Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Since I have no other Comdex vendors to meet, I have rearranged my flight schedule so I can fly home tomorrow instead of Friday. The smoke from all the smokers here has irritated my allergies and my eyes are so watery it makes it hard to read. My sinuses are inflamed as well. Of course, I could have also picked up a bug in my wanderings too. There is a major construction project in progress between the Bellagio and Caesar's Palace that has probably stirred up the air as well.

Although I always request nonsmoking seating, all hotels manage to route everyone through their casinos to get anywhere so those of us that are sensitive to air impurities usually suffer the consequences. However, I must point out that the Aladdin's accomodations have been quite comfortable and the service staff have been very friendly and helpful. Their buffet is quite delicious too - I had a wonderful Shrimp Scampi there as well as a nice variety of salads. It appears to include dishes from most of the major cuisines of the world.

I walked down to Caesar's Palace this morning to photograph the gardens. I also wanted to check out the lobby and see if they had beautiful Roman murals like the beautiful Egyptian murals behind the registration desk of the Luxor but they didn't. So I walked through the Forum Shops stopping for a bite of roast chicken at Planet Hollywood then walked across the skybridge over to the Venetian. I wanted to explore their new Guggenheim Heritage Museum. I wasn't allowed to photograph any of the works so I had to be content with just examining them closely.

My favorite painting, of course, was Titian's "Lucretia and Her Husband" or should I say a man that is assumed to be her husband. It could actually be the Tarquin prince that raped her but the look on her face does not appear to be fear so scholars assume the man is her husband. Supposely Lucretia asked her husband to revenge her before she took her own life and a dagger is poised in her hand. The exhibition featured Sir Joshua Reynolds' "Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus (1788) and noted that his Venus resembles the artist's favorite portrait subject Emma, Lady Hamilton. The only Peter Paul Rubens in the exhibit was his self portrait. I would have preferred one of his historical pieces. Paulus Potter's "The Wolf Hound" was interesting and provided variety to the exhibit. Nicholas Poussin's "The Victory of Joshua Over the Armalekites" depicts a writhing mass of humanity engaged in mortal combat. But, like many Renaissance painters, his costuming was anachronistic. One of the warriors on horseback was wearing a Greek-style tunic and helmet with white crest - a trademark of Alexander the Great. Other combatants did not appear to be nomadic tribesmen either. The audio narrator said Poussin was said to have included images he observed in Rome for this early work. Apparently, historical accuracy was not considered important. Why he didn't just paint a scene like the Battle of Issus or something is a mystery. The exhibit also included more recent works by such artists as Chagall, Picasso, and even Jackson Pollack. I much prefer the more traditional styles and historical subjects of the Renaissance masters, however. I didn't bother to go to the Guggenheim Las Vegas display since it featured only a display of motorcycles and the Venetian charges separately for each exhibit so I didn't see any point in spending another $15.

Walking back to the front entrance, I spotted a little bakery offering creme brulee - my favorite dessert - so I rested a little and enjoyed this unexpected treat. It was not in a ceramic ramiken, only a foil pie tin, so I was a little dubious. But, it was quite tasty. As I was walking back to my hotel along Las Vegas Boulevard, a college student struck up a conversation with me. I must have looked like a fellow academic walking along with my museum brochure. It's funny that he asked if I had seen any bookstores. I had just been thinking about it while I was at Caesar's Forum Shops that I thought it was odd not to see any Barnes and Noble or B. Dalton's in any of the shopping complexes I had explored. He said I must have missed the one at Virgin's. I told him I thought Virgin's was only a CD and movie shop but he said they had books upstairs. I wish I would have known that since most of the stores only feature expensive apparel and jewelry that are of no interest to me. In fact, whenever I visit Caesar's Palace and walk past Cartier's or Tiffany's I instictively avert my eyes as if a mere glance at these baubels intended for the rich and famous would earn me an escort to the nearest exit.