LAS VEGAS -- It's still the holiday season, so Jean Smart is dressed in Grandma Chic: bright green sweatshirt, red pants, and, sticking out of her curly blonde hair, reindeer antlers. She's parked at the complimentary cocktail table while her husband, Grandpa Brad, plays in the Arctic Blues Slots Tournament at the Rio Casino. Jean is 61, a retired schoolteacher.
Brad is 68, a retired naval electronics expert. And they're one of those inseparable couples who can finish each other's sentences. They could be poster grandparents for the vast horde of senior citizens who like to pass their declining years in bingo halls and keno parlors.
Vegas has always been the last refuge of the guilty magician. At any given time the city offers the best magic acts in the world. And the worst. Magicians don't steal one another's tricks quite as often as comedians steal one another's jokes, but it's still a world in which a mediocre but ruthless talent can sometimes make absurd sums of money by recycling illusions he neither invented nor perfected nor even knows how to perform very well.