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Vegas recap.

Howdy! I’m still very much in recovery mode after a fun-filled trip to Las Vegas over a long weekend. I am tired, and completely off-schedule given the time difference, and in general I feel like I need to do a juice cleanse and/or eat a bunch of acai bowls until I feel clean again.

But of course, life doesn’t stop, work is nuts, my apartment is in shambles, and my calendar is full. Whew!

However, I was so excited to take a look at ALL the pictures I took (it’s a lot, just look at my Instagram @OrangeJulius7), and definitely wanted to post my favorites here – in no particular order.

I landed in Vegas late Thursday night, checked into the Palms, and promptly made myself a drink and hit the slots – losing $20 nearly immediately.

On Friday, it was a little chilly outside so we skipped on the pool and ventured to The Strip to partake in street drinking, gambling, sight-seeing (particularly the fountain at the Bellagio), and overeating at Wahlburgers.

Friday night was the Backstreet Boys concert at the Axis near/in Planet Hollywood, which was difficult AF to find. But, the hunt for the venue was worth it, because BSB pretty much made all of my boy band dreams come true. They played ALL of their hits, danced a lot (they even did the same dance from some of their music videos), and even wore glittery suit jackets for a few songs – and I about lost it. It was fantastic!

After the concert, I was on a mission to find two “secret” gems in Vegas – the Moet champagne vending machine and the unmarked pizza spot. We found them both, met a few cool people along the way, and saw some great views of the city. And, that pizza was some of the best I’ve ever had.

View from the Palms pool + lounge.

On Saturday, we hit the Palms pool (which was laced with security), shelled out the cash for a giant Palms Punch (nearly $50 for a souvenir cup filled with rum and champagne), and relaxed until it was time to get ready for the John Mayer concert. We even enjoyed a yummy dinner outdoors along the strip, before screaming our faces off at Mayer’s last show before meeting up with Dead & Co.

He mixed things up, singing several songs from “Room for Squares”, and of course, several from “The Search for Everything” – but I think he shocked everyone when he brought out the John Mayer Trio for a few songs.

After the concert, we noticed the roller coaster at New York, New York was eerily close to the T-Mobile arena, so we rode that… which was pretty terrifying, and thankfully was a drunk decision.

On Sunday, we had another day of adventure, hitting Linq for the delicious, huge plates at Hash House a-go-go (I got the Indiana pork tenderloin). Then, we checked out the Linq promenade for the Sprinkles cupcake ATM (I got the chocolate marshmallow), and to check out the High Roller.

Then we caught a ride to Fremont Street – Vegas’ original strip – where there are lights covering the street, live music, and several old casinos (some even spit quarters). To close the night we headed back to the strip for a nice dinner at Hexx – a bottle of wine, impressive charcuterie, shrimp pasta, and a sunset view of the Bellagio.

On Monday morning, we headed out for one last adventure: the Neon Museum. Neon signs are a signature of Las Vegas and have been since it was born, but many casinos change their names or simply lease their signs, so many of these signs end up in a “Boneyard”, which is what we got to tour. It was dozens upon dozens of neon bones, complete with a tour guide who told us all sorts of great history, and we even talked about the history of fonts and how neon is made. It was fantastic!

I flew home to Austin Monday afternoon, and although I felt my body was ready to get back to my usual life, I was sad to leave. That was my second time in Vegas, and both times I’ve just had SO much fun. I always feel like I need to make massive life changes once a vacation is over. I sure was sad driving the country roads home – with no neon or flashing lights to guide me.

But, who knows what’s in store for me over the next few months! I know I’m going to try and keep things exciting. I hope you enjoy my pictures 🙂

The history of Las Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas!

Tonight, I’m hopping on a flight to Las Vegas, ready to spend most of my dollars on drinks and slot machines, wear some of my tackiest clothes (a cactus bodysuit is packed), and eat sinfully delicious food until my stomach hurts.

It will be my second time in Vegas, a place I’ve come to associate with good times. But how did Vegas, as we know it, come to be? I looked up a little info.

Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911, and its first claim to fame was its railroads. At the time, gambling was illegal, that is until 1931 when casinos began to takeover Fremont Street (the city’s only paved road), joined by showgirls.

In just 10 years, “The Strip” was born, and served as a second home to casinos and huge, glittery signs running off hydropower. By 1966, small casinos turned into massive ones that took their design cues from escapes around the globe – Paris, Rome, Egypt, and New York.

I remember years ago, before I’d ever been to Vegas, a family member went for a work conference. Upon his return he said he didn’t like it – “It’s just excess in every single way.”

And that’s exactly why I love it! Want a casino? How about one that’s 171,000 square feet, like at the MGM? It’s the biggest casino in the world.

During my last trip to Vegas, we stayed at the MGM hotel & casino, not knowing how historically huge it is, and I was stunned every time I went downstairs. You could actually never leave if you wanted to – or you COULD leave and step outside to see the lights, huge fountains, ceiling-high strands of crystals, a near-replica of the Eiffel Tower – it’s all so much to take it, but it’s a treat for the senses!

This time, we’re staying at the The Palms and I’m just SO excited! The Palms is owned by a very famous Vegas family, the Maloofs – which may sound familiar to you if you’ve watched “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, as Adrienne Maloof is one of the heirs to the throne.

The Palms was, at one time, home to the only Playboy club in the world. It has since closed, but it was quite iconic with crystal chandeliers, magazine covers throughout, and Roberto Cavallie bunny costumes.

The Palms is also home to a few famous suites, including the Hardwood Suite, which runs a cold $25,000 per night. Here’s the scoop from CNN Money: You don’t have to be a professional basketball player to enjoy the hardwood suite at the Palms, although if you are, then this is the room for you. In addition to the half basketball court, electronic scoreboard and extra-long beds, there’s also a locker room that can be stocked upon request with basketball jerseys and or cheerleading outfits — heck, you can even get your own cheerleaders if that’s what you want. As a general rule, most special requests will be gladly filled by the hotel staff. The two-story suite, which has a full bar as well as plenty of room for a DJ booth, is as well suited to partying as it is to playing games; in fact Russell Simmons and Paris Hilton have both hosted lavish affairs here.

If you’re a fan of MTV’s “Real World”, you may remember the cast of “Real World Las Vegas” resided at the Palms, and their suite still stands as the “Real World Suite”, minus all the cameras. It’s 3,000 square feet and even houses the original “confessional” room if that’s what you’re into ($10,000 per night).

…So, there’s that. I’m ready. It’s been a minute since I’ve had a vacation and I’m looking forward to a long weekend of glitter and adventure!

John Mayer’s perfect setlist.

Hello, love.

Well, I’m heading to Vegas on Thursday and aside from seeing the Backstreet Boys, the excitement of the Strip, the relaxation of the Palms’ pool (and bar), I’m also seeing my soulmate, John Mayer.

I’ve loved John Mayer since the first time I saw him live, when I was 16. If you do the math, that was almost 16 years ago – a very long time to be in love. But, like most relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs…

Almost exactly five years ago, I made plans to cross an item off my bucket list: Go to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert.

That city was Las Vegas, and that concert was John Mayer. I bought the tickets, lined up to meet a friend there, and we were SO excited. But about six weeks before our trip, John Mayer cancelled his tour because he had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and would be on rest.

Needless to say, I was crushed. But, my friend and I still decided to go to Vegas, and we still had a lot of fun. It would be another long while before John Mayer went on tour. And when he did, I saw him three times, in three separate states. I’d seen his tour so many times that year, I’d nearly memorized his set list, and could often tell by his guitar choice or chord tuning, what he was about to play.

But that was, like, three years ago – and now the guy is finally back on tour. I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure about this album, “The Search for Everything“. Yes, there’s some songs I like, but it’s no “Paradise Valley” – I absolutely love that album.

When he released “Love on the Weekend“, he promised he was going on tour, and he also said it would be everything we’d ever dreamed of. Whoa, whoa, whoa – big promises! It’s really okay, John, you don’t have to put on a nationwide tour just to finally profess your love for me.

Kidding aside, I got to thinking about what a perfect John Mayer concert would look like. After seeing him at least a dozen times over the years, I’ve heard him play some of my favorites. But what if there was a concert full of them?

I’ve refrained from looking up the setlist for this tour, but I’ve put together my own – what would be the perfect John Mayer concert setlist for me? This was tough, but here it is:

Why Georgia

If I Ever Get Around to Living

Moving On And Getting Over

Waitin’ On The Day

Split Screen Sadness

Born And Raised

Love On The Weekend

Clarity

On The Way Home

Tracing

In Repair

Dear Marie

Stop This Train

*Encore*

In Your Atmosphere

Wildfire

…What do you think? We will see how his concert compares… I have absolutely NO idea what to expect! I’ll definitely let you know… (you could also follow me on SnapChat and see for yourself @OrangeJulius7).

 

Countdown to Vegas, baby!

The famous scene from “Ocean’s Eleven” in front of the Bellagio Hotel & Casino.

In just a few weeks, I’m heading to Vegas for an extended weekend of sun, relaxation, and well, lots of massive drinks. Because, Vegas! I have been to Vegas before, but it was several years ago, and I’m excited to revisit some of my favorite spots (the Paris Hotel & Casino, and Hash House A-Go-Go), while trying some new spots (fishbowls at the Sugar Factory and the Neon Graveyard Museum).

In order to make the most out of my fun-filled days out West, I’m planning a few things in advance, packing strategically, staying on my diet, and hyping myself up. So, I’ve put together a list of my favorite movies that feature Sin City in all its glittery glory.

Ocean’s Eleven 

George Clooney + Brad Pitt… Yes! 2001 really served it to us in this action-packed movie that involves 11 dudes ready to take down Vegas, by robbing three casinos at the same time. You go boys! And it makes visiting the Bellagio fountains that much more iconic.

Swingers

When I suffered my very first breakup, my dad introduced me to the 1996 cult classic, “Swingers”. I’m so glad he did, because I can’t get enough of Trent and Mike and their ways with the ladies, especially once they hit the Vegas strip. Everything is “Money, baby”, and frankly, this movie is one of my all-time favorites.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

No self-respecting writer can turn his or her back on Hunter S. Thompson and his beloved book-turned-movie, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. When a unique journalist (played by Johnny Depp) and his lawyer head to Vegas, deciphering reality from illusion becomes the challenge. It’s a must-see.

21

I’ll admit it, the book (“Busting Vegas”) was better, but the movie adaptation was on-point. The movie tells the true story of six MIT students who learned how to count cards, and took millions of dollars from the Vegas casinos. It’s a thriller, that’s for sure, and Kevin Spacey is perfection.

I had a 1590 on my SAT. I got a 44 on my MCATs. And I have a 4.0 GPA from MIT. I thought I had my life mapped out. But then I remembered what my Nonlinear Equations professor once told me, always account for variable change.

The Hangover 

In 2009, we were blessed with the start of “The Hangover” trilogy. Although the entire franchise puts me in giggles, the first one is my favorite. This movie is what Vegas is all about: Wolf packs, strippers, cocaine, and partying so hard that you lose your memory, and the bachelor. Think: “Dude, Where’s My Car?” only in Vegas, with a bottomless budget. It’s hilariously fantastic, and I love going to Cesar’s Palace to look for a payphone 😉

…So, don’t be shocked if you see me Tweeting (@OrangeJulius7) about these movies in the coming weeks. What movies about Vegas do you like to watch?

Backstreet’s back… ALRIGHT!

The Backstreet Boys are back…in Vegas!

For whatever reason, I decided to watch this season of “The Bachelor” (totally blaming all of the marbles Nick Viall keeps in his mouth), and so far, the best episode has been when the ladies on a group date were invited to dance and perform with The Backstreet Boys!

Nick is so lucky none of the women decided to ditch him and scoot over to one of the BSB fellows – I sure would have.

Anyway, several months ago, this iconic boy band announced they had earned a residency in Las Vegas – basically the pinnacle of existence for any artist – and they were promoting their said residency in that episode of “The Bachelor”. And it worked; because I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I probably needed to get my booty to The Strip and sing throwback jams with Nick and A.J.

So, I am. I’ve got my trip booked for next month and let me tell y’all: I CANNOT WAIT.

Hanson was the first band I really drooled over, but I don’t consider them as a part of that 90’s boy band era we all loved so much. Boy bands are classified with the over-coordinated dance moves, the strict harmonies, pristine lyrics, and that cheesy low-voiced talking at the beginning of the ballads.

And, well, we can’t forget the fact that boy bands have their molds within the group. There’s your heartthrob (Nick), the bad boy (AJ), the old soul (Kevin), the nice guy (Howie), and the charity case (Brian). Sorry, Brian, love you!

Together they sold millions of albums, survived and sued the evil Lou Perlman, and then went on to make millions of dollars, and score a residency long past their time in the spotlight. Go boys!

I’ve seen the Backstreet Boys twice in concert, and I remember specifically that after seeing them for the first time, my heart felt so broken the next day because I knew we were no longer in the same city. I know, LAME.

But, I loved their music, and cannot even attempt to guess how many hours I’ve spent listening to and singing along with their albums. Since I got my tickets for the Vegas show, I’ve been searching my ole stacks of CDs (yes, I still have them) and remembering all of the old tunes I loved so much. You’d be surprised just how many I still know the words to – and have already been blaring them in my Jeep on my way to the office #NoShame.

Some of my favorites include “Get Another Boyfriend”, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, and who doesn’t love “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” …but my all-time favorite song has got to be “As Long As You Love Me” (siiiiggggh).

While we’re on the subject, “As Long As You Love Me” was released in 1997 – when I was in 7th grade. The music video is classic 90’s; complete with Howie on a flip phone thinking he’s super fly.

But Nick, my first love, with the bowl cut and the sweeping arm gestures. GET IT. And let’s be real, the chair dance was, and still is, everything. So slick.

Best line: “I don’t care what is written in your hist-or-yyyy, as long as you’re here with me.” STRAIGHT GOLD.

Since those days, I believe all of the guys have gotten married, overcome personal challenges, and now, it seems like they can finally have a little fun, while making loads of cash. And if I haven’t said it enough, I am so excited!

Dear Nick and AJ, I’ll see y’all in Vegas!

Dreaming of (becoming) Britney.

The Queen.

The Queen.

A few weeks ago, a coworker headed to Vegas for the weekend to see Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood. I was SO jealous…and couldn’t wait to hear all about it come Monday.

Since Britney debuted with “Baby One More Time,” I’ve been a huge fan. When she took over MTV in her school girl uniform, I was in high school, and on the dance team — I wanted nothing more than to dance like her.

I went as her for Halloween, I attempted to get my hair cut like hers, I was inspired by her fashion sense, and I even did 500 sit ups every day, because… well, that’s what she did. And you can’t argue with her body; she looks fantastic!

I think all Britney fans can agree, that we’ll forgive her for that whole Kevin Federline f*ck up, and we kind of get the meltdown thing. Shit happens.

What’s important is that now she’s completely back, and living large in Vegas. My coworker’s trip got me thinking — how awesome does Britney have it?

For an artist like her, meaning one who had a ton of hits but isn’t producing new material currently, she’s got a pretty awesome setup. She’s got a contract in Vegas, puts on a one-hour show nearly every night, lives in the Planet Hollywood hotel, and gets a fat paycheck.

I was reading an article a few months ago about her workout regimen (on top of her regular performances), and she mentioned that she loves eating sushi regularly — which I’m sure is delivered right to her hotel door from Koi.

So freaking jealous.

On top of all this awesomeness, let’s face facts, Britney Spears could date any guy she wanted. And that is most certainly a power I want to have. I realize that’s an incredibly superficial wish and there’s probably a few guys out there that aren’t interested in her… or are there?

Now that her contract is extended, I’ve got more of a chance to get to Vegas and see her show (I saw her a few times in concert when I was in high school), but I’m sure it’s nothing quite like the Vegas show.

Anyone been to the show? I’d love to hear the details!