Friday, June 22, 2007

Words I'm Looking Up (First in an occasional series about words I'm looking up.)


Imagine you're building a hotel/casino in Vegas with a beachy, tropical paradise theme. You'd probably want to name it something beachy and/or tropical paradisey, right? You'd eschew names like "Anchorage Bay," "Greenland Bay," and "Newark Bay" for something practically synonymous with sipping mai tais. Lahaina, Montego, Cancun, Miami, Bora Bora. As someone who spends most of her time daydreaming about sunny vacation spots, I've heard of a lot of them. But "Mandalay"? Where the heck is that and how lame am I that I have to look it up?

Enter my shameful confusion about the naming of the Vegas hotel "Mandalay Bay," where I just spent four fun-filled days and nights splashing in fake waves on a fake beach.

Well, my embarrassing ignorance ends now, with this entry from Webster's New World College Dictionary:

Mandalay: city in central Myanmar, on the Irrawaddy River: pop.

Myanmar? As in, "We used to be known as Burma but now we're best known for brutal repression and human rights abuses"?

Yeah, that's a party all right.

A little more research shows that Mandalay is the second-largest city in the nation and was the last Burmese capital before Britain pulled a Columbus and claimed the whole country as its own.

I remain baffled as to why the builders chose this as a theme for their sun-and-fun hotel/casino. But I can take a guess at their logic: "Hey, if people are dumb enough to think a city on a river in a repressive regime sounds like a good beach vacation spot, maybe they'll be dumb enough to drop $60 playing three-card poker."

And in my case, they would be right.


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