembered them, except that Mandalay Bay and Luxor are building a shopping mall into a second-story walkway between the two hotels. It's open to walk through, but only a couple of stores were open. Including Urban Outfitters, which we had a lot of fun browsing. They have tons of neat home decor things, but all a bit expensive unfortunately. They also had a Mr. Sparkle T-shirt, but alas, they didn't have it in Georg's size. What a bummer!
I guess here I should say something about gambling. Now, Georg and I don't gamble much. Georg more than me, but both of us treat it as entertainment rather than a serious attempt to win money. I have a total system for stretching my gambling dollar as far as possible: first, I only play nickel or penny slots, and only the most fun machines with pretty pictures and animated bonus rounds. Second, I only play 3 lines. That way I won't see a win that I didn't get in the top or bottom line, but I'm not blowing tons of credits on 9 or 15 or whatever lines. Third, I don't leave the credits in the machine; I cash out every win, even just a few nickels, and put the coins back in one at a time for every spin. (The downside to this is my hand ends up filthy from handling all those coins, but they have wetnaps at the cashier stations.) Fourth, once I've decided how much to play at one time, I never add more money to the machine. Last and most important, if I hit a big win I always stop right then.
I never make much money with this system, but I never lose more than a few dollars either. On this trip I ended up $10 ahead! I spent my winnings on a pair of Hello Kitty underpants at the aforementioned Urban Outfitters.
Georg, on the other hand, won over $200! He really had a lucky streak. His best win, I think, was $50 on nickel slots. That's 1,000 credits! Well I definitely benefitted from Georg's good fortune. He spent his winnings on some pretty amazing restaurants, including Olive's for Tuesday lunch.
Todd English, the head chef of Olive's, appeared on the US version of Iron Chef as "Captain America." But I'll forgive him for that after having eaten at his restaurant. It was superlative. We had a carpaccio appetizer that was, I believe, the best single dish I've ever eaten. It came with big parmesan shavings, whole caramelized cipollini onions, little greens and a cake of roquefort polenta. For entree I had a crab & avocado salad, and Georg had fig and prosciutto flatbread. Which was actually a small pizza, but on a crust so thin that I guess they felt it was more accurate to call it flatbread.
The waiter was doing his level best to suck up, complimenting all of our ordering choices: "Our most popular selection," "An excellent blend of sweet and salty flavors," and so forth. It seemed to be a common habit among waiters at nice Vegas restaurants. I wonder if they're trying extra hard to dispel the stereotype of snotty waiters, to create the perception that the Vegas branches of these restaurants are more friendly? Do they get a lot of customers who wouldn't normally go to a restaurant of that caliber? Or are the waiters that eager to please in the original Olive's too? Anyway we're fairly comfortable with our food choices & don't really feel the need to seek out waiter approval, so we found the whole thing pretty amusing.
Another thing we noticed is that, while we've eaten at some pretty nice restaurants, none of them follow that traditional rule of service where the food is only served from the left. We decided that the restaurants we'd been to, while high quality, are all fairly informal. I bet at a formal place like Le Cirque or Renoir (Alessandro Stratta's Vegas restaurant, which has real Renoirs on display: we saw one through the window. And by the way, Stratta was also on Iron Chef USA as "The Italian Scallion," even though he's a French chef) they still serve from the left.
Speaking of Iron Chef USA, I know it was on TV a long time ago but eating at one of the cast's restaurants made me think about it again. And I have to say how disappointed I was at how badly the show turned out. At the time, I had high hopes for it. I thought -- and still think -- William Shatner was the absolute perfect choice to play the Chairman. Seriously, I can't think of another English speaking actor who'd be better suited for filling Chairman Kaga's frilly sequined jackets. And Shatner did his level best, as I recall. It was the rest of the show that sucked beyond belief.