Rita and the Chocolate Factory
I updated the photos section with shots from December onward, including south Texas snow, south USA highway, and south Las Vegas chocolate factories.

Chocolate Factories! Trip report!

With the exception of that terrible weekend where I had the flu, I've had some sort of fun every weekend since arriving. (And tonight I could be going to the Luxor IMAX for free -- who needs smaller class sizes when teachers can get IMAX tickets? -- but I'd pay not to go, there is so much to do here. Like work out the lamination bubbles in my spiffy new corridor passes and watch the finale to Freaks and Geeks.) I really like living here. Really.

So, last Saturday I decided to visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. Here is everything you need to know about this touted tourist attraction:

  • This is the entire factory tour.
  • The Oompa Loompas don't work on Saturdays. The factory may be open until 7 each night, but it contains no moving parts outside of regular business hours.
  • The part at the end where you get the free chocolate? The Almond Butter Krisp is divine and worth the experience. However, good luck if you get the one counter service lady who wishes all of the customers would go away so she could get some peace.
  • No XXL T-shirts. How can a chocolate factory so grossly misjudge its customer demographics?
  • The Living Machine next door is neat. It has fish. They seem happy.
  • Hey, I have fish, too. Did I ever show you Mr Jonathan's first bubble nest?
  • The adjacent cactus garden is also nice, and surprisingly more interesting than the place where chocolate is born.
  • I will probably go back this weekend, just to try a different kind of chocolate. It's right on the way to Sunset Station.

They say the locals patronize the city's "Station" casinos, and as a new local, I have to say they're right. I always come out ahead at Sunset Station. (In fact, I'm far enough ahead that I can afford to visit MGM, NYNY, or even the Aladdin a few more times, where the penny and nickel slots all hate me. Well, maybe not the Aladdin. They really hate me.)

I have a good time at Sunset Station and look forward to trying the others, despite a bad experience at Green Valley Ranch Station. (I really don't think it's canonical -- it's not even listed on the mailer I got yesterday telling me where I can pick up my free crystal Easter basket if I come visit a Station casino this weekend. I love this town! It's tacky, but -- my God -- so was driving to Wal-Mart at 3am to look for inspiration... for a decade...)

So, I went to Sunset Station after the tour, but not until I shopped Bed Bath & Beyond for the first time. (I feel like I just bought an expansion pack for a 21st century roleplaying game where my character is a consumer with +5 Visa and +2 damage with coupon weapons.) I'm saving up for this in Sage.

And then I went to Bath & Body Works where I spent less than I spent at Bath & Body Works the weekend before. And that's all I want to say about that, other than I have a monster semi-underground zit on my chin, flashing pink and red, which I suppose is some sort of epidermal comment on milk thistle.

And then I went to Sunset Station, and I played so many games, and they were all fun, and of course I don't remember many of them at all. I like the "Copper Canyon" where you can get crazy on penny slots, trying to get the bonus video games. (Those of you who still think of slot machines as things with spinning cherries need to come see the new Vegas.)

I have a theory that 9-line nickel slots are the way to make money, although The Terminator slot was very generous - one "pull" of that 25-line penny slot yielded about eight bucks or so. (Yeah, yeah, I know, imagine if I'd been playing quarters or dollars! Look, bucko, I can't afford to play 25 lines at a quarter apiece. Even a nickel apiece is making me edgy, hence my unhappiness with all of these multi-line slots that go beyond nine lines. Are the odds really better?)

So, playing with less than $5 of my own money, I walked out about $20 up, hopped in the car, and high-tailed it to NY NY Casino.

I won't tell you how much of that $20 I had left after "killing time" waiting for the Rita Rudner show to start. Oh yeah -- I bought the last ticket to that night's Rita Rudner performance -- I sold the show out! Go me!

(They don't give you anything for that.)

I also got a chocolate egg cream at the deli while I was waiting. It tasted about the same as the one I got at the Venetian the week before -- nice, but I can't quite put my finger on what I see in them. (And yes, that would be the Venetian that I have never gotten around to blogging about, but here is an obligatory gondola shot, and I will also tell you that the Antique Appraisal slot -- a fun game -- was kind to me there. The resort's Guggenheim museum has an Egyptian exhibit opening this weekend -- I hope they allow photography, unlike some Vegas properties...)

Rita Rudner is still funny. The theatre is quite intimate, so there isn't a bad seat in the house. She no longer has her black curls, but instead has something reddish and shortish and sensible-ish, and I would say something about that, but ta fashion police court order prevents me, a known follicle offender, from picking on others' hair.

I was in the mood for an evening out, for less than the cost of a Cirque ticket, and comedy sounded good, and Peter's Friends is a half-guilty pleasure, and I guess that's why I paid $20 (remember my $20? let's pretend this is the only place it really went) to buy her book and stand in line after the show to meet her and get it signed.

(I will not go into the part where I had to run and cash in the $4.35 payout ticket that I wisely took earlier -- instead of fruitlessly hitting "SPIN" about ten more times -- in order to come up with twenty in cash.)

I didn't say anything clever to Rita. She seemed tired. Polite, hard-working, and tired. Very accessible. You would have no trouble chatting with this woman in line somewhere. (Especially if you're Mike, who has no idea who she is, but then he doesn't know who The Fixx are, either? How were they never big in Australia? And Mike's usually such a master of the new wave/post-nw genres.)

And speaking of The Fixx, should I go see them at Mandalay Bay? And can you believe they have an opening band? Haven't The Fixx been, er, kind of an opening band themselves for the past 20 years? I'm not saying they're not great and talented; I'm just, um, commenting on the sociodynamicsomething. (Whatever the polite word is for "not really as popular as Celine Dion these days, eh?")

Or I could go see Billy Idol. (My first concert was Billy Idol -- 21 years ago!) Or Hall & Oates. Or REO Speedwagon. I LOVE THIS CITY!

Or I could try to think of a way to convince my M*d L*t students that Shirley J*ckson's We Have Alw*ys Lived in the C*stle is not "so, so BORING, Miss!" Is it me, or do kids just not enjoy twisted heroines with obsessive compulsive disorder and juvenile envy and paranoia like they used to?

04 March 2005 |

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