These are days of shooting down unidentifiable objects in the sky. Yesterday they shot down “an octagonal structure with strings” over Lake Huron. It’s a delightful story, even though it’s probably a trial run for something more sinister.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas is a city of suddenness and extremes. The other day, C. and I raced along a blank desert parkway that felt like driving across a blank sheet of paper. Then we hit a glossy miracle mile to run some errands. IKEA, Home Depot, and Target: the reassuring cadence of living in the sprawl. At Barnes & Noble, a man hollered into his telephone about how they had no right to make him take a DNA test.

As we inched eastwards across the city, we took random turns just to see what was there, and soon we were lost in a maze of service drives, scrapyards, and sun-battered strip clubs beneath ancient billboards of fading flesh and thongs. We hooked a left on Deliveries Only Road and landed the car in the parking structure for the Bellagio, mainly to take advantage of the free parking for Nevada residents, partially to check out the casino’s elaborate diorama for the Year of the Rabbit.

We wandered the corridors of an airport-sized replica of a Mediterranean villa until we collided with a three-story Chinese god of wealth who lorded over a network of plastic bridges and artificial rivers with dancing fish and rabbits. Digital fireworks exploded across the walls, and I admired how so many pieces of space and time had collided here in the most plastic way imaginable.

I caught the same thrill the other day at a Szechuan joint when a man loudly proclaimed that Moscow has more airports than Los Angeles over the vocoded chorus of “California Love.” Or this morning at the Korean market as Hank Williams moaned on the PA system while we hunted for a tin of panang curry.