Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


What Has Happened To My Luxor Hotel?

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

My heart is breaking. Ever since the first time Mike and I drove through Las Vegas and saw the Luxor Hotel being built, it has been my favorite Vegas spot. We have stayed there countless times. There was the time when Mike and I were sick and stayed in the hotel the entire stay. Unlike the time we were trapped by sickness at the Sahara, it was an alright trip. There was another time when we arrived at 3am to get a room. The only rooms they had left were on the second floor. Ours overlooked the swimming pool and it was a short walk to the parking lot.

The first time we saw The Blue Man Group was on a lark at another visit to the pyramid. I thought the management of the Luxor Hotel were geniuses because The Blue Man Group brought such a unique flavor to Las Vegas.

Mike and I were driving back from San Diego last weekend. I saw the billboard.

“Bluephoria! Yeah, Mike, that’s what The Blue Man Group was all about.”

Mike nodded and replied, “That billboard said The Venetian.”

“It did? Maybe they are starting another show at The Venetian.”

“Yeah, they could do that.”

Carrot Top at the Luxor HotelWhen we drove past The Luxor, however, all mention of The Blue Man Group was gone. Instead, we saw a billboard for Carrot Top. It was the same picture from when he visited the Utah State Fair. Luxor lost The Blue Man Group in order to get Carrot Top? Tell me it can’t be true…


My Life In Swatches: Nefertiti

Filed under: My Life in Swatches,Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Nefertiti by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Ever since the mid-90’s, I have been obsessed with Egyptian art, so when I saw this watch in the Swatch store back in 2001, it took no deciding at all to buy it.

I bought it at the Swatch store in Las Vegas back when they used to be in Fashion Show Mall (now they are at Caesar’s Forum Shops). Mike and I were staying at the Luxor hotel and I remember thinking how lucky I was to be able to have an Egyptian watch from Swatch.

I had completely forgotten about the Horus Swatch from back in the 80’s. And I didn’t even know Osiris and Amneris even existed.

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996 by LauraMoncur from FlickrHere are some photos from the Luxor Hotel back in 1996. They were remodeling the hotel and my heart was breaking because they took out the Nile River Ride. Little did I know how far the Luxor depths could reach.

It’s funny how this watch represents so much to me. It’s not just about Egyptian art. It’s about a hotel in Las Vegas. It’s about the REASON we went to Vegas, which was Comdex. I look at that watch and can see the first Dot Com boom. It’s so much more than just a silly little watch.


Egypt Wants To Copyright The Pyramids

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 12:56 pm

Luxor Hotel September 2002 from Flickr

Egypt thinks that they have the right to copyright and charge royalties for pyramids. Considering how many different cultures came up with pyramid shaped buildings independently, I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.

What jurisdiction does Egyptian parliament have on The Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas? Why would Egyptian politicians do something this stupid? Grrr….

Via: diesel sweeties – Antediluviannoying


Twitter Log: 2007-12-26

Filed under: Twitter Log — @ 11:59 pm
  • Xmas with all of family is done. Off to the neighbor’s house across the street for the Xmas Decompression Party. Later: stumble home drunk. #
  • Home from neighbor’s party. Not quite drunk enough to stumble home. That’s good. No hangover tomorrow. #
  • Just made my hotel reservations for CES. I shouldn’t have procrastinated this long, but I got a good deal anyway. #
  • Still haven’t slept. Mike got me Luxor for the Nintendo DS. I’ve been up playing it all night. He gets me the BEST presents! #

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Google Sightseeing

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 am

The Luxor Hotel“Why bother seeing the world for real?” That’s the tagline for this enjoyable website. Thanks to Google Satellite Maps, we can see the world from an entirely different perspective. I talked about this before when I typed in the address to my childhood home, but this website concentrates on sites that we have seen from perspectives other than the satellite view.

Google Sightseeing

Imagine what The Las Vegas Strip would look like from outer space. What about the Hollywood Sign? How about the Rainbow Bridge in Southern Utah? All of these sites look vastly different from above.

The catchy tagline stating, “Why bother seeing the world for real?” misses the point. I feel as if I’m seeing the world for the first time…


Feeling Tired

Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 2:45 pm

I went camping at Lake Mead over the weekend and I didn’t write a word the entire time. I had brought my Palm and the beginning of Chapter Nine with me, but I didn’t even look at it all weekend. I swam in the lake. I played with the inflatable shark. I bounced around the beach ball. I fed quail, bunnies and mice leftover Jiffy Pop popcorn. I looked at the stars. I spotted the Luxor hotel’s spotlight from miles away. I drank lots of Blue Hawaiians and Pina Coladas. I even played video games on the Palm, but I didn’t write a word.

I didn’t write in my personal journal either. When I say I didn’t write a word, I mean it. I didn’t write for my journal. I didn’t write on my chapter. I didn’t write for the blog. I didn’t write at all. I think the closest I came to writing was when I wrote in the date in the high score field on my video games. How does that rate?

I’m feeling a little tired of writing. I know that taking more time off isn’t the answer, but right now, that’s all I’m going to do. I’m saying hello so you know that I’m still alive, but I don’t have anything profound to say today. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. Maybe you’ll have Chapter Nine next Monday. For now, all I can do is check in.


DDR Search

Filed under: Reviews,Video Games — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Yes, I know it’s strange, but I was reading a DDR Forum on the Internet. Ok, it’s not so strange considering how obsessed I am. One of the members was talking about a recent trip to Las Vegas. Here is an excerpt from his entry:

Just came back from Vegas and about to go to Los Angeles. While in Vegas, i tried to play on as many ddr machines as I can.

Here’s the list of where i’ve played

Stratosphere – Extreme NY NY – Megamix (bootleg vr. of Extreme) and USA(upgraded to Max 2) Luxor – Extreme Gameworks – Extreme Circus Circus – Extreme ( the most ddr machine i’ve ever seen in one place, that was cool)

He had gone to My Vegas and played DDR on every machine he could find there. I was feeling jealous and desperately wanted to go to Vegas just to play DDR on as many machines as I could.

Mike convinced me that it might be better to just look for DDR machines in Salt Lake and play them here rather than driving seven and a half hours to go to a different city to play. Friday night, we went to Hollywood Connection in West Valley. They have two machines: DDR 3rd Mix (but it really had the songs for lots of mixes) and a Pump It Up machine (but it was broken). It would have been a great night of playing, but the one machine that worked was surrounded by at least twelve kids. No room for me.

Mike took me back to Hollywood Connection on Saturday afternoon and the place was completely different. The DDR machine was abandoned and I was able to play twenty dollars worth of tokens on the thing. We were there for about two hours and only twice did anyone else want a turn. I gave it up graciously (frankly because I was getting tired).

Sunday, Mike and I went to The Gateway. After lunch, he let me play for about a half hour on a DDR 3rd Mix machine at the arcade. It was a dollar a play (as opposed to 75 cents at HC), but I still had fun. I didn’t have to fight any kids to play there either. I guess Friday night is the big night for DDR among the adolescent sect.

I just checked out DDR Freak Machine Locations and I only have two machines out of eleven under my belt. Who knew that there were so many in my area? I can just feel Mike cringing at the idea of taking me to so many arcades. Please, can we go? Please, please?!


Back to the Gym

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I went back to the gym last Tuesday. Mike and I met there to take a Trekking class, which is a class on the treadmill where the teacher tells you what to do with your speed and incline to music. It’s kind of like my i2Workout CDs without the robotic voice.

The last time I went to the gym was sometime in early June. I used the elliptical trainer and there was no incident, but I still hated it there. I was still mad because of The Bosu Incident. Heck, I’m still upset over it and it’s still hard to set foot in the door.

After all the times I’ve compared it to The Oasis Spa at the Luxor Hotel, I realized that I was wrong. I went to the spa at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Luxor on our last Vegas trip and my gym is way better. There are more machines and the changing facilities are nicer. The only ways Luxor beats Xcel Spa & Fitness is the hot tub is larger and more luxurious, the showers have their specialty products in them (available for purchase at Dandera’s Bath and Body Shop) and there is fresh fruit in the waiting area. I’d much rather be able to choose which machine to use without waiting than to have fresh fruit waiting for me. The more I think about it, the more I realize my gym is a great place. I just had one bad experience there.

It had been about a month since I last went to the gym. You wouldn’t think a month could change things, but they did. All the signs begging you to narc on your friends were different. They had some Christmas in July promotional going on as well. Then, when it came time to scan myself in, the scanner was gone. Now, I need to hand my card to the person at the front desk so they can scan it and make sure I’m up-to-date before they return my card. Plus, one of their washing machines is broken, so they are low on towels. Other than that, everything still looked the same.

The Tuesday Trekking class has a rotating teacher. Every time I go there, I never know who is going to teach it. Each teacher is different, but they are all good in their own ways. Last Tuesday’s teacher was the small blonde. Every time she gives a command, she says something positive afterward. She tells us to speed up and a few seconds later, she says, “Nice!” She tells us to slow down and a few seconds later, she says, “Recover!” She tells us to change the incline and increase the speed at the same time and a few seconds later, she says, “Keep going!” Just like when Mr. Rogers introduced me as his television friend, I feel like she is talking to me personally. It feels like she notices that I’m working hard and she’s giving me positive reinforcement.

I kept being distracted by a girl on a treadmill in front of me. She was thin and had brown hair. I never saw her face, but from the back, she looked like the Bosu girl and I wanted to punch her. For all I know, it was a girl that was shaped just like the Bosu girl, but that didn’t calm me down. The more I saw her run on the treadmill (she wasn’t following along with the class, she was just exercising on her own), the more I realized that she could have kicked my ass on the treadmill just as much as in the Bosu Synergy class.

While I was exercising, I fantasized about how I could get back at that girl.  The best I could come up with was tripping her and when she got back up say something like, “You should really work on your balance. You know, they have a class called Bosu Synergy. Maybe you should take it some time.” I chuckled to myself as I missed the command from the teacher. All I heard was her response, “Nice!”

Previous: Does Anybody Love Their Gym That Much?    Next: 24 Hour Fitness


June Search Strings

Filed under: Blog Stuff — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

lds garments hot sweaty

I don’t know how I get in this situation. Seven people found me with this search string. I have never talked about the garments that LDS people wear under their clothing, yet I’ve shown up on this search string. I know it must have been my Wardrobe Malfunction entry that showed up on the list, even though it doesn’t show up now. Worse yet, who knew there were seven people out there in the world wondering about hot and sweaty LDS garments.

If you’re wondering about LDS garments, here’s the lowdown from a philistine. After you take your sacrament in the LDS temple, you are allowed to wear LDS garments. They are basically boring underwear that signify the vows and pledges you made in the temple. They are made out of really lightweight material and they are white (or dingy gray if you haven’t replaced them for awhile). You wear them under everything, including your bra. I’ve never heard anyone complain about them during the summer. You’re not required to wear them, but they are a physical testament to your vows in the temple, so most LDS people here in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Salt Lake are proud to wear them.

how to be witty

If I had this answer, I would be the queen of the world. I have been striving for witty for so long that I really think it may be impossible to be witty at all times. I think it’s impossible to be Chandler 24-7. All that we can hope for is one truly brilliant moment when we are supremely funny. If you have more than one, count yourself lucky. I’ve given up on being witty and usually just resort to pratfalls.

ghost stinky smell

Stinky Ghost seems to be entertaining the populous. Even though the swamp cooler has been changed, we are still having stinky ghost problems. We are blaming them on poor ventilation and open windows often. The worst is when we have visitors. I feel like I have to explain to them that I really am a good housekeeper. It’s easier to just blame it on the ghost.

mike pinkston, greg wagstaff

It looks like some of my old friends are looking themselves up on the Internet or other people are looking for them. There is at least one other Mike Pinkston in the world and several other Greg Wagstaffs. I haven’t been able to find websites of the “real” Mike and Greg. If they existed, I would link to them.

bosu buy one get second half off

I’ve gotten lots of hits because of all my Bosu talk, but this one takes the cake. If you had one, why would you want another one? The only reason you might want to is to balance one on one foot and one on the other, which would understandably be much harder. Or maybe if you owned a gym, you might want to buy several. Otherwise, just learn how to do it with one. Your sister-in-law can buy her own.

coolest things to do -travel -events -you -just -can’t ?miss

Wow! What are they? How the hell did I come up on this search string? I have no idea what the coolest things to do are when you are traveling. I’ve been to Vegas at least twenty times and I still couldn’t tell you what the coolest thing to do there is. I guess I would have to say that the RA nightclub at the Luxor Hotel is the coolest thing to do in Vegas, but I really haven’t gone to all the cool nightclubs in Vegas, so it’s hard to judge. I really have no idea what the coolest things to do and which events I just can’t miss. When you find out, will you tell me?


God, I hate it when I’m stupid. It’s funny when a search string comes up, I notice my stupidity, but I had read that entry at least five times and didn’t notice the error. I originally named the entry KRCL. If you read it back in January and you didn’t know the Utah radio market, you would have just breezed right past the error and never noticed it. When I saw those call letters in my search string, I was confused. I didn’t remember writing about KRCL. Did I talk about wanting to be a DJ and considering doing volunteer work for the community radio station? I found the entry and quite frankly, no I didn’t.

No, I wrote about The Death of KCGL, the most important radio station of my young punk life and like a bozo used the wrong fucking call letters! Well, in computer land, I can edit history. Just like Winston in 1984, I can change my entry from back in January to reflect the correct call letters and erase all evidence of stupidity, except this entry, of course. No, this entry is a physical testament to my poor memory and incredible ability to mix two entirely different radio call letters.


Vegas Trip

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We got home late Monday night from our Vegas trip. We were supposed to be home on Friday night, but fate intervened. When we planned our trip, we took the amazing price on the hotel rooms at the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Luxor during the week, but we planned to check out on Friday when the prices went up to $135 a night. I remember asking Mike if he wanted to stay the weekend in Mesquite, where we can get a room for much cheaper on the weekends, but in the end, we decided that we would head back to Salt Lake and spend the weekend doing laundry and getting ready for our week.

On Friday, we checked out of the Luxor just fine and were right on schedule. We passed right through Mesquite with no temptation to stay the weekend. We wanted to get home. Mike had found a bunch of Xbox games that he wanted to play and I had the parts for him to fix my treadmill so it would work with the i2Workouts better. We were excited to get home, mow the lawn and do the laundry.

Just past Mesquite, in the twisty and turny part of the stretch of Arizona with no service, our plans took a turn. At first, I thought that I must be close to running out of gas because the car was making the same noise as the low fuel indicator, but a different light was showing. The red thermometer was telling me that the car was overheating. I immediately slowed from my ninety mph speed down to a reasonable sixty. I turned off the air conditioning and turned on the heater. I opened the windows and hoped that we would be able to get to St. George before the car gave out completely.

For all the cursing that I gave the Beetle, I should be happy because it didn’t give out. It held on and we made it to Ozzie and Rosie’s Shop. They were able to order our parts Friday night and we ended up extending our vacation over the weekend and into Monday. I was a major crab cake (my treadmill was waiting for me), so I had a hard time enjoying St. George on foot. Ozzie did an amazing job fixing our water pump and solved our Check Engine light problem while he was at it.

Even though we didn’t plan it, we ended up staying in a less expensive hotel over the weekend, just like I suggested to Mike before we left. It was a little Best Western on St. George Blvd, close to Foreign Auto Parts and Service. We ate at the little restaurants to the west of our hotel. We were forced to relax because there was really nothing to do there without a car to get us around the town. We sat in the hot tub, we exercised in the fitness room and we indulged ourselves at the Deluxe Breakfast Buffet. We even did laundry in the Guest Laundry. It wasn’t a perfect ending to our trip, but it could have been worse.

We could have been trapped in that twisty and turny part of the freeway in Arizona without a mechanic in site. We could have blown a head gasket trying to get our car into St. George. We could have been broke and unable to pay the reasonable rates that Ozzie charged us. We could have been stuck in Panquitch or Paragonah, where there is even less to do than in downtown St. George. We could have ended up with a crooked mechanic instead of the honest and fair service we got from Ozzie. There were so many “could haves” that haunted me, that I was just happy to rest in the air conditioned comfort of my hotel room.

When my mom found out that we had to stay in St. George for the next couple of days, waiting for parts, she suggested that we rent a car and go to Mesquite. I told her, “Mom, I used up all my good luck just getting here. I don’t have any left for Mesquite.”


The Perfect Run

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

They say that the ideal running environment is a trail run on pine needles, but “they” obviously don’t run as often or in as many places as I have. Where there are pine needles, there are pine trees. Where there are pine trees, I am going to trip on a fucking pinecone. It’s just how nature works. You can’t have the pine needles without the pinecones. No, the ideal running environment is not a trail run on pine needles; it’s the sixth floor at the Luxor Hotel.

Like any pyramid, the Luxor Hotel is an engineering marvel. The inside of the pyramid is basically hollow, making a huge atrium filled with waterfalls and amusement park attractions. The rooms of the hotel line the outside of the pyramid, so each floor is a square of rooms. I like the sixth floor best because it’s the biggest “track” in the hotel. On floors one through five, the square isn’t complete. Some of the areas are blocked off for office space and attraction rides, so the first floor where there is a complete square to run is the sixth floor.

Once you get higher than the 23rd floor, the “track” is too small to really enjoy running and if you go high enough, it’s just a few rooms and a hallway. But from floors 6 through 23 or so, the running is good. This trip, we stayed on the second floor, so I couldn’t just step outside of my room and start running. I had to walk to an Inclinator, show my room key and get my tired butt up to the sixth floor. Most of the time, however, I can just walk right outside my room and start running. I love to stay at the Luxor Hotel just for this reason.

I always run clockwise. The Pagan tradition states that whenever you go in circles, it should be clockwise. Counter-clockwise is work of the dark side. I would really hate to run for Evil. Considering that the Pagan tradition is thousands of years old, I wonder how they knew that clocks were going to turn in that direction instead of backwards. Maybe the Pagan tradition is why clocks turn the way they do, or maybe it’s all bunk. Who knows?

Pagan tradition aside, I always run clockwise. It doesn’t matter which direction you run. You’ll always have to either pass someone facing or behind. People walk all different directions in hotels and there is no avoiding other people. When I run in the morning, their hotel rooms smell like soap and perfume. Some of the people are crabby and some of them are cheerful, but they always smile when I puff out a Good Morning at them.

The carpeting is softer than pine needles and the only thing to trip me are room service trays. Make sure you run early in the morning or well after four in the evening. Otherwise, you’ll end up dodging the housekeeping carts. If you see a security guard, don’t panic. They don’t mind if you run around their hotel. Just say, “Good Morning” and smile at them. Yeah, Runner’s World doesn’t know what it’s talking about. I’d take air-conditioned carpeting over pine needle trails any day.


You’re Going Out of Town Again?!

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We are planning a trip to Vegas, back to the beloved Luxor Hotel. They have a special rate on their rooms right now, so we are taking them up on the deal. I have enough vacation time to take another week off, but I’m just taking it off without pay and saving the vacation time just in case I need it later.

Things are so slow at the office right now that there was no hassle getting the time off. Mike is self-employed, so the laptop can go with us if he needs to work and stay dormant if he doesn’t. We went to Yellowstone just last month, but I asked Mike what he wanted for his birthday and he said he wanted to go to Vegas.

His only request is that we can spend an entire day at Fry’s. I’m down with that. I could spend a whole day at that store as long as we take a break and eat at the caf頩n the middle of it. We rarely buy anything there, but we are happy to browse The Future. It’s something that you just can’t do on Amazon.com. I know that I can buy whatever I want on Amazon, but I can’t browse. Browsing is incredibly difficult and not fun at all on Amazon. We don’t have a Fry’s in Utah, so we are driving to Las Vegas to have the full browsing experience. Maybe we’ll buy something this time.

He has promised me that I can have two lazy days doing nothing by the pool. He won’t be required to hang out at the pool with me, but he has to give me the chance to just be lazy. We are going to be at our favorite hotel with the best pool area. I want to enjoy it. The pool at the Luxor is the perfect relaxation wonderland. I have never enjoyed myself lying by the side of the pool as much as I have at the Luxor. Fruity drinks, as many big and fluffy white towels as I want and Top Forty music are just a few of the benefits of lying in the shade of the pyramid. The most important thing is that I’m lying in the shade of the pyramid.

Of course, I forgot to mention the blistering heat that only my adored desert can provide. Vegas at this time of year is like a brightly lit oven blasting you whenever you are foolish enough to step outside of the casino. The old joke goes, “I’m going to Las Vegas this summer because my travel agent said that Hell was booked.” You would think that the heat would dissuade us, but we are going eagerly and happily.

I don’t have much time to make a Las Vegas Mix CD. That’s the CD that gets played over and over during the trip until the songs are permanently embedded in the memory of the trip. Mike never lets me play my mix CDs enough to really do that, but I always think that I should try. What should I put on my Las Vegas Mix CD?


My Excuse For Not Showing My Face In The Gym

Filed under: Health and Fitness — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Bosu Incident

As you may or may not know, I have a 5K race coming up this Saturday. I signed up for it so long ago that most of the people I’ve told have forgotten about it. Maybe they are scared to mention it to me, fearing that I’ve flaked out on it. It doesn’t matter. The important people in my life know about it and are planning to be there.

I’ve trained for this race on the treadmill almost exclusively. Now, I am here, four days before the race with little or no training outside. That’s my excuse. I can’t go to the gym. I have to do some outside runs to get myself ready for Saturday’s race. And, I need to taper a couple of days before the race, so I won’t be going to the gym at all this week.

Sure, it’s a great excuse, but it isn’t the only reason. I just don’t feel like going there anymore. It’s not a safe place anymore. It doesn’t feel like my place any longer. It used to feel like the spa at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, but it doesn’t anymore. Now, I’m scared that there will be a brown-haired waif in the wings making fun of me running on the treadmill or using the weight machines or practicing on the Bosu.

I don’t know how to make it safe again. I don’t know what to do to make the gym a fun playground instead of a reenactment of every day in gym class in seventh grade. I realize that it’s all perception. The gym isn’t any less safe now than it was before. I just hadn’t met the one bitch in the place yet. In fact, now I’m safer. I can make sure that I only stand next to blondes next time.

I don’t know how to make it safe again, but it doesn’t matter because I have this entire week to gain the courage again. I’ll run outside with my dog and I’ll train as hard as I can in the rain. For all I know, it’s going to rain on the race day, so I need to get that experience. After the race, I’ll get the courage to go back to the gym.

Previous: My Excuse  Next:Going Back To The Gym



Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

His face sits on my desk at work. The Magic 8 Ball, Akhenaten, Buddha, St. Jude, my Get Fuzzy Calendar and a little box of tea are the complete personal effects on my desk. Buddha and St. Jude get top billing in most of my stories because they reside right under my monitor. I turn to them when I need advice.

Akhenaten, however, is so old that I never turn to him for advice. He serves as a reminder to me. His thin and stretched face lifelessly stares back at me. He was the first man in documented history to believe in One God. Sure, the Bible thumpers out there will point to Abraham or even Adam, but show me a picture of those blokes.

He reformed the entire religious structure of Egypt. Everyone was worshipping the One God, Aten, during his reign. His reforms were short-lived and reverted back to polytheism soon after his death. I never ask him for advice. I want to make a change that lasts far after my death. Akhenaten had no credibility in that area.

Why do I keep him on my desk? I bought his likeness from a shop at the Luxor hotel in Vegas. It’s a reproduction of one of the desecrated monuments found in a garbage heap thousands of years after his death. What we know about him is so limited and everyone has a theory. His likeness is deformed because of Froehlich’s Syndrome, or is it Marfan’s Syndrome? He was murdered for his religious reforms, or did he die of these diseases? He was the first pharaoh to be depicted in art as he was, or was it an artistic stylization? I don’t care about that stuff.

I keep him on my desk because he reminds me of the happy times with Mike when we first started going to Las Vegas for the computer conventions. He reminds me of Comdex 1992. He reminds me of InterOp. He reminds me of Mike’s first book signing. He reminds me of a time when the computer industry felt like it was the answer to everything. It was our One God for a few shining years and I’m mourning the loss of it.

So, a 3500-year old pharaoh reminds me of the time in my life when I worshipped the One God, The Computer. Just like Egypt after Akhenaten’s death, I feel myself reverting back to my old ways. There is no God. All the gods are false and all we have is our intellect and bestiality to protect us from the elements and each other. He is a reminder of a time when I put my faith in something other than myself. He is a warning and I never turn to him for advice. The Magic 8 Ball gives me better answers anyway.


Confession of a Security Guard

Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 6:05 am

The Luxor hotel doesn’t have elevators, they have inclinators. Inclinators are kind of like Wonkavators in that they don’t just go up and down. They actually tilt at a thirty-nine degree angle, move up the side of the pyramid and then right themselves at the end of the ride. They were invented specifically for the hotel. The advertising for the hotel brags about them. It makes people curious and they want to ride them.

Of course, you’re not allowed to play on the inclinators. Only hotel guests are allowed to take a ride on them and the Luxor pays security guards to watch them 24 hours a day. Guests must show their hotel room keys to the security guard. It’s a royal pain in the butt for guests because you have to fish in your pocket for the key just to get into the inclinator instead of at the door where it is more logical. If you needed a functional room key in order to call the inclinator, I would have no trouble with that, but there is that person there, waiting for my fingers to find that damn room key.

There is that person there, wanting to tell me a story of his life. I showed him my room key. My hands were full of sushi, chopsticks, edamame, wasabi, and napkins. I fished awkwardly for the key and showed it to him so that I wouldn’t feel like a criminal. Mike wasn’t back from getting his dinner yet and the plan was that I was supposed to wait for him at the inclinator. In retrospect, I should have stood just outside the inclinator to wait for him, but I wasn’t expecting to be called to duty in a Vegas casino. I started the conversation. It was my fault, but I felt like I had to explain to the security guard why I wasn’t going up immediately, “I’m waiting for my husband. He wants a hot dog instead of sushi.” The guard nodded, “This is the place to get both.”

We were quiet for a moment and I thought that I would be able to just wait quietly for Mike, but he spoke again, “Where are you from?” It’s an innocuous enough question. People get asked where they are from all the time without confessions. I shouldn’t fear it, but something about the fact that he started the talking again braced me for the inevitable. “I’m from Salt Lake.” He nodded and asked if I drove. We did. How long did it take me to drive up? About six to seven hours. He was surprised. It usually only took him five. I made an excuse about the weather, not wanting to explain my aversion to committing crimes in a bright green Volkswagen Beetle.

“I love that city. We used to go up there all the time. I haven’t been up since before the Olympics. The freeways were all torn up and you only had two lanes with those wall things on each side.” I agreed about the “Salt Lake Auto-Luge Run” and waited for him to continue. “I usually ski at Alta, but I don’t stay there. It’s way too expensive to stay there.” I nodded thinking about the horrendous price I paid for the room upstairs just so I could have a jacuzzi tub and access to the inclinators. “I used to stay in the Ramada downtown, but now I have a roommate. His sister lives there, so we’re going to be staying with her.” I nodded and made a comment on his thriftiness. “Everything is so expensive there.” I looked at my sushi. I had paid twice what it would have cost me at my favorite place at home. “You can pay twenty dollars for a beer up at the resort.” I nodded thinking about the $13.50 I paid for a margarita at Coyote Ugly at the New York New York casino.

“I started skiing when I was I was about five years old. I would always be saying that I wanted stuff at the resort, but my parents just gave me my own cooler. Every morning we’d pack a cooler of food to eat from all day.” I remembered the cooler that my parents packed when we went to Lagoon. I remembered wishing that we could eat the greasy burgers and fries from the concession stands. If only we weren’t poor, then we could eat the burgers. I found myself wishing for the ham and cheese sandwiches fermented with mayonnaise. Nothing tasted like a sandwich that had aged half a day in a well-iced cooler. No burger or nachos from Lagoon has ever tasted as good as one of those ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo. Both are just as unhealthy, but the sandwiches taste so vividly like Lagoon. That alone may be the reason that Lagoon hasn’t been as enjoyable to me. Now that I have the money to buy the pizza at the stand, Lagoon just doesn’t taste right.

This realization came to me like a flash. To the security guard, I was a polite tourist, listening to his memories of skiing as a child. Within a second, the realization that Lagoon with a cooler is an entirely different trip than Lagoon without a cooler. He continued talking, “This time when we go, I’m stocking up my cooler every day. I’m not going to pay twenty dollars for a beer.” Mike walked up with two tiny cups of ketchup in one hand and a bag that smelled of cheese fries in the other. The security guard pressed the button to call the inclinator. I wished him well with a mind full of ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo that had been aged in a well-iced cooler.


Holy Texts (Part One)

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:51 am

I’ve been out of town for over a week. I pre-wrote some weblog entries so that you would have something to read while I was sleeping in hotel rooms, traversing smoky casinos and enjoying the music. I listened to Paul Van Dyk play his greatest works and debut his new album at the nightclub at the Luxor hotel. I listened to Simon and Garfunkel sing together again in a huge coliseum of fans at the MGM Grand hotel. And I listened to the timpani of hotel casino guests enjoying the freedom of Sin City.

The wages of sin are unreported.  – Unknown

I’ve started a new tradition on this trip. In every hotel room, I’ve hidden a dollar in the Gideon Bible. I’m not a believer. I don’t think the Bible is any more important than any other text that has survived for two thousand years. The works of the ancient Egyptians, Confucius, and the Greek philosophers are equally sacred to me. These works of antiquity aren’t provided for solace in hotels, however. The Bible is.

When he left, two books were missing from his bookshelf.  – David Duncan, The Time Machine screenplay, 1960

The first time I saw the movie for The Time Machine, I immediately thought that one of the books would be the Bible. I was a child raised in the Jehovah Witness faith. The idea that the Time Traveler would go to Paradise without the Bible wasn’t even considered. The only question was, “What was the other book he brought?” Now that my faith in God has flown from me along with the Tooth Fairy and Democracy, I am surprised that he only took two books.

What books would you have taken?  – David Duncan, The Time Machine screenplay, 1960

To rebuild the world, what science books would I bring? To survive in Paradise, what texts would I carry? To educate a world of simpletons, what holy writ would I include? Would I even want to bring anything from the past? If he had truly found Paradise and Utopia, would our thoughts just contaminate it? How could I return with only two books? How could I return with any?

All week I have been placing dollar bills in hotel room Bibles. I have opened the book at random, found a quote about gifts, inheritance, charity, chance or money and underlined it. It is no longer a holy text to me, yet I started this tradition. I classify myself as an atheist who struggles with superstition. In a faith that defines itself by its lack of faith, I am crying out for Holy Texts. All I can hear, however, is the clatter of slot machines.


Road Trip to Vegas

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 1:06 pm

We are planning a trip to Las Vegas and I’m giddy with joy. Living in Salt Lake has the happy advantage of only being a day’s drive from Sin City, so we have been there many times. Looking at myself from the outside, I wonder why I’m still excited to go there. I have been there so often that I know the geography almost as well as Salt Lake. I have been to all the hotels on the Strip and I can tell you the coolest things to do for almost no money.

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. Charles Kuralt

On the drive down, we always stop in Filmore. It’s a tiny town whose slogan reads: You Have a Friend in Filmore. I always wonder who it is that’s my friend there because the clerks at the gas station aren’t all that friendly. I keep hoping that I’ll eventually find that friend in Filmore, so we stop whether we need gas or not.

We also stop in St. George. You have to drive along Bluff street and pay homage to the Friendship Inn Sands motel, which pretty much looks the same now as it did in the sixties. We get gas here because if you wait until Mesquite, you’ll pay about twenty cents a gallon extra. Rumor has it that there is a muffler man in St. George, but I’ve never seen him.

This time, we are planning on staying in a hotel in Jean, Nevada, which is about twenty minutes south of Las Vegas. The hotels are clean and cheap. For only twenty bucks a night, we will get a clean room and access to the hotel pool, so I’m stoked. So what if I have to drive a little to get into town. It’s about the same as what I commute every day to work, so I’m not complaining.

Before he sets out, the traveler must possess fixed interests and facilities to be served by travel. George Santayana (1863 – 1952)

First on my list of activities this time is Paul Van Dyk at Ra. The Luxor Hotel is the one that looks like a huge pyramid. Totally cool in and of itself, but add to that a nightclub that stays open until dawn and Paul Van Dyk at the turntables and I’m in heaven. This is the reason we are going down to Vegas, so he is first on our list of activities.

We are also going to see Simon and Garfunkel in concert. The tickets are horrendously expensive, but this might be the last time we are able to see them in concert together. I just wish that I could go back in time and see perform in the sixties. This is the next best thing since time marches on.

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me. Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

My most fixed interest is relaxation. Sure I have plans and items on a to-do list that need checking, but the most important thing to me is to get relaxed and ready to face the next year. In the past, I have kept a traveling journal, but I have never done that in Las Vegas. I have written in my regular journal, but a traveling journal is different. I usually draw pictures and write about the new experiences in the new locale, but Las Vegas is like a second home to me, so I’ve never bothered recording my thoughts about this city. That sounds like the most relaxing thing I could do on this trip. Keep a traveling journal for Las Vegas. Goody, I get to buy a new journal! Maybe I’ll be the first poet to go to Vegas.

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