Destination: Nevada

‘CSI: The Experience’ Comes to Vegas

‘CSI: The Experience’ Comes to Vegas Photo by via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Well, finally. I’ve been waiting for Las Vegas to really tap into the “CSI” theme—no, the mugs and t-shirts in the cheapo gift shops on Fremont aren’t enough for me—and now the MGM Grand has obliged with a new exhibit, CSI: The Experience. Writes Jen Leo over at the Daily Deal blog: “You will act as an investigator and go through one of three crime scenes. Take notes, analyze clues and watch videos with characters from the TV show while you learn about DNA identification, firearm and toolmark identification, blood-spatter analysis, forensic entomology and more.”

Next time I make it to Vegas, I am so there. Who says learning can’t be fun?

Joel Stein in Las Vegas: ‘I Have Come for Revenge’

He went to Las Vegas to take advantage of the city when it’s down. “For the first time ever,” he writes in Time, “it is possible to complete a monetary exchange in Las Vegas and feel bad for the other person.” But you know what? He doesn’t feel bad about it. Good story, but, as someone who loves Vegas, I found it a bit painful to read.

‘The Hangover’ Gets Bollywoodized

‘The Hangover’ Gets Bollywoodized Publicity still via IGN
Publicity still via IGN

Here’s an unexpected bit of cross-cultural synergy. This summer’s funniest travel movie involving a Vegas bachelor party, Mike Tyson, and a tiger—OK, OK, this summer’s only travel movie involving all of the above—is getting its very own Bollywood remake.

After he had time to think it over, Get the Big Picture’s Colin Boyd decided he approves. “You’ve seen ‘The Hangover,’ right? It’s full of non sequiturs from Mike Tyson to the chicken to the tiger in the bathroom to the baby to the missing tooth,” he writes. “And where better to find humorous non sequiturs than Bollywood?”

Another Morning After: ‘Hangover’ Sequel en Route

Another Morning After: ‘Hangover’ Sequel en Route Photo by mandj98 via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by mandj98 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Lovers of film and travel, fear not: If “The Hangover”—you know, the one about the messy/hilarious aftermath of a Vegas boys’ getaway?—left you wanting more, you don’t have long to wait. A sequel, with star Bradley Cooper signed on, is already in the works. It’s a likely bet for box office success—Cooper’s only concern, apparently, is how they’ll top the first installment. “We’ve gotta go to space or something,” a skeptical Popwrap blogger quotes him as saying.

Sure, Bradley. Logistical issues aside, space certainly tops Vegas. Or you could just go to Macau.

When the President Goes to Vegas: Hail Obama?

When the President Goes to Vegas: Hail Obama? Photo by Alexander Basek
Inside Caesars Palace. Photo by Alexander Basek

It’s easy to ignore the language surrounding hotel stays. Spas have therapists and there’s a concierge or a butler for your pillow and your bath. In fact, it gets to be difficult when you need something but don’t know whom you’re supposed to talk to about it. Does an order for ice fall under the purview of the cooling concierge or the cocktail consultant? We may never know the answer.

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NPR Broadcasts From ‘The Troubled Skies’

Photo by Donald Verger

There are a few truisms about the airline industry today.

First: It’s no fun to be in the airline business at the moment.

Second: It’s more fun if you’re a passenger, because fares are cheap—although no one is sure how long they’ll stay that way.

For example, JetBlue advertised (via @JetBlue) some $29 one-way fares yesterday, although restrictions included the fact that the low fares were only good for travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. (As for the latest development in a la carte fees: Delta just announced it will start charging $50 for a second checked bag on international flights.)

Third: as demand slows and the national system becomes less stressed, things seem to be operating more smoothly.

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America the Accessible

America the Accessible Photo by Rick McCharles via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Rick McCharles via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Fifteen years ago, when nobody else was really servicing the community, writer Candy Harrington ditched traditional travel writing and launched Emerging Horizons, a travel magazine for people with disabilities.

“Back then most of my friends and colleagues thought I was a few fries short of a happy meal for making such a drastic change,” says Harrington. Silly colleagues. Other travel magazines come and go but Emerging Horizons is still running strong, and Harrington also writes books, articles for magazines and websites, and a blog on the subject.

We checked in with her to find out about the state of accessible travel in America—and some of her favorite accessible travel adventures around the 50.

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Las Vegas Strip Tips

Do check out HotelChatter and Jaunted‘s glitzy new spawn, VegasChatter. Where else would you find out about an all-male revue at Hooters?

The Pre-Flight Flight Attendant Rap

Have you heard the fantastic pre-flight rap that one Southwest Airlines flight attendant has been doing?

The flight attendant, David Holmes, was recently the subject of a short interview at the Middle Seat Terminal. It’s worth a read.

Here’s my favorite part of the rap, which is performed to the beat of the passengers stomping and clapping:

Before we leave
Our advice is
Put away your electronic devices
Fasten your seat belt
Then put your trays up
Press the button
to make the seat back raise up

The expressions on the passengers’ faces are just as entertaining as the rap is itself. Video below.

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From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time

From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)

We’ve written before about crime novels being a prime source for vivid place-based writing. But how about traveling vicariously through the now-ubiquitous crime show? I’d argue that television travel can be just as effective and enjoyable.

Of course, a forty-four minute episode doesn’t allow for the same richness and depth of detail as you’d find in a book, but you can pack a lot of local color—both sights and sounds—into even the briefest street scene. Think of the all-powerful CSI franchise: from the juicy opening shots of the Las Vegas strip or the Manhattan skyline—sorry Miami, I just can’t handle Horatio—to the plot lines often derived from existing local traditions, quirks or trends (think the original CSI’s frequent tributes to Vegas’ wild mob-ruled past), each of the shows is deeply rooted in its host city. And while the main story lines are certainly glitzed up and sensationalized (not to mention acted out by improbably attractive law enforcement officers), you can still pick up a lot of legit local detail from them: I first heard of narcocorridos in a CSI episode about the Mexican community in Las Vegas, and saw handball played for the first time in an episode of CSI: NY—now, walking around Queens during my stay here, I see the game being played daily.

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Las Vegas Hotels for Every Tax Bracket

Las Vegas Hotels for Every Tax Bracket Photo by Mr Gus via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Over at the Los Angeles Times daily deal blog, Jen Leo has a breakdown of Vegas hotel bargains by price—and the low end starts at just $6.25 per night. The list ranges from less than $10 to a little over $100 per night, and there are some surprising deals. The Excalibur for $24 per night? That’s about how much an off-strip hostel bunk will cost you, too. (I know which one I’d choose.)

Morning Links: War Hotels, the Solas Awards and More

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Morning Links: JetBlue Fare Refunds, America’s Emptiest Cities and More

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Morning Links: Vegas to L.A. High-Speed Rail, ‘the Gifts of Travel’ and More

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Las Vegas: Cheap and Quirky Edition

Las Vegas: Cheap and Quirky Edition Photo by Eva Holland
Photo by Eva Holland

In spite of the recent plunge in room prices, “cheap” isn’t necessarily the first word that comes to mind when you think of Vegas—“jaw-dropping excess” might be closer. But beyond the high-roller tables, celebrity-helmed restaurants and designer clothing stores, there are bargains to be found. The Traveling Mamas recently posted a handy list of “free or cheap” Las Vegas activities, and it includes some more unexpected fare, like the Broadacres Swap Meet or the Pinball Hall of Fame.

I visited Las Vegas for the first time this summer, and with the exception of a close call at the Jimmy Choo store in Caesars Palace (where a part of me tried to argue that happiness is, in fact, a $600 pair of boots) I managed fairly easily to keep a grip on my wallet. My favorite Vegas freebie? The collection of vintage neon signage on Fremont East, where the glory of the good old days (sort of) lives on.