Monthly Archives: October 2020

“Absinthe” and “Piff the Magic Dragon” Lead Return of Las Vegas Shows

Two of our favorite Las Vegas shows are reopening and we’re fully engorged with anticipation at the news.

“Absinthe” reopens at Caesars Palace on Oct. 28, 2020.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” reopens at Flamingo on Oct. 29, 2020.

Shows are back on the Las Vegas Strip! Even more importantly, laughter is back, and it’s about damned time.

Absinthe balancing act

The thrills, and wildly inappropriate humor, are back.

Both shows have implemented strict safety protocols to assuage COVID-19 concerns and are setting the stage for others to follow suit.

For example, “Absinthe” will have “cabaret-style seating” inside the show’s tent outside Caesars. This seating will allow parties of two to five to reserve tables positioned no less than six feet apart.

The venue also has a new air purification system, guests will be temperature screened, masks will be mandatory and table service will be provided to avoid the need for guests to line up at the bar for drinks.

“Absinthe,” of course, is one of the most popular and successful shows in the history of Las Vegas.

The show features one jaw-dropping variety act after another, and the festivities are hosted by The Gazillionaire and his assistant, Penny Pibbets.

Spiegelworld produces “Absinthe” at Caesars, as well as “Atomic Saloon” at Venetian and “Opium” at Cosmopolitan.

The company’s founder (sorry, “Impresario Extraordinaire”), Ross Mollison, says his other shows will return “very soon.”

Ross Mollison

Producer Ross Mollison is responsible for some of our favorite Las Vegas things. No, he didn’t invent Captain Morgan. Nobody’s perfect.

We trust “Opium” will no longer have performers spitting bananas into each others mouths, and cast members throwing dinner rolls into the audience at “Atomic Saloon” is likely to be nixed. Bummer.

“Absinthe” will have performances Wednesday through Sunday at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. starting Oct. 28, 2020. Tickets here.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” is a hilarious comedy-magic show featuring demented genius John van der Put, his showgirl assistant Jade Simone and Piff’s pup, Mr. Piffles.

We rank Piff’s show among the very best, and funniest, in Las Vegas and we tend to hate everything.

Piff’s show has a lot of audience interaction, with audience members being asked up on stage (we’ll never live that down), but we assume there will be workarounds for those elements for the time being.

“Piff the Magic Dragon” will temporarily move into the Flamingo Showroom. The room can accommodate 250 people, the current limit for gatherings in Nevada.

Piff performs Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. starting Oct. 29, 2020. Tickets here.

Piff

Girlie, squirrelly and surly.

Some Las Vegas news is more fun to share than others, and this update is particularly gratifying.

While Las Vegas has been slowly recovering, the lack of shows has been painful.

It’s apropos “Absinthe” and “Piff” are among the first shows to reopen, as they represent the kind of Las Vegas shows we personally love, stuffed to the gills with originality, irreverence and mirth.

Also on the mirthy tip, it’s worth noting stand-up comedy shows have reopened at The Strat (L.A. Comedy Club) and Downtown Grand (Delirious Comedy Club).

The return of must-see Las Vegas shows like “Absinthe” and “Piff” isn’t merely a relief for the casts and crews whose lives and livelihoods have been on hold for seven months, it’s an invitation to experience unbridled, sometimes raunchy, joy in Las Vegas again.

The way Mother Nature, and The Gazillionaire, intended.

That Time We Learned About Burning the Dice in Craps

We’ve played craps a time or two during our innumerable Las Vegas outings, but until recently had never heard the term “burning the dice.”

A helpful yet surly floor supervisor at one of our favorite casinos shared that “burning the dice” is a method cheaters use, so it’s not permitted.

“Burning the dice” is when a player rubs the dice against the table felt repeatedly in an attempt to dull the corners and influence the roll.

dice hard six

Players should take care to avoid friction with the felt, as well as casino management.

Casinos are always on the lookout for cheaters, of course, so there are a number of rules and procedures to prevent tampering with the dice or making rolls less random, the way Mother Nature intended.

Longtime followers of this blog will recall we compiled a list of 11 Casino Dice Security Measures to Keep Players From Cheating. It was the one time we did “research” and “took notes.”

Security steps include the serial numbers on dice, making dice translucent, backfilling the pips, canceling used dice and the aforementioned sharp corners.

Dice pips drilling filling

The dots on dice are pips. When they’re drilled, they’re filled back in (backfilled) to ensure perfect balance.

Here’s a fun game. Whenever you see an advertisement for a casino, make sure to notice whether the dice have rounded or sharp corners. If the corners are rounded, you know somebody slipped up, as dice with rounded corners are never used in casinos.

Dice with rounded corners are typically used in board games and for other non-gambling purposes.

Once you start noticing dice corners, you can’t not see them!

Even bigtime movies get casino dice wrong. Check out this still from the popular documentary starring Bruce Willis, “Armageddon.”

Armageddon dice

We trust this prop person never worked in Hollywood again.

We call “no roll” on that one! Landing on an asteroid to divert it from a collision course with Earth is a lot more believable than a casino using dice with rounded corners.

Now, you know.

Knowing what “burning the dice” is will win you a bar bet someday, or at least help you avoid the wrath of a casino pit boss.

Note: Yes, we know a pit boss is different from a floor supervisor. We honestly didn’t expect you to read this far.

Checking in On Downtown’s New Gateway Arch

We haven’t shared an update on downtown’s new welcome arch in, oh, several minutes, so let’s do that.

Downtown’s $6.5 million gateway arch is nearing completion. You can tell by the funny look on its face.

Downtown archway

Vegas loves it some giant parabolas. For the newcomers, that was a boob joke.

The arch has been delayed a bit (it was supposed to be done in Sep. 2020), and now we know why.

There are a metric hell-ton of bulbs to install!

The thousands of bulbs are likely to give downtown some eye-catching bling, but holy crap, somebody at YESCO’s going to get carpal tunnel.

Downtown archway

So. Much. Screwing.

YESCO, of course, is the legendary Las Vegas sign company tasked with building the arch.

We get the feeling YESCO didn’t discourage the City of Las Vegas from using the aforementioned metric hell-ton of bulbs, as they’re the ones who will be maintaining the sign.

YESCO Tweet

Why do you always have to make things awkward? And by “you,” we mean “we.”

On the bright side, literally, bulbs add a flair LEDs just can’t replicate. (Just as LEDs can’t outshine the visual appeal of neon.)

Downtown archway

We tried counting all the bulbs, got to four trillion and quit to drink at Strat’s View Lounge.

The archway sits at the foot of The Strat on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Actually, drivers must go through the legs of the archway to get into The Strat’s porte cochere.

The arch should be completed in mid-to-late November 2020, because, beyond the bulb installation, there’s still quite a bit of electrical work to be done, per the City of Las Vegas.

Downtown archway

Our favorite part of any Las Vegas sign? Googie stars!

We’re still trying to get a sense of where people might want to stand for a photo op with the new archway.

It’s not a stellar part of town, but doesn’t feel dangerous. Because the northern side of the sign will be in the shade during daylight hours, you’ll want to park at The Strat and walk to just south of the sign for your photos.

Downtown Vegas arch

As with most things in Vegas, this will look much sexier after dark.

Here’s a closer look at the dangling part.

Vegas archway

The sign features the City’s abandoned logo. Also, pretty sure we’re using the word “abandoned” wrong.

You can also stroll a bit north to another welcome display featuring larger-than-life chips, dice and showgirls.

Fun fact: Showgirls don’t like being referred to as “larger-than-life.”

Downtown gateway display

We’d have bet against it, but this photo op has actually become a thing.

You know we’ll be there when the downtown archway is lit. We’re pretty much guaranteed to be the same, if you get our drift.

Circa, The D and Golden Gate Revamp Players Club, There’s a Twist

The casino loyalty club for The D, Golden Gate and upcoming Circa is getting an overhaul, including a new set of tiers.

The new One Club tiers have been officially announced, but we’re even more intrigued by one that hasn’t. Been announced. Please try and keep up.

Here’s a look at three of the four new One Club tiers: Gambler, Maverick and Legend.

One Card loyalty club Circa

Fun fact: One Club’s tier names were inspired by characters from “Top Gun.” Additional fun fact: We may have just made that up.

Among other things, it’s refreshing to see a casino calling it “gambling” rather than “gaming.”

If you look closely at the graphic, the colors of the cards correspond to the circles in the background. Three cards, four colors.

Teases!

We hear there’s another tier, for elite players, that won’t be available to the general public. Invite only. Or as it’s called in the business, an “aspirational tier.”

We already have our eye on you, aspirational tier.

Word is the name of the highest tier is a nod to Vegas Vickie, the iconic neon sign making her return to Fremont Street when Circa opens on Oct. 28, 2020, kicking leg and all.

Vegas Vickie Circa

Not a rendering! Thanks to our friends at Circa for letting us be the first to share their amazing photo of a restored Vegas Vickie on the Twitters. Yes, we got weepy.

While we couldn’t ferret out details about this “mystery” fourth tier, we did snag specifics about the three official One Club tiers.

Here’s an exclusive first look.

One Club benefits

Who brings the boom? We’ll wait.

We asked, and One Club has no plans to tier match at the moment. (That’s where casinos match an existing tier status at a competing casino to get your play.)

It’s worth noting players get cash back at the Legend level. We’re pretty sure that’s new.

We’ve found One Club to be very generous with its perks, and it appears that won’t be changing with the new players club structure.

We play at The D and Golden Gate fairly often, and actually find it challenging to use all our free play and dining benefits. We seem to rack up comp dollars quickly, too, hence the embarrassingly large number of branded clothing items in our closet acquired from The D’s gift shop.

The new loyalty club tiers for Circa, The D and Golden Gate debut Oct. 23, 2020.

The Oct. 28 opening of Circa Las Vegas is the most exciting thing to happen in Las Vegas in 2020, and the new loyalty club tiers and perks are icing on the cake.

See you at Circa! And The D. And Golden Gate. We don’t want to play favorites.

Bellagio Conservatory Whips Out Its Autumnal Resplendence

It’s time to bask in the newest seasonal display at Bellagio Conservatory!

The Conservatory is all up in the fall at the moment, and even if you’re not currently in Las Vegas, you can still “visit” the attraction through the miracle of the Interwebs.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Bellagio’s getting its enchantment on.

The fall display isn’t Bellagio’s flashiest, that honor typically goes to the Christmas penguinfest, but it’s impressive and the Conservatory remains one of the best free attractions in Las Vegas along with our blog. Ahem.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Bro, this isn’t a seafood restaurant. Tend to hoisting your mainsail or whatever.

In an effort to help you enjoy Bellagio’s autumnal display, we slapped together a short video you can watch with friends and family, assuming your friends and family are really, really bored after binge watching “Las Vegas.” Again.

Strap on your 3-D glasses! The video isn’t 3-D, but you just look awesome in 3-D glasses.

But enough about how our photos and videos and modesty make us the best Las Vegas blog, ever. Seriously, though, have you ever seen the entire Bellagio Conservatory in one photo? We’ve got this.

Back to the fall display!

As always, there’s a lot to take in, so figure on two trips through the attraction.

Our first stroll through is always about the big picture, reveling in the overall splendor. Or possibly grandeur. Bellagio has both.

The second pass is about all the details, an opportunity to really appreciate the attention to detail and wizardry of Bellagio’s visionary horticultural team, 97 wizards strong.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Try not to ask too many questions.

The Bellagio Conservatory’s fall 2020 display is called “Into the Woods,” an obvious reference to the actor we all used to know and love.

There’s a charming surprise at every turn, with foxes and dragonflies and fairies, which is possibly an inappropriate term but that’s what they used in the news release so we’re going with it.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

You should see the size of the bug zapper.

The magical forest motif also has giant mushrooms, which we’re definitely not making a joke about because we’re already going to spend the rest of our day dealing with our comments section.

Upon entering the Conservatory’s West Bed, which we didn’t know had a name, guests are welcomed by a family of foxes playing “beneath a magnificent, floral-embellished, hand-hewn tree house with colorful stained-glass dragonfly windows.”

Also, “a symbol of transformation and adaptability, the dragonfly also is featured on the ship’s head of the Botanical Bellagio sailboat which guides the foxes’ water journey through the forest.”

The folks at the Bellagio Conservatory obviously know a little something about mushrooms.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Why is it always about the jokes with you?

In the North Garden, the aforementioned fairies chill near a tranquil reflecting pond.

“Their woodland fairy house, built completely of botanical ingredients, features a roof constructed of over-sized sunflowers and the same stained-glass windows used in the foxes’ treehouse.”

The main walkway into the Conservatory is a hollow tree with a small fountain inside.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2020

Virtually everything in Las Vegas doubles as a wishing well.

The fountain, naturally, has become a place for guests to throw coins for good luck. And by coins, we mean “coins and slot machine TITO slips.”

Autumn Bellagio 2020

Coin shortage and whatnot.

No autumn display at Bellagio would feel complete without the 28-foot talking tree, which is definitely not even remotely creepy or possibly emotionally traumatizing to children.

We’re kidding. The talking tree is also possibly emotionally traumatizing to adults as well.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

His bite isn’t nearly as bad as his, well, you know.

There are also bears and bees on the South Bed.

The bees labor day and night to make honey so the bears can raid their hive and fatten up for a “long winter nap” despite the fact bears have no real appreciation for the fact bees only live three months and they’ve just spent that entire time slaving away to feed these ungrateful, fatass bears.

That wasn’t in the news release, by the way. We’re just winging it so our photos don’t slap together.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

Today’s reason bees always look exhausted.

As always, the Bellagio provides some awesome stats related to the display.

About 8,730 pounds of pumpkins are used, the largest of which weighs 1,037 pounds.

There are 19 mushrooms in the display, with 59,950 carnations used on them.

The display also features 31 illuminated acorns. It goes without saying Illuminated Acorns would be a great band name. As would Autumnal Resplendence, now that we’ve had a minute to think about it.

Autumn Bellagio 2020

The scientific name for these flowers is “fuscia.” We are not big on note-taking, sorry.

We love the Bellagio’s Conservatory, and the fall display is well worth a stop. Again, it’s free, and the Conservatory is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The fall display runs through Nov. 28, 2020. Then, it’s time for the polar bears to return, much to the relief of the honeybees.

Saltgrass Steak House Opens at Golden Nugget

Golden Nugget officially has its second steakhouse, Saltgrass Steak House.

The steakhouse joins the popular Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse at Golden Nugget, taking over the former Grotto Italian Restaurant space.

Grotto has moved into the former Lillie’s Asian Cuisine restaurant space, in the hotel’s Carson tower. Lillie’s closed in Oct. 2019.

There will be a quiz.

Saltgrass Golden Nugget Vegas

As the old Vegas adage goes, you can never have too much meat.

Saltgrass was poised to open several months ago, but then the pandemic happened.

It appears casino officials now believe demand has returned enough to sustain both its steakhouses.

Saltgrass Steak House fills a need for value-oriented customers who prefer their fare casual, while Vic & Anthony’s is considered fine dining. We consider it flipping delicious. Bonus: Casual Meat would make a great band name.

Saltgrass is also more kid-friendly than the fancier Vic & Anthony’s, despite our best efforts.

Saltgrass Las Vegas

The genus name for saltgrass is “distichlis,” which sounds like it could very well be the German word for “distillery,” so we’re good with it.

The price points at Saltgrass are appealing, with our go-to (nine-ounce) filet for $34.49. There’s also a crowd-pleasing selection of chicken and ribs entrees, as well as sandwiches and seafood.

Find the full menu on the official Golden Nugget site.

We’re anxious to try some of the signature cocktails at Saltgrass. Oh, who are we kidding with “some.”

Saltgrass Vegas

Please stop putting calorie counts on cocktail menus. It’s buzzkill.

Saltgrass is in the Landry’s family of restaurants, owned by Tilman Fertitta, as is the Golden Nugget. The chain has more than 80 locations across the country.

Golden Nugget cowboyed up its Grotto footprint for Saltgrass. It’s now replete with wood paneling, steer horns and rodeo photos.

Saltgrass Golden Nugget

Vegas Vic is next door to Golden Nugget, so they’d better stock up on Howdy Podner Burgers. Which should be a thing.

At the moment, reservations are by phone, but will soon be available on Open Table.

For now, Saltgrass is closed Monday through Wednesday. Thursday through Saturday, hours are 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saltgrass is open Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

It’s worth noting the Saltgrass bar is open until 11:00 p.m. Thursdays, 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Saltgrass

Saltgrass kept Grotto’s little side dining area with a great view of the pool, with its shark tank and a number of people with a little too much body confidence, all due respect.

While we haven’t been to Saltgrass yet, we’re looking forward to a visit. Landry’s has the mid-level restaurant game down, and Golden Nugget has one of the best dining mixes in town.

Other restaurant options include the reliable Claimjumper, excellent Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Red Sushi (recently rebranded to Red Asian Cuisine) and even Chick-fil-A.

Anticipate our clumsy review of Saltgrass Steak House at Golden Nugget soon!