Wed Feb 13, 2013, 09:50 AM
mgc1961 (1,261 posts)
An American Pie
Last edited Thu Aug 1, 2013, 04:18 PM - Edit history (4)
A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And, I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance, and...
Maybe they'd be happy for a while
But, February made me shiver with every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep - I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside the day the music died - Don McLean
Denise and I took some of our 2013 vacation time this past week. Our first of the year. Denise had slightly more off-time than I did though because a nagging back injury flared up the previous week causing her to stay home a few days and perform some physical therapy.
On Wednesday she suggested we go to Las Vegas for a few days, even if it's just to look on a new horizon.
"Ok, let's go," I responded. "How about Friday?"
Neither of us are gamblers and it's been quite some time since either of us visited Las Vegas. We, my biological family, passed through there on one our cross country summer trips (c. 1968). I went again for a couple of days in the early 90s. It would be Denise's third trip too, one which I hope surpasses the significance of her first visit in 1972 from which she saved several items including the menu.
Denise's was all about the King when she was 22 years old. No, not Phillip or Charles. The King as in Elvis. She was/is a fan and she was determined to see him perform live. She did that and then some when she traveled to Las Vegas almost 41 years ago to the day to see him perform at the International. Not content to just be in the building, she spoke to the maitre de about getting a seat closer to the stage. The lights dimmed, Denise passed him a $20 dollar bill and he moved her to the front row. Wait...it gets better. Elvis, never one to pass up an opportunity to kiss a pretty young woman, chose Denise on that night. She'll never forget. I asked her while we were watching a film of one of Elvis' '72 performances in a mall store what she would give to have a copy of that moment. She was silent, but I know.
Later, the International would achieve some notoriety during a convention of Navy pilots.
After researching several of the hotels and speaking to several people I know who are familiar with the field I convinced her to stay at the Venetian. I knew, of course, this idea would greatly appeal to the issue of the New York Spallone's and Salzano's.
"What about the Trump..." she began to ask.
"No!" I interrupted. "He may get money from me through a third or fourth party, but he'll not get it straight from my hand."
So that was the plan. Three nights in 22-124, a room with a view and quite a room at that. Though not quite as nice as the MacDonald Holyrood in Edinburgh it was certainly equal to the upgraded room in which we stayed in Cozumel. It has two levels. One for the bathroom and bed. On the second level, one step down, was the couch, t.v., and a desk with fax machine for visitors whose stay was not exclusively play.
The sun was still up when we arrived in Las Vegas. We unpacked and spent the after wandering around the enormous complex, half lost for most of that time. It's really quite spectacular. The ceilings are decorated much like those a visitor to Italy will see at the Sistine Chapel, for example. Plus, there's an indoor mall with a facade that well resembles what a visitor to St. Mark's Square in Venice would see. They even have a water filled canal complete with gondolas.
During our stay, the hotel was decked out for the Chinese New Year celebration on Sunday, February 10th. It's the year of the snake. The entry hall between the check-in desk to the casino was lined with orange trees and their indoor waterfall was decorated with red and gold lanterns.
"As with all cultures, Chinese New Year traditions incorporate elements that are symbolic of deeper meaning. One common example of Chinese New Year symbolism is the red diamond-shaped fú characters (Chinese: 福, Cantonese and Hakka: fook, literally "blessings, happiness"), which are displayed on the entrances of Chinese homes. This sign is usually seen hanging upside down, since the Chinese word 倒 (dào) "upside down", is homophonous or nearly homophonous with 到 (dào) "arrive" in all varieties of Chinese. Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
For the Cantonese-speaking people, if the fook sign is hung upside down, the implied 倒 "upside down" sounds like the Cantonese word for "pour", producing "pour the luck ", which would usually symbolize bad luck; this is why the fook character is not usually hung upside-down in Cantonese communities.
Red is the predominant color used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and this color also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are coloured red. The sound of the Chinese word for “red” ( 紅, hóng) is “hong” in Mandarin (Hakka: Fung; Cantonese: Hoong) which also means “prosperous.” Therefore, red is an auspicious colour and has an auspicious sound."
Our first night there was the only night we ate dinner. We had a meal and a couple of good margaritas at Taqueria Canonita, Mexico City soul food.
We got up early on Saturday because we had several business stops to makes. After breakfast at Tintoretto's we went to the hotel entrance to get a cab to the licensing office before making hotel arrangements for Sunday. The ride was a short one and our task took about 10 minutes to complete. Then back to the hotel to see the concierge.
The cab ride back was a memorable one. Our driver's name was Archimedes Rufo. Yes, Archimedes! What a cool name. He said he was from the Philippines. His mother was from Hawaii, I think from Filipino stock. His father, who obviously gave him his name, was a Sicilian of Greek heritage.
Upon returning to the hotel. We made a stop stop at the hotel wedding office to see what arrangements we could make before returning to Nashville on Monday. Brandy said it's an off time of year for weddings so they need only a few hours advance notice.
"Great, we'd like to arrange a service for tomorrow at 2 p.m."
While Brandy was completing some paperwork she introduced us to Pastor Jack who does quite a few of the weddings at the Venetian and Bellagio. Jack Williams moved to Las Vegas from his small Lutheran church in Nebraska about 10 years ago.
"My salary in Nebraska doesn't go nearly as far here in Las Vegas so I come here to supplement my income," said Jack.
"I understand, from the looks of things thus far living or visiting Las Vegas is not an inexpensive endeavor despite the fact that we don't gamble." I said.
I was happy to get the chance to speak to Jack. I told him that I wasn't wild about having the service completed by a total stranger regardless of my agnosticism and he put me at ease. I suppose it was an opportunity for him too to speak to us about our long history so he feel like he was doing the right thing in marrying a couple he'd just met.
After our arrangements were completed, we watched a Dragon dance through the lobby while we made our way to Ben Gioielli & Co. to find a wedding band for me. Denise bought a new setting for an old stone. Then it was up to room for a relaxing evening and an early bed time.
In a previous post I wrote that I'd seen three of the Academy nominated films. The resort offered new films on one of the three flat screen televisions in the room. Here was my chance to see Argo, a movie I attempted to see in Nashville on Wednesday, but missed the beginning due to a change of the start time by about 40 minutes.
My review of the movie is this: I like it. It has a gritty documentary feel to it that Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Zero Dark 30 can't match. It's more sharply focused than the Lincoln film which is really about much more than the 16th President and his small band of rivals.
The primary difference for me between these two movies is, as Yann Martel might say, dreaming and remembering. Dreaming in the sense that the events of Lincoln's time are not those of my own. Whereas the events depicted in Argo are aligned with personal memories of the 15 months during which the hostages were held by Iran. As the movie progressed, I slowly remembered the widespread public flag waving and general belligerence many felt toward Iran during that time and, for that matter, the imported Japanese cars that were being smashed with sledge hammers for $5 dollars a go because they were considered a threat to manufacturing jobs. Both of those endeavors seemed about as productive as poop eating baboons.
I also remembered the warm feeling I felt toward our northern neighbors when six of the U.S. embassy staff were rescued with their assistance, but mostly what I recall are the really important things like chasing down those dastardly imaginative Russian Olympic runners during my afternoon training sessions. Keeping my 1964 Ford Fairlane with the worn tie rods and leaky power-steering reservoir on the road. My girlfriend. Listening to Casey Kasem's American Top 40 countdown to see how my favorite musicians recent releases were being received. The singular event from this era that leaps to my mind was the murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman 43 days before the release of the hostages and three weeks after the release of his Double Fantasy album on 17 November 1980. Of particular note are the touching songs Watching The Wheels, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), and Woman.
Having seen 4 of the Academy nominated films I still favor the Lincoln dream and Daniel Day-Lewis for best male actor in a leading role.
On Sunday morning we rose early. We went to Tinoretto's for some breakfast and then returned to the room were I ironed my shirt while Denise dressed. I wasn't pleased with the tie I brought because it was a little too dark so we left early to make a stop at Andrew's Tie's were I found a very nice Italian-made tie that provided more color and better coordinated with Denise's purple dress.
We were at the designated rendezvous site early. Matt Bailey, the photographer arrived a few minutes later followed by Jack and Brandy. We spent several minutes chatting while Jack completed some paperwork and then walked over to the Grand Canal were we boarded the number 9 gondola piloted by Georgio. It's a white gondola with gold trim and red seat cushions that's reserved for special occasions. The round trip doesn't take very long, approximately 15 minutes. The outbound consisting of Jack blessing our rings followed by our exchange of vows and the return ride during which we kissed under every bridge for good luck while Georgio sang a couple of songs. Jack all the while reminding us not to miss our kisses at the appointed times.
When we returned to the boarding point we said a grateful goodbye to Jack, snapped a few more pictures with Matt, and then enjoyed a toast at Pinot restaurant with Caesar salads and a split dish of creme brulee. We retired to our room early to prepare for our early Monday departure with Denise carrying a large nosegay of pink roses that accompanied us home.
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