Turning Down Oprah

My new book drops in two months. It’s called Fool Me Once: Hustlers, Hookers, Headliners, and How Not to Get Screwed in Vegas. Essentially, it’s A Tale of Two Cities, but with fewer cities and more photos.

Now, a lot of local literati have criticized my decision to not appear on Oprah to promote my book. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why I won’t go on the show, and I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight:

-Am I afraid of getting “the James Frey treatment”? Of course not. Have you seen what the James Frey treatment did for James Frey’s book sales? Through the roof.

-Am I “pulling a Jonathan Franzen”? Please! That Franzen guy is a hack. I can’t even remember the last time he published a book.*

Does my refusal to appear on the show have anything to do with Oprah expressing no interest whatsoever in having me on her show?

Nope. Here’s the deal: I’m holding out for Bonnie Hunt.

*Editor’s Note: 2 months and 6 days ago.

First Book Review is In...

...and it's positive. Comes from Kirkus, and it goes a little something like this...

"Fear and loather is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland.

Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about Las Vegas—especially with Lax, who arrives in the capital of human frailties “at the speed limit, in my mom’s SUV, carrying a dozen dress shirts, a dozen ties, a couple boxes of kitchen supplies and toiletries, a briefcase full of magic tricks, my laptop, and my mom.”

Yet, like Thompson, Lax throws light on a place that seems all too familiar. A sometime lawyer and self-taught magician with a taste for what Criss Angel calls “Mindfreaks,” the author is fascinated by the elaborate ways humans have developed to part other humans from their money. There is the improbably torso augmentation of his roommate, for instance, which nets bigger tips, and the card-counting, and the Mexican turnover (“ a move in which you use one card to turn over a second and switch the two in the process”).

It will come as no surprise to most readers that everyone is on the make in Las Vegas, and the scholarly detachment with which Lax records it merely emphasizes the ordinariness of desperation—as when he shares an episode involving a criminal with his long-suffering mom, the Greek chorus of the tale, only to be chided for his choice of companions, to which Lax responds, “He didn’t’ KILL anybody. He just shot some people.”

Mortal peril, thankfully, doesn’t come often in these pages, which are instead populated with characters such as a 450-pound male Cher impersonator and a card junkie who tears himself away from the table long enough to offer Lax tips on being a manly man: “Stop drinking white wine for starters.”

An entertaining field guide to vice, but also one with a point—if you’re headed anywhere near the Strip, watch your wallet."

And Kirkus Says....Something. But What?

This is so frustrating! Kirkus just posted a review of Fool Me Once, but I can't read it because I don't have a Kirkus account. All I can read is the first two lines, which say... "Fear and loathing is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland. Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about..." And that's all I can read. :/


Prof. David Grazian wrote the book ON THE MAKE. If you want to know the dirty business secrets of bars and nightclubs, read it.

NOW, here's what Prof. G had to say about my upcoming book, Fool Me Once:

"In a city where nothing is quite what it seems, Rick Lax introduces us to the showgirls, prostitutes, casino card counters, magicians, pick-up artists, and street hustlers who work their short cons under the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip. Fool Me Once is an illuminating read, and terrific fun."

More Advanace Priase for Fool Me Once...from Kevin Roose

Unfairly young/talented author Kevin Roose wrote one of the best books of 2009--this according to Barnes & Noble and Las Vegas Weekly. It's called, "The Unlikely Disciple" and it's about the author's time at the ultra-religious Liberty University.

Well, here's what Mr. Roose had to say about my upcoming book, Fool Me Once:

"Rick Lax embedded himself with Vegas's most notorious magicians, call girls, and wheeler-dealers and emerged with a funny and fascinating cautionary tale for the rest of us. Anyone who's ever been scammed, bluffed, or lied to should read Fool Me Once."

Thanks for the kind words, Kevin!

Coffee Shop Convo, NLP


I spend a lot of my time in bookstore cafes, and over the past few years, I've noticed that the most frequent topic of conversation is Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP). I think the topic is fascinating....but for a different reason than everybody else: I think it's fascinating because for the life of me I can't figure out whether NLP is bogus or not. 

I suspect that it's rooted in truths and that the claims are exaggerated after that. But here's my big question: if NLP supposedly gives you such advantages in life (i.e., the ability to control people's thoughts and decisions), then why are so many people NLP proponents I meet aimless, directionless, unemployed "businessmen"/"entrepreneurs"?

Why Do Companies Purposely Misspell Their Own Name?

I just don't get it. Why do some companies purposely misspell their own names? Will somebody with Kraft or Tastee Freez please explain to me how the misspelling increases business? 

Political Letter from a 10-Year-Old

I just found this letter I wrote to my Senator when I was ten years old. The first sentence is pretty dull, but things pick up from there. Easily the most persuasive letter I’ve ever written. I present to you the letter in full:

October 5, 1992

Dear Congressman Levin:

Right now my class is studying some of the hazards of our state, country, continent, and even our world. For example. Population density, deforestation and POLLUTION!! Now let’s pretend there was some kind of fish in our Great Lakes that had the main ingredient for a cure for AIDS and it gets caught in some pollution, for example pop bottle rings or plastic bags, and became extinct. Then imagine if your son or daughter got AIDS. You would be not very happy. So I’m asking if you could make some kind of law saying you can’t dump any more trash in the Great Lakes.

Ricky Lax and Lone Pine Elementary School Students

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