Friday, December 28, 2007

The Cold

Yep, it's cold outside, still... Last night at work, word around the campfire was that it's supposed to get down into the twenties again tonight, too. So I think I'll spend my night off indoors, bundled up in flannel and drinking hot coffee, sorta like I'm doing now. And my head cold is officially here--I was thinking I could kill it in the early stages, but it seems to have prevailed.

I mentioned in an earlier post that sleeping against the outside wall in my bedroom probably hastened my illness, prompting this response from a 'lurker':

Contrary to popular belief, being cold doesn't actually give you a cold. A cold is typically caused by a virus (What are rhinoviruses?) which is more likely to be transfered between people during the winter months when everyone is cooped up together inside.

Well, yeah, I knew that. I guess I what I meant, which everyone knows, is that the change in temperature makes your system much more susceptible to allowing a cold virus in to do it's dirty work. The only other person in the house is Rob, and we're far from being cooped up together. Besides, he's fairly clean, even for an Ohio State fan (and you *know* them people got cooties!). I think the germs come from all those nasty-assed people at the casino I have to deal with on a daily basis. As much as I'd like, I just can't escape from them.

Speaking of work, it was busier than hell again last night. But it wasn't "good busy", it's what we dealers call "flea busy". We were dealing to a bunch of full tables, but it wasn't the good action that we strive for. It was mostly a lot of our regular losers. Now, don't get me wrong--I dropped my fair share of tokes, well over $300 last night. But again, I'm one of the producers on my crew. We just have a bit of dead weight in the pit, that's all.

And the bosses are finally letting me off the hook as far as that god-awful Bonus Holdem game goes. It was on my string of four games (yes, we started the evening anticipating doing an hour and twenty minutes at each table--five dealers/four games instead of the regular four dealers/three games rotation). But by the time I'd gotten to my second blackjack table, they'd fixed the string so we only had to do an hour per table, and they took that game off my rotation, which was just fine with me. The downside was that I was then dealing two blackjack games and that $5 Flea-Gow game that *everybody* hates.

The funny thing is, most people just love to deal that Bonus Holdem game because 1) you get to sit down, 2) it's way off at the end of Chinatown, so the bosses don't hover around the table, and 3) it's an easy sucker game. Me? I just hate it--I think it has to do with the fact that I have a pretty low tolerance for stupid people (so tell me again, Why do I work in a casino?), and that game has such a high house edge that it just pains me to watch some of these people play it. Same thing goes for Let It Ride. It's such a dumb game where you have almost no shot of making any money unless you get spectacularly lucky. And sitting there watching people grind their money away is pretty lame. But what makes it worse is listening to them complain the whole time. Sometimes I want to say Duh! You're playing a game where the house holds over 20%! I guess the bottom line is that I just don't like to deal games that I would never play.

As far as that $5 Pai Gow game goes, it is the Apex of Suck in our casino. We got along just fine for years with nothing less than $10 Pai Gow games, but some genius, about a year ago, thought it would be a good idea to "introduce more players to the game" and they stuck these stupid "$5 Pai Gow -- Always Available" signs all over the casino. But that table doesn't introduce any new players to the game--it's the same six or eight losers every night sitting there grinding away, always complaining, always begging for comps, and never tipping. And when some random tourist sits down and takes up a seat and plays for $10 or $15 a hand, shutting one of them out, the bitching and moaning reaches a crescendo.

Why can't you just go play the other high limit tables? You're taking a seat away from the rest of us! blah blah blah...

Yep, those toads hover around the table all night, like vultures around a carcass, waiting for somebody to stand up, just so that they can get a seat. I swear, if I were in charge, the first thing to go would be the $5 Pai Gow game. Of course, at just five bucks a hand, it's damn near impossible to break somebody, which is the unwritten goal of every dealer on my shift as far as that table is concerned.

Although last night, I got one lady, but it took damn near six hours to do it. At the beginning of my shift, she took out a $500 marker, and by 1:00 am, we'd finally busted her. But damn, it took forever. I had the delicious honor of taking away her last five bucks when my two pair beat hers. I looked over my shoulder at the floor person, and she nodded and whispered Finally! Seriously though-- a $500 marker at a five dollar game, and you still lose every dime? Perhaps Pai Gow just isn't your game!

But here it is, Friday in Vegas, and I have the night off for the first time in over two years without having to take a vacation day to get it. And I'm sick--Talk about sorry luck! I was considering, earlier this week, spending the evening down at the MGM Grand poker room, padding my bankroll by showing the touristas how Mikey plays Hold-em, but now I just don't feel up to it.

Poker is not something you want to be doing if you're not feeling 100%. And I'm sitting on a good solid 70% today, which is just about good enough to stay in bed reading a book or something.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Toys In the Nightstand

Ok, re-reading my last update, it seems to be all over the place, with no sense of order or cohesion. So I'll post a picture from my archives--my gal Steph hovering over my bed one night.

Glow-sticks and hotties--always a good combination.


It Feels Like a Friday

Howdy everybody!

I want to apologize to those of you who check my site for updates first thing in the morning when you get to work--my traffic stats show that most of my visitors check in before 11:00 am, and that's why I *try* to have updated posts in the morning.

And that was my plan this morning, but as soon as I got home from work, showered, and crawled into bed with my laptop, I heard Rob lurking around in the kitchen and living room, so I got back up and went out to be social. We ended up watching a couple more episodes of Jeopardy--and of course I got the final question right, the answer was Hadrian's Wall--followed by a long discussion of the history of classic rock, focusing on Pink Floyd. Now, I'm not much of a Floyd fan--I'll listen to them on occasion, but I'm not into them at all, nor do I own any of their music. But Rob is the ultimate Floyd connoisseur, knowing more about their music than Paris Hilton knows about shopping.

So we talked for quite awhile and he busted out a couple of the bootleg CDs and gave me a history lesson. I think we stayed up till around 6:30 or so listening to some weird effin' music, and by then I was dozing off, so I called it a night without checking in here on the blog.

It felt pretty strange working on a Wednesday, especially since I was doing hour-and-twenties on my tables. We were busy as hell, and what made it tough on me was the fact that I'm now coming down with a cold and felt like total shiat when I got to work last night. So I signed up for the early out, but I was slammed all night long and unable to get out at a reasonable hour. As much as I wanted to stop at the store on the way home and get some medicine, it was just too damn cold and windy outside, so I came straight home.

And then, getting that last 20 feet into my parking space was almost impossible because the sprinklers had come on earlier in the evening, drained all over the parking lot, and with the cold temperatures and the freezing wind, it turned the surface into an ice rink. Yep, the parking lot here at the apartment complex was frozen solid, and just getting up that 1% grade into my spot was next to hopeless. I sat out there spinning the tires on the truck for five minutes, using lower gears, doing whatever I could to gain traction, all to no avail. I finally was able to back up and find a dry spot, so I took a running start and slid into my spot, missing the roof support for the covered parking by about a half an inch and using the Braille method to come to a stop at the curb.

When I got up this morning around 11:00, it was bright and sunny out, but still windy and cold. But I bundled up and headed out to do some errands, which is why I felt like today was Friday instead of Thursday. I picked up the mail, got gas, went to the bank, and headed to Walgreens to buy a bunch of drugs. My head cold is pretty mild, and I'm hoping it stays that way. But the first thing on my agenda tomorrow is to move my bed away from the outside wall--I'm sure that's what's causing me to get a cold. I have no headboard, so my pillows are up against the wall, and this apartment, I've found, is not insulated very well. I wake up every morning and the wall is freezing cold to the touch, and these past few days I've had a stuffed up nose and a slightly sore throat every morning.

Anyhow, once I got back home, there was another UPS package on the patio--this one from Justin in Wisconsin (I *think* he was also the one who sent the alarm clock). But there was a big stainless steel shower caddy inside, which is something I've needed for some time now. And Rob came home a few minutes later, carrying another big box for me from Drew (also from Wisconsin), and inside was another muffin tin and a set of Pyrex mixing bowls. Apparently, I need to get in the kitchen and start making stuff.

Thanks again, fellas! And as always, it was much appreciated.

I nuked myself a bowl of chili with some shredded smoky mozz on top, and I have to admit, it was pretty damn good on a cold day like today.

Rob and I sat in the living room and continued our discussion of music and movies, and we decided to watch The Commitments, one of my all-time favorite movies, which he'd never seen before. And the funny thing is, the DVD came from a reader several months ago--Lisa in Massachusetts, and we've been corresponding through email this week, talking about that movie and all the good music that's included. Anyhow, I finally introduced Rob to it today, and he enjoyed it. And of course I always get a kick out of re-watching it.

But the first round of drugs seems to be wearing off, so it's time for me to head back to the kitchen and 'med-up' again once more before heading off to work. Luckily I'm off tomorrow, so hopefully a bit of rest, along with staying in out of the cold, will do me some good.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After

Good morning, everybody--I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and you all got more toys and goodies than socks and sweaters.

I will admit, I had a really tough time with Christmas this year--as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get into it these past few weeks. And I'm a huge fan of the holidays, too, so it didn't set well with me at all. On the plus side, it had less to do with the stress of finances than it had to do with the knowledge that I was truly stuck here in Vegas, when what I *really* wanted to do was go back to Tennessee for a few days and be with my family.

And even though I was stuck here last year, too, it was much easier because I had a special someone to shop for, dote over, and make plans with, so the holidays were much more fun. This year, being away from the family and also being single conspired to put a little bit of a damper on my Christmas fun.

But you're not here to read a post-holiday bummer, so I will also say that even though things weren't ideal here in Mikey's world, Christmas day was still rather enjoyable.

First of all, Christmas Eve started off with my cell phone filling up with tons of greetings and well-wishes from readers and friends. I swear I never get that many messages at one time except for maybe the first day of March Madness. Of course, I had to work that night, and I absolutely despise having to work on Christmas Eve. Hate it with every fiber of my being.

And even though I hated being at work, and held nothing but contempt for the people that were playing and forcing me to be there against my will, everyone was friendly, generous, and having a good time, so the evening passed quickly. The only bummer was that the one boss in charge that night is always extremely reluctant to *ever* close a game--so when our dice table went dead at 11:00 pm, we were begging him to let us bring the lid up and get out, but he refused.

You can't make any money with a closed table, Mikey! was what he said to me.

Sorry, but I just don't give a shiat about making a dime on Christmas Eve. Never have, never will. As far as I'm concerned, the degenerates can take a night off--the place won't go out of business. And I can survive on nine days worth of tokes instead of ten just this once... Oh well, I'm fighting a losing battle in this town.

As far as Vegas goes, Christmas is just another day--and that's probably the worst thing about living here.

But I finally got out around 1:30 in the morning, and my mood brightened considerably (the funny thing was, on the outside, I was happy and cheerful all night long, but on the inside I was bitter and resentful... stupid, huh?).

I got home, and the house was empty--Rob had the holidays off, so he was out tying one on with some of his friends. But I turned on the Christmas tree, fixed myself and eggnog martini (or two), and watched 'Christmas Lights Across America' on the Discovery HD channel before falling asleep in the chair an hour later. Once I woke up, I took a shower, turned the tv over to the 'Sounds of the Seasons' channel, and crawled into bed.

I heard Rob come stumbling home a little while later, and I slept until around 8:00 am or so, waking up when I heard him in the kitchen. So I got up, and the first thing we did was watch an episode of Jeopardy, like a couple of dorks... But then we decided to open up all the presents that were under the tree.

Santa Claus was especially good to me this year--I got a couple of new CDs (Johnny Cash and Elvis), a multi-tool, a pirate book, and some pretty damn cool 600-thread count sheets. The brown-suited Santa Claus also made another delivery, this time bringing a new alarm clock (thanks to an anonymous reader in Wisconsin) and some Cuban cigars from Chuck in Georgia. And word came that he'll be making yet another visit either today or tomorrow.

Words simply cannot express the amount of gratitude that I've felt these past few weeks--so many people have been so kind and generous that it just floors me. I am truly not deserving of such consideration. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of my readers--most of whom I've never met--who have had an extra ration of holiday spirit and sent along a gift, a note, a text message, or a greeting. It's amazing, and I'm humbled ever time I think about it. You guys are the best!

What you don't know is how much it's helped me to remain focused on just how truly lucky I am. Sometimes, late at night, I'd sit out in the living room with lights off with nothing but the tree and a couple of candles for light, listening to Christmas music, and sipping on a glass of the good stuff. And I'd be sad, thinking of what I've given up to be here and all the things I'm missing back in Tennessee. I'd think of all the fun I could be having with my family--cooking with Mamasan, shopping with Amy, sharing secrets with Cyndi and Sherry, spoiling my nieces, and just goofing off redneck-style with Reverend Dave. And I'd get a little depressed.

But then I consider all of the people who took a little time out of their busy lives to think of me this holiday season, who spent a few bucks that they could've easily spent on someone else much closer to them, or sent nice emails telling me how much they appreciate what I do here instead of just remaining anonymous lurkers, and I'm humbled once again, to the point that it gets misty in the room and I'm overcome with emotion. And I guess that's what the Christmas spirit is all about--sharing enough of yourself to make somebody else's outlook a little brighter. It's happened to me dozens of time this holiday season, and for that I am truly thankful.

God bless us, Everyone!

After the presents were opened, I made a pot of peppermint mocha coffee, and we watched Christmas Vacation. Once that finished up, Rob announced that he was going to scrub his bathroom and bedroom from floor to ceiling, so I didn't see him again for the rest of the day. I made myself a nice breakfast of blueberry pancakes and link sausage, and then giggled my way through A Christmas Story. After that, I discovered the Yule Log fireplace channel in HD, so I pretty much left that on for the rest of the day while I dozed.

At some point, I finished off the rest of the eggnog and the last of Mamasan's peanut butter balls. Rob went to bed early, having to be at work at 3:00 am this morning, and I stayed up late watching more stuff like Christmas at Belmont and a few MoTab specials.

All in all, it was a very relaxing Christmas Day.

I'm going back to work tonight, the worst part of it being that the cocktail waitresses will have put the naughty Santa's helper outfits back in the closet for another eleven months. It's enough to make the baby Jesus cry.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Here is a picture of our booze grotto, decked out in it's holiday finery:

The tree is actually covered in multi-colored sparkling LED lights, but the flash from the camera washed them out. It may be humble, but it looks nice at night with nothing else but candles providing ambient light. And if I turn on Christmas music, I can sit in the magic sleepy-time chair and stare at it for hours, like a stoner watching the Cartoon Network. And if you look closely, you can see a picture of Flick with his tongue stuck to the flagpole. Nothing says 'Christmas' quite like that, not even elves and reindeer.

Between Rob and I, we have a few presents wrapped up under the tree so we'll have some stuff to open on Christmas morning. We may both be stuck here against our wishes, but I'm sure we'll somehow manage to make the best of it. (Spiked Eggnog, please pick up the white courtesy phone...) Although, if anyone is interested in what I'd really like to have for Christmas, I could go for that whole nine-ladies-dancing thing. That sounds pretty cool...


I've Had All I Can Stands

... and I can't stands no more!

Yes, I am a puss, especially compared to my hearty brethren from places like Idaho or Minnesota, but there's a reason I moved to the desert... TO BE WARM!

When I came home from work this morning, it was 36 degrees and windy, giving us a chill factor of 28 frickin' degrees. That's just too damn cold. When I came home, I jumped right into bed, under my comforter and flannel sleeping bag, yet my hands and face were still chilled. I heard Rob banging around in the kitchen, so I got up and went out to talk to him.

Basically, I did my best impersonation of Kramer-from-'The Contest'-episode--

I'm out, Jerry!

Actually, I said something along the lines of Dude, I don't care what the utility bills are next month, it's too damn cold in this house. How's about we give in and turn on the heat?

His response? Ok--I had it on earlier already.

That bastard, making me think this whole time that he hasn't been cold in this weather! I don't care where you're from, 28 degrees is freezing cold. So we said the hell with it and cranked up the furnace. I'm not quite toasty warm yet, but I'm getting there. At least my fingertips aren't frozen as I type this.

Oh, and I checked the weekend forecast for Henderson-- Saturday's high is 46, and the low is 28! Good grief!

At least I finally got my nifty new fleece jacket to keep me warm when I go to and from work, (and sit outside with the smokers to get away from the loud-ass Spanish TV in the break room. I swear every Mexican that works in the casino must be deaf). It's long enough that it stays put when I bend over, not exposing any skin to the elements, and the sleeves are wonderfully too long, coming just to the base of my thumbs when I'm hanging my arms down at my sides. (One of the problems I have when shopping for clothes is that my arm length is close to 38 inches, and most standard men's clothes have sleeve lengths of 36 inches--so long sleeves are iffy when it's not an oxford dress shirt where you can specify sleeve length).

Anyhow, this jacket is comfortably big on me, and it's perfect for sailing too, if I ever get my ass back out on a boat. I remember a sailing trip that Derek, Ed, and I took back in April of 2002, and it was cold, windy, and gray out there on the ocean off the coast of Southern California. A fleece jacket under a rain suit would've been perfect at the time, when all I had was a sweatshirt and a windbreaker. Now I am properly equipped to take on the elements.

But not today!

I'm gonna hibernate here in my bed until around noon or so, then get up and run back to the alteration shop over by the airport. If I don't pick up my pants by 3:00 pm, I can't get 'em back until after New Year's--my tailor is apparently heading back to the Old Country for the holidays. And I have to go--I'm down to wearing the most raggedy of my still-functional black pants. At first glance they look ok, but I can just tell that if I make one sudden move, they'll fall off of me and disintegrate like the Bluesmobile in front of the Cook County Assessor's Office.

And nobody wants to see me standing there in the middle of the pit in just my drawers and an apron.

But if there's anybody out there sexy enough to pull it off, it's me!


Friday, December 21, 2007


I just got back home a little while ago from running a few errands, and holy shiat is it windy outside! It's clear and beautiful, of course, which makes the mountains off in the distance look especially cool, but damn, it's so windy that it was blowing my truck all over the road when I was out on the freeway.

All the crazies are out in force today--I had two people damn near smashed into me, but my cat-like reflexes behind the wheel saved the day. And of course I almost rear-ended a chick on a cellphone on Maryland Parkway, and I was all ready to cuss her out from the comfort of my drivers seat, until I realized she slammed on her brakes to avoid running over a stupid little yap dog that had gotten loose and decided it was a good time to take a stroll across four lanes of traffic.

But the dog survived and I hit all my stops and ran my errands in record time, going to the bank (what a nightmare, but at least all five of the tellers where there, which I've *never* seen happen before), the post office, the auto parts store, the alterations shop, the grocery store, and the leasing office. Believe me, I was glad to get home.

As soon as I pulled in, I saw a couple of packages on the patio, left by the UPS man. My fleece jacket finally arrived, and it's currently in the dryer with a couple of fabric softener sheets losing it's new smell. There was also another unexpected box from Amazon, this time from Dave P up in Connecticut. He sent the muffin tins (now I can make that crab recipe from Mrs. VJW's website) and a DVD copy of one of the greatest movies of all-time, Casablanca. When I tackle that recipe, I shall temporarily rename the humble Casa de Mikey, instead referring to the Man Cave as Mikey's Cafe American.

Thanks again, Dave--very thoughtful of you! Although, I kinda miss the rum balls you sent last year...

In the meantime, I've got a chance to take a two-hour nap before going to work, so I'm gonna take it. I hope you all have a great weekend!


Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Ultimate Accessory

Late last night I was surfing around on the internet, and I found myself 'Windows' shopping over at The Sportsman's Guide. I used to buy stuff there all the time back when I lived in Nashville, but I haven't purchased anything from them probably since I've been here in Vegas. But I still like to browse, and while I was looking, I stumbled across the Ultimate Man Cave Accessory:

No, I'm not talking about a blonde in a purple sweater, I'm talking about the coffee table with a nifty pop-up top. Isn't that the greatest idea EVER?

Right now, we're using Rob's black pleather ottoman as a coffee table/footstool. It works, and it matches the rest of our so-called furniture just fine. But it's just not as functional as the table you see here. First of all, it'd be better to eat off of than the ottoman. We still don't have a dining room table, so most of our meals are consumed in the living room while we crouch over the foot stool. We don't even own TV trays.

Second of all, a lot of times when we're watching football, a trivia question will come up that needs some research, or we hear of a school that neither one of us knows it's location, so I go grab my laptop and bring it out to the living room to look stuff up. We also refer to the computer a lot on Saturdays during college football season to get up-to-the-moment score updates, since we both usually have a stack of parlay cards working and are concerned with ten different games at any one time. But a table like that would be a most excellent platform to do instantaneous research from, even better than my lap.

So yeah, that piece of furniture is now a definite 'must-have' as far as I'm concerned. I'd still like to get a dining room table and some chairs, or at least a folding utility table from Sam's Club and some banquet chairs, just so we have a work/eating surface bigger than our desks or the ottoman. I've got a few jigsaw puzzles in the closet that I haven't broken the seal on yet, just because I don't have a suitable table for them. So maybe a utility table for the dining room is a higher priority, but that pop-up coffee table *will* be a fixture in the living room before next football season rolls around.

The funny thing is, I have had experience with a coffee table like that in the past, but had forgotten about it. About eight years ago, I was dating this completely crazy biatch named Corrine, and she had all the cool toys--a kick ass SUV, a pop-up coffee table, and the first 55-inch widescreen TV I'd ever seen. Of course, she was a total psycho biatch and my buddies hated her, but I couldn't help myself--she had a nice rack, lots of money, and loved to cook. I should've known something wasn't quite right the first time I went to her place and saw that she had a room in her house that held nothing but shoes (way before that guy on The Italian Job did). Seriously, she had over 500 pairs of shoes in there. WTF?

Anyhow, we were dating during the Y2K scare/turn of the century, which was also the miracle year for the Rams when they won the Super Bowl. So I spent that wonderful Super Bowl Sunday feasting on an endless buffet of munchables at her pop-up coffee table and watching the Rams win on that beautiful 55-inch television. As I recall, I may have gotten my hands on that nice rack of hers before/during/and afterwards, too.

As Bill Murray so famously said in Groundhog Day-- " That was a *pretty* good day... "

Ah, but eventually things turned sour between us and we went our separate ways. Last I heard, she moved to Indy with a new boyfriend, and I haven't seen her in almost seven years. But as nice as those boobies were, I'd really like to get my hands on that coffee table again.


Walking in a Neon Wonderland...

Good Morning, everyone!

Sorry for not posting yesterday, but some days you just need some time away from the keyboard. Of course, I didn't do anything really at all except watch a bit of tv and do a little reading. And I only left the house to go down to the office and pick up some more packages. Rob got a nice gift from his parents, a 'Girls of Ohio State' bikini calendar, which has already got me re-evaluating my opinion of the Buckeyes, and I got a big box of stuff from Mamasan.

Included was a huge freezer bag full of her famous peanut butter balls. And she covered mine in dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate like she did for Amy and Reverend Dave (of course she likes me better!) There were also about four gifts wrapped up and are currently residing under our Christmas tree (I'll take a picture tonight and post it tomorrow). I've already guessed three of the gifts, one of which I can't wait to open, because I know it is a set of luxurious 500-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Hell, I remember 20 years ago, working at Macy's, the standard sheets were 160 and 180 thread count, 200 were 'luxury', and only Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley offered 300-thread count sheets, and they were budget busters. I can't imagine how nice it'll be to have 500-thread count linens on the bed.

Besides, sheets like that could help when closing the deal, right?

Yo baby, not only will you get a full night of that special Mikey love, you'll be surrounded by luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets...

What chick would be able to resist that???

Anyhow, speaking of Mamasan, today is her 67th birthday, and I've already spoken to her and wished her the best. Currently, she's living the life of luxury down in Houston, spending the holidays with my sister Nancy and her husband Mark. Sounds like she's having a great time, too. Word is that they're going out to have Chinese food for lunch, and then spending the afternoon at the day-spa getting massages, facials, and other such girlie treatments.

Besides the package that came yesterday, I also got a card from my dad, included inside was a gift card for Maggiano's, which I can't wait to use. Even though I'm normally anti-chain, it's one of my favorite restaurants. I also want to give a shout out and send much love to my gal Darleen down in Louisiana. There was another Amazon package that arrived yesterday, inside it was the Sarah Mac cd, Afterglow. I love me some Sarah McLachlan--every one of her cd's are great. I've already listened to this one twice now, and it's no exception. Thanks again, Darleen!

And further proof that I've been a good boy this year came in the form of a couple of emails, one from one of my favorite dining companions, Drew, who said I have a package on the way, and Flagger, who secured a stash of fine cigars from Fidel's island gulag and has offered to share.

Oh hell yeah!

So what else is new around here?

Well, after thinking about recipes all day on Tuesday, and pouring over my cookbook for hours, I ended up not doing anything except making quesadillas for dinner, and then yesterday I made another batch of biscuits and gravy. Like a lazy bum, I never even made it to the grocery store. But my gravy turned out as good as I've ever made it--I had some leftover bacon drippings from the other day, and that *always* helps, and that new huge cast-iron skillet Cyndi sent me is the perfect pan for making gravy.

I may hit the grocery store today, but since I work every night until Christmas day, I'm not really motivated to do anything--I'll be having dinner in the employee dining room for the next five nights. I'd love to make aebelskivers for breakfast on Christmas day, but I'll probably be eating alone, and that's no fun. When I cook, I'd prefer to cook stuff like that for other people.

Regardless of what I make for Christmas, if anything at all, I'm going to spend the day watching stuff like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, both of which are playing on Christmas Eve, and I've got the dvr set to record them. I'm also recording both the Patrick Stewart and George C. Scott versions of A Christmas Carol.

By the way, want to know a dirty little secret about Mikey? Here it is--I've never seen Miracle On 34th Street. Nope, never. You believe that? Here I am, 40 years old, and somehow that has escaped me. But I've never seen Citizen Kane or Blade Runner, either, so make of that what you will...

Anyhow, now that it's after 9:00 am, I can go down to the office and pick up another package that was delivered last night. I'm *hoping* it's my new fleece jacket. Not that some other random surprise wouldn't be cool, but I'd really like to wear a new jacket to work tonight.

That's all for now,


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Casino Asshats

Working in a casino certainly has it's fair share of ups and downs. I see some truly amazing stuff that one would never experience while working in a cubicle, and I bear witness to the entire spectrum of human drama on display every night. Some of it is pretty cool, a lot of it is funny, and a bunch of it is just a pain in the ass.

Today I want to discuss the pain in the ass aspect of dealing (literally) with the public.

There are a lot of different types of people who come to the casino, and those that are there to just have a good time, and know their limits with both alcohol and bankroll, are what makes the job enjoyable. But on the other hand, there are some real douchebags I see on a regular basis that I'd love to see get kicked in the nuts, just because it would make my day. Let me describe a few for you:

1) The Stroker

The Stroker is normally found at the dice table, and for whatever reason, they usually prefer to stand in the #8 spot, right next to the base dealer. A stroker is a player who has to have action on every roll, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but they seem to pride themselves on having difficult, complicated action. The words 'Same Bet' do not exist anywhere in the stroker's vocabulary--after each and every roll, their bets are pressed up in some unorthodox fashion, taken down a unit or two, or taken down completely.

For example, I had this guy the other night--He had a $24 place bet on the SIX. A six was rolled. The normal press move is to go to $30. Not this dipshiat--he told me to press it three units. So instead of the easy move of going to thirty bucks, like 99% of all other dice players in the universe, I had to take his bet from $24 to $42, which involves cutting out $28 (the payoff), handing him the $4 cap from his original bet, and then setting up a six-chip three-color place bet that is just begging to get knocked over on every throw of the dice. And of course a $42 place bet pays $49, and the Stroker won't have a single dollar check in his rack so you can give him two green for a buck when it hits again. Nope, the stroker immediately makes some stupid ass prop bet with any dollar checks you give him. So when the six hits again, as it inevitably will, you have to cut out three colors of chips (one green, four red, and four white). But the Stroker won't take his $49 payoff. He'll press it ONE unit this time, so that it now becomes a $48 flat bet with a $56 payoff (again, three colors). He will then take his remaining three white checks and make yet another prop bet. This goes on and on, and pretty much guarantees that the dealers are rooting for a seven-out every time, if only to keep him from pressing.

Dealing to a stroker at the dice table isn't too bad, as long as he's the only player on your end. But it gets really bad once some other dipshiat wanders over and decides that he's gonna play the same way. And if the table heats up, god help you--it'll be the longest 40 minutes of your life.

Another thing strokers love to do when the point has been established as either a six or an eight is to put a farked up amount of odds behind their line bet. Most $5 players will put $25 in odds back there so that it's an easy two-handed payoff, but not our strokers. We offer 10x odds, so they all take either $30 or $40 in odds, necessitating a three-color payout when the point hits, slowing the game down because the dealer has to go back to their stacks and set up their payout separately, instead of just going around the layout smoothly.

Oh, and it's generally against the Stroker Code to tip. But complaining seems to be a priority.

2) The Blackjack Pussy

This particular type of asshat is probably my favorite, because they are so easy to bust. This is the guy (it's always a guy) who refuses to play basic strategy. He won't hit a 15 or a 16 against a dealer's seven or higher, he always takes even money if he gets a blackjack and the dealer is showing an Ace, and he won't double a soft hand against a dealer's stiff upcard. Basically, he's playing scared.

The even-money taker is my favorite, especially if they're playing at only five or ten bucks a hand. Seriously, nothing screams "I have a small peener" more than taking even money for five bucks. Whenever somebody takes even money, it's an 'alert call' for the floor, so I have to announce it. So I announce it LOUD. And a lot of times when I pay it, I'll say something like Enjoy your five bucks, Nancy... which usually gets everyone else at the table laughing at them.

But it's even more fun when the blackjack pussy is trying to give other players his own brand of wrong advice. You should stand! You should take even money!, etc. Most of the time, the guy has the low stack at the table, and when he does, I like to say to the player who's receiving the advice Oh yeah, take gambling advice from the guy with no money--good idea... Yes, I am a total smartass sometimes, but I can pull it off.

The beauty of the blackjack pussy is that they're never around long, unless they get incredibly lucky.

3) The Pai Gow Flea

I deal with these more often than anything else, but not as much as some unfortunate dealers on my shift. We have a $5 game, but I'm usually dealing the $10 and $20 pai gow tables. But the $5 table is Hell on Earth for a dealer just because it's the same fleas that come in every night and play five bucks a hand and then bitch and moan all night long that they can't make any money. What's even worse is that we give away these stupid raffle tickets every time somebody is 'clocked in' with their player's card and gets a straight or better, and a couple of these morons just won't shut up about getting their tickets. And the tickets are crappy--I think they're giving away a turkey dinner on Christmas day for the current prize. But these asshats just cry and beg for tickets all day long. They make themselves look like even bigger dumbasses because they'll also ask for the tickets that somebody else at the table wins, but isn't interested in being in the drawing. Can I have his ticket? Can I have his ticket? all night long. Of course I tell them not only no, but Hell NO! They don't tip anyways, so they get no consideration from the dealers. The worst thing about Pai Gow fleas is that the game is so slow that you can't bust them. They're gonna be at the table all night.

In addition to the regular fleas, I really hate the 'experts' that comment about every hand, always tell you what they have as soon as they set their hand, and then insist on telling you how to set the house hand as soon as it's turned over. I know the rules to the game better than any other dealer on my shift, and much better than most of the floor people, so I find it especially irritating. Those are the people I love to see lose close hands.

4) The Deuce Bags

This is a group of old ladies that come in and play Deuces Wild several times a week. If they go three hands without seeing a Deuce, they go into broken record mode and let you know every hand. I still didn't get a deuce Mikey, are you sure that there are any twos in the deck??? Luckily, they are decent tippers if they catch a hand, and as soon as they do, they tend to shut up for a few minutes.

5) The 'Great Expectations' Player

This is the blackjack-playing doofus that wanders from table to table with a stack of chips, popping in and out of shoe games and loses pretty much every hand. He'll show up at an empty seat, changing the flow of the cards on a good shoe, messing up the vibe at the table. If he loses his first hand, he always pounds the table, curses, and walks off. If he wins, he inevitably doubles his bet, and then he loses the second hand, so he's behind anyways. Of course he throws a minor hissy fit, whining about how he can't catch any cards. But then he wanders off, only to come back again a few minutes later and repeat the cycle. This is the kind of dipshiat that thinks he should win every hand, and the rest of the table just hates 'em.

6) The Degenerate

These are the people that just won't leave, no matter how bad of a beating you put on them. Some nights, as a dealer, I am just unbeatable. If you sit down at my table, I will clean you out. But some people don't get it. They can't imagine losing twenty hands in a row--they think it's impossible. I'm here to tell you that not only is it possible, it's not all that rare. But the degenerate is so far in the hole that they feel losing is inevitable, and when they win, they bitch that that they didn't bet enough. So then they press, and I beat them again. A degenerate will not leave with money--they will play until they are absolutely broke, and then ask for cab fare and a pack of smokes.

7) The Lonely Guy

This is probably the worst of all the people to deal to, especially on my shift. This is the player who has no family, no friends, no girlfriend, no social life, no place to go, nothing to do. So they come and sit at the table all night and tell you their pathetic life story. And since they have no outside distractions, they always seem to have plenty of disposable income, so they never leave. It's even worse when you're dealing to a good table, maybe an attractive girl is playing by herself, or you have a fun couple, and the lonely guy shows up. He then kills all of your action, and you're stuck there dealing to him.

8) The Random Weirdo

Sometimes, especially late at night, when I'm sitting on a dead table at the far end of the pit, some random freak from the street will wander in and start talking to you. They always start with a question about the game or asking directions to the cage/bathroom/etc., but that's just their 'in'. Once they've got you, they just want to stand there and talk about random freaky shiat like how their grandmother was reincarnated or how the casinos are conspiring against them. Of course, my way out of that is to call the floor over and tell them that the Shufflemaster machine is messing up or it's time to change the cards or something like that and I start ignoring the freak. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. If I get really lucky, a player will come and sit down and the weirdo will shuffle off to bother somebody else.

Anyhow... Eight categories isn't really enough to cover all of the morons I see on a regular basis, but it's a pretty good overview. I could've probably written ten pages about the strokers at the dice table alone, but I think you get the idea. Because working in a casino may not always be fun and games, but it's certainly interesting.


Rattling the Pans

The problem with drinking an entire pot of coffee is that it totally kills your appetite. I guess that's a good thing, since I'm sure I could miss a meal or two with no ill effects. But I like to cook, and was considering making another batch of biscuits and gravy (especially now that I got that monster 12-inch cast iron skillet, the perfect vessel for such an edible masterpiece), but now that I'm not that hungry anymore, and it's after noon anyways, that idea has lost it's initial appeal.

But while I was sitting out in the living room, drinking my coffee and half-watching TV (BTW, we now have the Food Network in HD, which I thought was really cool, right up until they showed Rachel Ray's nasty mug. Luckily, they followed up with a close-up of Giada De Laurentis' ample bosom, so balance has been restored to the universe...), I was flipping through my new cookbook, trying to come up with ideas of things to do in the kitchen during my days off.

The weather is perfect for a slow-cooker meal like pot roast or chili, or even a batch of my everything-but-the-kitchen-sink spaghetti sauce, but like a bad case of culinary writer's block, none of those ideas seem particularly inspiring to me, so I've kinda given up for now. I was kind of leaning towards making a batch of beef enchiladas or maybe some pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, but again, nothing is calling out to me at the moment.

I do have one particular burr under my saddle, something I've been thinking about for at least two weeks. When Rob and I had that Chicago-style deep dish pizza out at Amore's two weeks ago, I really enjoyed it. But in the back of my mind, I just knew I could do it better. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza lends itself more easily to the amateur pizza chef, because it can be made in a regular oven at relatively low temperatures (around 400 degrees F). New York-style thin crust pizza, on the other hand, has to be done at super-high temps (around 1200 degrees in a coal oven, a la Grimaldi's) to get it right.

Basically, if you think about it, Chicago-style pizza is more like a casserole. And brothaman can make a good casserole.

The problem, however, is my lack of suitable equipment. Currently, I don't have any deep-dish pizza pans, which is no big deal, because they can easily be found for less than $25. But what one really needs is a KitchenAid mixer, which is pretty much the holy grail of all kitchen gadgets. They are not cheap (about $200), and I'm not so sure I'm up to the task of making a bunch of pizza dough by hand. Actually, I could do it, I'm just not sure I know how to do it, and considering the effort/benefit analysis, I think I'd have to be extra-motivated to attempt such an undertaking.

Seriously, without a mechanical dough-mixer, it'd probably take all day to make a couple of pies. It could be done, but I find myself questioning whether or not it's worth it, when I could just as easily get on the internet and find a different Chicago-style pizza joint in town, make the drive, and see how it stacks up to both Amore's offerings and my own imagined superior home-made pie.

Oh well, just like anything else, I probably won't do anything about it until it gets to the point where it bothers me so much that I surrender and give it a shot. But the big obstacle is the philosophical quandary of Why should I do this, when I have already achieved the summit of the Best Pizza mountaintop?

Seriously, I think if I had an extra $200 burning a hole in my pocket, I wouldn't buy a KitchenAid mixer--I'd go to Grimaldi's ten times instead.


Still Cold in Vegas...

But at least I have the next two days off!

Howdy everyone--sorry I haven't posted since Saturday, but my sleep/work schedule has been all jacked up for a few days, so instead of writing, I've done a whole lotta relaxing in my off-time these past few days.

Let's see, what's been happening in the world of Mikey? Well, like I said, it's still too frickin' cold here in Las Vegas, and it's not even officially Winter yet. And since I really don't have much in the way of winter clothes, outside of a few flannel shirts and a leather jacket, I broke down last week and bought a fleece jacket. Not that I really wanted to spend the cash, but my hoodie with the broken zipper just wasn't cutting it as far as keeping me warm goes. Of course, I could get the zipper fixed, and I actually tried to do so on Saturday, but I was denied.

When times are good, I always just replace clothes whenever I need something new, but cash has been tight for several months, and instead of buying new stuff, I take my clothes to the alterations shop for repair. Well, I haven't needed to do so in quite awhile--basically since I moved into this apartment last summer--so now that a couple pairs of work pants needed attention, I took a few things down to the local shop here in my new neighborhood.

Big mistake. I got nothing but attitude from the nazi/Hun bitch that was working in the place as soon as I walked in, (These must be dry-cleaned before I can work on them!) and then she told me it would cost me $30 to repair the pants (basically fix two seams, a sewing job that would take TWO minutes, tops, and use maybe fifteen cents worth of materials). At the alteration shop over in my old neighborhood, any seams would cost $4 to fix, and they'd do them while I waited, or at the longest, they'd be ready the next day.

So, instead of getting my pants done and a couple of zippers fixed on other items, I took the whole pile of clothes back to the truck and basically told the lady she was a con artist and wouldn't be getting my business. I guess I'll be heading back over to the old neighborhood at some point in the next two days and getting all the work done there.

Oh well. In the meantime, I'm waiting for the UPS man to deliver my new jacket (yes, I ordered it online--no tax and free shipping!) Perhaps when I was shopping, I should've just ordered a couple of pairs of new work pants, too.

Anyhow, while I was out, feeling a little bitter about the whole alterations shop experience, I went over to Albertson's to use that $25 gift card they gave us at work. The plan was to use it to buy a bottle of rum, but damn, Albertson's was trying to rip me off on Saturday too! They wanted $14.99 for a bottle of Captain Morgan. Believe me, I've bought enough of that stuff in the past to know when I'm getting jacked. Everywhere else in town sells it for about $12.99 a bottle. Stoli Vanilla? They wanted $21 ($18 at Lee's or Walmart). Basically, every bottle of booze I would consider was overpriced, so I just gave up and went without. I ended up buying a bunch of cheese and crackers and stuff like that, instead, along with a bottle of toffee-flavored coffee creamer.

Seriously, I have no idea how Albertson's stays in business out here--everything is so overpriced.

As far as work goes, it seemed to be getting better these past few weeks, but then on Saturday, business just died again. I figure it was because everyone was going to Christmas parties and such elsewhere and finishing up all their holiday chores. It's been pretty slow the past three nights or so, but I'm sure that once Thursday or Friday rolls around, all the local degenerates with family in town will be out and about once again.

I found out that yeah, I will be working on Christmas Eve (big shocker there), but since it's my 'Friday', I should be able to get out early. A bunch of people I work with want to go out after our shift, but I'm not so sure I want to join them (I feel bad that I'm stuck working that night, and I'd hate to do that to some bartender some where, too). But I've got Christmas day off, which is cool, so hopefully I can go out and have a nice dinner with friends that night. But then I have to go back and work on Wednesday night, which makes absolutely no sense to me, and then they gave me Friday night off. Hmmm... I hope it's a good trade, as far as tokes are concerned. I *really* don't like giving up my Friday nights. And I'm not a big fan of split days off, either.


That's the news from out here. I know, it's boring, but I hope to have a few more interesting posts later today and tomorrow. Right now I want to get up and make a pot of coffee and sit in front of the TV for awhile (they added a bunch of new HD channels to our lineup this week, so I'm gonna go see what we've got).



Saturday, December 15, 2007

They Call Me the Soul Crusher

Brothaman is a tuckered out little trooper this morning--I got absolutely worked last night. So right now I'm laying here flat on my stomach, stretching my legs and arching my feet, trying to fight of the charlie-horse that is doing it's damnedest to make an appearance. But more about that later--Let's start at the beginning.

After I made that post yesterday, I still didn't go straight to bed. I did a little more web surfing, posted a few odds and ends over at T2V, and then I got an email from Mamasan, so I knew she was up, and I decided to giver her a call since she'd left me a voice mail the day before.

We ended up talking for a half an hour or so (apparently there is another package on the way! Peanut Butter Balls--Woot!), before we wrapped it up and she headed out to lunch with a friend. I think I finally went to bed around 7:30, thinking I'd get up around noon, head down to the alterations shop (yes, more repairs to those trendy black polyester pants!), fill up the gas tank, and then go over to Albertson's and spend my $25 gift card they gave us at work. I'm leaning heavily towards purchasing a Hickory Farms Beefstick, some spicy mustard, a box of crackers, and a bottle of Captain Morgan--Merry Christmas to me!!!

Anyhow, those were the best-laid plans.

The next thing I knew, it was 4:15 in the afternoon. But I woke up very refreshed and relaxed, if not a little bummed about wasting the whole afternoon. But my back didn't hurt and I was ready to go. I guess the errands will have to wait another day.

But I killed an hour or so before heading to the casino, still wondering where I'd end up or what I'd be dealing. It turns out I was put back on the 'Keds' string--nothing but $5 shoes. Ugh. Oh well, it beat the hell out of getting sent to that Bonus Holdem flea game I hate so much. Between all the dealers, we've decided that the worst three tables to deal are Bonus Holdem, Let It Ride, and Mini Pai Gow. I swear if I had to deal all three of those games every night, it wouldn't be long before I grabbed the hunting rifle, packed a lunch, and climbed a tower... But the bosses seem to know it, and have split those games up, just to maintain our sanity. And on the plus side, it's been over a month since I got stuck on Let It Ride, so I guess I can't complain too much about that.

Anyhow, my first table was good and crowded with a fun group from Erie, PA--the home of the O-Needers! It turns out that they just weren't random touristas, but faithful lurkers readers of And they were setting a fine example of how to tip the dealer, so of course I was rooting for them to win. But the jerkoff who stiffed me all night long was the only one winning, turning a $60 buy-in into something around $400. Anyhow, it was an enjoyable hour that went much too quickly. I hope they made some money, but they were gone by the time I got back three hours later.

My other two tables were up in the bar, which is good and bad. First of all, there is no player tracking up there, so I don't have to hassle with player cards or people begging for comps, players are only allowed to play one hand, and there are no pit bosses or floor people around. Basically, you're on your own, which is cool, because if I have a drunken asshole at the table, I can tell him to f*ck off. But most people that play up there are really cool. The problem is, I was just obliterating everyone who sat down. NOBODY colored up with any checks--I took EVERY dime from everyone who sat down. I was unbeatable. At one point, I got nine twenty-ones in a row! (Yes, the players were counting them down after the third one). It was just a bloodbath. So of course I ended up standing dead for almost two hours straight, and let me tell you, that just kills your feet and legs. It's like standing at military parade rest, but still, try it for forty minutes and you'll go nuts. At least I had a cocktail waitress or two to flirt with, but they were so bummed out because the bar was just dead last night. (No more live band--we got some lame DJ now).

But it was just a killer to stand there doing nothing--I'd much rather have a full table, just so the time passes. I had a tv right in front of me, but they were playing the NBA game, and I hate the NBA, and I especially hate the Lakers, so that was no help, either.

Luckily I got to go back to the main pit after 11 and deal a normal game, but I was still kicking everyone's ass, so the table would go dead, a few minutes would pass, and then some random person would walk up with 20 or 40 bucks, lose every hand, then walk away muttering obscenities, and the cycle would repeat for an hour. Not much fun. And that's pretty much how my night went. Too bad all my Stations stock got bought out and privatized, because I made the company some money last night.

I finally got tapped out at 2:20 and told I could take the half hour and go home, so I hobbled back to my locker, changed clothes, hit the timeclock, and said goodnight to all the chumps who had to stay behind.

Of course, once I got home, I was totally stiff from finally sitting down after about 8 hours of standing in one spot, so I looked like a retard trying to climb the steps to my front door. But another super-hot shower seems to have done the trick, and I feel much better. I was thinking that I'd go down to the jacuzzi again, but it's even colder now than it was the other night, and I didn't want my swim trunks to freeze on me during the walk back, so I gave that idea a pass.

My plan is to get to sleep a little earlier than I did yesterday so that I don't waste my entire day again. I've got to get to the alteration shop and gas up the truck today, otherwise I'll be out of gas on the side of the road wearing ghetto-fabulous black polyester pants with the ass ripped out of them. And if that happens, only the weirdos will stop to help me.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Morning, Still Cold

But I'm not complainin'. Much too soon it will pass and before you know it I'll be bitching about the heat.

I'm still up from my night at the casino, which was an odd one this time around. For the first four hours I didn't do a damn thing. My tables were dead, and I was only doing 40-minute rounds, so it made the night just drag by. But sometime after 11, they closed the tables I was on and put me on busy games, so it wore me out. Luckily I got the early push and was out the door by 2:30.

I came straight home, cleaned the bathroom (too lazy to do it yesterday), put in a load of laundry, took a hot-as-I-could-stand-it shower, put on some clean clothes, turned the iPod onto the Christmas playlist, poured myself a Coke (no rum, not in the mood), and crawled in bed with my square-headed girlfriend (her name is Toshiba) to surf for a couple of hours.

Anyhow, at work, I started the night stuck on shiatty games again--that god-awful Bonus Holdem game, and a $5 shoe blackjack game. After an hour of sitting on my ass doing nothing, one of the bosses came over, so I asked if she had a minute.

I reminded her that I'm one of the 'producers' when it comes to tokes, and if I'm sitting on games that get no action, I'm just wasting my time and it's hurting the rest of my co-workers. I also told her that I was sick of being put on that crappy-ass Bonus Holdem game every night anyways, and not dropping any money in the toke box was just adding insult to injury.

She agreed, and she said that she'd look into getting me onto some new games next week, which will improve my outlook considerably. Of course, before I left for the night, I checked tomorrow's roadmap to see what games I'd be dealing, and wouldn't ya know it, they forgot to assign me to any tables. Doh! Oh well, I'm sure somebody will call in sick and I'll reprise my role as the middle reliever. At least on Sunday I know I'm scheduled on dice all night, so that'll be a nice change of pace. I'd hate to deal dice every night to the same local fleas we've got that come in all the time, but once a week or so is a great break from Chinatown.

As far as the night in the casino goes, it was pretty mellow. When I finally got some action, it was mostly at the blackjack tables, although I managed to squeeze 40 minutes of Pai Gow in at one point. I guess the highlight of my night is that I took about $1600 off of this foul-mouthed drunken Asian chick who couldn't understand that it just wasn't her night to win. I kicked her ass all night long, like Vezzini from The Princess Bride did to Clark Griswold, and she just wouldn't throw in the towel. She kept going to the ATM, and I kept kicking the ever lovin' shiat out of her bankroll. Now, early on, I was rooting for her, as she'd tip me a fiver ever few hands. But once the cards got cold, she got nasty and abusive, so it was my sublime privilege to bust her. Even the other players at the table kept telling her to leave, that she couldn't beat me, but she kept trying.

What made it even worse is that as soon as she'd get up to go to the ATM, or cage, or wherever she went to get more cash, everyone else at the table would start pulling blackjacks and I'd start busting. It was uncanny--it's like somebody hit a switch and the mood of the table would improve instantly. But invariably, she'd come back, bringing her bad karma and raincloud of sorry luck with her, and the party would end...

Two hands in a row, she had a pair of face cards for a twenty, and I pulled a 7-card 21 to beat her. Every time she doubled down, she'd get a low card and I'd make a hand. It was ugly. Another time I dealt her an 18, but the other four players at the table all had 20s. Damn straight I turned over a 19! But she kept getting nastier and nastier (they finally cut her off from the booze), and by the time I left, she was down to about fifty bucks. Heh. Had I stayed all the way till 3:00 am, she would've been pawning her jewelry and auctioning one of her kidneys to stay in the game. Can you say Degenerate, boys and girls?

Now, clear at the other end of the spectrum, when I was at the Pai Gow table, on one hand, I dealt a Royal Flush (a 150-1 payoff!), and on the very NEXT hand, I dealt TWO four-of-a-kinds to players who were sitting right next to each other. I thought the shift boss, who was standing right behind me at the time, was going to shiat. The only thing she said to me was "Are you feeling ok Mikey?".

I'm guessing you won't find me sitting behind a Pai Gow table tonight, that's for sure.

Anyhow, it's getting late, and the sun is gonna come up soon, so I better wrap this up. I want to be fast asleep in my dark cocoon before the sun makes an appearance, or else I won't catch any quality shut-eye. Then I'll be tired all day and grumpy at work tonight, and that just won't do.

Y'all have a good one.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baby It's Cold Outside

Holy crap it's cold here! Right now it's a balmy 51 degrees here in America's Playground, and I am curled up in bed with my sleeping bag over my head, sipping coffee, and typing with fingerless gloves, like a bum you'd see under a bridge somewhere (if the bum had a laptop and a wireless internet connection).

It was even colder earlier this morning, around 3:30 am, when I put on a flannel shirt, my hoodie, and swim trunks and scurried on down to the hot tub. Yep, I checked before I went outside--31 degrees!

But the hot tub had lots of inviting steam wafting across the surface (as did the semi-heated swimming pool), so I pushed the button, kicked off my flip-flops, pulled of the hoodie and shirt at the same time, and hopped into the hot water, where I immediately immersed myself all the way to my neck. And I stayed that way until the water stopped bubbling.

It felt great on my back, but getting out, drying off, and heading back to the apartment a half-hour later was an exercise is near-freezing suckitude. What makes it even worse is that once I got back to the house, I went to change out of my wet trunks and put on some warm clothes, but due to the trendy architecture of my apartment, my walk-in closet is exposed to the elements on three sides and is inadequately insulated, so opening the door to my closet is kind of like walking into an industrial sized refrigerator. Instead of fruits, veggies, and meat on the shelves, it's my clothes that are kept fresh and crispy. I found a flannel shirt and some jeans, and after just a few minutes of wearing them, the chill had worn off, somewhat.

Since I was still wide awake, and sort of hungry, I decided that I'd make the donut run and head for Dunkin Donuts over in Silverado Ranch. (BTW, no side-by-side comparison to Krispy Kremes. I don't do that for pizza, and again, it was so cold outside that I just wanted to get home, so there was only one stop this morning).

Anyhow, I found the newest Dunkin Donut shop over on Bermuda and Silverado Ranch, scarily close to the old 'stripper house'. It was too early to use the lobby, but the drive-thru is open 24 hours, so I got a half dozen for around five bucks.

First of all, the store is damn near impossible to get to if you're not heading north on Bermuda, due to the divided roads and big honkin' 'NO U-TURN' signs everywhere I wanted to make one. Seriously, I had to go about a half-mile out of my way in order to turn around and get to the parking lot entrance. Not convenient at all, even when there is no traffic. I'd hate to try and get in there during rush hour, because half of Vegas lives in that neighborhood.

Anyhow, once I finally got to the window, I ordered a couple of glazed, a jelly, Boston Creme, a chocolate cake version, and something else I can't quite remember. I drove straight home, poured a glass of milk, and set upon my 'research' (because there is nothing I won't do for my readers!).

The first thing I noticed, is that the donuts were much smaller than I remember. (I haven't bought donuts in years, but I don't think my hands have grown that much). Secondly, the donuts were just... ok. Not that great. I think my initial reaction was, Feh.... Maybe it's just because I don't really like donuts all that much. I'm like Homer Simpson in a lot of ways, but that's not one of them.

I think I was 'over' donuts about a year ago when I fetched a box of Krispy Kremes and coffee one morning at New York New York for Sticky. We sat there in the hotel room eating them, and I distinctly remember thinking that 1) I was enjoying the coffee more than the donut, and 2) the donuts were waaaay too sweet for me, and not really filling at all. I thought that might just be the KKD's, but the Dunkins are pretty much the same, as far as I can tell. They were good, but certainly not worth breaking the law for, making an illegal u-turn and such. Although, the chocolate fudge cake donut this morning was truly awful. I took two bites and threw it away. The Boston Creme was good, and so was the glazed. Haven't touched the jelly one yet.

The verdict: Not bad, but I just don't much care for donuts. Won't be going back.

After that little culinary distraction, I watched a bit of TV, surfed the net for awhile, and then basically tried to get a little sleep. I woke up to hear the doorbell ringing, and it was the UPS man again.

This time the packages were for me, instead of Rob, one from DeeDee in The O.C., and another from Lisa in Mass. That's right--the ladies are takin' care of me today! DeeDee's present was wrapped, so it's under the tree, but Lisa sent along the James Lileks book, Gastroanomolies, and the Dead Man's Chest DVD from my wish list.

Thank you, ladies--I'm sending much love your way! (Lisa--email me, I don't have your addy). Hope y'all both have a wonderful Christmas.

But it was still cold outside, so after opening the boxes, I retired back to my nice warm nest to read the Gastroanomolies book. Oh my god, I've never seen such awful-looking food in my entire life. And I eat in the employee cafeteria five nights a week! It's a fun, and interesting, read. And it makes those crappy donuts I ate this morning look like the greatest thing to ever hit a plate.

As far as the rest of the afternoon is concerned, I think I'm gonna just hole up here until around 6 pm, when Lars Vargas makes another appearance and we head down to Fremont Street for another evening of microbrews and cigars. And maybe some touristy picture-taking, too.

Excuse me while I step into my walk-in and fetch a sweater and pair of slacks from the produce shelf.


Monday, December 10, 2007

No Skillz

Well, I learned something new about myself last night--I have absolutely no skills whatsoever when it comes to playing Guitar Hero II. Or any version of Guitar Hero, for that matter.

After I got out of work, I headed over to a friend's house, where an all-day/all-night birthday party was raging for one of the girls on my crew. It was a helluva party--they had a poker game going, a blackjack table, a kitchen full of food and booze, several coolers full of beer, and in the living room, they had an Xbox hooked up to the 60-inch plasma, featuring Guitar Hero II.

As far as I'm concerned, video games reached their zenith in 1981 with Asteroids, so all this stuff they have nowadays is a complete and total mystery to me. But I gave it a try. Hell, I used to play guitar all the time, and was even in a band, so how hard could it be?

But I'll be damned if I didn't fall flat on my face and completely embarrass myself a few times. I seriously had the worst success rate of anyone at the party. I suck. And it was set on 'Easy' for me, requiring the use of only three buttons on the controller. Still, it's a fun game, and if I were into video games, I'd totally get hooked up with Guitar Hero.

Oh well, aside from my getting booed off of the virtual stage, it was a pretty good time for a few hours with all of the other buffoonery going on around the house. There was silly string involved. And shot glasses. And remote control toys. Sharpies. Party hats. Noisemakers. And that was just the tail-end of the evening. It started around noon on Sunday, and I didn't get there until around 2:00 am this morning.

But I tempered my enthusiasm, knowing I had to drive home at some point, and I got here just ahead of the sunrise. I didn't sleep too well, but it's been a relaxing day.

I was dozing in the magic sleepy-time chair in the living room until the doorbell rang. The UPS man showed up again about an hour ago, delivering two more packages, but they were addressed to Rob. Bastard. As much as I want to have all the toys, I'm guessing these packages were full of subversive Ohio State merchandise or Star Trek action figures, stuff I have no use for...


Sunday, December 09, 2007

I'll Have a Blue Christmas

I guess there is a downside to all that productivity from yesterday. I got a lot done, but the Law of Unintended Consequences must be satisfied, so there were a few side effects that came along with my cleaning frenzy.

First of all, I went to put a load of laundry in the washer, and guess what I found sitting in the bottom of the machine? Nope--not my wallet--I've been very careful with this latest one. Instead of washing my ID and debit cards on a regular basis, I've moved on to laundering pens. Blue-ink roller gel pens, to be exact.

Of course I panicked, but when I pulled it out, there were no ink globs leaking out and it appeared that there was no harm/no foul to the washing machine. I even brought it back to my room to see if it still worked on a piece of paper, and it wrote like it was brand new. No problemo.

So a few minutes later, I pull the clothes from the dryer. It was a load of whites. WAS is the operative word here. Pretty much every article of clothing in that load now looks like a Chargers throwback jersey. Except for my Hurricane Mikey shirt and a pair of boxer briefs--they're full-on dark blue on one side, with big huge ink spots.

Being a guy, and a bachelor to boot, I'm certainly not going to throw them out. Unfortunately, I can't really do anything with my Hurricane Mikey shirt except wear it around the house now, which is too bad, because it was certainly a conversation starter. Even the teller at the bank was asking me about it the other day.

As far as the ink-stained blue boxers go, well, I think they'll come in handy if I ever find myself under the mistletoe with an accidental Smurfette.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Long Day

So, now that college football is over except for the Bowl games, what is one supposed to do with their Saturdays? There was a full slate of college hoop on, but I can't really get into that until after the NFL playoffs/Superbowl is over and the NCAA is deep into their conference season. So the TV remained dark for most of the day, except that I put in on channel 901 'Sounds of the Seasons' for a little Christmas music as background noise while I did my chores.

And brotha, I did a *lot* of chores.

I got my room cleaned, my closet about halfway organized, washed, dried, folded, hung, and put away about six loads of laundry, vacuumed the house, paid some bills, balanced my checkbook, chatted with the nice folks at Cox technical support for about a half hour, went Enron on a shoebox full of old bank statements, and even made my bed.

Tomorrow, even though there is a bunch of football on, will consist of me cleaning my bathroom and finishing off the rest of my closet.

Even though I have to leave for work in an hour, I'm basking in the glow of a pretty good sense of accomplishment right now. And as far as my back goes, I woke up too early again this morning, because it was hurting like a mo-fo again. I took a few aspirin with my morning coffee, but figured it was hurting do to inactivity, and a little bit of work wasn't going to make me feel any worse. So instead of lying around in bed and whimpering, I gutted it up and just went full speed on my housekeeping chores. And you know what? I feel *much* better.

And the problem isn't with my lower back--the kind of pain that can basically cripple you because you can't bend or twist. Nope, it hurts right between my shoulder blades, so it doesn't really keep me from doing anything. If I have to blame it on anything, I'm guessing it's that stupid Bonus Holdem game at work that I've had to deal every night for the past month. The chair is shiatty and too low, the table is too big--half the players' bets are almost 40 inches away from the dealers' side of the table, and there is a lot of twisting, lunging, and scooting that goes on with trying to deal that crap for an hour straight.

But luckily tonight I'm on a better string of games--two Pai Gow tables and Deuces Wild. That means I'll be busy all night and the time should pass fairly quickly.


Bad Cop. No Donuts.

I must offer my sincere apologies for my lack of posting for the past couple of days. But the road to Hell has been repaved with my good intentions--I really wanted to put up a couple of things, but I've been swamped with other little projects and haven't really had much free time.

First of all, we still haven't done the Krispy Kreme/Dunkin' Donuts taste test yet. On Thursday, we were so full from dinner the night before and busy sleeping in that it didn't happen. And then on Friday, I didn't get home until after 6 am, slept four hours, and then left again for most of the rest of the day. Here it is Saturday morning, and I thought about it on my way home, but I spaced it on the freeway after work and took the wrong exit and didn't feel like taking the long way over to Eastern & Bermuda, so I just came home. We can still do it next week--those donut shops aren't going anywhere.

So what have I been up to in the interim?

Well, Thursday night after work, I got together with a bunch of friends over at Sierra Gold, a local bar in Henderson, as we were having a small going-away gathering for one of the gals who was quitting and taking a job at Bally's as a floor supervisor. So I sat up till the wee hours with my buddies Todd and Jovanka, drinking and catching up.

I also learned that evening that my Serbian gal Jovanka is a FREAK of nature. First of all, she's built like a brick house--tall, thin, stacked, and ripped. She's a kick-boxer and one night I saw her kick a dude in the head like it wasn't anything. BAM--Like a cobra strike! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! I always tell her that I'm afraid of her, and we laugh about it, but deep down I know she could kick my ass.

In fact, she always reminds me of a line I stole from The Italian Job and told her a long time ago and it still makes her laugh:

There are three mothers you never mess with-- Mother Nature, mother in-laws, and Mother F*ckin' Serbians!

Anyhow, after the experiment with the raw eggs that Rob and I did a couple weeks back (See the Two Morons post from last month), I was telling everyone at the bar that they couldn't crush an egg in their bare hands. Nobody believed me, so we had the bartender fetch an egg from the kitchen and we passed it around. I offered ten bucks to anyone who could crush it with their bare hand, but if they couldn't, they'd have to give me a dollar.

Of course, I collected more singles than a motivated stripper with rent due in the morning, but when it got to Jovanka, she was determined to crush it. And I'll be DAMNED if she didn't do some funky European Jedi mind trick and shatter that egg in less than thirty seconds!

First of all, we were all flabbergasted, and the funny thing was is that she did it right over the top of her open purse, so we had a HUGE laugh at that. And she thought we were all playing a joke on her by faking it so that she'd crush it and make a mess.

Nope. She's just got insanely strong hands. So we cleaned up the goo and I paid her ten bucks, shaking my head and wishing I'd had a video camera handy. I think Todd's only remark was Holy shiat--She was built in a lab!!!

But we had a great time, and finally called it a night around 6:30 in the morning. And as luck would have it, the bartender comped all of our drinks, thanking us for bringing a crowd in, and he gave us a bunch of free drink tickets for the next time we visit. Score! Of course, we ended up tipping him about eighty bucks--after all, we filled up one of his video poker machines with raw eggs.

Anyhow, I got about four hours of sleep, but woke up and my back was just KILLING me. I don't know what's wrong, but every night for the past week or so, I can't sleep because my back has been hurting. So when it got to the point that I couldn't take it anymore, I said The hell with this! and got up and called a chiropractor.

I ended up spending over a hundred bucks that I really didn't have, just to get an adjustment and get some time on that table with the electronic spine massager. It helped, but I was kind of pissed. My insurance didn't cover it, but damn, when you're that uncomfortable, you'll pay a thousand bucks for a few moments of relief. Afterwards I went to the bank, the gas station, grabbed some lunch, and then over to my insurance company to have them push back my due date a week because of this unexpected expense. They were totally cool about it and I don't even have to pay a fee or penalty. That was nice.

But I didn't get home till after 4:00 pm, and I was dozing on the couch, irritated that I had to get ready for work just over an hour later--I really could've used a nap. And a cocktail. And my back started hurting again.

As soon as I pulled into the garage at the casino, I saw Jovanka pulling in right behind me. As we were walking to the elevator, she asked me how I was doing and I said Crappy--My back is killing me!

Not to worry, she had a bottle of Happy Pills that her doc gave her awhile back--some sort of prescription pain meds. So she gave me two of them, and as soon as I got to the dining room I took them. Of course she warned me that I'll probably get really tired, which sucked, because I still felt exhausted from the night before.

Well, I don't know what was in those magic beans she gave me, but they didn't make me tired. In fact, they had the opposite effect. I was wide awake and bouncing around all night like a ferret on a double espresso. And I was in a damn good mood, too. I swear, she must've accidentally given me some anti-depressants or something, because my silly meter was pegged, and I must've dropped $300 in tokes before 10:00 pm. Those that were lucky enough to sit at my tables at the beginning of my shift saw Mikey in rare form--And my back didn't hurt either!

Of course, it didn't hurt that I didn't see any of our regular fleas, and I did my first hour on the dice table, filling in for a call-out until the 8 pm crew showed up. And I had a couple of uber-Georges at the $20 Pai Gow table, so last night actually went by pretty fast for me. And I was even one of the unlucky ones that had to stay till the bitter end, not getting the half-hour push, and punching out sometime after 3:00 am.

Anyhow, I scurried off to my truck and was speeding down the freeway singing Christmas music at the top of my lungs, and auto-piloted myself off at the Green Valley exit instead of going down to Eastern, so that's why there are no donuts on the counter waiting for me and Rob to taste test them in a few hours.

Now you know.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

It Must've Been A Good Time

Because it started with this:

And ended with these:

I guess I've got some esplainin' to do about the middle part, huh?

Tuesday was my day off, and I didn't do a whole lot--slept in, surfed the net, listened to some music--the usual. Rob worked that day, but came home and took a long nap.

The plan that evening was to go get some deep-dish Chicago-style pizza and then head over to his old roommate's place for a night of cheap craps and cheap beer. So once he finally drug his lazy ass out of bed, we headed over to Amore's on the West Side (I think it's on Durango, just north of Flaming-O).

The restaurant sits in a strip mall with a bar and a Chinese take-out, with one helluva nice view of the Strip from the parking lot. We got there a little after 8:30, and by 8:45, we had our root beers (no liquor license yet), and had ordered our meal. We were going to go with two individual ten-inch pizzas, but the waitress talked us into a large, saving us a few bucks. Enough to buy an indistinct, almost bland, basket of breaded mushrooms.

As far as our pizza goes, we got it half & half--Rob's half was sausage and onion, my half was pepperoni and mushroom. Then we settled in for the long haul, as it takes almost an hour to cook one of those monsters. We nibbled on mushrooms and warm bread with butter, but paced ourselves, knowing that we had a huge pie coming our way.

The decor of the restaurant was fairly simple--the walls were full of pictures of both Vegas and Chicago icons, we sat on stackable banquet chairs, but the tables were cool as hell. Each one featured a Vegas landmark on the dining surface, blown up full-table sized and glassed in. I *really* wanted to steal the one with the Bellagio fountains, but they probably would've caught us.

After our mandatory waiting period had passed, our waitress brought out a huge piping hot pan full of Chicagoey goodness.

The long-awaited virgin slice.

You see how thick that is? I swear each slice weighed almost a full pound. It smelled and looked great, although at first glance I was a little disappointed in the weak distribution of mushroom slices. But I got over it after my first bite.

The pizza is great--no doubt about it. I enjoyed it immensely. But I'm a thin-crust guy, so the thick crust doesn't do it for me. Luckily, they'd brought a huge bowl of ranch dressing with our mushrooms, so we had plenty left over for me to dip my crusts in, and I was pacified. Rob and I did a little horse-trading and I tried a slice of the sausage and onion, and honestly we both thought it was better than the pepperoni. Next time I go, my toppings du jour will be sausage and black olive. Onions are great, but I think they go better with ham. Years of research has taught me this.

But the question on everybody's mind is, Is it better than Grimaldi's?

And the answer to that is a resounding NO. Not that you can really compare the two, but in the immense pizza universe, Grimaldi's stands head and shoulders above any and all competition. Is it the best Chicago-style pizza? Well, it's pretty damn good, and I'm probably the wrong person to ask. I am an aficianado of the thin stuff, and my experience with deep-dish pizza is limited at best. I guess more testing is required.

Anyhow, Rob and I both waved the white flag of surrender after just two pieces each, boxing up half of it to go.

The remains of the day. Notice that our ranch dressing was served in a cereal bowl.

We were so full that we took a few minutes to digest before attempting to waddle out of there. I think the entire bill came to $34 with tip, which ain't too shabby considering we both got two meals out of the deal. Good meals.

After dinner, we drove over to Chris's place to spend the rest of our night, and all of our loose change, playing five-cent craps. I had a few really nice long rolls at the beginning, but I ended up losing the contents of my wallet and change jar, while Rob managed to make his single dollar buy-in last all night long. Bastard.

Notice the rough-hewn Adirondack-style sideboards, and sitting down to play craps gives the whole experience an El Cortez-like vibe. Well, that and the fact we were drinking cheapass beer.

It was a pretty good time, almost like a party atmosphere because there were about ten people there at one point. I even did a shot of Southern Comfort and Lime juice with the chick whose boobs are featured at the top of the post. I have no idea who she was--I just met her that night.

We didn't give Chris any of our leftover pizza, but he said he was hungry for melons, instead.

As far as the SoCo and Lime goes, it wasn't a bad shot. I've had worse. And it sure as hell tasted better than the skunky canned Miller Lite that Rob had dug up from the bowels of our fridge and brought along. Oh my god it was awful.

Imagine a crappy tasting beer in a glass, then up the ante by going down to your basement, finding a damp and moldy piece of cardboard, and then putting a chunk of it in the glass of beer overnight. 24 hours later, remove it and eat the cardboard. That's what the beer tasted like. It was so bad that I couldn't even finish ONE of them.

But since we were having a good time, and doing occasional shots, we ended up staying way too late. I think it was like 3:45 in the morning before we took off and headed for home. Of course we stayed up and watched the previous evening's Jeopardy episode that we'd recorded, but after that, I went to bed, while Rob stayed up till well past dawn farting around watching TV and YouTube and such.

Because of that, we didn't do the donut taste test yesterday morning. Hell, I didn't get out of bed until 1:00 in the afternoon, and I didn't even see Rob until 4:30.

Maybe if I get some sleep, I'll be motivated to go down and fetch some donuts later this morning. We shall see.


Mah Prezentz... Let Me Show You Them!

Wow--the gifts just keep on coming!

I'm fairly certain that the UPS man is pretty tired of coming to my house, especially after today's delivery--it's been FIVE days in a row that I've gotten packages delivered, and today I scored the mother lode. It must be the holidays--everyone is feeling so generous!

I was just chillin' in the living room this afternoon and decided to go outside and see how cold it was, and when I did, I saw another UPS delivery noticed stuck to my front door. Instead of having to go down to the office to pick them up, it said "Look on your patio". So I did, and sitting there were three large Amazon boxes addressed to your humble correspondent.

So I went back inside and opened the patio door to bring in the stuff, and two of the boxes weighed a frickin' ton. But I managed to wrestle them into the living room, thankful that the driver left them on my patio instead of making me walk down to the office and then needing to borrow a hand-truck from the maintenance guy to get them home.

Inside of the three boxes were various items, formerly on my Amazon Wish List.

First of all the, heaviest box was a 119-piece tool set. Wow--I was blown away when I opened that. Not only did it have damn near every tool I could ever imagine (drill bits, screw heads, hand tools, a level, tape measure, etc etc etc, but it also came with a nifty canvas carry bag. My deepest and most sincere thanks goes out to reader 'Lawrence' in Oregon for sending such a thoughtful and useful gift, and I also got a chuckle from the note he included. I guess he felt inspired by the Santa Claus butt-crack picture I posted a few days back.

So I sat there like a typical dude, fondling all the tools and imagining all the stuff around the house that I could break and then fix again. I was lost in my own little tool-time world for a few minutes before I realized that I still had two more boxes to open. And I didn't have to use my little two-inch pocketknife either--I now had a brand spankin' new utility knife at my disposal.

The next box was also a hefty one, and it revealed itself to be a huge 12-inch cast iron Lodge skillet. Well, I guess it's more of a frying pan--it's got the deep sides for frying chicken or even making a casserole in the oven if I wanted to. I'm guessing it's probably also bullet-proof and if I were a cartoon character, I could also use it to hit people over the head and they'd suffer no lasting damage. (Hmmm... maybe I should take it to work and try it...)

The third box had all kinds of cool stuff. Included was a cookbook, the Rock Star dvd, and a new set of dishes that matches my current set--so now we have more than four matching plates and bowls. Woot!

Those last two boxes came from my sister Cyndi, whose done a blitz of Christmas shopping this week. So I had another excuse to call and laugh it up with my Tennessee people.

Here are a couple of pictures of this week's haul:

The macro-view, almost like Christmas morning.

And here's my close-up, Mr. DeMille

Rob came out of his hole a little while later and basically freaked out when he saw all of my toys. He too was a little turned on by the tool kit and the iron skillet. The dishes and cookbook, not so much.

Anyhow, we goofed off around the house for a couple of hours before heading out to dinner at Guadalajara. I'll leave the full review to Rob, and eventually you'll want to make your way over to The Flying Winnebago to read about it and see the pictures. As of right now, it's not up yet. Instead of updating his website, he's lying on the couch reading my new 'Uncyclopedia' from ESPN, entitled 23 Ways to Get to First Base. (He thinks it's a dating handbook, so it may be awhile...)

That's about it from here, but I've got a couple more posts to put up at some point later today.