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Where They Filmed
Night of the Lepus

Yes, that's right, Tucson, Arizona. The town where they filmed the classic giant rabbit horror movie staring DeForest "Bones" Kelley and Janet "Psycho" Leigh. And I was there, my friends. Okay, so they actually filmed Night of the Lepus in Old Tucson, which is a couple of miles away from the real Tucson. But it was close enough. I could still feel the rumble in the ground of those giant rabbits leaping across the prarie...

Seriously, though, I did go to Tuscon last week, from February 6th through the 10th. Why, you ask? Well, because Carrie works for The Bead Factory. You see, it all started a long, long time ago when some smarty-pants decided that it would be a good idea to have some sort of a jem/jewelry show in Tucson. Well, many years later and the deal has snowballed so that now in the first two weeks of February the ENTIRE town is overrun by DOZENS of jewelry/jem/bead shows. Carrie was sent to Tucson with a whole crapload of Bead Factory merchandise to sell at one of these shows, which lasts for two full weeks. She and Devon, the only gay male employee of The Bead Factory, headed down there with some giant trunks full of Bead Factory stuff.

Two weeks is a mighty long time to go without seeing Carrie, and it's also a might long time to work a show without any real relief or any restocking of sold-out merchandise. Thier table would look pretty darn slim if more stuff wasn't sent down there. So we conspired earlier in the year that during the middle of those two weeks Melissa would fly down and give Carrie and Devon a break for a couple days each, and I would "accompany" her, becasue it would be easier to fly with giant trunks if there were one person per giant trunk. So Carrie and I went ahead and bought me a ticket on the same flight Melissa was already scheduled to take.

Well, come showtime and Carrie and Devon aren't moving the merchandise nearly as well as was expected. It's no slight against them; the people who buy at these shows are apparently all FREAK SHOWS. So they really didn't need two giant trunks of backstock. In fact everything they needed fit snugly inside Melissa's giant suitcase.

Well, screw that! I was going, too! My tickets were NON-refundable!

DAY 1: Thursday

Our flight was at 7:10 a.m. on Thursday morning, which meant I would be picked up at 5:30 a.m., which mean that I would have to get up at 4:00 a.m. if I wanted to shower and get everything ready to go on time. Well, screw that! I'm not gonna get a measly three or four hours of sleep! Instead, I got NO sleep! That's right, folks, for only like the third or fourth time in my whole 25 years of life, I pulled an all-nighter. You can get a surprising amount of stuff done when you don't sleep. I even mopped the damned kitchen floor. I've decided that if I didn't HAVE to sleep to live, I probably wouldn't.

The flight was uneventful, with one layover in Las Vegas where we didn't even have to leave the plane. People got off, different people got on, and about 15 minutes after we landed we were in the air again. I've never been to Vegas (I've only been to Reno), but the infamous Vegas Strip was right outside my airplane window, so I feel good about it now.

Melissa usually has a lot of trouble flying. She's one of them nervous types when it comes to them airplane things, especially being inside them. But this time she was so tired that she didn't even need any hooch to calm her nerves. We basically just both fell asleep as soon as we sat down and woke up whenever we landed.

So, soon we were in Tucson, Arizona, home of the wide open plain, the tumbleweeds, and the giant rabbits. In truth, the thing that I found most remarkable about Tucson was its absolute generic-ness. EVERYTHING there was a chain. It felt like I was in Federal Way or something, except instead of fir trees there were cacti. In fact, that's a lot of what Tucson was like; just one cactus there for every fir tree here.

In all fairness, Tucson had some chains we don't have up here, like Wienerschnitzel and Yokohama Rice Bowl. I also saw a Sonic, which I didn't think got that far west. Who knew? Some days you learn important stuff, like learning how to drive, and some days you learn that there's a Sonic in Tucson. Who is to say which days are more valuable to your life in the long run?

Devon picked us up from the airport and drove us by the Gem Fair so that Melissa could take Devon's place there. Then Devon drove me back to the hotel, which, in case you're interested, was on Speedway Boulevard, about which I'll be speaking at lenghts... later...

We were staying at a Mariott "Residence Inn." What this basically means is that it was an apartment or condo more than a motel. Here I tried to do one of those composite shots where you take several photos from the same place and jam them all together to look like one big, panoramic photo. Of course, since I was doing it, it looks like donkey ass:

But you can hopefully glean some sort of an inkling as to what the place was like. You can see there on the left the couches of the living room area. Beyond that, behind the curtainy-things, is the dining room area. Looking up you can kind of see that there's a loft up there, with the stairs on the right there. And then there's a kitchen.

This kitchen isn't all that much bigger than my kitchen at home, but look at all that counter space! Christmas, if I had that much counter space at home there'd be NO problems. Also if I had a dishwasher. Then there'd be NO problems. And a couple more electrical outlets. Then there'd be NO problems.

Devon and Carrie learned early on in their stay here, quite by accident, that the maids will do your dishes for you. Hot damn! If I had a maid, then there'd be NO problem. I guess what I'm trying to say here is that this place was pretty damned de-luxe. Let's continue the tour:

Here's the dining room, although we never once at around that table. It was used to store a whole crapload of Bead Factory stuff when it wasn't at the Gem Fair. But when you turn around and look at the other wall in the dining room, you'll notice somethign strange...

Hmm, what is that rectangular crack in the wall for? And are, are those handles sticking out? Hmm, let me investigate...

Holy Jesus, lord of God, it's a hideaway bed! Goddam, now I can recreate the beginning of You Only Live Twice, and pretend that it's ME getting shot to shit in a hideaway bed, not Sean Connery!

The bathrooms were nice, but pretty standard for a hotel. Oh, wait, did I say bathrooms? Oh, silly me! That's because there were two. Did I forget to mention that?

Now let's leave the first floor behind, and head up the spooky stairs... Seriously, though, these were some steep-assed stairs, assuming stairs can have asses. The jury was still out on that last time I checked.

And here is the loverly loft where Carrie and I spent our night and our afternoon naps. It was pretty nice, and you could lean over the railing and throw stuff at Devon and Melissa when they were downstairs. Not that we did. Sure it's easy to look back with regrets on a life not fully lived, but at the time I didn't realize how much I would enjoy chucking stuff from the loft to the living room.

But what was the best part about the hotel? The bill was being paid by The Bead Factory!

Well, the hotel being thoroughly explored, Deven went off to run around Tucson in the van and take in some of the scenery, which was fine with me because I was frekin' exhausted becasue I, Mr. Bright Boy (as I like to call myself) didn't sleep at all the night before. So I did what anybody would do when they're tired: I pulled out a 1,000 page novel, plopped down on the couch and was asleep by page six.

I woke up around 7:30 when Devon brought Melissa and Carrie back. So I slept from about 2:30 to 7:30. Five hours, that's about a short night's sleep, right? So what if it was in the late afternoon, right? Right? Anyway, that evening we all went out to eat. Someone had recommended a Mexican restaurant to Carrie, so we decided to go there. If you're from the north half of the country, like me, then you'll have in your mind an image of what Mexican restaurants are like. Now remember that Tucson is about 60 miles from Mexico. This wasn't a "Mexican" restaurant, it was a Mexican restaurant. Italics, not quotes!

It was called Mi Nidito, which I'm told means "My Little Nest," although my Spanish is such that you could tell me it meant "My Fiery Bran Flake" and I would believe you. The food was good, i.e., authentic. I had some enchiladas with a side of "Mexican Cheese," which turned out to be a crumbled white cheese somewhere in between Parmesan and Feta. Very light in flavor. The four of us ate big huge dinners and everybody but me had two drinks each, and it all came to be like 55 bucks. Cheap! Plus, The Bead Factory was picking up the tab! What was also cool is that you could order your drinks before you ever got your table, and sit around and get sloshed waiting to be seated. Now THAT'S what I call a good time!

The best part about the restaurant, though, was the wall of fame. Apparently if you're a famous person you eat at this restaurant when you come to Tucson. There were some genuine celebrities up there like Willie Nelson, George Lopez, a handful of football players I didn't recognize, and a couple of golf pros. There were also a handful of local celebrities, like a horse breeder guy. But this was by far the best photo of the bunch:

Yes, that's right? It's Bubba himself, chawing down on some delicious Mexican food right here in this very restaurant! They were so proud of this picture that you could actually buy it as a postcard, hence how I'm showing it to you now (although this is a scan from Melissa's postcard; I didn't buy one for some dumbass reason). What a great picture of Clinton and his food. But I don't recognize a single one of them people surrounding him. Weird.

Anyway, the fact that I only slept five hours out of the last 24, and those in a bizzarre part of the day, I was feeling kinda lousy by the time dinner was over. It was pretty late so we all went back to the hotel where we fell into a beautiful, dreamy state that I'm told is called "Sleeping." Huh.

DAY 2: Friday

On Friday we all got up around 7:00-ish and got ready for the day. The hotel has one of them Continental Breakfast things, so we all ate there. I went to school at Western Washington University (WWU), and the cafeterias there were all catered by Mariott, which ran this hotel. So I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and, yes, it was just like I was in a cafeteria back at college. The same eggs, the same little pancakes, the same muffins and fruit and juice. They even had a do-it-yourself belgian waffle maker! Back in college my roommate, Ryan of The Wastlanders and I would eat a meal in between breakfast and lunch, which we had dubbed "Waffle." This consisted of the two of us just making giant waffles in the waffle griddle in the cafeteria. So in honor of "Waffle" I made my own waffle in Tucson, which wasn't nearly as good 'cause they used cut-rate batter. It was pretty much cardboard with crappy fake maple syrup and stiff-as-a-board butter pats on it.

We all piled in the van and went to a local grocery store to buy stuff for Melissa and Carrie for lunch, because they were the two who were gonna be working the show that day. Devon had it off, and I never had to work because I'm just a freeloader! Hoo-ah! Devon and I dropped them off at the Gem Mall, then Devon took me back to the hotel. He was gonna go around and do some touristy things or something, maybe drive up into the mountains. I don't remember because I didn't go with him. It's not that I don't like the guy or anything. It's just that I wanted to spend all of Friday doing somethign that I haven't been able to do in AGES:


That's right. On Friday I didn't do a goddam thing. I sat around the hotel, watching Cartoon Network. I read almost 300 pages in my novel (which, by the way, was Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, which is called the Gone With the Wind of Japanese Novels, and rightly so). Around 1:00 p.m. I got kind of hungry, so I wandered out of the hotel and on down Speedway Boulevard, looking to see if there I could find anything good to eat. I took my time, just kinda ambling along. Since it was February in Tucson, the weather wasn't really hot. The sun was pretty hot, but the air was pretty cold, so it evened out to a nice, mild day if you were wearing a light jacket, like my gray Old Navy jacket.

Anyway, just a block or so away there was one of those strip malls, like the ones that seem to take up about 90% of Tucson's square feet if you put them all together. I noticed a Trader Joe's, which is my absolute favorite grocery store. I drive from Tacoma to Federal way, some 30 miles round-trip, just to shop there. And here was one within walking distance! Nice. I lazily ambled around inside of it for a while, but didn't see anything that really struck my fancy. My fancy was still unstruck. So I wandered back outside and happned to walk past a sushi restaurant. Sushi in Tucson. I could only imagine how hard I would kick myself in the crotch if I didn't have sushi in Tucson, Arizona. So I went in and had some spicy tuna rolls, and some Ebi (shrimp) suhi, and a bowl of miso soup (for which I wasn't charged). It was pretty damned tasty, let me tell you. The place was pretty cute, too.

Afterwards I wandered across the street where there was a used bookstore. I was pretty sure that Musashi would easily occupy me for the whole weekend, seeing as how it was 1,000 pages long. But I am easily drawn to bookstores because, let's face it, I'm a big ol' nerd. This one was like the Barnes & Nobles of used bookstores. It was larger than a lot of libraries I've been in, and it was broken down into sections, and all was in alphabetical order by author. It even had video games and DVDs. Very impressive. Of course I didn't buy anything.

Then I wandered on back down the street to the hotel room and sat down on the couch, turned on Cartoon Network again (they were playing Zoids—bleah), and picked up Musashi. I think I might have even taken a nap in there some time.

Let me tell you, folks, it was fan-freaking-tastic. I can't remember the last time where I had a whole day during which there was not a signle goddam thing that I was scheduled to do. I didn't even have to do any dishes on account of the maid doing them! I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO, and I couldn't have been happier. All right, so I probably COULD have been happier somehow, like if I also found a whole crapload of cash in the cushions of the hotel couch. But still, it was pretty durned nice.

Eventually Devon came home with Carrie and Melissa around 8:00 that night, as well as a few bags of groceries. He made chicken parmesan for us all, and Carrie made some mixed hooch drinks (I had a lemon drop, but she also made cosmopolitans—yes, that's right, I like my drinks fruity).

After dinner had settled in for a while we grabbed a bottle of wine and all (except Melissa) put on swimming suits and wandered down to the hot tub. You know, it probably wasn't particularly friendly of us to drink a bottle of wine out in public at the hotel swimming pool, but there were only two other people there. They were two guys who were also doing one of the many tens of shows in Tuscon during this two-week period. They sold wholesale diamonds and were based out of L.A. Carrie eventually convinced Melissa to come down to the hot tub by telling her that there were "Two cute guys down there... who sell diamonds."

After a while the hot tub would get too hot so you had to jump in the pool for a while, which was too cold, so you had to go back to the hot tub, etc., etc. Eventually we headed in and put the Disney Channel on while we went to bed and that "sleeping" thing happened again.

Coming Soon:
Part Two of Chris's Adventures in Tucson: Where They Filmed Can't Buy Me Love

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