mrbrown: Slots and Han Solo in Vegas

mrbrown: Slots and Han Solo in Vegas

mrbrown heads to Las Vegas and is Jedi mind-tricked by the gimmicky "Star Wars" slot machines
Las Vegas
Who cares about the slot machines and the strip? Give me "Star Wars."

I am in yet another U.S. city, this time Las Vegas, for the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It is a little unsettling for me to go from austere Atlanta to the glitzy and loud city that is Las Vegas.

As I write this, people in the consumer electronics industry are streaming into the city in the run-up to CES. I have spent a few nights here already and I think when I go home to Singapore, I will need to see an eye doctor about seeing a neon glow in everything.

Even my hotel toilet bowl seems to be glowing to me, and when I reach out to flush it, I expect to see some money coming out of the cistern.

Where the streets are paved with slot machines

When we stepped into the McCarran International Airport, there were jackpot machines parked right next to the baggage claim belts. Perhaps you have to play the slots for a bit and if you win, you can win your own luggage back. If you get a bonus spin, you may even win someone else's luggage from the belts.

It is just as cold here as Atlanta, at least to me. I kept thinking desert means hot, but no, Vegas is really cold in January. I did not pack as many warm layers for this trip so I reckon I will have to stay indoors more. Maybe on the casino floor.

Resistance is futile

So far, my biggest vice is the "Star Wars" slots machines. Talk about appealing to two kinds of addictions. For a "Star Wars" geek like me, it is a thrill just to see clips from the movies and hear the audio used in the slot machine. I imagine I'd play the darned thing even if it took all my money.

For instance, when you get two of the three scattered bonus symbols on your screen, the machine makes a big deal about it with sound effects and lights, making you very excited about nailing that third symbol to trigger a bonus round.

One of the audio clips the machine uses when that happens is Darth Vader saying, "I have you now!" If the third symbol doesn't materialize, the animation shows Han Solo's Millennium Falcon escaping by making the jump into hyperspace.

In any other jackpot machine, you would be really annoyed with missing your bonus round. But in this case, I actually found myself saying, "Hey, at least Han got away." 

How to successfully apply Jedi mind tricks in a casino

I know, it sounds totally like a Jedi Mind Trick but it is hard to get the "Star Wars" geek out of me. As a side note, "I have you now" was actually said by Vader when he was chasing Luke Skywalker's fighter, not Han Solo. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

Another random audio clip the machine uses in that circumstance above, is Obi-wan saying, "Use the Force!"

More than once, I found myself lifting one hand up against my jackpot machine as the symbols spun. What was I thinking, using the Force on a jackpot machine? Everyone knows a jackpot machine is immune to the Force, just like Jabba the Hutt.

Monorailing in Las Vegas

I also tried the Vegas Monorail. I didn't want to drive or take a cab, and it was too cold to walk so I decided to see if the monorail lived up to the high public transport standards we set for ourselves in Singapore.

It was decent enough, although US$5 (S$6.50) for a single trip seemed a little steep, considering it only goes around the main hotels. I read that the Las Vegas Monorail Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2010, and judging from the number of users when I took it, I am not too surprised.

At one point, it was just me and a monorail transit cop taking the monorail. At least I felt safe from getting mugged.

Las Vegas Subtlety has no place in Vegas.

Blinded by Vegas

I think if I don't see the doctor about getting the neon lights out of my eyes, I will need him to help me stop seeing things in gold. I went to The Venetian hotel, where much of the CES is being held, and the entrance is an ostentatious and opulent tribute to the color gold.

It outdoes even some of the Neo-Corinthian Pre-Roman monstrosities built by the nouveau riche in Singapore. The Too-Much-Money-Not-Enough-Taste look must be popular here in Las Vegas too.

But Vegas never takes itself too seriously, which is probably what makes it fun to visit. I am also pleased with the fact that I don't have to pay S$100 (US$77.50) to enter the casino (unlike in Singapore where, as a citizen, I have to). That way, Jabba the Hutt can make all my hard-earned money, instead of the Empire.

May the Force be with me as I steer clear of the temptations calling out to me. Maybe I will skip the sin of gambling and just focus on gluttony at the buffet table.

Or just take the monorail back and forth. It seems like the only safe and clean thing to do here in Vegas.