|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, January 21, 2006
..And Too Much Karma To Lose
Drizz had $3 on the WPS for $79 in winnings, April cashed $45.30 off of him, and I had $2 to place (and to win), for the $35.60 you see above.
Going into Tampa's race ten, I've bet $323 today. Then again, I've cashed $416.50. Good day.
Horse Racing Is Berry Berry Good To Me
Race two at Tampa I get an absolute gift of 2/1 odds on Sox It To Me, who I've already got a live Daily Double ticket on. I play a $20 win ticket, and key him in first in a trifecta with two horses under, and five horses in third.
$29 worth of tickets pay out $282.80. I'm bankrolled for my day now.
Still waiting on TOODRUNKTOCALL.
Guess Who's Running Today?
Aqueduct, Race 9 - TooDrunkToCall - 20/1 on the Morning Line. BoDog and most of the sports books will take your money on this one.
Also, I pulled the CompuTrak picks for Aqueduct today and we've got a 50/1 live longshot in race 5. Play the 4 horse, along with the 6 and 7 who are both at 20/1. Race 8 also has a 15/1 morning line horse (the 7) going off as a CT favorite.
Anyway, I'm playing Tampa again and here are some picks:
1) #8 Kissin Kevin
2) #3 Sox It To Me (as an overbet favorite) and #2 Lady Carol
3) #1 He's My Man and #10 Darn That Cobra
4) #7 Fax Me A Song (less of a career loser than the others)
5) #2 Palace Charmer (second try on turf, had a really good first try)
6) #4 Oh Baby Your Mine
7) Great one to try to hit a trifecta in - #9 Creek's Shore on top, #6 Wolvspa, #10 Johnato, #2 Dry Ice and #3 He'snoactor are likeable too
8) #2 Ebony Breeze (assuming you're willing to play her at 2/5 odds)
9) Wide-open turf sprint - like #1 Stylishly as a longshot (huge workouts, primed for speed) and #8 Onlynurimagination (last race line says "wore down leader," which I like to see)
10) #4 Charedi's Peak could rebound, #10 Sweet Fervor comes out of Belmont and #13 Dramatic Style has good workouts and a nice win under her belt
11) #5 Bandana
CompuTrak likes the #4 in the eighth as the live longshot on the card (8/1 on the M/L). I don't agree, it'll take something freakish to stop Ebony Breeze.
By the way, Sandra Lee from the Food Network has great tits. I'm just saying. And congrat-u-motherfucking-lations to Ryan, who blew the informal "which blogger gets the six-figure payday first" pool. I had G-Rob, and I'm crumpling up my ticket as we speak.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Incomplete: The Year Of The Tiger
I have no idea why I started writing this thing, I don't use the Internet to date and this isn't part of the never-going-to-be-started-or-finished "Langston thing" either, despite using that name. And it's not very good either, I'm just goofing around after having dinner earlier this week with an old friend and her Match.com fiance. Anyway, whatever. I'm just donking around. Ignore me and my bullshit disclaimers.
I had my trepidations about this Internet dating thing, but truthfully everything was working out better than I had hoped. The little tango two people do when they're trying to formulate a first impression of one another is a dance I've always dreaded. I'm by no means "smooth" or "suave," and to continue the metaphor, I can't find the beat and leave my partner with bruised toes and abject disappointment by song's end. I'm much better with words leaving my fingertips than leaving my mouth, and in the early email courtship I think I've found the part of dating I'm good at. That, of course, is the part that precedes the first date.
Maybe it's the anonymity that comes with the web, or maybe it's the entitlement I feel having spent $40 per for three months running that has me ready to find fault with every profile. "Too fat" and "cat person" are the easiest of the superficial winnowing factors, as they're easy to spot. Obviously, fat girls with a picture can be ignored, but any allusion in passing to weight, physical volume (i.e. "plenty to love") or some degree of "fabulousness" are reason enough to pass on the profile. Cat people, well they wear their allegiance on their sleeve. A question in the profile asks, "What would you find on your bed?" An answer such as "The Devil Wears Prada (or any book featuring a calves-to-couture-heels shot on the cover) and my tabby named 'Patches,'" simply means that your pursuee's need for friendship and security have barely graduated from the Paddington Bear daddy bought for her fourth birthday.
Naturally, once I sieve the least-desirables from the pool, there's still work to be done. Screen name is a crucial pass/fail for me. Take any woman using the "double r / no vowel" version of "Grrl" in her name, for instance. Obvious aggression issues and sub-latent feminista bullshit brewing. She's the type of girl that wouldn't just expect me to keep paying for dinners, she'd rage against the perpetuation of chivalrous stereotypes along the way (but ironically, she still won't pull her Visa out when the bill arrives). Pass. A screen name dubbing thyself with a royal moniker could mean different things. "Queen-" something always means what you think it means (and don't get me started on the rare "Dutchess" invocation), while "Princess" means "not going to do your dishes, even if you cook."
Once I can get past the screen name, I've got to read the profiles. Any reference or personal comparison to "Sex and the City?" Not in the Midwest, my dear. Do you list Sylvia Plath as a favorite author, and if so are you just trolling for free therapy? Dave Matthews Band fan? Revel in your mediocrity. I scrutinize these things like the Zapruder film, trying to make connections between the quoted song lyrics from the first Jimmy Eat World album and her recollection of four lines of Emily Dickinson. Makes me wonder if she's got liner notes and Bartlett's within easy reach of the keyboard. I automatically rule someone out who lists more than one "chick-lit" novel (with the ubiquitous calves-to-couture covers) in her favorites, and I've got to bounce a girl who doesn't include at least one long-dead or retired musical artist on her short list too. Is it so hard to keep a Billie Holiday greatest hits package in-between your Grease soundtrack and your Indigo Girls discs? And don't get me started on a profile featuring multiple mentions of Jesus. I think I got that from your screen name "PraysHim434."
Surprisingly, I'm usually quite torn on what to do with the women who try to do "sexy" in these things. For example, "Sweetie611" (a barely excusable nom de plume, by the way) writes in the "Perfect Date" text field:
Splitting sushi, sake and neverending conversation with you. I laugh, and laugh some more. You let me take you home, protesting just enough, and we end up cozy in a candle-lit bathtub where I whisper all-night secrets to your smile.Okay, but then what happens? I go to bed on the first date with "Sweetie," and by 1130PM I'm almost, but not quite too tired to have the "So, how many guys have you bathed with?" conversation. Trust me, I'm going to ask and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know the answer. Instead of allowing my paranoia and panic to get the better of me before I even meet the girl, I just tend to toss these profiles to the side as well.
So what is it that I'm trolling for? It's funny, about six months ago I had dinner with a friend and her fiance', who I was meeting for the first time. She had met him on Match.com, and I cracked a joke saying, "I've always wanted to get me one of those attractive but not out-of-my-league gorgeous girls from the eHarmony commercials. I bet just about any doofus can lie his way through a personality profile." The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that is what I was trolling for. I mean, she should be smart and funny and all that too, but at least a little north of average and pleasant is what I wanted. That's it.
That's where I found Julia. Her picture said "this is me, I'm not glossing anything up," and I appreciated that. Her profile was just the littlest bit wry, and had that underlying tone where she was just trying to find friends, and anything beyond that would be left to fate. No pretentious books on the list, no hipsteresque efforts to name-drop bands you'll never hear of, and absolutely no quoted song lyrics. She was the closest thing to truthful I think I had seen in this pile of photos and profiles, and I appreciated that. And I told her so:
[Screen Name Redacted],Of course, I went on and rambled for another three or four hundred words in my attempt to passively-aggressively woo her into a reply, but I got one. And another. For about a month we went back and forth, feeling each other out and building a pretty decent rapport and friendship along the way. There was never any pressure right off to take this conversation offline and meet, but after about three weeks of near-daily back-and-forth, it was time. Chinese food at Chan's, not this Friday but next. I'd meet her there at 7PM.
When I'm nervous, I eat. The bowl of fried crispy noodles for your egg drop soup? I idly picked through those greasy rinds, nibbling each one down as if nervous eating was a mechanical reflex and not a conscious choice. I didn't really have much to be truly nervous about though. We were friends to be sure, and we had both seen each other's pictures and spent more than a few hours on the phone in recent days. Still, I'm paranoid by nature and had been shooting down ridiculous notions in my head since the first time she replied to one of my emails.
I looked down at my standard-issue Chinese restaurant zodiac placemat for guidance.
TIGER: 1972 - You are sensitive, emotional and capable of great love. However, you have a tendency to get carried away and be stubborn about what you think is right; often seen as a "Hothead" or rebel. Your sign shows you would be excellent as a boss, an explorer, a race car driver, or a matador.A matador? Awesome. Of course, my severe lack of agility would probably preclude me from that vocation, but I'm not above being pigeonholed as a "rebel." That's pretty cool. The placemat continued:
Best Match: The Snake and The Rooster. Avoid In Love: The Rabbit and The HorseWait, how old was Julia again? 29? 30? Shit, she's either The Rabbit or The Dragon, but she's definitely not The Horse. I chewed another noodle down to my fingertips and frantically looked around for someone to interpret, a ruling from one of the waitresses perhaps. Hell, they're probably Chinese, they should know about their own zodiac, right?
Stupid idea. Instead of asking, I'll just sit here in a marginally horrifying state of panic and wait for Julia to arrive, tell me how old she is, and ruin what little chance I had at happiness due to a goddamn placemat. This is how my mind works. Some little pebble gets lodged in my shoe, and I start planning for my tetanus shot and what sort of space-age polymer they're going to build the prosthetic foot out of after they amputate. I'm fucked by nature, screwed by fate. If it's going to crash and burn, it'll happen on my watch.
Yes, I need to finish this. Unfortunately, I've run out of time just now. Later? You okay with that?
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Thinking Out Loud
I was tooling around with my last paystub from 2005 the other day, and trying to figure out how the 1099 payments from Gawker will affect my taxes. Turns out, if I just add that 1099 money in without further deducting expenses incurred, I'm going to get spanked by both the state and the feds.
So, since I made money as a writer in 2005, I obviously can treat that on my taxes as a small business with any writerly expenses incurred along the way deducted from my 1099 earnings. I'm of the mindset that I can get creative, but only to a point. I'm not going to flaunt the rules and do something like write off cigarettes, even though I smoke when I write at home. Has to be justifiable.
In that vein, I've identified the following write-offs for 2005. If anyone wants to leave me a comment either adding to the list, or letting me know that my assumptions on the deductibility of these expenses is in error, that would be appreciated.
Keep in mind I wrote professionally for almost six months, but certainly can justify spending the other six trying to be a paid writer. Also, it's the easiest thing in the world to show that my paid and otherwise published content is exclusively gambling-related, hence all the gambling-type expenses I'm identifying.
On to the list...
· My Internet connection (12 months x $50/mo)
· My YouBet.com account monthly membership fee ($18 x 12 mos)
· Purchase of CompuTrak, which I reviewed for OJ ($100)
· Purchase of poker and horse racing books (roughly $150)
· Airfare and hotel to Vegas in December (although I went in June as well, two trips seems like pushing my luck) (roughly $400)
· Purchase of horse racing data files for handicapping (roughly $100)
· Office supplies (maybe) (roughly $150)
That's all I've got off the top. If I remember right, there's a formula on the tax form that instructs how much you can deduct for use of a "home office," so I'll look into that. I know I can't deduct money used to fund online poker accounts, so that's out. What am I missing here, and where are my assumptions wrong?
Burninating All Over The Countryside
I was talking with Gracie through the idiot window yesterday, lamenting my poker skills in the wake of watching a few more friends win tournaments, online and otherwise. Of course, sample size has a great deal to do with this, as I don't play many tournaments and therefore can't expect to have the Rod Carew career batting average with wins, let alone cashes in the cheap multis I do play.
Still, I don't seem to enjoy tournaments very much at all. I play the early levels too tight, and haven't ever had success in a big multi that I didn't jump out to a lead in. I need the cards, and I need to catch early and often. If I don't I get stuck with a 9% VPIP through two hours, and a strategy that too often boils down to this (paraphrased from my conversation with Gracie):
I'm sick of folding for ninety minutes, then losing a coin flip to bounce out of these things.That being said, you probably only have to take off one shoe to count the number of multis I've played in six months, WWDN and WPBT events included. I've decided I'm a ring game player. I don't really like tournaments.
So I get home last night and immediately jump into a $5+$1 with 300 of my closest friends on FTP. Seventeen minutes later, our table maniac (one pre-flop fold through fourteen hands) has septupled up and become the chip leader, showing down monsters like K7, A7, and 67 (memo to Rini: If having him catch with the seven every time is your idea of a statistical anomaly joke, I don't find it funny). He's shown a propensity to call pre-flop all-ins with less-than-stellar hands, so I'm just waiting for something to take this guy to the woodshed.
I get AKo. He limps, I'm on the button and raise. He pushes, I call $1,200 into the $2,300 pot. He shows A9o and improves, and I'm out in 42 minutes.
Then I fire up a two table $10 SNG and bounce when my 7xBB push from the button with T9o (trying to steal with my low M dammit) gets called by Mr. Early Limper for 2/3 of his stack with QTo. He improves further, I'm out in 54 minutes.
I'm tilting, I can feel it. I get into this masochistic self-flagellating mentality when I get like this, and try to work my way out of it by dumping $10 worth of bad bets into the first race at the Meadowlands harness track. No dice, I lose and get more pissed.
So I do what any reasonable person would do: I take over 1/3 of my bankroll and sit down at a 100NL table (that happens to be shorthanded, although not a shorthanded table). I start out with four adversaries, none with a stack bigger than $50. Then, a full-buy sits down and I promptly donk off $60 to the guy by overplaying bottom pair with A4o after calling his re-raise pre-flop.
Yes, feel free to read that one again and giggle. I deserve it.
Dude takes my money and runs, and I rebuy back up to $100. I promptly bust a $30 stack. Guy leaves. I bust a $40 stack*, she rebuys and I bust her on that very next hand for $19. She sits out, another dude leaves, and it's just me and some guy with a $60 stack going heads-up. I start beating the shit out of this guy with pre-flop raises and big bets on any flop I catch a piece of, and end up dwindling him down to about $20.
*(Actually, my river bet when she had something like $40 in her stack was for all her money but a nickel. She just called, didn't raise, and I won the hand. I love leaving people money. Busting them is so rude. She played the next hand from the BB after rebuying for $10 more dollars and I pushed my entire $198 stack over the top of her $1 BB pre-flop, which she called. Pushing $198 to win $10 makes me laugh, and it obviously doesn't take much to amuse me.)
By this point, I'm sitting on a stack of about $230, and our heads-up war is called off when the table starts to fill up again. I tighten up (my flops seen percentage to that point was almost 50%), as three players come in for full buy-ins, and I don't feel like donking off my $40 in profit.
Then I watch the guy to my left take a real bad beat, which causes him to immediately rebuy to $90. I get dealt KQs UTG on the next hand and limp. He raises more than the standard, so I read it as a steam and hope to catch him getting frisky. Two of us call.
Flop is Queen-high with two spades. I've got diamonds. I bet pot, steamer min-raises, other guy folds and I go over the top of the steamer for his last $60. He turns over AK of spades, and I curse my bad luck when a King hits on the turn...
...Until I figure out I have one of those King cards too, and my two pair is better than his TPTK. No spade, no Ace on the river and all of a sudden my masochism has turned into a cool $145 profit in 60 minutes in a ring game. In the words of long-lost Matty, "Wow, tilting is really +EV for you."
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
And These Visions Of Johanna Are Now All That Remain
Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're tryin' to be so quiet... (Dylan, yo)
Somehow, I had heard she was looking for me.
There was a note she'd tack to the tree embedded in the sidewalk outside her walk-up, a note she'd take down every night, then replace the next morning. It read, "What's been going on?" There was a small section at the bottom with a coupon where a reply was expected, and instructions to leave the returned information in the mailbox mounted to the left of her door.
I missed her, I've always missed her, and when I found out the invitation to reconnect was out there, I had to take it. I found myself on her street, brownstone-style apartment buildings lining an urban street framed in green by towering trees. It was an unexpected environment, a central casting block that was something out of an NYC-based Nora Ephron denouement.
I found the brownstone, calculating which window might be hers. It was darkened, so I turned to the street to find the tree and the note, which was right behind me.
"What's been going on?" was the question, with that small coupon looking for an answer.
I ended it about ten years ago. It ended with dinner, her hand dropping to my thigh, and finding my way inside her moments after shutting the front door behind us. It was her last-ditch attempt to connect in the best way she knew how, and I nearly caved in. I can still close my eyes and remember telling her it was over. She was expecting it, and disappointed, but the sadness or frustration I expected to see was replaced by something else. She blinked slowly and raised her eyes to meet mine, subtly moving her hand from the table into my lap. "I'll miss you, but can I start missing you tomorrow?"
She wasn't more things to me than she was, but what she was... She wasn't my first, but she may as well have been. She was my confidence, my swagger. And she was the first girl who ever loved me in that unabashed and unembarrassed sort of way.
She was, and continues to be my fantasy.
All I've ever wanted was to be loved like this, totally and uncontrollably, with incredibly satisfying sexual chemistry added to the mix. We worked together, and the connection started brewing from the first time we met. The flirting grew more frequent, more intense. On the first chance, first excuse, we had to be together outside of work, she spent the night with me. And the next.
There was nothing self-conscious about the girl, she wore her shy smile like a challenge or invitation. Even in the first morning together she would roll over in bed and toss the covers behind her, totally naked and unconcerned as I fumbled around the bedroom to find suitable clothes to make a run to the fridge for us. She willingly gave herself to me, and took everything she could in return. She let me find in her the pleasure and satisfaction that I didn't know was out there and didn't think I deserved.
But she wasn't smart enough. She was too young. She wasn't in college. She wanted two-hour phone calls and jumped into relationship assumptions before I was ready to assume them myself.
And she told me she loved me.
There were so many things that were right, but the rest was enough to know I had to walk away. I couldn't return the sentiment, and in spite the hedonistic devil telling me to stick it out, I couldn't do it.
I let her go.
She had never left my thoughts though, and still remains the object of the recollection of so many fantasies fulfilled.
And she was reaching out after ten years, wanting to know I was still here. "What's been going on?" Simple question, complex answer. Ten years represents a series of interconnected events that either do or don't enter into the ledger of things worth remembering or moments of emotional impact. These events can be credited and debited from my psyche, reshaping my life in the constant wake of things that matter.
Ten years, three or four failed relationships, an emasculating and horrifically unsatisfying marriage, a career, a few jobs, and another career. Unscalable debt, four years as a hermit, and a sincere effort in my head to cleanse my palate of all the unpleasantness I managed to let seep into my world. Yet I'm still of a mind that wraps itself up in the warmth that she brought. Warmth that I refuse to forget.
In the three or more years I spent with Jean, I refuse to believe I ever was loved like Angelique loved me, which makes her the last piece of purity in my past, the last good thing that ever happened to me.
"What's been going on?" was what she wanted to know, and I thought about how to best answer that question. Then, somehow, the right answer came to me.
Nothing had happened, at least nothing like what we had put behind us ten years ago. Everything in-between was corrupt, and didn't matter. The question wasn't literally, "What's been going on?," the question was, "Did you find the rest of what you were looking for?"
No, I hadn't. And I'm not sure I ever will.
I tore the coupon from the note and penciled "Nothing" into the appropriate spot. I let the coupon hang half-out of the mailbox, ensuring she'd notice when she got home. I took a seat on some stairs across the street and waited.
She didn't come home, at least not before I woke up from the dream.
I don't miss Angelique, really. I miss the idea of a beautiful girl naked in my bed, satisfying me and fulfilling me physically and emotionally and spiritually. Despite her flaws, she was the last woman in my life who didn't intentionally let me down.
I miss her badly, but only physically. I miss the swagger she gave me, but I have no desire at all to see her (even though I'm fairly confident I could look her up).
I like the idea that for a short period of time I had my fantasy. For a few moments, ten years ago, I was fulfilled. And that's why she continues to live in my head as my ideal, the one unspoiled woman in my past.
I was loved, and that love was never corrupted.
And that's enough. Always will be.
Now, little boy lost, he takes himself so seriously
He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously
And when bringing her name up
He speaks of a farewell kiss to me
He's sure got a lotta gall to be so useless and all
Muttering small talk at the wall while I'm in the hall
How can I explain?
Oh, it's so hard to get on
And these visions of Johanna, they kept me up past the dawn (Dylan - "Visions of Johanna")
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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