Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

Ok, so... Where did we leave off?

Oh yeah, on Friday before heading to work. I got in early and signed my name at the top of the Early Out list, hoping to punch out around midnight and go hang with my women-folk. Unfortunately, we were so busy that night, that even though I was the second one in line for the early out, I didn't get pushed until 2am. Ugh. As soon as I got off the casino floor, I checked my messages, and one was a drunken call from Angy saying they were all done for the night and heading back to their rooms and sleeping it off.

So I stopped at Chilly's for a beer, alone, and just went home and went to bed, a little pissed off that I took off early from work for no reason. Turns out that we made almost $200 apiece that night, unfortunately, I only got a 75% share of that...

I was so tired though that when I got to bed I crashed hard and slept like I was in a coma. I forgot to turn on my alarm clock, and I awoke to my cellphone ringing at 12:30--it was Angy reminding me that the wedding started an hour and a half later, downtown, and that I still had to come pick her up.

Oh shiat!

So I showered, shaved, and got dressed as quickly as I could and was out the door a half hour later. Knowing that we couldn't show up empty-handed, I stopped and got a gift bag together, filling it with a couple of bottles of nice wine (the stuff at eye-level, not the stuff down on the bottom shelf...), a couple of good cigars, and a card. Then it was off to the Imperial Palace where I found Angy doing her best 'working-girl' impersonation by standing on the side of the road and waiting to get picked up. Apparently, I was the only one who stopped, this time...

But we made it down to the Graceland Chapel with several minutes to spare and we hung around outside waiting for the earlier wedding to clear the chapel so that we could go in. Clearly Elvis was doing a brisk business this weekend. But the bride and groom, Marlisha and George, cleaned up pretty well, and George had the foresight to bring along some Elvis-style sunglasses and mutton-chops to class up the ceremony. I'm sure his parents were very proud.

Before long the party moved from the parking lot to the chapel, and they asked me to be an official witness, so I had to put my paw print on their marriage license. I guess it's official now...

The chapel was small, but nicely appointed. After a few minutes of taking care of paperwork and such, the ceremony began. George took his place down front, while two different Elvi bounded through a side door. The young postage-stamp Elvis took his place at the pulpit, while the older jumpsuit-Elvis walked Marlisha down the aisle playing his guitar and singing Love Me Tender.

An actual minister made an appearance and there were traditional vows exchanged, but with the added twist of The Kings singing a song or two in the middle of the ceremony. After the rings were exchanged and the deed was done, they broke into a medley of great Elvis tunes and there was lots of singing and dancing in the aisles, along with the happy couple helping out with the vocals.

It was a great time, leading Angy to say that it was the best wedding she'd ever been to. She also said "Hey, we should do this..."

I was like... Uh, what?

She said it would be fun for us to do a fake 'renewal of vows ceremony' just for shiats and giggles, take pictures, post 'em and freak people out. But I had to remind her that she already had a husband--a different dude altogether, who at the moment was parked at a slot machine somewhere in town and probably wouldn't appreciate the humor.

But I was a little freaked out, so mission accomplished there, Angy. Actually, it wasn't that bad--we had a lot of laughs just talking about it, but of course I agreed that if I ever found a gal that would put up with my shiat for more than a couple of weeks, we'd go the Elvis-wedding route here in Vegas. That seemed to satisfy her...

After the ceremony ended, the party migrated down to the Golden Nugget for the reception. They'd gotten a meeting room set up and had a catered party for all of the guests. With an open bar. Uh oh. Actually, it was mostly all family, and Angy and I were on our best behavior, so it didn't get too far out of hand. But the party was actually very nice. Beside the open bar, there was a carving station and an hors d'oeuvre buffet featuring some excellent finger food.

We lingered there for quite awhile, meeting new people, having a few drinks, telling some stories, and sampling all of the good food. There was even a damn good wedding cake and a champagne toast to round out the afternoon, but sadly there was no DJ, so the Hokey Pokey was denied.

Once the reception wrapped up, I said goodbye to Angy and she went off to find her real husband, while a few of us headed off to the 'bridal suite' to continue the party with cigars and rum. We hung out there for far too long having a lot of laughs, but ended up downstairs at one of the bars in the casino. I was able to stick around until 7:15, but then I had to haul ass to the other side of town and be to work at 8:00. I would've made it, too, but the valet at the Golden Nugget is almost as slow as the valet at the Rio. But I got there eventually and did my eight hours at the tables.

I was so worn out from all of the partying and working that I literally slept all day on Sunday. I seriously didn't get out of bed all day until I went to work. No Pai Gow that night--I spent the entire shift at the dice tables, but I was the cooler--wiping everyone out and closing down two of the three tables I was on.

Monday morning arrived much too early and I was wide awake at 7:30. I just kicked around the house until noon or so, called George, and we agreed to meet at the Fireside Lounge at the Peppermill for some more stogies and cocktails.

I got there a little early, but sadly my girl Krista was on vacation--I haven't seen her in over a month, so it was quite a downer, especially after seeing her quoted in the Review-Journal last week. But the substitute bartender was nice, and also easy on the eyes. While waiting, I ordered a Corona and ran twenty bucks through the video poker machine, turning it into thirty and getting my beer for free.

George and Marlisha finally showed up after fighting Strip traffic and such, and we moved the party to one of the hideaway booths in the back. We broke out the good cigars and ordered a round or two of chocolate martinis, and proceeded to relax for a couple of hours just hanging out.

Eventually, we decided that we were getting pretty hungry, so we wanted to get some lunch. Marlisha threw out the idea of Cuban food at the Florida cafe, and since it's been on my list of places to try, I was all over it. They, being from Florida in their past lives, miss the good Cuban food so she didn't need to work very hard to sell George on the idea, either.

The Florida Cafe has advertisements all over town at what seems like every bus stop, but it's kind of off the beaten tourist path. It's north of the Stratosphere on LV Boulevard, just before you get to the 'safe' touristy part of downtown. Hey, all the best ethnic restaurants are in dangerous neighborhoods, right?

The restaurant is much bigger than it looks from the outside, and it's actually attached to a Howard Johnson's motel. The first order of business once we got a table was to order mojitos. And these were a damn fine version--even better than the ones I've had at the Havana Club down in Cozumel. I could lay in a hammock and drink them all day long given half the chance. But there were no hammocks readily available, so we ordered some appetizers instead.

Marlisha is an expert on Cuban cuisine, so she ordered a plate full of fried yucca root with garlic sauce and I ordered some ham croquettes. While waiting we nibbled on the fantastic warm buttered Cuban bread. Both appetizers were very good, but the yucca root thingies were pretty damn interesting. Much heavier than french fries, but basically the same flavor. Except that the mildly-spicy garlic sauce that was drizzled all over them gave them a fantastic zip. Unfortunately, they were so rich that you could only eat a few without filling up. And we had traditional Cuban sandwiches on the way.

The sandwiches were also excellent--steaming hot pork with cheese and pickles, smashed flat on grilled Cuban bread. As good as it was, I think that the Cuban sandwich I had at Kahunaville several weeks ago was actually a little bit better. But I had no complaints whatsoever about the Florida Cafe--food, service, and ambiance were all very good. And the prices weren't too bad, either.

After that, I was just dead on my feet. All of the rich food, the cocktails, and lack of sleep the night before was starting to catch up with me. About the same time, George got a call from one of the other guys in the wedding party, his old college roommate Justice. They were supposed to already be on a plane back to Florida at the time, but he'd gotten so sick that he'd gone to the hospital and was bedridden back at the Nugget. So we said our goodbyes out in the parking lot--they went to check on Justice while I headed back to the house for a quick nap before another long night at the tables. They were leaving for home the next morning, so we wouldn't be able to get together again before they left.

But it was a great weekend all around. I got to spend some time goofing off with Angy, we got to see a rather unique wedding ceremony, and of course I love just chillin' out with George and Marlisha--they're great friends and we always have a good time together.

And the buffoonery continues today, as I'm having lunch at Commander's Palace with Scott and Alice Lee. Afterwards, it's likely that we'll visit the cigar lounge next door to the restaurant for some more relaxation therapy.

It's a tough gig sometimes, but I gotta do it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Prairie Doggin'

Hey Gang...

Just wanted to poke my head up out of the ground and give you all a quick update. It's been a very long weekend, and I just got home from work about ten minutes ago, but I've got two full days off ahead of me.

First thing, I've got to get a cat-nap for a couple of hours, then I have to take the rental car back before 9:30 this morning. I'll catch a cab back to the house and get some proper sleep after that. Once I'm rested, I'll commence to bloggin' like a maniac--I've got lots of stories to tell. But they probably won't be posted until late tonight/early tomorrow. I am exhausted.

Like Axl once said, all we need is just a little patience.

But Angy was here, which is always fun, and we had a wedding to attend, which had to be the coolest wedding I'd ever been to. I got to mark another restaurant off the list, and as a bonus, Scott and Alice Lee are here in town also, and we're going to spend a few quarters at Commander's Palace on Wednesday for lunch, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do...

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend, and I'll check back in again later.



Friday, May 26, 2006

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

What a day it's already been, and it's not even half over for me...

First of all, work last night was a total pain in the ass. I had nothing but whiney and bitchy players all night long obviously gambling with money they couldn't afford to lose. It was a total mind-numbing grind to make it the full eight hours last night, and to add insult to injury, we only made $128 in tips. Well, they weren't all bad, there were a few highlights, but overall, it was a crummy night behind the green felt. There was one jerkoff in particular that I managed to beat out of about $500, so it put me in a better mood. I was on a double-deck pitch game, and he was taking so long to make a decision every time that the other players started getting irritated. Finally I had to call the floorperson over and ask them Would you kindly assist the gentleman on first base with his playing decision--I don't want to have to give him a delay-of-game penalty... That got a laugh from both the floor and the other players, but the guy remained a jerkoff, so after that it was open season on him.

We finally broke him, but the night didn't improve. The floorperson in charge of the roadmap was in way over his head. (The roadmap is one of the most important documents in the pit--it directs all of the dealers to all of their tables and break schedules. Late at night, once tables start to close, it gets adjusted dozens of times before the shift ends). Anyhow, what he did was send half the dealers home at around 3:20 in the morning, leaving nobody to come back at 3:40. No big deal, right? Well, the dealers that get tapped out for the 'last break' at 3:40 have to go around to all of the pits and empty all of the toke boxes. It takes about ten minutes, but after that they can just go home. Since nobody got tapped out to go on 'break' at 3:40, there was nobody to pick up the tokes. So, all of us unfortunates that didn't get taken off of our tables until Graveyard Shift arrived had to stay late and collect all of the tokes, keeping us there well past 4am. After the wonderful night I'd already had, it contributed even more to my already foul mood.

On the plus side, though, word around the campfire was that the shift manager tore the floorperson a new one before we left. He's not a bad guy (the floorperson), in fact he's one of my favorite supervisors, so I don't wanna see him get in too much trouble. It's just that he's learning the ropes and managing the roadmap is his particular kryptonite.

Anyhow, I finally got home around 4:30 and had to set my alarm for 8:00 am. Why? Because I had to go down to the airport and pick up a rental car for the next four days. Why did I specify picking it up at 9:00 am? I don't know. I'm a dumbass...

Before turning in, I called Angy, and she'd just arrived at the Peoria airport, and I asked her if she wanted me to pick her up. Of course she did--her flight would be arriving at 10:30, so I told her I'd be at the baggage claim at 11:00.

Well, I couldn't sleep at first, but once I finally did, I crashed hard. So hard that I slept through my alarm for a half an hour. I finally realized where the music was coming from around 8:35, hopped out of bed and into the shower. As soon as I got out and got dressed, I called a cab to come pick me up and take me down to the airport.

It arrived about 20 minutes later and for a fare of twelve bucks he got me to the Thrifty lot after a quick stop at an ATM. (Yeah, little tip for you Vegas rookies--cabs in this town are not allowed to take credit cards for payment--cash only). After a brief wait in line, I gave the dude my license and credit card and I was just about done thirty seconds later. But then he asked me if I'd rather have a bigger car, since I was a 'local' he could give me a special rate. How much, I asked. Just another twenty bucks, said he.

Sold, said I.

I asked for a Chrysler 300 (quite an upgrade from the Stratus I'd reserved), but he told me they'd already run out, but I could have any Jeep or SUV I wanted. So I went with a Jeep Commander, knowing that I was giving Angy a ride, and also knowing that she doesn't travel lightly, I figured I'd need all the space I could muster. Those of you not familiar with a Jeep Commander, it's the biggest Jeep they make--it looks a lot like a Toyota Land Cruiser or something you'd take on Safari. It's big and boxy--not nearly as pretty as a Grand Cherokee, but nice enough.

A few minutes later I was out of the airport and heading off to run errands. A quick stop at the bank to move some funds around, then my plan was to drive out to work and visit the nice ladies in the HR department and do paperwork--I needed to cut the contributions to the 401k for a couple months to help me gather a downpayment on a new ride, and also cut out the direct purchase of stock and also sell the shares I'd already bought. This morning's paycheck had over $800 worth of deductions, so if I can get about $300 of that put back in my pocket every time, I should be ok. I'll go back to saving like a miser once I get a car purchased and get that poker-dealing job...

Well, that was the plan, but as soon as I drove out there and walked back to the offices, I found out that the HR office doesn't open until 11:00 am on Fridays. Nice... What a waste of time. So basically the purpose of my trek out to work was to buy an extra large banana-coconut Frappuccino from Starbucks.

Pissed off again, I headed back towards the airport. I got about halfway there when my phone was ringing--it was Angy. Her flight landed about 15 minutes early, and since she didn't have any oversize bags this time, her and her husband were already finished at the baggage claim, too. I floored it and told her I'd be there in ten minutes.

I found them waiting on the sidewalk in the parking garage, and we loaded up the new pimpin' ride and headed for daylight. Of course, since it was Angy, I had some ABBA in the cd player for her... Before we left the airport, we decided to go get some lunch, so we hit our usual first stop, Metro Pizza. It was excellent, as usual.

After that, it was off to their luxurious digs at the Imperial Palace. I dropped them off in front and headed for home. Unfortunately, something in the pizza didn't quite agree with me, so it was a race with the Devil to get home before I soiled a perfectly good pair of boxers and lost a few bucks to Thrifty for upholstery cleaning. But I made it with a few minutes to spare, disaster averted.

Since I was already home and had only about an hour of sleep the night before, the slothful (normal) part of me was just like Fark it, I can change the payroll deductions next week, I need to snooze... But as soon as I laid down, the other half of my brain wouldn't let me relax, so I got up again, put on some shoes, and headed back down to my casino for the third time in less than eight hours.

This time the HR and payroll offices were open, and not only did I get all my paperwork squared away, but they also had the 'Mikey' nametag that I'd ordered back in November. I also got a bit of bad news, that being that I've only got 11 hours of vacation on the books until May 2nd, 2007. (After that, I'll immediately have 2 weeks available). Holy shiat, what a depressing thought. And only 1 more floater day until January, too. Guess I won't be going anywhere for awhile.

Anyhow, after all that was taken care of, I drove back home, hoping to get some sleep, but again that busybody part of my brain kept telling me I should post an update. So here it is. I hope you all appreciate the sacrifices I make to keep you entertained...

Hopefully I can get a quick power-nap in this afternoon before heading back to work. But as soon as I get there, I'm signing up for an Early Out tonight, and hopefully meeting up with Angy and Andrea down at the Carnaval Court for some late-night buffoonery.

At some point, I'll find eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But checking my schedule, I don't see it happening anytime soon.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

Yeah, been goofing off. Sloth is the only one of the Seven Deadlies that gives me serious life problems.

That quote came from John Derbyshire in The Corner on NRO last night. And I could relate to it so well that I had to borrow it. I know, I haven't posted much lately, but then again, I haven't had much to write about. Sitting at home on my days off is extremely boring these days, although some quality cigars-by-the-pool time is always nice.

My system has now become fully acclimatized to this whole swing shift schedule, meaning that I can no longer sleep at night on my off-days. I try to watch tv, but it's mostly infomercials in the middle of the night. I've read everything in the house, too, so that's not much of an option. I suppose I could go for a walk around the neighborhood and get a little exercise, and actually, now that I've written it, it sounds like a great idea. This weather earlier this week has been especially nice, like God reached out and cranked up the cosmic air conditioner--mid 60s at night, 80s during the day. It's getting a little warmer now, but it's going to cool off again this weekend.

Speaking of the weekend--it should be a good one. George and Marlisha are here to get hitched by Elvis at the Graceland Chapel, and I'm sure some low-grade buffoonery shall ensue. And Angy arrives for a quick visit, also. Luckily I have to work every night--no chance of getting any time off, so we can't get kicked out of anywhere and she can't get Andrea and I drunk together and make us do stupid stuff that ends up on my digital camera.

And speaking of Andrea, I miss her badly... I haven't seen her since the Saturday morning of March Madness when I dropped her back at her car in the Imperial Palace parking garage. I spent a couple more days hanging with Angy after that, and unbelievably I'll see Angy again before I see Andrea again--and Andrea lives here! Kinda sucks. We email, text message, and talk on the phone, but hell, she might as well be a thousand miles away. But she lives way up on the far northwest side, I live on the southeast side, and our schedules are completely out of sync. If we want to hang out, one of us usually has to take a vacation day.

These are a few of my favorite things...

But it'll be great to see 'em again. Who knows, maybe there will be some high-grade buffoonery, too.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Jack Bauer Power Hour

After getting home from a very long night at work early Tuesday morning, I settled in to watch the final two hours of 24 before getting some sleep, and I've got a few thoughts. If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to skip the rest of this post, because it's highly likely there may be a spoiler or two...

Unfortunately, I can't say that I was very impressed with the way it ended. Yeah, it was cool to see President Logan getting hauled away to meet his fate, but what I wanted to see was an extra half-hour epilogue wrap-up; you know, stuff like the First Lady and Agent Pierce hanging a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the doorknob of some secluded hotel room, Miles pulling a Captain Hadley and crying like a little girl when they slapped the cuffs on him, Bill Buchanan and Karen Hayes having breakfast at the Hawthorne Grill and walking out just as Jules and Vincent are walking in, and maybe Chloe building a miniature Edgar shrine with candles and such on her workstation...

But I just *knew* that Jack was gonna get his ass shanghai'd by the Chinese dudes. They kept referring to them all throughout the past few episodes, and after that awkward and sappy 'I love you' scene with Audrey, you had to figure that the whole phone-call-from-the-daughter scenario was just a diversion to get Jack alone and away from the good guys. As soon as he walked into the abandoned building, I pulled an Admiral Akbar and yelled It's a trap! at my tv set. I will admit, however, for an instant I thought it was the wireless-headset wearing bad guys led by Dr. Ramano that got to him first, because of that whole they-can-touch-you-but-you-can't-touch-them speech that the Robocop guy (Henderson) gave Jack in an earlier episode (leading all of us to the obvious conclusion that President Logan's evil partners-in-crime were just a bunch of strippers).

Anyhow, I think the most enjoyable part of the final episode was the retaking of the submarine and the final showdown between Jack and all of the bad guys. Of course, breaking Bierko's neck with the WWF leg-lock was a bit silly, reminding me of one of my buddies in college who would remark in a dry Texas drawl, whenever he saw an attractive girl in a mini-skirt, Man, she could wrap those legs around your head an pop it like a zit...

And I liked the climactic scene with Henderson on the deck of the sub as he was trying to get away. Of course Jack gave him an empty gun--everybody on the planet knew the gun was empty as soon as Jack handed it to him. For being an ex-CTU guy and spending so much time around bad people with guns, any moron knows that as soon as someone hands you a .45 automatic (or any gun, for that matter), you rack it to check and see if it's loaded. Bad firearms discipline. And he could've gotten away... Of course if it was loaded, his two shots at Jack would've just winged him, and Jack would've capped his ass anyways, so I suppose it's a mute point.

But as soon as he pulled the trigger and we all heard the metallic click-click of the empty chamber, who among us wasn't waiting for Jack to bust out with his Bruce Willis impersonation-- Whoops! No bullets... What, do you think I'm farking stupid, Hans?

So now we'll have to wait until January to see what happens with our hero. Does the next episode begin on the ship where he goes full-on Jackie Chan on everyone and commandeers the thing, or do we skip forward another year where we see our hero enduring daily torture in a Chinese prison before being scheduled to get his organs harvested along with all the rest of his Falun Gong compadres in the cellblock?

Who knows... But my Tivo is ready.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Best of the Best

In a move sure to create controversy, I am going to officially declare the 100 Best Rock & Pop Songs of All Time. Of course this is completely subjective--the list is my 100 favorite songs. I've been mulling it around in the attic for a few weeks, but now that I've finally comitted it to paper, and songs have been deleted, added, and changed, I'm pretty much satisfied with the result. But I know that as soon as I hit the enter button to publish this post, I'll remember something else I should've included...

But feel free to comment on my selections and tell me what a dumbass I am for not including something obvious. But I had a few criteria before I completed the list--It's not 'The Greatest Songs Ever Written', because I think some of the classical stuff like the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah is probably the single greatest piece of music ever composed, along with greats like Carmina Burana or even Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries that would be included. So it's just rock & pop. I didn't include any country, either, although I should've because there are some truly fantastic country songs out there that would've made the cut. In fact, and I know Andrea is gonna kill me for it, but I had to scratch off Toby Keith's Courtesy of the Red White and Blue because I didn't want to open the hillbilly can of worms. Also, I decided that I would include only one song from any single artist or group. Clearly Guns & Roses, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin are hurt by this rule, but I thought it would make for a more interesting list. Also, I found it curious that no Beatles tune made the cut. I know that some would consider that type of omission a sacrilege, but frankly I was never that big of a fan. Also, some listed have been hits with other artists, but I chose the artist/version I liked the best.

So here they are, what I consider the 100 best songs of all time. In no particular order...

1. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
2. Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughn
3. Suite Madam Blue - Styx
4. Tough Guys - Reo Speedwagon
5. Boys of Summer - Don Henley
6. Rain - The Cult
7. Understanding Jane - The Icicle Works
8. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns & Roses
9. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
10. Whiskey In The Jar - Metallica
11. Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
12. Beautiful Girls - Van Halen
13. Gypsy Road - Cinderella
14. Remember Yesterday - Skid Row
15. Drops of Jupiter - Train
16. Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
17. Bullet The Blue Sky - U2
18. Feel So Numb - Rob Zombie
19. Detroit Rock City - KISS
20. Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
21. You're All I've Got Tonight - The Cars
22. Cars - Gary Numan
23. Don't Change - INXS
24. Don't Go Away Mad - Motley Crue
25. Cadillac Ranch - Bruce Springsteen
26. My Head's in Mississippi - ZZ Top
27. L.A. Woman - The Doors
28. Hard to Handle - Black Crowes
29. I Love You - Climax Blues Band
30. Singing In My Sleep - Semisonic
31. Wash It Away - Black Lab
32. Every Rose Has It's Thorn - Poison
33. Fat Bottom Girls - Queen
34. Closer to Free - Bodeans
35. Do Ya Wanna Touch Me - Joan Jett
36. Dancing Queen - ABBA
37. Oh L'amour - Erasure
38. Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds
39. God Don't Make Lonely Girls - The Wallflowers
40. Alive - Pearl Jam
41. Last Resort - Papa Roach
42. My Favorite Game - The Cardigans
43. In The End - Linkin Park
44. Call Me - Blondie
45. Wheel In The Sky - Journey
46. I Fought The Law - The Clash
47. Arizona - The Scorpions
48. Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
49. Shining Star - The Manhattans
50. American Pie - Don McLean
51. Paradise By the Dashboard Light - Meatloaf
52. Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith
53. Forever Young - Alphaville
54. Clocks - Coldplay
55. Church of the Poison Mind - Culture Club
56. Southern Cross - Jimmy Buffett
57. Hotel California - Eagles
58. Tiny Dancer - Elton John
59. Pure & Simple - Lightning Seeds
60. Keep It Comin' Love - KC & The Sunshine Band
61. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
62. In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins
63. Crazy Train - Ozzy Osbourne
64. Losing My Religion - REM
65. Paint It Black - Rolling Stones
66. On The Loose - Saga
67. Ball & Chain - Social Distortion
68. Colorful - The Verve Pipe
69. I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
70. Bringin' On the Heartbreak - Def Leppard
71. YMCA - The Village People
72. Only the Good Die Young - Billy Joel
73. Arms of the Angel - Sarah McLachlan
74. Not My Slave - Oingo Boingo
75. Hazy Shade of Winter - The Bangles
76. Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson
77. We All Die Young - Steel Dragon
78. Runaway Train - Soul Asylum
79. Rasberry Beret - Prince
80. Fox On The Run - Sweet
81. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel
82. Farewell My Summer Love - Michael Jackson
83. Cowboy - Kid Rock
84. My Sharona - The Knack
85. Touch of Grey - Grateful Dead
86. Ready to Go - Republica
87. Tonight It's You - Cheap Trick
88. Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
89. I Need A Lover - John Mellencamp
90. Strength - The Alarm
91. Interstate - The Refreshments
92. Brand New Lover - Dead or Alive
93. Cajun Song - Gin Blossoms
94. Rebel Rebel - David Bowie
95. Cool Change - Little River Band
96. Hell's Bells - AC/DC
97. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
98. Lonely Is The Night - Billy Squier
99. Vacation - Go Go's
100.Hush - Deep Purple

Let the comments fly...


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Found On Road, Dead

Well, I've figured out why all of my calls to the Highway Patrol and Metro Police trying to locate the Sled's remains this past week have proved fruitless. I got a call from my friend Jen this afternoon and she said that she saw my car when coming back from Red Rock this morning. I asked her where she saw it, and she said it's still on the side of I-15 up in North Las Vegas! She said it didn't have a pink sticker on it yet, either. She also told me that all the wheels were still on it and all of the glass was intact, which has got to be some kind of record for that neighborhood.

That would explain why the authorities can't tell me where it is--they still haven't done anything about it, either. I'd get it towed myself, but when my last paycheck hit the account, I was doing the responsible thing and paid off about $700 worth of old debt, paid the current bills, bought groceries, filled up the gas tank, and left myself with $150 in my pocket to get me through the next couple of weeks. I didn't expect the car to pull a Bluesmobile-in-front-of-the-assessors-office on me so soon, so the funds are a little short at the moment, otherwise I would've already had it towed to the junkyard and got a few bucks for the salvage (and I would've also siphoned all of the gas out of it, too). But it's just been sitting on the side of the freeway for the past six days, collecting dust and adding to more interest to the already scenic drive for the north side commuters.

I've lined up a rental car for next weekend--I was going to wait awhile longer, but Angy is in town, and also George and Marlisha are driving up to get hitched at the Graceland Chapel on Saturday, so I will most definitely need some sort of transportation. Being a frequent flyer with Thrifty, I got a deal for like $15 a day for a Stratus, which ain't too shabby for a holiday weekend in Vegas. I suppose I can take a drive up to the north side at some point and see if the sled is still there.

In the meantime, I think I'm gonna contact the folks at Guinness and find out what the record is for the largest hunk of roadkill--I may have a contender.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Simply Amazing

Just poking around the statistics on my site meter, I've discovered that since I started tracking hits at the beginning of February, I've had over 30,000 hits to this website, and I'm averaging 395 visitors a day.

Wow. It's hard to believe that that many people are interested in anything I have to say. Of course, I'm wondering if my daily posts would be slightly less interesting if I lived in say, Buford Georgia.

I know that more than a few of the 395 each day are 'repeat visitors' looking for updates, so I guess that means I'll have to post more often. Shouldn't be a problem now that I've got all this free time on my hands. I guess I could also start working my way through the 700 or so emails still sitting in my inbox from last couple of months when my filters weren't working and I couldn't delete anything. Again, I don't mean to slight anybody or purposefully ignore anyone, but seriously, I was under an avalanche of mail there for awhile and had no free time. Well, at least no free time to sit in front of the computer sifting through hundreds of emails.


On The Nightstand

I forgot to mention an interesting book I picked up last week--Poker Wisdom of a Champion by Doyle Brunson. Having spent the past three years or so reading just about every poker book ever printed, somehow I overlooked this one. (I also haven't gotten around to reading Super System II just yet, either).

Anyhow, it's a pretty easy read--I think I finished the whole thing in less than two hours, but it's a collection of about 40 or so poker tips, each with a short story illustrating the point. It's fairly entertaining, but it's in it's second printing--it was first published back in the early 80's, I think. The stories won't really give you any lightning-bolt insight into how to win a bracelet, but it's more like listening to Grandpa sitting on the porch swing talking about the old days as a road gambler--great stories, with a few practical nuggets of insight sprinkled around.

Speaking of poker, I just realized the other day that my car issues are going to preclude me from playing in any of the World Series events this summer like I'd planned on doing. I was definitely going to do the $500 buy-in Casino Dealers tournament, maybe one of the $1000 Limit tourneys, and I was considering even playing in a satellite or two hoping to stumble ass-backwards into the Main Event. But that idea has gone completely out the window now. Probably for the best--I think I'm probably the textbook definition of Dead Money. Well, maybe not as much as Doc Al or Terry, but you know what I mean.


Guess that bracelet will just have to wait another year...


Glowing Like the Metal on the Edge of a Knife

While channel surfing this morning, I happened to catch the video for the Red Hot Chili Peppers new song, Dani California. I don't know if anyone out there has seen the video yet, but the song is pretty catchy--kind of like power pop, not the thrashy skater music that they seem to have made their name on.

Anyhow, the video is about the stupidest thing I've seen in a long time--they're trying to be all hardcore, but the action just doesn't go with the music at all. It's like hearing an Elton John song but seeing a Rob Zombie video at the same time. It just looks ridiculous. I'm afraid that about 15 years down the road, people are going to see the video and say to themselves Oh my god, what a pack of farking retards!

Kinda like now whenever I see that Unskinny Bop video from Poison.

And speaking of the Chili Peppers, I know it's heresy to some folks, but I've always thought that The Offspring were much more talented and wrote better songs. I don't know why they never got bigger than the Chili Peppers.

And also speaking of music, I forgot to mention how much happier I am now that Whoever is In Charge at work finally changed the overhead music station that they piped into the casino. For the past year, it's been that horrid XM-25 'The Blend' which is just the shittiest collection of depressing and slow music ever tossed together without making it to the landfill. Everybody complained about it, except the old folks in the bingo room and the keno lounge, and I don't know why they waited so long to change it. It's like Mr. White said in That Thing You Do--I don't want any of that lover's lament crap, I want something snappy...

Well, now they've changed to XM-22, The Mix. While it's not my first choice, I actually heard both Linkin Park and Duran Duran playing in the casino this week. Gotta love that. And I haven't heard that gawd-awful 2am-Breathe song that drove me into a homicidal rage every time it came on (at least three times a night) at all this week, or any Paul McCartney trash either. Definitely better for my disposition and my blood pressure.

Which reminds me of another question. How can a group like Train--who wrote what I think are two of the best songs of the last decade, Drops of Jupiter and Calling All Angels--turn out such an auditory crapfest like Meet Virginia? It's like INXS releasing the album Kick and that shiatty Need You Tonight hitting number one on the charts. Just goes to show what cretins the music-buying public has always been. It never ceases to amaze me how some of the crappiest songs are the biggest hits.

Anyhow...this post is all over the map, so I should probably just shut up for now and let the comments fly.

But I think that I'll spend the afternoon out by the pool, drinking rum & coke and listening to Buffett tunes. At least Brother Jimmy always puts me in a good mood.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Many Thanks...

Hey everybody--I want to give a quick thank you shout out to everyone for their kind words of support during this somewhat difficult time. Y'all make it sound like a tragedy of the first magnitude, but honestly, I was planning on dumping the old girl pretty soon anyways. I guess she found out from her friends and dumped me first, that's all. Just like in college...

As inconvenient as the situation is, it's not nearly as difficult as it was last year when I first arrived in town towing the car behind a trailer and having to replace the transmission. That was a tough spot to be in. This time around, I have a job, a stable place to live, lots of local friends, and plenty of local knowledge so that I'm not out getting lost in new territory while trying to fix my transportation dilemma.

Basically, I'm going to be stuck here at the estate for the next couple of weeks except for work. And I have transportation arranged for almost every night. Cyndi and David arrive on June 9th for a visit, so I'll get a rental car then, and I'll keep it for either two weeks or an entire month. By that time I should have a decent down payment gathered up.

I've been searching online, and the best deals are either at Desert Auto Group, or those buffoons at Towbin. I'm not exactly wanting to jump into a brand-new car, but a quality used truck is what I prefer. I'm seeing a lot of 2003-2004 Dodge Dakotas out there for less than 18K, so that's the way I'm leaning right now. As much as I'd like to have a 300 or a new Charger, I just can't justify the expense. I can easily afford a $500 per month payment, but holy shiat, who wants to pay that? Not this guy. I've been spoiled the last few years, not having a car payment at all, so I'll have to ease back into that commitment.

I thought that having all this free time (no school, no errands to run...) would give me lots of time to write and such, but these past couple of days I've just caught up on sleep, tried to track down the whereabouts of the sled's carcass, and done a little bit of internet window-shopping.

I'm actually looking forward to going to work tonight and having some outside contact. Staying here at the house is almost like being in solitary confinement, with a few amenities of course, but my supply of mixers for all of the rum is running low...


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Say Goodbye To My Little Friend

I could be the Walrus, but I'd still have to bum rides off of people...

It's a somber day here at the Hurricane Hole. The Ghetto Sled finally kicked the bucket for real last night, leaving me without a fine ride for the foreseable future.

I figured it was on it's last legs a few weeks back when the (year-old) transmission started slipping whenever I'd make a sharp turn. Since then it's gotten steadily worse, yet I'd hoped to nurse it along until July or so, when I'd have about $3500 or so saved up for a down payment on a new truck.

But yesterday afternoon, driving home from school, it was an especially warm day so I was keeping an eye on the temperature gauge due to my sometimes leaky radiator. I made it home, but the engine was running a little hot when I got here. I had to take a quick shower and get dressed for work, because I was meeting a few of my fellow poker students up in North Las Vegas at Jerry's Nugget for an early dinner, then we were going over to the Poker Palace to play in one of the nightly tournaments in which one of the guys from school got the dealing job.

Anyhow, before I left again, I made sure all of the fluids were topped off and everything under the hood was where it should be. Traffic was pretty heavy, and I was afraid that the car might overheat. It didn't, but about halfway there, it sounded like the transmission had a grinding noise going on. So while stopped for traffic lights, I'd slip it into neutral and the grinding would stop. But a block away from the casino, the car died, and the 'Check Engine' light and 'Charging System' lights came on. It restarted immediately, and I limped into the parking lot, but the Sled making noise like silverware in the garbage disposal.

I figured it just needed to cool off, so I went inside of Jerry's Nugget and gave Doc Al a call to commemorate my first return to the scene of our epic visit in December. About that time I saw Harry, the cardroom manager at the Flamingo--and more importantly--one of my poker instructors from school, ambling towards me. We hung out for a few minutes at the bar while waiting for the others to show up, and I amazed him with my ability to stick half-full water bottles to my head.

A few minutes later, the rest of the gang showed up and we headed towards Uncle Angelo's pizza joint, which doubles as the Nugget's coffee shop. There were six of us for dinner, and even with a few appetizers, the bill was only about $13 bucks apiece including tip. I had one of their 'famous' pizzas--it was good, but not crispy enough. (Metro is still the best, with the offering at the Monte Carlo brew pub a close second). Somebody else had prime rib, the girls had salads and calamari, and a few pasta dishes rounded out the dinner selections.

After that, the plan was to caravan up the road to the Poker Palace. Since I told everyone that my car was acting up, I was in the middle of the convoy in case of a breakdown.

I even checked the oil, the water, and the power steering and brake fluids again before we left the casino, and everything was right where is should've been, leading me to believe that the transmission seals might be the problem. But in another display of the car's miraculous self-healing power, it started right up and made no noise.

However, as soon as I accelerated out of the parking lot, I got a few seconds of a very bad vibration and the grinding noise came back. I made it to the Poker Palace easily enough, but by then I knew that there was something Very Wrong with the car. But there was nothing I could do about it there in the parking lot, so we all just went inside to the poker room. Everyone but my gal-pal Candy and I signed up for the tournament--she didn't think she was ready to play in a real tourney, and I had to leave for work an hour later--so we chose to be railbirds and just watched the action from the side.

Harry was the first of our crowd to get knocked out, but the other two of my fellow students were doing well and made it past the break.

Finally, around ten after seven, I decided that it was time for me to head to work. Luckily, the freeway was close by, and I figured that the open road would be easier on the transmission instead of the stop-n-go nonsense of the surface streets, so I figured I'd make it to work, nurse it home later, and deal with the repair on my day off.

Unfortunately, I only made it about four miles or so before the engine decide to blow itself apart. I was driving in the right lane, nursing the car along at around 60 mph when the oil pressure gauge lit up, fell to zero, and the car locked up and died. I quickly shifted into neutral and coasted to the side of the freeway, engulfed in smoke.


So I called Candy, who offered to come to my rescue if the car didn't make it. At the time, I had to pee really bad, too. I skipped the adventure of the men's room at the Poker Palace, thinking I'd just go as soon as I got to the comparative luxury of the men's room once I got to work. So there I was, hopping around on one foot on the side of the road, waiting for rescue, and knowing that I wasn't going to make it to a proper facility.

So what did I do? I dropped trou there on the side of I-15 and peed under the front of the car, just in case a State Trooper or a Metro Cop decided to drive by and stop. That way I could tell them that my radiator blew instead of having them writing me a ticket for public lewdness or some other such nonsense.

I also had a couple of gallons of water in the trunk to wash my hands with, plus dump on the ground to look like an actual radiator leak. But it was all for naught, as Candy and Harry showed up just a few minutes later. We got the car as far off the should as we could, I grabbed whatever essentials I needed, and we headed south towards my casino.

I made a quick call to work, telling them of my transportation issues, and that I was running a few minutes late. The shift boss changed to road map to give me the first break of the night, and I was only about ten minutes late by the time I was dropped off at the front door. Of course I was stressed out, and having been out in the heat on the side of the road, the sweat was just pouring off of me. A quick stop at the gift shop for a couple of bottles of water helped, and I ran back to the uniform room and got dressed.

Luckily one of the gals who has mostly the same schedule as me offered to give me a ride to and from work until I get my transportation issue settled, and several of my regular players are car salesmen down the road at the Henderson Auto Mall, so I collected several business cards, too.

But until then, I'm going to have to embrace the joys of staying home on my days off, and I've got to take a break from school for a few weeks, too. I'm going to be car-less for probably two to three weeks, but I've arranged for a long-term rental starting on the 9th of June, the day that my sister Cyndi and her husband David arrive in town for the weekend. So I'll be pimpin' around in a Stratus for a few weeks until I buy a replacement for the Sled. I don't think I'll be able to get exactly what I want, unlike that Uber-buffoon from Santa Barbara, LV Terry, who sent me a photo of the newest member of his family the other day...

Right now, I'm all about the mission at hand, which is to save up all the cash I can get my hands on in order to pay for a new ride. All that matters is that it has a working cd player, electric windows, and most importantly, air conditioning.

The biggest pisser of this whole situation was that just the day before, I'd filled it up with $54 worth of gas. I'll need to get down to the junkyard and siphon that shiat this week.

But hopefully soon I'll have a new place to hang my fuzzy dice.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bummed Out

I've spent a good portion of my Sunday afternoon surfing the web trying to plan a little getaway to the islands. I talked to my favorite partner -in- crime this weekend, Andrea, and she's all about joining me in a Caribbean adventure, too, so I've been trying to figure out a way to get down there for a few days on the cheap.

My sister Cyndi has a condo down there right on the beach, so basically all we need is airfare and spending money.

Unfortunately, all flights to St. Croix are ridiculously expensive. The best I could do is find fares in the neighborhood of $675 round trip from Vegas to St. Croix--of course the trip is at least 12 hours each way, with stops in Miami and San Juan. That seems a bit excessive for a four-day trip, and it seems especially so when we could drive to Los Angeles and hop on a weeklong cruise to the Mexican Riviera for $150 less per person.

I don't know what I'm gonna do yet, but I *do* know that I need some sort of vacation.


Today's Sign of the Apocalypse

Yesterday, I had a craving for some Thai food, so I drove down to a local joint called Mr. Chop Chop Thai/Chinese Restaurant.

Even though I ordered all Thai food, they still included a couple of fortune cookies in the bag. I didn't bother eating them yesterday, but today while sitting at my computer, the fortune cookies were still sitting on my desk, so I opened one.

The message inside the fortune cookie was written in Spanish.

Yep, it appears that we've reached the tipping point.

Only knowing enough Spanish to order lunch, get arrested in Tijuana, or get my ass kicked, I have no idea what it said. I hope it was something good, though. Hell, I don't even know how to say 'in bed' in Spanish, so I couldn't even add that to the end for a laugh...

Aside from that, the food was fantastic. I hadn't eaten Thai food in several months, and I'd forgotten how good it was. I swear I could live on Chicken Satay--I'm going to have to learn how to make that at home. And of course the Pad Thai noodles with chicken and shrimp were excellent, especially after I finished my satay and mixed in the leftover sauce. I also had an order of Crab Rangoon, which although was very tasty, I know I can make a better version (an old girlfriend in college taught me how to make it, and it's a big hit whenever I do).

Anyhow, now that I know that there's a great Thai food take-out shop less than a mile from my house, I'm fairly certain that I'll be eating there about once a week from now on.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Money Talks

Damn, I really need a vacation. I love Vegas, but some time away would be a good thing. Today while I was out running errands in the heat of the day, I walked into the cool refreshing air-conditioned comfort of the lobby at the bank, and the first thing I thought was This reminds me of being on a cruise ship and coming in from the pool deck and going to the Pursers desk on a hot sea day...

Yep, I need to get away. I need some sand, palm trees and saltwater. Time to call the payroll office and find out exactly how much vacation time I have this year and how long I have to use it (Every other company I've worked for in the printed that info on my check stub. Not Stations).

Speaking of paychecks, today I got another one, and it was somewhat disappointing. But then I looked closer and saw the $750+ in deductions that went into 1) Direct Stock Purchase 2) 401-k 3) Direct student-loan payment. Damn, I wish I knew 15 years ago what I know now--but I was the typical doofus in my mid-twenties thinking I had plenty of time to save for retirement, so now I'm playing catchup at 15% of my income every week. I also thought I'd have a second income by now, but it's lean times in the poker world right now, so that hasn't happened just yet. I may have to lower my standards some--I could end up at O'sheas if I'm not careful... I don't care, as long as I'm pocketing an extra $150 per day in cash, it doesn't matter where I'm pitching the cards.

And while I'm talking about money, this was going to be my lucky year--it's the first time in nine years that I was going to get a tax refund--I've been averaging owing about $1200 every April for the past decade, so on the very last day of tax season when I finished up my return and learned that I'd be getting back $329, it was almost enough to make me run out in the (back) yard and do the nekkid happy dance.

Waiting for the cashola to hit my account, I got a letter from the IRS this week. It seems that I still owed $206 to the California Student Aid Commission from back in 1988, so they took their cut. And oh by the way, I still owed the IRS $124 in interest from 1997. Funny how that worked out, leaving my refund balance at exactly $0.

Damn The Man.

I should've taken all those student loans I got in 1988-1991 and bought stock in Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, and Exxon, instead of buying all those berry wine coolers back in college trying to get laid. Because if I had, I'd be a rich dirty old man, and I'd still be getting laid by college girls every weekend, twenty years later...

Another one of life's lessons learned the hard way.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Three Chords and the Truth

After spending about four hours of my day off at school practicing my Kryptonite game, Omaha Hi-Low, I took off around 3pm this afternoon. Instead of going straight home, or going down to the Plaza and playing in a sit-n-go tourney, I decided to stop by the Sam Ash music store down on Maryland Pkwy.

I literally have not picked up a guitar in over four years, but I felt like maybe it's time to do something that I used to really enjoy. Back in the day, I had a veritable music studio going--several very nice guitars, a window-shattering amp stack, a rack full of the latest effects and gizmos, pedals, and enough cords and electrical cable to outfit Apollo 11.

Hell, one year, I even got into the Guiness Book of World Records for being part of the World's Largest Rock n Roll band, when me and about 2000 of my closest friends got together in a parking lot in Mesa Arizona and played Louie Louie at the same time.

Admittedly, I was never that good--I used to get a lot of compliments from non-musicians, and a lot of encouragement for fellow musicians. I could play in a band, onstage, and in front of a crowd, but I was never what you'd consider a virtuoso.

Anyhow, when the market crash and recession took me out a few years ago, I had to sell everything to avoid foreclosure on my condo. Tough times. Since then, I never played again, figuring some cosmic force in the universe was telling me that as much as I wanted to, I'd never look good with big hair and spandex pants. But I never lost the dream of having a sailboat, and all that electrical stuff doesn't do well in the marine environment anyways. I've also made the choice that any new 'hobby' purchases have to be something that I can take with me, and I just don't know where I'd put a Marshall stack on a 41-foot Formosa ketch.

However, being a big fan of Jimmy Buffett's music and realizing that all his songs easily lend themselves to the acoustic guitar, I've been thinking that a new acoustic might be the way to go. So I spent about a half hour or so kicking around the vault at Sam Ash, 'test driving' new guitars, and found one that I really like, the Takamini EG 360 in a beautiful wine-red finish. And yeah, it's acoustic/electric, so I could actually have some fun with a small amp. It's not like I can use it to rip into the opening riff of Sweet Child O' Mine like I did on my old Les Paul, but Every Rose Has It's Thorn isn't out of the question.

So it goes on the shopping list, along with the new gun, the Ipod, the new computer, and the new truck.


A Mildly Political Rant

The price of gasoline, a political football that loves to be kicked around by the ignorant masses, seems to have finally topped off, to torture a pun. In other words, supply has caught up with demand.

Right now, most of the local gas stations in my neighborhood are charging $3.09 per gallon (and what's with this 9/10 bullshit? Just call it $3.10 fer Chrissakes...) Anyhow, while the prices were rising about 60 cents per gallon over the last month, everyone on the left and their pandering politicians have screamed about the obscene profits of the oil companies.

Nothing makes me yawn faster... This is America, motherfarkers, the place where the world comes to make money! Instead of bitching about how much money the oil companies are making, why don't you just buy some stock, or even better, invest in some natural resources mutual funds (which, by the way, had 60%+ returns last year...) and participate in the 'obscenity'.

But nope, the same chuckleheads on the evening news every night can't seem to figure out something so obvious as to actually invest and get a piece of the action, so they talk about 'Windfall Profits Taxes' and congressional investigations. Did nobody in the media in this country ever take Econ 101 in college? Maybe it's because I had to take it twice that I can grasp the concept so easily... but I digress.

Anyhow, a favorite of the lefties is Seattle's favorite corporation--no, not Microsoft, but Starbucks. Yeah, whoever the guy is that has figured out a way to make people stand in line and wait to pay four bucks for a cup of filtered bean water is an absolute genius. I hope he makes several billion dollars, lives to 90 or beyond, and dies in bed in the company of a half dozen twenty-something girlfriends...

But the delicious irony is that while a gallon of gas costs about three bucks a gallon, a 24 oz. venti Frappuccino costs me $4.75 after my employee discount at the casino outlet. At 128 ounces to the gallon, that shiat, as tasty as it is, costs me $25.33 per gallon! And that shit grows on trees (or at least bushes) and falls from the sky! Who's gouging now, motherfarkers???

So where is the righteous indignity??? That's it--I'm writing a letter to my Senator!

Whoops. It's Harry Reid. Lotta good that'll do.


(Yeah, spare me your comments about wants and needs, the 'Public Good' and Bush-oil cronies-conspiracy theories--lefties who rant in my comments section will be cast out with extreme prejudice. My house my rules.)

Three Wise Guys

Call me Ferris, because I skipped school yesterday. It's not like I was spending my day tooling around the Windy City in a classic Ferrari or pretending to be the Sausage King of Chicago to score seats at a fine restaurant--I just didn't feel like going, that's all. Besides, I was a little pissed off at Nick, anyways, so a day away was probably a good thing.

Monday morning, when I got there, I mentioned to him what a good experience it was dealing the tournament and that we should actually spend a little more class time working on dealing tournaments since they're so popular in all of the rooms around town. With that, he literally lost his mind and went on a tirade about how tournaments were bullshit and that we didn't need to waste any class time with 'em and how sick he was of everyone ramming tournaments down his throat. He went on for several minutes like a raving lunatic, as if the mere mention of the phrase 'poker tournament' set off a switch inside him that drove him into a blinding rage.

Whatever. As a paying student, I thought he was way out of line by discounting my suggestion in such a way and with such poor manners, and I find it somewhat ironic that he'll jump at the chance to send a bunch of students to deal an outside poker tournament, but refuses to let those same students work on the very skills needed to do it successfully, during class time. Not good business in my estimation, but then again, my name isn't on the side of the building, either. I'm guessing that he hasn't actually been in a live card room in awhile--that's the only reason I can come up with to explain his utter disdain for tournaments. But the smaller rooms around town do more tournaments than cash games nowadays, and all of the big rooms are doing at least three tournaments a day. I guess he figures we should all get out and find jobs dealing $2/$4 Holdem exclusively.

It makes even less sense when taking into account that the poker room manager of the Poker Palace came down to the school last week looking to hire two people on the spot to do nothing but deal nightly tournaments. I wish that would've happened after Monday's tirade, because I'd love nothing better than to be able to say in front of Nick and everybody "Sorry sir, I can't accept a job with you--I don't feel like I'm qualified because we're not allowed to learn to deal poker tournaments at this school".

Of course, I would've probably been tossed out on my ass, so it's probably a good thing that it didn't happen. But for the life of me, I just don't understand the aversion to tournaments.

(Best quote of the day--Only $800 for tuition... Imagine how much he would charge if they taught tournaments...)

After that, there was kind of a shitty vibe at school, so I only stuck around for about an hour or so and made my way down the street to the Hilton to meet up with Skip and Drew. I was a few minutes early, so I found my way to a Pai Gow table, tossed out a twenty and said 'Money plays!' I was well into my fourth push when both of 'em showed up, so I took my money off the table and we headed for the Venetian.

There was a short wait for a table at the Grand Lux Cafe, but we were seated in a booth in the bar after maybe ten minutes of watching the talent parade wander by. The Venetian is a Coke place, so we opted for just plain old cokes instead of beer or cocktails while we perused the menu. I mentioned that I was going for the Asian nachos as an appetizer, and Skip agreed. Drew said he'd just share ours.

The hell you will--you'll be sporting a bloody stump if you try to heist my nachos!

Yeah, they're that good.

We ordered some other food for main courses--I went with the Venetian chicken--chicken breasts grilled with mushrooms and covered in a lemon cream sauce, while Drew had a club sandie and Skip got some sort of other pasta dish.

Well, the appetizers arrived, and the Asian nachos were a huge hit. Skip kept moaning and groaning with pleasure so much that we had to tell him to tone it down, lest the other patrons think we were filming a porno in our booth. And all things being equal, those two fellas are about the last two people I'd be willing to star in a porn flick with, manboobs notwithstanding...

Anyhow, lunch was damn good--the Grand Lux is always a favorite, and Drew, being the big winner of the week (something about hitting three royals in less than 48 hours), was kind enough to pay the tab.

After lunch we waddled over to check out the new poker room there at the Venetian--39 tables in all of it's deserted glory. Well, that's not exactly true, there were about four games going, and another table full of dealers practicing their craft. I don't know exactly what the problem is with that room, why they can't get any business, other than the fact that it's located a good quarter mile from the nearest bathroom...

We didn't linger very long, making our way back to the valet to fetch Drew's rented Malibu before heading back to the Hilton. Once we got there, I figured I had about an hour and a half to kill, so I suggested we go play some poker. Unfortunately, there weren't any seats available at the tables in the Hilton's small room, so we retreated to our fallback position at the $10 Pai Gow table.

It started ugly and just went downhill from there. My first hand, I had three pair, Kings up. Dealer got a full house, Aces up. Ouch. After that I didn't win another hand until I got down to my case bet. Luckily I crawled and scratched my way back to a $17 profit after almost two hours. Skip lost about $60, and Drew left somewhere in the middle to hit his new ATM, the video poker machine.

Finally, around 6pm, we cashed out and left the casino--Drew was leaving in the morning, so we said our goodbyes there, and I offered Skip a ride back to Sunset so that he didn't have to waste four hours taking a bus out there, as long as he was cool with taking a side trip to the Hurricane Hole while I showered and got dressed for work first.

No worries at all--not only did he get to hang out at 'Ruben's House' for a short visit, he also got the supreme pleasure of being chauffeured back to his hotel in the luxurious Ghetto Sled. On some trips to Vegas, all wins aren't measured by visits to the cage...

Work was fun that night, although Skip had the bad fortune to hit a couple of my tables--they were ice cold, most notoriously the dice table they moved me to at midnight. As bummed as I was that Skip was losing, I didn't feel too bad about the representatives of the Hip-Hop Nation at the other end of the table who were playing like they learned craps from watching A Bronx Tale lose a couple of grand from their pimprolls at the same time.

It was the start of a new pay period that night, so I didn't feel too guilty about taking off a little early, although I took about six hours of EO the week before--can't do that again and complain about being poor, I suppose. But I got home and watched the Jack Bauer Power Hour before going to bed and sleeping until well past noon the next day.

Three hours left in the season--I just hope that the last 45 minutes or so is footage of Jack kicking Miles squarely in the nuts, repeatedly.


Let's Roll

My days are already written out on the skins of time, and all that is left to me is to die bravely...

I spent my evening at the theatre watching United 93. Very powerful, very moving, and it made me both sad and angry at the same time--sad for the families of 9/11, and angry at all the right people. I would hope that if I were ever caught in a similiar situation, I would act the same way--with boldness, decisiveness, and bravery.

It's an amazing movie for the simple fact that although we already know how it's going to end--there are absolutely no surprises--everyone walked out of the theatre in stunned silence.

And it's not "too early" to see it, either.

Some say that because of America, there will always be young men like that. I disagree. I say that because of young men like that, there will always be an America.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Still Awake

I just got home from 'the office' a little while ago, and instead of wasting time in bed watching tv and trying to fall asleep, I decided to post a quick update before tucking in for the night (morning).

Work was pretty fun--I was back on my normal string with fun players. And as luck would have it, another longtime reader--from three years now--came and sat at my table. His name is Skip, but any of you T2V'ers out there would know him as 'Soreyes'. Not only did he sit at my table and get everyone else to start tipping, but he also brought me a very nice gift--a plastic bag containing two Partagas and one Macanudo. Oh hell yeah--great cigars! Even the pit boss was impressed with his generosity.

Thanks again, Skip!

Anyhow, we had a lot of fun playing WPT Holdem, and I think he broke about even for the hour that he was there. He told me that he was planning on going over to the Hilton in the morning to do the Star Trek experience, and that's where I'm meeting Drew before we head to the Grand Lux for lunch, so I invited him to join us--it should be a good time.

After he left, I was on break and sent Stephanie a text message--she usually goes to a movie on Sunday night and then comes to visit me at my table for an hour or so. But I hadn't seen her, so I wrote Why you no come see me tonight? Less than a minute later she wrote back asking where I was and said she was already there looking for me. So I left the break room and found her lurking around the fountains at the oyster bar. She hung out at my 3-Card Poker table until my next break, and we chatted a bit before she headed home and I went to the dice pit for the rest of my shift. We have tentative plans to go see that Flight 93 movie sometime this week, as I've been carrying free movie passes around in my wallet longer than I had that condom in high school.

The dice table was fine--there was a lot of heavy action when I got there, but it died off when the table got icy, leaving leaving only one of our old regulars who spends so much time there anyways that when he finally kicks off, we're going to have to hold the services in the dice pit.

It was a very long night, but I'm glad it's finally over. One more shift until the weekend! Today should be a pretty good day. It's Monday for the rest of the world, but it's Friday to me.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Flop, The Turn, and The Construction Lot

Finally, after a very long couple of days, I managed to get some rest from my endless running around.

Friday night, I was scheduled on the dice table, but we were the ice crew--nobody could make anything happen--I think I saw two decent rolls all night. Otherwise it was point-seven-out the entire time. Not that I'd want to kill a game (no tokes that way), but sometimes, especially when I'm tired, I'm ok with dealing a cold table. We couldn't get anyone to play with us after 2am, so we closed our table, leaving two others open. When they asked who wanted two hours of E.O., I volunteered faster than a poolboy getting a chance to go change the filters at The Mansion. So I was able to get some extra sleep--my alarm was set for 8 am.

Of course, when I woke up, there was one missed call on my cellphone--Stephanie.

I showered, shaved, and dressed in my black & whites, then headed up to Ghettoville, er, I mean, North Las Vegas. I made a quick stop at the convenience store for a couple of bottles of water, some breath mints, and one of those Snickers Marathon energy bars--mmm breakfast--before turning the Sled onto the freeway and heading north.

The instructions I'd gotten had indicated that the poker tournament was being held in an office park/strip mall type of place near The Cannery casino. Well, I found the place easy enough, and drove up just about the same time as several of my fellow poker students. I'd have to say that we all cleaned up pretty well, although I didn't recognize half of them without their sunglasses and backwards baseball caps.

It wasn't actually an office park, it was a huge construction supply store. I found the entrance and poked my head in, and was told that it was the right place, but we needed to follow one of the guys out back. I looked at one of the other dealers and remarked that I saw the exact same scenario one time on the Sopranos, and it didn't turn out so well for the guy in the dress shirt...

Out back, in the equipment lot, they had a huge white tent set up with 12 poker tables inside, and two hotties in low-cut tops at a registration table outside. The first order of business was to get everything set up--most of the tables and chairs were already in place, but we had to do stuff like get cupholders in place, set up a chip key picture at each table, put cards out, and also set up over a hundred sets of players chips at $3000 apiece. We had to be there by 9:30 in the morning and the tournament didn't even begin until noon.

It seemed like a pretty cool setup, except that it was a blazing hot day in Vegas, at least out on that hardpan parking lot, and they had no fans or even swamp coolers arranged. So it was a little warm out there in that tent with just 15 of us--we weren't looking forward to having another 120 people out there.

In the meantime, we got everything set up and organized fairly quickly, and they told us we could have all the food and drink we wanted--they ordered a couple dozen pizzas and had tubs full of ice holding bottled water and cokes, plus there was a snack table full of cookies, pretzels, and trail mix. They told us to eat first--to prime the pump at the food tables--and we were more than happy to oblige, so we got our grub on while waiting for players to show up.

We got underway pretty much on time, but I only had seven players (but ten stacks of chips) at my table, and only made it two rounds before they broke my table completely and consolidated. Nobody busted out at my table before then--they were all about asking "What's the minimum raise?" on every hand. The blinds started at 10/15 and went up, but like I said, my table broke after the 15/30 round.

So I spent the next couple of rounds helping color up chips and move players around, while flirting with the hostesses and sneaking an extra slice of pizza. One of the other dealers, who's actually only been in school for less than two weeks, was getting in over her head--there was a 'table captain' at her table trying to push her around, plus she had a couple of multiple sidepot hands going, so I tapped her out and took over.

Of course, by that time the blinds were getting pretty big, and I lost half my table once they got up to 400/800. That left only 10 players still alive, so we took a break and got the final table set up--we had to 'race off' all of the $500 chips at the table and color up to $1000's and $5000's.

While doing that, I went over to the employee's table to watch their separate single-table tournament, and one guy there was just being a complete dickhead--being completely rude to the dealer and everyone else. So I got up behind him and gave him some special Mikey attention and reminded him that he didn't need to act like such a cocksucker, especially since it was a freeroll tournament and he already placed high enough to get one of the prizes. He was still making snide comments to the dealer, so I asked her if she wanted me to come in for her. She did, and two hands later the asshole went all in, and lost on the river to the chip leader.

My only comment as I pushed the pot away was Man, that's unfortunate. He stomped off steaming, but came back a few minutes later and made a public apology to everyone at the table and a private one to the previous dealer for his boorish behavior, blaming it on the heat. Luckily there was no alcohol served, otherwise it might've been a real scene. But then he left and all was well.

The final got underway shortly thereafter, and the final hand was dealt at 4:01 pm, right on time--the tourney director says they've always ended between 3:55 and 4:05, and he was exactly right. The winner got a couple nights at The Palms and a 1-in-20 seat at a satellite next weekend where the winner of that gets a seat at the WSOP main event. They also got a bunch of tools and stuff from the company that put on the tournament. Not a bad haul at all, especially for a freeroll.

Once everyone cleared out, we had to stack up all the chairs and break down the whole room, loading all the tables and stuff back on the truck. It really sucked, because we were hot and tired, wearing the black and whites and having been on our feet for the last couple of hours. But they wouldn't pay us until the room got broken down--kind of a shitty deal that we had to move all of the furniture and stuff for them, but we got it done in about half an hour.

We got our paychecks out of the back of the moving van, prompting comments like Last time I got paid out of the back of a truck, I was much closer to the border...

On the way out--I was hot, tired, and dying of thirst. While sitting at the stoplight waiting to turn left and head to the freeway, I spotted a Del Taco. Oh hell yeah, at that moment, for a Macho fountain Coke, I would've gladly paid twenty bucks. I drove up, and to my supreme dissapointment, I discovered that the place was still under construction. I drove away, still thirsty, and got on the freeway, heading for home.

Trying to outsmart myself, I decided that instead of taking 215 all the way around the airport, I'd just cut across Tropicana. As soon as I got off the freeway, I realized that it was the wrong move, as traffic was gridlocked. So that added an extra half hour to my trip home. Finally, I broke free of the traffic snarl and stopped at the Del Taco on Trop and Maryland Pkwy for that elusive Macho Coke. I got home, took a cold shower, and laid in front of the fan for an hour before getting dressed and going back to work.

I was exhausted, my feet hurt, and I didn't want to be there. And as soon as I got in, I found out that I'd be on my favorite string--World Poker Tour, Pai Gow #2, and 3-Card Poker... and oh yeah, they added a fourth table--a double deck blackjack game giving us hour-and-twenty minute tours at each table. And guess who's aching feet got the first hour and twenty at the stand up blackjack table? Yep--my lucky day!

I celebrated my questionable fortune by spending five bucks for an extra-tall iced vanilla frappuccino at Starbucks, needing both the jolt of caffeine and the cooling effect of the ice.

After enduring that first table, it got much better--longtime reader and commenter Drew showed up, and he followed me a bit and did his best to set the example of being a good tipper, but the other cheapasses at the table weren't biting. He played for awhile, maybe lost a hundred or so, but then headed back to the Hilton. We made lunch plans for Monday afternoon at the Grand Lux Cafe.

At 2 am, they moved me over to the dice table, but the other tables started to close down. So they had several extra dice dealers with no place to put them, so when they asked who wanted to take off an hour early, me and my aching feet volunteered again.

Halfway expecting Stephanie to call, I turned my phone up loud and collapsed in bed by 3:30 this morning. No call ever came, but I slept in today until almost noon without the slightest tinge of guilt for being a slug.

So now that I'm well rested and ready to go, I'm fairly certain that I'll be able to work the entire eight hours tonight without too much trouble. At least it'll be indoors with air conditioning, and I won't have to move furniture at the end of my shift, either.

But I kind of like the seediness of getting paid out of the back of a van.


Friday, May 05, 2006

Minimum Wage

That seven years of college must've paid off, because I'm happy to report that I'm no longer a stiff working for minimum wage. It was a good experience, and I take comfort in the fact that while I was earning that big $5.15 per hour from the casino, at least I didn't have to wear a hair net to go with my nametag.

But those days are over now.

Did I quit the dealing biz? Not hardly. But since I passed my one-year anniversary this week, and I'm a 'multi-game' dealer, I'm entitled to a whopper of a raise. Yep, I think now I'm pushing the envelope somewhere in the upper atmosphere of eight bucks or so... I'm not sure exactly how much it is yet, I'll find out next week, but it's an improvement--especially since I've been putting 14% into my 401k, plus buying $75 worth of company stock every paycheck--every little bit helps. Unfortunately, my share of tokes remains equal to everyone else's.

Speaking of money, the entire reason for this, besides maintaining the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed, is to one day be able to afford a 40-50 foot sailboat and head for the distant horizon. I absolutely love living in Las Vegas, but I'd give it up in a second.

And why would I do it? I've worked on writing a good reason in the past, but nobody explains it better than Fred.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mobbed Up

Ok, so my weekend is just about over. It went a little too quickly for me, but that's how they usually go.

Tuesday night was enjoyable--I had dinner with longtime reader Dave P from CT at Capo's. Neither of us had ever been there before, and it's been on my list of places to try. And since Dave offered to take me there for my 'birthday dinner', I couldn't refuse! And I have to admit that it was a pretty darn good experience.

First of all, the restaurant is built in an old house out on West Tropicana--it looks like an old college-town bar from the outside. You walk up to the porch, go inside to a small vestibule, and push an old speakeasy-type of buzzer. If you're looking at the door that says entrance, you'll be startled when the maitre d opens a little peephole door behind you and says hello. And of course the 'door' doesn't open, the wall on the side does--very sneaky. But once inside the small dining room, you're good to go. There are a few tables in the middle of the room, and old-school curtained booths along the walls. And there is no light in the place except for candlelight on the tables. Rat pack tunes and artwork featuring famous mobsters provide the ambiance to go along with the typical din of a busy Italian restaurant. Yep, it's exactly the kind of place where Michael Corleone would settle a score after returning from the men's room.

(Speaking of the mob... I think I've seen just about enough of Vito's new life as a wannabe member of the Village People on The Sopranos. That picnic at the lake was more than I wanted to know about...)

We had a reservation, but they didn't ask for it because there were several open tables. But I could see how a reservation would be needed--it's not a big place, and good luck trying to just walk up and get a table on a busy weekend.

The menus included a tiny red flashlight attached to help read it in the darkness, which was a cool touch.

For an appetizer, we ordered the baked ravioli which was surprisingly good. It was served with warm marinara sauce and a dish of shaved parmesian was left on the table, along with baskets of warm bread and butter.

We both had house salads with our entrees, and they were about average. Good, but not great. But Dave ordered a dish called 'The Chef Sleeps with the Fishes' which was fettucini with sun-dried tomatoes, ham, and shrimp. I ordered the house specialty lasagna. For wine we had an excellent bottle of Oregon Pinot, which was actually pretty reasonable at only $38.

The entrees were pretty good--much better than the offerings in a typical chain restaurant, and the atmosphere couldn't be beat. There were so many good-sounding dishes offered on the menu that it makes me want to go back and do it again. Besides, the prices are fairly reasonable, with entrees starting around $17 and moving up to $30 or so for some of the steak offerings. As a bonus, they also have an upstairs cigar lounge, but since Dave doesn't smoke, we didn't indulge. They also feature some pretty good specialty martinis on the menu, and instead of dessert, I had a 'Tiramasu Martini'. Oh hell yeah.

So overall, I was fairly impressed with Capo's, and can't wait to go back and do it again... Andrea?

After dinner, we went back to the Mirage and headed to the poker room. We were going to play in a single-table sit-n-go, but there was only one person on the list, and they wanted $75 to play. $50 was my limit, so we passed. Just about the time we were walking out, one of my teachers from poker school was getting tapped out for a break, so we got to talk to him for a bit and watch a couple of old fogas try to brawl each other at the 1-5 Stud table. It was comical, and the best part was hearing the floorman yell This is the last time I'm coming over here!

But by that time, the big meal and the red wine had started to take it's toll and I was feeling pretty droopy. I said goodbye to Dave and headed back to the valet to pick up the ghetto sled, only to be delayed by several fire trucks and ambulances responding to somebody who fell down and cracked their elbow on the sidewalk.

When my car finally showed up, I was about to get all pissy thinking that somebody had busted out one of my windows. Turns out that the car wash had done such a good job earlier in the day that the glass was so clean I couldn't see it. Whew... drama avoided.

I drove home and went straight to bed, exhausted.

Of course, it was only about 11:00 pm when I fell asleep, so I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first thing in the morning. I got up, did a little websurfing, did my laundry, and even submitted an application online to the Plaza for a poker dealing job. However, I kept getting error messages, and when that nonsense finally stopped, it just took me back to the beginning of the page with no reciept acknowledgement, so I tried it a couple more times. So they've either got six applications from me, or none at all. I guess I'll go down there next week and find out for sure.

I made it to school by 10:30, and got some practice dealing bigger games--the instructors are having us more 'experienced' students learn the harder stuff--75/150 Stud, 10/20 Holdem (which is actually easy, but it is a fast game), and I think 6/12 Omaha is on tap for today. We also went over tournament details, as a bunch of us are going out to deal that big private tourney up in North Las Vegas this weekend. I think there are 130 players total, but the winner gets a seat in a satellite at The Palms for a 1-in-20 chance for a seat at the Big One. So it's a serious event, and should be a great experience. But it lasts all day, and I've got to deal dice all night right before that, and go back to work right after, so I should be a tuckered out little trooper come Sunday morning.

I'm supposed to have lunch with Dave again today, if I can swing it. I need to go to school for sure, and I have a mandatory meeting at work late in the afternoon. But we're talking about Metro Pizza, and that's hard for me to pass up--so I may cut out of class early.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sometimes, I Feel Like a Nut

And sometimes I don't. And some days I just don't feel like writing. Today is one of those days.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Off to a Good Start

Hey Gang!

I know, I know, but it's tough for me to post on Mondays--usually I'm dead tired or not home at all. I was home, but I literally slept all day. And I had a venom-spewing rant all lined up to post due to my being surrounded by farking morons all weekend at work (there is absolutely no farking reason for me to be stuck dealing Let It Ride for an hour and forty minutes straight at 2 am on a Monday morning...), but I mellowed out...

Sunday, the birfday, was good--I heard from lots of the family and used up a bunch of my night & weekend minutes in the process. Also, later that night Steph came down to the casino to visit me at work and hang out at my table for a little while, so that made the evening that much more enjoyable. She had a paper to write for school, so we couldn't go out afterwards, but a few people mentioned that they might go out, so I didn't go straight home.

I'm glad I didn't, because I ran into another gal I know that's a bartender at one of the big casinos in town. I didn't know it at the time, but it was her birthday this past weekend, also, so we hung out, played a little video poker (and we hit a 4-of-a-kind for quick hundy), and had a few drinks. Once the sun started coming up we decided to head out, and I must've had my 'A' game going because I managed to talk her into coming over.

Best birthday ever...

She went home around 9:30 or so and I went back to bed until it was time to get ready for work. Of course I was there till the bitter end this morning, then I came home, did my usual Tuesday morning ritual of watching last night's episode of 24, then slept until nine before getting up and going to school.

I spent four hours there before coming home, and it was a good time--we worked on big-limit Stud for all of the guys dealing in the WSOP, and I managed to pick up a few things here and there. Of course, starting with $500 worth of chips and turning it into almost $4000 was pretty cool, too. As a bonus, the Asian gal Sara I was helping out last week wants to take me to lunch tomorrow, too.

Speaking of which, tonight I'm meeting reader Dave P for dinner--we're going to Capo's Italian Restaurant on West Tropicana for some goomba food and Goodfellas atmosphere.

Word is that you won't go hungry in the place, so I'm looking forward to it. All I've had to eat so far today is an Almond Joy, a diet coke, and a scoop of potato salad. Dinner should be the highlight meal of the day...