Tuesday various

  • Will singing “My Way” in the Philippines get you killed?

    Still, the odds of getting killed during karaoke may be higher in the Philippines, if only because of the ubiquity of the pastime. Social get-togethers invariably involve karaoke. Stand-alone karaoke machines can be found in the unlikeliest settings, including outdoors in rural areas where men can sometimes be seen singing early in the morning. And Filipinos, who pride themselves on their singing, may have a lower tolerance for bad singers. [via]

  • Salon.com on Kevin Smith: The face of flying while fat:

    And then I read Southwest’s apology to Smith, which includes such gems as “If a Customer cannot comfortably lower the armrest and infringes on a portion of another seat, a Customer seated adjacent would be very uncomfortable and a timely exit from the aircraft in the event of an emergency might be compromised if we allow a cramped, restricted seating arrangement.” And I think, first, “If we allowed a cramped, restricted seating arrangement? Because ‘The Greyhound of the Skies’ is positively roomy when there are no fat people on board?” And second, I think, “Translation: Fat paying customers’ fully expected discomfort only becomes a problem for us if it also makes the paying customers we care about uncomfortable.” [via]

  • Speaking of apologies, does Tiger Woods owe you one? Probably not. [via]
  • A neat, albeit a little disturbing, H.R. Giger cake [via]
  • And finally, the truth behind elephant brain power:

    “We are a bit limited by how little we know about elephants, but the odd glimmers we get seem to be rather remarkable.”

    Incidentally, today is your last day to listen to Inside the Elephant Mind on the BBC player. [via]

What happened in Vegas

l to r: Hireling, TVGM, Weird_1, KINGDINOSAUR, tinaw, CaptainEvilElvis, Scouty, bosko, porpoise, GlitterRock, UnReality (me)

I had, it must be said, a terrific time in Las Vegas.

I posted to my Twitter feed as often as I could while I was there, from Thursday afternoon to Monday morning, and even a little bit on the plane ride home. And I posted several photos as well when I returned. I did very little gambling in Vegas, beyond the occasional slot machine, and there’s a lot I didn’t get to see. But I had a blast meeting (and re-meeting) my fellow cappers. There’s already talk of another Capfest next year, maybe in San Francisco, and if I can I’ll definitely attend.

I arrived from New York on Thursday afternoon and almost immediately ran into porpoise and her husband, CaptainEvilElvis, at the airport. We decided to hop a city bus to the hotel — only about 15 minutes away — which worked out surprisingly well for us. After checking in, I eventually made my way back downstairs to the coffee shop on the casino floor and met up with some of the rest of the group — including bosko, our event organizer. We hung around for a few hours, just talking, taking advantage of the shop’s free wif, and — that famed Capfest tradition — writing silly things on the back of postcards.

We were staying at the Orleans, since bosko works there, and by 7 o’clock just about all of our group had arrived. We moseyed over T.G.I. Friday’s for dinner, then afterward to the movie theater upstairs to see the Bruce Willis lack-of-actioner Surrogates. By that point, though, I was sort of running on empty — what with the 5 to 6-hour flight and three-hour time difference — and I bailed on seeing the movie. I’d already seen it the Sunday before, and I wasn’t in any rush to repeat the experience. (Though I’m pleased that everyone seemed to share my low opinion of the film the next morning.)

The next morning we had breakfast, then hung around the hotel for a little while capping more postcards. (I never had an accurate count, but we easily had dozens of postcards to mail out when we were done.) Then we split up into a couple of separate groups, six of us heading to theĀ Neon Graveyard.

After that, we grabbed a late lunch at In-and-Out Burger, which makes some damn fine burgers. It’s a West Coast-only chain, so I was actually really looking forward to this, and the food didn’t disappoint. (Although now I’m eager to try Five Guys, which I hear might be as good, if not better. Several locations just opened up on Long Island, as a matter of fact.)

After that, we were going to head out to Red Rock Canyon, to meet up with the rest of our group, but there just wasn’t enough time. I’m sorry we didn’t get to see it, but the Pinball Museum, which we did get to see, was actually quite cool.

After that, it was movie night at bosko’s place — a Rifftrax short and the MST3K episode Hobgoblins — then back to the hotel, to collapse from exhaustion.

On Saturday, we met again for breakfast — although we never managed to all meet at the same time — capped a few more postcards, and then split up again for some sightseeing. Several of us drove over to the Excalibur — where I stayed the last time I was in Vegas, some 15-20 years ago — and then walked up and down the Strip.

We met up with everybody else at the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign (which is where that group photo up top was taken), then walked back to the car and drove to the Sahara, which was within easy walking distance of the World’s Largest Gift Shop. (It was a lot of fun, as the pictures below will probably attest, but I wasn’t at all impressed by its size.)

But I can’t deny it was a lot of fun. After a little more walking, we made our way back to the Orleans, where we hung out again at the coffee shop. (Seriously, I think I became slightly addicted to Seattle’s Best Coffee while I was there.) I got in a little late-night capping while we filled out yet more postcards, and then before you know it, it was time for ice cream cake from the Baskin-Robbins in the hotel’s food court to celebrate KINGDINOSAUR‘s birthday. After that, we went to one of the rooms upstairs and watched an absolutely hilarious amateur stage production of Manos: The Hands of Fate. It was pitch-perfect, and obviously made with love — of the movie’s awfulness, if not of the movie itself — and many thanks to GlitterRock for bringing it along.

Several people were leaving on Sunday, some very early in the morning, so for those of us left it became pretty much a free-for-all. After grabbing a quick breakfast, I decided to walk over to the Rio and get a ticket to Penn & Teller. I didn’t have much energy left for anything else, so I just went back to the hotel after that. I grabbed some lunch (an ostrich burger from the food court) and did some last-minute gift-shopping, then spent most of the afternoon hanging around my room watching TV and poking around online. (Seriously, a Reuben sandwich from room service and an episode of Barney Miller is about as exciting as things got.)

Around 7, though, I got changed and left for the show (which started seating at 8). Unfortunately, I misjudged where I was supposed to turn off on Tropicana — having decided, for some reason, not to take the same route as I had that morning — and I wound up in a scary industrial park part of town. I promised myself if I survived without being mugged, I’d take a cab back to the Orleans. It took me about another hour to find the Rio, but I made there in plenty of time for the show. I had a great seat; it was a little expensive, but I decided to splurge, my last night in town. And despite being a good 30-40% material I’d seen the duo perform before — either on Broadway or on television — the show was great fun.

I didn’t manage to get either autograph after the show, although, again, I’ve seen them perform before. I bumped into bosko, porpoise, and CaptainEvilElvis outside the theater, and they offered me a ride home. (They’d been having dinner with director Ted V. Mikels, who’d been kind enough to sign cards for the rest of us who couldn’t make it.) We dropped bosko off at his apartment, then decided to go bowling at the Orleans. The two of them squarely beat me — though I rallied with a pair of strikes at the end — and then it was off to bed.

Monday was mostly just checking out, going to the airport — I can’t say I’m overly fond of McCarran International — and flying home. We actually did really well on that end, arriving in New York about an hour earlier than expected. I spent most of the flight napping and listening to podcasts, including Kij Johnson’s terrific short story “The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change” on PodCastle. My parents picked me up at Kennedy, and we grabbed some dinner on the way home. I took yesterday off just because I could.

Again, it was great fun. I’ve never had a bad time hanging out with other cappers — be it in San Antonio, or in Los Angeles, or any of the smaller get-togethers we’ve had here in New York. By and large, they’re good and funny people — and everybody I met this weekend was that in spades. It’s no wonder I’ve been capping regularly since 1996. It was one of the first things I discovered on the Internet, and I’m sure I’ll still be at it when the Internet is nothing more than a forgotten twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.

Onward, then, to Capfest 2010!