Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cirque du Soleil's "O", Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV

I have been at a client's convention all week in Las Vegas as part of their tradeshow.  Today was the last day and they finished the convention by taking everyone to see Cirque du Soleil's O.

O is a water-themed stage production.  The show has been in permanent residence at the Bellagio in Las Vegas since October 1998. O, whose name is pronounced the same way as eau, the French word for "water", takes place in, around and above a 1.5-million-US-gallon pool of water, featuring water acts such as synchronized swimming as well as aerial and ground acts. The O Theatre, which is designed to look similar to a 14th-century European opera house, has 1,800 seats, thus allowing the performance to be watched by 3,600 people a night since the performance usually plays twice in a given day, also designed to meet the special demands of the show.

The ceiling ... and yes, someone spun down from it

Fix Restaurant & Bar, Las Vegas, NV

I had a ticket to see Cirque du Soleil's O this evening, which is at the Bellagio. 

I had supper at Fix Restaurant & Bar, which is also in the Bellagio.

Book ~ "Blond Cargo" (2014) John Lansing

From Goodreads ~ Jack’s son, Chris, was the victim of a brutal murder attempt and Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, provided information that helped Jack take down the perpetrator of the crime. Jack accepted the favor knowing there’d be blowback.

In “Blond Cargo,” the mobster’s daughter has gone missing and Cardona turned in his chit. Jack discovers that the young, blond, mafia princess has been kidnapped and imprisoned while rich, politically connected men negotiate her value as a sex slave.

Jack, a former cop, is now a private detective.  Vincent Cardona, a mafia boss, helped Jack out when his son, Chris, was hit by a car and now Vincent is calling in the debt.  His daughter, Angelica, has disappeared and Vincent wants Jack to find her.  Two other women who resemble Angelica have turned up dead and Jack hopes he can find Angelica before she ends up with the same fate.  As Jack investigates, he suspects she may have been been kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave and everyone from the mayor, a cardinal, a land developer and a shah may be involved.

In the meantime in his personal life, he is having problems with his girlfriend, Leslie, and he is concerned about his son, Chris.

This is the second book I've read by this author ... it is the second in the Jack Bertolino series (I'd read the first one last year).  You don't have to have read the first one to read this one as it works well as a standalone.

It was an interesting story.  Though I liked the the writing style, I thought it could have been a bit tighter.  There was lots of action and never a dull moment.  It is written in third person, with the focus shifting depending on what was going on.  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult situations.

I liked Jack ... he was a good guy.  I found that there were a lot of characters, though.  I had a hard time keeping them straight sometimes.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book ~ "The Unforgivable Fix" (2014) T.E. Woods

From Goodreads ~ Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite desperate efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

For the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover - and confidante, confessor, and counselor - of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place where Allie will be safe: with The Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people - and Mort was complicit in her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

Allie took off years ago and has been living with Patrick, a drug kingpin. Patrick does something stupid and, scared of the retaliation against her, Allie returns home to seek protection from her father, Mort, who is a police detective.  Mort asks Lydia, a therapist, to let Allie stay with her.  Lydia was once "The Fixer" ... you could hire her to fix situations.  Against her better judgement and her dislike of Allie, Lydia lets her move into her home.

In the meantime, Lydia returns to her practice and starts taking on new clients.  She also agrees to taken on an intern named Zack to help him get the practice he needs.  Things get complicated when a cop starts investigating the treatment of some of their patients.

This is the third book I've read by this author and the third in the Mort Grant series (I've read all three) ... I liked it.  Though it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone as there is enough information provided.  It's written in third person perspective and had more of a focus on Lydia.  As a head's up, there is swearing.

I've like Mort in all three books.  He's a good cop and despite that fact Allie knew what she was doing by hooking up with Patrick, he still welcomed her back as if nothing had happened.  I didn't find Allie likeable at all ... she was extremely manipulative and definitely a survivor.  I found Lydia to be less cold in this book and liked her more than in the last one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, Las Vegas, NV

I had a long tiring day and felt like going to a pub ... I had a late supper at the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery.

There were lots of TVs (with sports) and the tunes were loud and good.

Book ~ "A Letter to My Cat: Notes to Our Best Friends" (2014) Lisa Erspamer

From Goodreads ~ Alluring, elusive, mysterious - the cats in our lives are not always easy to get to know. But as with all pets, they have unique personalities and stories to tell. 

Alongside beautiful four-color photos of their cats, A Letter to My Cat collects personal letters from celebrities offering love and gratitude for all that their cats bring to their lives.

I love reading books about animals and this one sounded cute ... and it was.  If you are a cat lover, you have to check it out!

There are letters to their cats from various celebrities including Rosanna Arquette, Anne Burrell, Joe Perry, Dr. Oz, Gina Gershon, Paige Hemmis ("When life gets crappy, clean the litter box and move on."), Kathy Ireland, Lisa Ray, Stacy London and lots more.

The letters are loving and heartwarming ... they are definitely cat lovers!  The pictures of the cats are gorgeous (I copied these from the website).

Lauren and Gypsy
There is even a letter from Lauren Harper, the wife of our prime minister, to their cat, Gypsy ... here is a part of it:
"You were so thin my husband wondered if I'd brought you home to die.  He was concerned that our children would be left heartbroken.  But before long you even had the prime minister wrapped around your battered paw.

By the time your injuries healed and you began to gain weight, you'd become an integral part of our family.  I wish I would thank the Good Samaritans who rescued you.  They might be surprised to know that the prime minister fills your breakfast bowl.  And that you mingle with rock stars and presidents, philanthropists and though leaders, shedding on everyone equally, regardless of their wealth or stature.  Because of you, we always have a lint roller at the ready."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Señor Frog's, Las Vegas, NV

I had supper at Señor Frog's this evening.  I had planned to go there and what sealed the deal was an old dude giving out coupons for free appetizers if you ordered a meal.

I've been to a few Señor Frog's and they are crazy and wild and fun ... this one wasn't.  Except for a table of drunk guys wearing balloon hats, it was mostly families.  Not a good sign :(

Book ~ "Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion" (2014) Jon Katz

From Goodreads ~ In this heartfelt, thoughtful and inspiring memoir, New York Times bestselling author Jon Katz tells the story of his beloved rescue donkey, Simon, and the wondrous ways that animals make us wiser and kinder people.

In the spring of 2011, Jon Katz received a phone call that would challenge every idea he ever had about mercy and compassion. An animal control officer had found a neglected donkey on a farm in upstate New York and she hoped that Jon and his wife, Maria, would be willing to adopt him. Jon wasn’t planning to add another animal to his home on Bedlam Farm, certainly not a very sick donkey. But the moment he saw the wrenching sight of Simon, he felt a powerful connection. Simon touched something very deep inside of him. Jon and Maria decided to take him in.

Simon’s recovery was far from easy. Weak and malnourished, he needed near constant care but Jon was determined to help him heal. As Simon’s health improved, Jon would feed him by hand, read to him, take him on walks, even confide in him like an old and trusted friend. Then, miraculously, as if in reciprocation, Simon began to reveal to Jon the true meaning of compassion, the ways in which it can transform our lives and inspire us to take great risks.

This radically different perspective on kindness and empathy led Jon to a troubled border collie from Ireland in need of a home, a blind pony who had lived outside in a pasture for fifteen years, and a new farm for him and Maria. In the great tradition of heroes—from Don Quixote to Shrek—who faced the world in the company of their donkeys, Jon came to understand compassion and mercy in a new light, learning to open up “not just to Simon, not just to animals, but to the human experience. To love, to risk, to friendship.”

Jon Katz is an author living on a farm with his wife, Maria.  He gets a call that a donkey is being rescued from deplorable conditions and they aren't sure he's going to make it.  Since Jon already has two donkeys, they were wondering if he would take him.  Jon can't resist and names the donkey Simon and they develop an incredible bond.  This is their story. He also tells of adopting an adult rescue dog named Red and a elderly blind pony named Rocky and how they fit into each other's lives.

I love reading stories about animals.  This is the fourth book I've read by this author and I liked it.  I like the writing style and thought it flowed well.  It was interesting to read how he bonded with these and animals get his perspective on having animals in our lives and how they can help us (and vice versa).

Central Michel Richard, Las Vegas, NV

I had breakfast this morning at Central Michel Richard, which is in Caesar's Palace.

I ordered the American Breakfast with "Canadian bacon" (it's ham where I come from) along with a glass of milk.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Flour & Barley, Las Vegas, NV

I had supper tonight at Flour & Barley.

They have a "to-go" next door.

The pizza looked good!

You can sit inside.

It was 26C/79F so I sat outside on the patio.

The High Roller, Las Vegas, NV

This afternoon I went on the High Roller, which is the world's tallest observation wheel.

The High Roller is a 550-foot tall giant ferris wheel. The wheel began construction in 2011 and opened in March 2014. The High Roller features 28 spherical passenger cabins which can accommodate up to 40 passengers each and is illuminated with dynamic multicolored LED lights nightly.

It cost $25 for the 30 minute ride.  You can spend an extra $5 and go in the happy hour cabin where you can drink all you want (I passed).

There were just three of us in our cabin.

And we're off!

The views were great!

Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Las Vegas, NV

I had a late lunch today at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.

Gord and I are fans of Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef so I thought I'd check it out.

It was fairly packed so I sat at the bar rather than wait for a table (a 15+ minute wait).

It's in Caesar's Palace so it's not cheap.  I ordered a burger and fries (without lettuce, onion and cheddar and added bacon).  It took about a half hour ... Charlie, the bartender, said the kitchen was backed up.  It was good but could have been hotter (I guess it was sitting around for a while).

Book ~ "Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me about Life, Love and Loss" (2014) Kathy McCoy

From Goodreads ~ Cats aren't a typical choice for animal-assisted psychotherapy but Timmy and Marnia are anything but typical. 

Research has found that petting a cat can lower blood pressure and a cat's purr is thought to help heal body tissues and bones. But not just any cat can be a therapy cat, after all, such animals need to be friendly with strangers and willing to be touched, petted and held by unfamiliar people. They have to be tolerant of loud voices and angry shouting, emotional distress, and sudden movements. It's a tall order for any animal, but a particular challenge for a cat. 

In "Purr Therapy", psychotherapist and cat lover Dr. Kathy McCoy shows how two very special cats rose to this challenge, how they helped wounded souls to heal and how they taught even her lessons in mindfulness, joyful living, and compassion. She also shows readers how animal-assisted psychotherapy works and gives them an intimate and moving inside look at how Timmy and Marina worked with patients, how their double role as animal companions and co-therapists changed lives, and how, after their untimely deaths, the grief shared by those who knew and loved them led to even more growth and healing.

I love reading stories about animals.  This book is about therapist, Kathy McCoy, and her two cats, Timmy and Marina, who found their calling as therapy cats.

Kathy and her husband had always had cats.  When the book begins, they have an elderly cat named Freddie who eventually passes away.  They can't resist adopting two kittens, Gus and Timmy.  Because of his personality, Timmy makes an excellent therapy cat.  Unfortunately Timmy dies during the pet food scandal in the late 2000s.  They adopt Maggie to keep Gus company and then adopt Marina, who also becomes a therapy cat.  Alas, they discover that Marina has feline leukemia and she passes away too soon.  The book recounts experiences of the author's patients and how Timmy and Marina had helped them.

I liked the writing style and found it to be an interesting read.  Yes, it's sad because cats die but it's uplifting to read how they'd helped the author's patients.  It's obvious that the author and her husband love cats.