Vegas, 2021, Part 2 of 3: The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Shark Reef

Normally, I don’t do much more than eat, sleep, and gamble, but I added this stop to my itinerary on Wednesday. Here are a bunch of pictures and videos presented in the order I took them (to the best of my recollection). There’s a small bit of commentary, but these are mostly just for your viewing pleasure.

Gator? Caiman? I didn’t read the placard.

This next one freaked me out. Mostly, he kept his eyes closed but occasionally opened them. I caught him with eyes opened. Seemed annoyed.

Komodo Dragon

This one was just weird looking. I thought it looked prehistoric, so it was worth a photo.

Next up is the touch pool. You’re permitted to reach into the water (maybe 1-1/2 feet deep) and, using only your index finger, lightly stroke the rays or horseshoe crabs. These were clearly juveniles based on size.

This guy was gooey.

At this point, I realized I should be taking videos rather than taking pictures.

Why haven’t these turtles been eaten?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a saw-like appendage?

What the hell is the evolutionary basis for developing a hammer-like snout?

Tomorrow, the entire post will be dedicated to a single locale: The Millennium Fandom.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


Vegas, 2021, Part 1 of 3: The Luxor and the Strip #Vegas #travel

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Introduction

Every year without a new pandemic, I go to Las Vegas for blackjack. They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but that’s not really a problem for me. I usually don’t even drink when I’m there. This year was a little different, but still not worth hiding anything. These posts are an assortment of photos and videos from the Vegas Strip. Most of the videos are from an aquarium I visited. The images are pretty big, so if you blow them up, you should still get good resolution.

I always stay and gamble at MGM properties. My credit card doesn’t get me gas credits or airline miles; it gets me gambling comps, so everything but tips are paid for because I paid my car insurance bill, got gas, or bought food at the grocery store. The comps really add up, so I use that card for everything I possibly can. I started the trip with $1,327 in available comps ($200 added just for reserving the room, so you can get those), and that was before I sat down at a blackjack table to gamble.

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

Luxor

I stayed at the Luxor, which has a pretty cool design. Here are a few views from the elevator lobby.

The view from my room wasn’t so great, but very few rooms get an unobstructed view of the strip. In all of my trips to Vegas, I’ve gotten that kind of a view only once. This time, however, I got a partially view of the T-Mobile Arena (I almost bought a ticket to the Monday night game between the Ravens and Raiders), as well as my former preferred spot, the Excalibur.

Don’t knock the Excalibur. I always get what I want there. Whenever I’m down, I walk away from the table, head over to Excalibur, and win it all back. I was up $1,000 this year but headed there anyway because I know I could do better. I started with $900 and played for 4-1/2 hours, bouncing between $650 and $910, never gaining ground. Then I went on a run of about 15 straight winning hands, jumping from ~$700 to $1,900 (as explained, I gradually increase my bet as I win, and with ~15 straight wins, my chips explode). Once I finally lost a hand, I walked away. The Excalibur is always awesome to me.

Back to Luxor, one thing bothered me. I stayed at the Luxor once before, but my room was on the first floor. This year, I was on 17, and, well, I’m not sure why more people haven’t fell to their deaths at the Luxor.

If you click through to You Tube, I cite a story about strange deaths at Luxor, but that includes things like a UNLV player dying after a fist fight. Few of the deaths that occur are from falling over these ledges. Considering how short they are, and how drunk may guests are, that’s surprising to me.

Bellagio

Tuesday night, I took a walk down the Strip, stopping at Bellagio for the fountain show. I’ve done that four times before, so it wasn’t a new experience, but it wasn’t as good this time.

I had to wait another 15 minutes for the next song. All Night Long by Lionel Richie was next up. I thought the choreography was a bit weak, but I’m a child of the late 70s and 80s, so I can live with that. The copyright holder is allowing the video to stay up, but there will be ads.

Why What Happens in Vegas Need Not Stay in Vegas

On the walk back to Luxor, I passed a few shops and knew I had to tweet about them.

Even the ATM is green.

Sorry, hippies, but this just ain’t my sort of thing.

On Wednesday, I visited Mandalay Bay‘s Shark Reef aquarium and virtual reality show. To keep these posts short, I’ll post those photos and videos in a separate post tomorrow.

I love Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @gsllc


Cat People v. Dog People and the MCU @MarvelStudios #Caturday #MCU

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Here’s an article pondering who in the MCU is a cat person v. dog person. I have a response to each entry.

  1. Loki, cat person: Hiddleston provided the best acting in the entire MCU.
  2. Steve Rogers, dog person: I’ve been called libertarian (or libertarian adjacent), and that label is reasonable, but Steve Rogers is the most naïve of libertarians. “We don’t trade lives.” Really? One willing life for trillions of unaware innocents? That’s a dog person for you.
  3. Tony Stark, cat person: Tony Stark is the MCU.
  4. Bruce Banner, dog person: Couldn’t figure out a woman loved him until she beat him over the head with it. Even then, walked away from it. Dipshit.
  5. Thor, cat person: Strongest Avenger and had the greatest entrance in the history of cinema.
  6. Natasha Romanoff, cat person: The glue of the Avengers. Everyone had a special relationship with her.
  7. Clint Barton, dog person: Every rule has an exception, and this is it. Clint’s alright.
  8. Nick Fury, cat person: He’s the spy. He organized the whole thing without a superpower to stand on.
  9. Sam Wilson, dog person: Really a cat person, but went dog because he does whatever Steve Rogers does, just slower. Loses respect points for that one.
  10. Bucky Barnes, dog person: He was probably a cat person until Hydra scrambled his brains.
  11. The Vision, dog person: Because dog people aren’t really people.
  12. Wanda Maximoff, cat person: Rivals Thor for strongest Avenger. Took on Thanos one-on-one.
  13. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, dog person: Iron Man wannabe. Really mean person requiring unconditional love in order to have companionship. Yep. Dog person.
  14. Peter Parker, dog person: Again, requiring unconditional love, but in Peter’s case, it’s because he’s an insecure teenager. He’ll grow out of it. He better.
  15. Carol Danvers, cat person: She can fly in space. Her powers come from an infinity stone.
  16. Scott Lang, dog person: No, he’s a cat person. They say he’s an excitable pup, but opposites attract, and the opposite of a pup is a kitty. Scott’s still okay in my book.
  17. T’Challa, cat person: Ruler of the most technologically-advanced kingdom in the world. A freaking king.

MCU cat people >> MCU dog people.

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc
Follow Marvel Studios @MarvelStudios


Premature Shark Jumping @nbcbrooklyn99 #TV #Brooklyn99

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I recently took to to social media to whine about how disappointed I am with Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s final season.

This led to a quick back and forth. Two friends agreed but characterized the failure as jumping the shark. I don’t think they’re wrong, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. There are very few new ideas under the sun. Moreover, as I reminded you on Monday, there are only seven stories one can tell. While there can be other factors, putting this together, jumping the shark occurs when the stories a show can tell run their course among their particular set of characters and settings. In other words, the combination of characters, settings, and stories grow stale even if, as with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Office, and Parks & Recreation, the show has talented writers. It often manifests itself with desperate attempts to try something new that stray too far from the show’s premise. When Happy Days did this, it gave the phenomenon its name.

Now that comedy is being killed by a small minority of the perpetually and intentionally outraged, writers are afraid to take any risks, giving rise to a new way in which jumping the shark manifests. They don’t just take stupid chances to keep the show interesting. They also choose to exclude a wide variety of available stories for fear of losing their positions in the industry due to the controversy they cause. That means that shark-jumping occurs far earlier in the life of a series (c.f., Community), and it manifests as recycling the same tired themes with only meaningless differences from episode to episode.

In my humble opinion, with only a few exceptions, Brooklyn Nine-Nine started to lose its originality somewhere around season three, which isn’t even halfway through its life. (I keep watching because I can’t help but finish things I start.) Sure, we remained attached to some clever, well-delivered one-liners (Bingpot!), and the Halloween competition as a recurring theme, but overall the episodes, and even the characters’ personalities, grew tiresome and/or annoying long before the final season started. (I’ve wanted to punch Charles Boyle in the neck for months now.) The writers on that show both recycled themes and also, by the last season, strayed too far from the premise. I fear the stagnation of shows will only accelerate as we continue to fear those that are offended by everything. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the current crop of writers are among those demanding these changes. In that case, they’re wasting their own talent.

Much like another phenomenon that involves premature action, the cause is often psychological.

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc
Follow Brooklyn Nine-Nine @nbcbrooklyn99

It’s Roleplaying Cats and Dogs! #Caturday

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File this under, “What?”

Apparently, a line of miniatures inspired it’s own RPG universe. These aren’t anthropomorphic races, but rather the animals themselves roleplayed as PCs. Again, what? The Kickstarter was successful, so if this is your thing, go for it.

Why would anyone want to roleplay a pathetic animal like a dog. Be a cat. Have an ego and kill something.

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc


Dungeons & Dragons and Forgotten Realms are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

Herding Adventurous Cats #Caturday

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Writing about 1st Edition D&D over the past few weeks has affected how I write on Mythology Monday, Caturday, and . . . whatever Sunday is. Here’s my example today care of MeWe.

Analogizing the herding of cats to the mustering of gamers at a convention is insulting. To cats.

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc


Dungeons & Dragons and Forgotten Realms are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)

My Top 10 List of D&D Cats #Caturday #DnD #RPG

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Because my recent posts are all D&D related, D&D is taking over Caturday this week. Here’s my top ten list of cat-related D&D creatures. WordPress won’t allow me to use descending numbers, so in this case, my favorite will be #10.

  1. Sea Cats. Basically, they’re mentioned because there aren’t enough cat-like monsters to fill this list. Kind of funny, though, so they beat out the semi-feline dragonne for the bottom spot.
  2. Tabaxi. I’m at least curious about playing a a Tabaxi. As a cat person, I could probably make a good run of it, but I never have. Curiosities don’t get to land high on a list.
  3. Displacer Beast. These guys are probably lower on my list than they would be on the lists of most players. I never had the fanboy reaction to them that so many others did. I’m not sure why. They just didn’t do it for me.
  4. Tressyms. Clearly, I’m a cat person. What cat person wouldn’t want a flying kitty cat? But I’ve never played one because I don’t play wizards, and the only context in which I’ve seen a player have a tressym is as a familiar. As with Tabaxis, theory doesn’t rank as high as practice.
  5. Wemic. Leonine centaurs? How wonderfully majestic. In Sumerian mythology, they were called Urmahlullus, and they appear to be good guys. To my recollection, they’ve been considered neutral in D&D with respect to their alignment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be played as helpful to a party of PCs.
  6. Manticores. Not only do manticores appear in a few of my favorite old-school adventures (ah, nostalgia), but they pose an interesting tactical challenge. Manticores can fly, and they’re equally dangerous at range or in melee.
  7. Tembos. I’m taking some license here and calling these denizens of Athas cats (from the Dark Sun campaign setting). I have doubts that they are; however, much like hyenas are feliforms (catlike) that appear to be canines (doglike) because of the space they occupy in their ecosystem, the Tembo appears roughly like a smilodon. When I first took a look at the stat block in 4e, I knew they were trouble, but when the DM threw one at our party, I realized how little I actually knew. It was hard not to immerse yourself in the gaming moment considering the unspeakable horrors it committed against you. (Unspeakable Horror was a fitting name for one of its 4e powers.) You may have well been fighting a creature three of four levels higher. Sometimes you just want a fight, and this thing delivered in spades.
  8. Sphinxes. This creature is right up my alley. My favorite aspect to D&D is solving puzzles, and a sphinx is loaded with them. Encountering sphinxes and being able to circumvent their threat using my real-world wits makes for a great and memorable encounter.
  9. Leonines. What’s better than meeting a sphinx? Playing one. Duh. Grexes was my a leonine (anthropomorphic lion) from the Mystic Odyssey of Theros campaign setting, and I presented him as someone with an obsession admiration of sphinxes. He often spoke in riddles, for example asking a greeter at the inn for “that which has four legs by cannot run.” It took a second, but the DM quickly realized I was asking for a table. Maybe Grexes should have made my list of my favorite TTRPG characters.
  10. Snuggles. Snuggles was a jaguar, but more to the point was the name I gave to my 4e beastmaster ranger’s animal companion. That was a fun class to play. Super mobile, varied attacks, high damage output, and always able to self-flank using Snuggles, which means he hit fairly often. Snuggles was the shit.

Snuggles wins. YMMV.

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc

Dungeons & Dragons, Mystic Odyssey of Theros, and Dark Sun are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, LLC, who neither contributed to nor endorsed the contents of this post. (Okay, jackasses?)


Cat D&D #Caturday #DnD #RPG

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I’ve been writing a ton of content over the past few days. I’ve recently decided to try my hand at a return to 1st Edition D&D, and I’ve already finished four posts, and started two, containing my impressions of the system. As a result, I’ve got nothing for Caturday today except these.

Uhh, guilty...: dndmemes
That’s some fine-ass spelling right thar.
Attack of the D&D / RPG Memes! - SHANE PLAYS
This is an offensive, back-handed compliment.
Nerdovore: Rogue Cleric Cat
Cats were made for this game.

Caturday!

Follow me on Twitter at @gsllc