|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Not a, not a, not a... Not a damn thing
I Tivo'd last night's Conan for Nigella Lawson's appearance. What a crush I have on that woman (see above: large chested women). Anyway, that's not why I bring it up. I really only wanted to see her segment, so I fast forwarded through the first guest, Robin Williams, and I noticed something.
Watching Robin Williams on 3X fast forward is precisely the same as watching Robin Williams in real time.
I've tried to slow him down with horse tranquilizers before, but he won't sit still enough to get a clean shot.
I'm really intrigued by this whole idea of podcasting. That being said, while I most certainly have the face for radio, I don't have the voice for it at all. I do think it'd be interesting as hell - potentially - to podcast blog content from time to time. Sometimes I think that while what I'm re-reading my words in black and white they probably would come off better in my own voice. I'd think it'd also be pretty damn cool to create a radio show featuring some of my favorite music, but apparently those damned copyright laws tend to get in the way.
My line of the day, so far...
(talking about how those "World's Finest" charity chocolate bars have shrunken in recent years)One of my co-workers, who knows people who know me, brought into conversation with the rest of the office that I am identified between my brothers as "the smart one." Bob is the "good looking one," and I think Mike seems to prefer being known as "the actor." Of course, this revelation has caused no shortage of fun for the people around whom I work, where they are taking pleasure and delight in calling me the "good looking one" at every turn. I'M THE SMART ONE DAMMIT! At bare minimum, I'm absolutely positively not the good looking one. No troll under the bridge or anything, but I'm pretty sure I'm the smart one.
I feel like filing a complaint with the lunch ladies, who apparently are avoiding using Truth-In-Advertising when it came to lunch today. "Sandwich: Roast Beef on French Bread" was instead "Roast Beef and Provolone dripping with Seasoned Mayonnaise on Pumpernickel." No thanks. "Eggplant Parmagiana With Pasta and Italian Sausage" was somehow missing "and chock full of Mushrooms" from the tail end of the description.
I had a salad. If it doesn't have cheese melted over the top, then it's not fucking worth eating.
Overheard today on the other side of the cube wall: "Those guys in (insert department name) are literally shafting him hard!" Jesus, I hope not.
Shifting gears, Salon.com rock critic Neal Pollack had a Grammy telecast review where he proclaimed, "There's lot of lifetime achievement tonight, probably too much, as Led Zeppelin gets a lifetime achievement award. In a case of reverse irony, Green Day wins best rock album immediately after. They're a band far better than Zeppelin, though the sex to their music goes at a much less seductive pace. Those Green Day guys worked damn hard; they deserve it."
What? Green Day a better band than Led Zeppelin? In some follow up letters-to-the-editor, Pollack was eviscerated for his views. He responded in today's edition as to where his opinion was drawn:
For the record, I listened to "Whole Lotta Love" on some headphones when I was 11, and I still consider it one of my transformative musical experiences. Zeppelin albums, every single one of them, made up a great part of my collection, along with Pink Floyd, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and other bands that were part of my forced education at the dawn of classic-rock radio. I lived in almost total ignorance of any other musical reality. Then when I turned 19 I went to see the Pogues live in Chicago during their last tour with Shane McGowan. That was the moment that would determine what kind of musical attitude I'd adopt in adulthood, and my John Lennon and Mick Jagger posters came off the dorm-room wall. That was when I stopped believing in rock gods.This is why I think "rock critics" are just fucking full of shit.
I mean, I have some problems with Zeppelin to be sure. Their "popular" stuff is overplayed, a dud like "D'yer M'ker" gets trotted out far too often on classic rock radio, and it's flat-out silly to have your epic song talk about Tolkien crap. That being said, most of the true depth and breadth of their catalog has been largely ignored in public since they broke up, so I'm not sure an assessment like this is fair. I think more often than not, "critics" want to be the first and/or only one to see the "greatness" in a band, sometimes resulting in "best of/year-end" lists that bear little to no resemblance to what you can find at Best Buy or Circuit City in the racks.
These "critics" really like to pat themselves on the back for having tastes that are far more refined than what the commercial world could possibly have wrought, and only delight in the financial successes of artists if it can result in an "I told you so" column at the tail end.
Enter Green Day. A perfectly adequate hardworking band that truly and honestly doesn't do anything truly exceptionally, whether we're talking lyrically or musically. They're talented enough guys, they eschewed the pitfalls of image (coughGoodCharlottecough), and really just get up there and play. I give them all the credit in the world for doing what they do mostly pretty well and maybe even awfully damn good at times.
But my god, show me range in your music (I'd throw "Achilles Last Stand" through "The Rain Song" through "Hey Hey, What Can I Do" up against "Time of Your Life" and whatever else you want to trot out any day), show me musical chops (Jimmy Page is one of the most interesting guitar "gods" due to his sloppy style, and isn't Robert Plant at least in the discussion for being a prototypical frontman?), and show me you changed the world (Zepp was the first band ever to get paid for live shows on the level they did). Can we tag Green Day with anything besides the musical background to every high school graduation from 1994-1999? Really?
"I saw the Pogues, and now I know what cool is." Fuck you dude... You were nineteen and didn't know fuck about nothing at that point. When I was nineteen I thought Emerson, Lake and Palmer were cool. I couldn't get enough of the semi-aimless noodling of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. More than anything, I actually kinda sub-consciously chose music at that age as "my favorite" because it was "weirder" than anyone else's stuff. But, unlike Pollack and all these other poseurs that want so desperately for you to think they have some sort of refined ear for rock, I came back to the Who, the Beatles, and really never let Hendrix, Zepp, or the Stones go.
Having this dickweed would want to trot Green Day out in the same conversation only shows his stripes as another in a long line of pretentious rock journalists.
Burning questions stolen from ESPN's Sports Guy's quest for an intern:
What is the best Saturday Night Live sketch of all time?
Tough, tough question. I've got an absolute ton of favorites. For the sake of brevity, here's the list of the sketches I feel are in the Pantheon, followed then by an explanation of the genius of what I consider to be my favorite:
More CowbellThe greatest and funniest sketch of all time, however, was presented in the very first season. "The Job Interview" between Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase was not only hysterically hilarious, but was straddling the lines of appropriateness for what was acceptable on network TV to that point in history. While the show to this point had found it could toy with convention in the realm of politics and absurdist humor, race was (and to some extent, is) a taboo no one expected them to touch. Thankfully, SNL in those days didn't pull any punches. Maybe our country is too inured to mammal scrotum eating pretty people during prime time for words to run the edges of daring anymore. Too bad.
What is the funniest movie moment of all time?
I like subtle humor. Some of my favorite funny lines in movie history aren't laugh-out-loud funny, just the right words at the right time:
"It's not a big college town." (Ian, to Spinal Tap, when their Boston gig gets cancelled)You get the idea.
It's horribly hard to pick a single movie moment that fits the bill here. I mean, I don't think there's ever been a funnier movie than This is: Spinal Tap, but all the great moments are way too subtle ("On what day did the lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day too."). I think the last time I laughed really hard in a movie theatre was watching A Mighty Wind. The first time they put the name of the character with the last name of "Boehner" up on the screen, I damn near lost it. But that's just my inner nine year-old coming out for a visit. My favorite funny line recently was during a preview for the James Braddock movie Cinderella Man, where I leaned over to Bob and muttered, "You don't throw a whole life away just cause it's banged up a little." That doesn't count though.
No, I have to do better than that.
Pauly suggested Annie Hall, There's Something About Mary, American Pie, and Caddyshack as jumping off points. I'm stuck though. Anyone want to contribute?
For now, I'll go with a non-traditional choice that always just makes me gleefully giddy: the part where the toys cross the road under the traffic cones in Toy Story 2. Of course, that's subject to anyone's better idea...
What's my favorite reality TV moment?
I am not a reality TV kinda guy. But I love a large chested girl with problems. Hence, Amaya on the Hawaii Real World had me completely enraptured for an entire season.
Amaya was exactly the type of girl I'd have a love-hate relationship with if I knew her personally. Why? Well, because she's the type of girl who's absolutely in my league, but is irretrievably convinced she's playing at higher limits. So I'd get glazed over by her double Ds, drool over her for a month or so thinking I had a chance, then get ridiculously annoyed when all she'd do is talk about how her latest solution to all her problems (i.e. the good looking guy d'jour who's not giving her the time of day) isn't coming around the way she wants him to.
And, just like in every single other instance of this in my life to this point, I'd never get to see those udders swinging free.
By the way, how did the MTV people not figure some way to work in a shot of Amaya running down the beach in slow-motion? You can't tell me all their editors are women.
Regardless, I loved Amaya. She thought she could get the "hot guy," threw herself at him so often he finally just gave in and slept with her, and then got dropped unceremoniously when he figured out he could do better. Totally got what she deserved. And I was amused as hell at every step along the way.
Twisting the knife...
I only repost this pic here to taunt Gene. She's even better looking in person, I promise.
(By the way Otis, if I need to pull the pic down for whatever reason, let me know.)
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
I know it's a freeroll and all, but...
I know I shouldn't get mad. Really. It's a freeroll.
But I'm in the BB in the second level - 10/20. Six of nine before me try to limp. I've got Kings.
I'll push. Someone will call, it's a freeroll, right?
Blessing and a curse. I get TWO callers. 49o and 55. Flop? 459. First to worst in three cards. I go home 30 minutes in.
Yes, I'd jump off the Brooklyn Bridge too Dad...
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
I had the lunch special at the Chinese takeout joint with the surreal Chinese hotties running the counter today. They're the ones you'd call "Americanized," as much for that neva-gonna-get-it look they're rocking as for their lack of thick Mandarin accent.
I had the combo plate. Orange chicken, teriyaki chicken, fried rice, and lo mein. Add in an egg roll, toss sixty six cents worth of tip in the egg drop soup takeout tip cup at the register and see the gone little girl with the cornrows and the first generation parents unlikely to pry that Eminem CD out of their daughter's fingers manufacture a sixty six cent smile to send me on my way.
I had to bring lunch back today, as I do most every day, and I had to eat it at my desk while reading ESPN Page 2 and desperately looking for national validation on the Lions free agent signings.
And I had to laugh at the subtle irony freed for my pleasure from the inside of an almond cookie. Wisdom and truth chases fried foods down the hatch: Good health is a man's best wealth.
So I've got this bruise on the back of my hand that I can't seem to explain. It just seems to be another one of those signs that I'm edging closer and closer to decrepitude in my young middle-age.
Shit, at the rate I'm going, I am middle-aged.
I don't think I'm quite like the Charlie Kaufman character in Adaptation - yet. But I am tending to believe the worst when any and all of these spooky pseudo-health issues rears its ugly head. For example, I have this tooth thing going on right now. It doesn't hurt exactly, but feels funny when I chew something in the right front side of my mouth. I can't replicate the feeling by chewing on my finger or gritting my teeth, so I'm curious really what it is.
Except that I'm pretty sure it's an abscess, and I'm going to lose the tooth. I'll end up with a big gap in the right side of my mouth, and be forced to spend my money on Polident and Super PoliGrip. That cup of "water" by the bed? Don't drink that, I promise you don't want a gulp.
See? This is how you play Fatal Hypochondria.
I'm convinced that bruise, which has gotten worse over the last couple of days, is probably either gangrene, leprosy, or scurvy. Either way, I'm not getting enough vitamin C. Regardless, it's as if my hand is turning into an overripe peach just hours away from the shift from edible to rotten. Soon, the bruise is going to overtake my whole hand, making my palm, wrist, and fingers tender to the touch. Then it'll just turn black and fall off.
I'm not growing old gracefully.
I was at the grocery store on Sunday, and had an interesting encounter with one of our nation's cat food eating elderly. He was impossible to miss, as I patiently waited behind him as he shuffled his way up over the curb and into the eye of the automatic doorway. He didn't look like my grandfathers did. My grandfathers were veterans, the type of guys that to a boy my age looked as if they could crush your windpipe in their bare hands, and would if provoked. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't lay money my dad's dad hadn't.
This guy was gaunt and disheveled, wearing discount green corduroy pants, a light blue Member's Only jacket, and those cream colored khaki Velcro slip-ons the Sunday circular trumpets in all their glory. He didn't grab a basket, didn't grab a cart, but instead gravitated directly to one of the nearly-senior citizens manning the hot plate full of marinated vegetables each speared with a toothpick.
He had a red pepper.
I saw him another aisle down, still no basket, still no cart, collecting another toothpick bearing Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage.
I don't think he noticed I was watching him. Not yet, at least.
I caught up to him again in the back of the store, ambling over with hands in coat pockets towards the bulk bins. He twisted, painfully, over each shoulder twice, three times, and teetered a crooked path to the Voortman cookie display.
Pink wafers #4037, $4.99 a pound.
He pulled his hand from his coat pocket and reached out, steadying himself on the side of the display to begin the mechanical process of winching his addled frame low enough to pluck a pink wafer from his bin of choice.
My grandfathers ate G-rations and came home to sturdy wives with families hardened from sugar rations. My grandfathers survived the coal mines, high voltage electrical work, Krauts, Buffalo-like frequent snowfalls in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and only the glory of raising big families in disadvantaged conditions as men.
Not a thing was fucking free for my grandfathers.
Member's Only had his hand fixed to the display, thumb twisted perpendicular to the pole around which it was wrapped. He slid - carefully - each foot out an inch or two then three, and bent at the waist - slightly.
And I was aimlessly staring through the vacant tops of the Jelly Belly chutes, fixated on this old man's quest for a free cookie. Staring, not ten feet away.
Somehow, he knew. He pricked his ears and wheeled his head around - easily the most catlike move I had seen him make in the ten minutes or so I had trailed him unintentionally around the store. He looked at me, then through me, but definitely still at me. I had closed my eyes slowly and cast my gaze back towards the bottom of the Technicolor jelly bean bins as he slowly cranked his neck around the other direction to see if anyone else might be spying.
I took that chance to move directly behind him. Dog biscuits, plausible due to the 20 lb bag of Iams in my cart. But I was still observing. I wanted to see him take the goddamn cookie.
He wasn't ready. Now I knew he was a veteran pilferer, as his radar was attuned so sharply that he simply couldn't be caught by human eyes. I couldn't tell, as he turned to look right at me, whether or not his eyes were fearful, desperate, or annoyed. He wanted the cookie, something in him felt he needed the cookie. But he didn't want a complete stranger with a chagrined smirk of gleeful intrigue pegging him a petty thief. You and I both know what I'm doing, why don't you just leave me alone to do it already.
There was one thing I recognized in his eyes though. This was a man who was profoundly alone. His gait wasn't that of a sick or injured or recuperating man, it was that of a person nearly doomed to wander his earth, his turf, with no purposeful meaning. I thought at first he was the antithesis to my grandfathers, both men's men, both scrapping and clawing to provide for their families, thievery and shiftlessness far from their ideal of America.
That wasn't it at all. A tuft of grey hair and huddled shoulders under a decades old styled jacket is enough in this world to turn a man invisible, and by doing so, enable his disconnect so thoroughly that his every and any action is only of matter in his own mind and shaken off with just a shrug of his shoulders. Loneliness breeds a solitary set of ethics, one that owes nothing to no one, not even oneself. My grandfathers weren't like this man, not because they were necessarily better men, but because by surrounding themselves with family they were no longer alone. They were purposeful men, men of consequence - and by consequence, I mean to say that the simple act of pilfering a pink wafer cookie had consequences far beyond a shakedown in the break room and a scolding by the local law enforcement. Their actions mattered. They were examples, pinnacles, for a select few. By design, they were most certainly not alone.
I moved along, slowly, behind a tall stack of paper towel rolls, and emerged on the other side in time to see an invisible man in dime store corduroys and Sunday circular loafers, hands in pockets, shuffling his way under fluorescent lighting back to wherever it is invisible men live to amble quietly through another day that won't matter to anyone else in the wide scope of things - ever.
I'm pretty sure he was chewing.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Is it time for Vegas yet? Actually, if you want to be really depressed by the whole circumstance, itís exactly 2,112 hours until Iíll be on a plane on my way out of Detroit Metro heading West to the happiest place on earth.
Of course, Iíve never been to a Bangkok brothel, Amsterdam, or the Neverland Ranch. Still, Vegas isÖ well, itís fucking Vegas alright? Whatís better than Vegas?
2,112 hours thoughÖ Seems like an eternity. Every day that passes is only chopping 1.1% off the total. At least I have something to look forward to though.
2,120 hours from now Iíll be in a taxi on the way to the Las Vegas Club Casino and Hotel, where some blackjack devastation will undoubtedly be on the agenda.
2,124 hours from now Iíll be on my third drink. Al will be on his umpteenth.
2,126 hours from now Iíll be up $40 playing blackjack. Bob, on the other hand, will either be up or down $400. Either way, Alís got him drunk and heís talking trash to an Asian blackjack dealer:
Bob: Are you Chinese or Japanese?
2,128 hours from now, Pauly and Derek will have talked me into a two drink minimum (featuring $14 bottled beer) at the neighboring Glitter Gulch strip joint.
2,128.75 hours from now Pauly, Derek, and I will emerge from Glitter Gulch feeling as used as the AARP cards half those strippers are packing.
2,132 hours from now my body will be crying for a nap, but Iíll probably be eating a $.99 shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate and sucking down my eighth cup of coffee instead.
2,137 hours from now I finally kick my caffeine buzz and get my two hours of sleep.
2,140 hours from now Iíll have bounced out of the blogger event in 43rd place, and will take that aimless ďwhat the hell do I do now?Ē walk around the shops at the Aladdin, waiting for Hank, Al, Bob, or someone else to bust out and play craps with me.
2,140.75 hours from now Bob and I will be down $150 at the Aladdin craps tables.
2,144 hours from now Iíll be in a panic thinking I havenít put a bet down on the Belmont Stakes, but will soon realize that the Belmont wonít happen for another week (2,311 hours from now).
2,145 hours from now the WPBT has a new champion as Felicia gets dethroned. Who will it be? My money is on Chris, assuming he gets out for the tourney.
2,147 hours from now Iíll be in hour five of $2/$4 Limit Hold Em against a group of drunken tourists at the Aladdin. G-Rob has just told the table heís never played this ďHold Them PokerĒ game before, but watches it all the time on TV. Heís tried to go all-in pre-flop three times already.
2,147.5 hours from now G-Rob has just told the table heís a shepherd from Northern Idaho. He says he tends domesticated emus.
2,147.51 hours from now G-Rob is forced to improvise ďtalking shopĒ when an actual emu farmer from Nebraska gets excited to meet the first emu shepherd heís ever randomly run into in public.
2,151 hours from now I finally go to the all-you-can-eat sushi joint with Felicia and Al.
2,152.5 hours from now a little Japanese man comes out of the kitchen waving a broom at me shouting, ďYou have plenty! You go now! No more oonagi! I have no more! You break me!Ē
And thatís really only the first full day (and a half or so).
Sunday, March 06, 2005
A Question From Last Night's Home Game
THG and I were both involved with very similar hands last night, each from a completely opposite angle, and each ending up on the ass end.
Blinds are $.10/$.20 in a $20 buy in NL Cash game...
In my hand, I get dealt AJs. I raise to $.70, opponent raises to $2. I call.
Flop is 886 with two spades - my suit. I check, my opponent bets $3. I call.
Turn is a Ten. Not just a Ten, but a spade. Bingo, I'm thinking. I check, he bets $3, I raise it to $6, and he calls.
River is a low blank, I lead out for $15, he raises all-in (another $7 or so on top), and I call.
He's got TT, and turned himself the full house.
Now, I'm not so sure there's any real good way I get away from that hand. That turn card was the magic card for both of us. Yes, TT had to be in the range of hands I had to give him credit for, but that pre-flop re-raise and the flop bet led me to believe it could have been any overpair to the board. Queens, Kings, whatever. I firmly believe that this opponent would have played QQ or KK through the turn the exact same way he played that full house. He had no reason to believe I had an 8 for the set, and wasn't playing his hand fast enough to force me to make the "are you in, or are you out" decision due to his actions.
I'm thinking that had I been put to the test on the flop, I would have had to get away from my draw.
Therein lies the question THG asked me last night on the way out the door: "Was there any sized bet he could have made that would have driven you out of that hand?"
The reason he asked, is he ended up in the mix with two other players in one of the biggest multi-way pots of the night. To make a long story short, THG flopped a set of sixes, but his opponent turned himself a flush and THG rode it all the way through the river.
Although there are some similarities here, there is one big difference between our two hands. While THG made his hand on the flop and never improved, neither I nor my opponent made anything substantial on the flop. As a matter of fact, those two eights out there were enough to slow us down, albeit temporarily and only slightly, on the flop.
I know the opponents against whom THG was playing very, very well. Flush draw could easily have been driven out of the pot with a substantial bet on that flop. That being said, once he hit it on the turn - game over. Plus, when the turn hit and two others were still pressing the pace on that hand, THG had to know he was likely beaten.
On mine though, I have to wonder if I did something really wrong with the loss I took. Yes, the board was paired, and that is a genuine sign of danger to a flush. What if, however, I had played that hand "faster" on the flop? Led out or check-raised like I had an overpair even to his Tens? Would there have been a decent chance I'd sweep it right there? Was it wrong to check-call to fish for that third spade? Was I blinded too much by the flush to recognize the check-call as a more appropriate play on the river than a nearly pot-sized bet? Should I have let him show his aggression? What would have happened had he pushed all-in on the river had I checked him? Would any of you have laid that flush down?
Is there any way at all I can get away from that hand?
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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