Day 1:

So it was the Friday morning of what may be the greatest birthday weekend in his life, yet Brian looks a tad underwhelmed. Oh yeah, he was at The Home Depot at 6 a.m. that morning picking up a generator for the Class of 2012's homecoming float, a club for which we are co-advisors. This was on top of the two of us working with the kids on the float until past 11:00 p.m. the previous two nights. Yes, we were already tired. At least we didn't have any big plans this weekend.... I met Brian at 7:30 that morning and we took the generator to the school, leaving it in his classroom for the kids to pick up later. Yes, we missed the Rosemead Homecoming festivities that night to be in Vegas. Who planned this thing, anyway? Never mind.

In case you are interested our float won second place, edged out by the Junior Class. I apologize if E.T. looks like Officer McGruff, the Crime Dog.

We raced back to Brian's to meet up with young Will Crockwell, Esq. and cousin Jeff.

And we were off.

The boys could barely contain their excitement.

A view on the 210 freeway of how the other half lives.

Our first stop was in Barstow for some classic Big Boy Combos.

Ok, so inspired by Dwain Carlo Crum, aka the Trojan Prince (trust me, it's a long story) Brian decided to order his own calling cards from He wasn't sure they would arrive before Vegas, but Lady Luck was hanging on his shoulder. Brian gave me, Bill and Jeff a few cards each to pass out for him in Vegas. More on this later.

Brian's first customer was our waitress. She actually requested monkeyshines, which caught him off guard so early in the trip. He performed a ''magic'' trick for her.

Then Brian requested a picture with one of the bus boys, calling him ''Mario.'' When he came over, the waitress, not wanting to offend him with Brian's geeky reference, explained to him that we were foreigners who had had never met a Mexican before. Yeah, lady, that was way smoother.

While enjoying hot fudge brownie sundaes Brian decided to flick a spoonful of whipped cream across the table.

Bill followed up with the line, ''I'm pounding the fudge and Eric gets cream on his face.''

Thank you, Bob, for your wonderful hospitality.

DJ took over tunage duties in the passenger seat with his 23,000-song iPod.

I have to imagine...

...that's one thing Jesus wouldn't do.

What am I doing standing outside the Minivan of Magic in the middle of the dessert?

Visiting the World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, of course.

Check out the details.

Dwarf versions of Jeff, Bill and Brian.

Bill says, ''Shwing!''

Brian paid special attention to it.

Our next stop was just down the road at the Alien Jerky store.


Quadruple gulp.

I have no idea what Jeff and Bill are doing to the poor aliens in the taxi.

Cute little aliens in their car seats.

Nice jerky, dude.

The clerk at the Alien Jerky Store in Baker not only suckered me into scorching my taste buds with the hottest jerky ever, but if you listen closely at the end of the video he says, just as I'm taking my drink, "The water is five dollars." Classic.

After purchasing some jerky (including some for the long, lost jerky-fan Mike Tellez) Bill gave the clerk one of Brian's aforementioned business cards. Why did I feel the need to photodocument this moment?

With a zoom one may notice the card is handed with the backside facing Brian's direction.

Here's the back-story. A few weeks earlier Brian told Bill and me about some free business cards he had ordered. Bill and I then decided to design our own for Brian's Vegas birthday trip. Alex Rai walked into my classroom while we were brainstorming and added some nice touches. We even paid extra for express shipping so they would be guaranteed in hand for the trip. When we discovered Brian's real cards also arrived in time it was perfect. Thus, when he watched us handing out his cards for three days, we were actually giving away ours. The funniest part of this whole prank is that if you are reading this story within a few hours of my original posting of it, you are discovering this about the same time Brian is. I'm going to leave our card design as a link. Be warned, it my be super offensive to some people, especially my 75-year old Grandma Nancy who reads this site. So Grams, click at your own risk. Drum roll, please: Here is the card three college-educated adults designed and passed out the entire weekend, unbeknownst to Brian. Happy birthday, Brian.

An hour later we were still in the middle of the desert.

We finally made it to State Line where Bill threw a buck into a slot machine.

The trip immediately paid dividends for Bill. That's right, dude's up a fat quarter. Money, baby!

Brian bought a single ticket for Jeff to ride something called MaxFlight. He rushed Jeff on to it so he would not see the sign...

...that warned of ''360 degrees of pitch & roll motion.'' That's what cousins are for.

Poor Jeff.

This is what four minutes of ''360 degrees of pitch & roll motion'' looks like, and it's not pretty.

Next up was Desperado.

The lady warned me to keep my camera in my pocket. Uh huh.

She was clearly unaware of the magnitude of Brian's birthday.

How was I going to get these sweet shots of Primm?

Or Brian's look of terror?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Desperado.

How do you spell terror? D-e-s-p-e-r-a-d-o.

The survivors.

A half hour later we were rolling into Vegas. Our place of abode?

The Luxor.

I know Vegas seems like a galaxy far, far away, but this was just awesome.

Look what the cat dragged in: Chris Day, joining us for some of the festivities.

Our room overlooked the pool. Hello, beautiful babies!

Settling in.

Probably not the typical kind of scoring that goes on in this room.

Chris hit the casinos, Brian and Jeff had tickets to the U2 concert that night compliments of Chris, so Bill and I hit the town. After I took this picture Bill was nervous about what I was going to do with it. I soon realized he thought they were high school cheerleaders in town for fun. Once I explained they were waitresses for Blondies, a sports bar in Planet Hollywood, he was happy with the shot. Isn't Bill the cutest.

Our first show of the night was the Fab Four at the V Theater.

While we were in line the warm-up guy took a liking to me and had me join a magic trick that wowed the crowd.

Ed Sullivan made the introductions.

Then it was time for the lads from Liverpool.

The Fab Four at Planet Hollywood.

One of the 60s London backup dancers.

From the back row Bill and I had to carry the lethargic crowd. This was the beginning of me losing my voice by Saturday afternoon.

George's guitar gently weeps.

A quick wardrobe change produced the Sgt. Pepper's Beatles.

Later John sang ''Imagine'' and gave a stirring speech about striving for speech.

Bill and I were the first ones out and shared a moment with the boys.

Meanwhile, over at the U2 concert Brian and Jeff were schmoozing with the beautiful people. (photos courtesy of Jeff Day's iPhone)

And maybe a little more than schmoozing.


Sweet picture.

Brian found his 60-year old self.

The U2 stage.

Now you know how they paid for such an elaborate set. Chris was originally taking Brian as his guest but gave up his ticket because he knew that Jeff was a big U2 fan. What a guy.

Back on the Strip we made a quick stop in front of Paris.

Then we headed to the Flamingo for stage-front seats for my favorite comedian in Vegas, Vinnie Favorito. After a phone call-invite to Chris he sweated his way over from the Luxor, arriving just minutes before the show began.

Let me explain why Chris stressed on his way over: Vinnie Favorito makes his living deconstructing his audience, questioning each person in the room one by one, then destroying them with a razor wit. Having a previous experience at one of Vinnie's shows about a year ago Chris did not want to interrupt Vinnie's set and become the highlight of the show, so he made sure to valet park his truck at the Flamingo to save time. Imagine his face, then, when he walked in and discovered he had the closest seat to the stage. Don't shed any tears for him, though, because it turned out Vinnie focused on Bill and me. His first words when he saw the two of us were, ''Check out the geek squad.'' That was only the beginning. When he found I was a teacher in Los Angeles, he asked me if I spoke Spanish. Then he saw Bill behind me and asked if I had brought one of my students with me to Vegas. The rest of the night we got various forms of homosexual and ''Catch a Predator'' jokes from Vinnie. Very funny and very embarrassing. Chris was smart; he kept his answers short and sweet, giving Vinnie little to work with. Finally, at the end of the night Vinnie called three audience members that he especially punished up to the stage and gave them a gift. Bill was one of them. When Vinnie got a close up look at how young and nerdy Bill appeared, he leaned over to him and said, ''I owe you a hell of a lot of lunch money.'' Nice.

The man himself took a moment for us after the show.

Oh, and the gift from Vinnie to Bill? Tickets to X Burlesque. Vinnie told Bill it was time he saw some pussy. Awesome.

On the way back we caught a few seconds of the famous Bellagio dancing fountains.

Back to the Luxor.

Chris, Bill and I ate at T&T, a Mexican food restaurant in Luxor. This is the view from down in the lobby.

This is the view from up in the restaurant.

We handed out Brian's card to a bachelorette party.

As we had not eaten since Bob's Big Boy that morning, Bill was hungry.

This food was delicious but expensive. This is where Chris came in. Dude went over to the waitress and got the whole shebang comped. That's how he rolls in Vegas.

After dinner it was time for dessert.

We headed over to the UA Theater next to MGM to catch a 11:45 showing of Paranormal Activity. That's right, I'm in Vegas and I'm seeing a movie. 'Cause that's how I roll!

During the movie I was so scared I kept grabbing onto Chris' shoulder. I found out after the movie Bill was doing the same on the other side.

This may have been the scariest movie I have ever seen. Seriously.

There was only one glitch to the day: When we left the movie theater and got back to the Strip I realized I was standing next to a midget Elvis. I was so excited that I made a video recording as I walked alongside of him so I could show Brian later. The next morning I checked my camera but no midget Elvis video! Everything else was there. I don't know if I was still so dazed and confused from watching Paranormal Activity that I failed to make the recording, or if I experienced actual paranormal activity and the spirit of Elvis himself deleted my video to avoid the inevitable mockery. All I know is that this was one instance of whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Oh, and I googled ''midget Elvis'' and found a picture of the actual little dude I saw to prove I wasn't hallucinating.

Day 2