Sunday, August 14, 2011

Festival (W)Rap Up

I don't do a wrap up of every festival but this one is screaming for attention so I must oblige.

This year see MIFF turn 60 years old and my 11th working in the box office. MIFF decided they would do interviews, show exhibits and various other things relating to their life for showing at the festival and archives. I read in my Widescreen newsletter that they were looking for people who could contribute stories or anything they thought worthy enough to share and go into the historical vault. I wasted no time in emailing a brief note about my unwavering loyalty and dedication which included many stories, funny and dramatic. I recevied a reply and my name was passed on to Yum Productions who were producing the interviews.

I got a call from Erin and we met for a pre-camera interview. It was terrific and I was having a great time relating all my stories and opinions. I talked about the ticketing systems, the punters, members, the old venues, going to the opening parties, not going to the opening parties and the revolution (that's a bit exaggerated, just a bit) I caused one year because of it, fainting in the cinema and my desperate but hopeless attempt to ask Cameron Crowe a question in the Q & A for Wonder Boys. We could have talked for hours but there was another interviewee to be met.

A couple of months later we met up again, this time at Federation Square, for a ride on the ferris wheel. You should note that this was during the Comedy Festival so the wheel was not the usual giant and slow one that is there all the time but the small and very FAST one that sets up only for the festival. We only had about 20 minutes of tape so I was conscious of trying to be articulate and interesting and not waste time. I think this backfired on me because I kept saying "definitely" and it was very annoying. There was so much to talk about in a short space of time. I felt like such a goofy and was paranoid as to how I would come across. There was no need to worry as in the end I was might happy with it and there was not one word resembling "definitely"!

Here it is for you all to see:

So onto the rest of the team! Last year saw 3 new managers come on board and a bunch of new staff. Most of the crew returned this year bringing a few more newbies with them. As soon as the final roster came out the emails started flying with shift swaps and giveaways galore. I wondered if there was going to be anyone working at all!

I couldn't wait to get my hands on a program to study up and plan my next couple of weeks. No social activities are planned outside of the festival. This is a long time rule and the few times I tried to break it resulted in too much angst. My first pre-festival shift was on the phones with Fernando and we were straight into discussing which movies we would be seeing. Ronit thought we were just like David and Margaret. I couldn't commit to any film just yet though as I had to sit through a hell of a lot of trailers to make sure of my choices. It took me hours of viewing and I was damn sick of it at the end but I am glad I did it.

Let's skip the rest of the pre-fest stuff as not much goes on. Opening night came and went without us and I am still carrying the scar from being cut off from this B grade celebrity laden, free booze, not enough canapes event a few years back. The choice of film was dubious and held little appeal for most people it seemed but again it didn't matter as we didn't see it.

As the days roll on and we re-unite with old friends we come to realise that booking online has really taken over this year and we resort to playing multiple games of solitaire and pinball. Hours go by, the box office door squeaks and SQUEAKS, bangs and BANGS. My boredom threshhold peaks early and my temper starts to fray. Through it all my humour is never far away and I can always rely on my witty sarcasm to get me cracking again.

My mini pass is full and I start to swap and cancel films as fatigue takes over or my intitial ideas of what a film will be like turn to realisations that I am not keen on the story at all. I discover my pass is a mutant and I have booked an evening session that is counted as a day session. Then I get 14 spaces when I should only have 13. WIN WIN! (good name for a film) Except that when I start making all those changes I lose the extra session. Weirdest of all is the booking I made for The Future. I cancelled it. It reappeared. I cancelled it again. It re-reappeared. I cancelled it. It re-re-reappeared. I DO NOT want to see this film. I had witnesses so I showed Molly who was equally baffled. Nothing came of it in the end.

One of my favourite loony shifts was with James on the phones. James W gave us a long list of how to say hello in various languages. Being the natural entertainers that we are we set about greeting every caller in Malaysian, Japanese, Guatemalan, Inuit and Pirate. Pirate you say? Yes! Gladly I handed that one to James and he relished the opportunity to get his Captain Hook on. The call went something like this:

James: Aarrgh! Welcome to the Film Festival, how may I help you?
Caller: I'd like tickets to The Yellow Sea.
James: Oh to be sure, that be a fine fillum there. Ah har, The Yellow Sea, she's a mighty challenge.

I made some of that dialogue up but you get the drift.....oh nice pun! We were in stitches and then Andi suggested we throw in a song lyric. Well, the first one that came to mind was "my heart will go on" and it worked a treat:

Tracey: I'm sorry, that film is booked out.
Caller: Oh no, I was supposed to book it ages ago. My friends will be mad at me. Oh I can't believe it.
Tracey: Never mind, my heart will go on.

The night kept on in this manner with James outdoing himself by quoting Cat Stevens and Britney Spears..but not in the same call. I hadn't had this much fun on the phones since my first MIFF when I answered the phone as HANK!

The box office didn't miss out on such frivolous entertainment. There were times when we wouldn't see a customer for a while so when someone came in just to get a program we ambushed them asking "Don't you want to stay and chat?" They would take pity on us and stay a few moments as we bombarded them with questions just to kill some time instead of each other. Other times we discussed our regulars such as Camoflauge Man who dressed in Army gear EVERY day. He was clearly not in the Army as he had a beard and was not in tip top shape. There was Mary, a lady of about 70 who would come in every day with some convoluted problem and make it worse. A stand out incident was with Jo who was the unfortunate staffer to be dealing with the 2 blonde ladies who also came in every day with their exchanges and mixed up thoughts. This particular day they asked for tickets to the Indonesian film.

Jo: Which film is that?
Ladies: The Indonesian one.
Jo: Do you know the name of it?
Ladies: It's Indonesian.
Jo: Today at 11am? Are you sure? What's it about?
Tracey: Is it definitely in the festival?
Ladies: Yes of course it is. It's Indonesian!

I seriously wanted to slap the pair of them out of the box office and into oncoming cars.

Fernando is our resident rapper and it iddn't take me long to join in. Anyone who works with me knows how disruptive I can be with my antics and sarcasm. One day we were there with Dan and Shaun making music? in the box office. Dan designed the album cover of our debut LP, "Get Yo Tickets Here, Bitch! We were hilarious! I have included a copy of our hit song below.

Moving on, we come to the closing party. It was held in the Atrium at Federation Square, an open space that is basically a corridor of shops. So inviting! We eventually all met up and danced the night away sipping on free alcohol and chasing waiters with trays of canapes. The canapes were not exactly mouth watering and the first one I saw was frittata - poor man's quiche.

The music cranked up wtih Andrew McClelland at the helm and he could do no wrong. I am still blessing the rains down in Africa. I love it when we dance in a giant group like maniacs, maniacs on the floor, dancing like we've never danced before. The night went on and the champagne dried up so I had a couple of white wines. I must have had about 2 bottles of champagne so I really didn't need to keep going but one needs to keep up one's fluids....

We eventually got kicked out at 3am and there was discussion about going to The Peel in Collingwood. I can't remember what the hell was going on but no one could decide on anything and people were getting in and out of the one taxi we had. At least I think that's what was happening. Anyway Lucy, Mel and I headed off to get some food and this is where is gets seriously blurry. Lucy disappeared. There were phone calls. Were there? I don't know, maybe but we found each other in the end and shared a cab home. My feet were in agony, I could barely walk. I lost my gloves.

At 8.30am my alarm goes. Oh, oh no this can't be happening. I shower and get ready to leave but at 9.15 I decide to lay down. I have to. At 9.30am I get up again and Lucy rings because she has arrived at work and no one is there. She goes off to buy coffee and muffins. My first stop is the shop to buy a Powerade, it's all I can think about. I amble in to the Forum 15 minutes late, announce my arrival and advise I will be in the bathroom if you start to wonder where I have gone. We all feel the same sickness.

The morning drags on as the customers come in for the 11am screening. I can't be bothered, I have no bother left in me at all so I gather all the lost property scarves and jackets and make a little cubby house under my desk. I'm so hidden that Molly and Ronit ask where I am as the others point at me.

I have drawn the short straw and am working all day whereas everyone else is only doing half shifts. What happened there? I sulk about it all day as the others laugh it off waving their goodbyes. 5pm comes, not soon enough and James says I can go early. I am so grateful that I am in the counting room signing my balance sheet and putting on my coat by 5.05pm. I am Cyclone Tracey, get out of my, I'm going home.

Monday is my tradituional day off after the festival but I haven't organised it and I am not happy. I message my clients and ask if I can have the day off. My head is aching and I can barely move. I don't even go to tap class. The same thing happens on Tuesday. What a mess I am. Of course it was all worth it. I have some fabulous new friends, saw 16 films, made people laugh and look forward to the next festival wherever and whenever that may be. (Melbourne Arts Festival)

I will leave you with the official box office theme song....the flow changes but just go with it....

Get Yo Tickets Here Bitch!

You're feeling pretty groovy, you're in the mood for movies
You get down to the festy and drag along your besty
You walk into the box and get into some talks
You're girl she asks you "Where Mitch?"
You tell her "Get yo tickets here, bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

It's 10 o'clock on sunday morn, you're gonna wish you were never born
That session is a sell out, of that I have a no doubt
"Give me a ticket, I'm a witch"
I said "There ain't no tickets here bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

The Turin Horse has broken down, the punters yell "Get outta town!"
A baby man, peas of wasabi, stomping ain't no way to party
A cranky skanky wants to switch
"You bring you're ticket here bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh!

The festival is closing down, we gonna dance and clown around
Harry Potter, Bollywood, down at GU you're in the hood
"I wanna help but there's a hitch
Go get your tickets there bitch!"

Oh, oh oh oh oh. Yeah, get your tickets there

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday - Leaving Las Vegas

My bags are packed, something I did yesterday but forgot to tell you. You see this is what happens towards the ends of my travel blogs - I rush or I haven't written something down. Perhaps there is a New Year's resolution in there. Anyway this is something along the lines of what happens......

I use the express checkout and take my bags to Miss Debby's room for safe keeping. I catch her in the lounge of the coffee shop and we just hang for a bit. I want to buy a couple of magnets or key rings as they are really the only souvenirs I buy. Given that I have a collection of keys for my workplaces they come in very handy.

My shuttle bus is booked for 2.15pm so I have a couple of hours to waste. Miss Debby comes with me to the Flamingo buffet. It is another champagne one (1 glass only) and you also get a mini bottle of vodka for a bloody mary! Sure, if you insist. We don't end up drinking them. The dish selections are not so great today. They haven't quite crossed over to lunch so it's seafood again. Not that I'm complaining about that. I make a smoked salmon bagel and a roast beef sandwich to take away with me and wrap up a couple of cakes for later.

Miss Debby goes off to the movies with Miss Linda after we say goodbye, see you in Melbourne. I go back to her room and just sit and flick through a magazine. Eventually my time passes and I say goodbye to the Flamingo Hotel with it's smoky, coconut reef oil smell and cardboard cutouts of Donny and Marie Osmond.

My flight to LA is uneventful. But upon arrival it got a little interesting. I followed the sign that said Qantas connecting flights to Syd/Melb and ended up in a little bus waiting room. I checked with the man at the desk to make sure my luggage was checked through and he asked me what they told me. I said nothing. He said take a seat, I was in the right place. There is a mother shooshing her silent baby and she annoys me. Her husband is at the desk taking up the man's time, and patience I suspect, but not in an angry way. A shuttle bus comes and I try to board and I don't really understand what the man says but he doesn't let me on. I sit and get a bit nervous, after all, I only have 6 HOURS before my plane leaves. Of course the Qantas shuttle comes along and we eagerly get on. It's like a joyride around the airport for us as we seem to be going nowhere but a long way from where we started. Why couldn't the plane just drop us off somewhere central? Well, it probably did. We got off the bus and entered an abandoned terminal, I kid you not. There was no staff, no signs, just seats and no one in them. We all looked around in wonder and then some smart lady walked up a ramp and through a door so we followed her as she didn't come back. We walked and walked and again I wondered why I couldn't have been dropped off a bit closer to where I was going. LAX is a strange place. I started seeing gate signs and felt better. That didn't last long as there was nothing to do in this section of the airport. There was a small cafe/bar, a couple souvenir kiosks and a tiny duty free shop. Oh dear, what time is it?

I find a corner in my gate lounge and try to have a nap but it's not happening. There is a child playing with his remote control car and the whizzing noise is driving me crazy. I go for a very slow walk, as slow as I can possibly go. I am impressed with myself but it doesn't take up much extra time. I get a coffee which is disgusting and sit in another gate lounge for a different view and read my magazine. I am so bored I can't bear it.

Back at my gate lounge the flight to Munich is boarding so I watch everyone. I can hardly contain my excitement. Tick tock, tick tock. The staff arrive for my flight so I request a change to an aisle seat. Request granted. I go off to the duty free shop and stand in front of the alcohol unable to make a decision. I go with cointreau and baileys. There is a long queue but that's okay, I have nothing better to do right? Nevertheless it is frustrating waiting in a line going nowhere.

I make eye contact with a good looking man in the lounge and I think it is someone I dated once but he doesn't have a son that age. It isn't him, it can't be. He would have said hello, surely. Why would he be in the US? He has 2 kids at home. None of the scenarios I make up are sensible. We keep looking at each other but I think it must be just a physical attraction thing. It does make me feel a bit weird though.

Time for boarding and my section is left to last. As I hand over my pass I am stopped in my tracks. My seat has been changed. Oh no, I said, I requested an aisle seat. The woman says she had to move a family so they could sit together. Oh phft! I am at the emergency exit she says so there is more leg room! Not the point! I am a fidgeter and want to get up and down freely. Of course I now know that this is a good spot to sit for someone like me.

Guess what? The man who I think I know is sitting right behind me! Oh my god! I try to sneak a close look and then I try and bionic-ise my ears so I can listen for an accent but it doesn't work too well. What I do hear is an Australian but the timbre is different so I try to relax. He would have said something by now, you would think. Should I say something? Nah, we won't date again. Oh goody, his child enjoys kicking the back of my seat. It's going to be a fun ride!

So movie selections for this leg of the trip and in this watching order, include: Despicable Me; Toy Story 3; Buried; Boy; Eat, Pray, Love and a doco about John Lennon's murderer. I know what you are thinking - 2 of those films I called "common" in a previous blog - but you have to go with the mood you are in so that is that. I sleep about 2 hours or so I think, could be more, could be less. Most of the flight is in darkness and I get very bored with the clock going so slowly it is almost in reverse. An announcement comes over the PA for a doctor and we see a steady procession of professionals make their way to the sick area. Apparently there had been a convention of sorts in LA so that was a bit of good luck! Soon there is another announcement for someone with a glucometer and we see the obliging passenger with his kit. Goodness me! The child is booting my seat and I look back at him throught the gap next to the window. He sees me and I glare! He kicks, I glare, he kicks, I glare and Dad finally tells him someone is sitting in that seat! No kidding Dad! He may be a toddler but he knows!! In the 15 hours though he does handle the flight very well.

Finally we land and I am making my way to customs. It is really busy and I can't help but smile when I hear the impatient voices of Australian staff with the passengers from the Asian flight that is coming through at the same time. The woman has to tell them several times to "wait here" as she moves away. Each time she looks around they are trying to follow her and she holds up her hand and repeats the command. It is quite funny. "Border Patrol" is filming today so there may be an extra wait, I hope not. The customs man asks me if I have anything to declare and I say just chocolate. He says, is that all? Yes, I say, almost sorry that I am so pathetic with my declarations. He ushers me straight out the door as he knows not to mess with my suitcase and the kilo of chocolate. I am out the door, on the skybus, in the taxi and inside my home by 11am.

I try to stay awake for a while by unpacking a bit and showering etc. I start to feel a bit woozy and nauseous so I think it best that I have a little lie down. I feel much better after a couple of hours sleep. My holiday is over, it has been quite an adventure.

Lowlights are the tepid shower and standing in my shower water, the smoke, bad coffee and my now diagnosed chest infection. Highlights are the Grand Canyon, O, Viva Elvis, Barry Manilow and Leonard Cohen. In fact I loved all the shows we saw. The weather was fabulous and not cold as we expected. Oh and the blog would not be complete without final mention of The Bellagio. I won't come back for you George so you will have to come here.


I have a bit of a sleep in which is just lovely and then it's time to meet the others for brunch at the Bellagio buffet. We wait for about an hour in the line and because there are more than 8 of us we are slapped with an automatic 18% gratuity. This happens everywhere, what a crock! It doesn't matter it only costs $37.77 anyway and that includes unlimited champagne so woo hoo!

Soon we are making our first course selections and the choices are terrific. We ooh and ahh at each other's plates and tuck in. And so it goes.....until we are ready for dessert. I must say the selections here are a bit weak and I am surprised but that doesn't stop me from having 6 cakes. They are only small pieces!!! Technically it was 5 serves because 1 of them had 2 portions. As there is only so much one can eat and drink it's not long before we are full up and wondering what to do for the rest of the day.

Some kittens have departed for other cities already and some will leave in the evening. The remaining cats make plans to meet for drinks in the Garden Bar at 6pm prior to moving on to various activities. Miss Debby and I go across the road to Caesar's Palace to buy our tix for Leonard Cohen, his last concert of the tour. We get the cheap seats at $50 plus tax and are very excited. Neither of us know anything about Mr Hallelujah and the concert is 4 hours but we don't mind. We decide if we are bored or don't like it, had enough etc, we can leave! Simple!

We go back to the hotel for some reason, can't remember, and then meet up again to go to the Atomic Testing Museum. Miss Cathy (not on the trip) told me about this place and I am adamant that I will visit. After all I have a coupon to use. I'm glad Miss Debby is coming with me, I like to share these things. We figure it's about 20 mins to walk and we are not far wrong. It might have been half an hour, again something I can't remember now. The museum is fascinating and there is an abundance of information on every wall space possible. There really is too much as quite a bit is repeated. We are both getting weary and overloaded so stop reading every info point. You could spend a couple of hours in here easily but you definitely need a clear head.

Out into the fresh air we stroll with fatigue back to the hotel. I can't wait to wear my new dress and shoes. It's just after 5pm when we arrive back at HQ and I am in need of a shower. I don't have time to wash my hair so I am little nervous as to what I will do with it. I need a spiffy do to go with my dress! I warn Miss Debby that I probably won't make it to drinks at 6pm but will be there soon after. Oh my dress makes me feel fabulous and I am very happy with my hair. I glide down to the Garden Bar and feel a million dollars. Everyone compliments me and it's lovely.

There are a few more goodbyes to get through before we disperse. Miss Jane and Mr Grant are coming to Mr Cohen also so we head there together. After a champagne toast we make our way upstairs to the nosebleed section of the theatre. We are sitting on opposite sides but can still see each other....just.

Leonard Cohen is 76 years old and is a living legend. This is the last concert of his tour and I admit to feeling very pleased to be here. The concert is just amazing and I am blown away by every song. I can't get enough and I thought I might have been a bit bored??? After interval there is a large crowd gathered at the stage and they are singing. They have placed several long stemmed red roses on the stage and I think they have been to a lot of Leonard Cohen concerts. The hours pass and there are many encores. He just keeps coming back on stage. He is skipping on and off, he has been kneeling down every second song and he makes Barry Manilow, who is 67, look like a 90 year old. I seriously do not want the concert to end but end it does and we wait outside for Miss Jane and Mr Grant. I think of buying a CD but the line is sooooo long I go without. There is no sign of the other 2 characters so we head home.

What an incredible night! Without doubt one of the highlights of the trip.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Friday...but first....

How could I forget my trip to Wal Mart yesterday? We had 15 minutes, literally, to catch a glimpse of this uber famous department store. Uber famous for it's um, shall we say unique, shoppers. I so desperately wanted to spot some of those unique people that we see on Youtube but alas it wasn't to be. Miss Debby, however did see some action in the form of a young woman squirting mounds of moisturiser and applying it to her legs. She was wearing the pre-requisite mid-riff and a short skirt. How else would she be able to moisturise so easily? So practical!

I couldn't waste shopping time just searching for these people because I knew that I would definitely miss the bus home. I grabbed my make up brushes, a whole kit for $11! Who needs just 1 brush for $25? Phooey to that! I also got some super cheap Revlon lip liner and we know how much I love my lipstick so I popped over to Loreal to see if they had my Bronze Coin which is now discontinued. Oh joy of joys, there it is! I stopped at just 1, such control. Over to the chocolates to check out the range and I grab some Ghiradelli, oh but which flavour? I almost forgot - jigsaws!! Quickly I sought them out and wow, what a price! My favourite type of puzzle - the collage - and 2 of them for $8 and $9. I was in heaven. Oh which one will I get and which design? Oh, quickly the bus will be leaving soon, make a decision, oh my god, hurry up! I'll take both! The boxes are small enough and lightweight so it won't be a problem and if I was to buy these in Australia they would cost me at least $35, at LEAST, do you hear me? They won't put me over the baggage limit, the kilogram plus of chocolate might. I am so happy I could just break out into dance and I think somebody might put me on Youtube amongst the latest Wal Mart shoppers #9.

I clearly did not do that, otherwise you would have heard about it already.

Friday, 10.30am and 13 of us have gathered at the (not) south entrance to wait for our limousine to collect us and take us shopping again......but this time with the theme of RETRO! Ooh! Now I say "not" south because that's what we called it but it was actually south west I believe and our drivers didn't seem to be able to read minds so they were a bit late both days as they were waiting at the south entrance for us! Silly boys! Soon enough, a gigantic Hummer arrives and we all squeal with delight at the idea and rush out to get on board. Oh my giddy goodness, check IT OUT! Soon we are on our way to "The Attic", a famous retro store in LV. It is very tidy and there are lots of lovely things such as 60's mini skirts that don't fit me, dammit, tons of shoes, ballgowns, hats, wigs, shoes, wild looking men's suits and even a live DJ, when he isn't at the front counter ringing up the sales. I don't buy anything as you may have guessed.

We make a stop for re-charging because after 1/2 hour of this shopping business we are doggone popped. Our chauffeur has recommended Frank's Tiki Room - The Happiest Place On Earth as a place where we can grab a cheap cocktail. As I am taking photos of Miss Jane and Mr Grant under the big sign stating the aformentioned type of place, the others enter the establishment and leave us behind, thus locking us out! Oh Tracey, you jest! Oh readers, I don't! We had to knock 3 times on the ceiling, twice on the pipe and then they finally let us in. It was all so covert and spooky as we walked in because there were no lights, only the flashing diamonds and treasure chests of the slot machines. Where is everyone, where did they go? I can't see them, oh my god what's happened to them? Oh wait, there they are, my eyes are adjusting it's okay. Now this is the small town bar you see on the crime shows, at last I can let my imagination go wild....well wilder than it usually goes.

Everyone orders drinks but it's a bit early for me so I go for apricot and mango juice - from a can! It's really yummy, why can't we have things like that in Australia? I guess we do and it's called Boost juice and costs 3 times as much because you have to give your name and wait in line for 2 hours. Miss Jessica and I have had to move away from the group as there are a few smokers and it's a small place and we are choking fast. It's then that we notice the television at the bar playing a porno. I know! I do a double take and then triple check with Miss Jessica and she confirms my surprise. I can't stop watching it, I am quite stunned that it is actually playing. It's getting too smoky so we make our exit and wait outside for the gang hoping they aren't captured by a voodoo tiki statue and sent off to porn camp. Maybe some of them would like that but I can't comment as I don't know everyone well enough. All of a sudden the door bursts open and they all come running out shouting "start the hummer, start the hummer, get in, they've taken one of us, hurry, we have to get out of here. NOW!"

Oh dear, that was my imagination again! You couldn't tell though could you. You were really taken away with that story!

So, to our next stop which is Retro Vegas and the store owner was expecting us! Now that is glamorous! This store was full of beautiful furniture and home accessories and whilst I didn't make a purchase I told Miss Jane she must buy the 70's ice bucket which she did along with various other home decorating items.

We have one more important stop to make and that is at Serge's Showgirl Wigs. It is the wig store you want it to be and the kittens go Crazy.......meow! I won't be buying a wig so I wander over to the thrift store which is literally a junk store and laid out like one. I feel dirty and scummy just walking through it so I head back to the hummer and wait for the others. Our shopping day is done so it's back to our hotel.

It's only 1.30pm so there is tons of the day left and I also have the evening free so goodness only knows what I will do. There is still the Atomic Testing Museum to visit which I have been talking about for days so that is an option. But I decide to do some more shopping! Why? I don't really know, just in case I see something fantastic! I trudge back to the Fashion Mall and go to the Bettie Page store. I have already spied a dress that I love but don't think will fit me but stuff it, I'm going to try a few on. Oh gracious, it fits me perfectly and it's beautiful. How much is it? Oh, I see. It's not on special. It fits me perfectly and looks really, really pretty. It's expensive even for US prices and there is tax to add to that. Well fiddle-de-de, I'm going to buy it. Quickly before I talk myself out of it. Oh there's Miss Debby and Miss Linda in the store. I know they would have talked me into it but it wasn't necessary in the end, was it? We have a wander around together for a bit then part ways. I think we are all a bit blah as to what to do with our time so no decisions are made. Not a moment is wasted at the shops though as I go into a shoe store looking for a particular style which I know I will not find and I am suddenly at the register with my travelcard saying thanks very much and walking out with a bag of shoes in my hand. It is a coincidence, I assure you, that the shoes will make a lovely addition to my Bettie Page dress.

I head up to the food court and go online for 15 mins which costs $8.75 and I see that my previous messages to Vodafone didn't go through and they emailed me and said "we haven't heard from you since......problem solved." Yeah, thanks! I want to put some money on my travelcard because I have spent it all but of course I need my mobile for the netcode so that is useless. I will just have to use my ATM or credit card and pay the fees. $#%%^.

I walk back to the Forum Shops so I can go to Anthropologie. I really want the measuring cups and spoons, they are stunning but as I look at the price tag I am almost sick. That price is just stupid and they will probably break or someone else will break them which would be worse. I touch everything I want as my bottom lip drags along behind me in my wake. I leave empty handed.

I have no idea where to go or what to do next. I am so tired and have very little botherness left inside me. I pass up dinner with Miss Catherine and Miss Deb because they are going to Aria and it is expensive, out of my justification price range. I can't make my own decision though and get frustrated with myself and the expense of food in general. I go to Cafe Bellagio to calm down. I have meatloaf and vegies. It is really yummy but pretty damn salty and rich. Oh well, I wash it down with 2 glasses of wine and $45 later I am in bed. So much for a cheap dinner, I am hopeless sometimes. I would have joined Miss Catherine if I had A WORKING PHONE and could find them. What's done is done and at the end of the day I have managed to relax enough and am grateful not to have been rushed around like a loony. I wear myself out!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Before I start on Thursday's activities I will share with you a couple of observations I have made. In the evenings and possibly other odd times there is a strong sewerage smell as you pass by the casinos. I came to expect it each day. That's all. I can't explain the reason for it.

I have picked up a smoker's cough and it's not welcome. Regardless of being in a non smoking room, which in turn I expect is the whole floor, I could smell the smoke as soon as I walked in. This cough is to bother me for the rest of the trip and continue well past my return date. My skin and eyes are very dry even with constant hydration and excess moisturiser.

As Miss Catherine and I were walking along one day she said to me "have you noticed a lot of people have limps?" and I most definitely had noticed just like I had noticed the amount of wheelchair bound and disabled in Downtown LA. We tried to find a pattern or common thread other than the limp but there was not one to be found. It became a bit of an "I Spy" type thing which was very easy to play.

The voltage in the USA is half that of what we have in Australia so charging my phone and camera batteries took 2 days and didn't last any longer. Even though my phone wasn't working for calls I used it for the time and my alarm. I wondered why I had to keep charging it when I wasn't using it and this is the reason. Americans must get an electric shock when they come here!!! Baahhhaa!

The National Finals Rodeo is on and that means lots of cowboys. We all talk about picking up a horse riding, cow tying, bull bucking man in a hat but to tell you the truth they don't appeal to me. I think all the young ones who are participating in the event are being good lads and getting their beauty sleep which leaves all the bandy legged oldies out on the streets. So no, I will pass thanks.

Okay so onto Thursday and our private bus Krystal that is taking us to the outlet malls. I take the front seat as I like to see where we are going and get the best view. First stop is the Welcome To Vegas sign for a group photo. We literally take over the spot and other tourists are very patient with us for hogging the space. But wait we aren't finished yet! We do the Shim Sham Shimmy for Miss Jane's home video. I don't think I'm the only one feeling a bit goofy but it was fun.

We have 2 hours at the first outlet and everyone takes off in various directions. I see the Vanity Fair store and I am rapt as I think I will pick up some of my favourite bras but alas it is not to be. I am a common size! Never mind, I already bought 2 at Macy's. Oh that reminds me, I seem to have forgotten to tell you about my Macy's trip. Let's segue......

Oh dear I can't even remember what day it was. Anyway the point is, Macy's never lets me down. I got my new perfume in a gift box with shower gel and lotion that I have been waiting months for. I then bought a ring that I have been looking for for more months than the perfume and it was way cheaper than I expected. My last purchase was 2 bras and I can't tell you how difficult it is to find the right one of these. Oh and then I got a stash of Godiva chocolate bars. Segue back.......

Time is running out and I haven't made a purchase. I feel like a loser. I go into a very cheap looking store and find some t shirts for $3.98 each. What a ridiculous price! I buy three even though I will have to try and shrink them a little. I make a last stop at the Nike store and find 2 workout tops for $30 each which is very good. Thrilling! I am scared of being left behind so I hot foot it back to the bus and it turns out I am the first one back.

On the move we go to the next outlet which has the same stores plus a few more. It is outdoors and really quite nice. It's like something you might see on the Gold Coast. I am trying hard but not too hard to buy something but all I end up with is lunch and several bars of Godiva chocolate which I am really very happy about.

This time I am the last one back to the bus. There is a shoe purchase count and the number is 43 or something over the top like that. Most kittens have bought several pairs of Converse so they will be on foot display over the last few days. (The final tally for shoes will be approx 50 to which I will later add 1 pair) Time to be ferried back to the hotel and tonight will be a free one and I am glad of that as I am feeling very tired and rushed.

I make a date with Debby and after a short rest and shower we wander down to a supermarket that sells very cheap alcohol. I buy a 1 litre bottle of Smirnoff for $24. Isn't that outrageous? Miss Debby goes for the Australian white wine and I grab a bag of crisps to snack on. We make ourselves comfortable in Debby's room by putting everything within arm distance so we don't have to move once we sit down. The TV is on but we don't end up watching anything as we can't stop talking. The vodka is going down very fast as the glasses are those little ones that don't encourage drinking. Turns out I get a bit drunk, what a surprise, and it's not long before I have to go to bed. It has been very relaxing and fun to sloth about for the night.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Wednesday 10.30am and we are dining at The Flamingo Buffet for breakfast although lunch is starting to make an appearance. Eating at a buffet is dangerous because quite simply you want to eat almost everything and do a damn fine job of doing so. I take the sensible approach and start with fruit, then move on to a small serving of bacon and eggs. The seafood is proudly on display so I feel obliged to serve myself some. At this point I decide to make a take away sandwich for lunch which consists of a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. So yum!!! One cannot leave a buffet without having had dessert and I am torn between something not so chocolatey and something almost breakfasty. I choose pumpkin pie which turns out to be a wise choice.

We have free time for the day so Miss Catherine and I head to the shops. First we go to the Forum Shops and check out the MAC makeup. I buy Plum Dandy lipstick, Melba blush and Dazzle mascara for very good prices. We go into a shop called Anthropologie and must be in there for at least 1/2 hour, everything is so beautiful. I will come back and make more purchases but for now I buy an apron. I know!! It's pretty nice.

Then we head to Wynn/Encore casinos which are new and oh so swish. Too pricey for me. We go to the Fashion Mall but really don't have any time left as we have to be ready by 5.30pm for our lift to Fremont St.

So it's back into my ravishing red dress and getting ready for the Rat Pack Is Back show at The Plaza. First of all we meet some of the group and wander down Fremont St which is like a mall with a roof that displays various neon light shows and advertising. It is an assault on one's eyes even more so than The Strip, probably because it is all contained under a roof.

Back to The Plaza and we meet everyone at the bar (where else) for a drink before the show. As we enter the theatre we are shown to the front tables and are known as "The Group". We try to tell the waiters we are not the group they are waiting for and should not be sitting here but they don't understand. It gets quite ridiculous and one of the girls persists by going back to the maitre d to get his understanding. Personally I don't care anymore, it's 3 minutes to show time and The Group aren't even here!!! So bad luck. Well as bad luck would have it, they realise their mistake and we are moved as The Group enter. Then the waitress brings us our drink orders which all look and taste the same, but shouldn't be, and in the end we just drink them.

One by one the actors come on stage and do their bit and while I am in love with Frank Sinatra (the actor playing him that is), Dean Martin looks very strange, facelifted and so fake tanned that I can't take him seriously (see photo). He looks a bit like Dean but he doesn't and I can't stop staring at him with an odd squint in my face. Anyway the show is lots of fun, good old fashioned and stupid jokes that you would have in that era and the sexual and patronising jokes towards women. The woman playing Marilyn Monroe needs to do some serious research as her speaking voice was truly awful and not like Marilyn at all. Please if you are going to play a real person then do them the courtesy and your audience of getting it right or at least close! I disputed the talents of this woman with a kitten but it didn't go down well.

Post show we went to a bar called Firefly upstairs for tapas. Unfortunately most of the food was spicy and/or laden with garlic so I really didn't have much choice. Everyone wanted to share by buying 4 or so plates but there was no way I could do this. 2 of us opted out of the sharing thing so I didn't feel alone. The food was quite nice and the cosmos were going down easily. Soon it was time to go home which was probably a good thing as it turns out I was a bit drunk, hence my adamant stance against the Marilyn Monroe actress.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Guess where I am going for breakfast today? That's right, Cafe Bellagio. So I meet Miss Catherine and Miss Deb and off we go. I make the indulgent decision to have waffles and of course I feel quite ill afterwards. We have our tap dancing masterclass today and really I should have filled up on protein but holidays are no place for guilt. I do buy some fruit salad to have for my lunch though.

Our masterclass with Miss Rusty Frank is about 4 hours or so and I am wearing new taps on my shoes which turns out to be a hindrance as the floor is super slippery and I am very hesitant to go nuts. I don't think it really mattered in the end as I couldn't keep up anyway. It was very difficult or rather tricky and while I know I would be able to do the steps after some practice it just wasn't coming together for me today. Oh well, never mind! It was great taking part.

Afterwards we cabbed it back to The Strip to pick up our Cirque De Soleil "Viva Elvis" tickets at Aria and then it was home to quickly shower, try to eat and get back there on time for the show. We grabbed some food and ate without taking a breath.

Tonight I wear the blue dress. It has a ribbon that goes around me under the bust but it looks awful so I put it in my hair because that hasn't gone right either. In the end I look suitably glamorous and head out the door. We arrive at the theatre just in the nick of time and it turns out I am sitting next to some mini kittens and parents with Miss Catherine in front of me. I finally take a breath and relax.

The show is fabulous but I must say a little lacking in the acrobatics department. It is more dancing which is truly wonderful and the duet for Suspicion Minds has us in a romantic swoon, but we are at a circus so I am expecting more somersaults. There was an absolutely fantastic scene with 5 or so performers dressed as superheroes jumping on trampolines and up and down walls. That was truly a highlight!

After the show we go to the Gold Lounge where we are given diva seating. We were given a bunch of 2 for 1 drinks passes on the way in so we were set for the night with cheap drinks. Otherwise some serious dollars would have been spent. The cameras are clicking furiously and we enjoy pretending to be "somebody". A couple of hours go by and tiredness is making itself known. Mr Shane has passed out simply due to insomnia but of course it is mistaken for drunkenness and he is asked to leave. Time for bed.

Another ritzy night of entertainment and frivolity has been had.