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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Atlantic City

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Atlantic City

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Bobby and I went with my parents yesterday to Atlantic City. It is about two-and-a-half hours away, so we usually take a bus a couple of times per year for a day trip. The bus ticket costs $35, which includes a $25 casino voucher. I am not a fan of gambling; I don't find slot machines fun, and I have never won anything. (ANYTHING. Not even $20.) Bobby and I usually spend our combined $50 pretty quickly and spend the rest of the day on the beach, boardwalk, and pier. Bobby usually wins enough to pay for our lunch and the rest of our bus tickets, so we usually end up getting our trip for free.

We had beautiful weather: sunny and warm but not hot. We had our choice of three places to disembark; my parents prefer the Taj Mahal of the three available casinos (Showboat--closing at the end of the month!--and Bally's), which is at the north end of the boardwalk. We had lunch reservations at Carmine's in Tropicana at the south end of the boardwalk, so we played some of our vouchers (after waiting in an interminable line so that Bobby and I could get the vouchers put on cards, something the greeter used to do right on the bus but that now requires a slog across the casino, a long queue, and a much more drawn-out process). I broke my losing streak by winning a big $31.95 on a penny machine called Icarus while Bobby was off playing something called the Norse Warrior.

We took a taxi to the Tropicana; Carmine's was great, as always. Bobby and I were planning to make the 1.5-mile walk back up the boardwalk to Taj Mahal, and my parents decided they wanted to join us, so we started north, stopping into some of the shops along the way, and for breaks every few blocks for my dad, who is not much of a walker.

There was some large art set up on the boardwalk, including a Monopoly board large enough to walk around on with pieces big enough to climb and sit on.

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Mom and Dad:

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No, I don't know why they're dressed alike!

They decided to turn off at Resorts, the casino before Taj Mahal, but they made the full walk, even though my dad told me in an email this morning that his butt muscles were sore from walking. :^)))

Bobby and I went down to the beach by the Steel Pier for about 20 minutes and stood in the edge of the water. Neither of us felt much like going on rides after the heavy lunch, so we skipped that this time. Finally, it was about an hour to go before having to catch the bus home, so we decided to head back up to the casino to spend the rest of our vouchers. I had $5 left, and Bobby had $15. We both played $5 on quarter machines that amounted to nothing. Bobby decided he wanted to do his last $10 on a dollar machine, so we found one, and he sat down and won a bit, lost a bit, and was down to $3 in credits remaining when he hit with a triple multiplier to win $306!

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He usually wins something small, enough to pay for our trip, but this was his biggest win yet, in AC or Vegas! Whenever we win something (I can say "we" now because I won $31.95!), we cash it out right away. This is a trick that my former boss, who was a high roller in Atlantic City playing only dollar slot machines, taught me. People mess up because they win smallish amounts--$50, say--but don't pull it out and it goes fast after that. Also, the law allows the casino to track what you put in but not what you cash out, so my former boss used to appear to be playing hundreds of dollars a day just by cashing out and feeding his winnings--the casino's own money--back into the machine. He never played more than $100 of his own money a day, but because it looked like he was feeding in quite a bit, he paid for nothing on his trips there.

We still had about 45 minutes, so we headed across the boardwalk to a new pub that had opened alongside the Steel Pier and enjoyed two victory shandies. I said that I have never been lucky with winning things, but since Bobby and I pool our earnings, then I might as well be lucky!

I have to say that Atlantic City is looking sad these days. It has long been common knowledge that wandering back off of the boardwalk is pretty seedy territory, but casinos are closing at an alarming rate: One has closed already, and three others--Showboat, Trump Plaza, and the two-year-old Revel--will all be closed by year's end. When we used to go to Atlantic City when I was a kid, it was casinos the length of the boardwalk--and how I loved the lights, the color, the opulence!--but now there are only five left on the boardwalk (three off of it) with a widening gap between those clustered at the north and the south. Even of those that remain, so many of them seem to be fading: obvious wear-and-tear, maintenance problems (half of the bathrooms in the Taj Mahal have been closed for about a year now), and staff that put off that forced-polite vibe of people who aren't being taken care of by their employers and don't see much of a future in what they are doing. It did seem like there was more of an effort at cultivating the atmosphere of a family beachside resort--miniature golf on the boardwalk, the giant Monopoly set--but how that will go when you can walk a block west and see a 50¢ peep show with LIVE NUDE GIRLS remains to be seen.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/345132.html
  • Fabulous pics! Love them.

    Hey, big winners!

    but how that will go when you can walk a block west and see a 50¢ peep show with LIVE NUDE GIRLS remains to be seen.

    Look at Times Square was the rattiest, seediest place in the world and now it is a regular family/tourists-from-the-Midwest center--places like the Disney store, the Pokemon museum (is that actually a store?), Build-a-Bear and all that kind of thing. Where did all the nekkid girls and the prostitutes go? I have no idea.

    Edited at 2014-08-16 09:51 pm (UTC)
    • Thank you! :)

      Hey, big winners!

      For us, yes! My former boss used to come back from AC, and I'd ask how his weekend had gone, and he'd say he'd won "a few small jackpots." I asked, "What's a small jackpot?" thinking a couple hundred. At least $1500, he told me! As if!!! I'm happy with our almost-$350 combined!

      Look at Times Square was the rattiest, seediest place in the world and now it is a regular family/tourists-from-the-Midwest center

      Very true. They could clean it up. I was reading some articles about it and what is seen as a coming crisis with so many casinos leaving. There was talk of buying out the casinos, putting in a college in one of the old buildings, etc etc. Someone pointed out that this is prime ocean-front property. It's odd that there isn't more interest in developing it but, so far, when things go away, they seem to be replaced by nothing. The whole middle stretch, which I remember as casinos when I was a kid, is little ramshackle shops and vacant lots.

      Perhaps the feeling is that competing with Ocean City, NJ, Cape May, Wildwood, etc. isn't worth the investment. I don't know. It seems a shame to me, probably in part because I remember when it was booming when I was a kid and I found it such an enthralling place.
  • Congrats on winning!

    I love the picture of you on the Monopoly dog.

    I understand the feeling about a beloved place dying. When I went back to Pensacola at the end of May, seeing (and staying on) the Navy base was heartbreaking. It's basically the closest thing I have to a hometown, and it's just… dying. Part of it is due to the sequester, etc. but I'm seriously having trouble thinking of a reason why they'd remove all the playground equipment in one of the neighborhoods.
    • Thank you, squared! :)

      I understand the feeling about a beloved place dying.

      Part of it, I know, is just seeing something as it is, as an adult. As a kid, my family didn't travel much, and I'd never seen anything like AC! Also, a lot of the places--like the Taj Mahal--were only a couple of years old at the time.

      But it is sad to see the whole town in a seeming downslide. There doesn't seem to be much being done to address it, at least looking in from the outside. :^/

      why they'd remove all the playground equipment

      It wasn't one of those uber-awesome and incredibly dangerous playgrounds that I remember from my youth, was it? I know a lot of the equipment from those playgrounds has been taken away or replaced with unfun safer alternatives.
      • There doesn't seem to be much being done to address it, at least looking in from the outside.

        Hopefully there will be.

        It wasn't one of those uber-awesome and incredibly dangerous playgrounds that I remember from my youth, was it? I know a lot of the equipment from those playgrounds has been taken away or replaced with unfun safer alternatives.

        It was swingsets, monkey bars, and a "safer" playset. Some other things, too, but I can't remember. (I lived in the neighborhood in the fifth and sixth grade.) The unsafe stuff had already been removed years ago, when I was in K4-first grade. (Different neighborhood on the base with a huge playground-- and they were removing all the fun equipment then. One day the rocket ship was there, the next day it was gone. But the playground equipment there was still there in May, so I really can't understand why one neighborhood and not the other.)
        • Ah, the good old days when playground equipment could kill you. (Or at least burn the hell out of your hands/backs of your legs!) I remember some of the taller, more difficult pieces were viewed as goals to achieve as one got older. There was a geodesic dome at the playground we went to that was about ceiling height. I still remember my first tremulous climb to the top of that thing and the triumph of sitting on the little metal plate that marked the tippy-top.

          I think I found your spaceship in an image search! That thing looked cool!

          I am thankfully old enough not to remember the removal of those things--I had mastered them all and so graduated beyond the playground by the time that started. Although one of my last years in elementary school, they added a new playground alongside the old-school scary one that was much brighter in color, milder in height and slope, and needed less brute strength and courage to play on. I guess that was the start of it.

          It's sad that any playground would be taken away, even a lame, safe one. When I see a playground, I still want to go play on it.
          • I remember some of the taller, more difficult pieces were viewed as goals to achieve as one got older.

            I am honestly not sure my sister and I ever viewed the difficult ones as goals to achieve; we just tackled them. (Mind, we're also the kids who, in fifth and sixth grade, viewed the Officers' Training Command obstacle course as a playground.)

            I don't remember the rocket ship well, so I'm not sure how similar it was to the ones on Google. I remember it having a wood floor on the top level, and then that disappearing, leaving just the structure to climb on, and that eventually vanishing. But! The playground in the other neighborhood had a structure everyone called the hamburger, and it turns out (according to the Wiki article about Cold War playgrounds) to have been a stylized radar defense station. I would never have guessed that.

            I guess, too. I get that safety is a concern-- but there's too much, and I think that playgrounds have swung too far in that direction. Not that my opinion matters that much, given I've never wanted kids.

            When I see a playground, I still want to go play on it.

            Me, too. I sometimes wish there were adult-sized versions.
            • I am honestly not sure my sister and I ever viewed the difficult ones as goals to achieve

              The dangerous!elementary school playground had this really tall, really narrow set of monkey bars. When I started in kindergarten there, all the first-grade girls used to sit on top of them. That was a perilous fall. Right before we "graduated" into first grade, we got paired with a first-grader to complete an assignment. We had to draw a picture related to the first grade (I drew a house with flowers and remember my first-grade buddy not knowing how to tell me to follow the instructions and being like, "Well, I guess that's okay ..."), and then the first-grade buddy wrote at the bottom what we were looking forward to the most about first grade. Mine: "Getting to sit on top of the monkey bars."

              I don't think I actually got up the courage to do that till second grade, though! :D

              I get that safety is a concern-- but there's too much, and I think that playgrounds have swung too far in that direction.

              Totally agree. My elementary school playground (prior to the expansion) was just a series of structures made out of plain steel bars. It was perilous in places, yes, but it also required the development of a lot of strength and agility to use, and some of the structures required problem-solving to navigate. (Like getting on top of the monkey bars! It was an epiphany figuring out how easy that actually was.) And you did learn a healthy respect for your limitations ... and gravity. :)

              I never took a day of gymnastics in my life, but I could hold my own in gymnastics against many girls who did because I'd watch them in gym class and try out what they did on the playground. I ate sand once or twice, but it didn't kill me.

              It makes me sad that kids don't get to explore the capacities of their bodies and minds through free play like we did.

              Not that my opinion matters that much, given I've never wanted kids.

              Same here. Two child-free women discussing playgrounds ... although I would argue that we all have to deal with the consequences of kids who lack physical fitness and imagination beyond what they're told they're allowed to do! :D

              I sometimes wish there were adult-sized versions.

              Oh my. ME TOO. :D It would be so much more fun than the gym!
              • I don't think I actually got up the courage to do that till second grade, though! :D

                But you did it eventually!

                It makes me sad that kids don't get to explore the capacities of their bodies and minds through free play like we did.

                Me, too. I know there are kids in my neighborhood… but I don't see or hear them playing outside. Part of it is just me not paying attention or whatnot, but there's kids next door-- and I never see them outside. They had a playset in their backyard, for crying out loud!

                although I would argue that we all have to deal with the consequences of kids who lack physical fitness and imagination beyond what they're told they're allowed to do!

                Too true! It sometimes seems that people have a) forgotten how to play and b) that play and unstructured free time is important.

                It would be so much more fun than the gym!

                YES! I have an exercise bike in the basement I need to get back to using-- but I'd have a lot more fun on a jungle gym and such. (I actually googled "adult-sized playground" and came up with an mixture of "I want" and "St. Louis City Museum," which I now want to visit.)
  • Great pics. Looked like a great time.
  • Trump *pfft pfft* Taj Mahal. (Do you remember that?)

    I remember the opulence well, too. It was like a special treat just to walk through those hotels, with their thick, bright carpets and shiny things everywhere. I've seen in the news that it's gone downhill. I didn't realize it was *that* bad.

    Glad you guys had fun though! :)
    • Yes! I had forgotten it but do remember it now. How about "Iiiiiiiiit's TROPworld!"?

      (Tropworld is now Tropicana, which is one of the nicer casinos.)

      I didn't realize it was *that* bad.

      There's a literal facade. Taj Mahal looks beautiful from the boardwalk. But back on the bus bay, the ceiling tiles are falling in. The white paint on the parking garage is streaked with dirt and rust. Half of the bathrooms in the casino are inoperable ... and have been for a while now, according to Mom and Dad. (When we got there, they pointed out one that actually works in case we needed it.)

      I was reading an article yesterday that only three of the casinos were in the black last year: Tropicana, Golden Nugget, and Harrah's. But ... AC and the racetracks used to be the only games in the area for gambling. With legalization in Maryland and PA, you no longer have to drive 2+ hours to pee yourself while playing slot machines. There's a casino attached to Arundel Mills Mall now, for Pete's sake. And it seems like the other things AC has to offer (beach, boardwalk, concerts, LIVE NUDE GIRLS) can be gotten better in the other coastal towns in Maryland, Delaware, and Jersey. Well ... maybe not the LIVE NUDE GIRLS ... ;)
  • I love how your parents are dressed the same. Eddie will always change his clothes if we end up wearing the same color! He's no fun. And your top looks the same color as well. I love how Bobby is holding you so you don't fall off that dolphin. ;)

    Aw, it's sad that Atlantic City seems to have gone downhill. Eddie and I went there once before we were married. Of course back in the stone age it was a lot different I'm sure, but I remember our hotel was nice, our walks along the boardwalk were lovely, and my favourite thing was the salt water taffy! Since those days we went much more often to a similar place we have here - Wasaga Beach - when the kids were young we took them there all the time. One of the best attractions besides the boardwalk was the amazingly huge water slide. Ah, memories. :)

    • I don't know why my parents are dressed alike--I think they might always wear this particular outfit to Atlantic City? o.O I guess the apple didn't fall far from the tree where oddness is concerned!

      My also wearing red was purely coincidental. This summer has been so cool temperature-wise that I feel like whenever I get a chance to be in the sun, then I cannot stand the thought of having covered shoulders. And, actually, I had to take my denim jacket with me that day and wore it except when in the direct sun.

      My feet are firmly planted on the ground, so I wasn't going anywhere on the Scottie dog! :) However, the picture of us on the Monopoly sign was a little precarious, as we had to climb up and stand on the letters on the other side while wearing flipflops.

      My first memories of AC are from 20 years ago or so, and a lot indeed has changed since then. :^/
  • You won 335 all told?! How? To be fair, I've gambled once, but the most I managed to win is two bucks or something (luckily I, too, find slot machines deathly boring rather than addictive in any way).
    • Luck? ;)

      But seriously, that's usually me. I've sat down at a slot machine, put in money, and pressed the button the number of times needed to eat all of the money and won nothing, not even a nickel. My husband is pretty lucky. He'll usually win a little something, and this is his second time winning over $250, and we only play the vouchers we're given by the bus company.

      My former boss was a high-roller in Atlantic City playing only slot machines. The "perks" (as he called them) that he used to get from the casino were crazy: penthouse rooms with butlers, limo trips to NYC and Broadway show tickets, trips to Vegas, etc, all for free. I'll share the advice he gave me, although some of it may be unique to the U.S. or even just Atlantic City!

      In Atlantic City (and Vegas as well, I think), the casino can legally track what you put into the machine but cannot track what you cash out. So his general strategy was to take $100 to spend per day. When that was gone, it was gone. He'd put in $20 at a time. When his winnings reached $100, he'd cash out and exchange the printed voucher for actual cash (so that the machine couldn't perceive that he was playing his winnings). He'd then have five more $20 bills to play, and so he'd go, $20 at a time. The casino would perceive that he was playing hundreds of dollars a day. In reality, he was only spending $100 (and was getting his room and all of his meals for free, so that was quite a bargain).

      He told me to always set limits and stick to them. Know how much you're willing to spend, and when it's gone, it's gone. Know when you're going to pull your money out and when you reach that point, cash out. You can always put it back in again, but this way, you fool the casino thinking you're spending more than you are and can end up like him: a "high roller" for a few hundred bucks a weekend. ;)

      He played dollar machines. He told me to always play the highest amount you can afford. Even if you're playing a penny slot, play the maximum amount. People will play 5 cents a roll, for example, to make it last, but as a result, they never win anything more than a few dollars. If they were playing even 50 cents a roll, their winnings would be increased tenfold. Now you're talking $20-30 instead of $2-3. Or a nice $50 becomes a very nice $500. Now you're at least getting to where Bobby and I try to be, where we win enough that our trip essentially pays for itself.

      Personally, I don't like playing slot machines enough (at all, really) to put the amount of time and effort into it that my former boss did, but it was pretty cool how well he'd gotten the system to work for him, and he did get some spectacular perks in addition to sometimes bringing home a couple extra thousands in a weekend. (The most he ever won was $15,000 ... I'd take it! :D)
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