Monday, April 27, 2009

Las Vegas!

I'm back! Now to share the highlights of the trip (and lots of pictures!)

My mom and I flew out on Thursday afternoon and, even though we've both flown before, I don't think we'll ever get used to the sensations of taking off and landing without getting nervous. I got a window seat (albeit by the wing) and managed to take some pictures that turned out way better than I thought!

Bye-bye, ground!

I wish I'd known I'd see no green in Las Vegas!

Bye, fields of California!

The snow-capped Sierras in the distance, covered with clouds

Above them... as if you couldn't tell...

I find it so remarkable how the mountains just... end

When we got to the hotel room, on the 24th floor, I was so excited that I tried to take a picture of the view but instead got a shot of my awesome dinosaur shirt...

On the shuttle bus to the hotel, a handsome, tall (6'8") man from Brazil was guessing where everyone was from. He got the Hawaiian couple right, but looked at me and my mom and said "You're Canadians, right?" We laughed, and it turned out that morning he had met some Indian women from Canada and thought we looked like them. That's the second time this month that I've been mistaken for an Indian. I looked at my mom and said, "He must have never seen any real Indians!"

The big buildings were so... big! I couldn't stop gawking. I'm only used to seeing redwood trees that high!

That night we met up with Ajla, who has been my "online girlfriend" since we met years ago on an SGA forum on Gateworld. We're currently working on a graphic novel together! She took us to a lovely place called Town Square where all the locals go to escape the glitz and glam of the strip. I was lovely! Thanks, Ajla!

Ajla and I on a footbridge in Town Square

The first time I've ever seen a real one!

After that we drove around a bit as Ajla took us sight seeing.


The inside of the Bellagio was decorated as a garden. Check it out!

I don't know what it is, but it's kinda cool looking

This thing scared me

A chocolate fountain!

Glass flowers... I admit... my first thought was "What if there's an earthquake?!" You can never take the California out of a California girl!


I am jealous of Ajla's effortless beauty... ignore the thing on the right

My mom and I outside the Bellagio

While waiting for the next fountain show thing, this drunk guy staggered up to the group of us tourists and started shouting about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "And what about the Indiannapolis! Do you fucking remember that?!" We ignored him, of course, and after he staggered off we couldn't help but wonder why he went on an historically accurate rant, especially since he was too young to have remembered the atomic bombings, anyway!

The fountains!

In action:

Next we went inside Paris, where the ceiling is painted like the sky. It was so neat! And a great way to get business -- it creates a sense of timelessness so that, even though it's night outside, you don't necessarily notice and feel energized.

Ceasar's Palace

Needless to say, we were exhausted by that night! I got a good shot of the view from the window, too.

Unfortunately, tired as I was, the combination of coffee at 5, the howling wind 24 stories up, and fretting about pitching my script the next day (and, I admit it, texting friends back home) kept me up. I only managed about four hours of sleep that night. Here's an example of what the wind sounded like!

The view in the morning

The mountains were so odd to me -- just eroding rock -- like something you'd see on Mars. A very lunar landscape!

The whole city seemed so bizzarely futuristic to me. The monorail you see below is driven by... no one! I was convinced a villian was going to take it over!

We went to a few panels in the morning (one on children's TV programming with one of the women who runs Sesame Street! And another on the ethics of teaching screenwriting -- both of which were very interesting) then I tried to practice my pitch with little success.

Me and my beautiful mommy before the awards ceremony

You'll never guess who I saw on the way to the awards ceremony. Seriously. You'll never guess. No, not Joaquin Phoenix. Not Brad Pitt. Not Hugh Jackman. Way cooler than that. Are you ready for this? ...My next door neighbor.

We spotted each other from a few feet away, then stared as we neared, each thinking "How funny, that girl/man looks exactly like..." until it hit us that we were seeing each other. In Vegas. We stopped and laughed in incredulity, each having had no idea that the other was going to be there. The funny thing is, I was wearing heels, so when I first saw him I thought it couldn't be him since he wasn't taller than me!

I later also ran into a classmate, at the most random location, however since I knew he was also gonna be in Vegas for a wedding, it wasn't quite the shock. But still, what are the chances? Maybe I should have gambled... I seemed to have good odds!

Once at the awards ceremony, I finally got to meet the two awesome guys (pictured below) who were in charge of the student scriptwriting competition. When I came up to accept my award, I also said something for my fellow winners who couldn't be there. This is the second year in a row that my school has swept first, second, and third in this competition. Wow!

Me babbling

Accepting my award

After the awards were given out, the other top winner and I had the opportunty to pitch our scripts to an agent. I was so nervous that I could feel sweat trickling down my arm. Somehow, the first half of the pitch went off without a hitch (even though the agent would criticize us in front of the audience as we went) but then, by responding to some blanket statements she made about Americans being too stupid for my movie and how detrimental it is to have a female lead, I, apparently, "talked back," which was a big no-no.

Lesson learned: Be a product, not a person. Learn how to eat shit.

Two things I must learn how to fake in order to get anywhere in this business until I have the power to call the shots.

A professor from my university, Baback Sarraffan, who taught me TV Production, very often wins for the music videos he produces. Here we are with our plaques.

Yes, I know you can tell that I was nervous.

With Mommy

Needless to say, I was very glad to have it over and done with!

Taking a moment to relax and fill my sister in on what happened

We explored the hotel a bit after that. Check out this pool they have on the roof of the third floor!

And... Barry Manilow was everywhere...

A wedding... thing

The hotel was so tall that I couldn't even lean back far enough to fit it in the picture!
Donald Trump's tower of golds. Seriously. Everything inside of it is gold, too. It's bizarre. Like, really bizarre.

BAM! Another notch!

We headed to the Luxor to go see the Titanic artifact exhibit with Ajla that evening. Unfortunately, we got to the MGM Grand 15 minutes too late to see the lions in the lobby exhibit, but we still got to see lots of people frequenting the casinos. Women who wanted the whole world to know that they had boobs and an ass and make-up, all of which screamed a silent desperation that was sad. Little old men and ladies in motorized wheelchairs sitting at the slot machines, gambling money you know they didn't have to waste. All haloed in cigarette smoke.

As one beautiful young woman who rode the monorail home with us that night put it, "It's eternal hope. It's part of being human -- that resilliency -- always hoping that this time you will win." That made me see the gambling differently -- she had a great outlook! Thanks, whoever you were, and I hope your feet aren't still killing you from those heels!

Little New York

The Luxor!

I don't know if I've yet mentioned this on this blog, but I have been an ameature Egyptologist all my life. I loved the architecture of the Luxor!

The sphinx!

A sphinx and obelisk

Once Ajla arrived, we went into the exhibit. At the start, you are given a boarding pass with the name and information of a passenger who sailed on the ship.

Not only am I an ameature Egyptologist, but I was one of those 13/14-year-old girls who was obsessed with the Titanic when the film came out. Not only did I want to learn everything about the film (yes, it admittedly inspired me to persue filmmaking) but I was thirsty for the history. I used to know the prominent passengers and officers backwards and forwards, the layout of the ship, the order of events and the telegraphs warning of ice, and much more. I couldn't get enough. I still am fascinated by the moment in history, and much of my old knowledge flooded back to me as I toured the exhibit, however, I know I would have been in tears had I seen it when I was 14.

They not only hard recovered artifacts on display, but had also recreted sections of the ship, complete with sound effects, so that it really felt that you were in third class, then first, then on grand staircase (complete with the ornate glass ceiling!), the promenade deck, then... groaning metal. They had a huge hunk of ice to touch to remind you just how cold 28 degree water is. Those poor people.

There were many dishes that had been recovered, along with a few metal instruments and cookware, but among the most shocking artifacts was a pair of pants and shoes from a victim, along with a pair of glasses.

The Big Piece was also there -- for those not familiar, this is the giant section of the hull that you see in almost every documentary about the wreck. It was amazing to see such a large section of the ship, complete with some of the glass windows intact. Wow.

At the very end, you can look your passenger's name up on a plaque on the wall to see if you lived or died. We were all first class, so we all survived. But seeing the names of the saved vs. the lost was shocking. Nearly all first class passengers were saved. Nearly all third class passengers were lost.

This exhibit is going to be in Las Vegas for the next 10 years, and I highly recommend it!

We had tried to call it a night early, but since we're all history nerds, it was still a bit late when we finished. But that meant we got to see the Luxor and the strip in it's glowy glory.


Outside the Luxor


Little New York at night

The next morning was already time to leave! We attended another panel on the TV Writer's Room, which was fascinating (talk about frat hazing! You should see what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite shows!) and I was able to talk to the TV writers on the panel afterwards, which was great. I briefly pitched my script to one, and he was much more hopeful than the agent had been the day before. "You just gotta find the right people to work with you on it," he said, echoing my conclusion from the night before. Preferably someone who doesn't think Americans are too stupid.

It was already time to say goodbye to a city that, while I appreciate it, I don't have much love for. It was fun to visit, but the strip is tacky and dirty and loud and a very bold celebration of commercialism and capitalism. For someone who finds beauty in the green and growing, it was definitely not the place for me. Not to mention, they have to recycling system!

The slot machines by the lobby

The fancy lobby

Grandma gave me $40 to play the slot machines. "If you win," she said, "we'll split the winnings!" This picture was for her. I actually only spent $20 of the money she gave me, since I was frightened by how easily it was fettered away!

The noise and the stench of cigarette smoke were always enough to make me walk through this portoion of the hotel as fast as possible.

Before we left for the airport, Ajla and her mom came to the hotel for a chat. It was great to see Ajla again and to meet her gorgeous mom, but it was so sad to leave and say goodbye. I hope we see each other again soon, Ajlita!

If I already look like a witch now, imagine when I'm old!

With my online girlfriend ;)

Our amazing, and gorgeous, mommies!

The flight back home had some turbulence, but was short. It was so nice to see green again, and to see our mountains. All in all, it was a lovely trip. The highlight was definitely spending time with Ajla, but schmoozing with industry professionals was also kinda cool. But not as cool as my online girlfriend. ;)

Mackenzie's Momma -- Glad to hear you're spreading our video insanity! LOL! I can't wait to see your beautifully dorky goat pictures! I keep thinking about shaving ours, now, since they've nearly rubbed their rumps naked from itching!

Tracie -- You nominated my blog? Wow, I'm so honored! Thank you! :) And if you're curious about the colorful characters of Santa Cruz... Google Pink Umbrella Man, lol.