|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, December 15, 2007
This is the field where I walk the dog a few times a day.
I love the look the little guy is giving me here.
One of the many nicknames my dog has is "shedding monster." This is the product of a half hour's worth of brushing.
This next one's a two-parter. I live in a shitty city in a shitty neighborhood, so it shouldn't be a surprise that our gas station trash cans aren't filled with empty Fiji water bottles and AMEX Platinum credit card receipts.
Look a little closer - upper right of this next shot.
Yup, that's underwear. Stay classy, Allentown.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
How Does F-Train Know? Volume XXIII
Back in August I went to a conference for work and was lucky enough to spend four nights in a four-star hotel. They had this stuff in the shower:
That's L'Occitane brand body wash, although the bathroom was restocked every day with L'Occitane shampoo and L'Occitane conditioner, L'Occitane soap and L'Occitane lotion from the "Verbena Harvest" line.
I loved this stuff so much I was showering twice a day. It smells like limes, honey and Jesus.
Coming back from the conference with only a few little hotel-sized bottles of the stuff in my bags, I blew through it pretty quick. I then went hunting online for more, only to find that to get a bottle each of shampoo and conditioner shipped to me, I'd be out $52.
I put it all on my Xmas list instead.
No, that's not how you know F-Train.
I mean, if it smells good and it leaves you clean and fresh, there's nothing terribly wrong with that, right? It's not as if I'm then applying baby seal pomade to give my hair the metrosexual douchebag sheen I saw in last month's Details or anything. The smell of the soaps and shampoos becomes just an added bonus to further improve what might be the most enjoyable ten minutes of each day for me.
So I'm on my layover at Boston's Logan Airport and what-do-you-know, they have a L'Occitane retail outlet in concourse A. No shampoo, but I did manage to pick up a ($14) bar of soap. I then asked the lady for gift ideas for my brother's wife, and she asked if there was a line of product of theirs I was familiar with. Naturally, I told her I liked the Verbena Harvest, so she shows me around the various products they've got from that line.
I ended up buying myself one of these:
That, my friends, is what a $22 candle looks like. Funny thing too, that's pretty close to actual size.
So you know how you know F-Train? It's because I'm buying (twenty-two dollar) candles because they smell like the shampoo I love.
That's how you know.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Yes, It's a Trip Report
About two weeks ago, Al hit me on the IM early on a Tuesday and said:
Otis and I are about to make you an offer you can't refuse.Throw in generosity from StB and Bob, and yeah, that's about what happened.
After a good two months of politely dismissing every invitation and protestation thrown my way, the obstacles were removed, and I hopped a plane last Friday. Some frequent flier miles, a bed for a couple nights and an early Christmas present in the form of Benji Franklin, and I couldn't say no.
Hell, I missed you guys too much anyway.
Something told me this trip might be different. It started on Thursday evening, when I found $25 in the pocket of my sportcoat. I mean, finding a dollar is nice, and finding a ten is pretty awesome, but anything north of that and you're on the cusp of a heater. On Friday I left Philly and Merril Hoge happened to be in the first class cabin. I think that's considered lucky in Norway. That being said, the Philly flight left an hour late, putting my forty minute connection in Cincy in serious jeopardy. I decided right then and there that if I caught that Cincy flight, I'd officially be in god's good graces.
Well hallelujah, we landed five minutes from the departure time of my connection, but they held the plane for me. You heard me. FAA regulations and on-time departure stats be damned. Delta Airlines held the plane for me (and a smattering of others, but still). The final stroke of travel luck on this leg? I wandered back to 25C, huffing and wheezing after
"No way lady, I'm not sitting in the middle. Get out of my seat." She gave me a dirty look, but took her own damn seat and managed to negotiate one of the burly dudes back to 36F so her husband could move back to 26 with her. So I stand up to the Chinese and I get an empty middle seat? SCORE!
Friday afternoon was pretty uneventful once I hit ground. I was told I looked good with my new beard (um, have had it for years), and was ragged on for putting product in my hair (nope, three cowlicks have made my hair carry the wave of an early Zack Morris for most of my 33 years). I then made $25 playing $2/$4, most of which I earned by betting a ten-high busted draw on the river. Talked to The Fat Guy and Gary about country music "for a spell," talked Big Ten sports with Gene*, and then had to shove off for dinner at Nob Hill at the MGM.
*Gene and I have always been friendly online and trade the occasional email and such, but in his first blogger Vegas trip back in 2005 he caught me on a hung over morning without a lot to say and no inner strength to say it, and we had a terribly stilted, short and uncomfortable conversation. It was a shame, but we were able to chat a little more this time, which is good. Penn State sucks.
Alright, so Nob Hill... Where do I begin? Pauly, Change, Maudie, Derek, Iggy and I skipped the cab line for a limo ride over, and I got a really terrific picture of Pauly telling a story with Changey, D and Iggy laughing along with him. However, I simply cannot post that picture, as (in someone else's words, please take your credit in my comments, although I think it was Gene) any picture with both Change and Iggy is like catching Amelia Earhart and D.B. Cooper in the same shot.
So, no dice there. Sorry.
We caught up with Otis, Dr. Jeff, Marty, Blood and Al at the MGM for the Michael Mina meal we had spent all week working ourselves up over.
It was a solid B+. Compared to Bouchon (A++++ and a check mark for good measure with a smiley faced sticker and a note from the teacher) last year, however, I'm not sure how close it ranks.
The company was good, the atmosphere was nice, and... Well, for $130 I expected a hell of a lot better. I started out with a glass of wine (California Syrah), moved on to a cold shellfish platter I split with Iggy (which was very good, but nothing extraordinary) with a glass of Muscat (perfect for the appetizer and entree), was then teased with a pre-meal fried risotto dumpling in a mustard aioli (I've been fantasizing about doing something similar - both with rice and with stuffing - for a long time), and then was served my main course:
The menu calls this "Citrus-Steamed Black Cod (with) Miso-Braised Kobe Short Rib Crust, Dashi, (and) Cilantro Couscous" I called it delicious. Forget the fish itself for a second, as I really enjoyed the citrus cilantro broth in which the Israeli couscous was swimming. I told someone later that it tasted as fresh as a freshly cut lawn smells (although it didn't taste like grass, it just tasted fresh to an exclamatory point, if that makes any sense). The "crust" on top was actually just a soft pile of braised short rib meat, which tasted like the short ribs I make at home (even though I don't use miso). It was surprising to get into that first bite of the "crust," as the familiarity of the flavor really knocked me on my ass. It's interesting too how the freshness of the broth and the depth and breadth of the flavor of the short rib "crust" didn't clash. It sounds counter-intuitive to put beef and fish together like this, but here we are. The fish itself didn't do much but act as a vessel for the other flavors, which was expected. It was a very solid fish dinner, and I think I did pretty damn well considering this:
This is the Lobster Pot Pie. I tried to doctor up the photo a little to make it look more appetizing, but it's still a big pile of reds and greens and tubers swimming around in a beige sauce on your plate. It tasted pretty decent, but was one hundred and ten dollars all by itself. Fuck that business. I can't imagine that anyone in the crew really felt strongly that this was a signature dish in any way, shape or form, despite the reputation.
Cod > Lobster, at least in this specific instance.
So just after polishing off my entree, I started falling asleep at the table. Couldn't help it. I went back to the room and got about five hours, then woke up and Pai Gowed for awhile before moving to the blackjack table.
Pai Gow with Iggy is infinitely more interesting when your dealer is named "Joo," and that's all I have to say about that.
Went up about sixty playing Pai Gow, then gave two hundred away playing blackjack with Bob and Garth and Maigrey. At about 8AM I managed to talk Bob and Drizz into breakfast.
I had the chicken fried steak. No pictures, sorry.
Another three hours of sleep and it was off to the Venetian for the tournament. I bluffed Dawn out of half her stack with the hammer and semi-bluffed Gene off his Aces on a QQ8 flop (I had 89s, he grimaced prior to the flop when I called his pre-flop raise, I check-raised his half-pot bet [I think] on the flop and he laid them down) before I boneheadedly put Jordan to a decision for all his chips when we both paired on a King-high board and I knew he was holding a far better kicker than I had (Gene said, "I can't believe I laid a hand down against this guy" when I donked, so thanks for that). I can only remind those of you who might believe I possess some sort of legacy A-lister talent for this game or something that I might have played 15 hours of poker total over the past twelve months. If that. So you get what you pay for, I suppose.
I shouldn't have played the tourney anyway. I'm really quite terrible at this game.
Naturally, I then go sit 1/2 NL for the next six hours. I was getting cold-decked like a motherfucker, and couldn't gin up any action due to my hours and hours of constant folding when I finally did get a decent hand dealt my way. To both my credit and dismay, I was never down more than $50 and never up more than $70 - although I did cash out at my peak profit. Whee!
The highlight wasn't a hand I played as much as it was the ten or fifteen minutes where I was convinced - CONVINCED! - that the aging douchebag hipster who sat down at my table was Richard Grieco. Betty knows who I'm talking about. It didn't turn out to be him, and Betty was relatively crushed as a result (she totally would have porked him).
Life is better with Booker.
After the tournament ended, a whole bunch of us ended up back at the Geisha Bar at the IP where I proceeded to both hear and tell a story about a retard, told Betty she was brave for getting her hair cut to emulate Gilligan, and saw a tramp stamp on a whore that read (in a lovely script) "Pop Shit." All fine and dandy, but then Karol hunted me down at the bar, having mentioned to me earlier that she had been looking forward to arguing politics with me over cocktails during the trip.
Man, was that fun. In her words:
I thought I was going to argue politics with BG of the blog Verbosities but then we ended up agreeing on a whole bunch of stuff while getting our drink on at the Imperial Palace Geisha bar.Well, we absolutely got our drink on. That was as crocked as I've been in a long time, really. But we went back and forth over a variety of things for a couple hours, drinking and badgering each other a little, and it just proved yet another of my theories about this little group of ours. At every event there's always someone interesting you may have missed getting to know from a previous outing.
I don't really get to talk politics much (not live and in person, except with Human Head on the phone), plus there's this little thing I have where it seems like intelligent and accomplished women tend to bring out the better in me, so all in all it was probably my favorite two hour stretch of the weekend.
We're not going to talk about the NFL games on Sunday, except to say that I predicted that on the Cowboys' last drive that the ball would hit the turf and take a miracle bounce back into Dallas arms - a prediction on which I was vindicated a few plays later.
I had a BLT with April and Bob, and April saved the day by gifting me a Xanax for the flight home. Since I have trouble sleeping on planes, this was essential. The last of my time in Vegas was spent with Blood and Otis in the airport, taking some time to talk to a couple of my favorite people with whom I really haven't had the chance to spend as much time as I'd have liked. They ate their Quiznos, I digested my BLT, we all hopped planes and after a fourteen hour red-eye travel day, I got back to my little dog in the late afternoon yesterday.
(By the way, I got one of those Xmas gift baskets with all the "gourmet" snacks piled high from one of my suppliers, so I gave that to the dogsitters as a thanks. They're daily pot smokers, so I'm sure they can find something to do with a dozen different types of cookies and such.)
If I didn't say it before, I missed you guys. Thanks Otis, thanks Al, thanks Steve, thanks Bob. I'm really glad I got to come out.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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