|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, July 22, 2006
More For Peyton
Round two of the auctions to raise money For Peyton are under way at eBay. Hmm, what goodies does Bobby Bracelet have lined up this time?
Two tickets to the Full Tilt Poker Gala Event at the WSOP! There are two tickets available, each one is allowed to bring a guest. This is up already and will end in 5 days because the event is July 26th. It's at Pure nightclub in Caesar's. Check it out, make a bid, meet and marry a celebrity.
LATE ADDITION! One lucky sob and a guest have a chance to attend Howard and Suzie Lederer's (and Steve Zolotow's) 4th Annual WSOB and Karaoke Championship. Thursday July 27th, from 6pm - ??? at a restaurant off the strip. Many of the top pros will be there, and you never know, possibly a celebrity or two. I can't think of much that would be more entertaining than seeing somebody like Phil Hellmuth belting out Endless love. Gavin Smith, poker professional and all around great guy, has the tickets and we will get the winning bidder in touch with him to ensure the tickets are in your hand in time.(Note: this does not mean to imply that Phil Hellmuth will be there.)(Also: WSOB apparently stands for World Series of Beer. NICE!)
Steve Zolotow has donated a night out at one of his favorite hangouts, a place called Nice Guy Eddie's in New York. Dinner for two, drinks, and whatever sort of poker conversation you'd like to have. Ask questions, listen to stories, get some tips and pointers, or just shoot the breeze. He's a great guy that truly enjoys conversations on a variety of topics.
Robert Mizrachi has offered a 2 Hour Lesson. This will be by phone unless by some chance you can work out a time and place that works for him. With tourneys and travel, chances are you'll have to settle for a phone lesson, but you never know. Doesn't hurt to ask.
Annie Duke sent two signed copies of her book along with 3 DVD's. They were split up into two packages. The first is the hardcover edition with the advanced secrets DVD, while the other is the paperback version with two DVD's, one for beginners and one for women.
Mike Krzyzewski signed a Duke hat. Bobby Bracelet tells me it has taken every ounce of his will not to stomp it into oblivion before setting it on fire. If you're a fan, it's a great Nike fitted hat. If you aren't, buy it for charity and do exactly as Bobby would do in hopes it will work like voodoo on Duke's chances next season.
There is another Card Player package like last time, only this time we have the ability to also add a one year subscription to Card Player Magazine.
There is another Phil Hellmuth DVD package similar to last time, though it will also be joined by a one year subscription to Card Player Magazine.
Go To For Peyton and keep in eye on these items. Should be up today. PLEASE DO THE BRACELET A FAVOR AND POST ABOUT THIS ON YOUR SITE. Again, if you'd like to help out, but don't have the means to bid on something, please pass this information along and/or post it on your blog.
Verbatim text swiped from Mean Gene, I'm way too lazy to spin this myself. Still, go bid.
Big Mike for $150, connect up with Bob via For Peyton, and we'll talk.
Obviously, I have to pull some of that content and the comments. God forbid that at some point in the future it gets taken at face value...
Friday, July 21, 2006
An Open Letter To CNN.Com
To the Editor,
A quick note regarding Lara Farrar's "Caught in the Gambling Web," posted yesterday morning to CNN.com.
While I realize that the intention of this article was to discuss addiction in the context of online gambling, I find it difficult to understand why a news organization like CNN would allow a piece based purely on anecdotal "evidence" to take such a single-sided swipe at online gambling. Without appropriate context and arguments from a contrary position, this piece is simply anti-gambling rhetoric that should not be taken seriously as journalism.
Most reporters would have framed this perceived problem within a scope of reality. However, I understand that it is easier to write about online gambling using the template below, which can be modified with few changes to explore other dangers to society such as soda machines in public schools and the Grand Theft Auto series of video games.
Please do feel free to distribute this template to your junior reporters. They too may have to report on the dangers of MySpace or double cheeseburgers for Dateline NBC at some point in their careers.
How to Write About Online Gambling in Nine Easy Steps
Case Study: "Caught in the Gambling Web" by Lara Farrar
1) Set up your cautionary tale.
1a) Fail to mention that this tale represents a statistical rarity.
1b) Fail to, at any point in the article, utilize statistics to position your thoughts outside of a purely anecdotal realm.
2) Lead a paragraph with a recall to gambling in the "Wild West" to evoke a connection to an idea that gamblers online are difficult to "monitor," thereby allowing the reader to connect Internet gambling with the dangerous and lawless ideas hyperbolized in Clint Eastwood movies.
2a) Fail to mention that a gambler is safer physically and financially now - online or in a casino - than they have ever been at any prior point in history. Online casinos and poker rooms do not have a history of pulling a gun on you and running you out of town.
3) Mention that our government is doing something about the online gambling "problem."
3a) Fail to mention that there exist a number of groups in this country who disagree with the government's solution.
3b) Fail to mention that people who cannot sensibly manage their freedom are often positioned as bad examples by groups whose interests are to legislate their personal morality into society and reduce the freedoms of the whole for the perceived welfare of the few.
3c) Fail to contrast this legislation against counterpoint ideas of personal liberty or world trade.
4) Quote Goodlatte.
4a) Fail to quote an opponent.
5) Interview experts on addiction.
5a) Fail again to point out that gambling addicts represent a statistical rarity.
6) Explain why easy + anonymous = dangerous, and link to a video proving how easy it is to gamble online.
6a) Fail to explain that prior to our government's ham-handed intervention, other parts to the online gambling equation included "safe" and "regulated."
7) Baselessly state that these sites are a problem for young people.
7a) Attempt to account for making a sweeping generality in a journalistic piece by stating, "...though much of the evidence cited is still anecdotal..."
7b) Fail to acknowledge that in general terms any product or service offered on the Internet is, by nature, going to appeal to a primary group of users comfortable with engaging in a wide variety of transactions online - which is also a group that is statistically skewed to a younger demographic.
8) Paint the picture of the addict's fall to rock bottom.
8a) Fail again to mention the statistical insignificance of the cautionary tale.
9) Talk about treatment.
9a) Fail to mention most people are sensible with their entertainment choices, realistic with their budgetary concerns, and will never face the evils of gambling addiction.
Thank you for your time,
Thursday, July 20, 2006
A Good Old Fashioned Ramble
Wanna see a neat trick? Ready?
Here's me trying really hard not to eat donuts this morning: Mmmphh grr aaugh mmmmphh...
Jesus, I'm hungry. But I'm trying to be better. Since Monday of this week, here's a complete inventory of what I've eaten:
Two popsicles (it's hot)
Half a box of Wheat Thins with hummus (over two sittings, part of M/T dinner)
Three sandwiches (lunches - salami w/ turkey or ham and provolone on oat bran bread with mustard)
Two dual-pack servings of granola bars (lunches - plain oat and honey flavor)
Vending machine bag of Cheetos (lunch)
One plain bagel, toasted w/ butter (yesterday breakfast)
1/4 lb. of melon and grapes (yesterday breakfast)
Two diet TV dinners (Mon/Tues dinners)
$29 worth of sushi (last night, with Maigrey)
One single slice of pepperoni pizza (I was STARVING after work last night, and dinner was three hours out)
That's not bad, right? The sandwiches aren't egregiously large and don't have mayo on them, the pizza was clearly necessary (cough) due to my weakened state, and you can excuse me a bag of Cheetos once or twice a week with my sandwich, right?
And yes, I notice too there really aren't vegetables on that list. It's been hot, back off.
Regarding yesterday's freakout... You all know how to take that from me, right? I mean, I have a minor panic attack, I write about it, I get it off my ass and you don't patronize me with comments like, "Everything's going to be fine." The Doc took it a little personally, but between dying of heart disease at 42 or living out my 80s an arthritic psoriasatic mess, I'm not sure which one isn't the more atrocious option.
I'm breathing easy today, these things tend to ebb and flow...
Speaking of The Doc and her reaction to my irrationality yesterday, she had a paragraph in her email that made me laugh. I reprint this with permission:
So I think your friends hate me. No comments. That is because they want to say the Doc should mind her own fucking business and stop messing with (your) mind.By "comments" she meant the comments link at the bottom of every post. Since the one about Rachel got 9 comments, and my freakout none, that means you hate her. I wrote her back:
It's also actually a little hilarious to me that you're measuring the perceived reaction to the post by the comments, or lack thereof. Blogging is a vain pursuit to begin with, and it only gets worse when you start to factor in the peanut gallery. I had to commit a long time ago to not give a shit about what was being said in my comments (largely), and to not give a shit about comment volume one place versus another. It'll drive you mad trying to speculate on the conclusions people "must" be drawing from your post if you're gauging opinion on a lack of comments. I think you can safely let that go. There are no comments because there's nothing constructive to be said that won't come off as patronizing to me. That's all. You basically have just experienced "blogger's remorse" without ever having blogged a word in your life.She laughed it off too. Good thing too, I can't have her thinking a hundred and twenty people she'll likely never meet can't stand her.
You know, I will bet you $5 right now that John Tucker Must Die will enter the canon of thoroughly enjoyable and totally rewatchable USA Network movies not skewed anywhere near my demo in about fourteen months. Between that and the gymnastics version of Bring It On, along with the not-yet-over-exposed Mean Girls, I'm going to have a little new blood to supplant or support She's All That and Save the Last Dance on basic cable.
I can't wait.
By the way, I'm seeing a lot of reaction to the Goodlatte Internet gambling bill that refers to the "powerful horse racing lobby." That statement, in a vacuum, is laughable. Horse racing in general isn't a consolidated industry with deep pockets, but the NTRA (Nat'l Thoroughbred Racing Ass'n) did utilize the old donate-and-lobby "trick" to help "carve out their exemption," another phrase that is, on it's face, a little misleading.
Here's the deal. The horse racing industry is already regulated and covered by specific legislation that legalizes Internet wagering. I would assume that the lobbyists, whose job it was to illustrate the differences between their service and the "fly-by-night" offshore casino industry, would have made the following points:
1) We're already legal* and regulated by other legislation.Ultimately, the point I'm trying to make here is that it's a lot easier for the NTRA to deal from a position of inertia and regulatory compliance than it would be for them to try and build something new from the ground up. I don't necessarily see this as a "powerful lobby convincing a wide-eyed group of representatives with big stacks of twenties that they deserve to be treated differently," although - in a vacuum - that's precisely what this is. This is more of a self-preservation tactic, on which the point can be made that removing previously established legality will cost American jobs and American tax revenue, not to mention the doom-and-gloom scenario for the average American horseman.
*See point #4
**The larger the gambling volume, the bigger the prize purse (for the horsemen competing in the race). The bigger the prize purse, the more horses likely to enter. The more horses likely to enter, the larger the need for horses in the future to compete for these increased purses. The larger the need, the better off the breeders and owners of these horses will be. It bears mentioning that while the highest profile horses are generally owned by enormously wealthy people you'd never think to call a "farmer," the vast bulk of the people who participate in this sport as owners and breeders are absolutely providing a livestock product in exactly the same way - albeit on a much smaller volume scale - as an independent beef producer. They breed a better product, they are given a competitive opportunity to showcase that product, and with success they are able to improve their operations and provide more agricultural opportunity to others (e.g., grooms, hot walkers, feed salesmen, jockeys). Since the vast majority of horse races in this country feature purse sizes of less than $20,000 (compared to $1M for the Kentucky Derby, $3M and up on Breeders' Cup Day), it generally is the smaller American agricultural provider who suffers if prize money is reduced and opportunity is eliminated.
I understand the arguments that "it's still gambling," or, "how is this any different?" Thing is, it's not different, except that the industry is playing the game with politicos from a different position than the offshore entities are. Are they lobbying? Yes. But do they have a vastly different story to tell in comparison to make their point? Absolutely.
The reason Internet gambling isn't US-based and highly regulated as a whole is the same reason marijuana (and gay marriage, for that matter) isn't legal and highly regulated -- politicians will not get behind the legalization of something some semi-significant portion of the population deems to be of questionable morality, but at the same time they will generally (keep this statement in mind over the next year or five) not restrict our freedoms further for "immoral" acts that are already legal and regulated.
You knew that part already. But stop already with the "horse racing is getting special treatment" statements. It's true to a point, but like anything there's more to that story.
I was talking with Gracie the other day about Senator Ted Stevens' "The Internets is a Bunch of Tubes" speech, with the disbelief that this is the guy in charge of our nation's communications policy. This conversation brought me to a question I'm still not sure I have a satisfactory answer to:
If you assume that the political leanings of Americans can be charted "left to right," you would have to assume that on most issues the American sentiment could be charted on a bell curve, with the most reactionary positions the farthest sigmas from center.I'm not willing to accept the answer, "Big Telcom is lining everyone's pockets, they'll never speak out against them." I don't believe for a heartbeat there's any lobby so powerful that ALL politicians are sitting on their hands and screwing the voters. Plus, there are plenty of elected officials in favor of Net Neutrality, just none who are displaying the right "GET THIS IDIOT AWAY FROM OUR TECHNOLOGY" sort of passion.
Seriously, I'd like to think there are a great deal of people out there like myself who don't necessarily vote straight tickets, who lean both left and right on different issues, and who could be convinced that all big Telcom wants to do is preserve their infrastructure while stifling innovation and passing along the cost of their future profits to you. If Rick Santorum came out tomorrow banging his shoe on the podium demanding the head of Ted Stevens, I'd be hard pressed not to vote for him next time around.
Hell, who am I kidding... I'm so looking forward to voting against Rick Santorum.
By the way, there is no better bet to be made today than in the first race at Del Mar this afternoon. 2/1 on the ML for #1 Ugotadowhatugotado has Beyers that tower over this field, and a great deal of recent success to boot. No one else is close.
Joke's on you though, this won't get posted until I get home. By then? First race will be in the books. All part of my fiendish plan...
Okay, here's a more useful tip. Third race @ DMR, #4 Forest Lair out of Forestry, a GI sprint winner with a Tomlinson advantage for the distance of +40 and two back-to-back 3F bullets over Hollywood's track. Plenty of first-time starters here, you'd have to think 12-1 on the morning line is way too generous.
My horse racing angst increases exponentially next Wednesday when Saratoga goes live. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.
Alright, so get this... When I checked out of the hotel on June 28th I had asked them to fax me a copy of the bill for my expense reporting. The clerk printed the bill and put it on the fax immediately.
I didn't really look at it, except to note how much I was going to be filing to be reimbursed. I had assumed, like the incremental payments during my first few weeks there, that they'd hit my card with the charges.
A week passed, then ten days. Nothing. I got the expense reimbursement from my company, so I was sitting on almost $800 I expected the hotel to debit. I finally took a closer look at the bill, and I guess that the clerk accidentally paid the $800 out to cash before printing the bill.
Needless to say, I didn't pay them $800 cash on the date indicated.
After consulting four people for advice, I called the hotel to let them in on their mistake.
"Thank you for your honesty, we never would have caught that."
Then again, I don't know that I could have slept well on that big of a freebie. I did the "right thing," but $800 would have brought me to Vegas a couple weeks ago too.
In case you were wondering, it was three to one (with The Doc and Rachel the other two) in favor of coming clean and making good. Johnny, on the other hand, has a personal vendetta against Holiday Inn, International.
That being said, my karma hasn't reaped the benefits yet. I'm going to have to be patient and keep my eyes open on this one, as an $800 show of honesty has got to be worth more than hitting for $5 on Forest Lair in the third today. I sincerely hope that my recent run of experiencing good customer service isn't how I'm getting paid back.
One instance was with Onkyo. My stereo receiver had blown a channel a long time ago, and I finally decided to replace. I got an $89 refurb from Shop Onkyo ($99 plus $10 free for signing up for their junk mail), and completed the purchase online.
Thing is, my address is pretty odd looking:
9910 Route 644 Box 1103 (I made that up, it just looks like that)
Plus, I had tweaked my mailing address to remove the box number and added "AROUND BACK UP STAIRS" in that field.
Onkyo called me Monday to verify the address because it looked funny, and on Tuesday FedEx dropped me off my new receiver.
That's some good service.
Even better was Audible.com's efforts to make good on a promotion. Back in June I had renewed my This American Life subscription during a "Buy $30, get $20 free iTunes song credits" promotion. Works well for me, I'd be spending the money at iTunes anyway, and I needed the TAL renewal (for $31, how fortuitous).
I made the purchase and got nothing. I emailed support and got a response right away saying it was going to take 3-4 weeks to get the codes out. Week four, day seven I emailed support again. No codes, what's up? Turns out, they had some minor email issues and the codes never made it to my inbox. The Promotions Manager called me on a Saturday afternoon to give me my code over the phone, and was profusely apologetic for my inconvenience.
I'm happily biased due to my love of their service, but a phone call from an Internet retailer - hell, two of them! - is just beautifully above and beyond what I expected.
So I got the 20 iTunes songs, and on Pauly's recommendation I picked up "Lay Low" from his new favorite band My Morning Jacket. Good song. The lead singer sounds like the evolutionary Jackson Browne, but I mean that in the best possible way.*** I thought the song was pretty solid, and could see potential for a pretty great live act in those three-and-a-half minutes.
***Now he just needs to find the evolutionary Daryl Hannah so he can kick her ass around a little bit. Is Mandy Moore single?
I also added the Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials album "Roughhousin'," Booker Little's eponymous debut solo effort, and a few songs for which I'm unlikely to ever buy the album, like: Supertramp's "Breakfast in America," Lou Reed's live "Sweet Jane," "L.A. Woman" by the Doors, and Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues."
By my count, not including the recent twenty songs for free, I've purchased 89 songs and 30 albums (a few of them song-by-song for cheaper), not counting what I've picked up at AllOfMP3... Still only have my iPod about half full.
So between the heat and the sweet, sweet smell of my kitchen, I have ants. Not a ton of them, but enough that I ran out Tuesday to get traps (and ham, but not for the traps). They weren't on the floor for 30 minutes when I notice Frye's got one in his mouth and is tugging at the corner. Faaaaantastic. Then, he doesn't poop all day Wednesday and on our last trip outside last night? He was eating grass and doing this ridiculous over-stylized licking thing, like he had a hair on his tongue that wouldn't budge.
Great. Doggie Pepto-time. At least I'm mostly hardwood. Makes the diarrhea easier to wipe up. Thankfully, he ate this morning and pooped, so I think we're okay, but nothing beats having your dog licking at the pest control.
I don't know how you people with kids keep your sanity. At least I can tie up my dog out back. Kids need constant attention? Shit, I knew women were bred to be busybodies for some good reason.
Glenn Beck has given me reason #2 to abandon CNN.**** Robin Meade on Headline news is the only thing keeping me around.
Speaking of, about 150 feet down the hall there's a cutout where a couple of pop machines and a TV reside. The TV's up in the back corner, and I can't hear it at all until this certain advertisement comes on. There's some whistling - not the Enzyte one, more classical and stylized - and it's a good 25 db louder than any commercial in its wake. Plus, and here comes some science I'm making up as I go, a whistle is able to be amplified through a series of corridors more effectively than the dulcet tones of Robin Meade***** because the sound is four-point-seven times more annoying and shrill. You know, I'd bet Glenn Beck's immeasurably awful bloviating carries really well down the hall too.
*****Who is very attractive and should be in porn. Robin Meade, that is.
"Deciduous" sounds like the art of carefully measured decision making, but "cumulus" doesn't sound like someone who collects items to the point of excess.
Why is that?
Nine weeks to Atlantic City day leading into Boathouse Bash weekend. Are we there yet?
It's 1PM, you can add a small Caesar salad and the sandwich I brought from home to the tally above. I did not eat the donuts.
By the way, it irritates me to no end to see "Caesar" spelled "Caeser," or worse, "Ceaser." The "Ceaser" salad? The salad to abruptly end all other salads in mid... whatever it is they do? It doesn't bother me as badly as a sign attached to the umbrella tube in the corporate lobby downstairs that reads "Umbrella's Here."
HEY HEY! HO HO! INAPPROPRIATE APOSTROPHICATION HAS GOT TO GO! HEY HEY! HO HO!
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but if I were some sort of Chairman of the Board type, I'd nitpick the ever loving shit out of stuff like this. If they bring an important client into the lobby, and if that important client is anywhere near as anal as I am about possessives, then you've got to know how crucial this error is at moment one inside your facility.
Unless, of course, the bin belongs to the singular umbrella. I would think that would pose ownership problems on a rainy day, should multiple umbrellas be looking to stake their claim.
Talked to Rachel last night and it looks like she might be coming for a visit in September. I told her about the Bash, but mentioned that since I'm the worst poker player in the poker blogosphere, she's likely to see me either completely dialed in at the table, or totally pissed off for misplaying those tens.
So no go on her for the bash then.
The Doc gave me a quick pencil sketch of the diet to help my psoriasis. I only have to avoid dairy, beef and wheat. Her suggestion to replace regular pasta with "spelt," whatever the fuck THAT is, was met with a chill down my spine and a slight wretching sound coming from deep within my bowels.
You show me in scripture where Jesus ate spelt, and I'll...
What now? Fuck. They did think of everything.
I'm doing a little pinch hitting this week for my boss who supports a liquor company. Their "hold music" is a series of commercials for their various products. It's 2PM and I could really use a Jim Beam and soda right about now.
Hang on, I have to yell at someone who's not you...
BEFORE YOU ACCUSE ME OF NOT DOING MY JOB OF HANDING ONE STUPID FORM I WATCHED YOUR ASSISTANT FORGE YOUR NAME ON TO THE GUY WHO TYPES IT INTO THE COMPUTER, YOU COULD TRY EITHER CHECKING YOUR EMAIL FROM TUESDAY AGAIN FOR THE CONFIRMATION OR MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, LOOKING IN THE DATABASE WHERE YOU WOULD EXPECT TO FIND THE ENTRY YOU CLAIM NEVER MADE IT IN.Would it surprise you to know that the entry has been there since Tuesday?
Last couple things before I pack up and go home:
1) Front Office Football 2004 is an awesome NFL General Manager/Coach simulator, and it's selling for $25. Highly recommended.
2) Also cheap right now is the Miles Davis album In A Silent Way, which is absolutely worth the $1.98 you'll spend on it at iTunes. Go there, search Miles Davis for the album "The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions," and grab the last two tracks individually. That's the whole classic album for $1.98. Great value.
3) If you're into jazz at all, there's a ton of stuff from the Prestige and Original Jazz Classics labels selling at a per-song price for each album. The albums run about 35 minutes on average, but when you're paying $6 for them that's not bad. Sonny Rollins' "Newk's Time," along with Jimmy Heath's "The Quota" are both recommended.
4) Go bid on my personal For Peyton auction below.
That is all, must leave the office...
Only For Peyton
Okay, let's see if you guys are serious or flippant about bidding ...
For Peyton, I will tell the secret to another blogger under the following conditions.
1) I will only reveal this over the phone. I am a sparkling storyteller.
2) I will not reveal this for anything less than Garth's "bid" of a $40 contribution to For Peyton.
3) The winning bidder will also be sent a box of TastyKake coffee cakes (quantity six, retail value $3.49) at my expense.
4) There's a zero percent chance I'm telling Iggy, no matter how high the bid. Pauly must pay double whatever he bids.
5) You must absolutely promise to not tell anyone else under penalty of losing my trust.
6) Please bid via the comments below. I will have you send Bob the money, then will get your number and reveal what we're talking about.
Bids open at $40. Garth, you're not on the hook unless you want to be...
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I just remembered why I had a "life sucks" kinda day today...
Del Mar opened the summer season about two hours ago. I'd rather be in San Diego.
Standard Wednesday Morning Panic Attack
Disclaimer: I'm fine, really. Just having an off-my-rocker sort of Wednesday.
The Doc (not Doc) called me on Saturday in the late afternoon. Perhaps the proper response to a health care professional's salutation and "how ya doin'" is not, "I'm so bored I'm already drinking."
Said health care professional sent me an email on Monday detailing her concern for my heart in the not-at-all-figurative sense, for my GI tract, and to try and improve my current and future welfare.
She's right to be concerned.
As soon as this fucking heat breaks and it's not a hunnert-and-twenny in the kitchen anymore, I'll boil some chicken with leafy greens, eat some, put the rest in the fridge, and eat some more tomorrow. For now, it's been two weeks on sandwiches for lunch (cost/diet exacta of sensibility) and two nights of bullshit diet TV dinners after work.*
Baby steps on this health thing. Baby steps.
*In all reality, the Healthy Choice brand balsamic chicken with angel hair pasta was not at all atrocious. I wanted to eat seven of them.
She also got in my ear about my psoriasis, which has thankfully not pushed itself more visibly onto my body since my initial diagnosis. She said if I was interested in managing it, there'd be "severe" changes to my diet.
Then today I assist a client with a problem and notice his hands are cracked and peeling, with fingernails that are yellowed, and either rutty, tiled or bulging. Sure enough, psoriasis. "I started out like that," he said while pointing at the three small plaques on my fingertips, "and it just got worse from there."
So my heart's dying, I'm going to grow into a grotesque spectacle of dead skin and overactive lesions, and no one is ever going to go down on me without a Franklin or three-picture deal coming out of my pocket again.
It's not so much a straight-ahead panic, it's more of an acute awareness as to where the edge of the cliff is, a solid knowledge as to what's at bottom, and barely enough of a grip on reality to understand that I don't have to get anywhere nearer the guard rail than I already am. But there's enough of a well built up inside me at this point that I'm not able to convince myself to shake this crap off as easily as I have in the past.
That's not a bad thing.
Do I recognize that I need to enact some positive changes in my life? Absolutely. Am I aware of the paralysis of sedentary inaction that has been infecting my will to do something about anything? Absolutely. Is this time going to be any different?
Jesus, I don't know...
I've been distracted for a long time now, which is as convenient excuse as you can come up with. I had the OJ writing gig a year ago at this time, a fairly quiet November, got sick in December, was hospitalized in January and February, traveled almost every week on business from March to June, and finally moved into my new apartment about three weeks ago.
Without anything to look forward to, without any true distractions keeping me occupied, I'm left paralyzed by the thoughts that there's something just profoundly unsatisfying about my life. There's no single gap either. It's not going to take a woman, more face time with my friends, dropping twenty pounds or finding the discipline to write more that's going to fill me up again.
Not any single one of those things, at least.
It's a combination, it's more than that, and it's finding again the simplicity and joy I'm somehow shuffling off to the side to spend too much time fixated on what's missing/wrong/lost or whatever.
The Doc is going to tell me that as my health improves, so will my mood. She's right, you know. Even if she does admit to talking to her plants and wouldn't know what to do with suited connectors on the button in a family pot, she's usually more right than wrong.
A few months ago I picked up a girl in a bar down in Indianapolis. The humorous parts of this story could be (a) that I picked up a girl in a bar, (b) that were you to ask any well-seasoned twenty-something drinker familiar with the Broad Ripple section of the Indy bar scene which one of the myriad of bars down there do you NOT want to pick someone up in, that it would have been that bar, (c) that Matty executed the textbook inadvertant cock-block all night long, or (d) she was wearing a camo trucker hat advertising a band I've never heard of.
Jesus, I hate hipsters. That's a once-and-future post, but it is sufficient to say that we all eat at the Olive Garden and listen to Matchbox 20 every now and again, so don't pretend like it gives you moral constipation to pull down the stylized version of uniqueness and revel in your pedestrian suburban heritage every once in a fucking while.
Target stores and Applebees are your birthright. Embrace them, my middle class friends.
Her name's Rachel, by the way. She's not really a hipster either, just a drunk with depressing taste in music.* We hit it off immediately in the bar, I brought her back to the place where Matty and I were staying and it was obvious there was something there worth exploring.
*Music that is depressing, not necessarily music that I find so atrocious that it depresses me she likes it.
I just fucking adore smart girls. Particularly, smart girls who can understand the spirit behind a conversation and escalate with humor and sarcasm. God, Rachel and I could talk. We talked for hours that first night, and when I came back through town on my way home from Iggy's birthday weekend, we saw each other again.
I took her to dinner on a Sunday afternoon, and after we grabbed coffee and found a bench down by the river. Even though it was raining a little off and on, neither of us wanted to be anywhere else. Ducks were diving for minnows or bugs or something, and along the far bank Rachel spotted a beaver.
R: (points to the far bank) Hey look, is that a beaver?
BG: I think so, yeah. Those ducks better watch out.
R: I don't think a beaver is a natural enemy to a duck.
BG: Maybe not, but a beaver could kill a duck.
R: (looks at me, eyes narrowing) A beaver's not going to kill a duck.
BG: But a beaver could kill a duck.
R: They're not carnivorous.
BG: How do you know?
R: I went to school.
BG: So you're going to believe your liberal government-endorsed education?**
R: (laughs) They're not carnivorous.
BG: Have you ever seen a beaver kill a duck?
R: (adamantly) Beavers don't kill ducks.
BG: Have you ever seen a beaver not kill a duck?
R: (obviously impressed by my logical trap) Huh?
BG: Schroedinger's Cat.
R: So, what you're trying to say is... that duck is neither alive nor dead right now?
BG: (nodding slowly) Schroedinger's Cat.
How can you not love being involved in a conversation like that?
**This is a callback to a few minutes prior, when she and I were talking about her dad's addiction to Bill O'Reilly.
She told me a few weeks later that was the best date she'd ever been on. I'm not sure where it ranked for me, but it was top five to be sure.
I really like this girl. The conversation alone is such a fucking turn-on, I can hardly stand it. Smart, witty, surprising, natural, easy... it's all those things. Did I mention she's a writer too? Bachelors' in English, currently evaluating schools for her MFA.
The chemistry was amazing and she was growing exponentially sexier in my eyes the more time we spent together.
It's interesting how much conversation and chemistry outweighed what could/would/should? have been shortcomings on her part. She doesn't have a great job. She's got a very recent history of some pretty significant issues and is heavily medicated as a result.*** Most of all? She's sloppy.
***She's very casual about all this too, which makes some of her statements about her darker days feel a little stretched. They're not, but like me she's got a logical realism to her personality that enables her to treat these past problems more matter-of-factly than others might.
Look, I remember being 21 and living in a shithole student slum with four other guys. The house was never clean, and it was just generally accepted that all your friends lived the same way. It wasn't even a point of consideration at that age, just a way of life. It's certainly not as cute when you're 27 and share a house with one other girl.
That being said, she and I were still in that initial phase of feeling each other
Then she invited me down for a couple of nights and the Indy 500. Saturday night was really quite amazing. I took her to the horse track for a couple hours, then we went for sushi and did the barfly thing until the wee hours.
We never quit talking and spent a large portion of the evening rueing the geography that was bound to stall something fairly promising right out of the gate.
We ended up in bed together, something she wasn't sure she wanted due to two factors. One, she spent at least five nights a week in the throes of violent nightmares, and two? She was already falling for me, why fall faster if there's no recourse come Monday?
We slept together, but didn't sleep together. That was the sensible compromise. And she told me about a week ago that she hasn't had an episode of night terror since we shared her bed.
I have to admit, I was falling for the girl too. It's been a long time since I could truly say I was at my best with someone else, but she brought that side back out of me. I've got an odd mix of self-effacing egotistical confidence behind a veneer of obvious inadequacies, and when I find the right person who gets that - and is that - too?
The chemistry was obvious, the attraction was growing, we were both realistic about the non-existent future the distance between Indy and Allentown would bring.
So what was the problem?
I started to talk myself out of her due to the messy house.
So out of the glow of what really was a pretty damn great weekend, I started putting that distance there. The quantity and quality of the emails and text messages diminished, and when she offered to come out in early August for a visit, I speculated that might be a weekend I might be out of town.***
All in all, I don't think the "hint" was hard to pick up, and her quantity and quality had started to diminish as well.
***Not entirely untrue, but plans were speculative at best.
So today marked day five since I last heard from Rachel. We hadn't gone 24 hours without some contact since the day we met, so this was unusual. In the middle of my own personal panic crisis (see my other post from today), I projected some of that panic onto her "disappearance." Her phone was disconnected****. I trolled the Indianapolis obituaries and set equal probabilities that she was busy with work, in an institution, or dead by her own hand. I left her a message at work, tried emailing again with no response, and was genuinely worried about what I just knew had to have happened to her.
****Not at all unusual, paying utility bills is not one of her strong suits. Nor was informing me, well after any point of usefulness at the tail end of the hottest weekend of the summer so far, that her house had central air.
I was worried. And all of a sudden?
I missed the hell out of her.
I emailed her sister (apropos of nothing, her sister is a fitness model with one of those hardened aerobic-nut bodies), who was cc'd on one of her emails to me, and she assured me everything was alright. Rachel was just busy in her new role at her job, and needed to find time to get into a Sprint store to pay off her phone. Nothing to worry about.
Rachel emailed me a little later too, and I'm just hoping I don't come off like a stalker with the email to her sister and call to her desk.
The fact is, people come and go out of your life every day, but to make a connection with the sort of chemistry we had brewing was really unique and unusual. Unchecked messiness will most likely prevent us from ever filing a joint tax return, but like the rest of her faults, I'm willing to let this shit go for the rest of what I'm getting here.
Basically, I need to stop being an asshole and just get back to being myself with her. God knows I've felt better about myself with her than I have in general in years.
And no, I'm still not telling you about the unspeakable incident.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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