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My brother and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. Neither of us is richer for it (I’m a terrible gambler and my brother had terrible luck), but we had a fantastic time all the same.

We stayed at The Venetian. Like so many megaliths along The Strip, this one had a “theme.” You guessed it: Venice. (It even had a canal!)

What struck me most peculiar about this Venice, however, was the smell of bitter orange – the Venetian’s signature scent, if my olfactory nerves are still firing correctly. While I’ve never been to the actual Venice, I suspect it doesn’t smell at all like oranges, bitter or otherwise.

All the same, despite that cloying odour every time I entered the building, stepped into an elevator or washed my hair, I have no complaints about our stay.

Because we’re both foodies (which is a polite way of saying my brother and I really like to eat), we were both pretty excited about the seemingly-endless number of restaurants located at our hotel and its conjoined twin, The Palazzo. I particularly enjoyed our meals at Joachim Splichal‘s Pinot Brasserie and David Burke‘s eponymous joint. Both offered impeccable service and top-notch food, in the French and American traditions respectively.

We also chose to take in Cirque du Soleil‘s tribute to the Beatles, Love. Thank goodness we did. It was, without doubt, one of the most incredible things either of us had ever seen.

The costumes, the artistry, the acrobatics, the music!

We were so blown away by the spectacle, we saw it a second time. It was that good.

Oh sure, we gambled, too. I mostly stuck to the penny slots – losing the complimentary credits afforded to me by the hotel in a record-setting time.

We also watched a lot of football. Which, I know, seems like a waste of time considering we were in Las Vegas. It was, however, the NFL’s divisional play-offs. (How were we to know three of the four games would be blow-outs and the fourth a surprising yet unsatisfying upset?) Moreover, there was something strangely exciting about watching sports in a city in which you could bet on every play, every point. (It was also a great excuse to sample a variety of American micro-brews; Fat Tire being my favourite.)

Sadly, we left a good many things on our to-see/do list come Sunday night, including a trip to the Hoover Dam. On the plus side, WestJet offers direct flights from Winnipeg, which means my brother and I will undoubtedly find ourselves back there soon enough to clear up some of that unfinished business – and likely catch Cirque’s Love for a third time.

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I know Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for giving thanks – and, make no mistake, I have plenty to be thankful for – but there’s someting for which I am decidedly not thankful this weekend: my Patriots losing to the Broncos in overtime.

Those who know me know I’m a Pats man. They know I endured last year’s Brady-less season; they know I eagerly anticipated his return this year – and expected great things from the team with him back at the helm.

And yet.

The man cannot do it all.

Brady to Welker: touchdown. Brady to Moss: touchdown.

But when Brady and his men are on the sidelines and the Pats’ future is in the hands of the defensive line: less than spectacular; heartbreaking, really.

Here’s hoping they fare better against the Titans next week.