|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Picks for Today's Card at Tampa
Can be found here. I buried them in my archives to keep the clutter down. Should have thought of that when I went rambling without segways, content or quality on Wednesday. Anyway, please leave comments here if you've got feedback, and note I'll be updating the picks as I continue to finish my handicapping. Good luck if you're chasing my picks.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Alternatives to Swallowing Chalk...
Subtitle: At Least When I'm Wandering Today, I Have A Point
If anyone wants to play horses with April and me tomorrow, hands in the air. Assuming she can drag her hungover ass out of bed before 11AM her time tomorrow, we're going to be playing the card at Tampa Bay Downs via our YouBet accounts.
Why Tampa? Why not Aqueduct or Santa Anita? Well, for one I don't like gambling against people who are smarter than me. I'm going to get that everywhere I bet, don't get me wrong, but the percentage of skilled professional horseplayer dollars at Tampa has to be smaller than at a big, brand-name track*. Secondly, Tampa offers a nice variety in the lower-middle class of racing, where I believe more value can be found. Consider a Grade II stakes race at Santa Anita. Most of those horses have a well-established form, obvious pedigree, and their past performances indicate at a glance how well prepared they are for their competition. Compare this to a lower-level allowance race at Tampa. It attracts a field of ten, with some horses just having broke their maiden, some coming out of claiming class, and some who have raced at different allowance levels with different starter restrictions (i.e. "Non-winners of two, except for claiming or maiden..."). In other words, you can't really go apples-to-apples with most of these horses, which means the casual gambler isn't usually able to make a good decision. Tampa's card on Saturday has four allowance races, three low/mid-level claimers, three maidens and one stakes, with three turf and eight dirt races overall. A nice mix on the menu.
*Of course, I have no evidence to prove that point
The best reason to play Tampa, however, is field size and competition. Throwing the "alternate entries" in the three turf races out the window (horses who are entered just in case the race is moved to the dirt due to weather reasons), Tampa's card on Saturday features an average of 10.2 starters per race. Contrast that with Bay Meadows' awful average of 7.7 starters (many of whom inexplicably scratch, as has been my experience), and you've got quite a few horses to consider. Now, assuming you're trusting the trainers and owners of at least 2/3 of the horses to enter them in a spot they feel they can win, you've got seven horses at Tampa per race worth looking at, versus five at Bay Meadows. With five horses to consider, the odds you're given on the contenders will be depressed considerably (and on the longshots too, usually). With seven, there's more of a chance you'll get a good price - especially if "the chalk" is severely overbet**. When the favorite in the race edges toward even money, you should theoretically see no more than one other contender in the 7/2 neighborhood, with good prices coming on some of the others.
**2/1 or worse is really tough to swallow for me in a large field. If the horse is jumping off the page at you with every possible advantage over the field then maybe it's worth a play at almost any price, but it's difficult to make a bet at 6/5 when a 5/1 horse is sitting out there as a possible overlay. But we’re getting there…
The only value I can see to playing a short-field track's card would be that it's usually painfully obvious which horse deserves your money - but good luck getting a value play on that bet. A horse that should be 5/2 which offers 8/5 will probably win the race most of the time. But in the long run, playing underlays is just like calling that bet when you almost have the odds to do it. Sometimes it'll pay, but in the long run you'll get eaten by the odds and the rake. And with 20% takeout on every dollar you gamble at the track, you can't afford to play an overbet favorite, even if you really think he's going to win.
To be fair, if you take all those goofy exacta and trifecta wheels I've played in the last few years out of the picture, I can state with confidence that betting bigger on the chalk has been the biggest hole in my game.
That seems counter-intuitive, right? That when a horse looks like an obvious winner on paper you should bet the bank no matter what the price?
Well, no. Obviously, if these overbet favorites cumulatively win 40 races out of the 100 you bet, are you making money playing them at 6/5 or even money? At 6/5 you return $4.40 ($2.40 plus your $2 back) on your $2 bet. You've made the bet 100 times for a $200 outlay. You've cashed $4.40 forty times for a return of $176. To profitably play a horse at 6/5 you need to expect that horse will win the race 46% of the time. 8/5 odds mandates a 39% winning clip to profit. 2/1 means 34% to profit***.
***2/1 pays out $4 plus your $2 back. $200 on the outlay divided by $6 return equals 33.33 percent on the win in order to simply break even.
If you believe that a horse will win the race 50% of the time, then 6/5 on the oddsline represents a value play. And instinct says you should demand a good return on your investment, not a piddling $2.40 profit on a min bet. But when you're looking at claiming and allowance races, how many times do you really see a favorite that won't lose unless the jockey falls off?
It isn't as frequent as the tote board would have you believe. The preponderance of 2/1 and worse favorites in any single race is a sign of lazy money. It's a signal that players with a few bucks to drop don't want to bury their nose in the form for more than ninety seconds to divine their selection. It's groupthink, plain and simple, and playing the groupthink game leaves you less margin for error than you think.
I remember back in August, in the wee hours of Brad-o-Ween festivities, DoubleAs was holding court and brought up "The QJs Hand." Pulling chunks from the post:
$10/25 NLHE - 10 HandedPoker presents you with a set of incomplete information on which to make your decisions, and there is a textbook-defined way to address most situations that is generally accepted as "correct" strategy. What DoubleAs is doing in this (and presumably many other) situation is challenging the groupthink and redefining the situation in his own terms. In poker, the benefit is disguise and surprise, as well as the opportunity to play a thin edge into a situation that continues to become more favorable.
In horse racing, as in poker, you're presented with a set of incomplete information on which to make your decision, and there is usually an obvious choice established as the most-favored decision. So does "correct strategy" in horse racing equate directly with the poker groupthink of slamming the door on the flop draws in an effort to win the pot without further contest?
Both situations are similar. In DoubleAs example, the expectation is that your flop bet to cut drawing odds is intended to thin the field, hopefully eliminating all draws and will win a small pot some percentage of the time. However, some other percentage of the time your intended strategy will result in a loss.
In horse racing, groupthink gravitates the lazy and casual horseplayers to the horse in the pack that presumably has "the best chance" to win regardless of price. Since a winning ticket will never be unprofitable, a winner provides a small, but positive result to the bettor some percentage of the time. However, this wager will result in a total loss some other percentage of time. So would following the pack to the betting window and allowing the consensus to drive your decision be the right move?
In the book Six Secrets of Succcesful Bettors: Winning Insights into Playing the Horses, the contributors establish that one of the most important tools in your wagering arsenal is the ability to go against the flow. If the crowd is backing it, it's probably wrong. If your gut is telling you to chase it, don't. Whatever else you're thinking, just do the opposite. This is referred to as the "Contrarian Strategy." In other words: think, then think again.
Back to DoubleAs scenario, his decision to ignore the "correct" play and do the opposite turned a small pot into a monster. He managed to mentally justify his decision-making, never incorrect in his assumptions, but by looking at the problem from a different angle he was able to more than balance the risk he took with an ample reward.
I have a hard time believing any horse in a seemingly somewhat competitive race should be bet under 2/1, but all too often the groupthink overbets and takes value out of the equation for the "best chance" to win the race. And when you look at the differences in the break-even points for various oddslines, it becomes instantly apparent that following the money to the window rarely provides value. If a race has a relatively large field (=> seven starters) and over half the field has some chance of winning, playing the chalk becomes unpalatable:
Oddsline vs. Break-Even Win %Even the horses who appear perfectly placed and primed for a victory may not win a competitive race (were it run 100 times) 38% of the time. When you factor the track's takeout (vig) on each dollar wagered, you have to be 20% better than true "break-even" just to truly break even. So why are you playing a true 3/1 shot in a contested field at 2/1 or worse? Not only do you have to be 20% better than average to beat the vig, you've got to beat the true 3/1 shot's variance (should win 25% of the time) to the tune of being 33% luckier than usual (33%-25% / 25%) in your plays. Very few people are capable of sitting on the happy side of the variance wave over the long run.
The contrary solution isn't necessarily to gravitate towards high-risk/high-reward plays. It's about understanding why the money is going where it is, and what impact that has on that betting choice's value. Well, understanding it and then making a case for your disagreement. The public is rarely wrong about who the favorite should be, but that doesn't mean the price tag is going to be good enough to take the risk. As a matter of fact, finding value is about finding the appropriate price for your risk, much like a No Limit Hold 'Em player will choke the odds on your flush draw with a pot-sized bet on the flop. Is he aggressive and dumb enough to pay you off if you make a bad call here and hit your flush? Is it worth chasing for the implied odds alone?
If you can find a legitimate 3/1 shot that's going off at 5/1? Play it. Ignore the 3/1 horse that's been bet down to 2/1, you're going to get your ass kicked on that one over the long run. Bet the overlay and accept the risk. Why play the slim edges in the even money area in a competitive race? Is the horse really strong enough to win this race 50 times out of 100?
And as far as bet size is concerned? The instinct is to mortgage the farm when a strong favorite lines up in the gate, regardless of price. But if that favorite isn't worth the even money oddsline he's holding, why wager bigger even if the horse is more likely to win than others? I liken this mentality to the guys at the NL ring games who are willing to call an all-in on a four-flush flop draw. The odds aren't exactly right, and they're going to lose this more often then they'll win, but they still seem to like their chances. It's a losing play, so why burn big dollars chasing it?
This is what pulls me back to "The QJs Hand" post from time-to-time. Sitting with DoubleAs and others, it wasn't unlike one of those scenes where an ascetic monk asks the most simple of questions, expecting the most common of answers, only to pose a contrary query in retort that sets his pupils on the road to enlightenment. Except Scott's not Asian, nor is he bald. Regardless, the slow-played flopped straight with danger lurking at every turn (and river, excusing the puns) is illustrative of the fluid nature of decision-making in an environment cluttered with textbook thought, but fraught with the ministrations of luck and variance. I continue to be intrigued by the thought process behind the play, as each successive step in the reasoning continued down a contrary path, but all followed the same fundamental theory, which was "if you're going to lose, lose a small one - but if you can, try to win a big one."
I tend to bet the same amounts through my entire session, which is a discipline masochism as much as anything. Ideally, I'm identifying value and picking spots and ending up happy with the results - win or lose (well, happier one way than the other) - because I made good selections. Part of the discipline certainly involves not chasing the huge scores (with goofy trifectas and such), but the other part is not taking poor shots at doubling up on low odds horses just because they look to be "the best" in the race. How much the best? And does the overlay justify the wager? I'm trying to develop and nurture (through my reading and the lumps I've taken) that contrarian view, as I think that any game played against other players demands a mindset that can challenge conventional wisdom. Especially with money on the line.
And although the numbers don't always necessarily agree, I know I'm making progress. I'm making fewer bets, hitting a better percentage, and am starting to see things in the programs (first-time flashes of speed as a MCL spike indicator, for instance) and on the track (watching for the early fraction times to see if my predicted pace scenario is setting up) that I hadn't seen before. I've got a long way to go to really establish my own philosophies on this stuff, but if half of gambling is swagger, I'm one third of the way there (whatever that's supposed to mean).
Then again, if you just want to play horses by name on Saturday, here's some selections for you to consider:
Eights and Aces (Beulah 4th, featuring Kenneth "The Hammer" Deonauth on board [yes, that's only funny to me and Bob])I'll post some picks for Tampa early tomorrow, but don't fret. This blog isn't going that deep into horse shit.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Twenty-Two Hundred Little Pieces
Excellent material from the last 11 people who found this site using a search engine. There's "heartbroken boy picture," which I assume is to blow up to poster size and hang on the dorm room wall next to your "faceless biceps guy with baby" poster. There's the usual "sharapova* upskirt," which shouldn't be difficult considering those short tennis skirts are all over the place in the middle of a match. Also on the picture search theme is the wanderer looking for "big preggo picture," which I sincerely hope will find its way to a homemade gag baby shower card, and not be used for more insidious purposes.
*I'm coming around on Sharapova. I still maintain that for some window of time in either the late 90s or the early 00s, Anna Kournikova was probably the most incredibly beautiful and attractive woman on the planet, and I didn't care that she didn't win anything. Besides the sporting angle, comparisons to Kournikova don't really work for me. But with other "attractive" women such as Danica Patrick and Natalie Gulbis being trotted out as "the next Kournikova" (particularly the galling choice of Gulbis, who I don't really find that attractive at all - with Patrick it's that she looks soul-less and vacant behind those eyes), it makes me appreciate Sharapova more and more. Oh, and I'd still be interested to know what Serena Williams looks like naked. Wasn't she dating Levar Arrington for awhile? Can you imagine how freakishly athletic their kids would have been? Am I being racist for even thinking that? Can I get temporary redemption by acknowledging that the Pitt/Jolie spawn is likely to break all attractiveness scales known to man? Ignore me. End asterisk.
Anyway, I can offer some help to the others looking for assistance. First, to "Michigan lottery cashword tricks." It's a scratch off ticket, you either win or you don't. You can't trick the ticket into paying out. Actually, the hack on these things is to not waste your time "playing" the ticket, as that's ten minutes of your life you're not getting back. Try buying the ticket, and then handing it right back to the cashier who can scan it to see if it's a winner.
Next, "can you smoke weed while on antibiotics." I'd think you could, but I'd like to add that you shouldn't smoke weed while dehydrated in the muggy steambath of a South Carolina summer, unless you're intent on spending a shirtless hour or two using little Otis' teddy bear as your floor pillow.
And lastly, to the guy who searched "BG arrested in Detroit," I'd like to mention that there is very little that is going to get me into Detroit city limits, and the only case the cops are going to make on me is for speeding, as between the blight and the fright, you want the hell out of Detroit the minute you wander in.
Semi-related, I got two pieces of spam within an hour of each other, presumably from the same source. The subject line of the first? "71% of members get laid." From the second? "66% of members get laid." Either they caught the statistical inconsistency and have made the correction, or they're trying to make sure the dyslexics who read the first email as "17%" have something more appealing to consider. If these are, in fact, two different clubs I can join, I'm thinking belonging to both will increase my chances of getting laid exponentially. Then again, so will tactics like "making an effort to meet new people," "not dressing like a hobo" and "changing my bedding more often." Just a thought.
So I have the date for my surgery set for 2/6/06. I'll be getting the offending piece of colon removed, have my plumbing reconnected, and then I'll have to stay in the hospital for approximately five days, or until I can make doodie.
Yes, you heard me. In order to make sure everything's moving around alright down there, they have to see that I can make a stress-free #2 before I can be discharged. Faaaaaaan-tastic. I'm getting a small enough piece of the colon removed so that my bowel movements shouldn't fundamentally change, which is nice, but one of the surgical side effects is that I'm going to have to drop deuces more frequently (Than now? I go a lot already), as in getting up in the middle of the night and such.
I loathe getting up in the middle of the night. I already wake up a half-dozen times a night for no reason as it is, having to get up in the cold and trudge down the hall to squeeze one out is not high on my list of enjoyable activities.
"But at least you're getting all this taken care of early. You're getting it out of the way, and will be 100% by the time spring hits!"
Stupid bright side. Can't I just sit here and gripe in peace? The hospital sucks. How comfortable is it to be in bed all day in sub-tropical temperatures sweating through the sheets with a little tiny TV that doesn't get channel 3 (CBS), 4 (one of the ABCs) or 6 (TBS) effectively? Plus, there's the IV tube, which despite the six to nine tries by awful and sadistic nurses last time, will not be mounted in my right arm. This means I'll have a tube running across my body while I sleep, which means I have to have my left arm out of the covers and can't sleep like I usually do - that is, rolling around spending half the night on my side and half on my stomach.
Then there's the distinct lack of candy stripers at this hospital. What the fuck? Seventeen-year-old girls in uniform might just bring a tiny little bit of joy to my stay, but I guess this hospital isn't encouraging volunteerism, much to my detriment.
Okay, never should have brought up candy stripers. I know now where my mind will be wandering all day. Seriously, how hot is that job title? When you're working in a candy factory, maybe not so much, but when you're talking about a uniformed hottie walking room-to-room spreading joy, jello and magazines? Maybe I've watched too much porn, but there's a part of me that really wants to believe the pseudo-innocence of the title "candy striper" is oxymoronic to what I'd be looking for in my own personal squadron of candy striper assistants. I need to get rich so some of these dreams of mine can someday come true.
It's too early in the morning to get worked up about candy stripers. Instead, how about something more positive? I found a reason this week to love the IRS. Yes, you heard me. Apparently, there was a law/regulation/whatever passed last year that allows expenses incurred up through a certain date in March to be applied back to 2005's health care reimbursement account dollars. Since I'm going to be on the hook for approximately $1,500 (no more than that, but I'm guessing every last cent of it) for the two hospital stays and the surgery**, It'll be nice to apply last year's remaining balance of $277 to the fund. Between that and this year's $480, I'm only going to be dropping $750 in cash (which, up until last night's poker session and Spacewoman piece-buying, I had in my poker and horse accounts already), which is more palatable than $1020 if I couldn't use last year's cash.
**Okay, maybe it's just me, but when I hear the word "deductible" I think the definition of the word is something to the effect of "the out of pocket money you'll spend before we start picking everything else up." Of course, my deductible means "the five hundred dollars you're on the hook for before we start paying 80% of non-standard medical bills you incur up to your own out of pocket max of $1000 more. Pay that, then we'll start covering you like you originally thought." They need to come up with a more euphemistically accurate way of labeling what I thought was my "deductible." Maybe instead we can call it your "Pre-Coverage Buffer," or something like a "Post-Service Pre-Spend." Don't call it a "deductible" if I'm going to be paying another grand out of my checking account dammit.
I mentioned poker, so here's a quick one... Why in god's name do people call all the way down with 99 when you've got two Aces and a Queen on the board? I know I only had a bottom pocket pair, but I raised pre-flop in position, and raised at the second Ace on the turn at 3/6 because I was certain no one else had an Ace (was right). I just couldn't shake 99 with those overcards. I wasn't playing loose, I wasn't bluffing at pots often, I wasn't showing down junk. Dude should have laid it down, except he didn't and I lost a decent one on that. Lost $75, of which $25 or so was due to steaming and chasing. I know that's bad. But the other losses were playing that "pump the pot early on your solid draws" style combined with getting no action when I actually did hit a hand (KK down, flop of AK6 rainbow. Five see the flop, no one calls for $3).
I realize my sample size is exceptionally small with the maybe 500 ring game hands I've played in a month online, but I'm so very tired of losing. Last night's table (50% to the flop, $28 average pot size) was what you dream of at 3/6, but everyone else got their three-handed showdowns and callers all the way down chasing god knows what. I missed draws and got no action. So frustrating to see good things happen to those around you while none of the karma you probably deserve is bubbling up.
Okay, so I did hit that big payout playing horses this weekend, and I did lose 20 lbs thanks to two weeks of abject dehydration. I'm feeling better, the fever is gone and I had pizza on Sunday. If I can't have pizza, I don't know who I am anymore. Anyway, assuming I can keep my weight where it is over the next few weeks (shouldn't be problematic), I would bet this surgery/recovery is going to be good for another ten pounds, which will put me under two bills for the first time in maybe six years. From there, it's another 15 to get down to 180 or so, which I think is a reasonable target weight for me. I could probably go all the way down to 160 with my frame, but who wants to wear 30 waist pants? That's no good. All I know is that this illness should be the kick in the ass (ha. ha. ha.) I need to drop the extra weight and hopefully shake the sluggishness I've had for the past couple of years.
Capsule Recaps of Recent IM Conversations
G-Rob: You're doing what this weekend? Too bad you're married, when the Wizard of Oz on Ice came through my college town my roommate got to bang a munchkin.
Iggy: Thanks for the hat. Now I'll have to come down to Turfway.
Gracie: Someone with Sarah Vowell's personality would be a great fit for me, but I don't think I'd like David Rakoff very much in real life.
Maigrey: I don't think I'd be very good at Dance Dance Revolution.
AJ: Maybe I will have "Fire Millen" tattooed on that piece of removed colon so I can put it on ebay and get linked up on Deadspin.
Geek: So when the minister does his "Does anyone object" schtick, can I put on the Admiral Akbar mask and yell, "IT'S A TRAP?"
Okay, since I'm jumping around today, here's a question... Is it wrong that I crack myself up as often as I do? I'm not talking specifically about anything in particular you've just suffered through today, but I left a comment on a BadBlood post today that I'm still chuckling over. I don't even care if you don't think it's funny. The point is, if I don't have a live audience to amuse, it's not so wrong that I laugh at myself, right?
Big props to April for getting a HORSE tournament on the board for Saturday the 21st at Full Tilt. Besides being a sponsor to this here blog of mine, the fact that they offer HORSE should be reason enough to get you over there. Falstaff speculated in April's comments that he'll be out before the Stud Hi portion hits. I think that'd be an interesting set of prop bets to make: On which game will you finally bust out? Here's my early oddsline:
HOLD EM - 12/1
OMAHA - 3/1
RAZZ - 10/1
STUD HI - 4/1
STUD EIGHT - 8/1
Thing is, I'm a chickenshit nut peddler playing Razz and I am less likely to chase draws and play marginal hands in Stud Eight than I am in Stud Hi for some reason. I put Omaha as the prohibitive favorite to bust me here, due to the fact that I believe I can survive to blind level twelve before things get dicey for me. If I can get through Omaha on twelve and the antes in Razz on level thirteen, I will bust on Stud Hi level fourteen for sure. Mark my words.
Speaking of chickenshit peddlers, why should anyone care that an author's supposed autobiography isn't consistent with reality? Can we just move that book over to the fiction section? When I write my autobiography it will be the true story of the reformed lothario whose bad boy ways were curbed by the intervention of a beautiful current Playmate and a nine-episode run as Jeopardy champion. I will recount my greatest moments, such as when I lit the Olympic torch the year after I became the first to lead an all-Corgi team to an Iditarod win, the cold and lonely moments of which leading to my patent for mittens, an idea far past their time for invention. I will regale you with my many loves, including a fiery on-again, off-again tryst with Elle MacPherson that lasted the better part of a decade. I will reveal how I was the key to the breakup between Winona Ryder and Dave Pirner, and how I helped to orchestrate the very successful intervention for Winona's bout with shoplifting. I will finally shed light on how I received the nickname "Master of the Ellipse" from my latter-day Algonquin writers' workshop, and will for the very first time put into words what happened on that fateful day at Altamont.
Yeah, uh huh. So what if he made Oprah cry? He wrote an engaging and entertaining book. Back off. (Pauly feels the same way, except his love for Oprah knows no bounds)
This link is for Matty, but if you're a baseball fan he's the son of the guy you're thinking of. You'd think any article about this guy would state that simple fact. Hell, if I die in this town my obituary will include the line, "He was better known as brother to Bob, a star soccer player for GHHS in the mid 1990s, and at one time ranked as the 860th best poker player in the world." And then, of course, they'll tell you where to send the flowers.
By the way, the obituary I linked lists the deceased as "Chief Weather Forecaster on (sic) Hiroshima." Rumor has it that it gets pretty hot in the late 1940s in Hiroshima.
At some point I should just post this and move on. God knows I've covered enough ground here to baffle and confuse already...
Monday, January 09, 2006
A Few Things For Monday
Gracie and Prof from the Las Vegas blog can skip the next couple of paragraphs, they've already heard this from me already...
Why, television news people, do I need to give a shit about an Iraqi baby with Spina Bifida? Really, she's been above the fold in the figurative sense going on two weeks now, and is getting every advantage, every door opened, money from sympathetic housewives and attention like she's the only baby on the planet in need of help. Baby Noor is a nice story for five minutes, can we move along now?
Call it a gut feeling, but I bet the same charitable souls that sent money to bring Baby Fucking Noor to Atlanta for surgery would beg off helping a similarly needy poor child in their own backyard, huffing the problem away with the right-wing philosophical mantra that if they (i.e. "the poor people") can't get a job with health insurance, then why should their sick kid be my problem? I remember a line from TV's West Wing where the fake President asks a fake advisor why an American life is worth more than a life from another country, and the faux-aide replies, "I don't know, but it is."
Not that it seems to be. Remember the early days of the war when a woman sitting in her comfortable living room stateside saw a shot in passing of a huddle of puppies abandoned roadside in the war zone? She dug into her own pockets to have the US Army find those puppies and ship them back so she could love them. Because, of course, TV puppies deserve money and love more than the soon-to-be euthanized puppies at the Humane Society just down the road. This Baby Fucking Noor thing is just a latter-day malnourished TV puppy. And it makes me ill.
I don't necessarily buy this whole "left-wing media conspiracy" thing (despite knowing what a right-wing media conspiracy looks like thanks to Rupert Murdoch), but I do think that with twenty-four hours of space to fill on a daily basis, a story like Baby Fucking Noor gets trotted out and updated every 45 minutes because the subtleties of the Abramoff scandal and how the Republican Party will be stirring up vitriol on Alito's nomination hearing in the interest of bumping Abramoff to page 2 or beyond is lost on a bored housewife. The Oprahization of this culture of ours fills daytime TV with so much of this bullshit "human interest" tripe that the only time a story like the administration's illegal wiretapping or Abramoff is getting any considerable run is during the early evening's unwatchable shoutfests where pundits aren't interested in intricacies (hope I spelled that right), they're interested in distilling a story down to a twelve second soundbite that both opens and closes the door and every loophole along the way.
Sigh... No kidding, just writing about this Baby Fucking Noor crap this morning caused me to go right over to The March Of Dimes to give $20 to some motherfucking red, white and blue babies. If you're as irritated as I am, go give them a couple bucks to help end birth defects. I don't care if my money goes to Baby Mohammed, as long as Mama Khalid is from NYC or Philly instead of Iraq.
In my opinion, the only good thing this Oprahization has wrought are those terrifically bad Lifetime afternoon movies. I really enjoy terrible TV, and these are the worst. I saw one the other day (lots of TV for me lately, given the circumstances) where a 17-year-old high school girl got caught up in a "modeling" scam which was basically just semi-softcore Internet porn, and was being stalked as a result. Just terrible stuff, but not the worst movie I saw this week. That award goes to the 2003 clunker The Book of Days, starring the one and only Wil Wheaton in a leading role.
I was flipping around on Saturday night and saw Wil on the "I" channel, which stands for "Independent," which really just means "Independent of secular content." It's the "network" that shows Seventh Heaven reruns and any TV movie they can find that has to do with Jesus. Anyway, I initially thought this was Wil's special guest appearance on Diagnosis: Murder or something (which they show a lot, and what Dick Van Dyke has to do with Jesus, I don't know), but when another identifiable actor failed to show up for a few minutes, I knew I had stumbled upon a gold mine. Here's the basic plot:
Wil Wheaton loses his new wife to some bizarre accident and curses God, saying he could have stepped in to save her but didn't. As a result, God has Isaac Hayes (no kidding) deliver The Book of Days to Wil. The book contains a list of everyone (In the city? On the planet? The font was too big to be everyone. I need a ruling here...) and the day they're going to die. While Wil and his female friend Frankie (she of the non-tittilatingly tiny breasts) are deciding what the hell they're supposed to do with this book, Wil's asshole boss at the life insurance company tries to push him out by doubling his quotas. Wil hates his boss and decides to get back at him by selling life insurance policies to the seemingly healthy people whose names he finds in the book, figuring he can break his boss by selling these policies that pay out almost immediately. Wil makes his quota, and actually becomes Employee of the Month.
Okay, my question on the side is this: How is Wil selling these policies effectively? He's going to healthy people due to die freak deaths in short order and offering life insurance. He's not telling these people they're going to die, but somehow all these people in the book think that buying insurance is a good idea. Seems too easy, don't people generally just blow insurance salesmen off? Back to the plot, it gets better.
While flipping through the book, Wil and Frankie find that the nun who raised Wil's ex-wife in an orphanage is due to die in a few days. Wil intervenes and gets her to go to the hospital, effectively saving her life. They go back and check the book and find that while the nun's death date is bumped out ten years, Wil's expiration date is balanced back the same ten. Frankie, who obviously has a thing for Wil (who I believe got to wear his own t-shirts in this movie - I'd bet $5 that wardrobe asked him to bring his own stuff for casual wear), freaks out and whines that Wil will die in his mid-80s instead of mid-90s, meaning he'll now be dying before she will. Frankie's upset and tracks down the mysterious deliveryman (Isaac Hayes) of the book and learns that Wil can often intervene in the circumstances of those on the list, and prevent them from dying, but he loses the years that he gives back to the others. Moral dilemma!
The Grieco sighting was just gravy. I'd have watched this movie just for Wil (nice temporary crying jag when Frankie made mention that the jailers took your wedding ring, but that hug with your lawyer mom when the judge freed you was gawd-awfully forced. I'd have hugged her tight, nice looking older lady and all), but anytime you have a Grieco sighting, you know the movie's going to be awesome.
I managed to suck April and Gracie into the last twenty minutes, but I don't think either of them enjoyed it as much as I did. Check your local listings.
Without segway, I was amused that Chilly responded to Felicia's bullshit "If you're going to be a poker blog, you've got to do it right" post. I'm not stirring anything up, I just totally agree with Chilly that there are no rules to this stuff. I guarantee you that Felicia, despite the posturing, reads and enjoys a number of poker blogs that don't fit into her tiny box too. As long as you're interesting, that's all that counts. Period. I'll suffer through bad beat stories, but will enjoy them if they're eloquent. Hand histories suck, but when well told they're not terrible. Whining about your losses can be annoying, but I do want to hear it if you took your whole bankroll up three levels and took a suckout to lose everything you had.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I just know better than to think that Felicia doesn't read anything that doesn't fit squarely within her little box. Not to mention she could have saved a lot of breath by posting two simple words instead of her slightly longer manifesto. Those two words: BE INTERESTING.
Lastly, because Pauly asked, I made an iMix on iTunes featuring funky shit from jazz, R&B and just one little hip-hop song. If you're interested in taking a peek, I'll email you the link to the mix. Somehow, I can't pull it up by searching for it.
Hopefully, I'll have time for more later. I had a couple hours to kill before seeing my doctor this morning, and couldn't wait to tell you about Wil's movie. I find out today, hopefully, not only when my surgery is, but how long I'll be laid up as a result. I'm hoping for "Early March" and "Ten Days." I'm thinking taking the OVER on both those possibilities is a safe bet. At least I go on short-term disability during this term, and don't blow my vacation time on this crap. I'll likely work without more than one or two days through June or July, which will bank those days up for me for December. Hoping real big I can take a longer Vegas vacation at the end of the year, as I doubt I'll be coming out in June or July for any events. Dammit.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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