Day 3 – 6 December 2011 – 1014 hrs.

I had nodded off (fancy way of saying passed out) with the TV on and my half-asleep half-buzzed excuses for dreams were percolated with snippets from Las Vegas' insipid local television entertainment, and I woke up bleary eyed feeling like someone stuck a pack of Q-Tips into my mouth with some toothy half-Asian news fembot yammering on about how to stay warm in the big cold wave. I couldn't make a drink fast enough.

Scanning the room for scraps, I concocted a mixture of Jagermeister, Jack Daniels, and Sprite Zero. Is this rock bottom? It sure felt like so.

So I headed to the warm womb that is the Stage Door. I didn't know if it was good or bad that the bartender knew my name, but I didn't regret the stiff bloody mary. After dropping a few bucks on video poker, I worked my way to the off-sale in the back and purchased some noxious fruity malt liquor called Blast for a whopping $1.50. If it was good enough for the professional spare change collection specialist perched out front, then surely it would be good enough for a distinguished gentleman such as myself.

I headed back to the IP. The “street performers” du jour were people dressed as cartoon characters 'acting” like they were inebriated. Between them, the people in ill-fitting Santa suits violently shaking pails of change in attempt to guilt tourists to donate to the homeless, the grease and half-cooked cheese of the Crossanwich I nabbed from Burger King waging a war in my lower intestine, and the stink of stale beer and frat boy sweat in O'Sheas, all you would need is Pink Floyd's The Wall playing at maximum volume to fully take me back to a bad Friday night in college.

I put a few bucks into the Hangover slot machine, but didn't dig it much, despite getting three free drinks for the twenty I put in. It just felt too odd playing a game based on a movie where people go to Vegas while you're in Vegas. I switched over to the Ghostbusters machine, which I enjoyed despite not knowing what the hell was going on.

When a slot machine baffles you, it's probably time to slow down, so I switched to soda. I ended up winning $55 off of a $6 initial investment when I wasn't drinking. My brain was telling me that I should learn something from this, but I ignored it and headed to Fat Tuesday's for a slushy.

Girly drink in tow, I made my way to the monorail. Usually deserted save for a few baffled non-English speaking tourists, the monorail was actually full this trip. It was packed with cowboys making their way to and from the convention center, which I gathered was filled with mud so Truckasaurus could eat a car in its' natural habitat, or something to that effect. The cowboys were good people for the most part, though.

I got off at the MGM stop and, after wandering around outside after I had taken the wrong path – damn monorail stops – I started a quest for the Sigma Derby machine. Amazingly, I recalled where it was, and came up to it. Lo and behold, there it was. And there was no one around it. Panic set in like an icepick to the temples. Is it broken? Did yet another drunken Canadian batter it into submission? Please, god, I don't pray to you much, but don't let Sigma Derby be broken.

My miracle of the day was used up, as the machine was in pristine working order, and, as I sat down and plunked in a cool two dollars in quarters, a lovely cocktail waitress came up to me and took my order. Comp drinks while playing Sigma Derby with prime seating is akin to silk sheets or a baby's laugh, a small slice of goodness in this world that inspires you to trudge it out one more day.

Taking the wrong path once again out of MGM put me in the path of Hooters casino. I have stayed here once, and it wasn't bad, if you could get past the day glo tequila sunrise décor of the rooms. I wanted to check out the new arcade Joystixx. I think the brain trust at Hooters named it with two x's for a double dose of xtremeness. It was closed, but looked like it would be disappointing even if it was open. A couple of Dance Dance Revolution and Buck Hunter games don't make an arcade for me.

I sat down at the bar and had a couple of belts before the throng of working ladies aggressively peddling their wares got to be annoying. Even in Vegas terms, it does seem a tad bit irregular to be purchasing the services of a comely lass in the middle of the afternoon at Hooters. Or maybe it was regular and I wasn't feeling the beat.

I moved on over to Excalibur, where a Santa on a Harley sleigh was asking good boys and girls what they wanted for Christmas. I wondered if Santa had the little moppets' parents' credit card receipts from the night before and would sadly tell little Johnny and Sally that Santa wouldn't be able to bring them anything this year because Daddy had to help out the orphans at Olympic Gardens.

Through Excalibur I went and on to Luxor. I felt ashamed that I even thought of giving the Nelson “HAW HAW” to the workers handing out half price tickets to Believe. They are just doing their job, after all, and I'm sure they're subject to torrents of expletives as disgruntled customers leave the show.

I did the touristy thing and took a few pictures before heading to Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay.

This is one of my favorite places in Vegas. Great burgers and a good selection of imported beers. I ordered the Keller Burger and a pint of Gulden Draak Ale.

If (or when) I am on death row awaiting the sweet spike of the needle to send me across the river Styx, this will be my last meal. It was sixty dollars for the burger and fifteen for the beer, but, good god was it worth it. Just absolute perfection to the point that I didn't even drink my beer until the end of the burger, for fear of washing down even one morsel of the truffle-encrusted Kobe goodness. I sat sat speechless for several minutes after finshing, and might have cried if I wasn't such a cynical S.O.B.

Fully satiated, I ventured into the casino, where, after some wandering aided by a strong rum and Coke, I found a Bruce Lee slot machine, which is one of my all-time favorites and a major factor in why I have added degenerate gambler to my ever-growing list of vices. The Little Dragon brought me good luck and the cocktail waitresses brought me good drinks, and again, I found myself ensconced in a little slice of heaven.

And then it happened. Mr. X called. Mr. X, of course, is not his real name, but I'm not going to divulge the chap's identity here. We had been minor friends in college but had rebonded during those halcyon heydays of social networking known as the MySpace era, and now it was a point for us to get together whenever I found myself in Sin City. He is the Laslow to my Thompson, and he was in the mood to drink.

We met up at New York New York. Mr. X was insistent on paying the tab, since I had settled matters last trip, and he knew the bartender, so we weren't paying for drinks anyway. Did he just get out of giving me my money back? At any rate, The next few hours are hazy, and would have probably been lost to the winds for all time, save for the pictures and text messages I found on my phone the next day. And, oh yeah, a receipt from the Cosmopolitan.

$18 for a drink? What, are they too good to sell Blast at this joint?

I did sober up a bit, so by gum, why not contaminate my last two remaining brain cells? After making my way through the gauntlet of dudes selling crappy rap CDs number two to the tune of “Hey man, take it, it's music, not porno” it's off to the Grand Wok in MGM, where I had some octopus sushi and sake, which provided enough nourishment for me to tread back to the monorail.

At the door to my room, my key didn't work. Really? At this point? Time to act like I'm not about to fall over at any given second as I go down to the front desk to get a new key. As I leave the desk, the Wheel of Fortune machine, cruel mistress that she is, beckons me in. A hundred dollars down later and standing on the balcony of my room, I think that they fubared my key on purpose. Who are they, and why do they want me to play slot machines? I don my tin foil hat and attempt to get a few hours of sleep to prepare for my last full day in Vegas.

Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 4 / Day 5

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