I don't write standard issue marching-through-the-days trip reports, partially because I can't remember half of what happened at BARGE, and half because I really can't make myself be interested in writing a list of who I had lunch with and what hands I played.
Here, instead, are a few vignettes.
Fuckers at Alamo
OK, OK. I think that starting trip reports with tales of travel is usually painfully dull. I also know that everybody hates Alamo, but I've had good luck with them for the last twenty years. Never again.
There was a line, a LINE, for the shuttle bus. Total wait time: five minutes.
When I got to the rental center, there were half a dozen people in line for the Quicksilver counter. I miss the kiosks, but it's never taken me more than five minutes to get through the line and get my paperwork. This time it took 25 minutes for the cranky old sack of molasses behind the counter to work his way through the assembled masses.
When I got out to the lot, I saw no cars whatsoever in the economy, compact, or midsized rows. What I did see was 20 or so people standing in the lot looking very cranky. It turned out that they had no cars ready, but you got to stand in line waiting for one to come in. Did I mention it was three in the afternoon? And a hundred and too many degrees? There were plenty of larger cars available, but they wouldn't hand those over. Noooo, we all got to stand around being miserable. Wait time: 20 minutes. And then another 10 minutes at the gate.
Bottom line: I will never rent from Alamo again.
The Card Gods Hate Me
Wednesday night involved a great deal of drinking and poker, and only a microscopic amount of sleep. Thursday during the TOC I was tired, hung over, and starting to feel pretty sick. I was down to about 700 in chips when I decided to just bust out and go to bed.
I kicked into maniac mode. During a holdem round, I raised 42s and showed it, and my raises still got respect. In the stud round I raised an ace blind, only to find KK in the hole after everybody folded. During a stud round I raised T73s, pair the 7 on 4th, and made a flush on 6th. Nothing I did was working, and I suddenly had 7K in chips. The card gods hated me!
Mercifully, I got a couple of good hands and busted out, then got some much-needed sleep. Based on how sick I'd felt that afternoon, I decided that my body was telling me that I was still recovering, and that drinking wasn't such a good idea. Sadly, I spent most of the rest of BARGE off the sauce.
Who the Fuck is Calling Me at This Hour?
Craps crawl, Main Street Station, 2:30 in the morning. I've broken my off-the-sauce vow and ordered a microbrew, but just one. The bartender tells me he'll only comp it if I kiss Murray. Tough decision there.
My phone rings. I figure it's an itinerant BARGEr wondering where we got off to, but the caller ID indicates otherwise. The conversation proceeds as follows:
"Why are you calling me in the middle of the night?"
"Where are you?"
"It's 2:30 in the freakin' morning. Why are you calling me?"
"You aren't sleeping; you're in Vegas. Where are you?"
"Main Street Station. Where are you?"
"I'll be there in two minutes." Click.
True to his word, Matt Savage shows up just a couple of minutes later, with his lovely fiancee Maryann in tow. Yes, that Maryann... Binion's cocktail waitress extraordinaire.
Rule of thumb: Any time a casino messes with the rules of blackjack, it's bad news. Matt decides to play some mutant variant where blackjacks pay even money... there has to be some rule that halfway balances it out, but it's clearly an abysmal game. I can't remember the name of it, but I'm pretty sure it was something like Fun Sucker Bet Blackjack.
Matt's playing for a hundred bucks a hand, and it takes four of us to get him to quit. When we turn our backs for just a moment, he's back at it. ARGH! We all wordlessly agree that he is not to be left unsupervised, and we eventually get him cashed out and out the door of the casino with most of his wallet intact.
The Nugget's New Karaoke Lounge
Friday night, after the great Las Vegas Club Karaoke Fiasco, we all wind up back at the 'shoe and do a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the poker room, then decide we're hungry. A bunch of us head off to the Nugget and ask for a table away from other people. For the next two hours we go around the table. When it's your turn, you can either ask a trivia question or sing a song (or if you're Sweettone, you can offer a brain teaser.) The trivia questions die off quickly, and we're left with an amazing collection of music.
If you know me at all, you know that I will break into showtunes at the slightest provocation. You're also painfully aware that I have a maximum of four bars of staying on key before I start losing it, and maybe six bars before I'm hopelessly offkey. I assure you that the pain is worse for me than it is for you-- I have perfect pitch, so I know exactly how wrong I am. Nonetheless, I love doing it.
Much to my astonishment, several people at the table have as rich a Broadway repertoire as I do. I think Dan Goldman was as stunned as I was to discover that we both knew the show Half a Sixpence.
This was one of the most magical experiences that I've ever had at BARGE.
You Can't Go Home
Perhaps for the first time ever, I'll bookend my trip report with a travel story.
It's 11:30 Sunday morning, and I'm trying to convince myself to get out of bed and pack so that I can catch my late afternoon flight. As I hit the snooze button for at least the eighth time, my phone rings.
"This is United Airlines. We've had a change of aircraft on your flight this afternoon, and we're overbooked. Are you able to fly tomorrow instead?"
Remember when you were a kid and you got an unexpected snow day? This was just as cool.
Thanks to all the wonderful people who made BARGE possible-- Peter and Chuck, the staff of Binion's, the poor people we sang to at the Nugget, the overworked woman at Mermaid's who cheerfully sold me a dozen chocolate covered bananas and a deep-fried twinkie, the clever person who left that rubber snake under a rock in the park, the Fuckers at Alamo, the surgeon who bent his schedule to accommodate me so that I could recover sufficiently beforehand, the wonderful newcomers that I met, and all the old friends who make BARGE so special.
I feel like I'm leaving out something important...