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Old Nov 12, 00, 8:29 am   #1
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Comdex in Vegas, but we just stopped by Phoenix to see Arnie

Dessert storm

MileCrazy and the Compmeister had a bet on the outcome of the election so Hunnybear and I booked flights to Phoenix on the way to Vegas and Comdex to sit in on the payoff dinner at Mastro’s steakhouse in Scottsdale. The taxi came 10 minutes early but parked in front of the wrong building so we went and found it. It turned out to be the same cab driver we had on the last trip, driving a van with a wheelchair ramp in back. He was apologetic for the mistake and as repeat customers we got great service even without a gold card. He went and bought me a newspaper and wouldn’t take any money for it despite repeated attempts.

We pulled up to Terminal 1 and went to the First Class/Elite checkin at America West because there was only one person ahead of us. Unfortunately that person still hadn’t completed checking in after 15 minutes so finally one of the swing agents waited on us. I asked for us to be upgraded because Continental Gold and she asked to see the card. I explained the card had not yet arrived because it had been sent to the wrong address but this had happened several times before and there was a way to verify my status. She called FlightFund and verified my goldenhood and gave me the one remaining seat in First, moving Hunnybear up to the bulkhead and waitlisting her. There was a short line at security but no decent coffee in Terminal 1 so I got Hunnybear some bad bar coffee from the sports bar while we waited.

We were flying the oldest 737 I had ever seen to Phoenix. The overhead bins were do small that a single 21-inch Briggs & Riley took up an entire bin. Fortunately our flight had a light load and when two seats in First Class remained open as they were about to close the door I asked if Hunnybear could move up and they said no problem. Once again everyone was very nice on America West and it was a pleasant flight though nothing to compare with First Class on National. The snack was a tasty bar mix including nuts. Although an hour was allotted for the flight we landed 35 minutes after takeoff due to favorable winds. Arnie was supposed to pick us up but we were so early that he hadn’t left yet so we waited at the north curb and his green Buick pulled up in 15 minutes.

Arnie swung us by his brother Gary’s house so we could say hi and drool over his car collection including an old yellow Rolls Royce convertible and a classic red Biarritz with license plate Gary. You have to be first in line they day they start issuing personalized plates to get that and he was. We made plans to meet later and Arnie took us to the hotel.

The Phoenician was fully booked so we had my Centurion concierge get us the $99 rate at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort, five minutes from Gary’s house. I showed my Hilton gold card and asked for an upgrade. She said all the rooms were the same but she gave us one close to the pool and a bag of chocolate-chip cookies. Arnie immediately begged for another bag and got one once the supervisor checked to make sure he had enough. The clerk reminded me that I could double-dip so I threw a mental dart and put the miles on my American account, shooting for lifetime elite before they changed the rules.

The room was a very standard low-end resort room, bungalow style, with the door opening onto the bathroom and sliding glass doors at the rear opening onto a patio overlooking the pool. A sign proclaimed local calls were 95¢ a day for all you can eat. We dropped off the luggage and headed back to Gary’s where we piled into the yellow Rolls convertible and got the good tour of Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. Gary said one of the good things about driving the Rolls Royce was that you could get in anywhere. Want to drive through a gated community? No problem, sir. We checked out Arizona Biltmore Estates and saw some amazing houses, including Paul Harvey’s pink-trimmed white mansion. It was all on one level and I wondered where were the rest of the stories?

I had had enough sightseeing and begged to see the new casino that had opened up nearby. Actually I would have preferred to see Harrah’s Ak-Chin, which had some playable video poker, but it was a 45-minute drive each way, so we went to the new Casino Arizona Salt River. The place was jam-packed full of slots and video poker with the lowest pay tables I had ever seen. The Jacks or Better paid six coins for a Full House and five for a Flush instead of the 9/6 version I played in Vegas. That raised the house advantage with optimal play from a modest 0.46% to a staggering 5%—over 10 times the house rake! And people weren’t playing optimal strategy either from my observations. But there was not an empty machine in the place. Arnie and I decided we ought to go into the casino business.

The interesting new game was Arizona 21. Players each bet $5, from which the dealer raked $3 for the house and $1 for a jackpot. The house did not play. If you busted you were out of the hand, otherwise the player with the highest total 21 or less won the pot. Blackjack was an automatic winner. I thought this game was possibly beatable, especially because people were not guarding their hand and probably had no clue what the optimal strategy was. I also had no clue but I thought a smart player could probably do well, though perhaps not well enough to beat the house rake.

After a while we went back to the hotel to relax. The housekeeper came by asking if we wanted turndown service but we only wanted the bottled water and chocolates so it all worked out well. The television premiere of American Pie was on but before Thora Birch could remove her shirt Arnie showed up in the green Buick to take us to dinner. I was disappointed because the scene would have new meaning for me now that I had met her. Fortunately Hunnybear reminded me that she was very unattractive and uninteresting in real life.

Mastro’s was a new trendy steakhouse in North Scottsdale very near to where Steve and Barb had a house. We entered and the place was jam-packed. Fortunately everybody knew Arnie and they were setting up the best table in the house for us. MileCrazy and his ex-girlfriend’s mother-in-law Betty were waiting for us so we ordered drinks and were seated shortly after the appointed time of eight. Martinis and Manhattans came in huge shakers, a nice touch aesthetically but it meant that the refill came out very watery. Service was spotty tonight. We waited 40 minutes and then the appetizers and salads came out at the same time. I had sautéed shrimp in a delicious dipping sauce and an unremarkable Caesar salad. The complimentary pretzel rolls were superb, as were the huge onion rings we ordered as a side. I didn’t care for the shoestring sweet-potato fries.

The bone-in filet mignon was an excellent cut but came out with a cool center rather than warm as I had ordered so I had them heat it up a bit. Hunnybear’s steak came out missing peppercorns so they had to redo it. When the manager found out we were having service problems everyone in the entire restaurant, including the chef, came by to apologize and he comped the two steaks and dessert. As a rule I don’t eat dessert but Arnie told them it was my birthday in hopes of a comp. The manager brought out one of everything, including a checkerboard cake with a candle for me to blow out, so I had half of it with just one scoop of ice cream and a few tastes of everything else. With all the comps dinner came to $300 for the six of us. Since the election went into extra innings MileCrazy paid for Arnie based on Hillary winning in New York and we deferred payoff on the Bush-Gore result until it the judges had declared it official. Everybody seemed to be paying cash so I whipped out my Centurion card, got the desired effect as everyone’s eyes widened, and then took it back and paid with my Starwood Optima while nobody was looking because it had better miles.

Arnie brought us back to the hotel to crash in preparation for a couple big days at Comdex.
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Old Nov 12, 00, 9:23 am   #2
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Quote:
... including Paul Harvey’s pink-trimmed white mansion. It was all on one level and I wondered where were the rest of the stories?

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Old Nov 12, 00, 12:20 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by QuietLion:
so I whipped out my Centurion card, got the desired effect as everyone?s eyes widened, and then took it back and paid with my Starwood Optima while nobody was looking because it had better miles.
See, QL, all of those trips to Vegas ARE paying off, you're learning how to palm your [credit] cards.
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Old Nov 12, 00, 2:15 pm   #4
 
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as a rule i don't complement people on GREAT written lines -- but the paul harvey "where were the rest of the stories" is a WORLD CLASS KEEPER
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Old Nov 13, 00, 8:33 am   #5
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Seeing John Malkovich

Winter dawn in the Arizona desert broke clean and cold into the big blue sky. Arnie picked us up at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort and we checked out at the front desk because we forgot to use the video checkout. Gary joined us for a small breakfast at Leo’s deli nearby. We arrived to find a tourist shooting a videotape of Gary’s yellow Rolls Royce convertible. I yelled out to him, “Hey that’s five bucks for the pictures,” but he pretended he didn’t hear me and scurried off. Hunnybear and I had a nice lox platter with a bialy and Arnie and Gary each had good-looking omelets.

We bid farewell to Gary and then Arnie drove us 20 minutes to the airport. It was a teary goodbye when we realized not only wouldn’t we see Arnie for several weeks, but he had also saved us the cost of a rental car. We wheeled up the escalator to gate A13 for the America West flight to Las Vegas.

There was somewhat of a mob scene at the end of Terminal A because many of the flights, including ours, were delayed. The agents were very nice and put us on the standby lists for both the earlier flight to Vegas and the First Class cabin of our delayed flight but alas neither one of them cleared and they had to take volunteers at $500 a pop to find seats for all the confirmed passengers. Finally our flight boarded an hour late. We had two middle seats in adjacent rows in the 757. Hunnybear sat in front of me, turned around in her seat on her knees, and asked each of our four neighbors as they arrived if they would not be more comfortable in the middle seat. The fourth one relented and offered to let us sit together. I thanked him profusely and assured him good karma would return to him at the craps table. I also confided in him the location of the one machine in Vegas that I always walked away from with $100 or more.

Although we were in economy I had the best seat in the house, the one next to Hunnybear, and the service was smiling. We got bottled water and peanuts. United serves cheap KrapSnax™ instead of peanuts because the allergies but I guess those people don’t fly America West. The flight was under an hour and we practiced video poker using Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker for the short duration. Before we knew it we were on the ground in the greatest city in the world.

The limo driver was waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator to baggage claim so we took the escalator down to Ground Zero and waited while she pulled the old black stretch Lincoln around. As we waited we saw a stunningly gorgeous blonde limo driver wearing a $3500 Donna Karan chauffeur’s uniform and stiletto heels walking toward us. “Who do you have to be to get her to drive you?” Hunnybear and I asked each other. As we climbed into the limo we found out: you have to be John Malkovich, because there he came, wearing a worn brown leather bomber jacket and black beret, following the blonde back to the car.

Our own driver sped us to MGM Grand. I gave her a generous tip and we wheeled into the VIP lounge for checkin. After my prodigious action last trip my host said he’d try to get us a “little nicer” room this time—nicer than the two-room suite on the 27th floor we had then. He came through in spades. For the first time we stayed in the penthouse, in a two-level suite with sunken living room, bar, projection TV, and bedroom loft with the same huge whirlpool tub as last time. An enormous gift basket sat on the coffee table and a bowl of tropical fruit rested on the bar next to a large flower arrangement. The 29th-floor lobby had a 24-hour concierge desk, a food and drink spread, and complimentary newspapers. We wondered if we would ever leave the room.

There was, however, no video poker in the room and Hunnybear had booked a spa treatment so we both went downstairs. My favorite machine was open so I started playing with the modest amount of cash I had brought with me before digging into my credit line. I had played for 90 minutes and was down to $25 when I held the 10, King, and Ace of Hearts and the lovely Jack and Queen popped into view. A Royal Flush—what a great way to start the trip! I gave generous tips to the slot attendant, waitress, and even the housekeeping lady who was always hanging around hoping for some lagniappe when the big one hit.

My host had scored VIP seats to the Bill Gates keynote address tonight as it was in the MGM Grand Arena so I had called Shaun to tell him he and Christine should join us. He showed up a few minutes after I hit the Royal and we made arrangements for tonight. Then I hit another small jackpot and went to play the adjacent machine while I was waiting to be paid and hit a jackpot on that one too! Hunnybear arrived while both machines were flashing jackpot and squealed with delight before I even told her about the Royal.

We invited Shaun and Christine up to the penthouse for drinks and hors d’oeuvres prior to the keynote. The concierge, pronounced “con-see-AIR” by the faux-classy casino workers, had set out a spread of yummy shrimp so we took a bunch back to the suite to munch on. I made myself a Manhattan with Crown Royal and sweet vermouth. There were no Angostura bitters, which I could live with, but there were also no maraschino cherries. “Who’s in charge of the maraschino cherries?” I boomed out. One of the con-see-AIRS asked if I would like some cherries. I picked up the bottle of sweet vermouth and pointed at it. “The only purpose of this sweet vermouth is to make a Manhattan, yet a Manhattan requires a maraschino cherry,” I said. “I want cherries here by the time I get back.” Yes sir! “No, just kidding,” I said. “But it would be nice if we had some at some point, like maybe tomorrow.” She assured me there would be cherries there in short order.

We ate the shrimp and then headed down for the Bill Gates keynote. Our seats were about 20% of the way back, in the front row on the side across from the media VIP seats. Hunnybear and I drifted to the front to see if we knew any of the Microsoft employees there and I saw Microsoft president Steve Ballmer wave at me so I went over and said hi. He was always one of my favorite people at Microsoft, a big, genial, hard-working, enthusiastic and of course smart guy whom Bill met at Harvard. In the early days Bill decided the company needed some management and Steve was managing the Harvard football team so he was the natural choice. I kidded him about having to get my seats through the casino.

Bill gave an incredible talk, laden with technical details and the first public demos of three new Microsoft products. A very appreciative audience sat attentively through the address, which went 45 minutes over its allotted hour. I always find it amazing how people can really believe that Bill is all marketing and no technical brilliance, or that Microsoft never innovated anything, when the contrast with reality is so apparent from even the smallest interaction with Bill. I wished I had bought more stock when it was down to 50.

We had reservations at Mark Miller’s Coyote Grill for 8:30 but by the time we swam through the sea of humanity pouring out of the keynote it was nine. It didn’t matter because they had lost our reservations but they quickly seated us anyway. We had another phenomenal meal although the kitchen was slow tonight. I tried the Muscovy Duck with mole sauce, a superb cut and preparation. Ronnie, the busboy from last time, remembered me and brought plate after plate of the Serrano cornbread mini-muffins. Shaun had a nice-looking glazed chicken while Hunnybear had lamb chops and Kristine ate a Black Angus fillet. We had bottled water but I decided it was exactly the same water as the free filtered tap water so from now on I resolved to get the free water even if it was comped. As a rule I don’t eat dessert so I passed but Shaun had vanilla crepes and Kristine tried the chocolate spoon bread at my suggestion. Dinner came to $168 for the four of us, inexpensive since we didn’t get wine, and I signed it into oblivion while Shaun got the tip.

Meanwhile Tony and the rest of the crew from www.xdrive.com had arrived and were playing blackjack at Paris. I was too exhausted to join them so we set up a limo to pick them up tomorrow morning and go see the show. When we returned to the room we found a gift box of handmade truffles so we ate just a couple. Hunnybear and I gave up trying to turn off all the lights in the living room and just shut the door and the blinds in the loft and went to sleep.


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I hope you enjoy my Lion Tales. For photos, past travelogues, subscriptions, and more, see www.liontales.com
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Old Nov 13, 00, 9:03 am   #6
 
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<<United serves cheap KrapSnax">>

US Airways serves the same brand -- those KrapSnax people must have a great sales force
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Old Nov 13, 00, 7:34 pm   #7
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Congrats to Arnie on winning his delicious bet, and I"m glad that you Lion and your sweetie Honeybear could share his victory.

MileCrazy has mroe steak paying to do. He also OWES ME ONE BIG TIME AND POSSIBLE TWO!!!

Can't wait for payback in Vegas.

Folks: what is the best steakhouse in Vegas??? I think I want to do something different from Ruth's.
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Old Nov 14, 00, 8:19 am   #8
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All hands on Comdex

The wakeup call came on schedule and room service brought us a couple orders of that great MGM lox and two bagels which we enjoyed while we dressed for the day’s activities. We had arranged to have the gold MGM limo meet us at 7:50 a.m. to take us to the convention center for Comdex. We stopped at Paris to pick up Tony and Tim and brought along the remainder of the truffles for breakfast for them. We had the limo drop us at the Las Vegas Hilton so we could see the morning keynote by Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She opened the speech by acknowledging HP’s poor earnings results for the quarter that had sent the market into a tailspin this morning and then proceeded to outline her vision for the future of technology in vague generalities worthy of an address to the Democratic National Convention.

After she was done we called our brokers to short HP stock then mounted an assault on the exhibit floor. Microsoft had the most enormous booth I had ever seen surrounded by seemingly endless partner exhibits. We wandered around looking for freebies and hit paydirt at the giant booth of a Japanese manufacturing company that had a video slot machine you could play to win prizes. Hunnybear won a twin-dial watch and I won a toy electronic violin. We wandered around some more, taking in only a fraction of the exhibits, then called the limo to return us to MGM Grand.

I played some video poker while Hunnybear rested. She came down to watch me a bit later and no sooner had she stepped away from the machine to get herself a cup of tea than I held the Jack and King of Clubs and drew the rest of the Royal family! Not expecting a hit on a three-card draw, I let out a whoop. Two Royals in two days! That gave me a nice cushion for the rest of the trip for sure. Historically I had been hitting the Royal early and then losing back more than it was worth but it would be tough to lose back this much in a couple days. Knock wood. I tried to call Arnie, who requires me to inform him when I hit a Royal, but his cell phone was in the penalty box every time I tried so he’d have to read about it here.

Tony, Tim, and his Christine (not to be confused with Shaun’s Christine) met us shortly thereafter and we went to Emeril’s for a lobster lunch. My slot host, who had been reading Lion Tales and therefore knew every problem I had been having even without my complaining to him, double- and triple-checked all our restaurant reservations so everything was in order. He asked if we had made the reservations through the con-see-AIR and I smiled and said yes. We sat in the café, which I actually like better than the restaurant for atmosphere, and had several yummy chilled lobsters that were just as good as last time. As a rule I don’t eat dessert but I had just a couple bites of Tony’s banana cream pie before signing the check.

After lunch we played a bit of Pai Gow Poker and I got hoovered but not enough to make a dent in my Royals. Tony went back to the hotel to change so I went back to the machine in search of Royal #3 but instead lost a bunch. The gang met us for drinks up in the penthouse and the con-see-AIR dug up some maraschino cherries for Manhattans. The butler even found a bottle of Angostura bitters for us. We showed Tony, Tim, and Christine the suite and then headed down for dinner at Brown Derby.

For starters we all had Cobb Salad, sharing three among the six of us. I tried the osso buco at our waiter’s recommendation. Served with morel sauce, it was the best I’d ever had and a huge portion. Hunnybear’s rack of lamb was inordinately fatty but she worked around it and the waiter took it off the bill as if that mattered. Tim and Christine shared the chateaubriand while Tony had filet mignon and coworker Damien, joining us, had the huge porterhouse. We had a few bottles of a nice Chianti to accompany and it all went down well.

Hunnybear went up to bed but Tony, Tim and I returned to the Pai Gow Poker tables after dinner and I recovered most of my losses. Uncharacteristically, I outlasted Tony, who retired early for a morning flight. I finally left Tim to fight the good fight alone and headed up to the penthouse and got a few hours’ sleep.


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I hope you enjoy my Lion Tales. For photos, past travelogues, subscriptions, and more, see www.liontales.com
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Old Nov 14, 00, 2:37 pm   #9
 
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I saw Rita Rudner last night, she and her dog live on the same floor as our room was on. Cute dog, but doesn't rank as high as Malkovich.

I've decided that I need my own personal concierge to bring me cherries for my Manhattan when I am feeling whimsical. Hmm.
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Old Nov 15, 00, 9:04 am   #10
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“I’ve grown accustomed to your face cards”

I got up at four to do a six-mile run up and down the Strip. No, just kidding. I slept while Hunnybear got up early to take her America West flight home to LA and then went down to the casino to play video poker. A smoking lady was hogging my machine and the one next to it preventing me from hogging them so I sat down at the remaining Triple Play and proceeded to get the Tuesday-morning wallet cleaning as I munched on a room-service bagel and lox Just as I was fed up she got up to leave and I grabbed the machine that had been very very good to me. I sensed she had one more Royal left in her and sure enough within an hour I had another three-card draw hit, Hearts this time. Gambling is so much fun when you win. I had terrible luck thereafter and put all that Royal back into the machine but still had a big cushion from the earlier ones.

I sensed the streak was over at that machine and went over to the new video-poker area to play some five-play Deuces Wild for lower stakes while I waited for Shaun and Christine to join me. I hit ducks twice and cashed out for a tidy profit. My host had procured primo seats to Penn and Teller, my all-time favorite Vegas act. While we waited we swing by the VIP lounge to have just one petit four and then Shaun fed his gambling habit by losing $2.75 in the slots. We played one of the video slots that advertises 101% return if you hold the right symbols. Trouble is, the strategy is a secret and there’s no easy way to figure out which reels to hold so he lost. I played $10 in it and hit a bonus for a profit of $6.75. By then it was time for the show so we headed into the Hollywood Theater.

We laughed our heads off and got a photo of all of us with Penn. Dinner was at Dragon Court. We were 20 minutes late for our last-seating reservation but all of us wanted speed so we didn’t mind when the waitress rushed us through dinner. We had a mu shu pork appetizer, a delicious sweet-and-sour steak, a delicious stir-fried chicken dish, and assorted vegetables. The whole bill was $68. I was exhausted so I hugged Shaun and Christine goodbye and headed up to bed as they braved the cold skybridge to their hotel across the street.


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I hope you enjoy my Lion Tales. For photos, past travelogues, subscriptions, and more, see www.liontales.com

[This message has been edited by QuietLion (edited 11-15-2000).]
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Old Nov 15, 00, 3:15 pm   #11
 
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As always QL:
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Old Nov 16, 00, 10:48 am   #12
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Walkabout

I decided not to play the five-play machine today because in the past I had always lost heavily on the last day of my trip so instead I played some at the bank of progressive Bonus Poker machines where the jackpot had been working its way up to a pretty good level. I had been holding my own for about an hour and a half when a guy who just sat down 45 minutes ago hit the Royal. I congratulated him and cashed out. Then I went over to the bank of new machines—now dubbed the Duck Pond by me—to play some five-play Deuces. Once again I had great luck, being dealt a Wild Royal and a Five of a Kind but no ducks despite two and one-half hours of trying. Nevertheless I cashed out for slightly more than I had lost at the progressives earlier, putting me up $50 for the day. I decided it was time for lunch.

I sat at the raw bar at Emeril’s and got the last pound of yummy stone crabs ($26). It was a gorgeous afternoon so I decided to take a walk and check out the video poker at Aladdin and Venetian. Aladdin had demolished the sidewalk in front of the hotel and constructed a winding path up and down stairs that pedestrians passing by were forced to take. I went in and looked at the high-limit area. There was no one playing. They had put in the 9/6 Jacks or Better, missing when they opened the joint, but without an attractive slot club to go with it they weren’t going to take customers away from MGM or Venetian. The rest of the games were all worse odds. I went up to the London Club and saw they had put in one double-deck game with a $100 minimum that actually had someone playing it. The eight-deck games, as usual, sat empty. The more decks they use, the worse odds for the player because it becomes less and less likely that you’ll get Blackjack.

I vamoosed out of that place and strolled up to Venetian. Next to Bellagio, this was the classiest place in town. I found the high-limit room and sat down at a similar machine to the one I played at MGM. I only had an hour to play so I figured I couldn’t lose too much but the controls were set to full hoover and I quickly lost most of the cash I had with me playing Jacks or Better. I was dealt garbage hand after garbage hand when suddenly—boom! Four Deuces and the King of Hearts stared me in the face. I held the Deuces and soon I was hearing that good ol’ IGT jackpot music. Too bad I didn’t get the Deuces dealt on the five-play Deuces Wild machine I was playing earlier—that pays more than a Royal! But it was still a nice win that erased my previous losses and put me ahead for the afternoon. While I was waiting for the handpay I decided to press my luck and try one pull in the $100 machine. I got garbage and lost. So much for that.

The words of the Compmeister echoing in my head—“Get out of town now with your winnings!”—I played a few more hands on the five-play and then cashed out ahead by a bit. The legendary Armenian developer Kirk Kerkorian ran MGM and many of the employees there had Armenian names ending in “ian.” Sheldon Adelson, on the other hand, controlled Venetian, so I smiled wryly when a supervisor with the stereotypically Jewish name Mo Greenberg came over to cash me out. I resisted the temptation to blame him for sinking the Titanic and instead asked him how I went about getting my Gold card with their players club. Mo introduced me to a very nice slot host there who said they would love to have my business and would even comp me to a gourmet meal now if I wanted. I couldn’t take him up on his kind offer because I had just eaten and besides I had a flight to catch so I thanked him, accepted a pair of attractive Gold Club cards, and headed back to MGM.

I had time so I walked back for the exercise and to enjoy the cool desert day. I passed a guy in a dark suit with a colorful nametag that said “Doug” so I said, “Hi Doug!” and watched his mouth pulsate fishlike and his eyes cross as he tried to figure out who I was. I arrived back at MGM, grabbed a petit four from the spread on the 29th floor, and packed reluctantly. There was yet another box of chocolates set out so I packed it along with the box of Grand Format Canadian Smarties Shaun had given me for Hunnybear. Canadian Smarties are completely different from American ones. They have chocolate instead of sugar under the candy coating! And American ones never come in the Grand Format, my favorite format.

I checked out with the penthouse concierge and had her give the limo driver dispatcher a heads-up that I was on my way. The driver was waiting for me and whisked me to the airport. I asked him if Comdex attendees were good tippers and he said not really. On a $35 charge they tip exactly $7. And when the services are contracted by a company a 15% tip is written into the contract, which is even less. I had been tipping $5 for average service and $10 for better, so I guess that was considered OK. He let me off at Ground Zero and I resisted the temptation to give him exactly $7.

I had a full-fare First Class ticket on National so I went to their club lounge to check in. An unrestricted coach ticket cost $89.50 one way. Upgrading to F cost another $60 but did not include use of the club. For $204.50 you got it all. Since it was Comdex I didn’t want to take the chance of First Class being full so I spent the extra $55 and got a reserved seat.

The lounge was excellent with a full bar, wide array of snacks including low-carb salami and cheese sticks, expensive mixed nuts, a big TV, and a separate room with Internet terminal. There was only one employee and three guests. She offered to make me a drink but since she was primarily there for my safety she had no clue how to make a drink so I showed her how to make a Manhattan. I checked FlyerTalk to see if anyone had been commenting on my Lion Tales and then checked email. Boarding was delayed about a half-hour so I showed her how to make another Manhattan.

Once again National’s short-hop service was on a par with United’s international First Class. They skipped the hot towel this time but we still got preflight drinks in glasses, mixed nuts, cheese, crackers, and raisin compote, leather seats, attentive service, and a 757. We docked at gate 61 15 minutes late and Hunnybear called to say she was waiting for me in the secret place. We stopped by Jerry’s Deli (NASDAQ: DELI) for a Reuben and chicken soup and headed home.

The end.


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I hope you enjoy my Lion Tales. For photos, past travelogues, subscriptions, and more, see www.liontales.com
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Old Nov 16, 00, 11:27 am   #13
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: MYR
Posts: 255
My least favorite part of the trips:
Quote:
The end.
Waiting for the next Lion Tale!
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Thanks!

Sean
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