A New Vegas Dilemma: Could a Person Survive 11 Straight Days in Sin City?

vegas line

At the supple age of 23 I started making an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas every March with a group of close friends. When we planned that first trip, we were just kind of taking a shot in the dark.

“The first weekend of March Madness seems to have the most—and usually the craziest—games, let’s try that.”

And for the next seven years, we assumed we had nailed it from the very beginning. Who wouldn’t want to be in Vegas—in a sportsbook full of giant TVs, free drinks and other degenerate gamblers diehard sports fans—while the most mind-blowing playoffs in all of sports was going on.

Forty-eight do-or-die games in four days. Simultaneously bouncing back and forth between your bets and your bracket. Waking up at 8:30am (games start at 9:15am on Vegas Standard Time) even though you didn’t go to sleep until 5am. It was the perfect weekend.

And then, because of a wedding that several of us in the group had to attend last year on that very weekend (a wedding that damn well better last a lifetime), we changed the tradition and visited the Mecca of bad decisions on Conference Championship Weekend instead.

And…it…was………AWESOME.

Do you know how many games there are over the four-day period on Championship Weekend?

167.

That’s not a typo.

Do you know how many fewer people descend on Vegas for Championship Weekend compared to that first weekend of March Madness?

67% fewer. (rough estimate)

From a crowd standpoint, you’re pretty much never waiting for anything during Championship Weekend, but during March Madness, your waits look like this:

  • At least 20 minutes for the cab line when you first arrive at the airport
  • Another 20 minutes to check into your hotel room. Nothing is more frustrating than standing in that concierge line while getting a constant whiff of that sweet gambling smell from across the hall
  • Showing up at the sports book at the ungodly hour of 7am just to secure seats for the 9am tip-offs
  • Up to a 30-minute line every time you want to place a new bet or cash in a winning ticket
  • Getting laughed at by the host when you show up at a restaurant with 10 guys and without a reservation at 9pm on a weekend night
  • And yes, another 20 minutes or so for the cab line to finally escape your hotel on that Sunday morning

When you consider the amount of games and the emptiness of the city, Championship Weekend becomes a no-brainer, right?

We all agreed. So we returned this year for that same weekend. And though most of us walked away losers from a betting standpoint, we were basically stroking each other’s hard-ons the entire time over how smart we were to have finally figured out the right weekend.

This group has progressed in nine years from “the single, immature college guys who party way too hard all weekend” to “the slightly more mature (and less single) guys who party way too hard but are also dangerously addicted to sports gambling” to “the old married men who look strikingly like those people addicted to horse race betting.”

Part of me wonders if it’s just that progression into grumpy old man status that’s got us wanting the less crazy weekend.

Fast forward to this past Thursday and instantly my smugness over choosing the right weekend disappeared quicker than you can say “buzzer beater.” I was one of the many chumps stuck at his desk while the first set of Tourney games was under way. Sure, thanks to the beauty of technology I could watch all the games on my computer, but it just wasn’t the same.

First Dayton and Harvard pulled off incredible upsets, then Uconn, St. Louis and North Dakota State all won crazy overtime games in the span of forty minutes, and finally Texas escaped Arizona State’s upset bid with a ludicrous buzzer-beating layup.

Yep, there aren’t nearly as many games over the whole day as Championship Weekend, but these games mean more. There’s no question of whether or not the teams that are NCAA Tournament locks are taking it easy and resting guys. Every close game is ratcheted up 10 notches in intensity because someone’s season (and possibly many players’ careers) will come to an abrupt end.

When last night ended with the ultimate tease in Manhattan’s near upset of Louisville followed by New Mexico State’s jaw-dropped heroics to take San Diego State to overtime, I started chain smoking cigars, googling “underground blackjack tables Los Angeles” and walking around in public double-fisting 24oz light beers. It just felt right.

Several of my Vegas cohorts wouldn’t dare go back to the original March Madness weekend for our trip, and that’s fine. I love everything about basketball in Vegas so much that I’m perfectly OK with going back for Conference Championship Weekend ever year. The only decision left for me? Do I move the planned date of asking my girlfriend to marry me from “as soon as a 16 seed beats a one seed” to “immediately” so I can use the bachelor party next year as an excuse to be in Vegas for the 11 days spanning both these incredible basketball weekends?

I doubt there’s enough medicine in the world to get me back to normal after a trip like that.

The nostalgia will be even sadder on Friday, as I root for Duke to lose from my office…a group of 300 strangers cheering like crazy for whichever underdog is facing Duke was always my favorite part of March Madness weekend.

That settles it. Next year, I rent out a place in Vegas for the entire month of March.

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Hollywood’s Super Bowl: Could It Possibly Be Better Than The Real Thing?

oscar

My, how fast a monthlong writing hiatus goes by.

When I last left you, I was picking the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl. A fitting end to a season of football picks that hit rock bottom about five times and never hovered much above it.

Since my last post was about the real Super Bowl, I figure I’ll kick off my comeback tour with a running timeline of the Super Bowl of Entertainment…The Oscars of course.

And who wouldn’t want to read all about Hollywood’s favorite self-congratulatory night from someone who’s actually in the industry?

As with any Super Bowl viewing, the action doesn’t begin at kickoff. It starts with an unforgettable pregame show to get the juices flowing. Let’s see what went on during ABC’s 90-minute Red Carpet broadcast:

  • 4:02-4:06pm (PST): We begin with three interviews that all land on the bizarre scale: Sidney Poitier can’t hear a damn thing the interviewer is asking so he vaguely tells us how “things are different than they used to be;” then Viola Davis and her husband tell ABC that they don’t do date night at the movies…they do date night by getting freaky in the hot tub (paraphrasing); and finally, June Squibb, the 84-year-old Best Supporting Actress nominee, tells us about her days as a stripper…or her days playing the role of a stripper. I can’t remember which it was. All I know is this event is giving off a strong elderly sex vibe already.
  • 4:12-4:14pm: ABC apparently gets the ship back on course as they do back-to-back interviews with people we’d much rather associate with a hot tub, Amy Adams and Anna Kendrick. Adams made the crucial mistake of not continuing her side boob dominance over the rest of the female population, opting instead for a dress that shows off only the standard top boob.
  • 4:15pm: Sally Hawkins, a nominee I’ve never heard of, shows up in what I’m guessing is the same dress my grandmother wore at her wedding in the late 1940s. You couldn’t cover more skin with ugly lace if you were trying to win a bet.
  • 4:20pm: A very pregnant Kerry Washington reminds me that as luck would have it, roughly 27 of mine and my girlfriend’s friends are currently expecting a baby. This is particularly insane and if it’s this year’s version of “everyone’s getting married,” consider me not on board. It’s just difficult to keep up with. So I’m proposing that from now own, my friends whose last name begins with A-M are allowed to have a baby only on even years, and my friends whose last name begins with N-Z have dibs on the odd years.
  • 4:23pm: You know why DVR exists? So I can skip over a taped piece called “how a handbag became such an important character in the movie Blue Jasmine.” Seriously.
  • 4:30pm: ABC runs a slow motion replay/montage of all the people who have been interviewed over the first 30 minutes of the broadcast. Why? We already need to be reminded of those four atrocious Q&A’s?
  • 4:31pm: Ahh, and finally we’ve reached the portion of the show titled “People I’ve told my girlfriend I’d leave her for.” Enter Jennifer Lawrence.
  • 4:33pm: ABC shows a clip of actors talking about their first time getting nominated. Wait, thee only explanation for Christopher Walken’s appearance is that the producers literally just dug him out of a grave, slightly brushed him off and stuck him in front of a camera. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

Christopher Walken

  • 4:51pm: Thank god, I thought the awkward interviews were over after the first half hour. But here’s Jamie Foxx telling the world that his daughter, who he’s here with, is 20 years old and showing a lot of leg. Thanks for pointing that out, Jamie.
  • 4:53pm: Jared Leto is maybe the most naturally beautiful woman to walk the red carpet so far tonight (I just want everyone to know I made this joke roughly 40 minutes before Ellen did).
  • 4:55pm: I’m pretty sure Tyson Beckford is doing a horrible job as ABC’s fashion correspondent, and it’s confirmed when my girlfriend finally starts paying attention to the broadcast and rips him to shreds. Can’t blame her considering Beckford’s most insightful statement so far is “We’ve got Matthew McConaughey’s wife in a nice pink dress, and we’ve got Sandra Bullock in nice blue dress.” Groundbreaking work.
  • 5:17pm: This is so boring. Why would anyone watch this? Now they’re showing a montage of how this area of Hollywood was made ready during the rainy LA weekend. Which reminds me, I’d be willing to bet my prize-winning dog on Ellen’s opening joke being a poke at how everyone in LA is reacting to this rare monsoon.
  • 5:19pm: Here’s a good idea, let’s interview the guy who’s singlehandedly responsible for tonight’s ceremony about five minutes before it starts. I’m sure he’ll be nice & relaxed, casual, natural…as a single stream of urine slowly drips down his leg.

So basically, this pregame show was just as compelling as every sports pregame show. What a waste.

Let’s blast through the timeline during the three-hour broadcast of the actual awards ceremony:

  • 5:32pm: Aaaand we’re off…and ChaChing! As expected, the very first thing Ellen jokes about is the rain. We celebrities are a predictable people.
  • 5:39pm: Ellen finishes her seven-minute opening monologue with this killer line: “Possibility #1 is that 12 Years A Slave Wins. Possibility #2 is that you’re all racists.” She might earn herself permanent Oscar hosting duties tonight.
  • 5:41pm: Jared Leto is our first winner (Supporting Actor), and makes every other winner not want to give a speech the rest of the night because he gives the greatest “thank you, Mom “speech ever.
  • 5:43pm: ….And he’s still going, moving over to politics (thanking people in Ukraine & Venezuela) and then to actual thank you’s for his colleagues.
  • 5:44pm: ….And he’s wrapping it up with a political stand on AIDS. He really covered everything he cares about in this world, apparently.
  • 5:48pm: Jim Carrey makes a good LSD joke, the camera catches Bono laughing, he realizes the camera’s on him, he abruptly stops laughing. How dare we think he has a sense of humor.
  • 5:50pm: Brief aside: During the animation montage, there’s a quick clip of Fantasia. Listen, how could you sleep at night if you made that movie? A children’s movie featuring the most famous cartoon character in history and not a single word is uttered the entire time??? I’m still stewing over the time my Mom let me rent this at Blockbuster and I cried for 75 straight minutes while waiting for Minnie Mouse, Goofy and others to show up and start interacting with Mickey. That movie will haunt me for life.
  • 5:58pm: Seeing these celebrities not be able to connect on the single cheek kiss or the double cheek kiss makes me so happy. I thought I was the only one who could never read that situation properly.
  • 6:50pm: That 60-minute gap in my timeline is due to the producers running through 11 categories that no one could possibly care about. Would it kill them to mix in one popular category every 30 minutes or so?
  • 6:52pm: This seems like a good time to clarify my “read about The Oscars from someone who’s in the industry” comment, especially to new readers. I should have written “from someone who lives in the city where the industry is headquartered.”
  • 6:57pm: U2  performs and it’s not very exciting. How could The Oscars get this wrong? You elevate any bad awards show musical performance by planting Taylor Swift in the audience and panning to her overdancing repeatedly.
  • 7:47pm: This installment of The Oscars is dedicated/themed around Heroes In Movies…and by definition, every single movie ever made has a hero. So The Oscars were dedicated to movies? Way to go out on a limb with the theme.
  • 8:30pm: Turns out a run on relevant categories isn’t that much more exciting than the irrelevant categories.
  • 8:58pm: The night ends with 12 Years A Slave winning the coveted Best Picture category.

I think we need to split up the Best Picture category. One award should be for “the movie we enjoyed so much that we’ll probably watch it over & over for the next few years” (That’s my definition of Best Picture, which is why American Hustle got my vote). The other award should be: “The best ‘well done yet difficult to watch’ film.” Pretty self-explanatory. I think most Best Pictures land in this latter category and I hate it.

It turns out Hollywood’s version of the Super Bowl is about as entertaining as watching Peyton Manning compete in the real Super Bowl. Not sure which Super Bowl over this past month was the bigger waste of time.