April 2024
« Apr    



Reflections on Las Vegas

Carefully constructed compositions using all available light sources, or photos spoiled by taking them through perspex?  Art or bollocks?  You decide…



A drink with a deadly weapon

On Sunday, I went to see the NFL International Series game at Wembley.  It’s kind of a big deal to take a meaninful American Football game to Europe, even if it was only a meaningful game for one team.

We were subjected to many reminders that this year was the anniversary of the 1972 Miami Dolphins perfect season.  By definition, isn’t every year an anniversary?  I had to work out that it’s the 35th all by myself – the much celebrated Coral anniversary.  Yesterday’s game went to form though, making it eight straight losses for Miami and putting them half way towards the wrong kind of perfect season.

The day in pictures:

Executive flip-down seating with beverage holders.

Random pre-game entertainment: Cheerleaders, The Feeling and some giant shirts.

Dolphins warm up.  Watching this from a distance it looks like a party in The Sims.

Fireworks as the teams run out on the pitch for the third time.

Miami throws up a prayer.

The Great British weather in attendance.

These photos were taken from my £125 "exclusive" Club Wembley seat.  After missing out on three separate ticket ballots, I was well and truly suckered in by a masterpiece of marketing that goes a little something like this:

1. Release tickets in small chunks to create mass hysteria
2. Wait to see how much those tickets sell for on eBay (answer: up to £300 a pair)
3. Magically find another 17,000 tickets and set the price only ever-so-slightly lower than people are paying to the touts.

Wembley’s list of prohibited items is not vague about some of the things you’re not allowed to take in.  Obviously weapons are not allowed, but I had to wonder what incident had led to the specific inclusion of darts on that list, and whether it involved a comedy head trauma.

Although not on the list, it seems they have also a problem with bottle caps – apparently they can be used as offensive weapons.  Could someone please show me how?  I’m willing to sustain a considerable wound in the interests of getting an answer to this.

I’m not talking about metal beer bottle caps, which could probably inflict quite a nasty scratch, but plastic screw-on caps from bottles of pop.

I found out about this right at the turnstile.  Bored Security Goon #1 patted down my arms but decided he didn’t want to go any lower.  Not a problem.  Nobody keeps a dart in their pocket anyway, it’s always in the sleeve.  He was more interested in the half-drunk bottle of water in my bag.

– "Sir I see you have a bottle there and we can’t allow any bottles with caps inside".
– "Oh.  Why?"
– "Because it could be used as an offensive weapon."

I unscrew the offending sports cap.  This kind actually could be used to create a water-pistol like jet if I squeezed the bottle really hard.  "What, this?" I ask, trying to hold it threateningly.  BSG#1 just ignores me and waves me through.

So I now have a capless bottle of water in one hand and the lethal cap of death in the other.  If only I could work out how to put this darn thing back together.

Well, I nearly got away with it but Bored Security Goon #2 piped up as I walked past him, "Take a sip of your water please".  Ok fine.  This actually makes some sense.  "Now finish it up and throw the bottle in this bag".

Logic has left the building.

Upstairs we’re greeted by a couple of fake cheerleaders who sign me up for a prize draw to win, wait for it, some cufflinks.  I’m already too confused to argue so I just do what I’m told.  Claire was signed up for the prize draw too.  Apparently the female prize is also cufflinks.

I went to buy a drink inside the stadium.  Nervous Guy assistant kindly opened my bottle of coke for me.  "Can’t I have the caps?", I asked while he struggled to work out my change from a twenty.  I’d actually bought two drinks, and his training hadn’t covered that yet.  As he handed the caps back with a shrug, something rumbled in the distance as I realised I probably just got him fired.

I really don’t like it when someone talks to me like I’m fucking five years old.  Especially when I’m not acting it.  I’d already tried to get to my seat to be told "you can look through the window if you want but you’re not allowed in".  Now, we meet Bottle Bitch.

– "You can’t have the cap"
– "Why?"
– "Because… well I think you know why".

For fucks sake, seriously?  Was it such a retarded question?  I really, honestly don’t know.

– "You could throw it onto the pitch"

I hadn’t seen my seat yet, but I figured I’d need quite an arm to tickle the sideline with a tiny piece of plastic.

Claire and I had a bottled drink each, and while we started pointing out many other things that were much easier to make into a missle – including the handful of change that Nervous Guy had finally worked out – she swooped in and snatched away one of the caps.

Just one.  And as much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t work out how to kill someone with the other.

Day 27: Up above the streets and condos

It’s a goddamn rainbow in the desert.

Day 11: Gettin’ my kicks takin’ pics on Route 66

Welcome to Williams, Arizona.

Gateway to the Grand Canyon, situated on historic Route 66.

A middle-of-nowhere truck stop town with classic motels…

roadside cafes…

sadly neglected neon signs…

and animatronic figures adorning the buildings.  In fact, they must have liked this puppet wild west old-timer so much, they used him twice…


Day 4: This is an ex-casino

I took the opportunity to have a posthumous snoop around the New Frontier.  The doors were open to allow viewing for the auction of the entire contents that takes place today.

I’m not really interested in three dozen trash cans,  or the contents of 920 guest bedrooms (sold as one lot), so I won’t be rushing to go back and bid for anything.  I just wanted to have a look inside a closed casino.  It was very eerie indeed.

This hotel has passed on.

The casino bar is no more.

It has ceased to be.

This coffee shop has expired and gone to meet its maker.

The pool area bar is a stiff.  Bereft of life.

The sports book rests in peace.

[Message reads: Sports book closes 6pm.  Mail those winning tickets in to the address on the back of your winning ticket!]

If you hadn’t nailed the mechanical bull to the perch it’d be pushing up the daisies!

[Sign in window: Mud wrestling cancelled]

The casino has kicked the bucket.

This guest suite has shuffled off its mortal coil.

It’s run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!!


Coming soon: warm beer …. clean girls

The New Frontier closed yesterday.

The decision to close only came a couple of months ago, but it’s been on the cards – and on the Las Vegas Casino Death Watch list – for as long as I can remember, so I made sure I took plenty of photos in January.

Another classic sign goes dark, and now as far as I can remember there’s just one major freestanding backlit sign left on the Strip, at the Tropicana.  I don’t remember if the Riviera has one out front, but even if it does neither would surely have very long left.

The Frontier was a dump and has been pretty much left to rot for years.  I will have no sentimentality for the casino whatsoever.

The sign, on the other hand, was fabulous…

There are some pictures of the Frontier’s final day here:

The joy of socks

The last resort of a blogger with not much to say right now?  Pictures of his own feet.

Well actually I did already say I’d put up a picture of my socks to balance the nastiness of the last entry, but there’ll be plenty more sock shots to come in the next couple of weeks as I riffle through my inventory of casino branded hosiery and work out which ones are past their prime and need to be replaced.

This pair from Caesars has clearly been in better shape.

If you have never tried to take a photograph of your own foot, I suggest you try it.  Quite a challenge, as you can see from the poor quality of this picture.  You have to combine holding the camera steady, composing the shot with the foot at the right angle, removing foreign objects from view, getting good enough lighting and not falling over.  For someone of my limited coordination, it’s quite impressive that managing to keep my balance was just about the only factor I succeeded at this time.

I will be practising.  But although it’s something of an ambition to grab the top ranked search result on Google for "casino socks", I can’t promise to personally model every sock I decide to feature here.  Sorry about that.

We like ice cream

The summer is nearly here, so we decided to head to the seaside.  Using a complimentary weekend train ticket, our destination was fabulous Torquay.  This trip didn’t actually work out too bad.  It’s a 4.5 hour journey each way, with 6 hours there to soak up some rays, go for a swim, or whatever.  I’d never pay for that train, but there’s worse ways to use a free train journey than to head for the coast.

The only problem: no beach.  Nothing to speak of, at least.  Plenty of water, but only one tiny strip of sand.  Perhaps I should have done more research than just try to name a seaside town, check if the train went there and make sure the station was within walking distance of the coast.  Maybe it was just high tide the whole time we were there.  There were a few bucket-and-spade shops, which suggeests there’s more to Torquay than water, but I didn’t see it.  Maybe it’s just a bit further away than we could venture, but by foot we were stuck with whatever piece of coastline was nearby.

Boats.  There were lots of boats.  Claire asked if I’d ever want a boat, and I said only if the other guy had a flush.  Oh how we laughed at the very clever poker joke.  I’d seen a pier on the map, but it wasn’t much more than a plank out into the harbour.   What a con.  At least there were seagulls and the smell of the sea drifting in and out.  Not to mention dodgy amusement arcades, where we came across more than one fruit machine pro.

Oh my word, how fast they need to press those buttons to do this for a living.  Having waited for me to drop two quid into a machine and walk away, one of them jumped straight in there, pumping it as hard as he could in order to squeeze out the five pound jackpot.  Plus EV.  I think it only cost him £4 more so that’s a pound clear profit for those who are willing to put in the time to learn the system.  If you can do that three or four times a day, then… wow.

But of course the most important things were clotted cream – which it’s illegal to leave Devon without, and which made me very pleasantly sick after we got home – and ice cream.

We do like ice cream, as you can see.


[Insert Monty Python quote here]

My plans for the evening were scuppered because City Link are useless cretins who don’t actually know how to deliver a parcel at all, let alone on time.  How hard is it?  I mean, if post addressed to "Gordon the Gopher, The Broom Cupboard" can get there, what’s the problem with my order for the components I needed to actually do some work tonight?  Delivery was refused on Friday – because they took it to the wrong building, apparently just guessing wrong once – and today they claimed the postcode was wrong and refused to even put it on a van.  Which it wasn’t.  Why not just call me if you can’t find the place, you bastards?

Anyway, I decided to head over to Trafalgar Square to watch the Spamalot cast’s world record attempt for largest coconut orchestra.  I won’t keep you in suspense any longer because I’m sure you’re dying to know.  They smashed the record, previously held by… the New York cast, of course.

I cooed a little when two of the original Monty Python members were wheeled out –Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam to be precise – and I watched over 4000 people clip-clop along with Always Look on The Bright Side of Life.  Something you don’t see every day, for sure.

I was too late to actually get a pair of coconuts to take part, and didn’t even get a picture of some.  They were special Spamalot coconuts, you see.  I couldn’t decide whether asking "could I take a picture of your coconuts" would be safer with a random man or woman, so I just took some photos of a flying inflatable foot interfering with landmarks instead.

The National Gallery:


Alison Lapper Pregnant:

Nelson’s Column:

And just because it’s the 25th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, I have to also include this picture too.


You only smile when you’re winning

Just found this when sorting through some old photo. I’d intended to take a sneaky picture of the giant Wheel Of Fortune Super Spin slot machine just inside the doors of Barbary Coast. This happy soul had other ideas about that, and perfect timing.