Jeff's wakeup call.
Can't a guy talk to his wife from Vegas without having to worry about a football to the nuts? That is, of course, a rhetorical question.
The next morning I read in the local newspaper about the ''eclectic-but-aging'' crowd that enjoyed U2 concert.
And there's part of the ''eclectic-but-aging'' crowd now.
Before we began our day Brian needed to first drop off a note for toilet repairs to the Luxor maintenance staff.
On the way to breakfast we were at a red light when I made the mistake of jokingly honking at Chris who was driving his own truck. What you see is the aftermath of Chris' Terminator-like move as he calmly walked back to the Minivan of Magic and lifted up my windshield wiper and pushed my side mirror back before just as calmly returning to his truck and driving away.
We went to a place called Blueberry Hill (thank you, Michelle Day, for the suggestion) where Bill immediately zeroed in on the chicken and waffles.
I ordered the strawberry hotcakes. Get a load of the whipped cream.
From the look on Chris' face I hope Jeff asked him to excuse his reach.
We all enjoyed our food... oh, except Brian, whose meal took its sweet time.
Then near disaster. The waitress actually brought me an extra cup of whipped cream of which Chris commented on its strange smell. Yes, I actually began to sniff it when Jeff and Brian both jumped forward to push my face into it, each just missing.
Even Chris couldn't believe I fell for it.
When we were finished I left behind Brian's calling card for the waitress.
Then it was time for indoor skydiving.
After breakfast Chris headed to the airport to pick up another friend who was joining us, leaving the four of us to have fun. While they prepared for us we hung out for a while.
We killed some time by reading some of the posted notes by prior participants. Not only did I appreciate seven-year old Jo$h's enthusiasm for this place, but apparently Jo$h is pure money.
Brian attempted to match Jo$h's excitement.
We began with an instructional video.
Then we signed waivers.
Brian added a special ''exclamation point'' on Jeff's paper.
Bill tried to get Jeff to take a prom picture with him but Jeff wanted nothing to do with it.
Brian and I showed them how it's done.
I was ready to fly.
They had to get us special goggles because we all chose to wear our glasses.
The other half of the Geek Squad representing.
Can't a guy pose for picture without having to worry about getting ball-checked? Again, a rhetorical question.
For reasons so obvious they don't need to be verbalized Bill got the pink helmet. But Brian stole the picture.
Our instructor, Rob, buckled up Brian's helmet.
We were ready to fly.
I was first. (Sidenote: These videos are on Vimeo because the jackboots at YouTube wouldn't let me use the music. There may be an embedding problem. If the video doesn't play click on the Vimeo logo in the corner to view it from their website).
Just as Brian began his flight Chris arrived from the airport with Corey Miller. Corey was able to capture a few pictures with his iPhone from the viewing area.
The Birthday Boy takes flight.
Bill pulled a Johnny Utah.
I even thought I overheard him yell, ''You gonna jump or jerk off?''
Bill, aka The Natural.
Jeff had a little trouble.
Then he figured it out and floated like an angel.
Rob proved to be our own special Bodhi, without the risk of ending up as ''meat waffles.''
With Corey in the fold we made the requisite stop at the famous Riviera booties.
Some choose the traditional ''Hey, look at me with bronze butts''...
...while others go with the ''HEY, LOOK AT ME WITH BRONZE BUTTS!''
Our next stop was at the Sahara rollercoaster, Speed the Ride. If you look carefully you can see Bill over my right shoulder.
Jeff and Corey displayed the ''comedy/tragedy'' faces. Again, if you look carefully you can see...
...the dude behind them sniping the picture.
They named it appropriately.
It cost me $10.95 to see what I looked like recording my ride.
We made to the north end of the strip for our date with the Stratosphere.
Brian begins to suspect what I have in store for him.
That's right, we're going up. Way up.
What you have here is the first snag of the trip. The plan was to hit all three rides on top of the Stratosphere: Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity. None of these fools even wanted to go to the top, let alone go on the rides. I repeat, NONE of them. I begged, pleaded, cajoled, mocked, and even humiliated them yet they wouldn't budge. Finally, Brian took pity on me and agreed to go on one ride so that it wouldn't be a waste of time. Bill, who is deathly afraid of heights, agreed to at least take the more than 1000 foot elevator ride to the top. I don't know Corey well enough to call him a pussy (although I do now, so next time...), plus dude just flew in from L.A. that morning, so he got a pass. So that left Jeff to be the Big Pussy of the moment.
Brian posed in front of a poster for Big Shot. To me the scariest part is in the smallest font: ''1149 Feet Above the Strip.''
And there it was. I took this photo directly up against the window in the viewing room.
I turned directly around and there Bill stood with arms crossed defensively, never closer than 20 feet from the window.
The Vegas Strip looking south. The closest hotel is the Sahara in the lower center.
A view through the Stratosphere windows.
The Wynn golf course really stands out in the middle of the desert.
It took quite a bit of convincing to get Bill to come out to the viewing area. This simply highlights how big of a pussy Jeff is.
A view from the Stratosphere deck.
So that's what 1149 feet above the Strip looks like.
A close-up look at the Stratosphere's Big Shot.
At this point Brian was wondering why he agreed to this asinine excursion. As a bonus, the guy next to me gave me his all-you-can-ride wristband, so I went on Big Shot two more times by myself. If I had known I was going to be this lucky I would have placed a few bets at some casinos.
Brian filmed me on my second trip on the Stratosphere's Big Shot. They should have named it the Tower of Babylon, because I was that close to God. Or death.
On the way back down the Strip I made one of Brian's cards available to the public.
A car full of girls celebrated Brian's birthday and his business card.
That's right, we were on the top of that thing.
Some random homeless guy was walking down the street selling balloons.
He even got Corey to take one, then asked him for 35 cents.
Nice guy Corey gave the guy a buck.
First, is Corey flipping me the bird? Second, after a morning of skydiving and roller coasters it was time for lunch at my favorite restaurant in Vegas, the Peppermill. Brian settled in with a beer and the other three had some whiskey drink.
Water will suffice for the designated driver.
Now I know the place is called the Peppermill but Jeff took it to heart with his crazy pepper over-indulgence.
How cute were Brian and Bill when they traded each other half their Reuben and pastrami sandwiches.
After lunch I suggested the giant hot fudge sundae that Terri and I never miss when we are in town. When I ordered it only Corey and Bill were interested.
Before I knew it there were five spoons in the damn dessert. I should have ordered two.
With full stomachs this seemed like a good time to drive go-carts at 40 mph. To Pole Position Raceway we went. (With his Buster Keaton thing going on Corey takes the best pictures.)
I feel the need for speed.
The speed of Pole Position Raceway was awesome. Brian had the highest average speed over 12 laps.
Then back to the Luxor where two of these guys were mocking the other two that were actually on their phones, I just don't remember what the combination was.
We found a multi-tasking Chris playing slots with a clear view of the various college football games on the big screens in the sports lounge.
Did I saying playing the slots? I meant winning.
With Bill vowing never to share a room with Jeff again we decided Corey would bunk with him the second night. So Bill and I moved our things into a second room next door. He showered there and got ready for a night on the town while I used the second room. Not only did Bill use all the towels (except for the small hand towels out of courtesy to Jeff and Corey) he gathered all the toilet paper from the bathroom. Before we left the first room we decided to decorate it for the two new roomies, but we had to hurry because they would be showing up soon to get ready for the night's adventures.
One of the artists at work.
It was a beautiful thing.
While we were still in our own room Jeff called about an hour later to let us know Brian, Chris, Corey and he were down at the sports lounge and ready to go. He also basically vowed revenge of some sort for the room thrashing. Unfortunately for Jeff, as we were leaving our room we encountered one of the employees waiting at the other door with a stack of fresh towels Jeff had requested. He asked us if it was also our room. When I produced the key to the first room and opened the door he was satisfied, gave Bill the towels and left.
Bill hid the new towels in their closet while I flipped Jeff's mattress up against the wall, Murphy Bed style. With Jeff's earlier threat in mind, I call this a pre-emptive attack, something our nation referred to as the Bush Doctrine for eight long years. No one can argue I'm not a patriot.
As we wandered about for a while we met some nice people.
Bill and Brian earned some beads from half-naked girls dancing in the Excalibur Party Pit. I apologize for the lack of photographic evidence for that last sentence. More on that later, though.
We paused for some SpongeBob time.
We headed over to the Monte Carlo for our next adventure.
Brian hit the Rocky slots. Get it? He ''hit'' the slot machine centering on a theme of Rocky Balboa, a has-been boxer who was brought in by the World Champion Apollo Creed to act as a human punching bag while he tuned up for his next title defense.
We then hung out for a while in the sports lounge, watching a few football games.
Corey Miller: The Man of a Thousand Expressions.
Why do I have a picture of the back of Chris' head?
Because he purposely stepped in front of this shot.
We had second row seats to see Frank Caliendo. Only the best for Brian.
After the show Jeff stood outside the line while we waited to meet Frank Caliendo.
Later we were walking down the strip when I saw this through the window of a restaurant.
This is why they call it Sin City.
Bill does the famous ''Vegas Strip Flyer Slap'' with Brian's business cards.
She was handing out 2 for 1 coupons to the New York New York haunted maze, slashed throat and all.
Young Will put on his best brave face.
Outside the entrance.
Why is Brian so scared?
A corpse in a prison jumpsuit hanging overhead answers that.
A chainsaw-wielding maniac chased Bill and Jeff out of the maze. I knew what was coming because a couple minutes earlier Brian and I likewise nearly peed ourselves when we heard that roar of the chainsaw, and made like the Roadrunner and Meep-Meeped the hell out of there.
Back at Excalibur Bill handed out Brian's card to yet another bachelorette (check the fact that the real card is on top, while Bill furtively passed our creation to her from the bottom of the stack). Poor Brian.
Damn you, Corey, and your ever-changing visage.
And the gods called it the Party Pit. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Back at the Luxor Chris informed me that he talked to his ''people'' at the hotel and had our rooms comped. Check the generosity of this guy: dinner, U2 tickets and a weekend's lodging in Vegas all on him. Thank you, Christopher Day. Around midnight Chris called it a night since he was leaving for home around six that morning.
Let's just say he was ready to go.
We headed over to Minus 5, a hip bar in Mandalay Bay. Wait, me in a bar?
Did I mention the bar, furniture, furnishings, and even glasses are all made entirely of ice? That's right, Minus 5 is the only ice bar in the Western Hemisphere. With entrance fee one also receives a ''free'' drink. It was the most expensive orange juice I have ever paid for, but also the coolest (literally).
When we were outfitted with our parkas and gloves we were told to leave any electronic devices in a locker because the extreme cold would damage them. I called bullshit on that one and snuck in my camera.
A hidden camera expose of Minus 5. Check out the ice Elvis and the ice chandelier.
The place had a resident photographer that took pictures of those inside, then offered the photographs outside for $15. Can you say ''scam''? I waited for the guy to leave the room then I started snapping away. Yeah, no damage.
What's with the ice boobies?
I love how Corey is holding his ice glass like a brandy snifter.
Then there were the beautiful babies of Minus 5. These girls were with the two guys in the background, but they were there to party with everybody. Bill showed his wherewithal by busting out Brian's cards, then again slipping our card to them. While their group was actually laughing at the card we had designed, Brian thought it had been his that impressed them.
Like I said, they were here to party. According to Bill right after I took this photo the girls told him they wanted to take another picture without their tops! But just as this was registering in Bill's brain a Minus 5 employee, drawn by the camera flash, swooped in and very sternly told me to put the camera away. That's how close we all came to experiencing the first real-life boobies on this website. Alas, such is life....
With the party inside clearly over we moved outside where Brian and Bill cold-lamped with the Minus 5 Penguin.
The party wasn't over quite yet.
To understand this picture one needs to watch the following video.
Birthday booze and fuzzy boobs: What more can a man ask for?
Jeff followed suit for some fuzzy boobies of his own.
We headed back to the Luxor around 1:30 and that was when I left the party. A bit too much alcohol was flowing and I lost interest. Brian, Bill, Jeff and Corey headed off to keep the night going. The following pictures that were sent to me are courtesy of Jeff and Corey's iPhones. Since I wasn't there for the following scenes I have decided to emulate the end credits from the movie The Hangover and just run the photos, sans captions. Let your imagination create the story.