Sunday, April 8, 2007

Good readin's

It's a quiet Easter Sunday around here -- chewing on matzah for breakfast until this infernal Passover thing ends tomorrow night and my bowels can forgive me -- and I've just torn through the paper and some magazines. Of interest:

* In time for Easter, Sonya Padgett of the Review-Journal wrote a really terrific piece about the origins of my favorite candy, the vaunted jelly bean. There is no Vegas angle here despite this being the lead story in the Living section of the local newspaper, but she did offer up a number of details I didn't know, including that Turkish delight is NOT just something C.S. Lewis invented for Narnia, that Jelly Belly invented the blueberry bean so Ronald Reagan could eat red, white and blue jelly beans and that it takes a week to make a jelly bean. Missing fun fact: At the Jelly Belly factory in California, they sell the mistakes. They call them -- and I've always loved this -- Belly Flops.

* Great piece by Liz Bentson of the Las Vegas Sun on Sam Nazarian, the young Hollywood mogul who bought and now wants to sex up the decrepit Sahara.

* Space tourist Charles Simonyi has lifted off from Kazakhstan with Martha Stewart waving buh-bye. She designed his space menu, which includes roast quail, duck breast with capers and rice pudding. No word whether she's tried to make those space diapers any more fashionable. Simonyi, of course, is doing a blog and so far his burnt-almond-cookie moment has been revealing that cosmonauts urinate on the tire of the bus transporting them to the launch pad before lift-off. Maybe Borat wasn't entirely wrong about the Kazakhs.

* There's a questionable claim in the lead of a piece by Arnold M. Knightly of the R-J on the prospects of smokefree casinos in Las Vegas. He claims gaming companies would rather not discuss the prospect of Nevada casinos being forced to go nonsmoking. And yet MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman and Harrah's spokesman Alberto Lopez have both told me bluntly that they expect Vegas casinos to be smoke-free within a decade, if not sooner, given the popular and electoral pressure. Otherwise, a pretty solid piece that reveals much that I didn't know, including that Harrah's has a smokefree casino now, Bill's Lake Tahoe, and that a poll shows that it's a lie that most gamblers smoke. It's more like about 20 percent.

* Newsweek this past week has a heartbreaking chat with Elizabeth Edwards in which she says she doesn't expect to live to see her son graduate from high school. It's written by Jonathan Alter, who also does an excellent job relating his own cancer experience in the cover story.