BiSC 2012

May 17-20, 2012

A gathering of ALL THE POSTS! from Bloggers in Sin City 2012. Finally compiled in one easy location for you.

Should you wish to comment on a post, here are the individual links:

Pre-BiSC (Wednesday) | Day 1 (Thursday) | Day 2 (Friday) | Day 3a (Saturday, Part I) | Day 3b (Saturday, Part II) | Day 4 (Sunday) | Sponsors and Swag

Leaving Las Vegas (Again) | After the Neon Fades


Remember how, last year at BiSC, the good people at Skyy Vodka gave us each a bottle of dragonfruit-infused vodka? Like an honest-to-God FULL SIZE BOTTLE? (I was expecting, like, a minibar size. A sampler. But no. A FULL SIZE BOTTLE.) And remember how I couldn't take it with me on the plane (but fortunately found a good home for it with Simone)? And remember how I was sad? So very sad? Especially afterwards, when everyone was all, "OMG IF YOU MIX THIS WITH JUICE IT'S THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD THE INTERNET WAS INVENTED!"

This year... not only is Skyy sponsoring us again, but they changed up their MO slightly...


Well, mostly. FedEx kept trying to deliver it while I wasn't home, so I had to go chase it down and pick it up myself, before they did something horrifying like returning it to the sender.

You can probably imagine how exciting this is, right? IT'S TOTALLY EXCITING.

Except I'm not really sure what to do with Coconut Vodka. I mean, clearly some sort of tropical drink concoction is in order, but... hmm. They did helpfully include some drink recipes, but my brain keeps yelling at me to try to figure out a way to make a piƱa colada, somehow, some way. I still haven't tried it yet (I've been drinking a lot less lately... my age is starting to catch up with me and my tolerance is pretty much next to none existent anymore) but I am determined to get good use out of this.

The other exciting thing? This isn't even on the market yet. It's so brand shiny new that Skyy doesn't even have it included on their website alongside the other Infusions flavors.

Pretty bad-ass, no?

Day T-Minus-1 (Pre-BiSC Wednesday)

It turns out that if you fly on Wednesday and Monday rather than Thursday and Sunday, you save a significant amount of money. Even with the additional hotel nights, it was cheaper. You can probably imagine the level of arm-twisting that went on when I discovered this. Stay two more nights? More time with my loves? OH ALL RIGHT, IF YOU INSIST.

The added bonus to this is that it drastically cut down on another episode of airline drama, and it guaranteed I wouldn’t miss the first chunk of the opening mixer this year, unless I happened to, like, fall asleep in my room or something. (You’ll be glad to know, I did not. I mean, I probably did, because I took lots of naps this week, but I made it to everything, and remarkably on time. And by on time, I mean only 5-10 minutes late. You know how I roll.)

We’ve been promised that Southwest is coming to the Des Moines International Airport* but I am not sure when, so for this year at least, I’m still stuck on whatever random airline offers me the best rates. My flight arrived a few minutes late, and Katherine’s arrived a few minutes early, so after I gathered my bag (which Frontier so kindly checked for free for me, since they didn’t have room for it ON the plane), I stalked her baggage claim carousel and snuck up behind her and just stood there until she noticed me. Which really didn’t take all that long, and then she shrieked, and we made a slight scene with all the hugging and all the squee-ing and all the happy. 

*yes. I think the UPS planes fly to Canada or something, so it’s totally legit.

We then decided to find a central-ish location to wait for the next BiSCuits as they were en route to the baggage claim area as well. We decided we needed to make a sign like all of the limo drivers. I had a little notepad and a pen, and thus, the most ridiculous of signs was born.

We asked a couple of the drivers if we could take a picture of me standing awkwardly next to them, with their iPads and fancy printed papers, about which they were most accommodating (though one guy put his iPad up in front of his face, because he knew it would probably land on facebook. Of which, he was correct.) One of them even gave me a Sharpie to make a better sign. Then I shook their hands and the one guy kissed the top of it and it was all very fabulous.

Then we found the adorable and hilarious Brandy who almost forgot to go pick up her luggage in all of our reunion excitement. I got a text from Caryn, who wasn’t far behind. 

There was much giddiness and discussion of Spanx and the less-spanxy Target-brand spanx (less spanxy = more breathy) and lord knows what else, before we decided the other girls we were waiting for had probably all grabbed a cab already, so we made our way into the heat of the desert and hopped on a shuttle.

Caryn and I ended up on the same shuttle, where the driver proceeded to remind us NOT to jaywalk because not only was it illegal, but 16 pedestrians had been killed so far this year by traffic. He also announced that we'd be stopping at The Flamingo first, and Caryn and I let out little excited shrikes, and got the stinkeye from everyone else.

That first night was filled with 2-for-1 martinis at one of the hotel bars, and introductions, and hugs. Lots of hugs. The best kind of hugs. It was either an (a) I MISSED YOU OMG hug or (b) IT’S SO NICE TO MEET YOU OMG hug. Either way = awesome. 

Then: the sleeping. Because OMG traveling is exhausting. I was so proud of myself to have made it to 10:50 because that was 12:50am Iowa time, which was way past my normal bedtime. Then about twenty minutes later, I was pretty much done. BUT! I made it past 1am (well, sorta. 1am on my internal clock, anyway.) I’m actually quite proud of myself over how late I managed to stay up all weekend, as I clutched the last remnants of my youth. (Yes, I’m only 27. But I’m so done with the excessive drinking and staying up late thing – my body just can’t handle it anymore.) 

So in my exhausted stupor, I made my way back to the room, and in an effort not to wake up Jayme, who had an early morning photo shoot with Rachel, I went for the lamp in the far corner of the room. I finally figured out that it wasn’t plugged in, so using my Blackberry* to guide me, I plugged it in and turned it on.

I expected a slight delay, because it was a CFL bulb, but… I did not expect the popping noise that followed that turned out to be sparks, that soon turned into an ALL OUT FIRE. Yes, that’s right. THE LIGHTBULB CAUGHT ON FIRE. It was completely engulfed in flames.

I just stared at it in horror. What the hell do you do in a situation like this? My brain was all, “do I find a fire extinguisher? Do I take a picture? WHAT DO I DO?!”  (Later, Brad’s answer: “Stop, drop, and roll.” “But it wasn’t ME that was on fire.” “Doesn’t matter. Stop. Drop. And roll.”) I tried to blow on it but that seemed to make it angry, so I just continued to stare at it until it burned itself out. (Basically, I put it out WITH MY MIND.) I then called the front desk (as seemed like the next appropriate course of action) and was all, “my lamp just caught on fire” and they were all, “okay, we’ll send someone right up” which they totally DIDN’T, unless the person came and saw Jayme and I sleeping and decided to come back later and thus not scare the everloving shit out of us both. (Though the lamp was gone when we came back from breakfast.) The room then smelled like burnt plastic for the remainder of the night and into the morning. 

It was... unpleasant.

So yeah. There was FIRE. Which may or may not mean the Vegas trip was off to a good start, I don’t really know. 

Terra and Stacey showed up somewhere in the middle of the night (okay, it was probably not long after I went to bed, but same thing) and Caryn ended up crashing with the super-awesome Fry sibs Sara and Adam across the hall, because despite her being from the same time zone I am, she is way more of a bad-ass. 

*I think I was the only one without an iPhone. That needs to change soon. My phone is so old I can’t even get a functional Twitter app anymore. It was torture. Granted, the overall network in Vegas was terrible for everyone, so I wasn’t the only one who suffered. Yes, first world problems.

Tomorrow: first official day of BiSC. Cue: rampant excitement.

Day 1 (Thursday)

I missed the majority of the first official day of BiSC last year, what with being stranded in airports and what not, so it was really awesome for me to already be there and ready to jump in to the excitement. We checked out of our original room around 11 or so, and had a bit of a wait until we could check into our “real” rooms for the weekend. After some chaos and confusion (and some breakfast!), we finally found the elusive Conference Suite A (note to self for next year: use the lobby elevators, go to the 4th floor, turn left, it’s the first door on the right.)

 Breakfast with Terra, Caryn, Stacey, and Adam.
I am the master of the group Myspace shot.

Officially official.

Inside, Nicole, Doni, and Rachael (otherwise known as the brains of the operation) were doing something official-looking on their various computers, and the room was filled with gift bags and luggage.

 Swag! Swag as far as the eye can see!

As the day went on, more BiSCuits arrived. Some stuck around to hang out, some went to the pool, some went shopping, some went drinking.

I myself went in search of another sequin fedora.

Last year, I had waited until the final day and pulled the trigger on that purchase right before the farewell brunch. Not this year. I wanted to WEAR the fedora around Vegas. So I grabbed the other Kelly (who has a blog name that I'm totally jealous of) and meandered into the same shop and it took me a while to locate the majority of the fedoras. I found the aqua flowered one that I had tried on last year, and was all set to purchase it (for $40, ugh) when I found the display of the FULL SEQUIN hats. In addition to the style of the one that I bought last year (incidentally, there was NO hot pink – so I’m glad I bought that one when I did), which were available in red, gold, silver, and one stray light blue one, there were some NEW stripey ones, which caught my eye. They were only $15 and way fun. So naturally I bought the blue one. I mean, it’s kind of my signature color, yes?

Not shown: the fedora I actually purchased.

At some point I think I also went off in search of a sandwich. I don’t really remember.

At another point, Jenn skyped in and said hello, since she wasn't able to make it this year

Hi Jenn!

I hung out in the registration suite until it was time for us to check into our rooms. I could tell already that we had a great group of people and we already all felt like friends. Which was, of course, awesome.

In the NEVERENDING check-in line

I suspect that I checked into the room and promptly took a nap. I’m a bit fuzzy on the timeline. Maybe I took a shower. I don't know. Either way, I was in the room for a bit and then the fabulous Ms. Almie Rose arrived (yay!) and we plowed through our gift bags (detailed post coming soon) and then started getting ready for the opening mixer, which was being held downstairs at the newest addition to the Flamingo, a Mexican place called Carlos N' Charlie’s

 Uh, P.S.? This was our room. Be jealous.
There are also TVs built into the bathroom mirrors.

 And our view. Not too shabby.

We had a special section on the patio just for us, and I felt like we had a LOT more space than we did last year. The appetizers they had for us were amazing – superb quesadillas, and this amazing bacon-wrapped BBQ shrimp something or other. The blended margaritas were delish – I had about three of the passion fruit ones before I cut myself off. When you can’t taste the alcohol is when you know you’re probably going to get into trouble.

Mingling on the patio.

The annual Sharpie tattooing of the Twitter handles on the arms.

 Me and Almie

Me and Amber

 Tara and I have the same camera. It's nifty.

 The dancing. Oh, the dancing. It was everywhere!

Me and Treavor

We then played (is played the right word?) probably the best icebreaker in the history of icebreakers, which doesn’t take much because I LOATHE icebreaker games. The hardest part about being a team leader for the three day orientation for freshman the week before classes started, was pretending to be enthusiastic about the icebreakers that were forced upon the entire group. Wretched, wretched misery.

I digress.

Due to some magical partnership between Shatterboxx and 4x6 (you’ll recall they were giving away sets of 20 of their super sexy square satin printed cards – I honestly don’t know if that code will still work or not, so if you’re still interested, I suppose you could give it a try), each attendee was given a box of business cards. The twist was that your box contained one business card for each attendee. The goal was to return each card to their rightful owners, so by the end of the game, each person would leave with 60 shiny new cards of their very own to hand out to whomever. I’m hypercompetitive and raced through mine, though I don’t think I was the first person done. I had to be second or third, though. Nicole gave me a hug for finishing quickly, anyway. I love hugs.

 The Ashleys!

The Kellys!

After the mixer, it was off to Serendipity 3, which was conveniently located right across the street (which is not so convenient to get to – you have to go down the sidewalk about a block, up an escalator, across the bridge, and down another escalator).

But first, a picture with Donny Osmond.

Riding the escalator to get across the street.

 Night shot of the Flamingo

Serendipity 3 is home of the magical frozen hot chocolate, and when I found out that they were doing a private dessert tasting for us, I almost peed my pants.

Germana, myself, Almie, and Simone, with the frozen hot chocolate shooters. 
All I wanted was a full-sized one. Or maybe a vat.

They had a sundae bar set up for us as well as our own private bartender, who was mixing some specialty drinks. I think mine was an apple amaretto sour or something akin to that. It was good, but I quickly discovered that I was PARCHED and needed WATER immediately. I flagged down two different waiters because I didn’t think I’d ever see another waiter again ever, so I ended up with two waters eventually (I gave one to Almie, who was similarly dehydrated). The one waiter found me easily in the crow and told me that he recognized me because of my eyes. It was equally creepy and flattering.

 At the private bar.

 Ameena shows off the dessert selection.

At some point, my body had suddenly decided it had had enough of all the bodyshaping spandex I was wearing and demanded I return home and remove it all post-haste. I wasn’t in much of a mood to protest, because I was still roaming on Midwestern time, and I was tired. A few of us ducked out and headed back to the Flamingo (aka HOME) and I don’t remember if anything else happened that night because I promptly passed the hell out.

Day 2 (Friday)

Friday is Pool Day. I think that’s basically tradition at this point, and probably nonnegotiable for the rest of BiSC and eternity.

I, however, do not do The Pool.

I might do The Pool, if I were to drop fifty pounds and/or find a swimsuit that didn’t make me want to cry, but until that day comes, I will not do The Pool. Instead, I will sleep in (it IS vacation, after all!) and then wear too many clothes and go down into the hot desert heat and say hello to everyone and perhaps cash in on my free poolside drink and enjoy the merriment and then go off in search of other adventures.

  View of the pool, of which I do not do.

Before I left our VIP area by the pool (oh, that’s right – we have a section all to ourselves, right next to a bar, no less), I did manage to be around for a few rousing rounds of Never Have I Ever, in which I discovered that I’m actually quite boring (one of the few things I was actually able to say that I did? Visit the state of Georgia.)  

I had a mission in mind, to wander down the strip in search of one of the hotels my BF had worked on during his internship (he’s an engineer) – he’s never been to Vegas, nor does he have any desire to GO to Vegas, so he’s never seen it in person. So I figured that I could use my free afternoon to go exploring and take some pictures for him, meanwhile checking out some of the other hotels down the strip as well. (I'm not sure if there are confidentiality rules in place so I'm not going to tell you which one.)

The thing about the hotels in Las Vegas? They each have their very own distinct personality. Even if you’re not staying at one, you can still wander in and check it out, maybe try your luck at their casino, or eat at their buffet (almost all restaurants have buffets) (if not, they should), or, um, borrow their air conditioning for a while.

Germana was also interested in visiting some of the other hotels and seeing what there was to see. But first – she decided she needed a fedora.

Because everyone needs a sequin fedora. Duh.

She acquired a purple version that matched my blue one, and so we set off down the strip in the blazing heat.

 And Donny Osmond. Natch.

Only once, did we have a near-tragedy: her fedora blew off her head and down the sidewalk a ways.

Fortunately, she was able to rescue it before it got too far gone OR someone realized that a sequin fedora was coming right at them, and they should probably steal it.

We went past the Venetian (WE ARE SO DOING GONDOLA RIDES NEXT YEAR, GUYS) and the Palazzo and as far as the Wynn/Encore. The Wynn and the Encore are fancy as shit, and very decorative on the inside. We decided to take the inside connecting path between the two and ended up making a pit stop at the fanciest bathroom ever (THERE ARE RHINESTONES IN THE BATHROOM MIRRORS) and then decided to turn around and head back to home base. Because it was hot and we wanted showers or naps or both.

 Romantic shot outside the Venetian.
With David Spade photobombing us in the background.


I’m probably missing several exciting elements to this story, but let’s face it, I’m exactly two months late on getting all of this written and posted, so things might be a bit hazy. 

There was probably a nap in there. I'm not gonna lie. I'm a big fan of naps. But then there was grooming and gathering of BiSCuits in the lobby because: FOOD.

Germana, Almie, me

Not "BobCat." Though that would be awesome.

Aaaaand Adam with the photobomb.

Dinner that night was at the buffet at the Paris hotel. One nice thing about this year versus the last, was that a lot more meals were included in the price, which was one less thing to have to worry about. Buffets are amazing, but they're kind of expensive in Vegas (at least compared to where I live) so being able to just waltz in as part of BiSC was pretty amazing.

The fun thing about traveling in a pack of 60ish people is that you tend to take over your immediate vicinity. And one of my favorite things is an escalator full of BiSCuits.

 The BiSCalator™

 Germana is SUPER EXCITED for the buffet.
Man, I wish I was at a buffet RIGHT NOW.

I’d never been inside the Paris hotel – well, okay, not true, the chocolate tasting thing we went to last year was technically inside the Paris, but we didn’t really venture beyond that.  

 Linda and Treavor are excited to be in Paris. Errr... at Paris.

The interior is decorated to look like the streets of Paris – I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was very detailed and it felt like we'd actually left Las Vegas for a little while. Maybe not to go to the actual Paris, but something resembling a nice French village, or something. I don't know. I've never been to France.

Not, however, as much as I enjoyed the actual buffet.

 Yes. This is part of the buffet. The "building" on the right? is where the dessert lives.

Me and Katherine

 I don't even remember what this was about.
I just love this picture.

Girls with curls. Also, Meghan, your blog link is broken for me. FIX IT.

Then we were off on a trek down the strip in the OTHER direction to head to New York New York for that evening’s entertainment: Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity. Which, if you’re not familiar, is basically their sex-on-stage show. I saw a lot of boobs that night, you guys. The acrobatics were impressive – the girl with the hula hoops impressed me the most, if I’m remembering correctly, because at one point she was hanging from the air and had hoops around every appendage that she owned. She was probably topless too. I don’t remember.

 Show poster from the Zumanity website

The show was great, but I have to admit – I liked last year’s better. They were both high quality and had great acts, but I think Absinthe has ruined me for all other shows, ever.

(Fun fact? I was at a wedding this past weekend and one of the bridesmaids came up to me and had apparently been stalking my facebook pictures, which inspired her and her husband to go to Absinthe when they were in Vegas last summer, and she absolutely loved it and wanted to make sure she said thank you.)

Alas, I have no pictures for you this year, because pictures were NOT allowed, but if you like sexy shows and Absinthe is sold out, this is definitely worth checking out. 

From here, we hiked back down the strip to our hotel – well, some of us did. A large contingent went out dancing and, from all accounts, had a fantabulous time. I am old and boring and went back and fell asleep. I know, I know. I will go revel in my shame for my lameness. As usual.

Here, have a picture of the strip at night, to make up for it. Also, sorry for phoning it in today, this was a crappy recap but I've had a stressful day and this is the best I can do. Sigh.

Day 3 (Saturday) - PART I

Saturday was the day when All The Things happened, and rather than TL;DR you all to the tears of boredom, I am splitting it into two parts. This makes my OCD senses tingle, but let's face it: I'm already two months behind and my streak of daily posting is already broken.

Saturday began the way all good Saturdays do: with brunch. This particular brunch was sponsored by CrushHub, a new online dating platform. It's not really a site, per se, because it functions through facebook. (Us BiSCuits were the beta testing group, and being anal retentive and obsessed with having sites function in the way that I think they should for an intuitive user experience, I feedbacked the shit out of it and won some cash moneys - which, of course, are paying for BiSC 2013.) Chris, founder and CEO (and fellow victiom of familial nagging to settle down, already) brought us some t-shirts and a live-action demo to explain how it works.

Here's what sets CrushHub apart from Match/eHarmony/OkCupid/etc/etc/etc: your friends play matchmaker to find you dates.

It's not as bad as you think (if you are, in fact, thinking that, because you may or may not have had horrible experiences with your friends trying to hook you up). You or your friends set you up a game (for lack of a better word) and fill out a little bit about you and why you're awesome and maybe what you're looking for. Then, whichever friends that have been invited to participate (or friends of friends that have been brought in, to expand the pool a little bit). This collection of matchmakers then offer up potential suitors based on their own circle of facebook friends. (Last I knew, some of the search and filter functions, such as sorting by geographic location and/or relationship status, were a bit wonky and had some kinks to be worked out, but as I suspected, this has largely to do with facebook's privacy settings. They're also working on a way to expand the image viewing beyond just a thumbnail of the person's profile picture, because it's really unhelpful if it's a picture of their cat and/or they're with someone else in the photo and the person you're trying to set them up with has no idea which one is the person in question.) The thing that concerned me (and my concerns were put to rest) is that the people you are matching (and the general public) can't SEE any of it - it's private, unless you specifically choose to notify the person you're offering up as a potential match. You can then fill out a bio/testimonial about the person you are suggesting as to why they are awesome and/or should be considered as a dating possibility, and at some point, the matchee goes through all of his/her suggested matches and picks the one they think they'd actually like to go out with. From there, well... I guess you ask for an introduction from the mutual friend that set you up? I'm a bit fuzzy on how that works.

For our live demo, we were given pads of paper that had face templates on them and a bio for the lovely Miss Amber and tasked with coming up with her soulmate. (We verified that we were not allowed to just make up the perfect dream-man, and that it had to be based in reality and someone that actually existed.) Each table was to present a potential match and Amber would pick her favorite - and if logistics worked out, CrushHub would pay for the actual date.

 So many choices!


That wasn't the only draw - whichever table suggested the winning gentleman won cash. The person who suggested the winning man would win $100 (cash!) and the rest of their table-mates would each snag $20. The winner was the always-lucky Meghan, with her brilliant suggestion of Johnny the Costa Rican Surf Instructor, because: obviously. 

Outside of the excitement of being privy to the Next Big Thing, there was the excitement of brunch. Guys, no city does brunches like Las Vegas does. I encourage you to eat as many brunch buffets as you can handle, if you ever find yourself in Sin City. The only sin I committed (besides sloth) was gluttony. Sheer, blissful gluttony. I'm not even sorry. (Well, okay, a little. I DO like it when my clothes fit, after all.)
Fedoras + Brunches = two thumbs up

Somewhere, a rogue crawfish appeared (and by somewhere, I mean that Suki acquired him from the seafood portion of the buffet) and I was both horrified and amused by it, and promptly decided that my table clearly had to have one too. I snagged one on my next trip through the buffet.
Fun times ensued.
 I got brave enough to pick it up. It all went downhill from there.
[photo courtesy of Suki]

Terra took this while I was explaining to Amber how creepy it was and yet how awesome.

 Tiffany terrorized Nick with the crawfish for quite a while.

Everyone loves bacon. Even crustaceans.

Fun fact: Almie is legitimately terrified of crawfish.

Even the crawfishes found love at the CrushHub brunch.

It's worth noting, I suppose, that I bought that shirt for $6 off the clearance rack at the hotel gift shop (aka "the Donny and Marie store") for the sole reason that it matched my fedora. It was a size too small but I tried not to let it bother me, though I was super self-conscious all day and I may not ever wear it again.

After we disbanded from brunch, a small but determined contingent of us set off to complete a mission to visit the famous LAS VEGAS SIGN (!!!!!). I was obnoxiously persistent about this all morning (and probably the day prior - SORRY GUYS) but fortunately it's one of those touristy things that, yeah, okay, other people did kinda want to do too. (whew). Ameena, living in the neighboring state of Utah, had driven her car to Vegas, so we piled in and set off for the end of the strip.

As everyone tells you, the sign is a lot smaller than you'd expect. (Though, I was now expecting it to be small, so I guess it was exactly what I thought it would be?) It was surprisingly uncrowded when we got there, and there was a tour-guide-type person manning the "entrance" that was directing traffic (so to speak) to make sure everyone got a turn. She also served as the default picture-taker because obviously you want a group picture when you go to something like this. (I swear, everyone in Las Vegas works on tips. I legitimately wonder how much one can make in such an occupation, and/or wandering the strip in a costume as a walking photo-op for tourists.)

Totally worth the jaunt, and I can now cross it off my Vegas bucket list. (Yet to do: fountain picture! Also, I need to actually sit down and write an actual list.)

Satisfied that we'd gotten all the pictures we needed (and some we didn't - Suki, I am eternally grateful that you did not post the jumping picture you took of me), we piled back into Ameena's car in search of our next adventure, which had damn well better have some air conditioning.


Day 3 (Saturday - PART II)

The nice thing about Saturday is that even though it was a completely unstructured "free" day, Nicole had provided some "choose your own adventure" options for us.

The obvious choice was the ice bar located in the Monte Carlo hotel (which was conveniently located at the same end of the strip as the Las Vegas sign.) She'd even wrangled us a special drink deal. I also found a small stack of coupons for free drinks lying on their counter while I was waiting on line, so I stealthily passed them out to the car crew and we each got two drinks as part of our package deal.

If you've never been to an ice bar, the premise is this: the interior is made entirely of ice, and they give you heavy parkas, gloves, and boots to keep from freezing to death. (There were fur coats available for an extra cost, which none of us wanted to spring for, though we all lamented that those would have been way more awesome). Cameras and phones were (sadly) not allowed inside, as they generate some heat, and the cumulative effect is that the whole place would, well, melt. They do have a staff member that ducks in and out to take expensively-priced souvenir photos for you, though. They told us that we were allowed to share them on facebook and such, so I feel less bad about blatantly posting the watermarked low-res images below. (The girl basically said I could!!)

[photo courtesy of Ms. Terra]

Almie and the penguin mascot: "let's pose like a cheesy 80s sitcom poster"

All geared up and ready to go in!

The lack of cameras obviously saddened me (this place was a WEALTH of photo ops!) but the experience was very cool (no pun intended... okay, well, maybe a little.) I think I was able to remain comfortable the longest, partially because I'm from the Midwest and therefore have a slightly higher cold tolerance than all of the West Coasters, and also because I was one of the few people actually wearing pants. (I hate my legs. Have I mentioned this before? When leggings came back in style, it was one of the happiest revelations of my adult life.)

Inside the bar, all of the seating and walls and decor were made of solid ice. There were pelts thrown over the benches so you could actually sit down. Even the glasses that they served the drinks in were made of ice - they made two things Very Clear to us when we went in: (1) Hold your drink wiht two hands AT ALL TIMES (they're slippery)... (2) If you set your glass down, set it it on a coaster, for the love of all that is neon and glittery. Because, you know: ice will freeze to ice, especially with the bit of moisture from the drink, and thus your glass would fuse to the table, effectively ruining everything for everyone and making you a huge asshole and fun-ruiner.

Once we were chilled about as much as we could handle (and all our drink tokens had been used up), we decided to scatter again. Some people went in search of another buffet (we had wristbands that entitled us to free/pre-paid buffets in select hotels), some went shopping, and some of us had to go pretty up because we'd decided to take Rachel up on her offer of doing professional headshots.

I was convinced that I'd hate all of mine because I'm super self-conscious (WHEN will this extra chin go awayyyyyyyyyyyy), but it was so not the case. And I now have a nice professional picture that I can use on the blog or facebook or, well, whatever I'd need a picture of myself for. (In all honesty? My ridiculous little scheme was to have a nice picture that I could use for a book jacket. Y'know, for when I finally finish that damn novel. There, I admitted it. It's completely ridiculous and I don't care.)

The bright side to the scramble to get ready was that, well, I was now ready for the entire evening. We had a decent amount of time alloted for getting groomed after dinner, which meant I had time to nap to recover from being out in the sun all day. (Don't judge me. Naps are an important part of my ability to function. Especially in a different time zone.)

Dinner was at the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, and I think this may have been my favorite. I adopted a different strategy this time - instead of trying to sample everything, I just stuck to a small section. There was a honey apricot spread that was to die for (and baby baguettes to eat it with!) and a fruit-based salsa in the Mexican station that I may or may not have just started eating with a spoon at one point.

This would have worked better if everyone else was paying attention.

On the downward BiSCalator(tm)

Our table at the buffet, which Caryn had the foresight to take.

Then, when I was getting dessert, it happened: BEAUTY QUEENS. They were the Miss USA contestants (as Terra found out after making an inquiry) and, well, it's weird seeing a parade of beauty queens anyway, but especially at a buffet. I mean, seriously. They all went straight to the salad bar. (Though, to be fair? If I was a beauty queen, I'd probably do the same thing. Hell, I SHOULD do the same thing.) I made some sort of Miss Congeniality reference and we had a merry old time.

Terra and I decided to find our home state representatives. Miss Iowa was very nice (I explained that I was also from Iowa, by way of trying to not sound like a creeper. She asked where I lived and I gave my stock answer of "near Des Moines" before it occurred to me that I could have just said the actual town and she would have known exactly where it was - especially since she lived in the town with our rival college.) I regret not taking a picture with her (I felt too awkward to ask and then we left before the queens made their rounds again), but I suppose it's just as well. I don't need a picture of me at this weight next to a friggin gorgous beauty queen. Still, it would have been kind of cool to have. (Incidentally, Terra DVR'd the pageant and Miss Iowa won the Miss Congeniality award - of course.) Miss Virginia (Terra's rep) was... how can I say this... kind of a bitch. Miss Oregon was freakishly tall. Miss Washington had great hair. Hell, they all had nice hair. They were seated right next to where our group was seated, so we had front row seats to sit and creepily watch them. Their handlers kept shooing people away who were trying to take pictures ("not while they're eating!") but you can't stop a table full of bloggers.

The only picture of the Miss USA contestants.
Also, Terra's expression is priceless.

Then it was back to hotel to primp for the Mad Men themed party. Admittedly, I have never seen Mad Men, because I am lame and only watch TV on DVD so I can plow through an entire season without interruption, but I was game for dressing up in 60s style. I love dressing up, in general, and I adore themes (which is perhaps what I enjoy about Halloween). I did struggle with the dress... I scoured Pinterest and ModCloth for months, but I couldn't make myself pull the trigger on something that I wasn't sure would fit (see also: gaining back twenty pounds been November and BiSC). Finally I just wore a striped dress that I'd bought on a whim and hoped it would work. Also, I am terrible with hair, so I was banking heavily on the whole flat-iron style that I thought maybe was prevalent back then.

Everyone else, however, looked fabulous. People on the strip saw our BiSC parade and were able to identify the theme - that's how spot-on people were. (This is hearsay from other BiSCuits, but I assume they were telling the truth.)

me and Caryn

Almie and Simone. There is no other word to describe them than "fabulous."

We headed back over to Paris to the Chateau nightclub, which was fancy and swanky and, of course, VIP. We bounced the line (again) to the jealous stares of the masses (again) and were led up through the still-empty (for now) second floor club and all the way up to the roof.

See ya later, suckers.

That's right. We had our own VIP lounge area on THE ROOF.

The Bellagio fountains, as seen from the rooftop of Paris.

The whole thing was beyond surreal. I'm not huge into nightclubs, but I was more than happy to sit in my perch and watch everyone dance the night away while the light desert breeze blew through my hair. Surrounded by lights and music, in an exclusive VIP space in Las Vegas, I couldn't help but wonder: how is this my life?! Is this even real? A painfully shy introvert from a small Iowa town of 400 people - spending an evening with 59 other Internet writers, living the life of a celebrity for a night. My seventeen year old self would never have believed it possible (though she'd definitely approve) - yet, ten years later, I'm actually experiencing things I could have only daydreamed about, all those hours in my bedroom with a notebook and the radio. Life is funny, sometimes. It's amazing what happens when you work up the courage to just take a chance on that Big Thing that's just out of reach of your comfort zone.

Nicole and the men of BiSC

The degree of photobombing this year scored on the high end of exceptional.

See what I mean?

Michelle, me, and Germana

Something about this photo strikes me as perfectly capturing the essence of BiSC.
Young, fabulous, dancing on rooftops, living life to the absolute max. 

Group picture, courtesy of Rachel

Eventually, the night wound down, and this old lady hauled herself back to the hotel. The previously-empty second floor club was now so full that I'm sure it was breaking fire code laws. The only reason we (me and Germana, not, like, all sixty of us) were even able to get out was because we'd happened to share an elevator with a Paris employee who was pushing a lady in a wheelchair. We stuck close behind in the parted path. Kind of like when you're driving in a blizzard, and if you stick behind the snowplow, it's easier to navigate? This man was our human snowplow. It was madness - nothing like our magical rooftop venue. It reminded me of why I disliked clubs. Too many people, too little personal space.

Back in the fresh air outside, it was time to say goodnight to Vegas and rest up for a round of emotionally-charged goodbyes and see you laters. The only thing that sucks about BiSC is the part where we all have to leave.

Day 4 (Sunday)

For our purposes here, Sunday is the last day. I stayed until Monday, but the only thing that happened on Monday was going home, and quite frankly, that's not worth its own post. Sunday, though. Sunday was just as full as the other days, and just as awesome - you know, except for the whole "leaving" bit.

Now, one thing I didn't mention in my Saturday posts, because they were already So! Long! ...On Friday night the Beef indicated that I should go check with the front desk because maybe (wink) something was waiting for me. I immediately beelined for the lobby, only to be told that whatever it is, is being held hostage by the UPS store, which was now obviously closed for the night. Discouraged, I set my alarm for about five minutes before they were supposed to open in the morning, and fell asleep.

Bright and early (bright, I like - early, not so much), I wandered downstairs again, probably still in my pajamas (I don't really remember) and waited for the UPS employees to find whatever it was. Given the nature of the various hints from the BF and the fact that it was stashed away somewhere that the regular packages didn't live, I had concluded that it was something perishable. I am apparently quite daft and clueless because for some reason I was completely floored when they handed me a big ol' box of flowers. I was honestly expecting some sort of food or something.

One of our mini-milestone anniversaries (youuuuuu know, because we're vomiticiously adorable and make note of them all, because we're still under a year) was happening while I was in Vegas, and he sent me flowers. Roses, to be exact. It was a gesture that meant so much more than just "happy anniversary" - it was more than that, a reassurance that he wasn't going anywhere (I get paranoid, especially around that particular landmark, because it's traditionally when I always get dumped) and that he cared about me and wanted to tangibly express it. I cried. Multiple times. Because I am sappy and sentimental. I no longer consider this to be a bad thing.

The problem, of course, is that those roses probably weren't going to make it back to Iowa in any semblance of wholeness, but I couldn't bring myself to throw them away. They were too beautiful, too perfect, too special. I pressed one in between the pages of whatever book I brought but didn't read, and then brought the rest down to the farewell brunch and distributed (ie, tossed) them around to the various tables and various BiSCuits. It was the best sendoff I could think of.

The farewell brunch is always bittersweet. By this point in the weekend, we've all pretty much bonded, so it feels completely natural to meet up for a buffet and chat and have fun. The elephant in the room is, of course, that soon we'll leave, one by one, for the cabs and shuttles to take us to the airport, which will send us in different directions, thousands of miles apart. 

Last year, as we were checking our bags at the bell desk, it was decided that the farewell brunch should be the "misfit brunch" - to wear whatever wild and crazy things that you brought to Vegas for the sole purpose of wearing in Vegas, but maybe hadn't had a chance to wear yet. Somewhere in the time leading up to BiSC, it was suggested that it be a wig brunch - inspired, perhaps, by Almie's hot pink Nicki Minaj wig the previous year. Sadly, I was not able to stuff my giant curly blonde wig in my suitcase (I was down to having space for only one more thing: the wig or a pair of glitter heels. The glitter heels, of course, won.) BUT Simone was kind enough to bring an extra.

The brunch was a blur. There were a lot of hugs. Lots of last-minute pictures. The contingent of ladies who all purchased spirit hoods at the ice bar posed for a picture. The VEDA crew posed for a picture. The PopChips had finally arrived (there was a shipping snafu, causing them to miss the boat for the goodie bags) and the boxes of new, not-yet-in-stores flavors were there for the pilfering. More hugs. So many hugs. 

For those of us that were sticking around for the entire day (seriously: I wish I had done this last year), we had a primary objective that was to be accomplished immediately.

I had, of course, never been to an In-N-Out Burger before, mostly because we don't have them in the Midwest. I was advised to order the neapolitan milkshake, which was not on the menu but was available by request. This was one of the best pieces of advice I've received in recent memory. The burgers were great, and cheap, and delicious, and who am I kidding, my favorite part of this experience was the hats.

I didn't know you could get hats. But then Terra asked for one and I was all, "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" and then we got a whole stack and gave them to all the BiSCuits and it was awesome and wonderful.

I think from here, we returned to the hotel, and since I can't remember doing anything interesting during the afternoon, I am forced to conclude that I probably took a nap while the other girls went to the pool. Napping is always a suitable alternative to wearing a bathing suit, in my oh-so-humble opinion. 

Anywho. We went out for sushi for dinner, and it was amazing (and obviously much fresher than the sushi in Iowa, because it doesn't have to travel quite so far to get there).

The last order of business was to properly watch a Bellagio fountain show. I mean, I'd SEEN the Bellagio fountains - I've walked by them when the show was going on, I could see them from outside our hotel, I could see them from the rooftop of Paris, but I've never stopped and leaned against the wall and just watched. I can't remember who it was that suggested we do this, but I'm glad they did.

The show we watched was set to classical music, it was very peaceful and beautiful and a great way to end the evening - hell, a great way to end the trip. From here onward, it was going to be packing and sleeping and airports and cars. It was nice to have a day to unwind, to slowly wean oneself off of the high of another awesome BiSC. I had a much easier time transitioning to home than I did last year. Last year, it felt like I was just suddenly dropped back into my life, and I was disoriented and flustered and it took me a whole week to recover. This year, I slid back in with a bit more ease - it was a recharge, a renewed sense of energy and purpose and inspiration - though I'll admit, I had a lot more self-doubt coming home this year than last year. I still question myself, but as time goes on, it's easier for me to feel like maybe I was a genuine part of it, and not on the fringe as a wannabe party-crasher. It's always a weird mix of emotions, coming home, and I can't help but wonder what direction they'll go next year when I get back. The more I go, the less it will feel like a big/scary/overwhelming blogger meetup and more like a reunion with old friends. This much, I am certain of - it was kind of like that this year already. I had said that I was giving it one more year, but now I'm not sure if that's going to be enough. Not when there's so much to be gained, internally, emotionally, mentally. When they tell you it's a life-changing event, they speak with truth. For some people, it's a jarring eye-opener, a burst of epiphany. For others, it's a slow-burning notion in the back of your mind that slowly blossoms into a new form of truth that can't be ignored. This year, for me, it was the latter. I've come to find that I need these people, I need these friendships, I need these connections. They are my people, my tribe. They are a part of me, like a big family that I only see now and again. 

I'll be in Vegas again soon, for work. I'm indifferent to being in the city again. Without my BiSCuits, the magic won't be there. (And, sadly, neither will the VIP treatment.) It will be a hot, dirty desert city with tourists and casinos and people making bad decisions and there will be neon and glitter and sparkle, but it won't be the right kind of neon and glitter and sparkle. It will be devoid of the things that make me love the city. Because I'll only love that city when I'm there with these people. The stars only align for a few days each May to make it all worth it. I don't think I can enjoy myself without the fifty-nine pieces of my soul that I leave there every year. Those pieces are spread all the way from California to Canada, sprinkled here and there in between.

At least I'll know which buffets to hit up.

Sponsors & Swag

So, as I may have alluded to many, many, many, MANY times, we got some pretty sweet swag at BiSC this year. I mean, we got some cool stuff last year, too, but I already don’t remember it, probably because I was really traumatized about having to give away my full-sized bottle of SKYY dragonfruit-infused vodka. I mean, sure, they sent me another full bottle this year, but it was coconut-infused, and I would have much rather had the dragonfruit, because dragonfruit > coconut. I’m fickle.

Anyway, we had a motherload of awesome sponsors and unpacking the gift bag was kind of like Christmas. Except some of the things that were in that bag were soooo not things I’d receive on Christmas. Heh.

There are a few ways to open a bag that is teeming with goodies. You can, like me, meticulously unpack everything and arrange it neatly in order to take a picture...

...or you can take Almie's approach, and dump out all the content and swim around in the glorious wonderfulness of it all, basking in our amazing VIP status and all of the free stuff.

"I could not be more pleased with what is happening right now."

Also? We got some sweet t-shirts this year. I loved the design and branding for this BiSC, because I am a design nerd and it made me happy.

Obviously, some of these items were more useful to me than others, at least for the immediate weekend ahead.

For example, the Patrick’s Sunscreen Wipes – I threw one in my bag the next day when we went down to visit the pool-dwellers. I felt my dainty fair skin begin to sizzle, and before I could muster up a good panic, I remembered I had the sunscreen wipe, and thought I’d give it a try.

I had zero sunburn that day. I had my skepticism, just like I have a skepticism for the kind that you spray on and anything that seems easier than it should. But nope. My pasty skin remained pasty and I remained in happily unburned all weekend. I keep meaning to order some but I’m cheap and forgetful and neither of those is a terribly great combination.
We also received some pretty sweet shades from Livefyre, which is kind of a nifty blog commenting service, except it’s not nifty enough to be available on Blogger yet, so I can’t use it. But it’s nice because you can tag other people in your comments so you know when someone’s talking to you or responding to you. I need to do SOMETHING about my commenting section, I know. It’s crappy and I need a way to actually make it so we can have conversations. I’M WORKING ON IT. In the meantime, if you’re interested in Livefyre, it’s what’s being used on the official Bloggers in Sin City website.

Another notable item was the GIANT GUMMY BEAR ON A STICK from Fred Flare, who has recently been tempting my wallet with all of the fun and amusing things that are now being sold at Target, which is basically my mothership. EVIL CONSPIRATORS. Anyway, I managed to save my giant gummy bear on a stick until I got home, and only recently decided to gnaw on. Mine was green apple flavored. Though it doesn’t matter because it’s a GIANT GUMMY BEAR ON A STICK. At one point I bit its nose off and my boyfriend accused me of smoking bath salts.

SKYY also gave us little mini vodka bottles, which were much easier to get home because they were under the 3oz mark and thus I could stick them in my toiletry bag. WIN.

I think they were intended to be mixed with the VitaCoco Coconut Water, but that kind of made me a bit ill last year, because I am a delicate flower and it did not agree with me, so I gave mine to Almie.

Speaking of water AND delicate flowers… the Balance waters we got were probably one of my favorites. Because there is much thirst to be had in the middle of the desert, and thus it was nice to have some water handy that didn’t cost eleventy billion dollars. Also, it’s fancy water, in that it’s formulated to DO stuff. I got a relaxtation/sleep one and a travel one. They basically use the essence of flowers to make them do good things for your body, look, I don’t know, I didn’t bring the bottles home and my memory is getting fuzzy. I do remember being concerned that one of the ingredients listed was “grey spider.” Then I realized it was also a flower, and not a crushed-up bug. That was a bit of a relief.

More foodstuffs included some glorious caramels from Le BonGarcon, which were gone in approximately seven minutes (more than five, less than ten… I was trying to restrain myself, but I failed - they were SO GOOD), a box of SnackleMouth crunchy awesome goodness, and a Bella bar that was pretty good and an Athena Greek Yogurt Blueberry bar that was amazing.

There was also a jar of salted caramel sauce from ZConfections. A full-sized jar. Be still, my heart.

Of course, in order to get it home, I had to ship it, since I don’t check my bags because I am a cheap bastard. Terra and Stacey were also doing carry-on only, so when I saw that they had left their jars behind on Monday, I quickly adopted them and shipped them all back to me. It’s good stuff.

Notably missing were the PopChips, which got held up due to a shipping error. I actually think that worked out for the best, because Nicole just set out the boxes of them at the farewell brunch and we could take whatever we pleased. Which means I got to try ALL THE FLAVORS.

We could have gotten away with it. No one was watching. Right, Germana?

And OF COURSE in what I hope is tradition because it’s happened twice now, there was a cookie from Bitter Baking Company that had the BiSC logo printed on it. Hell, it could have had anything printed on it. It was the first casualty of the gift bag. I ate it as soon as I was satisfied that I had a good-enough picture of everything.

There were a lot of smaller things that I was concerned about losing – a discount on StrateJoy sessions, on Doniree’s writing prompts for bloggers, a promo code for some nifty cards from 4x6 (which I blogged about early, so that you all could take advantage of it before it expired), a gift card to Scout Books, and a $40(!) gift card from GelaSkins. I’m torn on what to order, because I don’t have an iPhone (yet?) and I’m not sure how I feel about laptop skins. OH, THE DECISIONS. (I’ve been pinning my favorites… BUT you can also do completely custom ones, which completely makes me all the more indecisive. Behold, Jenn/"Jennbizzle", with a BiSC cover!)

Also, on the same super sexy satin finish paper that the ice breaker cards were printed on, were some beautifully designed cards (done by Shatterboxx/Paper’d), which I simultaneously wanted to sit and pet for an hour and also put in frames because they’re fancy and awesome.

Katherine made some sweet BiSC glitter magnets (because she’s in the business of glitter, after all!) and Simone provided some Skinny-Dip branded condoms, because what is a sex blogger without her own personal line of condoms? There was an awesome pen that I almost broke last week (I saved it! Whew!) and a lip gloss that came in handy a few times that weekend… hell, I don’t remember what else. Bacon Soap! There was bacon soap from Think Geek. I gave it to the BF. It’s now sitting on a shelf, for display purposes only, because, well… it smells exactly like bacon. And while you THINK you might like to smell like bacon... you don't want to smell like bacon. There were postcards and temporary tattoos and drink mixes and teas and ring pops and all sorts of things. Amazing things. Things that delighted and amused me and made me write another ridiculously long post full of praisey words and squee-full exclamations.

I loves me some free stuff.

I love it more when it’s actually stuff I want or can use. Or that's just simply awesome in its awesomeness. And with BiSC, there is never a shortage of awesomeness.

[and, of course, thank you to our non-gift bag sponsors - Shatterboxx and Paper'd for being the presenting sponsors - AND for selecting me for the FREE REGISTRATION YAY - and for Caesar's Entertainment and The Flamingo for taking such good care of us all weekend. That place is truly my home away from home when I'm in Vegas, and I cannot imagine staying anywhere else. Thanks to Carlos N' Charlie's for hosting our opening night mixer and to Chateau Nightclub at Paris for giving us a truly fabulous VIP rooftop experience. Thanks to Chris from CrushHub for demo-ing your new site and giving us t-shirts, and, more importantly, running contests which allowed me to score some cash to help pay for BiSC 2013. And the biggest thank you in the history of gratitude to Nicole, the brainchild and godmother and organizer of BiSC, without whom none of this would have ever happened, and I never would have stepped out of my comfort zone not just once but twice and have signed on board for a three-peat. You are my hero.]

[No, I'm not getting paid to say ANY of these things.]


Remember how Almie made a sweet-ass video for BiSC last year? She made another one. And it's awesome. And I'm in it a few times.You should watch it. Because it's awesome. Liiiiike I said.

Bloggers In Sin City 2012 from almie rose on Vimeo.

Bloggers In Sin City 2012 from almie rose on Vimeo.

Until next year...