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Getting Value In Las Vegas

June 20th, 2018 by

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It is not a cheap trip anymore. It used to be going to Las Vegas was a very inexpensive and cheap trip. You could get a very expensive room for a very cheap rate, and eat good food for very little. Unfortunately as Las Vegas began to evolve into a world class playground, and destination, the cheap Las Vegas left the strip. Downtown is still one area where you can stay cheaply as well as eat cheaply, some of the more off strip and local resorts still have great bargains. The Las Vegas strip is no longer a place for the cheapskate. So, one has to get the most value for their money.

One thing anyone going to Las Vegas needs to be aware of is RESORT FEES. I bolded and capitalized this, because it is very important to understand, the resort fees can double the costs of the room if you are trying to stay cheaply. Stratosphere, Circus Circus, and Excalibur have some of the least expensive rooms on the strip, but they all charge a resort fee. You could get a $30 a night room in any of these hotels, but their resort fees are also $30 a night. This means you will pay $60 a night before taxes on the room. The advertised price of the room comes with the caveat that it does not include resort fee, and the resort fee is in fine print. This does not mean you cannot get good value for your money. The resort fee is fixed, so no matter what type of room you get, you pay the same resort fee. I have often used this to my advantage.

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I enjoy luxuries, since I have been to Las Vegas nearly twenty times, I tend to spend time in my hotel room. If you are going for the first time, after walking the strip a nice room is good to come to. If you are a gambler, then it does not matter. Las Vegas offers a variety of rooms at a variety of prices. I have stayed in a variety of places and at various levels of comfort. My top ten list also has some information in regards to how I feel about the various hotels I have stayed in, and there are some really nice off strip resorts to stay in. Some of the off strip properties do charge resort fees, so check their website and fine print. Using various travel resources to get around Las Vegas, one can get good value for their money.

When I go to Las Vegas, I start with researching the time I want to go. Usually I will pick a target date, then look at a comparative website, like Vegas.com. This gives me a good overall idea of pricing at that time. Some hotels will be vary high due to one reason or another. Then I will look at the week prior to my target time and the week after. If I find cheaper prices, I will change my target time.

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Then I will decide at what level of pricing I want to stay at. If a night at the Bellagio is $291 a night, and I have no objection to staying there at that price, then I begin to delve deeper into other hotels. I use the Bellagio as a benchmark, since it is one of the more expensive hotels on the strip. If I find the room rate out of line, in my opinion, I will then look at the Wynn and Venetian for pricing. Sometimes the price of a room can be high due to a convention or other event. In this case, if the price is higher than I will not be staying at that hotel. Don’t pay convention prices, unless your company is paying for it.

Since I have a benchmark, as stated, I will now look at other hotels in a lower price range. I have stayed in a suite at the MGM Grand for far less than a night in a standard Bellagio room. Not only was the suite more luxurious, the resort fee was less. Just because you are staying at one hotel does not mean you have to enjoy all the amenities or gamble at that hotel. If you want to gamble at the Bellagio, take the monorail down to Bally’s and walk to the Bellagio or you can walk to Monte Carlo (now called the Park) and ride the monorail to Bellagio. Though the MGM does have some very nice restaurants and a food court.

Eating in Las Vegas has become more expensive. Many buffets are moving to higher end cuisine and world cuisine, wonderful if you are a closeted foodie like myself. When I am on vacation or eating at an expensive restaurant, I take pictures of my food.

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McDonald’s used to be very abundant on the strip. Locations were in the food courts of Luxor, Excalibur, Monte Carlo (now called the Park), and MGM Grand. Due to a dispute, McDonald’s from these locations were removed. Now all the food courts have restaurants that charge about $10-$12 for a breakfast that could be purchased at McDonald’s for $6-$7. Restaurants, coffee shops and buffets are considerably more expensive. There is one McDonald’s across from Mandalay Bay, and one in the Harmon Retail Corner.

The food courts are a less expensive alternative to many in casino restaurants, most are now being co-opted by celebrity chefs who then jack the prices up a bit, and try to give you something for your money. There are a large variety of restaurants on the strip, from high to low end, so you have to search for the best value.

Shows used to be very inexpensive to see, there are still some very inexpensive shows, which harken back to the old days of vaudeville, but major shows that are broadway type shows, Circe shows or big budget magic shows will cost money. Downtown casinos have shows at better prices, but you have to way the costs of transportation against that.

Many of the free strip shows, like the old pirate show, are being closed down in favor of turning the space into pedestrian malls. The Bellagio Fountains are being eyed to be removed in the next decade and the space converted to an actual pedestrian mall. If you want a free attraction, walking south from Mandalay Bay about fifteen minutes to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Be careful crossing the street.

Las Vegas continually evolves, and that means catering to what a new generation wants. Gambling used to be a big money maker for resorts. People do not gamble as much these days, millennials are more about going to clubs. Because gambling is not as profitable, casinos raise the rates on tables and tighten slot payouts. If you want value for gambling, there are off strip casinos, and locals casinos like Sam’s Town, Boulder Station, Palace Station, Orleans, and Gold Coast, as well as downtown casinos. The casinos that cater to locals offer lower table limits, though the variety of gaming machines is not as large as strip casinos, and payouts might be smaller, you have better odds of winning.

Las Vegas is no longer a cheap place to go to, but if you play smart, do some research before hand, you can get great value for your money, and have a great time.

Thanks for stopping by.


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June 17th, 2018 by




Bother Fighter Buddy

June 13th, 2018 by

It has been a long time since I posted a Brady post, this one is spurred by my viewing of various episodes on Hulu, now that the Brady Bunch is available.

Peter Brady was the the overlooked middle child. Somewhat meek, mild mannered, and easily pushed around or persuaded by his older brother into doing things he probably did not want to do, like become a Sunflower Girl. Considering Greg was the athlete of the bunch, you might understand why.

Peter though would go out of his way to help Jan, be devil’s advocate for Marcia, and even though he often picked on Bobby, he would go to great lengths to help his younger brother. He had a heroic streak which caused him to save a young girl from being crushed by a shelf at Driscoll’s Toy Store, but also a very selfish aspect, which was high lighted by his taking advantage of the rewards given to him. Peter had a sketchy work ethic, even though he loved his job at Martinelli’s Bike Shop, he had no talent for the work. When Marcia hired him to work at Haskell’s Ice Cream Parlor, he lazed about and at ice cream, which caused Marcia to fire him. One thing Peter really had was a sense of nobility and compassion, which caused him to leap to Cindy’s aid when she was being tormented by the bully, Buddy Hinton.

Season 2, Episode 8, A Fistful of Reasons, which was a play on words of a popular Clint Eastwood western, A Fistful of Dollars, lead to Peter’s becoming the only Brady to actually get in a physical fight. Even in a later episode, it was hinted that Peter and Buddy would become perpetual nemesis locked in mortal combat.

The episode starts with a very weary and sad Cindy returning home from school. As she passes through the kitchen, Alice tries to address Cindy, but is snubbed. Cindy is followed to her room where she leaps to her bed, hugging her stuffed animal, and bursts out crying. The scene cuts to Carol entering the kitchen, Alice informs her of the snub, but they both blow it off to Cindy having something on her mind.

It is not until dinner time when all the children come down to eat, Mike exits his den commenting on a need for traffic lights. As Marcia comes down, Carol notices the absence of Jan and Cindy. Marcia states Jan is in the bathroom drying her hair. Eve Plumb was not in this episode. Marcia informs Carol and Mike that Cindy refuses to come down. This causes both concerned parents to go upstairs and find out why Cindy does not want to come to dinner. After talking to her, they find out she is distressed because the children at school are picking on her because of her lisp. Carol informs Cindy that she had a worse lisp in school. Both Mike and Carol say they will help Cindy get over her lisp after dinner. This buoys Cindy’s mood, and she runs down to dinner. Mike asks Carol if she really had a lisp in school, and she states that she did, it was really bad, because she was born in Saskatoon, Massachusetts, which does not exist. This gives the viewer insight into the past life of Carol. It is never addressed when she moved out to California, but it is presumedly because her parents either moved when she was young, and thus she had to come with or after her ex-husband’s demise. Her parents, like many Brady relatives, with the exception of Cousin Oliver, appeared only once, then were never seen again.

It is unclear how long Mike and Carol help Cindy with her anti-lisp training, presumedly it will take weeks, so Cindy either suffers weeks of torment or the children moved on. At the start of the episode, it is also presumed that the whole class or more than one child is tormenting Cindy.

Then Buddy Hinton is introduced. Cindy is walking home, and Buddy is lying in wait. He begins heckling Cindy, calling her “Baby Talk” and making up sing song attacks. Peter comes to Cindy’s defense. Buddy challenges Peter to a fight, but Peter backs down, he and Cindy leave while Buddy cat calls insults to both of them, calling Peter a chicken.

The scene cuts to the boy’s room where Cindy tries to console a distraught Peter. Bobby and Greg enter, and ask Cindy to leave, because they want to talk to Peter in private. It is Man’s Business they are going to deal in. Any boy knows what that means. Immediately Greg and Bobby inform Peter that Buddy is blabbing around school that Peter chickened out of a fight. Peter states he backed out, and did not want to fight. Being a chicken is worse than being a bully in the mind of boys. In the meantime, Mike returns home, Carol is distraught. She informs Mike that it has something to do with a bully, and school. Mike goes up to the boys room to address the situation. Greg offers to straighten Buddy out in regards to his teasing Cindy, but Mike puts the kibosh on it, and talks to Peter about reasoning with Buddy. Like reasoning with a bully ever worked.

The next day, Peter and Cindy walk home, Buddy accosts them. Peter tries to reason with Buddy. The whole reasoning philosophy is squashed in the next scene. Peter has a black eye, Carol is shocked that reasoning did not work, as Alice gives Peter a steak to put on his eye. It was Tiger’s dinner, the dog eats good, but a cold steak is really good on a black eye. Mike is upset, and decides to talk to Buddy’s father. Buddy’s father seems un-phased by the fact that his son punched Peter and is picking on Cindy. Children are children and get in fights, as well as pick on each other. This upsets Mike, and things appear to get heated. Mike and Mr. Hinton step up into each other’s face, but Mike backs down. Mike informs Carol that he will give permission to Peter to defend himself. Carol is shocked, and decides to reason with Mrs. Hinton, women do things different.

Mrs. Hinton turns out to be a feckless housewife under the thumb of her husband. Mrs. Hinton informs Carol that Mr. Hinton has strong opinions when it comes to raising boys. If she were to intervene, Mr. Hinton would tell her to butt out. There is even hints that Mr. Hinton might be physically and psychologically abusive. Carol is frustrated, goes back to Mike, and explains that Peter does need to defend himself. Carol is also exasperated that Mrs. Hinton is so dependent on her husband.

Mike goes to the boys and explains Peter can defend himself. Peter unfortunately is not as exited as Bobby and Greg. Peter confesses to his father that he does not know how to fight. Mike decides to train Peter. There is a Brady like training montage, not as dramatic as Rocky, but quaint.

As Peter trains to gain speed, strength, and actually learn to throw a punch, rather than take cheap shots at Greg, Cindy decides to train to lose her lisp. All the Brady’s are on board with helping, including Alice, who while cooking the family meal, trains Peter in boxing moves. Sometimes though, the help was more humiliation. When Peter was jumping rope, Marcia thought it was a game, and began the school girl rhymes girls learn while skipping rope. Peter walked away humiliated.

The time and length of training was unspecified, except the way the whole episode was edited, what should have been weeks, seemed to take place within a few days or the weekend. It was obvious that Cindy took the same walk home everyday, and Buddy lurked waiting to assail her. If Peter had been training, he either kept his mouth shut, and allowed himself and Cindy to be subjected to further torment or they chose a different all home.

Cindy and Peter have a brother and sister moment that leads the viewer to believe that both were walking into the fight on purpose. Cindy even invites friends along to witness the event. Buddy, undeterred by the volume of children, and obviously not realizing he might be set up, torments Cindy and Peter. Peter at first tries to reason, but Buddy continues to taunt him. Peter finally gives in to physical combat. Closing his eyes and throwing a punch, he knocks Buddy down. Within seconds Buddy is not only defeated, but humiliated, because Peter knocks his tooth loose, and it causes Buddy to lisp. Cindy not wanting to pass up a moment torments Buddy, the crowd laughs. Buddy runs off crying. Peter silences the crowd, and explains to Cindy, her tormenting Buddy was a wrong as him tormenting her.

In a form of television show symmetry and a way of apologies, Buddy shows up at the Brady residences asking to borrow Cindy’s tongue twister book. Since he now speaks with a lisp, and needs to relearn to speak. Did the Hinton family not have a dentist to go to? Was Peter’s punch that ferocious, that Buddy was somehow brain damaged?

This episode, as cheesy as it was, goes down as one of the better Brady episodes. It teaches strength of character, and nobility under adverse conditions. It also shows the futility of trying to reason with someone who uses intimidation as a way to achieve something, even if it is making themselves stronger.

Thanks for stopping by.


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June 10th, 2018 by

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Wayne’s World

June 6th, 2018 by

Sorry for missing last Wednesday’s post. The whole Memorial Day thing threw me off.

Another comedy I had been searching for, because I love to laugh, and I found at Half Price Books as a double feature. Wayne’s World is a good early 1990s comedy based on a Saturday Night Live skit.

Wayne Campbell, played by Mike Myers, is a college aged man whom is headed no where. What he has is a Public Access show titled, Wayne’s World, that is popular and based out of the basement of his parents home. With his buddy, Garth Algar, played by Dana Carvey, the two sort of half ass their way through life. Then things change for them dramatically.

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After shooting an episode of their show, Wayne and Garth go to a club with their friends. On stage is a band, the front woman is Cassandra, played by the smoking hot, gorgeous Tia Carrere. Wayne falls instantly in love, and is determined to make Cassandra his girlfriend.

Benjamin Oliver, played by Rob Lowe, is a high end advertising executive looking to keep a client, and diversify the advertising portfolio. Benjamin sees Wayne’s World on television when his latest female companion tunes into it, and finds it hilarious. Benjamin calls his assistant, and meets with his client to discuss sponsoring the show, which scores high in the demographic the client is trying to reach. After some convincing, Benjamin meets with Wayne and Garth, offering them money and opportunity. Unfortunately the contract has a hitch.

When Wayne and Garth are invited over to Benjamin’s apartment to celebrate, they bring Cassandra, and Benjamin sees her as another conquest. Except she really is genuinely liking Wayne. Benjamin decides to use his connections and get Cassandra a video shoot, and possible record deal.

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Wayne sees what is happening, becomes jealous, and also sees that control of his show is being lost. The sponsor of the show will be making a weekly appearance, and talk about his business. Wayne reacts childishly, and writes notes on the back of note cards, humiliating the sponsor. Chastised, Wayne leaves.

Wayne’s paranoia sets in, and he begins to fear losing Cassandra. So, Wayne hatches a plan to get Cassandra a big record deal with a major record producer.

The movie is funny, and does not push into R territory, though there is a lot of innuendo. By the 1990s, teen comedies were moving back into PG-13 levels. Mike Myers of course is a master of innuendo and basic skit comedy, and Wayne’s World launched him into becoming the king of comedy for the 1990s.

The following night I watched Wayne’s World 2, the other disk in the double feature. Though not as good as the first, and a sort of continuation, it was not as bad as other comedy sequels.

Thanks for stopping by.



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