Laugh Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018

What's Inside

Best of RAH:
Oasis of Greed

by Dave Bealer and Greg Borek

This commentary first appeared in the January 1994 issue of Random Access Humor.

Copyright © 1994 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.

In November 1993 two members of RAH's intrepid editorial staff journeyed to the high desert of southern Nevada. We were there to engage in statistical research. The statistical theories we were there to test mainly involved cards, dice, and roulette wheels.

The Best Laid Plans

The trip had been planned several months in advance. Our primary concern had been to avoid being in Las Vegas while COMDEX was in session. After all, what possible interest could the world's largest computer trade show hold for a pair of programmer/journalists?

Truthfully, being misanthropes, our main desire was to avoid crowds (read: people) as much as possible. We knew that a couple of new hotels would be opening just a week before our arrival, but this didn't appear to be a big problem. Most of the resulting crowds would be focused on the newcomers themselves. All we had to do was avoid them like the plague and we would be OK.

Imagine our chagrin when we found out that there was going to be a Heavyweight Championship fight in Vegas on the last day of our three day trip? This little bombshell was dropped on us at the airport as we waited for our flight to Vegas. Of course it was far too late to cancel or reschedule the trip.

Getting There Is Half The Fun

Our Cattle Car Airways flight was non-stop and, surprisingly, not full. Five hours in an upholstered aluminum can hurtling through space is never a picnic, especially given the usually lousy food. Greg managed to sleep part of the way (despite having the twit in the seat in front of him reclined into his lap), Dave did not.

We landed at McCarran International just after midnight on Thursday morning. Despite the time, the airport was mobbed. Despite the crowds, guards insisted on inspecting the claim tickets for every piece of checked baggage. Then we had the pleasure of waiting in line at the rental car counter.

Finally we collected our assigned hunk of cheesy Detroit craftsmanship and headed for the hotel. We stayed at the Rio Suites Hotel and Casino, a very nice place off the Strip. Although called suites, the Rio features what are really just large rooms. The living room and bedroom are combined into a large common area. It turns out that there is a small window in the shower at head level that looks out into the bedroom/living room area. This is a unique architectural feature that neither of us had seen before, in a hotel or any other kind of room. Maybe we've just lead sheltered lives.

A Restful Vacation

Since we would be in Las Vegas for less than 72 hours, we decided to make the most of our time by sleeping as little as possible. This wasn't too difficult the first night since we were all wound up from the flight. It became increasingly difficult to stay awake as the days wore on, so we did lose some time that could have been spent gambling.

We split up during most of the first two days, since (although not superstitious) we each feel the other has an adverse effect on our luck while gambling. At night we would get together for dinner and discuss our triumphs of the day.

On Thursday night we saw Lance Burton's magic show at the Hacienda. Lance's six-pack of beautiful assistants were the highlight of the show for us. We attended the late show since we had it on good authority that during that show his assistants perform topless. It's truly amazing what you can learn by lurking in the FidoNet LV_GAMBLER echo.

The Stealth Hotel

Between the Hacienda and the Excalibur is the new Luxor Hotel and Casino. The Luxor is a huge pyramid which has been painted flat black. In the daylight it looks fascinating, especially sitting next to the medieval castle shaped Excalibur. At night the effect is remarkable. Rather than throw lights directly at the side of the building, as with all the other hotels on the Strip, the Luxor supports a single powerful beacon of light at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

The effect is that the pyramid itself vanishes. Only the beacon can be seen. The side facing the Strip is illuminated by all the lights hitting the Sphinx which forms the lobby. Seen from the other three sides at night, the Luxor is like a stealth hotel. The only way you can tell there is a building there is the fact that you can't see anything behind the Luxor. There's also the matter of this powerful beacon which can be seen for miles, and appears to be hanging in midair.

Even more fascinating is the interior of the Luxor. In a design that had to be inspired by Rube Goldberg, the entire outer surface is taken up by windows to the 2500+ hotel rooms. Each room therefore has one diagonal wall which contains a window. Each level of hotel rooms has it's own corridor. The levels are connected by elevators which move diagonally. (No, we didn't actually see these elevators ourselves. But it's the only reasonable way the hotel room levels could be connected in a building of this shape. Besides, someone told us that's how they work.) The center of the building holds offices, restaurants, machinery, and the casino. Suffice it to say we're seriously considering staying at the Luxor next time we travel to Las Vegas. We may even take some dead batteries along and leave them in the room to recharge.

The Real Las Vegas

One refreshing thing about Las Vegas is that it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what it is. Many of the casinos, especially ones off the Strip, advertise special deals for those who cash their paychecks at the casino cage. These free drinks, free lunches (or whatever) are good deals for those who don't gamble. Of course, how many die hard non-gamblers are going to venture into a casino to cash their paycheck just to get a free drink?

Since Dave is asthmatic, he looks for a no-smoking gambling environment whenever possible. His favorite place is therefore Silver City, a small casino just south of the Riviera on the Strip. The entire Silver City building is no smoking all the time. (Author's note: As of December 1995 Silver City was no longer a no smoking casino. So much for that noble experiment.) The antithesis of this is Arizona Charlie's, where they actually have a tray of free cigarettes at each blackjack table.

The Fight Card

In addition to the new hotels and the Hollyfield-Bowe fight, there was also a massive convention going on during the first two days of our stay. The Strip was therefore gridlocked the whole time we were there. The location of the Rio, behind Caesars at I-15 and Flamingo Ave., turned into a major asset. We were able to use the interstate to avoid travelling on the Strip except when our destination was on the Strip. Even then we could get close to our destination before descending into the gridlock.

As with most major American sporting events these days, there was a blimp in attendance for the Heavyweight fight. Almost everyone has a blimp these days. We had never seen the Trojan blimp before, but it does have a certain logic to it, given the product - and the town. A chance to watch the Trojan blimp enter the hangar always draws a big crowd, usually of envious Democratic legislators.

On Saturday, the actual day of the fight, we left town and trekked out across the high desert to the Arizona border. Neither of us had seen Hoover Dam before, and it's quite impressive. Even more impressive is the utter desolation of the area around the dam. Only the small town of Boulder City and the vacation castles of the wealthy overlooking Lake Meade break up the starkly beautiful terrain. After a while you find yourself expecting the "Man With No Name" to come riding over the horizon. Of course he's hanging out in Carmel these days.

On the way back to Vegas we stopped off at the world famous Ethel M chocolate factory in Henderson. Our legendary tracking skills had failed us and we couldn't locate any of the dozens of Ethel M locations in hotel lobbies on the Strip. Furthermore we're both extremely cheap, and figured to get better prices at the factory outlet store.

The Final Insult

Finally it was time to get cleaned up, check out of the hotel, and head back to the airport. The rental car company managed to rip Dave off to the tune of $25 for a half-tank of gasoline with their misleading refueling policy. We won't mention the name of the company, but suffice it to say that no matter how much "harder they try," they'll never get Dave's business again.

The final insult was the fact that the prices at the Ethel M store in the airport are exactly the same as at the factory outlet store. In fact, by making our purchase at the factory, we were cheated out of the free four-pack of Almond Krisps that the airport store was giving out with each purchase of $15 or more. We each spent more than that.

We actually made it home with our bodies intact, if not our minds. No parachutist landed on top of either of us during the trip. Of course, if the parachutist had been one of Lance Burton's assistants, we wouldn't really have minded.


Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor. Dave can be reached via e-mail at:


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