Tuesday, July 31, 2007

75 Years of Getting the Girls

I didn't know it until making another round of my daily internet stops this evening, but it's the 75th anniversary of the Zippo lighter. (Hat tip to Ace). It's amazing when you think about it--the design has remained virtually unchanged since the very beginning.

I like to brag that I've never smoked a cigarette in my entire life, and it's true, I haven't, but I've owned the same Zippo lighter since 1997.

One night, I was sitting out in my 'Arizona room' attached to the back of the house, playing my acoustic guitar and just chillin' out late in the evening when there was a knock at the door. I had no idea who would be showing up after 10 o'clock, but I was surprised to see Reverend Dave standing there with a duffel bag full of clothes asking if he could crash.

Seems that he finally wised up and left that ridiculous pain in the ass of a first wife (who, oh by the way, the entire family tried to warn him off of...). Anyhow, he finally had his moment of clarity, bailed out, and needed a place to live.

Of course I invited him in, happy that he'd finally seen the light the rest of us had known for four years or so. Being in a celebratory mood, and the fact that neither of us had to go to work the next day, we decided to raise a toast and embrace the fact that bachelor life was a decent alternative to a crappy marriage.

The first thing we did was hit the liquor store for a big bottle of Scotch. Johnnie Walker Red, to be exact. Why Scotch? Well, neither one of us had ever even had a sip of Scotch before, but growing up, our favorite tv show was Black Sheep Squadron, and Pappy Boyington was always trading cases of Scotch to bribe his way into adventures and out of trouble, so being rational adult males, we chose Scotch as our particular poison.

We also decided that we needed cigars, but it was fairly late at night, so our options were pretty much limited to Walgreens for a pack of Dutch Masters and another of Swisher Sweets. Incidentally, neither one of us had ever smoked cigars before, either, or else we'd have likely gone without instead of puffing on what basically amounts to rolled-up dogshit.

While at Walgreens purchasing our bachelor-stash, we realized that neither of us owned a lighter, so we settled on a five-pack of multicolored disposable Bics, too.

We got back to the house tried to choke down the Scotch, trying both 'on the rocks' or just 'and water', and smoked our cigars, toasting Reverend Dave's new-found freedom. We liked the idea of cigars, well, tobacco in general, but the Scotch just didn't take at all. (We ended up giving the rest of the bottle to our alcoholic roommate, who liked it just fine when mixed with cranberry and vodka).

While sitting out there in the Arizona room that night, bathed in halos of blue smoke, we also decided that maybe we should try pipe tobacco, too. Our grandfather smoked a pipe for as long as I can remember, and I'll never forget the smell of his favorite Captain Black tobacco.

So the next day, it was back for more shopping, this time to a local smoke shop that sold Meerschaum pipes. We picked up a couple, along with a can of Captain Black. While browsing, I stepped into a walk-in humidor for the first time, and that was a life-altering experience for me, although at the time, we were all about the mission at hand, which was to shop for pipes.

There was also a huge display of Zippo lighters in the store, and we decided right then that we both *had* to have one.

I remembered one of my best friends in college never smoked, but he always carried a Zippo around with him. I asked him why, and he gave me a piece of very valuable advice. He said that he made it a point to always have a nice lighter on hand whenever he went out because it made is so much easier to meet chicks. Every time he was at a bar or a party and saw a girl get a cigarette out, he was Johnny-on-the-spot with his lighter, and it was an easy ice-breaker. Sometimes he could close the deal, sometimes not, but having that lighter on hand gave him an edge--and one doesn't forget stories like that.

Anyhow, we sprang for a couple of new lighters that day--Reverend Dave got a flat-black Marine Corps model, complete with the eagle, globe, and anchor, and I went with a Naval Aviation model (which I have since replaced with a basic bronze case, but the lighter itself is original. I believe Dave still has his Marine Corps model and uses it every day).

Every night for the next week, we sat outside, immersing ourselves in the pipe-smoking rituals remembered all those childhood visits with the grandparents, and did our damnedest to enjoy our new pastime. But we soon realized that smoking a pipe, while aesthetically pleasing, was a lot of hard work. That moist tobacco just didn't want to stay lit. However, we both really dug to coolness factor of the Zippo lighter, and I played with mine incessantly, clicking it open and closed in my pocket all the time, almost to the point of being a nervous habit.

We gave up on pipes a few weeks later, and revisited that walk-in humidor.

Since then, our tastes have matured quite a bit. I still don't really care for Scotch all that much, regardless of how many expensive single-malts I've tried, and I also gave up on crappy machine-made cigars almost as soon as I started on them. After years of trial-and-error, I prefer not to smoke anything except premium hand-rolled cigars from the Dominican Republic, or Cuba if I can get my hands on them. And rum is my liquor of choice.

But ten years later, I still carry around my Zippo, and I'm still using it to pick up chicks.



My day off is finally here! I swear, these last few days at work have been a soul-crushing exercise in my ability to keep from absolutely snapping and going ape-shit nuts. Seriously, I think I need a vacation.

Last night, I was in no mood to be at work at all, and we were at the beginning of a new 'extra' pay period this month. So the first thing I did when I arrived at the casino was put my name at the top of the Early Out list and write 'ASAP' next to it, thinking that I'd get cut loose within the first two hours of my shift, just like I'd seen happen with a few of my buddies earlier in the week. Then I saw the roadmap and learned that I was scheduled on one game with just one other dealer, meaning, basically, I'd be working 20-minutes on, 20-minutes off. A cakewalk, to be sure, but it makes for a looooong night. So I figured that my chances were good that they'd launch me out of there within a half an hour.

But no. I was sent to the dealers' equivalent of the Seventh Circle of Hell, the ONLY $5 blackjack game in the entire casino, because some dipshit on the extra-board called in sick. Luckily, it was only for an hour, and they found a string of two other games to put me on. Still, talk about a bummer. I didn't want to be there in the first place, I thought I was going to get to go home right away, and then I got stuck on the worst table in the casino (besides Let It Ride). Ugh. At least I was at the top of the early-out list.

Sidebar--Another thing that's been pissing me off lately is the fact that we are the only casino in all of Vegas that actually lowers the table limits on the weekends, which makes absolutely no business sense to me at all. Seriously--all week long we have one--maybe two--five-dollar blackjack tables. But then on Friday and Saturday nights, we open up an entire pit with nothing but five-dollar games. It's like ringing the dinner bell for every flea and loser in a twenty-mile radius. Couple that with the fact that if there are four dead five-buck games sitting all in a row, and I'm one of those four dealers standing there doing nothing, I am *always* the first person that the people who only have a $40 gambling bankroll want to come up and play with--it's uncanny. Seriously, they'll walk right past the other three dealers and directly to my table. It doesn't matter if I'm on a six-deck shoe game that's sitting between two double-deck pitch games being dealt by hot Asian chicks (yeah, like we've got lots of those on our shift...)--they'll walk up and sit down with me like I'm their best friend in the world. I guess I need to work on my scowl...

And it doesn't matter if they've only got twenty or forty dollars to play with--they'll last an hour, minimum, or at least long enough to score a free pack of smokes that they feel they're entitled to. But if a hot girl in a low-cut top who's tipping me a five-spot every other hand sits down, I'll bust her out of $500 in less than ten minutes, guaranteed.

Life just ain't fair sometimes...

Well, the hours started plodding by, and I got no love from the bosses. Finally, at 1:00 am, I'd done twenty minutes on a game and got tapped out.


So, I was fairly excited, and asked the boss with the roadmap if that meant I was going home. He looked at me like I was out of my mind and said Hell no--I've only got nine dealers in the entire casino scheduled until 4:00 am and you're one of them...


Talk about being pissed off. The smart-ass in me asked how it was possible that there weren't enough dealers around to let me go home, but at the same time we had so many dealers that we were only doing twenty minutes a round. But they didn't have an answer to that one...

So I took the long walk back to the dining room, pissed off again. To add insult to injury, when I got back, they tossed me back onto that god-awful $5 bj game for another hour. At 2:20, I took another break, the highlight of which was the fact that there was bacon and eggs available in the dining room. So I had a small plate of breakfast, resigning myself to the fact that for the ninth week in a row, I wouldn't be getting the early-out I requested on my 'Friday' night.

When I went back at three, a bunch of dealers from the graveyard shift showed up, so I finally got to pull the ripcord. Thank god. I was hot, sweaty, exhausted, pissed off, and in need of a strong cocktail. I punched out before they could change their minds, and headed for the exit without looking back.

It was hot and just stupidly humid out when I left, and the arctic blast of the A/C in my truck was a welcome relief. When I drove up to the apartment, I could see the living room lights on, meaning Rob was still up watching tv. As soon as I opened the door, I was enveloped in the most amazing aroma. Rob had spent the entire evening cooking a monster feast--a huge pot of minestrone and another crockpot full of Italian beef.

Oh hell yeah. He was just starting to dig in when I drove up, so I headed to the shower with the instructions of something along the lines of Fix me a plate, bitch!

I hosed off all of the casino funk, dried off, changed clothes, and parked my ass on the couch. Rob, clearly inspired by my hash-brown casserole creation last week, had decided to out-do me and just went completely Julia Child crazy in our kitchen last night.

I gotta hand it to him--that minestrone was the absolute best I'd ever had--I don't know what kind of spices he used, but the veggies were outstanding--cabbage, tomatoes, chickpeas, zucchini--it had everything in a meaty broth. And he topped it with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, which I'd never even considered doing with minestrone. I sat there happily slurping away, making all kinds of Oh-my-god-this-is-f*cking-good sounds. But that wasn't all. He'd also fixed me an Italian variation of the French Dip, complete with au jus, that was even better than my previous favorite offering from the Golden Gate deli. I immediately regretted eating the bacon and eggs at work, because I was too full to finish all of the delicious grub sitting on the plate in front of me.

But we've got a shiatload of leftovers, so we're good to go for the rest of the week. And I don't care if it's not soup weather--that minestrone is damn good. My system may go into shock, however, having all those good veggies in one place. I told Rob that I don't think I've had any veggies except onions, peppers, and mushrooms for about a month, and all this stuff in the soup might throw me off-kilter. But it's so good, the veggie-overload would be worth it

So there I was, shoes off, feet up, sitting on the couch, my disposition improved 100% since I got out of the casino, with a satisfied belly full of great food. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Rob showed me something on the DVR list of scheduled recordings that made my whole day. This coming Sunday, five days hence, is the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Steelers versus Saints. Oh hell yeah.

NFL football is back, I've got two days off, and if I could just get my hands on some boobies, life would be damn near perfect.


Monday, July 30, 2007

A Case of the Mondays

I feel listless and unmotivated today. Seriously, I could just chill on the couch and half-snooze my way through today's Shark Week offerings on the Discovery Channel for the next eight hours and be perfectly content.

I mean, I'm not motivated to do anything. I feel like a stoner without the munchies.

Maybe it's because the last couple of days at work have been a patience-trying clusterf*ck of titanic proportions and it has sapped my will to live. Between the incompetent dealers I've seen in action, the unorganized management, and the normal bevy of stiffs, fleas, and degenerates that I have to smile for, I've had just about all I can take. Thank god tonight is my Friday, because I need a break in the worst way.

Last night, when I got home, spent, I fixed myself a tall plastic tumbler full of rum and Coke over ice, and I swear I'd only drank about an inch-and-a-half of it before passing out. I woke up this morning with it sitting next to me on the nightstand, full. Warm, flat, and uninviting.

Surfing around the internet hasn't been much fun, either. I've already gone over my usual rotation three times today, and I've found nothing to thrill me or hold my attention. Maybe I just need a nap. Something. I dunno.

I don't feel like writing, I don't feel like reading, and I don't feel like walking down to the pool. Hell, I don't even feel like laying down and sleeping. And I certainly don't feel like working, either.

I'm sure tomorrow will be different--I won't have to think about work, there's nothing on my agenda, and I'll probably go catch The Simpsons Movie.

I could use a laugh.


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Kid is Hot Tonight

Ok, while the rest of the world is already knee-deep in happy hour, or slipping on the red leather pants, hoping to get lucky, I'm on my way back to the casino, workin' for the weekend. Of course they're gonna turn me loose on that damn Mini Pai Gow game again, coupled with it's retarded cousin, Let It Ride. So there's not much chance of me being able to spend a few hours on the higher-limit tables, dropping lots of money dealing to big tippers or a couple of hot girls in love. Nope, that would be almost paradise, and clearly, I don't have enough seniority at the present time.

But I'll be busy as hell, and that has the happy side effect of making the time fly by. Last night I was depressed when I went on break with a case of the yawns and saw that it was only 1:20 am, but then I realized I was almost finished with my shift. When I came back, I crushed all of the mathematically inept at the Let It Ride table in less than half an hour, which immediately brought the lid up and sent me to a Pai Gow table where everyone was betting $50 or more per hand and putting me up on the bonus each time. Talk about lovin' every minute of it. As a bonus, the floorman in charge of the roadmap came by and asked me if I'd like to take a half-hour of Early Out and leave at 2:20.

Oh hell yeah. My response was something like "Every time, dude. You don't even have to ask!" I'm not one of the dealers who's notorious for begging for the half hour every night, but I'll certainly take it when it's offered. And having the 7:00 pm shift makes it much easier to get. By 2:20 am they usually have a lot more dealers than open tables, so the lucky ones scheduled to get out at 3:00 usually get to pull the ripcord.

But Friday night in the casino is usually a fun night to work--that's when most of the good stories happen, along with some epic people-watching opportunities. Even so, I'll be happy when it's over.


Just For Hoya

Talk about your weird coincidences. Just yesterday, I got bored and revisited one of my favorite posts, the one about The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game, and when I got home, there were a couple of emails from people who sent this YouTube video link.

Yep, it's cruise time again, and again this year I won't be going. But Hoya is taking an Alaska cruise in a couple of weeks, and I believe my sister Nancy and her husband are doing the same--hell they might even be on the same cruise! Anyhow, this is an amazing video, showing what happens when a cruise ship has to fight it's way through very rough seas.

A wave coming over the bow--that's gotta be at least a fifty footer. And a couple of the rolls that ship was taking, some of them looked well beyond 15 degrees. Enough to start breaking stuff and make just about everyone sick. I can't imagine how terrified people onboard must've been.

One time, coming back from Alaska, I was on a 400-foot ferry boat, and we had some very rough seas one night in the Inside Passage. The crew told us that the waves were topping out at 25 feet, and it was ridiculous--almost impossible to walk, people's bags and such sliding all over the decks, and about every third person was puking their guts out. It went on for about three hours, and I can tell you, it was a very miserable ship. Of course, I was up front, hanging from a catwalk under the bridge screaming Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! and Yeeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaaaaw! for most of the worst of it, but my buddy Buck had actually lashed himself into a chaise lounge in the solarium that was lashed to a handrail, and spent the whole time trying to puke on everything but his backpack, along with about thirty other adventure travelers who finally had to put away their hacky sacks and hold on for dear life.

Good times!

Luckily it was raining pretty hard, so the decks didn't smell too bad in the morning.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the video. And remember, do not f*ck with Mother Ocean. She can kick your ass.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yep, Leftovers Were Good

Just as I suspected, the leftovers of Hurricane Mikey's Hashbrown Casserole-Over and Get Me Some Breakfast, Bitch! were just as good as, if not better than, the first serving. I had some more late last night, and again this morning. Rob even dug in at some point last night and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Of course, a meal like that is kind of like spaghetti--if I make it, I'm stuck eating it for a couple of days until the leftovers are gone--there's no good way to make a single serving. I can tell you this, though, I'll be making it again, in advance of the Brethren of the Coast Cruise to Catalina next March. Yep, we'll have that for breakfast one morning, instead of hardtack and grog. Actually, I'm pretty sure we'll still have the grog, but the point is that we'll dine much better than our seafaring ancestors did.

Speaking of which, now that the move is behind me and I'm almost caught up on all the pain-in-the-ass expenses I've been faced with this summer, I'm thinking about sailing a lot more. Maybe I just need a vacation, but at least I have something to look forward to. The holidays are going to suck again this year. Unless I take an unpaid leave of absence, I can't have any time off for Thanksgiving or Christmas, so a trip back to Tennessee to see the family is out of the question. That leaves the 'Buffoons at Sea' trip in March.

And since I take my skippering responsibilities seriously, I've been learning all I can about the systems and sailplan on the Jeanneau Sun Fast 35, the boat we're looking at to use on the trip. It's got a lot of room for a 35-footer, and apparently she's pretty fast, too. We'll see how much I like it later this fall--I'm gonna go out to Marina Del Rey and rent one for the day with an instructional skipper for a few hours of hands-on sailing. If it seems too small, we'll have to upgrade to something bigger, like the Hunter 420, which I think I like better and would probably be more suitable for our group. I've spent a few days with just four people on a 36-footer, and it's tough to imagine having seven people in the same space, especially if the weather turns sour and we're all stuck below deck. Seven more feet in length seems to create a whole lot more than seven feet of space.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more Chief Brody's immortal words ring in my mind: We're gonna need a bigger boat.

I'll have to run the numbers to find out just how much it's gonna cost. And I'll definitely have to get some practice on that beast. I've never handled anything bigger than 36 feet on my own. I've spent time at the helm of a 42-footer in the past, and actually spent three days chartering one, but there were more experienced people than me onboard. But 42 feet a big damn boat when you're in the harbor with lots of expensive things to run into. Hell, I helmed a 60-foot gaff-rigged schooner with a long pointy bowsprit all the way from Avalon to Long Beach, but again, there was always somebody around who knew what they were doing.

Not that I don't know what I'm doing, but the fact that I'll be the most experienced person onboard and also responsible for the safety and well-being of the rest of the crew is cause for a little contemplation on my part.

Oh well. I've got months to prepare. And it'll be lots of fun, too. I can't wait.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cool Video

This video really tickled me because of the whole Patton thing, and I also enjoyed it because it's right on target. Some of you may not like it.

Hat tip to reader Ed Bull.


Breakfast is Served!

Well, since you asked, my hashbrown casserole turned out pretty damn good--I'd give it an 8.5 on the ten scale. It was really tasty, and my only gripe is that I think the recipe calls for too much sour cream--it made it just a touch tangy, and a little greasy. I think that might have been remedied had I let it sit and rest a bit longer once I pulled it out of the oven, though, so I'm guessing that the leftovers will be much better.

As far as the recipe goes, it was pretty simple:

  • One bag of frozen hashbrowns (32 oz.)
  • One medium onion, finely diced
  • One can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  • One cup of shredded cheese (I used Colby/Jack combo)
  • One cup of sour cream
  • One half cup of melted butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
All I had to do was combine all the ingredients, spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, and cook the thing for about an hour at 350 degrees. I also put a little sprinkle of cheese on top at the end, just to make it look better.

I think next time, however, I'm going to cut back on the butter and the sour cream--it'll still taste good, but maybe I'll use a little chicken stock instead of butter to keep it moist and flavorful, without abusing the arteries.

I also made some scrambled eggs, maple-flavored sausage links, sourdough English muffins with honey, and a pot of hazelnut coffee. Since today is my 'Sunday', I felt it was most appropriate to cook myself a brunch. There are plenty of leftovers, but Rob is still sleeping off the effects of his nickel craps bender last night, so he has yet to sample the tasty goodness that I created.

If you click on that last picture, you can actually see the steam rising from the plate. Oh hell yeah--It was damn good.

But I didn't spend all morning in the kitchen. I actually made it down to the local Barnes & Noble like I was talking about. Not only did I pick up the latest issues of Latitudes & Attitudes and Cruising World, but I spent some time browsing the deep discount racks at the front of the store and found a couple of other treasures.

One book was an immediate keeper as soon as I saw the cover. It's called Pirates--Scourge of the Seas, by John Reeve Carpenter. The cover is made to look like an old wooden chest, the pages are dyed to look like treasure map parchment, and it's highly illustrated. I can't wait to dig into it.

I also got another book, more for Angy than for me, but it's been fun to browse through it. It's called Minibar Mixology -- 233 Drinks & Games That'll Turn Your Hotel Room into a Party. I can't think of a more appropriate gift to give upon her next arrival in town. I'm thinking that it'll come in handy by the time March Madness rolls around.

I've already pretty much finished up the first magazine, and am working my way through the second. But then I found out that the Cardinals/Cubs game is on ESPN2 in a couple of hours, so that pretty much takes care of my evening.


Treating Myself

Well, sleep didn't come like a drug, even here in God's country, so I'm back up and fiddling around again. The intarwebs is doing a poor job of keeping me entertained this morning, so I figure it's time to put on some pants and get out of the house.

One of my favorite indulgences is to spend a few bucks down at Barnes & Noble, usually at the newsstand. I have crates of old sailing magazines, and I honestly don't think I've bought a new one in over a year. I've been on a frugal kick for quite awhile now that the student loan lenders have caught up to me like the FBI finding Dillinger in the movie theatre, and magazine purchases was one of the things I cut out. Have I been too broke to buy a couple of sailing rags? Hell, I don't think so, but sitting on the floor, sipping a cup of coffee, and reading a sailing magazine full of pretty pictures from cover to cover is one of life's simple pleasures that I've gone far too long without.

I shall remedy that situation immediately. It's my day off, and there's a twenty spot in my wallet.

Mikey out.


My sleep schedule is all whacked out this week. I was up pretty early yesterday, and farted around the house until around 6:00 pm. Then I was suddenly overwhelmingly tired, so I laid down for a quick nap, and didn't wake up again until midnight.

So then I was wide awake. Rob was gone, playing low-stakes poker with his old roommate, and sitting in front of the TV didn't sound the least bit appealing. I did a little bit of websurfing, then headed off to the grocery store and did the shopping that I never got around to doing yesterday.

Sometimes when I'm bored, I'll browse a list of foodie websites and look for recipe ideas. And lately I've been thinking of cooking a hashbrown casserole, kind of like the kind they have at Cracker Barrel. I have a huge bag of hashbrowns in the freezer that I purchased before the move, but haven't felt like making them anytime in the past couple of months. But the casserole sounded pretty good, so it was off too the store to get some ingredients--cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheese, an onion, and a bunch of other stuff (I was out of Coke, and dammit, just as I write this sentence I realized that I forgot the limes...)

So once I got back, I turned on Mike & Mike on ESPN HD and got busy in the kitchen mixing and measuring. Everything was pretty smooth, and once I had it in the casserole pan, covered in foil, and stowed in the fridge, I headed off to the hot tub for some relaxation.

The constant rain of the past day and a half has been wonderful, cooling the outside temperature down to the high seventies, although it's pretty damn humid out. But still, if it's not above 80 degrees, it's nice outside.

While sitting there enjoying the nice weather and tiny bubbles, I realized that I'd forgotten to put the sour cream in the casserole mix. Doh! Once the timer wound down and the hot-tub shut itself of, I made a quick stop to pick up the junk mail and then headed back to the apartment.

I dumped the casserole out of the pan and into a huge stock pot, added the sour cream, stirred it up, and then folded the whole mess back into the pan without spilling a bit. Rob had gotten home by then, but both of us were more tired than hungry, so it's sitting in the fridge until around noon or so when I get up and bake it.

I considered making one with eggs, but I figured that would just be too heavy. Besides, I like plain scrambled eggs on the side, along with bacon or sausage, so this casserole has no meat or eggs in it. I was thinking of adding some mild diced Anaheim chilis to the mix, but figured I'd hold off on the experimentation until next time. This is my first attempt at hashbrown casserole, and I want to make sure it's good on it's own.

But now it's time to go back to bed and try to re-adjust the sleep schedule. I'll get up in a few hours, make a pot of coffee, put the casserole in the oven, perhaps do some sausage links and scrambled eggs, and enjoy my breakfast. Rob gets to free ride on this one, so I hope he likes it. Otherwise, he can go back to eating his Krusty-O's


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets

  • I have never read a single Harry Potter book or seen any of the movies.
  • I didn't get my first tattoo until I was 33 years old. Of course, I took my underage niece and her fake ID to get one at the same time. Because uncles are cool like that.
  • I have no idea how to play backgammon. Or Bridge. Do people still play that?
  • Sometimes I put non-recyclables into the recycle bin just to annoy the lib-tards.
  • I prefer cats over dogs. Only because they take care of themselves and I'm lazy.
  • I wore either a Styx or Rush black concert shirt to school at least once a week for the entire ninth grade.
  • I hate grunge rock and believe it is the antithesis of music.
  • I sometimes pretend I'm checking messages on my phone to avoid small talk in the break room at work.
  • I also pretend I'm deaf when I'm outside of the pit and walking through the casino, like I have a portable cone of silence surrounding me. I'm loud and outgoing and funny while I'm on the table. Otherwise, I'm pretty much a misanthrope until I'm off-property.
  • I've never been inside Slots-o-Fun.
  • I get more compliments on my TAG body spray from dudes than I get from chicks. So it's probably time to go back to wearing Obsession instead.
  • I have bet on NBA games, also. Oh, but I don't officiate them, so I guess it's ok...
  • Somewhere out there, there is a video of me playing lead guitar for a band called 'Dirty Little Secret' at an outdoor street festival. Included is some footage of us playing a medley of 60's surf tunes, and just as I rip into a solo, a dude on a bicycle rides past the front of the stage, causing me to totally f*ck up.
  • As much as I've tried, I've never quite developed a taste for Scotch.
  • Jazz. I just don't get it.
  • Same goes for Pink Floyd.
  • I think Cajun food is overrated.
  • I love the smell of pipe and cigar smoke, yet detest the smell of cigarettes.
  • I can't tell the difference between pine needles and rosemary.
  • I bought a term paper in high school for $15 that the guy had gotten a C+ on. I retyped it and resubmitted the exact same paper the next semester and got a B+ on it. Heh.
  • Currently, my favorite joke is What has nine arms and sucks? (Def Leppard!) I love telling that one whenever something stupid like Pour Some Sugar On Me comes on in the casino.
  • A close second is whenever somebody walks up and asks me "What is Mini Pai Gow?" I tell then that it's Chinese poker for midgets.
  • I'm giddy with excitement that NFL training camps open this Friday. And college football kicks off in less than six weeks.
  • I like Leno better than Letterman.
  • Sex in the City bored the absolute shiat out of me. So did Six Feet Under.
  • I used to drink Miller High Life. I thought it tasted better than Budweiser and it was only $4.99 for a twelve-pack back of bottles in the mid-90's.
  • Touch of Grey is the only Grateful Dead song on my iPod.
  • I spent about three minutes this afternoon thinking about what it would taste like to mix tequila and Sunkist.
  • I spent another minute or so thinking how bad it would be to puke it back up.

That should be enough for now. I don't want to give away too much personal info...



Listening to: House of Pain by Faster Pussycat

Drinking: Pulp-free orange juice

Playing with: Zippo lighter

Scratching: My back with a miniature craps stick

Wearing: Forest green pocket tee with a perpetual grease stain on the chest

Wondering: Where the hell I left my sandals

Looking at: The empty pizza box on my keyboard tray

Thinking: I should probably go to the store

Researching: Hash Brown Casserole recipes

Wishing: The IRS was as inept as Immigration.

Considering: Finding a second job

Shopping For: Drawers


It's a Jungle Out There

Woo Hoo! It's Tuesday, which I never thought would be my favorite day of the week, but I think it's becoming so. It might have something to do with the fact that it's the first day of my 'weekend'.

And for the first time in what seems like forever, I have no place to be, nobody to meet, no errands to run, no pressing issues on a 'to-do' list--nothing but relaxation on tap for me today. I suppose I could go to the store and get a bottle of Coke and a lime or two to take full advantage of my day off, but I'm not feeling thirsty enough quite yet. Hell, even the housework takes a backseat today, as I finished up so much yesterday. I may just bust out a DVD or two, or hell, take the same advice my Dad has given me for over thirty years, and just read a book.

Work was fun last night, but instead of being on the anticipated string of two Pai Gow tables and the Ultimate Holdem game, I got stuck dealing Deuces Wild, Let It Ride, and the newest game in our arsenal, Mini Pai Gow. I should've known--every time we get a new game, guess who is the guy who has to not only deal it every night, but also teach all the other dealers how to do it. Yep, your humble correspondent Mikey seems to be the de-facto beta tester for all new games.

We just got it this week, so I've only had a few hours on it, so I'll reserve judgement and a full analysis until later. But basically it's a 6-card Pai Gow game, five down-one up, with no commission on a win. Sounds good, but damn, it seems that every hand is a Pai Gow. I'll have to do a bit more dealing to figure out the nuances and such, but so far, I'm not convinced that it's a better game. We'll see.

Anyhow, we were slow last night, being a Monday and all, and the bosses were doing what they could to close dead games early, evening bringing three craps games down to just one by 10:00pm. Hell, they even asked me if I wanted to go after just three hours. I politely declined, citing the fact that I took six hours of Early-Out time last week. But once midnight rolled around and I doing my damndest not to fall asleep at my table, I took a couple of hours off early and bounced, getting a head start on my weekend.

I parked on the top floor of the parking garage last night, and when I got off the elevator, I was pleasantly surprised by a slight drizzle of rain coming down. We absolutely need it, so it's very welcome (I swear Lake Mead is down about 50 feet right now). The only problem was that the slightest bit of rain makes the roads here so slippery because it's been months since all the oil and junk has been washed off, so everyone was just moving at a crawl during my drive home. And of course I can spin the rear wheels on my truck without even trying, so every corner was an exercise in hydroplaning and recovery. Luckily I made it home without a hitch. Scared a few people though, so that was a bonus.

But as soon as I got home, the skies opened up and the deluge was upon us. Lightning, thunder, and buckets and buckets of rain came down for about an hour. Since it was only about 97 degrees at the time, and hot again today, it feels like the Amazon rainforest outside. Just a few minutes ago I opened the front door to see what the weather was doing today and it was like getting hit with a blanket that hasn't been in the dryer long enough. It reminded me of the last time I visited Atlanta--as soon as I walked out of the airport I felt like I was in a steam sauna forcing me to ask out loud, to nobody in particular, Oh my god--How the hell do you people live here???

Yep, it's nasty today. Hot and humid, kinda like living back in the Midwest, without all the tornadoes and herbicide commercials.

But it'll dry up soon enough and we'll be back to bitching about the regular heat. Actually, now that the monsoon is here, I'm guessing that the heat has broken for the year. It'll still be hot for a couple of months, but not the ridiculous 115's and such we had a few weeks ago--"Pool weather", I like to call it.

Oh well, maybe I'll just embrace the tropical experience and go to the store, get those limes and some Coke, bust out the rum, put some Jimmy Buffett on, and pretend I'm on vacation down-island.

It sure beats working, even in the cool air-conditioned comfort of a casino.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Surprisingly Productive

For today not being a day off, I got an amazing amount of stuff done. First of all, I made the happy discovery that my laptop allows me to play all of the music I have on my hard drive without the hassle of creating playlists and all that other stuff that was beyond the capabilities of the old Compaq. I know, it doesn't sound like much, but when you haven't had the ability, it's almost miraculous to behold when your computer can actually do some basic task you want it to do. But the simple fact that I can listen to Tonight It's You by Cheap Trick, followed by a rattle-the-windows version of Orff's O Fortuna, then Feelin' Stronger Every Day by Chicago without having to stop what I'm doing and hop from window to window is empowering, indeed.

(And having a good set of surround speakers on the shelf and a subwoofer under the desk makes all the difference in the world, too!)

Hell, writing is way more fun when I can have music playing, as evidenced by today's outpouring of drivel!

Besides my musical discovery, I got a bunch of laundry done, my room cleaned, the dishwasher loaded, the trash taken out, the towels folded, all of my clothes put away, the Zippo lighter refilled, some online sleuthing done, and every sock I own is in one place. Tomorrow's project is to mate them up, hoping they reproduce.

While going through my laundry, I had to toss several pairs of boxerbriefs and undershirts in the garbage, as they'd given their all and served their owner admirably for several years and were just plain worn out. As a guy, I believe that I'd probably never buy new clothes unless I subscribed to the Vacuum Theory of Men's Fashion, which simply states that most guys will never buy new clothes unless they throw out the old ones first. It's like we're programmed to only have so much attire on hand at any given time. Once we finally realize just how few pairs of socks/underwear/dress pants we really have, we finally do something about it. Of course, this only applies to single men who don't have women shopping for them. Married guys never seem to run out of new clothes.

But now that I've gotten rid of so much underwear, I realize that I'm a little short on skivvies, so to speak, and a portion of the checking account will have to be allocated to the Jockey-mongerer this week. If not, I'll be going commando at the Pai Gow table by the weekend. At least I still have my Elvis and SpongeBob boxers, and what they lack in support they more than make up for in hipness and breezy comfort.

Anyhow, since I was such a busy little worker bee all day, I was going to reward myself with a couple of hours on the couch with the remote and a generous helping of ESPN, but of course all they were talking about is Michael Vick, and they're running that story into the ground like Fox News did to the bloated corpse of Anna Nichole Smith. I guess it's better than the Terrell Owens saga like we've had the past few summers, but if certain pro athletes weren't such asshats, I guess we wouldn't have anything sports-related to talk about in late July.

At least the NBA gave us confirmation this week of the thing we've suspected all along--that the games were fixed.

I'm shocked--SHOCKED--I tell you!

I was also hoping to watch last night's episode of Entourage on the DVR, but the Cox suckers yanked our free HBO HD channel this weekend, so now if I want to see my favorite show, I have to cough up an extra twenty bucks a month. Nope--not gonna happen. After that shiatty Sopranos finale, HBO can hug my free-swinging yambag--they're not getting a dime from me. I'll wait until it comes out on DVD, and then get myself a pirated copy. If The Man is gonna stick to me, then I'm gonna Stick It To The Man!

In the meantime, I guess I can just sit here at the desk listening to all of my music that was collected using purely legitimate means...


Biggest Laugh of the Night

Anybody who's been in a casino knows that you're not allowed to touch the dealer and we're also not allowed to take anything directly from a player's hand--money, chips, ID, anything. If the player wants to get some chips, they have to lay the money down on the table, and we'll take it from there.

That rule is completely lost on some people, most notably first-timers who reveling in the new-found wonder of free cocktails.

So when the hot girl in the low-cut top at my dice table tried three different times to hand me a hundred dollar bill, I decided to make the lesson stick.

I'm sorry ma'am, you're not allowed to pass me anything directly from your hand unless it's a room key!

She finally figured out the protocol, and the game came to a halt while the boxman and the stickman re-composed themselves. I didn't get the room key, but damn, we made some good tips after that.



Good Morning, everyone--hope you're all having a happy Monday.

I just got up a little while ago, made myself a fresh pot of hazelnut/coconut Nirvana, and I'm presently relaxing in front of the computer, thinking of all the things I *should* be doing instead. Yep, my room is a mess, I have about nine loads of laundry to do, I need to synchronize my calendar with all of my bills that are due in the next few weeks, and I should probably organize my closet.

But sitting in front of the computer drinking coffee is much more enjoyable, so there you go...

As far as work goes, it's been a very interesting week. First of all, starting tonight, my schedule changed (for the better), and I get to go in at 7:00 pm instead of 8:00. That's so much better for so many reasons-- 1) I'm likely to be on a good string of games (a couple of Pai Gow tables and that Ultimate Holdem Game) instead of a bunch of life-sucking low-limit blackjack tables, 2) It's much busier early on, so my time goes much faster, and 3) I will more than likely be able to skip out of work 40 minutes early almost every night, yet still get full tokes.

Of course, not all is sunshine and lollipops. One of the Pai Gow tables on the 7:00 pm string is a five-dolllar flea circus. It's a pretty long hour, because there are about three or four of the same losers that come in every night and wait for seats at the table. Of course they never tip, and they're usually the first ones to bitch and moan about their comps. Or lack of them. As much as I root against the House, sometimes it's a sublime pleasure to bust some people. And even though it takes forever at a five-dollar Pai Gow table, when it happens, it's just a thing of beauty.

Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to my new schedule--it's put a spring in my step already. Additionally, now that we got the word that the most hated and psychopathic dealer ever to pitch cards in Vegas was *officially* shitcanned, and we've gotten rid of that horrid Rapid Roulette game, our tokes seem to have gone up significantly on the weekends. We've had a couple of pretty good days. The past several weekdays have been less-than-stellar (it's been slow), but our weekend was pretty good.

I've also gotten a few 'pats on the head' these past few days. One of the bosses, who I find *very* hard to read--straight up told me the other day, out of the clear blue, that "You really shouldn't even be working here".

I was like WTF? Excuse me?

"Yeah, you should be down on the Strip at a nice place making more money--you're too good to be working here..."

Oh, ok... Heh. That's better.

The problem with working on the Strip is that MGM/Mirage doesn't seem to be the least bit interested in me (they keep your information on file, and applying for a position, once your first application is done, is just a matter of clicking a button on their employment website). I've applied for a half-dozen different positions over the course of the past year-and-a-half and haven't even gotten a single acknowledgment or audition.

Otherwise, the only alternative is working for the Evil Empire, and I don't know if I'm ready to make that leap quite yet. Of course, there's always Le Steve or Uncle Sheldon, but since about 4000 dealers around town have applied for a position at the Venetian/Palazzo in the past month, and getting into the Wynn is tougher than getting a job as the towel boy at the Playboy mansion, those aren't really an option. Besides, there are only about five or six places on the Strip where the dealers consistently make more than I already do. So my options seem to be fairly limited, anyways.

But I know I'm pretty good at what I do. I had two different floorpeople tell me last week that they love having me work in their sections because they know that they don't have to babysit my table. Hell, two nights ago, one of the bosses came and got me off of my table to help them answer a dispute on another game (but they're still not gonna get me to wear a jacket--I've been successfully dodging that responsibility for over a year, and my record still stands!)

I even got a backhanded compliment from a pissed-off player on Friday night. I was dealing that Bonus Holdem game, which has a *huge* house edge--I wouldn't be caught dead on the other side of that table. But it was late, and it was a dead game, and this doofus came up with another hundred dollar bill (I'd already taken about three others off of him earlier) and said he wanted to give it one more try.

So I shuffled up, and he actually won a couple of hands right away, and I dropped a few bucks in the toke box. We were laughing it up and having a good time, and then the wheels fell off. He'd made a full house by having a pocket queen while the board was showing three kings, a queen, and a four. So he had about $30 worth of bets out on the table, thinking his full house was good. But guess who had the case King?

Yep, he got the boat, but I had the four-of-a-kind and wiped him out.

He got so pissed, slammed the table, then pointed his finger at me and said "If you do that again, I'm coming across this table!"

Oh man, I absolutely live for the day that happens, because then I would have permission to beat the ever-livin' shiat out of somebody that clearly has it coming.

I calmly replied, Oh, please do! That would make my whole night!

I could hear the floorperson behind me start to snicker, and the guy said "I'm not afraid of you, man!"

So I told him that he didnt' have a reason to be, as I wasn't the one making threats.

He lost a few more hands with bad cards, and then I crushed him. I dealt him pocket jacks and he loaded up his bets again. The board was pretty raggy, except that there were two sixes out there as community cards.

I turned over my hole cards to show a 6-3 offsuit, and I thought the guy was gonna come unglued. Yep, my three-of-a-kind smacked down his big pocket pair, busting him again.

He flipped out, wisely deciding against coming across the table though, and said Dude, I know what you're doing. You're totally setting the deck! I know it! I've been here in Vegas since 1974, so I know what's up...

With that he got up and left, and as soon as he did, both me and the floorperson looked at each other and busted out laughing.


First of all, if I could set the deck with any degree of accuracy, that jagoff wouldn't be able to get a seat at my table, as it would always be full of my buddies and hot chicks with questionable morals.

Second of all, it didn't do me one bit of good to bust the guy--when he was winning, he was tipping, so I was actually rooting for the guy. But as soon as he took a bad beat, he turned into a complete farking mope, so I knew I'd gotten my last toke out of the guy. Crushing him was just a nice bonus.

Third of all, busting him out and sitting on a dead game is kind of counter-productive, as it makes the night just drag.

And finally, even if I could control the cards, why in the hell would I risk a decent job with good insurance and benefits to bust a complete toolbox that was doing a fine job of going broke on his own?

I guess his tinfoil hat was on too tight. But I took it as a compliment that he thought I was that smooth of a dealer that I could manipulate the deck so well. If only it were so--because if it were, I'd spend my days like Mike McD and Worm, cold-decking Teen Beat cover boys, and I wouldn't have to worry about going to work every day.

So what else is new?

Let's see here... I got to deal dice twice in the last week, and it was actually a lot of fun. Normally, I don't much care for our 'regular' dice players, but the tables I was on were full of tourists, so it was much more enjoyable than dealing to our regular strokers. I'm glad I got over there, because I don't deal dice nearly often enough, and not that I was that much of an all-star craps dealer, but my game was getting a bit rusty. So I got to knock the edge off and deal a couple of fun games this weekend.

Saturday night after work, there was huge goodbye party for one of the boxmen who was giving up the casino biz to move out to Hawaii with a buddy of his and be a bartender. The Early-Out list was about two pages long, but since my dice game went dead, I was one of the lucky ones and slid out ahead of most of the blackjack crew. Our shift goes until 4:00 am, but I swear by 3:00 the entire shift was at the bar getting silly on beer and shots. Even the floorpeople were there--everyone thought they must've closed the place down because almost every dealer was at the bar. We had no idea who was left in the casino pitching cards until the graveyard shift showed up, but by then nobody cared. It was a good time.

I wanted to take some pictures, but my dumb drunk ass was defeated by the new digital camera that said that my memory card was write-protected and it wouldn't let me take any photos (and let me tell you, there were some *great* opportunities). Of course, then next day I figured out that there is a little locking switch on the side of the memory card that somehow I managed to activate. Oh well, it's probably better that some of the buffoonery on display wasn't permanently recorded, and relegated to "legend" status instead.

My hottie friend Lisa Lisa The One I Adore (the one who's a cocktail waitress at Luxor) was also there, and she insisted on doing several shots together, so I was good and buzzed on Surfers on Acid. Whew... a few of those will make you good and silly. Couple them with a few pints of Captain and Coke, and you have a recipe for a happy disaster. Somebody had the foresight to order wings, nachos, and chicken strips for the crowd, so there was a bit of food on hand to dilute the booze. Around the time the sun came up, I switched to bottled water for a couple of hours before heading home, scrubbing off the lipstick, and sleeping it off.

Of course, everyone was completely fried at work last night--the entire shift seemed to be hungover and moving at half-speed, complaining that they just can't rage like they used to. Luckily it was kind of slow and easy--I dealt a grand total of four hands in the first two hours of my shift. The rest of the time I sat there at dead tables, my eyes glazed over and staring at all the pretty flashing lights in the distance.

Dinner consisted of mashed potatoes and iced tea.

It was just another Sunday in America's Playground.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Just In Time For the Weekend

Well, myself, I had a couple of $30 Newcastles after work last night.

Yep. $30 apiece.

Normally they're only around five bucks each at your better establishments, but since the Jumbo Jackpot was sitting at $143,000 and steadily clocking upward to it's 150K limit, everyone I work with picked a machine and chased it for awhile once they punched out.

Well, I got my ass handed to me playing video poker--which I hate by the way, and I have no idea why I sat down there. But then my gal Denise found me and insisted that I join her in the realm of the truly desperate, and play some nickel Keno slots.

Oh man... I felt like a total loser. Seriously--Keno. Five cents per game. But Caveman Keno is nice and obnoxiously loud, thereby guaranteeing good cocktail service at 4:00 am. But how sad is it that we were trying to hit 7 out of 7 numbers on an 80-number board? For a whopping $300 payout? I mean, that's just completely ridiculous odds. Hell, I could drive down to Kingman, buy a Powerball ticket, only have to hit six out of six numbers and win $72 MILLION this week. Oh well, we were going for the Jumbo Jackpot, so that makes it totally worth it...

So there I was, sitting and pathetically feeding that machine a nickel at a time, hoping to score a little love from either The House or Denise. I got neither. That damn Jumbo Jackpot outlasted both of us, and I came home, alone...

But I'm not the only one who was chasing it. I know somebody else, who's initials are Falcon Rob, who spent his day off at Green Valley Ranch playing single-credit nickel video poker for hours on end. In fact I got the following text message around 10 pm when I was on my break:

I'm down five dollars and my eyes are starting to bleed. DAMN YOU JUMBO JACKPOT!


Do you have any idea how long it takes to be down five dollars on video poker when you're only playing a nickel at a time?

A long damn time.

Oh well, I hope somebody hits it before I go back to work tomorrow night. I'd hate to have to spend a hundred bucks for four beers.

That reminds me.--Did I ever tell you about the time I had the $600 Fatburger? It wasn't as tasty as you'd think...


Edited to add: I just spoke to Falcon Rob--he corrected me. He was playing PENNY video poker. Yep, one cent at a time. He didn't win the jackpot either, as evidenced by our lack of nice furniture...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Feeling A Little Gassy Today

I had a pleasant surprise today while out doing my usual payday errands. I saw that gas is back below $3.00 per gallon, which is great news by itself, but the fact that it cost me less than $50 to fill up my tank put a smile on my face.

Yep, I paid $2.95 per gallon at the Maryland Pkwy/Flamingo Sinclair station. And yeah, I'm aware that it's cheaper at Terrible's, but I've discovered that Terrible's really doesn't want to sell gas. While they are usually the cheapest by about a nickel a gallon, the hoops they make you jump through just to pump the gas aren't really worth it. I mean, seriously, why have a credit card point-of-sale terminal outside on the gas pump if you're going to make me come inside, stand in line (There is *always* a line inside too, as they've worked some kind of deal with the transit authority to put a bus stop in front of every one of their gas stations), and show ID just to get gas? Every other pump in the city requires a PIN number for debit cards or billing address ZIP code for credit cards. At Terrible's, you have to bring in more documents than you do while applying for a home equity loan.

So I won't go there anymore. I prefer Sinclair. But the problem with Sinclair is that their corporate policy, at least here in Southern Nevada, is that nobody getting gas on a credit/debit card is allowed to buy more than $50 at a time. Once I learned this several months ago, I'd always refill the tank before it got below the 1/4 mark. But this morning when I left the house, with all of the running around with Angy and all of the extra driving I've done this past week, the peg was down bouncing off the 'Empty' peg and the fuel warning light was on. So I figured I'd put in as much as I could and just top off sometime later this weekend.

One could only imagine my surprise as the pump stopped at $49.30, and the tank wouldn't hold another drop.

On top of all that, now that I live south of the 215, I find myself using the freeway all the time--even to get to and from work. And instead of my usual 13 mpg that the truck has gotten since I brought her home a year ago, I'm now averaging close to 16.5 mpg. Oh hell yeah--I haven't seen that kind of mileage since I took that road trip to Phoenix.

Perhaps it's time for another...


Thursday, July 19, 2007


I don't give two shiats about

- The WNBA

- Soccer, in any form, at any level

- Ice Road Truckers

- John From Cincinnati

- Rachel Ray

- Harry Reid

- Other people's kids

- Their pets, either

- The War on Drugs

- Barry Bonds

- Michael Vick and his pit bulls

- The dealers at the Wynn

- NFL holdouts

- What A-Rod is gonna do about his contract

- The Car of Tomorrow

- Van Halen since Dave left

- Posh & Becks

- Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, et al...

- Miller Chill

- Reality TV

- Whether or not Tony got killed at the end

- copyright infringement from downloaded music

- my 'carbon footprint'

- anything Rosie O'Donnell has to say

- Mythbusters

- Lost

- Open-wheel racing

- The X-Games

I would love to have a week where I didn't have to hear anything at all about any of these subjects.

I'll keep dreamin'.


The Bane of My Existence

Some time ago, I made an impulse purchase. I was shopping for various accessories for my iPod down at Fry's Electronics, and while standing in the checkout line, there was a display of nifty retro barware for sale. Of course, every swingin' Vegas bachelor needs a martini shaker, and I didn't have one. And since I was livin' in the most shagadelic pad in all of the 702 at the time, I immediately justified the $18 expense and tossed it in the cart.

I keep a decent collection of booze on hand, but anyone who's been to my house can tell you that it consists of 90% rum and 10% whiskey. But martini mixing requires infused vodkas, funky liqueurs, and having a proper bottle of gin on hand. I had none of the above. Not wanting the expense of buying ten or twelve new bottles of booze at the same time, I figured my new martini shaker would be the cornerstone of my newly updated bedroom mini-bar and I could always make a trip out to Lee's Discount Liquor Warehouse on paydays to slowly build the stocks.

So my new martini shaker sat on the shelf next to the rum bottles for several months, gathering dust as other priorities took over my discretionary income. Besides, who wants to drink alone? That's just pathetic and sad. And I certainly didn't want to drink with my roommates at the time--they were even more pathetic and sad.

Once I realized that I was moving out of the swingin'-sixties-pad-without-the-swingers, I packed up all my booze and accessories and waited for the day I could set up shop at my new place. And once I got the keys, the first thing I unpacked was all of the booze, and I set my new martini shaker in a place of honor on one of the built-in display shelves.

Thinking I could make some sort of tasty celebratory treat to toast the fact that I was now living in a much better place, I gathered up some ice, a bottle of vanilla rum, a bottle of coconut rum, and some Kahlua, ready to shake shake shake like Michael J. Fox listening to KC & the Sunshine Band.

Unfortunately, the martini shaker wouldn't come apart. The lid would come off, but I couldn't get the top half separated from the bottom half. It was fused on as tight as a drum. I twisted with all my might, tugged at it, even beat it on the floor. No luck--it was good and stuck.

Knowing a little about physics, I put the bottom half in a bowl full of ice, hoping to make it contract a bit, while I tickled the rim with my torch-style cigar lighter, heating up the top half to make it expand. No dice--my kung fu was not strong enough to defeat the will of the martini shaker.

Swearing didn't work either, nor did enlisting the help of outsiders to hold one end while I tried to twist the other. The only thing I haven't tried, short of a hacksaw, it putting the thing in a vice, and that's only because I don't have one.

So basically, it's just a big damn silver paperweight at this point, taking up space in my kitchen, and I'm not able to make martinis. Or at least look cool while making martinis.

I guess I'll just have to stick with the Captain and Coke in a big damn plastic cup. Bummer.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Rest of the Weekend...

Ok, now that I've posted the big downer, let me try and fill you in on the rest of my adventures with Angy. After Wednesday, I didn't get to see her again until Sunday--I had to work the next couple of nights, and her brother made a surprise visit, flying in on Thursday, so she spent the next three days hanging out with her family.

They all flew home early on Sunday afternoon, leaving Angy here in town unsupervised, so she called me first thing Sunday morning and we made plans to spend the afternoon/evening together.

Once I got back over to the Paris, the first order of business was a cocktail. But when I saw the completely empty bottle of Captain Silver lying on the floor, I made the now-famous lament:

Why is all the rum gone?

It looked like the first order of business would be lunch, instead. I was going to try and talk her into holding out until later and going over to Maggiano's at the mall, but I didn't know at the time that my afternoon was already planned... So we ate at the cafe there at Paris.

We were seated immediately, ordered our usual appetizer of calamari (it sounds so much more exotic than 'fried squid') and thought about drinks. We settled on water, though. For lunch, Angy had the seafood crepes, and I had a big damn club sandwich. It was really good, but almost too big, so I took the middle slices of bread out and called it a BLT with turkey. Angy enjoyed her crepes, and I have no idea what the bill came to.

After lunch, we made our way over to the Frontier, as Sunday was the very last day it was open to the public before it's appointment with the wrecking ball.

And all I can say about that is It's about damn time! That place has been a dump for years--and the smell, oh my god--it absolutely reeked of puke and stale smoke. It was awful. Anyhow, we lurked around a bit before finding Tonya and Kikky hanging out at some slot machines, and from there the four of us headed towards the bar in the middle of the casino.

It was a mellow afternoon, so we ordered some drinks and just hung out and chatted. It was very interesting to watch the dynamic in the casino, however. It was still quite crowded, and yeah, they were still sweating the money like they always did--the table limits were $5 minimum to $100 maximum. I guess they didn't wanna take a beating in case somebody got lucky on the last day.

Apparently the employee's dining room was already closed down, as they had a potluck set up in the middle of the pit for everyone to munch on during their breaks:

Angy opted to play a little video poker, and actually won a couple of bucks while we were sitting there:

Inspired by her success, I wandered over to an empty Pai Gow table and bought in for a hundred. It seemed, for a moment, that I was in for another ass-kicking, but my luck turned, and after about a half-hour or so I was up $115, so I cashed out. Hell yeah--Stickin' it to the Frontier! Between that and the $500 I won there back in March Madness II after an epic dice roll, I own those bitches! (Although, 'owning' a puke-smelling dump like that isn't exactly something to brag about...)

I wandered over to the cage to get my cash before they shut me out, and just as I was walking up, a hottie with a huge fake rack ran up to me, gave me an enjoyable chest-bump and a hug, and insisted we get our picture taken together. Ok!

I tried to get a better picture, but that new camera Angy gave me takes some getting used to. This was the best I could do:

We were having an enjoyable conversation, right up to the point where she said You remind me of my boyfriend... He's around here somewhere.... So after that, I wandered back to the bar to 'dance with who I brung'.

Kikky, Tonya, and Angy

We hung out there at the bar for quite a bit, and had the honor of killing the very last bottle of Captain Morgan in the inventory. Once that was gone, we figured we had no reason to stick around.

The bartender shows us the very last bottle of The Captain to be served at the Frontier

On the way out the door, we figured we should get some souvenir dollar chips, so we stopped at the dead-on-one-end dice table and asked to buy a few chips.

Believe it or not, both the dealer and the boxman were complete assholes about it, refusing to sell us any. When I asked them why not, they said, If we sell them to you, we'll have to sell them to everyone.

I motioned to the non-existent line of people at their game and asked You mean all these people who aren't here?

They weren't budging, but when I finally got the floorperson involved, they had to sell them to me. Seriously--WTF? I don't understand why they had to be such dicks about it. So Doc and Ron, your dollar chips have been secured, even though it took a bit of hoop-jumping.

We'd been there for a few hours, and none of us were unhappy to leave. From the always-surly employees, to endless amount of duct-tape on the carpets and chairs, to the ever-present stench, I'm surprised the place has made it this long. I'll be glad to see this one finally imploded. It's funny, I was a little sad to see the Stardust go. But the Frontier? Forget it--push the damn button already!

From there we made our way up to Treasure Island, where we sat in the bar at Isla drinking margaritas (Pacifico, actually, for me) and eating chips and salsa. Well, I actually only had about four chips the entire time, but I watched Angy plow through two bowls like a stoner going through a bag of Cheetos. She said she just couldn't stop! After a couple of rounds and some good conversation, we decided to do a little gambling. Here it was Sunday night, and Angy hadn't played a single hand of blackjack yet!

That wouldn't do, so we found an empty $5 single-deck 6:5 game and sat down. It was actually pretty fun, and a guy joined us who seemed to have the magic touch when it came to cutting the deck, so we insisted that he do it every time. I ended up doing pretty well, and was up another $60 after finally losing four hands in a row, so I pulled the ripcord. I don't remember how Kikky did, but I think Angy was just about even.

We were both pretty tired when we cashed out, so after hitting the cage, we said goodbye to Kikky and headed back to Paris. I dropped Angy off so she could get some sleep, and I headed home.

Falcon Rob was off of work, and sitting in the living room watching TV. After giving him a rehash of my day, he suggested that since it was his 90-day anniversary of quitting his break-in dice-dealing job and he was now allowed to play at his old casino, we should go back over for some dollar craps.

Well, I was up over $150 for the day, so of course I agreed that it was a good idea.

So we headed out to Boulder Highway and the cheesy goodness of The Palace. No, not Ceasars Palace, the other one. No, not the Imperial Palace, the other other one... The Nevada Palace. Oh yeah--it's pretty bad. I think it won the LVRJ Best of Vegas award for 'Most Likely Place To Catch The Clap Without Actually Getting Laid'. It made the Frontier look at least as classy as the Gold Spike.

Well, we bought in, but as Rob put it, it was a comedy of errors. I was betting the pass line at first, and the table was cold, so I lost about $30 before changing to the Dark Side, when of course the dice got so hot that the fleas were making a fortune on all the fours and tens, so I lost another quick $30 before giving up, hoping to leave with some small shred of dignity. It didn't happen. Oh well, thanks to Rob and I, the Nevada Palace will be able to pay it's electric bill this month.

Pulling away from there for what I'm sure was the last time, we decided that we were hungry. It was after midnight by then, and I hadn't had anything to eat since that club sandy nine hours earlier. We decided on the Peppermill.

Making our way to the Strip, we arrived about 20 minutes later, and spent the first five minutes in the restroom, scrubbing like E.R. surgeons from the tip of our fingers all the way up to the elbows. Yep, I could literally feel the crud on my arms when I left the Nevada Palace, and it was a little creepy.

Breakfast was great--I had a vanilla milkshake and the chicken fried steak & eggs, with hashbrowns and sourdough toast. Rob had a Philly Cheesesteak, and I think we decided that as good a sandwich as it is, it's way overrated. But people from Philadelphia don't have much else to hang their hat on, so we kept the discussion to ourselves. But seriously-- a Monte Cristo totally kicks Cheesesteak ass. I'm just sayin'.

I got some much-needed sleep after that, and awoke the next day to Angy calling me up and telling me that she was almost checked out of her room. So I took a quick shower, made a quick stop at the bank to deposit what was left of my winnings, hit the post office to pick up my certified letter from the IRS telling me that they made a mistake--I didn't really owe them $900+ that they told me back in April, but that I actually owed them closer to $2300. Damn The Man! Ugh... Oh well, I wasn't going to let that piece of news ruin my day, so I tossed the letter in the glove compartment and headed for the Strip to pick up Angy.

You can read the rest of our adventures here. Basically we had a nice lunch, drank some good martinis, and then I dropped her off at the airport before heading home for a nap. I had to work that night, and it kinda sucked.

Is it March yet?



I want to thank everyone who has offered kind words and encouragement in my comments section today, and also sent along emails with links and information. I really appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers on behalf of me and my family.

Yes, I truly wish I could be back in Tennessee right now, but I'm afraid I'd just be in the way. Having never had to deal with a death in the family, it's a very difficult time. Yes, my grandparents have all passed away, but their deaths were not unexpected at the time, and there was more of a sense of relief because of the end of suffering than of grief. But even so, I honestly think that I'm glad I'm not there--I have no idea how to act or what to say. I suppose it's good to not be an expert on such things, but it makes me feel somewhat less than human that I can just flip the switch and act like there is nothing amiss.

I feel sad when I think about it, but my natural response is to not think about it, which makes me feel shitty. My mom and siblings are doing enough worrying, and adding my portion of emotional distress to the mix doesn't seem like it would help at all. So here I am, 1500 miles away, feeling strangely detached.

I guess I just don't know how to feel.

As far as answering the questions that have come my way, it's not a blood relative--It's my sister Cyndi's husband David. He's probably the healthiest member of our family, having just run a half-marathon a couple months ago. It's truly a shock. But his mother died of lung cancer, so he mentioned that he was afraid that was the problem before the surgery last week where it was discovered.

And no, nobody in the family has ever had cancer or any of the other rare or exotic diseases. Besides having a tendency to be overweight, our family is actually pretty damn healthy. But like I said, he's not a blood relative, although I've always considered him to be my brother.

Also, for those that have asked, I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. Not once. I only smoke cigars (maybe four a month), and those are not inhaled. If I'm gonna catch it, it'll be from all the secondhand smoking I do at work.

If there is any shred of goodness that could come of this horrible situation, it's that I'm hoping this scares my other brother David (Reverend Dave, my blood brother) into quitting smoking. He never smoked at all until the week he graduated from college, and I think he's got a two-pack a day habit now. His second wife was a smoker, and that didn't help at all.

If he's gonna smoke, it should only be when he comes to Vegas...

Oh well. I'm feeling a little better after letting the world know. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but I have no experience with this type of thing.

Let's hope I never again need it.


38 Years Ago Today

If there were any justice in the world, Ted will eventually go the same way. Only more slowly. And with spectators looking on.

I don't know why this has always bothered me.

I can't even get away with a parking ticket.


Ups and Downs

Hey gang, I know everyone is patiently waiting for a detailed report about an epic weekend with Angy, but the truth is, it's very hard to write at this point. I'm just not feeling creative at the moment, and it has to do with some very bad news I got this past weekend.

It seems that someone very close to me is extremely sick. I got the news on Friday afternoon from Nashville, and I've kind of been hanging by the phone ever since. And it put a bit of a damper on the rest of the weekend with Angy--Sunday and Monday were extremely mellow--we didn't get stupid drunk or thrown out of any club or casino, or have any silly adventures like we normally do. We had an enjoyable visit, and I loved having her here, but there was not much buffoonery.

In fact I spent a good chunk of the weekend on the computer learning all I could about stage IV lung cancer. The phone calls from home were not encouraging at all, either. The doctors were using words like 'inoperable', 'fatal', 'incurable' and so forth. There was absolutely *no* good news or silver lining, and the whole family has been keeping vigil down at Vanderbilt Medical Center for the past several days. More tests to see how far it has spread are on the agenda, along with a course of treatment. But treatment won't do anything but delay the inevitable.

The bottom line is, we're going to lose a very dear family member, and much sooner than they deserve to go.

A bit later on, I'll try and recall the weekend's activities, but it might be awhile. I make no promises.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Back Home Again

Hey everyone--I just got home from dropping Angy off at the airport--yes, it was another sad goodbye, but of course it's tempered by the fact that she'll be back again in a few months--March at the latest.

Anyhow, I'm exhausted, so I'm going to take a short nap this afternoon before heading into work tonight. I've only got one or two errands to run tomorrow, and I'm off for a couple of days, so I'll post an update in the morning.


Friday, July 13, 2007

A Few Things I've Seen In The Casino.

A huge gaping hole in the pit where the Rapid Roulette table used to be. Oh hell yeah!

A rookie blackjack dealer paying $140 for an $80 blackjack. At least I could tell he wasn't from Harrahs. They'd never pay 3.5 to 2 for a snapper.

A dealer getting taken off of a game and walked out by security with a floorperson in tow. That always makes the night more interesting.

A Pai Gow player getting a Royal Flush, then when she thought the dealer wasn't looking, pushing a $5 chip from the top of their base bet over to the top of their bonus bet, trying to score a $1500 payout instead of a $750 payout.

That same Pai Gow player getting zip-tied and carried away by Security a few minutes later. And then they won the Dumbass of the Year award because it was soon discovered that the person was a dealer at another property. Was a dealer.

A guy walking out of the restroom trailing a line of toilet paper about 30 feet long behind him.

A drunk-ass player knocking an entire glass of red wine into the dealer's chip rack.

One of the dice from the craps game fly off the table and land in a drink on the cocktail waitress's tray as she was walking by.

A ball getting launched off of the roulette wheel and landing in a garbage can 15 feet away. (I was actually the one who did that--it was one of my proudest moments as a dealer!)

Two old geezers in wheelchairs fighting over a slot machine.

A guy lose $2000 in about two hours, and then told the dealer You're the reason my kids don't have any food just as he was leaving.

A guy with an oxygen tank asking for a cigarette comp.

A shooter playing the Pass Line and the Don't Pass Line at the same time. And the stickman pushing the dice to him and saying--with a straight face--Your point is twelve, sir...


Thursday, July 12, 2007


Leftover pizza, a bottle of Coke, and two Aleve tablets--I'm feeling like a champ this afternoon!

Yes, I'm finally awake after yesterday's epic adventures, although I'm moving kind of slowly. I have to leave for work in about four hours, and hopefully I should be up to full speed by then. Luckily it'll be an easy night--probably nothing but Pai Gow and carnival games for Mikey at the casino tonight. At least that's what I'm hoping. I really don't want to deal blackjack and have to add up all those low numbers thousands of times.


Yesterday was a blast. I got up early, doctored up a few bottles of Diet Coke by pouring off the 'angels share' and refilling them with Captain Morgan, putting them on ice, and packing them in a small insulated lunch cooler. I also stopped at Walgreens for a couple of sports bottles that would come in handy later in the afternoon.

The next thing I did was show up at the airport unexpectedly and wait at the Allegiant baggage claim carousel hoping Angy and her sisters would show up. They did, eventually--they were the absolute last three people to come claim their luggage, long after the carousel had stopped turning. I panicked at first, thinking they'd missed their flight, but it turns out that after three and a half hours in the air, somebody needed a cigarette before picking up her bags. We eventually found each other, and I graciously offered to haul them all to their hotel, saving them the money and the hassle of waiting in the cab line. They also appreciated the icy-cold cocktails I'd brought along with me--nothing beats having a drink at the airport to kick off a Vegas trip!

So all the luggage went in the back, and the four of us (me, Angy, and her two sisters, Gail and Jackie) piled into the truck and headed toward Paris. Leaving the truck in the capable hands of the valet, and ditching the bags with the bellman, we headed for the long line at the registration desk.

Angy's attempt at the '$20 trick' was rebuffed once again, but it's tough to upgrade to a Calais Suite when you're asking for two adjoining rooms. There was no free upgrade available, but luckily she got the adjoining rooms she asked for, on the fourth floor overlooking the shady part of the pool deck.

The first order of business was to call the bellman and have the bags delivered, and as soon as they arrived, we broke out the Captain, filled up the sports bottles with rum, ice, and Coke for the pool and changed into swimsuits. Angy's goal was to be at the pool 20 minutes after checking in, and I think we may have just slid in under the wire.

Even though it was hot-hot-hot outside, she insisted on finding a sunny spot to set up camp (not hard to do with two acres of bare concrete surrounding the pool). I slathered myself in sunscreen while Angy rounded up some frozen fruity drinks and turned off her cellphone, and a few minutes later we toasted the beginning of another Vegas adventure.

It wasn't long before I was roasting in my own juices, so I insisted on hot-footing it over to the pool and getting in the water. Angy agreed, and we spent the rest of the afternoon neck deep in the cool refreshing oasis of the Paris pool. We also started talking to a couple of young hotties from Orange county who were having a 24-hour getaway from life in SoCal, and it was a fascinating conversation. Turns out that one of them is the person who chooses all of the 'soundtrack' flashback music for that tv show 'Cold Case'.

Just goes to show that you never know who you're gonna meet while lounging around the pool in Vegas, sipping on seventeen-dollar Pina Coladas!

After about three hours of sun-worship, we decided that we'd had enough and headed back up to the room. We lounged there for just a bit before heading out. One of Angy's sisters had the unfortunate luck to get a heat-induced migraine, and the other one was meeting up with some other friends, so we took off.

Angy had obviously never seen the new place, so she wanted to come check out the new apartment. I wasn't planning on having her over until Saturday, so it was less-than-immaculate when we got there. Oh well, it's not like she hasn't seen my messy room before, so it was no big deal having a pile of laundry climbing the wall. At least the bathroom and kitchen were clean. And she claims the title of being the first chick to come over and visit our luxurious new digs.

We hung out for about 45 minutes or so, and I packed a bag with some slacks, decent shoes, and a nice shirt, as the tentative plan was to go over to the Palms later that night and Hef it up at the Playboy Club.

We hit the road, and traffic on the 215 was just getting cranked up to full-on rush-hour goodness. Once we got past the bottleneck of the required daily accident, we decided to head over to New York Pizza and Pasta for dinner. Suprisingly, I-15 northbound was absolutely deserted, leaving me to believe that there was some sort of huge bloody accident somewhere between Primm and the 215 keeping people from getting to Vegas from the south, but I didn't complain that I could actually do 80 mph on a stretch of freeway that usually sees a top speed of about 15 mph on average.

Dinner, of course, was fantastic--we ordered two large pies, a ham & onion and a pepperoni & sausage. We both ate four slices, leaving the equivalent of an entire pie to take home (which Rob and I finished off this afternoon).

We got back to the hotel around 8 pm, and spent the next half-hour or so showering, changing, and getting ready to go out again. The plan was to head over to the Sahara and see the 9:00 pm Savannah Jack show (by the way, they got a nice, if brief write-up here). For those of you that don't know, my connection to the band is that the guitar/fiddle player, Mike Ulvila, is married to my niece Ally, so I try and go see them play whenever they're in town.

Anyhow, after cabbing it over to the Sahara, we got to the Casbar Lounge just in time for the first song. There were only two other couples in the lounge when we got there, but by the end of the set, several other people had gotten sucked in by the good music. The show was great, as usual, and afterwards we got to visit with the guys for a bit before they had to go 'take care of bidness' with some other booking agents and whatnot who were in attendance that night.

Angy bought a couple of autographed CDs and we said goodbye, hoping to make our fortune on the Elvis slots. The progressive jackpot was up to about $350,000, so we took a shot at it. Unfortunately, the King was not in a giving mood, and I lost $40 before we ever saw a cocktail waitress. Angy, however, did much better and actually won ten bucks.

Figuring we'd get better drink service at the tables, we headed for a $10 Pai Gow game. While the cocktail service was certainly better, you'd figure that the waitress would know the difference between a lemon and a lime. Well, you'd figure, but you'd be wrong. Once we got that issue straightened out, it was smooth sailing as far as the drinks were concerned. The cards, however, weren't so accommodating, and after about an hour, I'd lost my entire buy-in. Angy did a little better, being down only ten bucks for the entire night.

After a quick stop at the cage--cashing chips for her, breaking a hundred for me, we cabbed it back to Paris. We hoped to play a little Rapid Roulette over at Bally's, but as soon as we sat down, we realized just how tired we were. It was after midnight, and Angy's system was still on Central time. After traveling all morning, hanging out in the hot-ass sun all afternoon, eating a big meal that night, and drinking heavily all day, it was beginning to take it's toll.

Instead of chasing numbers, we stumbled back up to the room and crashed. I couldn't stay there, though, as she only had a king-sized bed in the room and her sister was due to come back at some point and stay there, too. I've made some bold moves in the past, but didn't think it would be a wise move to try and pull off the double with Angy and her sister. So after napping a bit and sobering up, I drove home around 3:00 am. I did, however, learn that it's possible to make it from Paris to Green Valley Ranch in less than 15 minutes. And since the trek from GVR to my pillow is less than three minutes, I was asleep by 3:30, not waking up until early afternoon.

But the Aleve is kicking in, and aside from the normal aches and pains of being a 40 year old guy who's built like a beer keg, I guess I'm good to go.

Like I said, I've got to work tonight and tomorrow, so I won't see Angy again until Saturday. Which is cool, because she'll get to spend a lot of vacation time with her sisters. They're seeing a couple of shows and doing more pool time while I'm off doing my thing, and we'll hook up again this weekend. I think we're having dinner at Casa de Amore on Saturday night, followed by a few hours of cocktails and white-people-dancing. I think I'll leave the camera behind on that night. Her sisters leave on Sunday afternoon, but we're going to head over to the Frontier one last time before the wrecking ball hits, getting one last chance to enjoy the heady aroma of duct tape and stale beer.

We might also put in a bid for their mechanical bull from Gilley's, as I happen to know a couple of chicks who have some experience with that type of thing.