Well, I'm still in Las Vegas, and glad-handing like there's no tomorrow. (I gots to pay the bills.) Vegas is funny: it's constantly changing and yet it never really changes. This is my fourth trip to Sin City, and the physical layout has morphed dramatically over the years, but the essential nature of Vegas remains the same: vulgar, excessive, and soulless.
That said, I usually look forward to coming out here so I can take in a few shows. It sort of reminds me of Times Square in this respect. I hate being in Times Square, but I love the fact that there's so much to do in that area, namely theater. But I guess you have to take the good with the bad: neither city would have as many cool entertainment options if it weren't for the crass commercialism and meandering throngs.
The first Vegas show I took in was Penn & Teller at the Rio Hotel. No matter how many times I see these guys, I'm always impressed with their showmanship and craft. I had actually seen most of the segments from this particular performance before, but this did nothing to diminish their effect. It's like hearing a live version of a favorite song that just gets richer with repetition. Here are some YouTube clips of some of the classic P&T bits that were part of the performance that I caught: "Shadows," "Sleight of Hand," "Cups and Balls," and "Burning a Flag." If you've never seen P&T before, these bits make for a nice primer to their work: they specialize in taking the bunk out of magic, but somehow it winds up being even more magical in the process.
But P&T are continually changing their shows, adding new segments and bringing back some of their classics. Teller had two new bits that were simply stunning, including one with a seemingly self-propelled red ball and one in which he turned a bunch of gold coins into goldfish.
Penn had some great new stuff, too, including a "mind-reading" segment in which he took the piss out of charlatans like John Edward and Uri Geller. During the routine, Penn was explaining what he was doing, and how it was all a trick, and yet somehow he still wound up appearing to possess otherworldly powers. In his most disturbing segment, Penn demonstrated his memory skills with the aid a nail gun. It was absolutely riveting, pardon the pun.
One of the things I love about Penn & Teller is that, after every show, they go out into the lobby to sign autographs and pose with fans for pictures. Of course, this makes those autographs virtually worthless, but it demonstrates their commitment to their fans, which is admirable. I'm not sure, if I were in a position in which anyone would want my autograph, that I'd have that much patience. I'm not usually the autograph/star photo type, but I couldn't resist getting a picture with Teller. The result is to the left. The moral: never trust a precious photo op to some drunken Vegas slag.