punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Las Vegas: Day 3 - Star Trek and Rendevous with Adam

[Originally posted 2004-06-22]
Argh! The Internet connection at the Luxor keeps refreshing and then I lost a 4-page entry because I am forced to use Internet Explorer on this dumb laptop, and it doesn't cache forms. Grrrr...

Okay, I woke up Tuesday feeling a not so hot. We had breakfast with Sean and Louann again, and then I did some gambling. I didn't win anything, although I do have a "1 cent" cashout coupon that I kept for humor's sake. Heh. I played my favorite, the "I Dream of Jeanie" nickel slots, and was winning, but then played her too long, and lost everything I had gained. My fault. "Oooh... thank you Master!"

There's a bit of wisdom to betting in Vegas you don't often hear about: you have to bet big to win big. It's true when you think about it, but you rarely win big 5 cents at a time, you know?

Later, we went to "The Star Trek Experience" with Sean and Louann. It was pretty good. It started off a bit crappy at Quark's Bar, because the food was overpriced, rather bland, and the whole place was so dimly lit, I couldn't see anything. A guy in a Klingon costume confirmed this when he wandered by our table and said, "I see you are paying to much for bad food." Our waiter was really odd. I guess you kind of have to be, to be dressed in Star Trek garb and speaking about "Cardassian pita pockets." Average meal there was about $13.95, but the faire was no more better than something you could get at half the price at Bennigans, Chili's, or TGI Fridays. We got two souvenir Borg-head cups, which are kind of creepy.

But it got better when we went to two shows, "Borg 4-D" and "The Klingon Experience," and they were pretty good! Now, I am not that much of a Trek fan. I like "Next Generation" and "Voyager," but think that the classic series was hokey, even if I recognize its place in advancing sci-fi as a real medium.

The Borg 4-D was worth it, if anything, because of the Shiatsu-style massage you get when infected with nanoprobes. But the whole experience was much more than that. No matter which show you choose, you go down a hall where there are a lot of Star Trek memorabilia. I liked that a lot. It's done like a museum timeline from the future, and had real props from the show and movies. When you put in your ticket, you are led into an interactive experience with actors and sets...

... okay, a side note about the sets. The first time I walking into it, my brain had a kind of seizure. It is so realistic, that part of my brain suddenly said, "BACK UP, BACK UP!! YOU ARE TOO CLOSE TO THE TV!! AUGH, WE CAN'T GET OUT!! WE'RE HALLUCINATING, OR SOMETHING BECAUSE IT'S LIKE AROUND US AND THIS MUST BE A DREAM--" before another part went, "Oh, relax! It's supposed to be that way. You are in a set. See? It's real, and TV did not suck us in. Now pay attention to the nice actress in the federation uniform." But that part of the brain went nuts later because it just kept analyzing everything, like I was actually on a starship. I swear, if I am ever kidnapped by aliens, I will be incredibly annoying with all my questions. I managed NOT to ask actors how an LCARS panel worked, but while walking down the Enterprise hallways, I thought, "I wonder what this panel does?" and "I never thought the floor of the Enterprise felt like concrete..." IT'S NOT REAL, IT'S JUST A SET!!! "Oooh! Look at the Engineering station! That shows the warp generator status, but how come no one is manning it during an attack?" IT'S NOT REAL!! There must have been at least half a dozen times I realized that I had found a MUCH more efficient way to automate something, or streamline communications, or something really basic that would simplify a dozen problems at once, and then got a rush of GT brain fluid before it deflated with "Oh yeah... it's just a set. Bummer. because if they rewired this and had a server here, they could maintain an automated--" IT'S JUST A TV SHOW!!! I need help...

... so the Borg experience was great, and the Klingon experience was... well, not as great. But one very neat effect was a point where you are "transported" rather suddenly. The room goes dark, I think they blow some fine mist in, it moves slightly, disorienting you in the dark, and then when the lights go up, you are in the transporter room. The neat part was you had no idea what happened to the other room. I mean, the walls and ceilings had no seams, and even the floor under your feet had changed. You went from one small, dark closet-like room, to a big, round, well-lit one. It was really like you'd been teleported; I couldn't figure out how they did it. The Klingon experience was more a "shake-and-bump" kind of thing, where the 3D effect was done with multiple screens around you (which would have been better if some of the projections were in clear focus), and the Borg thing was mostly 3-D using polarized glasses. The Klingon experience was longer, but had a poorly-conceived plot that catered to fan service with a maturity age of about 12. The Borg experience was better a bit more believable, but shorter.

At the end, they offer you a "free" photo of you with stars from any series, but in "free" they mean "$19.95 or free if you apply for a Star Trek/Paramount Visa card." No thanks. I did go through the gift shop, and bought a tribble. I had always wanted a tribble since I was a kid, and this one warbles and squeaks. Christine got a Romulan shot glass, and a Borg bear. Sean tried to convince me to buy a classic Trek series shirt, and we could both go around Vegas like Trek nerds. I wasn't feeling so hot after being tumbled around by the Klingon ride, so I declined. Later, he went into the "Film yourself into an episode" booth, and acted like a Klingon attacking Kirk's Enterprise. He totally went over the top, and everyone was watching. He drew a big crowd, who applauded his efforts. But he wouldn't pay $40 for a 3-minute DVD of himself.

We then went back to the hotel where I took a short nap (which helped me feel a lot better) before I went out to meet Adam Doxtater, a.k.a. "Madadmin" on Madpenguin.org. We exchanged books, and Adam showed me around the MGM Grand (where he works), which is HUGE. I mean, it's ginormous. He told me a lot of the secrets, including a time when the fish in a huge tank were boiled to death due to a heater that went bad, some stores that didn't do well, people who go around nude at inappropriate times, and how a butler can really hose Windows attempting to "fix it" for a client. We had dinner at a small cafe, and talked about our previous jobs, the history of Madpenguin.org, and 9/11 (fascinating how it affected Vegas). After we were done, the waitress became kind of starstruck with us because we were both authors. Heh. I had to be back by 9 because Sean wanted to go out to some titty bars, and Adam had to get ready to fly out to Oregon the next morning. Adam is a really, really cool guy, and I was glad to have had this opportunity.

When I got back, I was exhausted (part of which was due to a confusing tram system, so Adam and I did a lot more walking and getting lost that we anticipated), and Christine was felling really bad, so we went to bed instead. We had to get up the next morning really early, anyway, because we had to be at the Tour Bus entrance of the hotel by 6:50am.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000516.html
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