|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
So I’m the asshole?
It’s been raining and wet out here the last few days. Miserable, actually. My commutes to and from work are generally done in the pre-dawn, and just approaching dusk hours, so it’s pretty dark pretty quick around here this time of year.
Growing up in the upper Midwest is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing that no one blinks when we get a foot of snow overnight. It’s a blessing that most of us grew up driving around in the thick stuff. It’s a curse that we’re so comfortable driving in shitty weather that we drive like assholes.
I can only imagine what it must be like commuting to work in Atlanta during light snow flurries. People are breaking out the chains for their tires, everyone’s scared shitless of slipping, and traffic isn’t moving at a speed remotely close to what’s posted.
That’s not Michigan.
Monday morning I drove in to work in a steady, driving rain. Visibility was for shit, and so I was taking it easy. In inclement weather, doesn’t it make sense to leave three or four car lengths to the one in front of you? Of course, that’s not how my fellow drivers feel. My three or four car lengths turns into some sort of challenge to those in the other lane, and a reason to be angry to those behind me.
I couldn’t be more annoyed with these drivers that feel that they can handle a six foot gap between their car and the car in front of them at 70MPH in the rain. But I’m way more annoyed with the drivers that come right up on my ass because they see space in front of me that they absolutely have to inhabit. I get frustrated, they get angry when I’m braking in tandem with the car 90 feet in front of me, and they take their first semi-safe opportunity to zoom past me.
So I’m the asshole here, apparently. Not that I wish ill on anyone (well, on most people), but I just once want to see someone make one of those hyper-aggressive lane changes into a tight spot on slick roads, catch an icy path, and go tumbling violently into the median. Okay, maybe I don’t. But people still piss me off.
So my routine with my dog is a pretty simple one in the winter months. I get up in the morning, he goes out for a couple minutes before I leave for work. He goes again the minute I’m home from the office, and again somewhere in the early 9PM hour. With as dark as it’s been getting lately, he had been taking advantage of his late night trips by sniffing around in the brush along the side perimeter of the yard, and using the covers of darkness and bushes to make his way into the far depths of the yard unseen. I’ve taken to carrying treats in my pocket to make sure he has a good incentive (besides, oh, getting fed another meal or having a warm place to sleep) to come back to me.
Monday though, that little son of a bitch really pissed me off.
It’s raining a bit, and it’s cold. I’m already in my pajamas, which is to say sweatpants and slippers, and I take the dog out for the nightly dump. For the first time in a week or two, he gets adventurous and wanders into the bushes. I give him a few minutes, smoke a cigarette, and start calling for him.
I give it another couple, and try the old trick of calling, then going back inside the house. If he thinks he’s going to be left alone outside, he’ll usually come running.
Nothing again. I can’t even hear him back in the yard anywhere. So I head back upstairs, put on some real shoes and grab a (weakly powered due to old batteries) flashlight. Now I’ve got to go walk through the backyard, with dog poop all over, to try to find my dog.
It took me nearly ten minutes to find him. He had wandered into the far back yard, across into the neighbor’s to the side, and then pushed his way through some low brush into a grassy backyard of people behind them. I’m lucky I even saw him, because he’s awfully low to the ground and was behind the brush just staring at me like, “here I am, what do you want?”
Miraculously, I didn’t step in one pile of dog turd anywhere along the way. Still, that little bastard didn’t get his treat, that’s for sure.
So I was thinking… what is “going on vacation” like for Pauly anyway? It’s not like he’s escaping the cubicle encased drudgery most of us are mired in. I guarantee you that he’s excited to get out to Vegas. But I double damn guarantee you that I’m more keyed up than he is by a long shot.
It’s these walls. I’m blessed to have the five-and-a-half footers on all sides, with no “walk by” easy access to my cube. I have also rigged my monitor to point into the back of my cube, so if someone did manage to stick their head in, I have that split second to get this Word doc or whatever solitaire game I’m playing minimized.
If you take away what I have on my desk, including of course my computer monitor, the only things in eyeshot are the peachy beige cube walls, the standard issue acoustical tile, the green carpet, my supplementary issue visitor’s chair, and a lone wall calendar with pictures of great golf courses they’d never let me play because I’m black. I mean poor. I can’t play Pebble Beach because I’m poor. You know what I mean.
It’s interesting that when adults interact, the very first piece of small talk that usually passes is, “What do you do?” Frankly, I don’t think that begins to tell the story of who we are. I think, “How high are your walls?” can tell you as much, if not more about the person.
”Hi Frank, pleased to meet you.”And this could be a stockbroker talking with a telephone sales guy for timeshares for all we know.
Where the three footers are like corrals, the five and a half footers are like condominiums. Prime real estate for those of us too unimportant for doors (Doors!). But still, even with four five and a half foot walls to my credit, I WANT OUT.
Give me neon and the clanging bells of the slots. Give me nineteen guys whooping and hollering over Golden State trying to cover seven in the final two minutes over Washington. Give me four days thick of cigarettes and beer, and give me thousands of dollars bleeding from the pockets of my cubicle-constrained brothers, trying in one singular weekend to hope for the hit, the win that puts them behind the bar they’ve always dreamed of owning, or behind the wheel of the Jaguar they feel they deserve. One hundred thousand strong, my cubicle dwelling kin descend on Las Vegas this weekend, and ultimately one hundred thousand of us dream of finding a way not to sink our heads back behind the peachy beige walls on the day we promised we’d return.
Here’s to dreams, and here’s to triumph. If it can’t be me, good luck to the ninety nine thousand nine hundred ninety nine who follow in my footsteps.
And I’ll see you on Friday.
There’s something fun about a great nickname. My nickname, “Boy Genius,” is really more of a pseudonym than an honest-to-god nickname. Save Al, Pauly, and Lord Geznikor, no one calls me “Boy Genius” or “BG” in person.
Well, that’s not entirely true. When my ex-wife used to throw stuff in my face in the middle of arguments, she used to say stuff like, “Well you’re the self proclaimed Boy Genius, you’re telling me you can’t figure this out?!?”
She was a royal bitch sometimes. But I digress…
I was reading about this “BTK Killer,” who the authorities thought they had caught, and was thinking that he had a really shitty nickname. When I hear “BTK,” I’m either thinking of Burger King, or that R&B group of youngsters called “B2K.” And I’m not even an R&B fan.
I think we’re all a little lucky that Ted Kaczynski didn’t have CNN in his one room cabin, because when I think “Unabomber,” I really can’t shake from my head that the same prefix for “unitard” is being used to describe some nefarious evil-doer. If I were Teddy, and I was given some bullshit nickname by the media, I can tell you Bernard Shaw and Wolf Blitzer absolutely would have made my “Christmas Gift List” that year.
Of course, if the media gives a serial killer a great nickname, like “The Night Stalker,” or “The Green River Killer,” that really makes these guys think they’re rock stars. Shit, who wouldn’t have wanted a sweet-ass nickname like “The Night Stalker” before Ramirez ruined it for the rest of us?
The solution seems to be choosing your own nickname. In a sheer act of hubris, David Berkowitz started sending those letters to the cops signed “Son of Sam.” Now that’s the way to do it. If the media is going to chew on your story for months on end, at least you can sleep easy at night knowing you’re not being glossed as “The Panty Strangler” or something.
Berkowitz dropped the gauntlet, laid out the template, and paved the trail. If you want to be a memorable serial killer, you need a good nickname, rambling manifestos for the media, and a predilection for killing reasonably attractive people. It just makes for better TV.
This was the problem with our last serial killer(s) of note, the “DC Area Sniper.” Yes, we know it was two guys now, but at the time we had figured it was only one. Anyway, while “Sniper” is really not a terrible ending to a potential nickname, “DC Area” is really vague and boring. I think these guys really understood that concept, and tried leaving messages for the cops, and if memory serves, were trying to pick their own nickname. Therein lies their problem. They were far too late for the party on that one. The media had christened them, and worse, they let the tubby sheriff guy get all the publicity. If I were that controlling black dude sitting behind bars, steaming that I was outsmarted by some truck driver at a rest stop, I’d be pretty pissed off that the USA Network movie of my killing spree focused more on that dude from “Roc” than it did on me.
Let that be a lesson to all you prospective serial killers out there. The setup is just as important as the execution, if you excuse the pun.
So, back to my alias. I’m not really a big fan of being called “Boy Genius.” “BG” is okay I guess, but it’s still a little odd to hear it coming out of someone’s mouth. Some shitty rapper is using “BG” though, and it’s a little irritating that I’ve actually been asked if I’m a big fan because of my nickname (someone at PokerStars asked me if by some chance I was that shitty rapper). Then again, I did take the “Genius” part from the Wu-Tang Clan, so I can’t complain too much about shitty rappers.
I think I’d enjoy a good poker nickname, although a great nickname isn’t something you ask for, it grows organically (so don’t give me one for fun). If I were from a cool sounding city, I could be “The Kalamazoo Kid” or “The Great Neck Gambler.” If I were from a major city, I could be “Newark Jack” or “Pasadena Phil” or something. But I’m from Grand Haven, and it’s just too cumbersome and not cool sounding enough to be a part of a solid nickname.
In a chat on a PartyPoker table a long time ago, I was egging a maniac on, and called myself “The Ron Popeil of Poker.” Actually, I believe it was “The Motherfucking Ron Popeil of Poker, Bitch.” That name insinuates I’m inventing some marvelous shit to lay down on your ass, which sounds pretty cool if you ask me. I can live with that one, but I’m definitely a ways from earning it.
So, for now, I’m sticking with “BG.” I promise too that I won’t flip out when someone calls me that for the umpteenth time this weekend. Seriously. I prefer the real name, but in a group of 30 bloggers? I think I’m going to have a hard enough time remembering who’s who without throwing real names on top of online pseudonyms. So we’ll let it all slide this weekend, right?
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
The Sonny Cheeba he be sippin’ Amaret-tah…
Jesus… Three days left. Exactly three days from right now, this very moment I’m typing, I should be looking down over Nebraska or Missouri or someplace dark and flat halfway on the way to the biggest poker summit blogging has ever seen.
Can we just bump this whole trip up a few days? C’mon, who’s with me?
I want to be in the race book handicapping the first couple at Aqueduct. I want to be looking up and down the lines for the week’s NFL games, trying to decide if I should lay the seven with the Lions versus Green Bay or not. I want to hijack a blackjack table with a few other bloggers and make a dent in the casino’s line for the night. I want to win a big goddamn pot with a hidden set off of a guy in a big cowboy hat.
I also want to eat a veal chop as big as my head and drink Coronas all weekend long.
And I want this all to start right fucking now.
I’ve got Camp Lo’s “Luchini” bouncing around in my head this morning, which explains the title of this post. It’s funny, with as much hip-hop as I listen to and as much as the subject matter can revolve around money and such, this is about the only rap song I can think of off the top of my head that reminds me a little bit of Vegas. ”This is it, what / Luchini pouring from the sky / Let’s get rich, what.” It doesn’t really give you the full effect unless you hear the horns in the background I guess.
I’m in a bit of a unique situation when it comes to meeting up with most of you this weekend. I’ve talked about this before, particularly in the wake of a conversation with Carter in Philly at Al’s Bash at the Boathouse. Basically, it’s interesting to meet people who read me, because more than maybe some other bloggers, you feel like you know me already. This, of course, led Carter to give me a “pep talk,” as I know I tend to get a bit wistful and/or maudlin in this space from time to time.
I’m really not some sort of depressing sad sack, trust me. As a matter of fact, I really don’t like talking about the ex-wife that much, despite what I’ve written in the past. I’m a hermit, yes. I’m the quiet kid in the corner to be sure. And it’s funny that I’m meeting a bunch of people for the first time who already know a lot of my good stories. But seriously, I don’t need the “pep talk.” I mean that.
Is it 10AM yet? I guarantee you these are going to be the three slowest days of my life.
Al’s going nuts, I’m going nuts, and the only prescription is more cowbell.
I mean Vegas.
I read in the paper last week that Shelley Long’s agent was advising the media that his client did not, in fact, try to kill herself. In other attempts to put his clients’ names back in the newspapers, the agent mentioned that Marla Gibbs did not buy discount bakery products past their shelf date as previously reported, and rumors and innuendo surrounding Philip Michael Thomas’ changing of long distance carriers was “overblown” and “factually erroneous.”
I’m glad we could clear that up.
I watched a lot of TV this weekend. OK, so not much more than usual. I saw an episode (OK, three) of the MTV show “Date my Mom,” and was somewhat amused. It wasn’t the high concept “taking the mom on a date” thing that got me, it was the contrived dialogue at the end when the guy was telling the moms why he was bouncing their daughters:
”Mary, I enjoyed our time together, and I hope that you had a good time at our lunch and walking along the beach. While I like the idea that your daughter is a poet, when you told me she liked cigarettes, my desire to date your daughter went up in smoke.”Nice.
I’m wondering if I could use that for a couple of my exes…
“Mrs. B. I fell for your daughter because of the smooth way she could clear a two foot bong without coughing. Your daughter looked great naked, and was often a lot of fun to be around. But after four months when she still wouldn’t go down on me, I’d have to say that relationship really blew.”
“Mrs. O, I don’t know if you remember running into me in the restaurant, but I was the guy your daughter didn’t want to introduce you to. Anyway, she lied a little bit to spend her first night with me, and trust me Mrs. O, there were plenty more where that came from. But after two months she was talking about the future, and the bonds I was feeling weren’t matrimonial.”
“Mrs. P, I married your daughter that day for better or for worse, and while we had a bit of each, I was always generally more better than worse. But when she fell in love with that guy on the Internet, I wanted to strangle the bitch with a USB cable.”
OK, so maybe the last one didn’t come out as cutesy. But you get the picture.
I actually didn’t break up with Mrs. B’s daughter Julie because she wouldn’t go down on me, although to my recollection I don’t believe she ever did. I had to break up with her because she was one of those girls that was doing everything she could to sabotage the relationship so she didn’t have to be the one to do the breaking up. Total bitch. I never should have dated her in the first place, but she was so attractive as to be almost totally out of my league, and I’m a sucker for a pretty girl if she’s getting flirty.
Basically, she was about a half year ahead of me in school (college), and was moving back to the Detroit area for a job as soon as she graduated. I understood this, and also understood that we were pretty much done when she left. I really was okay with that, so long as we could remain friends so I knew someone when it was my turn to migrate east.
Of course, with this warped and twisted girl, she seemed to think she had to sink the relationship before she left, that way I didn’t feel like clinging to the wreckage, holding her back with a long distance relationship effort. So in the weeks leading up to the “official” breakup, I saw less and less of her, we talked more infrequently, and other things popped up on her agenda where I used to be penciled in.
So I tried to have “the talk,” where I was planning to sit her down and tell her that I knew she was leaving, I was okay with that, and that I wasn’t going to harbor any illusions that she and I were going to be together when she left. That was my plan, at least. Of course, she blew me off for a couple of days, and then when we finally sat down, she pre-empted what I was about to say.
“I fucked Rob from work last night.”
It wasn’t so much that she “cheated” on me, because we hadn’t so much as spent an hour together in nearly two weeks. To me, that’s “effectively broken up.” I didn’t even care that she slept with Rob from work. Girl had a history a mile long anyway, it was bound to happen and I saw it coming.
It was the way she said it. Sneering at me as if to challenge whatever it was I was feeling at the time. Not a hint of reticence in her voice, it was a flat out slap across the face, as if saying to me, “what the fuck are you going to do about it?”
For a girl who used to strip and had admittedly taken money for sexual favors at a bachelor party, was she really thinking I wasn’t expecting this after two weeks apart?
I wasn’t about to have the “let’s be friends and break up nicely” conversation with her at this point. Without saying anything, I cracked a wry smile, grabbed my keys and walked right the hell out. The next move was mine. I just had to figure out what that next move was going to be.
I think the smile I threw off really confused her. I’m a fairly intelligent guy, but quiet. People who know me well know that the wheels don’t stop turning in my head. Julie was expecting a knock-down/drag-out brawl, and I wasn’t going to give her that satisfaction. I really had to think of something that would be simple, effective, and leave her no doubt that her little games were something I was fully prepared to deal with.
Of course, when it comes to men and interpersonal relationships, there really is only one template that can provide guidance for any and all situations: Godfather and Godfather II.
I was certainly stung a bit by Julie’s revelation, but more disappointed than anything that she felt she had to use it as a weapon to try to pick a fight. I wasn’t going to get angry. Michael Corleone didn’t get angry when he confronted Fredo about his deception. I figured the Fredo situation was a good one to use, as Julie was friends with my roommate Mike, and had a good reason to continue to show up when I was around.
So I bought a condolence card from a grocery store, and wrote a succinct note that probably read something like this:
When you blow me off for two weeks, I consider us effectively broken up. Fucking Rob is the least of my problems with you. With your history, I fully expected you’d do something like this to try and create some sort of conflict to get me to break up with you before you left. This is textbook Julie. I saw this coming a mile away.And then I left the note under her windshield wiper.
I was incredibly satisfied with myself. I thought it was the perfect way to slam the door on the girl, and untangled me from any future arguments she was looking to have. Plus, I basically called her a “slut that I couldn’t trust,” which I’m sure went over well.
I didn’t hear from her for awhile. Years, actually. But oddly, she took my breakup card in an unexpected way. After she had moved away, there were a couple of Friday nights where I knew (through common friends) that she was going to be in town. I remember being awake at 2AM, and hearing a car revving its engine outside. I peeled back the blinds and saw Julie in her car out front, probably wondering if she should come up to the house and give me a drunken piece of her mind. Or maybe a piece of something else. That happened twice, and I was always just a little amused that the “Fredo Speech” had that sort of effect on her.
Never underestimate the power of The Godfather.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
I told you...
I know nothing about betting on football. All three parlays below? Effectively dead going into the fourth quarters of the games.
What I do know though is food. Wanna know what I'm having for dinner?
I roasted two heads of garlic and carmelized an onion. I then seared a couple nice pieces of round steak, chopped up a couple potatoes, and put all this stuff and some baby carrots in a cast iron dutch oven, and am cooking it for 45 minutes. I'm hungry just thinking about it.
NFL Week 13 Best Bets
aka "Pick the exact opposite, I have no idea what I'm doing."
Three $5 bets, all parlays:
Cincy over Baltimore
KC -1 vs. Oakland
NYG over Washington
Carolina over NO
SD -3 vs. Denver
Arizona +6 vs. Detroit
ATL +1.5 vs. Tampa Bay
Carolina over NO
Rams over Niners
Ari/Det under 37
ATL +1.5 vs. Tampa Bay
Philly over Green Bay
Pats over Browns
Colts over Titans
Colts/Titans under 55
Minnesota over Chicago
(Here's your best bets then - pick the Saints to win over Carolina, and Tampa to beat Atlanta)
Either Really Sad, or Really Excited...
I did a dry run packing for Vegas this morning. Granted, I was up early, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get all my clothes in one bag, but here we are.
While the rest of you stress out over SNGs online, I can now rest easy that I've got enough room in my bag for a pair of shoes, four pair of socks and underwear, five t-shirts, two shirts, one jersey, two hats, and two pair of pants - not to mention a couple of books and all my toiletries.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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