A few thoughts on my time away from home:
Whatever Rat-Packian cool Vegas used to exude is long since dead -- crushed under the weight of one 800-pound, wheelchair-bound woman or another straddling a slot machine for days at a time, then disgracefully dumped into the street by a limo-full of striped-shirted idiots hopped-up on blow and Red Bull & Vodkas. While it stands as a useful Mecca of gruesome American mythology, it's still basically South Beach without the beach -- and that's not a good thing.
As for me, I wound up spending most of my time inside a cheap Hilton -- which I guess is what most men do when they come to Vegas these days.
Want a Shooter with That?
In keeping with Vegas's reputation for providing visitors the opportunity to indulge in any and all vices, the city is home to a gun shop that rents fully-automatic weapons. Needless to say, there was no way I could pass up a chance to test fire an HK MP-5 -- the preferred weapon of the British SAS. By the time I had burned through two clips, it was clear that, A) something like that really would've come in handy when dealing with the aforementioned striped-shirted idiots, and B) the shooting skills my father taught me years ago haven't softened much; I have the paper target riddled with clusters of head and body shots to prove it. Boo-ya.
But then again...
Conventional Wisdom, or Lack Thereof
It was a massive business convention being put together by my wife which dragged the both of us to Vegas in the first place. To her credit, she somehow managed to keep a smile on her face and a spring in her step, despite having to sometimes deal with a veritable tsunami of imbeciles from around the world.
One encounter which she relayed to me stands out:
On the last day of the convention, as Jayne was standing at her booth offering leftover bags of potato chips and such to delegates, she was approached by two men. Upon being informed of the free vittles, their eyes lit up and one of them immediately muscled past my wife and began greedily scraping bag after bag of chips off the table and into his waiting tote. As he did this, the other man -- who had now identified himself and his snack-deprived partner as convention delegates from Oklahoma -- attempted to deflect Jayne's attention away from the surreal feeding-frenzy by striking up a conversation with her; an action that, as far as he's concerned, apparently involves making a presumptuous and insulting comment about someone's home city, which in this case just happened to be displayed on the badge of the person with whom he was speaking.
"So, you're from New York; that's where all those liberals are?"
Keep in mind -- it's my wife's job to be nice.
"Well, there are all kinds there really," she responded.
"A lot of Muslims there, huh?"
Also keep in mind -- as he's saying this, his friend is bent over the table directly behind Jayne, grabbing all the snacks he can get his hands on. Did I mention incidentally that both men are fat enough to be lost moons of Jupiter?
The talking chimp continues:
"Man, all them Muslims need to be rounded up and sent home. Get 'em out of America."
Now, Jayne's just about done.
"With all due respect, I have several Muslim friends -- and their home is right here."
"Oh yeah? That sounds like a New Yorker. I've got some friends in New York and they say the same thing. I always tell 'em, 'You just wait til you see that big flash of light -- then you're gonna be sorry you argued with me.'"
"I take it Christians are okay though, right?"
At this impertinence, Snack-boy's ears prick up and he stops shoveling crap into his bag. He once again hectors his way past Jayne and joins his friend's side.
"What did you say?" he asks, with equal parts astonishment and defiance.
"Christians have caused violence for centuries; they still bomb abortion clinics to this day."
Fat-ass #1 -- the guy who initially started this pleasant conversation -- immediately feels the need to identify his friend.
"You should know that this man is a Baptist minister, and he preaches about the dangers of Muslims at church every Sunday."
And now, having been properly introduced, the minister speaks authoritatively.
"Christians bombing abortion clinics is different."
Having been vindicated by ignorance and stupidity, my wife pisses on the proverbial fire and calls in the proverbial dogs.
"Sure thing. You gentlemen have a nice day -- enjoy those snacks."
I have no doubt that those two walked away thinking that my wife was the biggest heathen bitch on the planet and would pay for her uppity insolence with her very soul -- which is why I love her more than anything.
Meanwhile, on TV...
I've made it abundantly clear that I'm not a fan of what passes for television news these days, particularly at the local level. (Every market in America boasts a "Problem-Solvers," an "Eyewitness News," a station which claims to be "On Your Side," and one whose "Coverage You Can Count On"). Given this rather cynical appraisal of the business, it's strange that I still find myself drawn to the television whenever I travel -- especially right around the time-slots usually inhabited by local news. It'd be easy and somewhat forgivable to claim that I'm powerless against the hypnotically awful onslaught of Rod Hodgson, Tracy Takamura-Velez-Gonzalez, Flip Skipwell with Doppler/Viper-700,000 Weather, and Bobby Turdwarden, now 37 days sober, with All-Cliche' Sports; unfortunately, that would do little to justify the outrage that invariably ulcerates my stomach about ten minutes into each broadcast I choose to endure.
Here's the thing though -- there's no denying that the outrage stems from a sense of disappointment, which would mean that my expectations aren't being met, which would mean that I have expectations in the first place, which would mean that I haven't entirely given up hope on local news.
Which brings me to KLAS Morning News Anchor Dave McCann.
When I first saw this guy, my thought was, "Holy fucking shit -- why in God's name did they put somebody who's obviously on Klonopin on a morning news show?" McCann's near-comatose manner could easily serve as Vegas's official snooze button, leaving an entire population plunked quickly and unsuspectingly into thousands of bowls of Corn Flakes at the slightest hint of his dull monotone. He's bland to the point of being practically non-existent. He's the fucking Sandman.
Yet, the longer I watched Dynamic Dave -- while valiantly fighting off the overwhelming desire to go back to sleep -- the more I started to realize that something utterly subversive was lurking behind those vacant eyes; it was this realization that made Dave McCann my new hero.
A quick scan of Dave's bio on the KLAS website tells you that he's been at the station for 15 years -- an unimaginable tenure in local news. He was born in Orem, Utah and is the oldest of 10 children. He has 5 kids of his own. He went to BYU. He's a Mormon (as if that needs to be stated outright).
All of this immediately makes him suspect, simply because no one on earth can possibly be that boring.
My theory: Dave McCann is either a serial killer hiding in plain sight -- taunting the police with every word he utters on-air, or, more likely, he's a performance artist of unmatched caliber who's pulling the most impressive practical joke in history.
There is a third possibility -- one that Dave's own stoic persona seems to hint at if you watch him long enough.
He's just given up. He's a guy who's been at the same station for 15 years and now cries himself to sleep every night knowing that the following morning he'll once again be stuck making trite segues to traffic and interviewing a woman who won a walk-on role on The Guiding Light.
Regardless, Dave McCann is my new favorite person in television news.
But on to L.A....
Jayne and I rented a 2007 Miata and drove it from Vegas to L.A.
The car was seriously one of our favorite parts of the entire vacation.
Speaking of cars...
I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Idiots
The last time I was in South Florida, Anna Nicole Smith died there.
Last week, while I was in Los Angeles, Lindsay Lohan drove her car into a tree and wound up in rehab and Charles Nelson-Reilly, literally, flamed out.
Coincidence? I think not.
There Are Many Copies, and They Have a Tan
Jayne cleverly pointed out that, as with the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica, there are really only 12 models of Angelino -- with each person representing only a slight variation on one of a dozen possible themes.
I'd tell you what the models are, but really, why spoil the surprise ending?