Our trip to Las Vegas was based at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. I have to start by saying that I wasn’t very impressed by it. For starters, the two showcase restaurants it had were both “temporarily closed,” and their other food choices consisted of a hyper-expensive mini-food court that was only partially open 24 hours a day, a deli that had horribly restricted hours, and a coffee bar that served overpriced everything. The room we stayed in wasn’t bad, but it was missing amenities like a coffee maker and a microwave – ostensibly to keep you from camping out in your room and to get you to use the hotel’s fare instead, according to my wife. The room was also quite arctic, depending on where you sat, and this unfortunately included the area where my laptop was located.
The casino was even more disappointing. All of the table games had minimum bets of at least $10, which priced them out of our range. We were stuck playing either the indecipherable penny slots (which appeared to be mostly of Chinese origin), or video poker at a bar. The latter is thankfully the one place where I came out on top during one session, thanks to a little bit of help from the bartender.
As I mentioned in my last update, everything seemed spread out over a vast distance in Las Vegas. This feeling was exaggerated by the fact that we did not rent a car. Instead, we walked almost everywhere we went – to the BattleBots arena, to the Las Vegas strip, and so on – something I was definitely not used to doing. My body let me know it was not happy, too. I developed big blisters on both big toes, one of which took over a week to disappear completely. I regularly dragged several yards behind my wife, who had to stop and wait for me to catch up to her. By the end of the trip, I’d built up a tiny bit of stamina, but my wife still insisted on putting me in a wheelchair when we got to the airport and having a Spirit Airlines courtesy employee push me to the gate.
But enough about that. What was the BattleBots tournament like?
Sadly, I’m going to be limited by non-disclosure agreements in what I can say before the show airs this coming fall/winter season on the Discovery channel. I can’t talk about who fought whom, who won, or anything like that. I can, however, describe the atmosphere of the arena during the shooting of episodes of the show.
We attended sessions that ran about four hours long, either from noon to 4pm or from 6pm to 10pm (both time slots taped each day – we only attended one). Each session began with a Master of Ceremonies instructing the audience on how to react during the taping. Generally, that meant a lot of standing up, yelling, and applauding like mad. I couldn’t stand with the crowd due to my handicap, so we sat in the first row of the arena on the “red square” side each day so I could see the action.
Several in the Thursday audience had made signs and/or had dressed up. That number increased toward Saturday’s sessions and included us in the sign making on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, I’d made a sign that referenced my inability to stand with the rest of the crowd when cheering. I likened my inability to that of a robot that couldn’t “self-right” after getting knocked over on its back. Hence, the sign you should be seeing me holding up – “I’m Cheering Even Though I Can’t Self-Right.” It got several laughs from knowledgeable members of the crowd, although it appeared to confuse the MC.
On Saturday, we both got into the sign-making fun. My wife made a “modular” sign with glued-on mini-clothespins that allowed her to make up new signs as the action unfolded. I recycled my sign, writing something on the back of it that was in response to an incident that happened during taping on Friday. I can’t go into more detail than that, other than to say you’ll understand why it says, “Fewer Egg-Beaters: MORE CHAIRS!” when the episode comes out.
Oh, how I wish I could tell you more. We saw robots do things that had to be seen to be believed. Mechanical carnage like you’ve never witnessed in your life. Trust me, when the shows start airing in November or December of this year, you will want to see them. I know from talking to people who saw sessions that we missed that there are some “OH MY GOD!” moments even in the earlier episodes.
Watch for them. On the Discovery channel. Don’t miss them.