Friday, March 16, 2012

Silver, Gold, and the Scent of Piety

Thought for the day:  Las Vegas: all the amenities of modern society in a habitat unfit to grow a tomato.  [Jason Love]

Death Valley. 
If you don't much care for rain, Nevada may be the state for you. Man has manipulated the heck out of its terrain and tried to fool nature by building a huge dam and man-made lake, but deep down, it's a desert oasis that only averages about seven inches of rain per year. Which explains why camels were used as pack animals there for so many years.

On the other hand, Elko holds an annual national Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and until it closed a few years ago, there was a museum in Nevada dedicated solely to the life and times of Liberace. See? Culture. And the town of Henderson holds a three-day Native American Arts Festival every year, too. Culture out the wazoo. Did you know Nevada's the country's number one producer of silver and gold? Of course, it also relieves a lot of tourists of silver and gold, too, but that's another story. A good bit of the state actually belongs to the federal government, and more than 80% of it is designated for public and recreational use. One final tidbit before we look at some pictures: in 1864, the entire text of the Nevada state constitution was sent from Carson City to Washington, D.C. via Morse code, making it what must have been the mother of all all-day telegrams.

Ready to take a virtual tour now? Better gas up first. Lots of long stretches of what's dubbed the loneliest road in the world with little to see but sand and mountains.

You've probably heard of Area 51 before. That's the (hush-hush) top secret area of Nellis Air Force Range and Nuclear Test Site, which is rumored to have been used to house UFOs and conduct alien research.

And while I have no interest in nosing around any (hush-hush) top secret locations where my presence wouldn't be welcomed, I wouldn't mind visiting the nearby Little Ale Inn advertised on this sign. The locals are probably a little tired of the tourists wanting to hear all about area 51, but they might as well have a little fun and capitalize on the rumors. Wouldn't you love to see what that place has on its menu? (Mars bars for dessert, maybe?)

Hoover Dam, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the United States, took a workforce of 21,000 men five years to accomplish. Construction worker hardhats were invented specifically for this workforce, but weren't invented until 1934, just a year before the project's completion. Something tells me a lot of workers were seriously injured prior to their invention.

Death Valley has a certain stark beauty at sunrise. Would you believe one of the critters that lives there ... the kangaroo rat ... can live its entire life without a single drop of liquid? (Of course, I have no idea how long it actually lives ...)

Nope, I didn't skip the country. This is Las Vegas, baby, where they like to say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." From what I've heard, the thing that most often stays in Vegas is your money.

But, just look at this place! It's like a Fantasyland for grown-ups. Talk about sensory overload. (I wonder where Rick's pawn shop is.)

But THIS is what I really think of when I think of Vegas: NEON. Lots of glitz and glamour. Big shows, and cheap food. Limos and high rollers. I would enjoy looking around just to ooh and ah at all the sights. The gambling might be fun, but I doubt if they play many quarter-limit bets there.

No surprise, but the first slot machine was invented in Las Vegas. That was back in 1899, by a fellow named Thomas Fey. For you trivia buffs, that machine was called Liberty Bell. (Yeah, it liberated people from their money ... they aren't called bandits for nothing!) Nowadays, this self-proclaimed entertainment and gambling capital of the world has more than 200,000 slot machines, and allegedly has more hotel rooms than anyplace else on earth. (Dunno about Mars.) I don't know if the state has ever had to resort to this or not, but supposedly, to break a tie in the state's gubernatorial race, the winner would be determined by a single cut of the cards.

The difference between Las Vegas and Atlantic City is the difference between getting conned by a beautiful call girl and getting mugged by a crack head.   [Drew Carey]

Nevada's Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is built around the fossilized remains of (what else?) an ichthyosaur, and an old well-preserved silver mining camp. A bit of diversity there.

And then there's another kind of critter altogether. Mustangs. Yeah, that's it, mustangs.

Nevada is the only state with legalized prostitution, and the Mustang Ranch, its first legal brothel. Its original owner Joe Conforte, made billions of dollars, which he (ahem) chose not to share with Uncle Sam. Tax evasion, a murder, and other scandals closed the place down for a while, but it's now reopened, and I assume, faring well.

Ever been anyplace like that before? No, of course not. Care to take a little peek inside, just out of curiosity? (Don't worry; I won't tell anybody you looked.)

One thing I found kinda funny while I was looking for a tour video. There's also a brothel called the Chicken Ranch, and another called The Bunny Ranch. Mustangs? Chickens? Bunnies? Never mind.

Okay, let's check out the laws. For a state known for legal prostitution and gambling, their laws have gotta be pretty liberal, right? We'll see.

  • It's illegal to drive a camel on the highway. (Hard to fit them in most cars, anyway.)
  • But it isn't illegal to hang someone for shooting your dog on your property. (Kinda like killing rats?)
  • While the legislature is in session, it's against the law for any of its members to conduct official business while wearing a penis costume. (They can ACT like 'em, but they can't LOOK like 'em. Got it.)
  • Chocolate is banned between February 21 and April 8. (Bad, bad law.)
  • In Elko, everyone walking in the street is required to wear a mask. (I wonder what kinda mask they'd wear with those penis costumes?)
  • In Eureka, men with moustaches are forbidden from kissing women. 
  • In Las Vegas, it's against the law to pawn your dentures. (Now, there's a law to sink your teeth into.)
  • In Nyala, a man is forbidden from buying drinks for more than three people other than himself at a time.
  • In Reno, it's illegal to lie down on the sidewalk.
  • It's also illegal to hold a marathon dance, but it isn't against the law to post a notice on a fire hydrant about that dance. (And this makes sense because ...???)
  • And it's against the law to hide a spray-painted grocery cart in your basement. (Leave it out in the yard.)
  • Or to be named Smith.
  • Benches may not be placed in the middle of the street, either.
  • And last but not least for Reno, sex toys are against the law. (I'm not touching that one.)
Okay, boys and girls, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  It seems designer clothes and the rich trappings and pomp associated with pope-dom aren't enough for Pope Benedict XVI. He commissioned Italian perfumer Silvana Casoli to design a scent for his very own exclusive use. Casoli has created signature scents for multiple celebrities before, like Sarah Jessica Parker, Sting, King Juan Carlos, and Madonna ... and even created a couple scents called Water of Hope and Water of Faith for a group of Catholic bishops, but I'm thinking this is probably the first time a pope has ever requested a designer smell. The perfumer says she aimed for a scent to capture the pontiff's personality, as well as an aura of peace and tranquility, and infused it with lemon tree blossoms and the smell of grass. No announcement yet as to what the name is gonna be for the pope's personal perfume, and even though the scent sounds real nice, I can't help but wonder what kind of price tag was attached to such an exclusive product. And what a waste, huh? I mean, everybody knows most 84-year-old men -- pope or not -- already share a signature scent. And it already has a name, too. They call it Bengay.

***  Didja hear the story about the brazen thief who stole all the toilet seats from the local police station? Yeah, it's a real shame. Authorities would love to nail the culprit, but so far, they don't have anything to go on. (Bazinga!) Well authorities in Trenton, New Jersey had a similar problem. Oh, they had plenty of seats. It was toilet paper that was lacking. Know that saying A job isn't done until the paperwork is complete? Well, a budget dispute left police departments and employees of various governmental offices unable to complete the job, so to speak. And we all know how full of it some politicos can be, so we're talking about a potential crisis here, folks. Fortunately, the mayor intervened and ordered an emergency supply of paper goods. Thank goodness someone stepped in to wipe up the problem. It could've gotten real messy.

This isn't exactly weird, but it is pretty darned amazing. This extremely well-done video compresses the story of pregnancy into a 90 second clip:
Alas, real pregnancies don't go that fast. But sometimes it sure seems as though our lives are on fast forward, doesn't it? So, slow it down as best as ya can. Let's smell those roses while they're still blooming, my friends.

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Okay, I watched the brothel tour. I was curious. It reminded me a lot of old Westerns where the characters visit a saloon/brothel. Modernized a little, but the same feel overall!

  2. Have been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I would say that Drew Carey quote is apt. LOL

    PS: thanks for the kind comment about my book. That was so sweet!

  3. Okay - I think my head just exploded from pun overload on the toilet paper story. Whew! heehee Who knew you could find that many. :D Only you Susan.

    Have a great weekend my friend. Nicely done.

  4. I've never been there. Are you shocked? I don't have any desire to go. I disapprove of gambling, especially after being married to a gambling addict. And I certainly don't want to visit the place where chocolate is against the law, even if it's just for a short period of time. That's truly evil.


  5. Can't you just see all those old boys riding their camels across the desert to the Mustang Ranch for a little giddy up? Seriously, I just felt sad when I watched that clip.

  6. Old Vegas used to be kind of kitschy and fun. I loved putting coins in the slot machines. Even won six hundred bucks once.

    Today, it's kind of too glam and polished. Reminds me of the capital city in The Hunger Games. And that wonderful sound of coins falling out of the slot are gone. Everything is done on credit card now. :(

  7. :-) That was almost too much to take in!

    I've only been to Vegas once, and all I could think was "this is a desert. we shouldn't be here".

    Fun, ain't I?

    Happy Friday!


  8. I needed to catch my breath after I read your post. Too funny! :-) But I can't get the whole pope scent thing out of my mind now. That is truly very weird. Doesn't a pope have better things to do?

  9. What a great tour! Too funny about the Pope!!!

    Thanks for your visit! Did you buy your scallops? LOL!!!

  10. I look forward to my Friday chuckle here!

  11. Sadly, I've never been to Vegas. Maybe someday...

    But I'll have to skip Eureka, as TG has a mustache.

    Not that I'll really visit a state where it's illegal to drive a camel on the highway...

  12. I think I'd rather eat my own eyeballs than go to Vegas. As for that restaurant, I'm sure it appeared in a movie called Paul, a comedy about an alien and two guys travelling through the States, who run into some "interesting" locals at the Area 51 diner.

    Stinky pope.

    Thanks Susan! Too punny! :D

  13. Isn't it amazing that it only took 5 years to complete the wondrous Hoover Dam, but it takes over a year now to rebuild a small bridge over a creek.

  14. Dianne- I agree. There is a kind of Old West air about the place. Beats round beds, red velvet drapes, and mirrors on the ceiling, I guess.

    Jennifer- Ah, so you're the high roller in the crowd, huh? Been to BOTH places! We went to Atlantic City once, but I haven't been to Vegas yet. I may not like it as much ... no ocean or boardwalk there. You're welcome. I meant every word.

    Skippy- Hey, hey, hey! No exploding heads allowed. I'm pretty sure that's against the law. You have a wonderful weekend, too.

    Janie- Yeah, I can see where you wouldn't be a fan of the gambling, but I understand the shows are out of this world. Better pack our own chocolate, though, just in case.

    Delores- That's a good way to put it. I know what you mean about the sad part, but I read somewhere that the women who work there truly consider what they do as "just a job", and they go home to husbands and children after work. It's a whole different mind set than what we're used to.

    L.G.- Bummer about not hearing the coins drop anymore. My husband and I visited the Cherokee casino a few years back, and we were really disappointed that everything there was electronic. Just not the same.

    Pearl- Yeah, you're fun. And it really IS a desert, no matter how much water they pour into it.

    Liz- The pope and his perfume really threw me for a loop, too. (But no more than his Gucci loafers and gold rings.)

    Ocean Breezes- Glad you enjoyed the tour. And no, doggone it, I haven't gotten my scallops yet. Hopefully, this weekend.

    Liza- Glad to hear that, and I hope you found it.

    Linda- When your book comes out and you start raking in all that money, you can treat T.G. to a trip to Vegas. You'll just have to leave your camel at home.

    Carrie- Ouch! Sounds like you REALLY don't want to go to Vegas. We considered going for our 30th or 35th anniversary ... can't remember for sure which one ... and were gonna renew our vows with an Elvis impersonator. That struck me as a really fun thing to do, but we ended up going to Florida instead.

    I hope y'all have a fantabulous weekend.

  15. Arleen- You've got that right! Of course, with all the cut-backs, if they were building the dam nowadays, they'd be trying to scrape by with a workforce of a hundred.

  16. I thought commenting on the dam was the safest, most PC thing to do. The other subjects you wrote about were, like Nevada, too hot to handle.

  17. at my daughters liberal college more than 4 girls cannot live together because it is considered a brothel!!

  18. Arleen- Gotcha.

    Mom- Now, that doesn't sound very "liberal" at all, does it? (But funny!)

  19. Hi Susan .. well that sure was a tour for a variety of reasons .. camels in the desert - I suppose they died out. Funny video... I did watch! Las Vegas is amazing .. but I rather wish it wasn't there .. now ie 21st century with no water etc ... but you have to laugh ...

    Mom to 8 - that's ridiculous!! Fun to know about though ..

    Cheers Hilary

  20. Hilary- It is a little scary to consider the ramifications of doing so much development in a desert, isn't it? (Still, I'd like to visit it someday!) Cheerio to you, too.

  21. With Liberace, cowboy poetry, and hookers - what more culture could you ask for? (should I insert a wry smile here?).

    I lived in Reno for awhile long ago and it was a really nice area.

  22. Jon- Well, maybe some nice Indians doing a rain dance? Sounds like an interesting state, for sure. But I'm sorry I never made it there to see the old-time slot machines with coins pouring out of them when somebody hit it big.

  23. I wish pregnancy was that quick, I was two weeks overdue in the hottest June ever!

    I'm amused they need the expensive trappings in the Mustang Brothel, I doubt very much anyone is paying attention to the decor.

    I'm also flabbergasted how someone could walk out with multiple toilet seats and no-one noticed. No detectives on hand I guess...(Hugs)Indigo

  24. Punny, punny & funny. I enjoyed the tour! Can't wait to ask my policemen friends if there are any leads on the toilet fiasco!

  25. Indigo- Yeah, I'm pretty sure the last month of pregnancy actually lasts for three months, especially when it falls in the hottest part of the summer. And you're right about the trappings at that brothel, but maybe since there are several in the area, they have to spruce the place up to remain competitive. As for the toilet seats, that was just a joke. I don't think anyone could pull off a prank like that in real life.

    Debbie- Glad you enjoyed it, dear lady.

    Take care.

  26. Yes, real pregnancies take more than 90 seconds but that's all it takes to get pregnant.
    I always thought it was strange that Nevada and Utah rub against each other. Which came first, the bad guys were run out of Utah or the good guys were run out of Nevada?

  27. Mr. C- Not gonna touch that 90-second comment, but as for Utah and Nevada, that's kinda like a chicken-and-egg conundrum. (Then again, who's to say what's "bad" and what's "good"?)

  28. Loved your frolic round Nevada - learnt a lot - laughed a lot! Thanks for the pics and the words and the smiles :-)
    Great read as always!

  29. Karla- Glad you enjoyed the romp. Take care.