|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, October 16, 2003
The New Republic Online: Easterbrook (on the topic of the movie "Kill Bill"): "Set aside what it says about Hollywood that today even Disney thinks what the public needs is ever-more-graphic depictions of killing the innocent as cool amusement. Disney's CEO, Michael Eisner, is Jewish; the chief of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, is Jewish. Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood executives who worship money above all else, promoting for profit the adulation of violence. Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence? Recent European history alone ought to cause Jewish executives to experience second thoughts about glorifying the killing of the helpless as a fun lifestyle choice. But history is hardly the only concern. Films made in Hollywood are now shown all over the world, to audiences that may not understand the dialogue or even look at the subtitles, but can't possibly miss the message--now Disney's message--that hearing the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself. "
I didn't really like Gregg Easterbrook before, and I really don't like him now.
I'm fine with the opinion that Tarantino's films are shitty. I can see where that might come from. I don't agree with it, but I can respect a point if it's well made.
But this whole idea about Jews glorifying violence for the money? Wow. Didn't see that one coming. And equating the fantasy violence of "Kill Bill" with the Holocaust? 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters typing for 100 years may be able to produce "King Lear," but they aren't going to make that association.
Where Easterbrook misses the point is that this movie's impact rests somewhat on the background of the audience. This is an homage to Westerns, Anime, and Hong Kong action and karate movies. Thematically, the idea that "the screams of the innocent is a really fun way to express yourself," is missing the point. You can't have a revenge movie without a life-changing moment of impact for the main character. Yes, it's painted with a gory brush, but this idea is omnipresent in the entire catalog of old karate movies, and that's what this movie is. It's the biggest and baddest "B" movie ever made.
And, by the way, in the article Miramax/Disney is taken to task for releasing movies like "Kill Bill" and "Scream." Easterbrook asserts "Scream was the favorite movie of the Columbine killers."
Last I checked Gregg, tens of millions of people, probably tens of millions in that particular generation, have seen Scream and haven't killed people. I'll bet you right now that more people have seen "It's a Wonderful Life" and have committed murder.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Good, they're all in one place. Now I can keep an eye on them. Gordon Jump, TV's Arthur Carlson/Maytag Repairman recently passed, and I thought he was possibly the most famous Mormon, but surprisingly, here are people that are Mormon, that I had no idea were:
Rick Schroeder (Really? The Ricker?)
CBS' Jane Clayson
Matthew Modine (he looks the part)
Billy Barty (no way! Hollywood's most famous midget!)
Don Bluth (which, of course, makes sense since Secret of NIMH sucked so bad)
Aaron Eckhart (the biker dude neighbor guy from Erin Brockovich - another guy who looks the part)
Keene Curtis (you'd know him as the dude who owned "Melville's," the restaurant upstairs from Cheers)
Eliza Dushku (I knew this one though)
Cael Sanderson (winningest wrestler of all time)
Sean Salisbury (really? I might have guessed that one)
Jimmy "SuperFly" Snuka (now I'm disappointed)
Gladys Knight (oh, come on. Not Gladys Knight.)
Randy Bachman (the "B" in 70s power rock trio "BTO.")
Of all these names, Rick Schroeder still spins me for a loop...
I only own three "porno" movies on DVD (I own nothing on video). They are:
Embrace of the Vampire, which features Alyssa Milano naked. Of course, this means that someone in Hollywood did in fact get the letters I had been writing since I was fourteen. There's one almost lesbian scene and two "she's hypnotized" sex scenes. I don't know of a guy of my generation who SHOULDN'T own this movie. Every guy I know that's within a couple years of my age has/had a huge crush on Milano, and this is the only movie in her canon where she gets naked. A must-own. By the way, I've had this movie for almost a year, and still can't sit through the whole thing. It's tedious when people are talking. Just take your bra off, and let's get on with it, OK?
Emmanuelle, which ironically is directed by a person credited as "Just Jaeckin" (thank you, I will). The only reason I bought this one is because it's the first "late night Cinemax" movie I can ever remember seeing. Lotsa natural nudity (pre-boob job days in 1974), and hokey as hell acting. Not as "sexy" as the other two, but it's like keeping that softcover version of "A Separate Peace" in your library. You know it's a shitty book, you know the symbolism is going to hit you over the head like a hammer, but it's probably the first book you ever learned to read when you had to keep your eyes open for symbolism, themes, foreshadowing, and the like. I can't believe I just equated "A Separate Peace" and Emmanuelle.
By the way, I do not own, but might like to, any of the Emmanuelle in Space movies, which star uber-babe Krista Allen. I have, however, seen most of the sex scenes via the internet, so it's probably not an essential purchase.
I also own Femalien, which I bought simply because I couldn't find Damien's Seed on DVD, and I wanted to get a Jacqueline Lovell (aka Sara St. James) soft core movie for my collection. By far my favorite softcore porno actress, I hadn't seen this one, but it was on sale through Amazon, so I thought "why not." Venesa Taylor is the star here, and although she's a former Penthouse Pet, she's not that exceptional. Loads of pawing at herself though. There's a great Lovell/Taylor scene at the end, which goes farther than most Skinemax type movies do. Another movie that I can't sit through beginning-to-end, it's good but not great. I really wanted Damien's Seed because it not only has Lovell (getting corrupted by a trio of lesbian witches, god bless Hollywood), but it's got Kira Reed AND Shauna O'Brien, which is like the two of the three in the holy triumvirate of bad softcore porn (Shannon Tweed being the third, and godmother, of that group). O'Brien is the queen of the bad boob job. Once the top comes off, it's unbelievably obvious. To that end:
Shauna, pre-boob job - (nudity here)
Post-boob job - (nudity here)
So, you see what I mean.
Anyway, so goes my porn collection. It's pretty meager all things considered, and not a hardcore movie in the bunch. Frankly though, have you ever priced a porno out? They're ridiculously expensive.
Feng Shui Ultimate Resource
I rearranged my bedroom today. I figure that whether it's good feng shui or bad feng shui, I figure any feng shui effect would definitely help me shake up my world.
I did get all the stuff out from under my bed, which is supposedly a key point in feng shui. A clutter under your bed pollutes your peace.
Testing a theory...
I've heard that if you shuffle a deck of cards more than seven times, it becomes LESS random. In a highly unscientific test, I'm checking this theory out.
I opened a fresh deck of cards, where the cards were sorted from A (bottom) to K (top) in their suit through the deck. I did a cut, and riffled the decks together seven times.
Only two sets of two cards each managed to stay next to their original partner in the unopened deck. 10/9 spades and 4/3 hearts. Paired cards in the deck are numbered at three. Consecutive suited cards are limited to seven sets of two each. This does include the aforementioned pairs. There are no consecutive runs of more than two suited cards in a row.
I shuffled five more times (arbitrary, and unscientific) and checked for the same results.
Next to original partner (high then low card, suited) - zero
Paired cards - 3/3/3 only
Consecutive suited cards - Seven times, twice each of those seven are three in a row.
Still looks random to me. I don't know where that theory comes from.
"...she's a flight risk."
Speaking of fascinating, give this blog a look. There is an article in the October Esquire that seems to validate the reality of the blogger's situation. Real or not, it's engaging stuff.
grouphug.us // let it all out
Bizarre little place here. Give it a read.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
The Greatest Of All Time...
I'm a sucker for pop culture, and I'm a sucker for polls. So I bought the October issue of Esquire Magazine (not a normal purchase for me), as they were featuring an unscientific poll on "The Greatest..."
Selected categories, starting from the top:
1. MLK Jr (6%)
2. "My Dad" (6%)
3. Ghandi (5%)
4. Winston Churchill (5%)
5. Jimmy Carter (4%)
My Pick - Miles Davis. No single artist has had such a profound impact on music so many times over the course of the last fifty years. Stylish as a motherfucker, played his ass off, and nurtured great talent that branched out and is a "who's who" of jazz family tree. Yeah, yeah, he's not MLK or Ghandi, but this is my pick.
1. Marilyn Monroe (9%)
2. Audrey Hepburn (8%)
3. "My Mom" (4%)
4. "My Wife" (4%) [my note - she made you write that in, didn't she?]
5. Jackie Onassis (4%)
6. Sophia Loren (4%)
My Pick - Now, this is a difficult choice. Seems that with Marilyn, Sophia, and Audrey on the list, you're choosing based on talent and beauty. In that case, put me down for Sophia as well. I'd still bang her, really. But this isn't, or at least shouldn't, be that sort of vote. If we're going to choose a woman here, let's do it right. What about Sandra Day O'Connor? What about Marie Curie? What about Emily Dickinson? Joan of Arc? I'll choose Eleanor Roosevelt, who changed the unofficial office of First Lady into a pulpit from which to represent the poor and underprivleged. I feel better choosing her, than picking a pre-blubber Anna Nicole Smith, that's for sure.
1. The Godfather (15%)
2. Casablanca (6%)
3. Citizen Kane (3%)
4. Gone With the Wind (3%)
5. The Shawshank Redemption (3%)
My Pick - Can you believe I've only seen two of these movies? One is Citizen Kane, the other is my choice here, The Godfather. Nothing beats The Godfather. Watching Michael grow from wide-eyed kid into steely mob boss is a treat. I'm a huge fan. I own the trilogy, and have never popped GFIII into the DVD player. I'm not sure I ever will.
1. Homer Simpson (25%)
2. Bugs Bunny (22%)
3. Bart Simpson (5%)
Esquire's Choice - C. Montgomery Burns
My Pick - Ah yes, Monty Burns, excellent pick. I also can't fault the choice of Homer either, checking in at #1. He's most likely the easy pick for "Greatest..." here. But I'll give you a quick "TOP FIVE MOST UNDER APPRECIATED CARTOON CHARACTERS:"
(in no order)
1. Actor Troy McClure - The Simpsons
2. Sylvester the Cat
3. Batman - The New Adventures of Batman
5. Fry - Futurama (and yes, only because I named my dog after him)
1. Beatles (24%)
2. Stones (18%)
3. Zeppelin (8%)
Esquire's Addendum for "Greatest Squandered Talent:" Guns N Roses
My Pick - Well, how can you NOT pick the Beatles? I'm not sure, though, that the Stones deserve the #2 slot they always seem to get to the Beatles. I'm partial to the Who. Best rhythm section in rock history, at bare minimum, belongs to the Who. And if I had to choose a lead singer from the entire history of rock to stick in a time capsule or shoot into space to show an alien what rock was, I'd have a hard time deciding whether to send Roger Daltrey (the Who) or Robert Plant (Zeppelin).
Anyway, while I can certainly agree with the sentiment behind GNR's "Squandered Talent" award, I'm going to give that award to Moby Grape, because if you've ever heard their eponymously titled debut album, it depresses you that there wasn't ever anything else they did that remotely came close to its brilliance.
1. Jerry Seinfeld (9%)
2. Robin Williams (6%)
3. Richard Pryor (6%)
Esquire's Pick - Albert Brooks
My Pick - I love Albert Brooks, but he's a filmmaker and a funny dude, and not a comedian, if you're referring to stand up comics. On that list, I give you, in order:
1. Bill Hicks
2. Lenny Bruce
3. Chris Rock
4. Richard Pryor
5. Jerry Seinfeld
That Bill Hicks isn't an uber-mega star, even after his death, is simply depressing. Genius.
1. Cheerios (11%)
2. Cap'n Crunch (9%)
3. corn flakes (7%)
Esquire's Pick - Cap'n Crunch w/ Crunchberries
My Pick - Although I love my Crunchberries, I love Fruity Pebbles a great deal too. Unfortunately, I don't like milk the way I used to, so they aren't my pick, as they're too small to be eaten by the handful without making a god awful mess. I'm going to choose Lucky Charms, as those little marshmallows make me deliriously happy. Except for that marketing gimmick they tried where the inside of your marshmallow would mysteriously disappear (in the shape of a keyhole) in your milk. What the fuck was that? You give me marshmallows, then take 42% of them away as soon as milk touches them? Fucking rat bastard marketing people. Thank god they made that right with me.
1. Pong (43%)
2. Pac-Man (15%)
3. The Legend of Zelda (11%)
My Pick - Who the fuck are these voters? Pong? Yes, I know it was "first," and set the table for all that came after, but Pong? I'd rather play "Hunt the Wumpus" on the TI. Anyway, it's a travesty that one, or both, of two games aren't mentioned here - the NHL series and/or the Madden series from EA Sports. There have been NO BETTER TOOLS to help build male relationships in the past ten years than the NHL and Madden series. If you don't believe me, go rent "Swingers." Not every guy can tell you about scoring a TD in his homecoming game in high school, but most guys can tell you about the "Bo Jackson Play" in Tecmo Football in the early 90s. Or how unbelievably tough Jeremy Roenick was to stop in NHL in the mid 90s. Or how it took Madden until 1997 to make the toss left or right plays out of pro form and near formations non-money plays.
Pong?!? Pfft. Must be the kids who went outside in their youth.
1. Snickers (32%)
2. Hershey's (6%)
3. Reese's PB Cups (5%)
My Pick - I can't fault the pick of Snickers. Out of every ten bars I buy (probably takes me a year to buy ten), I'd bet six or seven are Snickers. The others are on the following list, my "TOP FIVE MOST UNDER APPRECIATED CANDY BARS:"
(in no order)
1. Heath - silky smooth, gotta love that toffee flavor
2. Twix, caramel - bite off the caramel first, chocolate around the cookie second, eat the cookie last
3. Clark bar - like a Butterfinger bar that's been sitting in your grandma's pantry for 42 years. Nothing that tasty should be that reddish/orange color.
4. Rolo - excepting the fact that those little caramel chocolates are a bitch to unwrap sometimes, I love them dearly.
5. Hershey's Symphony with toffee chips and almonds - I love my toffee.
...FAST FOOD CHAIN
1. McDonald's (23%)
2. Wendy's (18%)
3. Taco Bell (10%)
My Pick - Why McDonald's? The only thing they do better than anyone are their fries. And, it's the one restaurant I don't feel weird walking into, peeing (in the bathroom moron), and walking right out of. But BK has better burgers, Wendy's has better chicken, and I'd rather have Taco Bell on most days. My pick, though, has to go to Wendy's. Good fries, and that Spicy Chicken Sandwich is great with that chili oil squeezed on it. Mmm...
1. Google (12%)
2. ESPN (9%)
3. The Onion (6%)
4. Yahoo (5%)
5. Amazon (4%)
My Pick - Can't fuck with Google. Completely utilitarian, allows the user to tell Google what it wants the web to be. Perfect concept. For my own personal perusals, I would list ESPN, my fantasy football league's site, Anna's site, and The Detroit Free Press among my most visited and very most favorites.
More stuff this issue inspired me to write about another time...
Monday, October 13, 2003
Ten things I would do if money were no object
1) Take three months (minimum) and play nonstop poker, hoping to pick up good enough skills to compete at the top level.
2) Live in an Italian village, shop at the Farmers' Market, do nothing but cook, drink wine, and read all day long.
3) Spend a summer and fall between Saratoga and Southern California at the horse tracks.
4) Hold a huge party and hire Outkast as my entertainment.
5) Take cooking lessons in Italian and Asian cuisines, in those countries, from top chefs.
6) Hire a stylist to help me buy clothes, get a whole new wardrobe.
7) Spend a full year plus just gambling horses, putting together enough expertise to write about it professionally (side note - many to most thoroughbred racing writers I've read are terrible, and frankly, some young blood needs to be injected into that sport's opinion pages).
8) Move out of my current living situation into a house that had a room that had the following: full bar, amazing stereo hookup, stripper pole, huge poker table(s), pool table, darts, at least two dozen TV monitors, plush couches and chairs with touchscreens at every seat, total satellite hookup for sporting events and thoroughbred/greyhound racing, and a hookup to the Autotote system, allowing me and my guests to gamble freely in the basement.
9) A huge motorhome in which to follow the Lions for a season.
10) A stable of racehorses at my local track with a solid trainer looking out for them.
If a genie stepped out of a lamp and granted me three wishes, I'd wish for the following:
1) Three billion dollars in cash
2) A 100% physically fit body with immunity to all diseases, infections, serious injuries, etc for my entire family, the woman I choose to marry, and our children and their families.
3) The ability to read and write music and play the piano in any style I choose.
How's about you?
Weekend Poker Update
Played for the second weekend in a row at my brother's house, and had a table of seven to start. It was the usual suspects, except that DH's brother JH didn't come, and was replaced by SF's mother GF.
GF plays erratically, and gets suckered into too many bad pots. I'll have her $10 in the pot anytime.
This time though, we allowed her and my brother to buy back in after they had been eliminated, which spiked the total pot for the evening to $90.
I had put my brother out after maybe 45 minutes. I shake my head just thinking about this one. I don't remember the exact circumstances of the hand, but I raised him aggressively while holding four parts to a flush off the flop, including the ace. He kept hanging in there for calls, rather than reraising, holding only top pair. The turn gave me the flush, and showed four parts to it on the board. My brother was still holding top pair, and still hung in there just calling my aggressive play.
Basically, had he just done the math, there were NINE possible cards to complete the flush that I could possibly have had. He was holding only a pair. He really should have run away, but wouldn't back down. I drew him all in, he called, and I eliminated him. It was a really bad play on his part, but if he's going to give me his chips, I'm going to let him.
This week's game was nerve-rattling to say the least. I mentioned JS and his "miracle cards" in my previous post, and he was hitting them again. I had so many bad beats (having hands that would normally be worth a damn beaten by miracle hands) that I was really getting annoyed.
Now, normally, I don't let the emotion of the game sucker me in. But I was really getting frustrated. I would have two hearts in the hole, see three on the board, bet my flush, and get beaten by a higher flush. Or, as was unbelievably common this past week, I'd have a pair in the hole - say, jacks - and the flop would come 6/7/8 and the river would be 5. There were so many open ended straight flops/turns that it made it really difficult to stay in and make money when you did have something.
But my game this weekend was about setting little goals and hitting them. Don't be first out (I wasn't). Make a couple of big pots (I did). Make the final four (yup). I had to play like this because I took a couple of bad beats early, and was really in danger of being eliminated by another one or two within the first couple hours.
But I hung in there. I made the final four against JS, my brother, and GF. My brother and GF were low, and I had about 1/3 to 1/2 the chips that JS had. In other words, JS was a prohibitive favorite.
But, I think playing heads-up with this crew has been a strength of mine. This is where I really make dents in people.
Mostly, these guys bet fairly conservatively through the night, meaning that you won't usually see a 300+ chip bet until it hits the final two or three. That lulls people into submission to some extent. Makes them think, while they're holding 3000 chips, that 400 is some sort of big bet. But there's no difference between 400 while holding 3000 and 150 while holding 1125 (starting stack). So, when I play bigger bets at this point, maybe the mentality is "He must have something." Well, maybe I do, maybe I don't.
Also, playing heads-up is a completely different game. You're dirt-ass dumb if you sit on a draw past the flop. In other words, if you've got two hearts down, see one on the flop (giving you three), it's stupid to stay in and bet hoping you'll hit one more heart between two more cards. Yes, you might hit it, but I'm going to milk your chips if I hit something.
Basically, this is where going heads-up with JS while he was in a commanding chip lead was almost an advantage to me. First off, I've beat him before heads-up. Although he's beaten me as well, I know he remembers. Secondly, I know he doesn't like going mano-y-mano. It doesn't play to his style when there are fewer cards on the table. That means that sometimes having just a pair of sixes gives you the best hand. It's not really a situation where you can bluff the same way, or as mentioned, sit on a draw. But I know he likes to try to make hands. Third, I think that my strategy for heads-up works out pretty well for me with this crew. I play A LOT of hands to the flop, I bet into a lot of pots, but I also make sure I give the other player some wins. I'm not going to lose many big ones, but I am not afraid to lose 500+ on any given hand, sometimes purposefully to let my opponent know I'm willing to risk my chips. I basically shift my game from conservative to aggressive, and it suits me heads-up.
So I started out with about 1/3 the stack JS had when we moved heads-up. We only had to sit there for about 45 minutes to finish the game. I milked him when he stopped getting straights and I started to see tangible hands to play again. In the last hand, I was dealt A/10 offsuit, and was first to act. I raised him 500 preflop. He went over the top and raised me 1500 over my 500. With the pot at 3650, and my chip count at about 4000 at that point, I had a decision to make. Call the 1500 and take my chances with the flop, or let him have my 500 and run away.
I had already made him on a playable hand, and figured he either had a low pair (something smaller than 10s in the pocket) or he had something big, but not paired. The way I figured that is by his instantaneous call/raise on my cards from his chip position. He was sitting on maybe close to 2000 more beyond that 1500, and I figured if he had a pair of face cards, or worse, aces, he'd have probably slowed down his thought process to try to draw me in deeper more gradually. 500 for me at this stage was a slightly aggressive bet, but not overly so. So his 1500 raise was either designed to scare me off, or to make playing his hand more worthwhile. I know if I were sitting on pocket aces at that point, I probably would only have raised an additional 500 instead of 1500, to try to suck more chips out over the next two betting rounds. Frankly, once you go 1500, there isn't much farther you can go.
I thought about it for longer than I usually do, agonized, and called him.
Flop came out with a 10 and two pieces of lower junk. No open ended straight, no flush potential. So I had top pair and an ace kicker. I opened with 500, JS moved all-in, and I quickly called.
He turned over a suited big slick (A/K diamonds). I still had the hand with top pair. We did have two more cards left to go, but he didn't see his king hit on either, and I ended up taking the $90 home with me on Saturday.
JS did ask me one question about my playing style (he and I have talked about some of the others, but rarely about ourselves) that I still don't know if I have a good answer for. He asked, "You just play your own cards, don't you?"
I don't know if I have a good answer on that one. You have to play the cards, but essentially heads-up becomes a matchup of who got the two better hole cards most of the time. So no, sometimes I'm betting big on a hand I wouldn't have bet big earlier because sometimes a pair of fours is a wonderful thing, and sometimes it's not.
But it's all for fun, and I'm now the only four time winner in the group.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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