Sometimes OCD Is Its Own Reward. Like When You Have A Copy Of Your Deleted Post In Your Email.

(I found it! That doesn’t mean it’s any good, of course. But I found it!)

Before the pre-schooler was born, D. and I loved to travel. We didn’t think a thing in the world about heading to the beach for the weekend, or tagging along with friends who had a conference in California, or going to Orlando because we thought it would be fun to ride rollercoasters for a few days.

Now, of course, the traveling has had to take a bit of a backseat, and when we do travel it tends to be dictated by the location of animated characters. Even when D. and I have the occasional weekend alone, I’d really rather stay home than go anywhere else in the world, mainly so I can remember what it’s like to talk on the phone without having to say, “Alex, I need you to have quiet time now.” And also so that I remember what it’s like to sit on my own sofa without being subjected to repeated half-nelsons and ka-rah-tay kicks on behalf of the three year old.

But back in 2001, we took one of our favorite pre-child trips to Las Vegas. We’re not gamblers by any stretch of the imagination, but at the time we loved the bright lights, the lively atmosphere, not to mention the shuttles that travel from one end of The Strip to the other, thereby eliminating the need for all that pesky walking. Also, we enjoyed the buffets. Because we are KLASSY LIKE THAT.

The night we arrived was the night Julia Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and I’d read somewhere (probably in the People/Us/InStyle trifecta that kept me so engrossed on our flight) that her next movie was going to be something with George Clooney, something about a RING OF THIEVESTM trying to pull off a heist at a casino. And because I have my finger directly on the pop culture pulse of the American people, my immediate reaction to the premise of the movie was “Eh. Too many big-name stars. Sounds sort of lame.”

The morning after the Oscars, D. and I headed down to the lobby of our hotel for breakfast, and it was only when we were remarking on the complete absence of people in the restaurant for about the forty-third time (“Is Vegas closed?” we wondered) that it dawned on us that we had gotten our time zone change all wrong. And that it was about 5:50 in the AM. Which meant that we were eating breakfast at a time when most Vegas visitors are starting to hit the REM phase of their sleeping cycle.

When we finished breakfast, we wandered over to the hotel next door (to see the pyramids! sort of!), then to the hotel next to that (on guard! for an Arthurian adventure! kind of!), then over the walkway to experience New York City in miniature (you’re in SoHo! but you’re not!), and finally to Bally’s (there is no theme! but there are many magicians!) so that we could catch the shuttle down to Bellagio, which is a fun place to walk around for the Sheer Gawking Factor alone.

The Bellagio, if you haven’t been there, is a study in ostentation for the pure sake of, well, ostentation. Personally, I am of the belief system that if you’re going to use $400-a-yard fabric for awnings over the slot machines in your casino, you probably shouldn’t let people smoke anywhere near them. Or allow them to consume copious amounts of complimentary cocktails that could accidentally be tossed onto said awnings in a fit of jubilation or desperation, depending on how the dice are rolling.

Call me crazy.

But as D. and I made our way into the lobby of the Bellagio, as we walked underneath the Lalique crystal chandelier and moved past the gold-plated ashtrays (because really, if you’re going to spend some money, you want to put it into something that will hold its value, like an ashtray), we began to notice signs advising us that filming was in progress. We assumed that they must be making a commercial, one of those cheesy casino ads where everyone is high-fiving around a roulette wheel or laughing uproariously at the wacky antics of a blackjack dealer. And because there’s absolutely nothing we love better than watching a cameraman capture Forced Merriment on film, we headed straight for the big lights over in the front corner of the casino.

Imagine our surprise when the man behind the camera was Steven Soderbergh, a director we’d admired for several years because 1) he’s a good Southern boy 2) he’d actually visited D.’s former company several times, which in the South means that he’s pretty much family. Family we don’t know, of course, and who would probably have thought we were stalkers if we had spoken to him, but family nonetheless and 3)hello? Erin Brockovich? HELLO?

It took me several seconds to figure out how it was even possible for him to be in Las Vegas, what with the Oscars being the night before and him being the director of the aforementioned movie that got Julia Roberts the Academy Award and all. But then I realized that they do have airplanes in Los Angeles and he must have taken a red-eye flight to Vegas. I don’t have any idea if that’s true, of course, but it makes me feel all international-y and travel-y to use the term “red-eye flight” in relation to a famous director, so as far as I’m concerned it’s exactly what happened.

Once we realized that there was a REAL LIVE MOVIE being filmed, D. and I perched ourselves on stools surrounding a bank of Red, White & Blue slot machines (subliminal message: be patriotic! while gambling!), and let’s just say we stayed there for the next thirty minutes or four hours, whichever the case may have been.

Because it was still early in the morning by Vegas standards, there weren’t very many of us watching Ocean’s Eleven being filmed. So over the course of the time that we were there, we moved around the perimeter of the set, watching several parts of the movie unfold before our eyes. There was an extended period of time where they were filming George Clooney sitting at a slot machine, and while there wasn’t any action to speak of in the scene, there was plenty to see. Oh yes ma’am there was.

The highlight of the morning was when D. and I were trying to cross over to the other side of the casino and somehow ended up in the middle of the set, just a stone’s throw away from Julia Roberts’ body double and Andy Garcia. Ever the adventurous one, I immediately freaked out and started pulling D.’s arm, saying, “We’re not supposed to be here! We’re not supposed to be here!”

D., on the other hand, was laid-back as could be, playing it cool and acting like we belonged there. But Prim Polly here couldn’t take the pressure of it all, couldn’t bear the possibility that we would be nabbed by security and promptly escorted out of the hotel (much like the scene we had seen them film over and over that morning), so I ducked under the velvet rope and quickly re-claimed my spot in Regular People Land. Just like I like it.

I’ve never been what you would call a daredevil.

About fifteen minutes later, we decided that it was time to say goodbye to Hollywood and resume our regularly scheduled Vegas activities. Like finding a lunch buffet. Because while the cast and crew of a major motion picture can easily provide a memorable morning of entertainment, they can’t hold a candle to an unlimited supply of crab claws, prime rib, and soft serve ice cream for the low, low price of $10.95 per person.

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  1. Now I have to rent it and watch it again. And look for you, sort of, which is hard since I only know what part of your face looks like. hmmm.

    I loved the Ring of Thieves trademark. :>) I still see them in dark green turtlenecks.

    Oh, I’m not in it! They weren’t filming when we ended up in the wrong place. And if I WERE in it, I imagine I would have a picture of that as the banner on my blog. :-)

  2. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. jessica T. says:

    You are such a kick!

  4. LOL! I’m glad you found it…hilarious. Makes me want to go to Vegas and wander around, hoping to run into a filming crew.

  5. You mean you didn’t run up and ask for an autograph, picture and a tour around the set?! Craziness, I tell you… what an opportunity to tell all your friends that you met Julia Roberts’ body double. Exciting stuff! Sigh. And you passed it up just to keep your place in Regular People Land. :shakes head:

  6. Did D kindly do the gentleman thing and wipe the drool off the side of your moth, and put your sunglasses on to hide your glassy stare?

    More importantly …. did he get a digi pic of you FIRST???

  7. That is a really cool story! Thanks for sharing.

  8. I’m glad you found it–the picture of you two perched on barstools watching the whole thing is great:)

  9. I have seen exactly one star in Vegas. And it wasn’t George Clooney. It was Doug Kershaw. And he had a diaper bag over his shoulder. BIG difference. I’m pretty sure I’d just keel over in a dead faint if I saw George Clooney in person. You lucky, lucky girl.

  10. Personally, I think you should have jumped in right behind George and put the little rabbit ear fingers up behind his head. You know, just to see what would happen after security hauled you off.

  11. Personally, I think you should have laid a big wet one on him. D couldn’t complain; it’s Clooney!

  12. Phyllis R. says:

    If they gave Oscars out for the play-by-play on the making of a movie, you would win one. This post was that entertaining. And hey, you already fit in with the “In” crowd there, what with all your “red-eye flight” lingo. : )

  13. Phyllis R. says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say that I think there is a whole “nother” post in that little tidbit about Steven Soderbergh. You know, that “he’d actually visited D’s office in Baton Rouge several times”????? As they say,Inquiring minds want to know….

    The agency D. worked for in Baton Rouge did some advertising work for an amateur theatre group, and SS was a guest director for them several times. So he would occasionally stop by the office to “yay” or “nay” the designs for playbills and posters and whatnot. The story doesn’t get more exciting than that, I’m afraid…it was kind of neat that D. got to see him in person.

  14. Well done, Sister. Delightful post! :)

  15. How cool is that?! I’ve been to Las Vegas several times (mainly on business) and I’ve never stumbled upon any celebrities or Hollywood films in the making.

    Lucky you!

  16. When we went to Vegas, my husband immediately switched to their time zone thing which meant staying up all night, and I stayed at the 10 pm means bedtime, so I was up in the restaurant at 6 am – alone. By 10 am I’d eaten, shopped, had the pool to myself and was bored to tears, when my husband would finally get up and ask if I wanted BREAKFAST? Good grief. The time thing made me a little crazy. And tired. Seeing George and Julia might have made it more bearable.

  17. What a fun story! I’m glad you found it. :)

  18. That is sooooo cool! I’ll be thinking of you as sort of a movie star from now on!!

  19. I’m glad you found it! It WAS really good :-) And now you’ve made me all hungry for some 4-star buffet cuisine.

  20. YES! Thank you for posting this. I can now sleep peacefully tonight. Of course, at the time of the film I was more of a Matt Damon girl myself. ;)

    You are a hoot. I love Vegas for the very reasons you mention. And the Bellagio rooms? Totally worth it. Especially if your view is of the fountains.

  21. WICKED! Love Julia Roberts…I’ve never seen any movie stars up close and personal…or by accident. The only thing I can claim is that they filmed parts of Runaway Bride near my home in MD and the rest of it in a town a little ways away me near Ocean City. What can I say? I’m boring! :) Have a great day!

  22. How do I love thee, Vegas? Let me count the ways… Hubby took me there in 2004 as a surprise- we had an “Annivegasry” (10 pts if you catch that reference!). We aren’t big gamblers or drinkers, either, but OH MY WORD! The people watching there is to die for. How lucky that you had famous people to watch!

  23. Neat!

    “And because I have my finger directly on the pop culture pulse of the American people, my immediate reaction to the premise of the movie was “Eh. Too many big-name stars. Sounds sort of lame.”

    So the question is… what did you think of the movie after witnessing it in the making? ;)

  24. That is so AWESOME! I would have watched for 4 hours (or more!), but I’m sure my hubby would have been bored after a half hour or so. But watching hunky George Clooney, or Brad Pitt, or Matt Damon, or Julia Roberts, or….. yes, a lot of stars in that movie.

    I quite enjoy Las Vegas, myself, for about 2 days or so. After that, I find that all those blinky lights annoy me. Maybe those kind of things are more fun when you are drinking (which I don’t). And I don’t play slots either (it’s no fun, now that the actual nickels don’t fall out of the machine and make that clink-clink-clink noise). But people watching and just seeing the “sights” is always fun (in a DON”T even think about bringing the kids way).

    And did you love the movie when you saw it?

  25. It had to be worth every penny that trip cost you to be in the same ROOM as George! My hubby would try to get me out of there as fast as possible so I wouldn’t drool all over! He doesn’t like George because I like him so much! Course, if it was Keanu Reeves… well, I wouldn’t go anywhere!

  26. You know there’s nothing I love more than a good celeb sighting. I’m afraid if I saw George Clooney and he was within yelling distance, I might make a spectacle of myself.

    Great, great story.

  27. Thanks for the laugh

  28. jessica T. says:

    Wasn’t it a few posts ago you asked for recommendations of movies to watch? How about, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Its not 24 or MI3, but still good. The Illusionist was good too. It keep me guessing to the end. Thats all I can think of right now.

  29. You can sure tell a story! Dig back as far as you need to when you’ve got writer’s block, because it’s great stuff. I love the lunch buffet ending.

    One brush with fame comes to mind…way back in college, I went to a tiny church to hear Rich Mullins in concert. I was kind of huggy back then and hugged just about anybody who would stand still long enough. So I hugged Rich Mullins. He was, after all, standing still. I think he was a little surprised.

  30. So where should we send the royalties for the use of the TMed Ring of Thieves??