Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Windy City Pizza Experiment #1

Since it was blowing like stink outside today, a steady 22-mph north wind, I figured it was as good a day as any to go ahead and try my hand at Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

It's finally in the oven as I type this, but I don't have high hopes for my first pizza. Here is what I've learned thus far:
  • I should probably use less garlic and Tabasco in the red sauce.
  • Getting the dough from a large sticky ball into a nice pliable disk that fits the pan perfectly is damn near impossible without *lots* of practice.
  • Don't set ingredients behind me when I'm doing the final assembly. I'll forget something, like say, the mushrooms in the strainer. Once the sauce goes on top, well, the pie will look like it's got acne.
  • I didn't need as much cheese as I thought I did.
  • Don't set foil down on the counter to roll the dough on, thinking that it'll make cleaning up all that flour easier. It might be easier to clean up, but it's a cast-iron bitch to roll dough on, and even worse, pull the dough off of once it's finally close to the right size.
Anyhow, it might look a little rough, but I'm sure it'll still taste ok. Just putting the ingredients together smelled pretty damn good, but the crust worries me. It might be too thin in a couple of spots and way too thick around the edges. I guess I just need practice.

Updates to follow in a couple of hours. Maybe a picture, too.


Ok, we finally have a pizza! First of all, it didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. But like I said before--just how bad can you screw up pizza? Here is a picture of the finished product:

Not too shabby... If you look closely, you'll see that the crust shrunk down a bit and pulled away from the edges of the pan. I also think it could've used a couple more minutes in the oven, but the mushrooms on top were starting to dry out, so I had to get it out of there. I also sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top just before I put it in the oven--won't do that again--it browns too quickly. Once it came out, however, I gave it another sprinkle of Parmesan, along with some fresh chopped basil.

The sauce turned out ok--Rob gave it his seal of approval, but I could still smell the Tabasco in it. It didn't ruin it, but it wasn't as good as it could've been. I minced four cloves of garlic, sauteed them in olive oil, then added a can of crushed tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste to thicken it up. I meant to put just a teaspoon of Tabasco in, but ended up using closer to a tablespoon--a mistake I won't repeat.

Underneath the sauce was almost two pounds of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese. I went with the low-moisture part-skim mozz instead of the fresh mozzarella on this pie. It seems like the fresh stuff is more suitable for thin Neopolitan style pies, not deep dish. But we'll see where our next experiment takes us.

I'm sure I'm being almost too critical of my pizza, but only because I wanted it to be perfect, and it wasn't. On the other hand, I have a new-found respect for those guys that can roll out that dough into a perfect circle and get it to behave the way they want it to. Man, that was the hardest part--I worked up a sweat trying to work the dough, and it was still too thick around the edges.

But even though it didn't look as good as it should have, it still tasted pretty damn good, and of course I could only get down two pieces before waving the white napkin of surrender. I was stuffed.

I still have two pizza crusts in the freezer, along with a pound or so of mozzarella, a package of pepperoni, and a tub of sliced mushrooms. And one of the ladies I work with said she has an extra pizza stone she's gonna give to me, so maybe next week I'll try my hand at thin-crust pan-less pizza. It's gotta be easier than this monster. Of course, I might still be eating leftovers until then.


Time For Some New Glasses

So, I had to head down to the grocery store earlier today to fetch the last of my pizza ingredients, but I made one stop first.

Next to the local Smith's grocery store (where I've been shopping lately, instead of the selection-challenged WalMart market), is an upscale optometrist's office. Most people don't know that I actually *do* wear glasses, mostly because I lost my last pair almost two years ago, and have been too lazy to go make an appointment and get a new set. But my prescription was extremely mild, and I only wore glasses while driving at night or going to concerts, movies, or sporting events when long-distance vision was a premium.

Also, that first year I was here, I didn't have vision insurance anyways, and was in no position to pay cash for an exam and a new set of frames and lenses.

But lately I've noticed that I probably should be wearing glasses. The road signs that I used to be able to read are now a little blurry. And I can tell that my night vision isn't nearly as strong as it once was. Plus I use a computer a whole lot more than I did back in 1991 when I got my first pair of glasses, so I know my vision has suffered. But I really notice at work, while sitting on a dead game in the casino, I can't read the progressive jackpot amounts on slot machines as close as sixty feet away.

So I stopped in there at the eye doctor's office to have a look around and find out what my insurance covered with them, if anything. Unfortunately, almost everything they had were expensive designer frames, so I didn't have high hopes for getting off cheap. But while they were looking up my insurance info, an optometrist came out to help me choose frames. After only about ten minutes of searching, I actually found a good-looking, stylish set that fit on my phat head. And in the meantime, it turned out that my insurance coverage was pretty good, so I'll get a free exam, and the lenses--if it turns out that I don't have a ridiculous or complicated new prescription, will only cost me about $60. And the frames I picked out, normally about $160 retail, actually came out under the wholesale price limit, so I won't have to pay for them either.

I ended up making an appointment for three weeks from now, giving them time to order the frames in my size and color, and they said the lenses will take about a week or ten days after that to come back. So in about a month or so, I'll be sporting some new glasses, making me look even more smart and sophisticated than I already do.


I Can Relate...


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Did I Say Peaceful & Relaxing?


I'd totally forgotten about the maintenance guys coming over today.

It all started on Friday when I got home and there was a post-it note in the left-side kitchen sink from Rob saying not to use that side of the sink because it was leaking underneath. The garbage-disposal side, thankfully, drained just fine with no leaks. No big deal, we could get by with just one side until maintenance came by to fix it.

Both of us pretty much stayed in our separate spaces, snoozing away on Saturday, so we forgot to put in the call. Rob took care of it on Sunday, and left me a note saying that they'd be by to fix it on either Monday or Tuesday since it didn't really classify as an emergency.

Well, the maintenance guy showed up a couple of hours ago and worked on it for about a half an hour, then left to get reinforcements. He came back with another guy, and they brought in stuff like hacksaws, sledgehammers, and torches. At the time, I was trying to watch a little ESPN in the living room, but that proved fruitless once they brought out the big guns.

It seems that the drain pipe was an easy fix, but then they noticed that our cold water had very low pressure. That didn't seem right, so they went to investigate. First they thought it was a clog in the faucet, then maybe a clog in the feed line. Turns out that basically the whole damn sink/pipe/fixtures needed replacing, but the hardware just didn't want to cooperate. So they spent about an hour destroying out kitchen. Seriously--I wish I would've taken pictures--it was an insane amount of work to fix a leaky pipe.

But after busting out all of the offending pieces, they had to replace pretty much everything but the sink shell itself. Luckily that was ok, otherwise the counters would've had to come up, too. And they had the pry-bar sitting there ready to go, I saw it.

Finally, after almost two hours of smashing, hammering, sawing, and numerous other types of noisy destruction, they just finished up a few minutes ago and got the kitchen put back together. So we now have a new faucet, the sink doesn't leak, and we've got plenty of cold water pressure (the hot water was never a problem).

I guess that means I'm free to get back in there and start cookin' again.


The Latest Mix

I made myself another 'random' CD the other day, and I'm listening to it right now. And I have to say that I'm fairly impressed with the musical selection--it's downright enjoyable. In case anyone is interested, here are my home-made liner notes:

  • Let The Day Begin -- The Call. I have no idea when or where I first heard this song several years ago, but I heard it again a couple of weeks ago at work, wrote it down, and downloaded it as soon as I got home that night. Great tune.
  • Sara -- Bill Champlin. Regular readers know of my search for this tune, one of those songs from youth that stick in your memory forever. Thanks to Cici in Florida for helping me rediscover it after all these years, and Tony in Ohio for sending along a copy!
  • Hollywood -- Collective Soul. I don't think there's ever been a more underrated band that has put out so many damn good songs (maybe Cheap Trick). Even though it's more closely related to American Idol commercials, it doesn't diminish the fact that it's still a great song.
  • Edie Ciao Baby -- The Cult. I absolutely love The Cult. And if I owned a thoroughbred racehorse, I'd name it Edie Ciao Baby.
  • The Stripper -- David Rose. This is an old-school instrumental masterpiece that just screams 'Rat Pack'. I remember listening to it on 8-track with my dad as we road-tripped all over Tennessee on his service calls when I was a kid. I've already decided that I'm going to use it as the 'soundtrack' for my YouTube slideshow about March Madness this year. It already made an appearance on the legendary Music for the Rub-n-Tug CD that Derek and I made about seven years ago.
  • The Wand -- The Flaming Lips. Not the most mainstream song you've ever heard, but if you've seen a Dell computer commercial, you've heard it. It's a great tune, but there's so much going on that if you have it turned up loud, you fool yourself into thinking that either the doorbell or the cellphone is ringing while it's playing.
  • Freedom '90 -- George Michael. One of the best videos ever made, and a damn good song. I don't care if he is a 'beautiful gay angel' like Rachel Lucas says, the guy can flat-out sing, no matter what his proclivities are...
  • She's A Lady -- Tom Jones. Pretty much the opposite of George Michael. 'Nuff said.
  • Family Affairs -- Mary J. Blige. Because sometimes you just feel like getting it crunk.
  • Dancing Queen -- ABBA. Probably the greatest bubble-gum pop song ever recorded. And you like it too. Don't even try to deny it.
  • Sweet Caroline -- Neil Diamond. A timeless classic. And pretty much everyone at some point has either done a drunken impression of Neil Diamond, or sung along with the cover band at a wedding reception.
  • My Guardian Angel -- The Pistoleros. A great band that never got discovered. And even though half the lyrics are in Spanish, the English part delivers--And though I once was rich I know what it is to be hungry, and though I nearly drowned, I know what it is to be thirsty... Good stuff!
  • Who Says You Can't Go Home -- Bon Jovi. I don't know why I like this song so much. Runaway was better, but I'm older now.
  • Ready To Go -- Republica. Great party song, and who doesn't think of Audrey dancing at the Neon Boneyard whenever you hear it?
  • Knock Three Times -- Tony Orlando. This song is starting to make a comeback here in Vegas. I'm hearing it around town more and more.
  • Bust A Move -- Young MC. Probably my favorite rap song of all time. And it's full of great advice like Don't hang yourself with a celibate rope.
  • Ole Ole Ole -- Ricky Martin. Holy shiat--what an absolutely fantastic song! It's all in Spanish, but damn, such an energetic tune.
  • Can't Get You Out Of My Head -- Kylie Minogue. Is it a ballad? Is it top-40 fluff? I don't really know, but I like it.
  • Gone Away -- The Offspring. I always thought it was a damn good song, but then I listened to the words and realized it's one of the saddest ballads ever written. Probably the best song by a great band with tons of great material.

That's all that would fit on the CD, but I think it's enough to keep me entertained.


The Day Off

Man, I just love Tuesdays! I'm sure that's not normal, but then again, neither is my life. My weekend is in the middle of the week, and that's just fine with me. It's rather peaceful and enjoyable being here at the house when all the neighbors are away working. After a wonderful evening at work (more on that later), I came home and crashed, waking up around 8:30 this morning. I didn't get quite enough sleep, but that's ok--I can always nap later if I want to.

Once I crawled out of bed, I called Cyndi, just to touch base and make sure everything was ok with her. Not that I could do much from out here, but just to let her know I was thinking about her.

After that, I decided I was hungry so I dirtied up some dishes in the kitchen making breakfast--hashbrowns and eggs, but for whatever reason, I didn't feel like making coffee today, so I just had a tall glass of cold OJ. Man, that was good.

I don't have a whole lot on the agenda today--maybe head to the grocery store and get the last bit of ingredients for tomorrow's pizza adventure. Otherwise, a little housework and some relaxing is about all I have planned. I *might* go see a movie, but I'm not too sure if there's anything playing that I feel like I must see. I was really interested in seeing Cloverfield, and people have been telling me that it's pretty good, but, they've also said that the whole damn movie was done on a hand-held camera, making it look like a home video taken on the run, and it's pretty annoying. Screw that--I felt that way about the second Jason Bourne movie--it was like sitting through a two-hour long Zapruder film. It just gave me a headache after awhile.


Work was pretty slow last night--the typical Monday night scene in the casino. But the upside to that was that I got to chat and flirt with my favorite cocktail waitress for a good portion of the evening since we both spent a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. I was out at the far end of the Chinatown pit in no-man's land with no players or floorpeople around, and she had to wander by every time she went back and forth to the service bar behind the sports book.

At one point, I complimented her on her perfume--it was quite tasty--and we got into a discussion about fragrances, so she wrote down a couple of men's colognes for me that she likes. On my next break, I went back to the internet terminals in the 'quiet lounge' next to the employee dining room to see if they sold them on Amazon, and she was back there sitting at one of the computers. So I sat down with her and and ended up offering up my opinion on the unmentionables she was shopping for on the Victoria's Secret website. I don't know how much help I was, since I pretty much liked everything she showed me, but it was easily the most enjoyable 20 minutes of my week. And of course I was completely distracted for the rest of the night, also.

Really knocked me off of my game, too, because later on I mentioned that it was my Friday night, and she asked me where I was going after work. Taking cluelessness to an entirely different level, I started talking about finishing off the bottle of wine I started at lunch. Only later I realized that I got out a half-hour before she did and she probably would've accepted an invitation to sit in the bar and have a drink before going home.

Yes, I am a dumbass.

Once I realized that, coupled with the previous thoughts of her online window shopping for lingerie, I was pretty much done for the night as far as concentration was concerned. Luckily I made it out of there without saying or doing anything embarrassing.

And even worse, once I got home, I didn't even drink the wine...


Update on the Fire

Hey everybody--just wanted to say thanks for all the well-wishes that everyone has expressed for Cyndi and Tim in their recent difficulties--I'll pass them along. I spoke to her this morning, and although she's a bit frazzled, everyone is ok and the situation is about as good as it could be after such a life-altering event.

They pretty much lost mostly everything, but the insurance coverage is more than adequate, and all their 'stuff' will be replaced. They're staying with my sister Sherry until they find a suitable place to rent, but the house is going to take several months to get rebuilt. So as big a pain in the ass as this is, it could've been much worse.


Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Fun to Stay at the ...

Just another reason to love the internet.



Good news--My pizza pan arrived today! Of course, after my earlier morning updates, I was trying to doze a bit, but the wind is still howling outside and the neighbors nearest my bedroom window have some angry wind chimes, so it wasn't happening. But the doorbell rang, getting me out of bed, and there stood the UPS man with my pizza pan.

Since I had to go to the kitchen anyways...

I decided to go ahead and make those stuffed mushrooms. It was easy--I just took the leftover crab rangoon filling mix, sprinkled in a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan, about a third of a cup of bread crumbs, a small can of chopped mushrooms, a pinch or two of dried chives, seasoned with salt and pepper, and added a little half & half to make it stir-able. (Otherwise, it was like working with mostly-set concrete). Once that was all mixed up, I removed the stems from the Portobellas, then took a spoon and scraped out the 'radiator' underneath, rinsed, and patted them dry.

I put a very generous scoop of the filling mix in each one, topped each with a little bit of Parmesan and bread crumbs on top to give it a nice brown crust, and then drizzled them with olive oil.

Damn, it smelled so good, even before going in the oven.

I put them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, but next time I go with 400 for a little less time, I think (I'm scared of overcooking in that gas oven), but they still turned out really well.

Seriously, after taking the first bite, I think my reaction was Oh My God that's good!

Of course, I had a little bit of ranch dressing on the side, and a bottle of Chardonnay handy to wash them down. But they were damn good. And filling too. There was no way I was going to finish all six of those in one sitting, but I gave it my best effort.

So there are some leftovers in the fridge, but I don't seem them lasting 24 hours.


One Thing After Another

Just got off the phone with Mamasan... Bad news on the homefront.

Word is that Cyndi had a house fire today, a pretty bad one. Details are sketchy, but apparently the structure is still standing but the kitchen and first floor is all jacked up, with damage on the second floor, also. As I write this, the insurance people are on the way, and Sherry and her boyfriend Steve are on their way over to help Cyndi and Tim salvage whatever they can.

Damn. This really sucks. The same thing happened to my sister Nancy and her husband Mark around Christmas a couple of years ago and it took them forever to get their house rebuilt. Let's hope it's not that bad this time.

Nobody was home, though, so nobody got hurt, and Jake the dog was out in the backyard at the time, so he's ok, too.

On a lighter note, she also told me a hilarious story about somebody else who had their dentures lifted off the nightstand by one of their cats last night. They finally turned up after an hour of searching, but just picturing a cat running around with a set of somebody else's teef in it's mouth is *almost* as funny as a Dalmatian with a vibrator.


Pizza Gonna Wait

Still waiting for the UPS man to show up with my pizza pan today...

Ok, so last night (uh, this morning) after work, I went grocery shopping, thinking I'd get the rest of the stuff I'd need for my culinary masterpieces I've got scheduled for my days off. Unfortunately, I was at the store in the middle of the night, and the service deli was closed--no prosciutto available, and the 'fresh' mozzarella that I saw didn't look too good, either. So I was thinking I'd just go with the 'garbage' six-topping pizza, but then, their selection of tomatoes and tomato sauces at Smith's left something to be desired. Also, since it was the middle of the night, they had pallets and pallets of stuff stacked in the aisles, ready to be stocked, and access to the pepperoni was completely denied, too.

Something seemed to be telling me to wait...

I was also going to make the rest of those crab rangoons today, but somebody, who shall remain nameless, went on a super cleaning spree this weekend and tossed out my saucepan full of cooking oil that was on the stove, thinking it was no longer being used... Well, that, and he wanted to use the pan to make stuffing. No big deal--those rangoons are a huge pain in the ass to make, so I'm not too bummed out about it. So what should I do with all that leftover crab filling?

Well, I got me a package of baby portobella caps and decided to go with stuffed mushrooms. Since the pizza ingredients were denied, I picked up some bread crumbs, a can of mushroom stems and pieces, some grated Parmesan (the real stuff, not that stuff in the green can you sprinkle on spaghetti), and the bane of my existence, dried chives. I looked all over that friggin' store for fresh chives, but they were nowhere to be found, so I had to cough up damn near six bucks in the spice aisle for a jar of freeze-dried ones. I hope they work out ok, or I'm going to be pissed.

So I'm going to take the crab mixture, add a few things to it, and try my hand at stuffed mushrooms. They should be good. Oh, and I fixed the settings on my camera, so hopefully the photo evidence won't turn out blue this time, either.

I've also got all the ingredients lying in wait in the fridge to make a batch of red enchiladas, too. I think that'll be lunch/dinner tomorrow.


Ten Things I Don't Give A Rat's Ass About (This Week)

  1. The final moments of Heath Ledger. I'm sure he was a fine person and it's a tragedy to those closest to him. But thousands of other people died before their time last week too. Not that we need to examine their last moments also, but damn, let the guy rest in peace.
  2. The fire at the Monte Carlo. Unless they come up with some surveillance footage of Gary Loveman playing with matches up on the roof, this is a snoozer for me. So some welders accidentally lit up a bunch of the decorative Styrofoam on the facade of the building--it's not a tragedy, there wasn't much danger, and nobody got hurt. It's not even in the same dame zip code compared to the MGM/Bally's fire back in 1980, so everybody just needs to shut the hell up.
  3. The sub-prime mortgage 'crisis'. Shut the hell up people, and read the fine print of the contract you signed. It's nobody's fault but your own that you can't afford the overpriced house you moved into three years ago. Anybody dumb enough to get an A.R.M. deserves what they get.
  4. The weather in L.A. So, it's not always sunny and warm in January? Who knew? I don't want to hear them bitching about a drought later this summer, either.
  5. Roger Clemens. I'm to the point where, as far as steroids are concerned, ballplayers are guilty until proven innocent. But then again, some guys juiced up to extend their careers--With such a short window of opportunity to take advantage of making millions of dollars, I can certainly understand why they would do it.
  6. Tom Brady's boot/limp/injury/whatever.
  7. The Clinton/Obama catfight. Seriously, you think taking on them hillbillies was going to lead to a civil campaign?
  8. Tony Romo/Jessica Simpson. You think Joe Willie Namath wasn't out sexing up the ladies during the playoffs??? Of course, Tony Romo is no Joe Namath...
  9. Tiger Woods. What? He won another tournament? This is news?
  10. The Blu-Ray/HD dvd format war. Wake me whenever there is winner. I'm not buying any high-def equipment until there is a standard format. I don't wanna be the guy stuck with a Beta VCR.

That's about it for now, I think.


Friday, January 25, 2008

I Gots Crabs!

Happy Friday everyone!

Well, my day has been interesting so far. First of all, I was up till damn near daybreak--Rob introduced me to the wonders of DTS stereo sound and we were up all night listening to remastered stuff from The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Band, Simon & Garfunkel, and the best of the lot, The Allman Brothers, Live at the Fillmore East. Now, I've heard all of this music before, and own quite of bit of the regular studio releases, but somehow Rob got hold of a bunch of bootlegged DTS versions and the sound is absolutely amazing. Not one bit of hiss from the old master tapes, and every voice and instrument comes through amazingly clear. Oh, and hearing it in 6.1 surround is a nifty treat for the senses. Total ear candy.

I finally called it a night and got a few hours sleep, but when I woke up, I was hungry. It was time to hit the kitchen!

This was the first time I've made Crab Rangoon in several years, but the recipe is simple. All you need for the filling is --

  • About 12 ounces of crab meat
  • One brick of Philly cream cheese
  • Dash of garlic salt
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of half & half

Once the cream cheese is softened, chop up the crab meat and toss it in the bowl with the cream cheese, add the other ingredients and stir it up until it's well blended and the crab breaks down into tiny pieces.

Then you prepare your wonton wraps, brushing the edges with egg wash. A teaspoon of crab filling goes in the middle, seal the edges (and you can experiment with whatever wonton origami shapes you want--it doesn't matter as long as there is no air in the pocket and it's completely sealed).

Once you have a batch made up, heat up a saucepan with veggie oil on medium heat. (I prefer peanut oil, but all I had on hand was canola). I have no idea what the temp is, but you don't want it too hot--they'll easily burn on the outside. Too cool, and they get greasy. Also, make sure you have enough oil so that you can completely submerge the wontons. Anyhow, just drop four at a time in the hot oil, roll them around with a slotted spoon until they're golden brown, remove, and let them drain on a paper towel.

That's all there is to it.

Now, I took a bunch of pictures of the entire process from beginning to end, but for whatever reason, I had the camera set on something like blue sepiatone, so they all turned out looking like I was cooking in an aquarium. The final picture however, turned out somewhat usable.

The first batch made about 16 snacks, and I've got a bunch of leftover filling mix and half of my wonton wraps. I also made a pretty good dipping sauce out of apricot preserves, Dijon mustard, and a splash of honey. It was tasty, but needed a little more zip. Maybe next time I'll hit it with some full-strength horseradish and some freshly grated ginger. But it was still pretty damn good.

Oh, and on the pizza front--remember how I ordered the pizza pan from Amazon late Wednesday night after I went to bed? Well, I also put added a DVD to my order to get it over that $25 threshold for free Super Saver shipping, figuring it would take at least a week or so. Well, less than 12 hours after I placed my order, they emailed me saying that my pizza pan had already shipped out. Woot! Maybe next Wednesday night I'll be dining on home made deep-dish caramelized onion and prosciutto pizza. If the DVD gets here at the same time, I'll be watching L.A. Confidential while feasting on my culinary masterpiece, too.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Field Trip to Trader Joe's

First of all, let me say that I'm mildly surprised at the traffic pattern on the website today. It's not even 1:00 pm yet, and I've already had about 350 hits. That's not surprising, but what is interesting is that I've put up three different topics in the past 14 hours--

1) Pizza

2) Casino Freak

3) Gambling with Angy

--and the only one seeming to generate any interest whatsoever, as far as comments are concerned, is the couple of paragraphs about pizza. Clearly, my audience is far more interested in food than they are about life in Vegas.

Who knew?

Anyhow... For whatever reason, I was wide awake at 6:30 this morning, unable to sleep after just four hours or so in the sack. So I made a pot of coffee and spent a few hours websurfing and whatnot. Finally, around 9:30 or so, I decided to get up off my kiester and do something. Remember, both my bedroom and bathroom needed attention, plus the laundry monster is calling my name, too. So yeah, I did one load of laundry, wrote out a shopping list, burned a cd, took a shower, and headed out.

Last night, when I was coming home from Target, I saw that Trader Joe's over on Eastern that until then I had no idea was there, so that was to be my first stop this morning. The main objective in this particular hunting and gathering mission was to find pre-made pizza dough. Word around the campfire is that it was available at T.J.'s.

So I grabbed a basket and headed inside. I haven't shopped in a Trader Joe's since, oh, 1999 or so, back when times were good and money was plentiful. So it was almost like a new experience to be in there. First of all, I noticed that I was probably the only Republican in the joint, especially when it came to the employees. I also noticed a shift in the offerings they sold--it seems that they used to sell a lot of different brands of hard-to-find unique foods, and now all they have is Trader Joe's brand organic goods. And who knows how the quality stacks up versus the groceries I usually buy. So I was a little put off by that. However, you gotta give props to a store that dedicates a good 20% of it's floor space to wine and beer!

Anyhow, I wandered around that place for a good half hour looking for pizza dough, and thought I was gonna come up empty. Hell, they only have six aisles, how hard can it be? Well, I finally found it in the ready-made lunch and sandwich section next to the meat and seafood. It was well hidden, tucked away on the bottom shelf in a basket. But they had one-pound bags for 99-cents apiece, so I grabbed four of them. Once that task was accomplished, I felt like I was free to browse.

My next purchase was a big bottle of low-sodium soy sauce, just because I feel an Asian cooking binge coming on, and I had nothing to season my rice with. I've always thought regular soy sauce was way too salty, anyways, so I grabbed a bottle. I also spent about eight bucks on a big bottle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. Again, I had none, and will need it when pizza time rolls around. Lastly, I grabbed a bag of frozen chicken fried rice, taking the easy way out when it comes to accompanying my crab rangoon.

While I was browsing, they had their tasting station set up in back with fried calamari rings and four different dipping sauces. Once my shopping chores were done, I finally stopped to have a sample. The squid was ok, but it had cooled off. Instead of the regular cocktail sauce, I tried their featured sweet and sour.


Room temperature fish with sauce that belongs on poultry was not a good combination at all. Of course, after that, I had that nasty fish taste in my mouth, and didn't have any gum or mints on me. But it was time to go anyways. While I was waiting in the checkout line, I made an impulse buy. I justified it by saying that the fishy taste in my mouth was the reason, but basically, it just looked too damn good to pass up.

It was a bar of Ritter Sport Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts.

Oh. Hell. Yeah.

I couldn't resist it's siren song, and it found it's way into my cart. And as soon as I got back in my truck, it found it's way out of the bag and into my mouth. Now, I don't eat much candy anymore--hell, I haven't had anything that could even be considered candy since Mamasan's peanut butter balls at Christmas, but damn, this is good stuff! (I'm just now finishing off the last piece as I type this!) Oh, and it tastes way better than that calamari.

Once I got done at Trader Joe's, I headed back over to Smith's to get a few more items on my shopping list. I needed some half & half, but I also picked up all the ingredients to make beef enchiladas and Spanish rice, too, along with a pastry brush and a few things I'd forgotten on my Tuesday morning shopping trip.

After I got home, I was finished--I got all the groceries put away and I was just too tired to hang around in the kitchen cooking, so my culinary adventures will have to wait one more day. I was thinking of indulging in a little Grimaldi's for lunch (hey--it's been almost two weeks!), and I even called Lars Vargas to see if he wanted to join me. But he had to decline, as he's feeling under the weather this week and wouldn't enjoy it as much as he'd like. So we made plans to do it next week, instead.

Once I hung up the phone, I lost all motivation to cook or eat. I'm just too tired from the lack of sleep last night, and the ol' clock on the wall is telling me that I have only about four hours before I have to get ready for work. So, I'm taking the afternoon off from all further chores or cooking, and I'm going to try and get a nap in before I spend the entire night in the casino.

Peace out, y'all.


Serious Pizza, Serious Questions

Ok gang, since apparently it's impossible to buy a deep dish purpose-built pizza pan anywhere in the 702 area code, I went ahead and ordered one from Amazon. Hopefully it should be here next week sometime. And I also discovered, tonight, that we have a Trader Joe's close by on Eastern and St. Rose Parkway--I'd thought the closest one was down on Sunset and Green Valley. But since the grocery stores around here don't carry the pre-made dough, I can get some at TJ's.

But now I've got questions for those of you who have actually assembled a Chicago-style pizza. I know that I'm supposed to par-bake the crust for about ten minutes before I add any of the toppings. No big deal. But what I don't know for sure is if I need to cook the sausage down in a skillet before I assemble the pizza. On TV shows that feature deep-dish pizzas, they always show them putting the meat in raw--some places even roll the raw sausage out like dough and lay it all in one layer over the cheese, like a big ol' pork manhole cover.

Is this the right thing to do? My gut tells me that it would make the pizza way too greasy if I did that. But then again, I don't think I want to cook off all the meat, then bake it for 45 minutes more, because I think it would be pretty dry if I did that. Anybody have any experience with this? I'm thinking that I should do a quick 'half' cook on the raw sausage, losing some of the grease, but retaining a bunch of the moisture, but I've never heard of anyone doing that, either.

Suggestions would be appreciated.

Now, being a NY-style thin-crust aficionado, I am of the opinion that the perfect pizza only has two toppings besides the cheese and sauce--One meat and one vegetable. One salty, one sweet. Yin and Yang, the chi of the pizza, if you will.


Since the deep dish style (where my experience is limited at best) is more like a casserole, wouldn't it be more conducive to making a 'garbage' pizza? I'm thinking of sausage, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, black olives, and of course, cheese. Oh, I'm definitely going to make my two-topping masterpieces that I've talked about before, prosciutto and caramelized onion, and sausage and black olive, but I think the first one should probably include everything but the kitchen sink.

Besides, even if I fark it all up, bad pizza is still pretty good, right?


His Name Is "Dick"!

Working in a casino, I've learned that a dealer's favorite pastime is to bitch. Either about management or about the customers. It really doesn't matter which--either one is a perfect target for a dealer's ire.

And since my roommate is also a dealer, and happens to work in the same casino as I do (although on a different shift), we love to bitch about the "fleas" that we both encounter. The unbelievable thing is that a lot of these fleas put in more time at the tables than we do. Heck, I only work eight hours a day, as does Rob, but some of these people easily spend 16 hours or more a day, almost every day, gambling away every dime that they have. Some can afford it, most can't. And it's easy to tell who can't. Equally easy to spot are the players that don't have any friends or family, hobbies or outside activities. Going to the casino is all they've got.

Since I work in a locals casino, and I usually deal Pai Gow, I have a lot of "regular" players that I see almost every day, or at least once or twice a week. Most of them are very nice, decent tippers, and easy to deal with. But believe me, I have my share of losers. I've talked about them at length, too. But one of the reasons I like dealing Pai Gow so much is that the players don't bitch all the time. It's a nice relaxing game, and unless you're just having some sorry-assed luck, you're not gonna go broke, or at least not go broke very fast.

Blackjack, on the other hand, is full of whiners and degenerates, crybabies and assholes. Granted, a majority of players are decent and are there just to have a good time, but there is a very vocal minority of players who ruin it for everyone.

There's one guy in particular who I've encountered a bunch lately that is really starting to get on my nerves. And Rob sees him on his shift too. The dealers hate this guy, as do the floor people. But it's bad when the players in the casino see this guy coming and start to mumble and groan, hoping he doesn't sit down at the table.

First of all, lets talk about his appearance. He's tall and lanky, and has that creepy undertaker appearance to him. He's got a badly receded, hairline (the 'toilet bowl' haircut), dorky silver-rimmed thick square glasses, and bad hygiene. At first glance, he seems like the kind of guy who drives a white serial-killer van and hangs out at the junior high, trying to pass out candy. Hell, he's such an oddball that all the dealers on day shift simply refer to him as 'Creepy Carl'

But that's not the worst--weird looking slobs are a dime a dozen in the casino business. The worst thing about him is the way he plays.

First of all, he lurks around, waiting for a dead table to get some players. As soon as the table gets going and there's a nice enjoyable fun vibe going on, he walks up and sits down, ruining it. Not only does he play like a jackass, standing on thirteens and fourteens against a dealer's ten-card, but he splits things he shouldn't and hits his twelves against a dealer's stiff card. Of course, he screws up the flow of the cards for everyone else, pissing them off.

Not only that, it takes him forever to make up his mind on if he wants a hit (especially bad on a double deck pitch game). It's like he can't add or something. Eventually, he chases away all of the other players. It really sucks because a lot of times, if the table is fun and has a good vibe, those other players are good tippers, and he just kills the action. And of course he never tips--he's a loser.

It's gotten to the point that I don't care whatsoever how rude I am to him now. Of course, I can't be blatant, but he *knows* I can't stand him and I bag on him all the time. If he's taking forever to make a decision, or screwing up the cards, I call him out--

What, you can't add an Ace and a four without a calculator?

What the hell's the hold up? You have an eighteen against my seven.

Dude, are your trying out for the Special Olympics blackjack team?

The funny thing is, we just found out that his real name is Dick--it says so on his player's card. So after a particularly stupid play, I like to use his name (the bosses always want us to use the player's first name, and I'm all about providing good customer service)--

Nice going, Dick. If you would've take a card like you were supposed to, I would've busted. Instead you caused everyone else to lose!

I do whatever I can to chase him away. But he'll either stay until he's broke or everyone else leaves, whichever comes first. Once the other players are gone, he'll color up too, and move on to the next table of victims. He won't play by himself--he insists on killing every table he goes to.

One night, he showed up and killed my table, and after everyone colored up, he did the same. As soon as he left, the other players sat back down again. He immediately came back asking for change. Everybody groaned, and since there was no floorperson within earshot, I just said Sorry dude, I just colored you up, surveillance won't allow me to take those checks back on the same table--you have to play at a different table before you can come back to this one.

He fell for it and walked off, and everyone else thanked me. Heh.

It seems that lately, after every shift, both Rob and I have stories about the guy--he plays at least three nights a week, and when he does, he plays until he goes broke. Sometimes that takes twelve hours or more. But he obviously doesn't have any friends or hobbies--he's a social retard--so the casino is the extent of his social life. That really sucks for those of us who have to put up with him. We're kinda wishing that he'd discover strippers or something like that, instead.

It doesn't matter, though. If he leaves, there will be another one to take his place the very next day. I can almost guarantee it.


Tuesdays With Angy

Man oh man, my weekend has just flown by! Here it is late on Wednesday night and I feel like these past couple of days were over in the blink of an eye.

First of all, after getting home from work late on Monday night, I just went straight to bed, exhausted after a long week of casino life. For whatever reason, I woke up at 8:00 am on Tuesday morning, unable to go back to sleep, even though I tried for about a half hour. Instead of fighting it, I got up and made a pot of coffee.

I sat down in front of the TV to watch the previous night's SportsCenter reruns, but since the Super Bowl is featuring two teams I don't much care for, I'm just not interested in the hype. Oh, and NBA and hockey coverage? Yeah, I'm all over that... After a couple of cups of coffee and half hour of channel surfing, I decided I better get moving and run some errands. The first thing I did was wander down to the mailbox and find that a check I'd been expecting for about a month had finally arrived over the weekend, which was just about perfect timing since my paycheck was about $400 lighter than usual last Friday.

Armed with a few bucks and a shopping list, I headed out to fill up my gas tank, buy some stamps, deposit the check, and hit the grocery store. I accomplished everything, and short of going to the post office--which is located in the other direction from where I was heading--there seems to be a sudden stamp shortage here in Henderson. Every place I went that purported to sell postage stamps (three stops) were sold out. Hmmm.

But I made it to the grocery store, and besides getting a few essentials like coffee, milk, eggs, etc., I picked up the ingredients to finally make that crab rangoon I've been talking about for the past couple of weeks. Oh, except for the half & half, which I realized as soon as I got home--so I'll be going back in the morning. I also wanted to do the stuffed mushrooms, but the fungi selection was a little lacking--nothing but huge portobellos or just the small button mushrooms. Nothing in between. I'll look again in the morning. While out shopping, I rewarded myself by spending a few bucks on a hunk of good Danish Havarti cheese with herbs. That is some good stuff with crackers, fruit, and white wine...

Once I got home, I puttered around the house for a bit, and around noon or so I got a text message from Angy, telling me that she Doc Al'd the ice bucket in her hotel room. Most of you know what that means. Those that don't, well, never mind. Just take my advice and never use the ice bucket in your hotel room. Trust me on this...

I called her back, and we made plans to meet up an hour and a half later at Harrah's for a day of buffoonery. So I took a shower and got dressed, and then spent waaaay too much time trying to pay bills online, since stamps seem to be as rare as the animal McRibs come from. The problem with doing that is that all of the utility companies don't want one-time payments online--they want to control it and have access to your bank account every month. I don't like that. First of all, I don't want automatic payments coming out, just in case of emergencies--if I'm short on cash, I like to have the flexibility to send a check in a few days later. This is especially true now that I'm no longer a salary man. Back in the office days when my pay never varied from week to week, I set up everything on automatic payment just because I knew the money would always be there. Nowadays, my paycheck can take wild swings every month depending on the economy or like with last week, illness.

Anyhow, I gave up on the online bill-pay mess, and headed for the Strip. I was running a bit late, and as luck would have it, I got pulled over by a Metro cop right there at the corner of Spring Mountain and the Strip. To complicate things further, when I gave him my insurance card, it had expired a week ago. The new one is sitting on my desk, still unopened. But he ran my license, gave me a verbal warning, and said he was looking for bigger fish to fry anyways. It was the second quickest traffic stop I've ever had, having been pulled over here in Vegas three times since I've been living here.

A few minutes later, I was shuffling through the Evil Empire when Angy flagged me down from her slot machine. It was nice to see her again, and we spent a few minutes catching up while her credits were slowly disappearing. The first order of business was to hit Starbucks--she wanted another strawberry concoction that she'd just finished off, and I was in the mood for a caramel mochaccino. Since we were already halfway to the Imperial Palace by that time, we decided to finish the journey and go play over there.

Our first stop was sitting in the dealer-tainer pit playing Rapid Roulette while Dolly Parton spun the ball for us. We did ok--I actually made ten bucks, but not once did we see a cocktail waitress. We cashed out as soon as 'Gloria Estefan' took the stage--it was a bit loud and there weren't enough people around to make it fun, so we left.

We wandered a bit before settling on an empty 8-deck shoe game in the Champagne pit. Of course, as soon as we sat down, three other mopes decided to join us. I don't know why it bothers me so much, but I hate it whenever we sit down at an empty blackjack table and it immediately fills up. I guess it's because being a dealer, I see so many dumbass players who have no clue about basic strategy that I just assume everyone is going to play like a dipshiat and piss me off. But I was wrong--everyone played pretty well, and we spent an hour or so making a few bucks. However, we had the slowest dealer in captivity. It took him an entire hour to get through the shoe (just for comparison sake, I get through four six-deck shoes in an hour when I'm dealing blackjack, meaning that I deal roughly three times faster than this old codger did). Not only that, but the entire time, Angy and I only got one blackjack each. How do I know this? Because they give you a strand of Mardi Gras beads whenever you get a blackjack. Both of us had one strand of beads when we colored up (didn't want to sit there for the fifteen minutes it was going to take him to shuffle).

After blackjack, Angy told me that she wanted to hit the dice table. I was shocked because she *never* plays craps. In the three years that I've known her, and all those dozens of times we've gambled together, we played craps together a grand total of once--that was at the Orleans and she spent most of the time in the bathroom anyways. But she said she played some this weekend and really liked it, so she wanted to do it again.

We muscled our way into a $5 game, and bought in for a hundred each. The table was kind of a grind, slowly eating away at our bankroll for about a half an hour. When the dice finally made it back to our side of the table, the guy at the end had a decent roll going, but the dealers and boxman were just going out of their way to be dicks to him, telling him that he can't rub the dice on the felt before he throws them (90% of players do this) and also telling him that he couldn't hit the side wall of the table, that the dice had to hit the far end first. Everybody at the table was like What the ... ???

It's like they were trying to avoid getting tipped, because as soon as they started acting like that, all the dealer bets dried up.

By the time I got the dice, I was down to my last twenty bucks or so. I had to borrow four red chips from Angy just so I could place the inside points. Luckily, I had a decent roll and earned back about $40 before sevening out. Then Angy got the dice and went on a huge roll. Everybody was making money, and she kept hitting the numbers for me. I went from $40 to up over $130 before I looked over my shoulder and saw Dave, her husband, walk up. So just as she's throwing the dice again, he said Hey, I didn't know you played dice--you never play craps!

Bam. Seven out.

Of course, nobody at the table was happy about that, least of all Angy. Of course, being the smartass that I am, I said Everyone--this here is Dave--Say hello Dave! Everyone else just kind of grumbled, and Angy gave him The Look, so he retreated back towards Harrah's.

I figured that we probably weren't going to do much better, so we colored up. I was up $120 for the day, after the boxman finally figured out the right amount to pay me, and I believe Angy made about a hundred bucks, too.

After a potty stop and a wander around the casino, we just found a couple of seats at the bar to chill for about an hour, have a cocktail, smoke, and play some video poker. We didn't win any money, but we had a nice mellow visit, catching up on all the latest gossip and news. We decided that we were pretty hungry and wanted some dinner, so back to Harrah's we went, so Angy could check in with Dave. He was up at Toby Keith's, but the rest of his crew was busy getting drunk, so he wanted to ditch them and come eat with us. We decided to go back downstairs and have Chinese at Ming's Table.

We were seated immediately and started scoping out the menu. Of course, we had to get the Crab Rangoon (two orders!) and some spring rolls for appetizers. I also had a damn good raspberry iced tea filled with lots of real fruit. For the main courses, we each got some sort of seafood dish--I opted for the shrimp and scallop Kung Pao.

The appetizers were good, but way overpriced for what we got--four pieces for about $8 per order. And my Rangoons are much better, anyways. But the main courses were generous portions, each served with a big bowl of white rice. Mine was delicious, nice and spicy, with plenty of shrimp and scallops. As good as it was, I couldn't finish it.

Dave insisted on picking up the tab, saying he owed me for all the times I've taken Angy to and from the airport in the past three years, so even though I was flush with house money, I wasn't allowed to spend any on dinner. So I have no idea what the tab was, but the entrees were about $16 bucks apiece. Not too bad, and the food was good.

That's about the only good thing I have to say about Harrah's--because after dinner, we sat down at a $10 six-deck shoe to play some blackjack, and after about ten or fifteen minutes, we realized that it was a 6:5 game. On a six deck shoe! And there was no signage anywhere on the table indicating that we were sitting at a ripoff game. I guess that's just the normal way of doing business there, like the tourists should be expected to get ripped off. As soon as I realized it, I told Angy and we all colored up. Of course, she had won every hand since we sat down, so she was up almost a hundred bucks, I think. I was actually up $25, but I didn't want to stick around and pay the freight on a game like that, so we left.

We made our way back to the Imperial Palace to try our hand at craps again, and eventually we squeezed into a table. I got crushed there, but Angy had another decent roll to bring me back to even.

It was getting late, and I could tell that both her and Dave were getting pretty tired. So we said goodnight and made plans to get together around noon so that we could maybe get a bite to eat before I took her back to the airport.

Since I had lost all of my winnings at the dice table, I decided to give Pai Gow a try before calling it a night. I took a seat at a $10 game, dealt by another awful dealer, but at least I was winning. Another downer was the guy sitting next to me. Just having a conversation with him, it turns out that he was a dealer at the Wynn, and since Vegas is such a small town, we found out that we had a lot of mutual friends and acquaintances. He seemed like a nice enough guy at first, but when he found out that I was a dealer, he spent the rest of the night proselytizing me about how I should join the union.

Whatever, dude. Just because your boss is a dick, it doesn't mean that mine is... He finally shut up about it when he got the message that he wasn't going to convert me.

Anyhow, I benefited from the bad dealer and the bad floorperson--twice I had hands that should've lost but the dealer pushed it. The first time I didn't even realize it--I was busy talking to the cocktail waitress after seeing the dealer turn up her hand and finding out that my hand was a loser. But then when I turned back around to the table, my bet was still up and the dealer was passing out the cards for the next hand.

Alrighty then!

About twenty minutes later, I had a ten-high flush with a six-four on top, and the dealer turned over an Ace-high flush with a pair of deuces on top. I even said You gotta be shittin' me, Pyle! when I saw it, complaining out loud that my flush was beaten.

But when she tapped the table for a push, and the floor person even said "Hey, that's a push!" at the same time, I didn't argue.

That saved me $25, but my main beef with the dealers there at the I.P. is the same one I have with a bunch of the dumbass dealers on my crew--If a player is tipping you almost every hand with singles, you gotta make sure that the player never runs out of $1 chips! Instead of taking the commission out of my payout, these stupid dealers would keep asking me for a buck. I finally asked them how they ever expected to earn a tip if they kept taking my tip money from me. They didn't have an answer for that.

Seriously, I can't believe how dumb some dealers are. It's the same at dice or blackjack. If the guy is playing green action, but tipping you with $5 red chips, you make sure that the player always has a supply of red chips. There's no excuse for the guy to run out!

With the surly attitudes of the dice crew, the slow, plodding blackjack dealer who took two minutes every time somebody wanted change, and the incompetence on the Pai Gow tables, I'm surprised that the dealers at the Imperial Palace make $50 a day in tokes--they were just awful.

Finally, around 11:00 pm or so, I'd made back all of my previous winnings, and I was up $130 for the day, so I colored up for the last time. I was home in bed checking my email around midnight when I heard Falcon Rob come stumbling in. I hadn't really talked to him for a couple of days, so I got up and went back out to the living room where we did some catching up--he'd spent his evening out at the El Dorado, drinking free beer and playing $5 Pai Gow with some of his buddies.

Since we'd both worked pretty much every day for the previous week, we had about seven or eight episodes of Jeopardy sitting on the DVR, waiting for us. So, as tired as I was, we stayed up until almost 4:00 am having a Jeopardy marathon.

I finally hit the bed, hard, not waking up till almost noon. I still had errands to do, but was feeling lazy. And I called Angy, and it turned out that her flight was much earlier than she remembered, so I didn't have to take her to the airport, Dave was available. That was cool--as much as I would've liked to see her again, I didn't really want to drive back down to the Strip. And she'll be here for a whole week again in March, anyways.

I just hung out here at the house, made a tray of pizza rolls for lunch, and watched a bit of TV. But I just couldn't keep my eyes open, so I went back to bed and took a nap. Once I got up, I got dressed and headed out. I forgot about getting stamps, but I went to Target instead. I needed a bunch of household stuff, so I spent $121 of my $130 in casino winnings on stuff like razor blades, trash bags, dishwasher soap, toothpaste, and dryer sheets. Oh, and I also got me a new cocktail shaker--this one with a lid that you can actually remove! I also went on a hunt for a 14" deep-dish pizza pan, but it proved to be as elusive as postage stamps. I guess I'll just hit Amazon after I post this and have one shipped.

So that's pretty much it for my weekend. Tomorrow is going to consist of a thorough bathroom and bedroom cleaning, laundry, writing, and banging around in the kitchen. Then it's back to the casino for more Pai Gow. But this time I'll be on the other side of the table, not sipping on a Captain and Coke with a goofy blond sitting next to me, making me laugh.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nowhere Near a Keyboard

Hey gang-- sorry for the lack of updates since Monday, but yesterday I was gone all day, not getting home until midnight, then I was up till four am.

It's noon here, and I just got up. I've got a couple of things to do still today, but I have a couple of decent posts to put up as soon as I can find the time--maybe later tonight, or early tomorrow. I know, the pickin's are kinda slim right now, but the dam is about to burst and very soon you'll have so much reading material that if you printed it out, you won't come out of the bathroom all day long.

Hope it's all worth the wait.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Oh, That's Right...

Now I remember why the rest of the world hates Mondays. First of all, it's only 9:30 in the morning, when I *should* be sleeping, but of course there are a few maintenance guys outside my building with their leaf blowers doing a wonderful job of pushing the leaves around. And there is some other jackass sitting out in the parking lot a few buildings down honking his horn over and over again trying to get somebody to come outside. No, it's not the programmed honking of a car alarm, it's a one-note symphony of frustration that he keeps repeating. Nice.

And since I can't sleep, I thought I'd get up, make a pot of coffee (check), take the laptop out to the living room (check), and do some writing/surfing/blogging while watching SportsCenter from last night. Well, I found out that I can *watch* tv, I just can't hear it. Something is amiss in our surround sound system, and there is no signal reaching the speaker output. Oh, the speakers are fine--the test tone is working, and it plays dvds and cds just dandy. But TV audio seems to be out of the question. That is extremely frustrating, and before I go and push too many buttons, I'll have to have Falcon Rob take a look at it--it's his system, after all. But he's still asleep, although I'm sure he'll be getting up soon as he has to got to work in an hour or so.

Otherwise, no TV today. I can't even watch anything that I've recorded on the DVR--no sound there, either. That pisses me off.

I can still watch the regular non-HD tv, but there is no digital cable involved, so the channel selection is limited, along with the fact that I can't watch all the stuff on my DVR list. Just last night I recorded March of the Penguins, having never seen it before, and was hoping to catch it this afternoon. Not gonna happen unless Rob works his mojo on the system before he leaves for the casino.

I guess, on the plus side, if there is no sound available, I won't watch a bit of TV today and will get all kinds of stuff done. I have a huge pile of clean laundry sitting at the foot of my bed that needs to be folded/hung/put away, my desk could use a little bit of cleaning and organizing, and I need to work on a spreadsheet to track my tokes this year.

For the past two years, I've written down my tokes in a pocket calendar that I've carried around with me, but that is a hassle--it seems to fall out of my pocket every night at some point, either in the pit, in the dining room, or even worse--in the can. And I could only look at one week at a time--not the easiest for comparison or tracking purposes. So I made a point *not* to buy another pocket calendar this year, and I've been writing down my tokes on post-it notes and carrying them around in my wallet for two weeks. Today I'm going to finally get the spreadsheet done so I can see exactly what I'm making every week versus what I give up by taking an hour early out here and there.

The casino biz has slowed waaaay down in the past year. None of the dealers in Vegas, no matter where they work, made as much in 2007 as they did in 2006. My earnings were down about $3500 for the year, and I'm *sure* that at least a thousand of that was due to taking off an hour or two early every other Monday. If I'm tracking it every day, and seeing on a weekly basis what I'm leaving on the table, it'll be much easier to say no when the bosses come around late at night asking me if I want to go home.

Last night, for example, was so frickin' slow in the casino, it was like working in a library in a town full of illiterates. I only had one player after midnight, and my last hour and a half I sat on a completely dead table, staring off into space. What made it even worse is that my game faced away from the bar and the rest of the pit, so I didn't have a TV or any people to watch. And since the games on either side of me were already closed, I was out in No Man's Land. And because there were no players nearby, even the cocktail waitresses wouldn't walk over. It was like being in solitary confinement, except that instead of bare gray walls to stare at, I had flashing neon lights from the empty slot machines.

And the boss in charge of the roadmap wouldn't close any of the games on my string, either, so I sat there for an hour straight, alone with my thoughts. The only actual work I did during those last two hours was help close a reserved dice table. But then again, it only took me about three minutes to count down $279,000 worth of gaming chips, get it verified, and then screw down and lock the lid. After that, there was nothing left to do, so I hung out by the time clock for ten minutes or so waiting until my last hour was "official" before heading out the door.

Have I mentioned that it's still freezing-ass cold here in Vegas? Well, when I got off the elevator on the top floor of the parking garage, I turned the corner and got hit full-on with a 25-mph blast of icy cold air. "Blustery" was the only word I can use to describe it. And while I know we've got nothing on those hearty souls in Green Bay and Chicago, it is pure misery for us thin-blooded desert-dwellers. Seriously, this below-freezing nonsense has just got to stop at some point. Global warming, my frigid white ass... And the wind was so bad that it was blowing my truck all over the road on the way home.

But I made it back to the apartment without incident, and hustled inside as quickly as I could. After a hot shower, I went straight to bed, curled up under a comforter and my sleeping bag.

Apparently, sitting around and doing nothing all night just drained me.



The digital demons have been exorcised from the surround sound system. A 20-minute call to Cox Tech Support, where I ended up unplugging the HD box and rebooting it twice seems to have been all we needed to do. Yay, sound!

Is It Monday Already?

I swear, I'm one of the few people on the planet who actually looks forward to Mondays. But since it means that I have the next two days off, I don't feel too weird about it.

This past weekend has felt extremely busy, however, so I'm looking forward to the break. Friday was a huge clusterf*ck. Never made it to the Peppermill for breakfast. I was out doing all of my errands, after getting just a couple hours of sleep, and the plan was to meet up for breakfast around 9:30 or so. But, with Angy, it's always like the circus coming to town, and I didn't hear from her till after eleven, and by that time I was done with everything and back home in Henderson, so I gave up and took a pass. Still fighting off the remnants of the bug that laid me out last week, I opted to stay home and get some sleep.

Off course, we were busier than hell at work all weekend, which wore me out, too. I literally slept all day on Saturday, not waking up until 4:30 in the afternoon, giving me about an hour to enjoy the day before heading back in. But it was just what I needed. I've felt great ever since then.

I was a bit bummed out this weekend, missing out on all the buffoonery back in Tennessee. It was Reverend Dave's 38th birthday, and there was a helluva party going on in Nashville that sounded like a lot of laughs. I got a couple of phone calls in the middle of the action that had me wishing I was there. Oh well, somebody had to deal all those Pai Gow games...

On the plus side, I totally forgot to hit the sports book on Saturday night to make my bets on Sunday's action, which is a good thing, since I was going to take both favorites. Heh. Talk about dodging a bullet! I guess the Super Bowl is going to be the winter version of the Sox smacking down the Yankees, and since Green Bay totally screwed the pooch, I'm gonna root for the Patriots to go 19-0 and hopefully we'll never hear from those douchebags from Miami ever again.

Seriously, right now, is there a bigger dumbass on the planet than Mercury Morris?

Anyhow. I wish I had more to write about, but there just ain't much going on around here lately. Life is dull, and is probably gonna remain so for the next couple of weeks.



Friday, January 18, 2008

Waiting for the Spin Cycle

Good morning everyone--Happy Friday! I'm up late after a long night at the casino. I've got a long day ahead of me, and have to be up early, but the laundry monster was climbing the wall and demanding my attention.

First of all--it was a tough night at work. When I got back in after my four-day hiatus, I saw that I was scheduled to deal three Pai Gow games. Score!

But wait, just like a deal with the devil, there is bad that goes along with the good. First of all, one of the games was the $5 table, which *everyone* hates, and of course, one of our most annoying fleas was sitting there at seat seven. At least the rotation was set so that I didn't have to go to that table until my second hour. But even worse--on my first table was one player. The *one* flea I cannot stand. I mentioned him earlier--he's the one who takes shots at the game every time, never tips, and is there almost every night that every dealer hates. Yep, that was how my workweek started. Ugh.

But the gambling gods were on my side, and I just absolutely crushed him again. I gotta admit--I generally root for about 90% of the players who sit down at my table, but obliterating this guy's bankroll is always a special kind of satisfaction--on par with taking a nice comfortable dump after a three-day camping trip.

And for whatever reason, once I got back to the casino, my cough tried to make an encore appearance, but I'd brought along my Zicam pocket spray to kill it. It was tough--I wasn't feeling well, but I endured. Turns out that about ten other dealers were out sick this past weekend, too. And this past Monday that I missed? Tokes were only about $80 that night--so it was much better that I called in.

Once tables started closing down, I had to do a couple of rounds of blackjack. Unfortunately, it was on a couple of $5 games, and of course they were all populated by total douchebags. That's when I went into my 'dummy up and deal' mode and started dealing at 110% of my regular full speed and found that extra gear, hoping that the house edge would get to them a little quicker. One asshat insisted on taking down his bet and his winnings on every hand, trying to slow the game down, waiting a minute and then putting his bet back up again (most people just leave their original bet up and either keep it the same or add to it for the next hand). So if there wasn't a bet in the circle by the time I was ready to start the next hand, I'd just skip him, which I could tell just irritated the hell out of him. I told him to just take the winnings down if he wasn't varying his bet amount, but he wouldn't listen, so I just blew by him. Heh.

Sometimes it's more fun to piss 'em off than to take their money.

As bad as those tables were, I actually had one very enjoyable hour. Late in the evening, I started my second go-round on the $5 Pai Gow game to an empty table. That's always nice! But a few minutes later, a kind of attractive gal came walking by, shocked that there was such a thing as five-dollar pai gow. She even asked if we could get a game going if she was the only player. Of course I told her we could.

She bought in for a hundred and we were having a pleasant conversation and a few laughs. She started winning a few hands, and then asked me how she could bet for me. I told her to just put my bet right in front of her bet. She commented on how the casino should mark an area for a dealers bet to make it easier, but I just gave her my standard line-- Well, since it's one of the best bets you can possibly make, just like taking odds at the dice table, the casino never marks it on the table! (But if there's a sucker bet available, you can be sure it's marked in bright red ink on the felt). She laughed, and instead of just putting me up for a buck, she matched her bet--whatever she was betting, that's what I was betting. Luckily she did well and not only did I have a wonderful hour of conversation with an attractive gal, I dropped a whole bunch of money in the toke box, too.

When I got tapped out to go on break, she colored up and moved on. I didn't see her again for a bit--she'd gone to grab a bite to eat, but stopped by my next table later on to say goodnight and make sure I was working again tomorrow night. Makes me wish I would've gone ahead and had a bunch of Hurricane Mikey business cards printed back when I had all those t-shirts made! Oh well--it was just one of those encounters that makes going to work in a casino a pleasure.

Eventually, the night wound down and without even asking for it, I got the half-hour early push. That was a nice way to end the evening. I'm still not at 100% strength, so getting off of the blackjack table early was a sweet bonus.

Now I'm home, and although my body is tired, I'm not quite sleepy yet. So I'm puttering around a bit, paying a few bills, planning my day, listening to music. While I was sick, I pretty much kept the computer on the nightstand and used it while lying in bed. But this morning, I put it back on my desk where it belongs, hard-wired it back into the network, and plugged my surround-sound speakers and subwoofer back in. And the first thing I did was listen to that 'Candyman' song the way it was supposed to be heard. Damn, what a great song! That's one of those songs that I listen to and just shake my head and marvel at the unbelievable talent that went into creating something so enjoyable. It's like looking up at the stars on a clear night and feeling insignificant--I listen to that music and realize that as much as I'd like to be a musician, I'll never be more than a hack with a guitar. Some people just have it, and they provide entertainment to those of us who don't.

I've also done a bit of websurfing this morning. Falcon Rob posted about his killer minestrone. And I'm not lying when I say it's the best I've ever had, either. But he takes a shot at me for calling it Super Colon Blow. And he's right--I don't eat nearly as much zucchini or cabbage as he does. But I eat much more p*ssy than him, so I guess the edge goes to Mikey... Heh.

And somebody out there is just killin' me with her nacho bloggin' and deep dish pizza bloggin' as of late. You think my posts get you hungry, hers are just as bad. And she actually cooks the stuff she talks about, instead of just wishing she had a proper pan. Well, I will admit, I made nachos for a late-night snack on Wednesday night. But I usually make mine meatless. Not that I'm going all hippie on you guys, but meatless nachos are the lazy man's way--chips, salsa, cheese, oven. Simple!

Oh well, enough about all that. I've got to get up in less than four hours, so I should wrap this up. But just to tease you guys, I'll let you know that I'm having breakfast at the Peppermill with two of my favorite ladies.

Chicken fried steak and two sets of boobies--It just don't get much better than that!


Thursday, January 17, 2008


I just couldn't take it any more--five days was too much! Since I was ill earlier in the week, and these past two days have been my normal days off, I haven't left the house since Sunday. Hell, I didn't even go outside until yesterday, just to see how cold it was (yeah, it was cold). Well, you know what happens when I've got that much time on my hands with no place to go--personal hygiene goes out the window.

Not that I've been lying around in my own filth--I've taken two or three long hot steam-inducing showers every day. But since I haven't had to make any public appearances, my razor has remained unused since last Saturday. Yep, I was beginning to look a lot like the missing link. It really started to irritate me yesterday afternoon, but of course I did nothing about it. And last night when I got in the shower, I considered shaving, but my inherent laziness won that battle. But this morning, around 6:30 or so, I woke up and it was bothering me, so I finally did something about it.

Now my head is as smooth as a supermodel's butt, I tell ya. And it also cuts about ten minutes off of my getting-ready-for-work time later this evening, now that I don't have to shave again until tomorrow.

Yes, it's back to the casino tonight for Mikey--I'm actually looking forward to it. Hanging around the house for almost a week straight watching HGTV is starting to get on my nerves. Seriously, why does every host on every program have to act like such an asshat? There's a fine line between enthusiasm and stupidity, and most of them don't seem to recognize it.

Now that I'm up, it's time to shuffle off to the kitchen and make some breakfast--coffee is out of the question, unless I want to drink it black (yuck!). But I've got plenty of orange juice and milk. And a box of blueberry muffin mix, too. Wait a second... I just remembered--although I don't have any coffee creamer on hand, I *do* have a bottle of Kahlua, and a can of whipped cream somewhere in the back of the fridge... Hmmm...

It's gonna be a good day, Tater!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day Off

Sorry gang, for taking Tuesday off from writing, but I've been totally lazy the past three days. Of course my system is working overtime to kill this bug, so I haven't had a lot of strength, and loading the dishwasher and doing two loads of laundry was about all the motivation I had in me for the past 72 hours.

On the plus side, I went another day without taking any medicine, and 90% of my symptoms have abated, so I'm feeling *much* better. Oh, I'm still a bit sick--I can hear that crap in my lungs when I breathe, but it's breaking up. I'm not coughing at all anymore, don't have a sore throat, and my sinuses have been clear for about a day and a half. The sinus pressure has moved from the 'south side' below my eyes, up north so that I have a slight sinus headache localized behind my eyebrows. It only hurts when I wrinkle my forehead. So I'm definitely on the mend and luckily won't be missing any more work.

Still, I'm not feeling well enough to go our running around or do any grocery shopping, so I didn't do any creative cookery yesterday. I still have half of my cornbread left, and Rob is teasing me with making another batch of super colon blow minestrone, but the cornbread will be long gone before that batch of soup gets made. And now I'm out of cornmeal mix, too. Yesterday, I made some blueberry pancakes and link sausage, along with a pot of coffee. That pretty much held me over all day--dinner consisted of the last bit of that smoky mystery Hickory Farms cheese and a handful of crackers.

But I need to go grocery shopping--I'm running out of all kinds of stuff. I just used the last bit of my flavored coffee creamer yesterday, I have no strawberry preserves, I'm down to my last can of coffee, and while I know it's almost blasphemous to admit, there is not a drop of Captain Morgan to be found anywhere on the premises!

I also still want to do my crab-fest once I feel better--crab rangoon and maybe some stuffed mushrooms too. (And yes, I will post the recipe as soon as I do it). I'm also going to have to bite the bullet and go back to Smith's or Albertson's -- Wallyworld does not sell pre-made dough, and I'm still going to take a shot at deep dish pizza, if only to prove to Rob that Italian sausage and black olive is a viable topping combination. He seems to think it would suck. Seriously--how can you go wrong with a sweet/salty combination like that? It would be as irresistible to the palate as honey-roasted cashews and more fun than dipping french fries in your Frosty. I also want to try some sort of pizza with caramelized onions, perhaps with prosciutto. I think that would *totally* kick ass.

I suppose I could hit Trader Joe's, I've heard they've got decent pre-made dough. Maybe I can get my hands on some good San Marzano tomatoes while I'm there, too.

It might be a couple of weeks before that happens, if only because I'd also have to go out and buy *two* deep dish pizza pans, making the unit cost per pie rather expensive this first go 'round. But after that, assembly line city, baby! If they turn out as good as I think they will, I may have to put deep-dish pizza in the regular rotation, returning grilled ham and cheese to 'lunch only' status.

Damn, I'm getting hungry just typing this. Maybe I should've had something besides cheese and crackers for dinner.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Late Night Munchies

Ten Foods I Love, in no particular order after number one:

1) Pizza -- Come on, this was obvious.
2) Chicken Fried Steak -- and not just at the Peppermill, either.
3) Scallops -- Food of the Gods! Especially that Neptune guy.
4) Asian Chicken Salad -- Never had a bad one yet.
5) Bacon -- It makes pretty much everything taste better.
6) Anything with Green Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms -- Or as I call it, the Vegetable Love Triangle.
7) Pineapples and Cottage Cheese -- Better than French Fries!
8) Carne Asada burritos -- I feel sorry for people that don't have access to them 24/7.
9) Chicken Pad Thai -- Spicy and filling. I start craving it about once a month.
10)Grilled Ribeye steaks -- The best part of the cow.

Ten Things I Refuse to Eat:

1) Salmon -- Makes me gag.
2) Beets -- Tastes like dirt, stains my shirt.
3) Broccoli -- Never acquired the taste. Unless it's in stir fry, then the stalks are ok.
4) Tofu -- Why eat that shiat when there is perfectly good meat available?
5) Liver -- Pretty much the only meat I can't stand.
6) Crunchy Peanut Butter -- I love the smooth, always have. I guess I'd eat it under protest, though.
7) Spam -- Why eat that shiat when there is perfectly good meat available?
8) Meringue -- Egg whites and sugar? Ugh.
9) Oysters -- Tried, and failed, many times.
10)Decaf -- Why bother?

Ten Things I Was Late to the Party With:

1) Ranch Dressing -- I was afraid of buttermilk till I was about 18 years old.
2) Sushi -- Never heard of it until high school, never tried it until college.
3) Thai Food -- It wasn't trendy or available when I was younger.
4) Wasabi Peas -- First time I had them was at the Venetian a couple years ago.
5) Caviar -- It's tough when your brain says "Blackberry Preserves" and your mouth says "Salty Fish Eggs". I'm still not convinced I really like this, yet.
6) Shiraz -- Having never had anything but that god-awful Yellowtail, I never knew that there was good Shiraz available from South Africa.
7) Fresh Basil -- I never knew how good fresh herbs were until I had it on a slice of pizza about six years ago. Life changing experience!
8) A real Martini -- Everyone is afraid of gin, so most people use vodka instead. I didn't know any better, either. But I'm here to tell you that a Bombay Sapphire martini, with a spritz of dry vermouth, garnished with three olives, is a damn fine cocktail.
9) Club crackers -- I'll never buy saltines again.
10) Dark Chocolate -- I never knew that smores could be so good!

Ten Things You'll *Always* Find In My Pantry:

1) Flour Tortillas
2) Honey
3) Peanut Butter
4) Refried Beans
5) Grits
6) Garlic Salt
7) Sun Dried Tomatoes
8) Wheat Bread
9) Jars of red sauce

Pre-Packaged Foods I Wish They'd Invent:

1) Chex mix with no pretzels


Monday, January 14, 2008

On The Mend

Hey gang... feeling much better this evening. Still a ways to go, but compared to yesterday, I feel like a million bucks. My head is still a little stuffy, and my ears pop every now and again, but the coughing fits have subsided for the most part, and sneezing doesn't make me feel like my head is going to explode. And here it is almost 6:30 pm, and I've gone the entire day without taking one bit of medicine. I think I may have 'overmedicated' myself between Saturday and Sunday.

I got lots of rest last night, and around 3:30 in the morning I got up and wandered down to the hot tub. Instead of a nice tropical rum-based concoction, I had a glass of Alka-Seltzer Plus cold medicine, fruit-flavored, of course, so I could at least pretend I was having a good time. But the jacuzzi was just what I needed--I came back home and slept like a rock.

I'm still pretty weak, and don't have a voice, so I called in sick again tonight--I may feel a little better, but just walking around the house takes all of my reserve strength as my system is taking the battle to this bug and is finally beating it back. There is no way I could've stood at a dice table for eight hours tonight. And the financial implications aren't nearly as bad as yesterday's time off--we start a new pay period today, and Mondays are usually pretty light days anyways, so I won't really notice it. But it's gonna be a tight few weeks here. That's ok though, because right now, I really don't feel like doing a damn thing but lying in bed and drinking orange juice. That doesn't cost much.

Now, I don't have a fever or feel nauseous, so this afternoon I was starving, having been living on fluids and cashews for the most part all weekend. So I made a batch of iron-skillet cornbread, complete with a can of diced green chiles for a little more flavor. It turned out great, and I ate two 'pie pieces' worth, smeared with a little melted butter. Believe it or not, I'd never made it before, but it was amazingly simple. My only complaint would be that the chiles were almost too mild--I used the smoky Anaheim variety instead of JalapeƱos, which would've been more helpful as far as my sinuses go.

Still, it was damn good. I didn't think about it, but I probably should've made some chili at the same time. I dunno, what else goes good with cornbread? I can't think of anything except for maybe catfish, and I sure as hell ain't makin' that.

But I'm not hungry now, so I guess it's a moot point.

I'm gonna spend the rest of my evening resting, reading a book, and maybe writing a story or two if I can find the inspiration. And strength. Right now, it's kinda tough to keep my eyes open, and I haven't really done much all day. At least I have the next two days off, legitimately, so by the time Thursday rolls around, I should be good to go, playing at full strength.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Late Sunday Night Update

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes and remedy advice. Unfortunately, I still feel like complete shiat, even worse than I did yesterday. And since I've already spent a small fortune at the drugstore, I'm not buying any more medicine. I already have the most expensive urine in the world, this side of Roger Clemens.

The problem is, once I got home this morning and made that previous post, my condition deteriorated quite a bit. I couldn't lie down without my head getting completely stuffed up, causing me to be a mouth breather. Plus the cough got worse. The only thing that made me feel better was a long steam shower and sitting upright so my sinuses could drain. So I spent the day in the living room watching tv, along with taking three showers (about to do it again, too).

By 9:00 am, I bit the bullet and realized that there was no way I'd ever be able to make it at work tonight, so I called in sick. It's gonna cost me a tidy sum in lost income, but it's my own fault for taking that long E.O. last Monday with Lars. Oh well, lesson learned. But the time off tonight will do me good. I feel like crap. And before I forget, I gotta give a hat tip to Reverend Dave--Those cinnamon Altoids work great, if only temporarily. I was munchin' on them all day while watching football, and they seemed to help.

So, I'm home tonight. I can't believe I'm still awake--I haven't really slept since I got up around 11 am on Saturday morning. I'm sure I'll crash soon, though. I think I may have take a little too much medicine, as I can tell I'm beyond the point of diminishing returns. The cough has been suppressed for a few hours, but my head is picking up the slack as far as making life difficult is concerned.

The only bright spot about feeling so shiatty is that this is as bad as it ever gets. I'm sure I'll feel much better tomorrow.


Don't Taze Me, Bro!

My hump day is finally over--and it was all I could do to make it. Yes, I'm still feeling miserable, necessitating another trip to the drugstore after work. I'm sure that a couple of days of rest combined with a liberal dose of the hot tub would work wonders on my system. But there is no rest for the weary, as not only do I have to work the next two nights, I'm scheduled to deal dice both times. Ugh. Not that I don't like dealing dice--it's a nice change of pace, and it beats the hell out of dealing blackjack. But I *know* it's gonna damn near kill me to spend eight hours at the craps table tonight, especially if I'm not feeling any better.

It's a tough way to spend eight hours when you're sick. I'm not looking forward to it at all.

Last night wasn't too bad, though. I was on my favorite string of games again, made a bunch of money for myself and my co-workers, and actually had a few laughs. There was on guy at the Deuces Wild table that everyone seemed to think looked just like Alec Baldwin, and I thought there was a mild resemblance. The table was full, and everyone was cracking jokes and tossing out movie lines and song lyrics the whole time, making the hour fly by.

Anyhow, 'Alec' had been there for about four hours, and it was getting late in the evening, almost towards the end of my shift. He'd switched from drinking Newcastle to just sipping on black coffee. Anyhow, he was at 'first base' on the table, meaning he was first to act. So after I dealt all the cards out, he didn't pick his up right away, and instead took a sip of coffee, forcing the other players to wait for him. No big deal, it was a fun group, but I tossed out the most appropriate movie line I could come up with, going Glengarry Glen Ross on him--

PUT that coffee down! Coffee is for closers!

That caused instant pandemonium at the table--he damn near spit out his drink, and everybody else just cracked up. I guess you had to be there, but it was funny as hell. And I was buried under a cloudburst of tokes as well, as everyone giggled throughout the rest of the hand, repeating the line several times.

There was also some great entertainment early on in the evening. I was the 'relief' dealer on my string, meaning I took the first twenty minute break after assuring that the other three dealers had shown up and were at the proper tables. So I was walking from the pit back to the break room, when I saw some dude come running through the main pit with a couple of cops and security guards chasing him. He made it to the first bank of video poker machines just past the Baccarat tables when a security guard cut him off and tackled him right there on the marble floor, about five feet past where the carpet ended.

That had to hurt.

Well, he was struggling and putting up a fight, and the cops told him to stay down. But he kept fighting and as soon as he regained his feet, out came the stun gun.


Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!

Heh. A small crowd had started to gather at this point, and all activity at the nearest tables had ceased. But they got the cuffs on him and the zip-ties around his ankles, and proceeded to drag him out. I'm guessing they also tested to see if they could open the front door with his head shortly after that.

I wondered what he had done, because whenever there is a chase scene in the casino, 1) The cops aren't there until after it's over, and 2) the perp is always running away from the cage--this one seemed to be running towards it. I found out later that the dude had stolen a car, the cops were chasing him, and so he pulled into the parking lot, hoping to lose them in the crowded casino. But they had radioed our security guys as soon as he drove on property, so they were kinda ready for him.

Since it happened right at the beginning of my shift, I just knew I was in for an interesting evening.

Another great thing happened on one of my Pai Gow tables later on--I kicked the ever-livin' shiat out of one of our super-fleas that I just can't f*cking stand. In fact, every dealer in the joint hates this guy and loves to bust him. When I walked up to the table, I saw his stupid ass sitting there and I immediately lost whatever spring was in my step at the time. Geez I hate that guy. I don't know how I dodged him last night, because the dude never takes a day off. Anyhow, I had the sublime pleasure of busting his ass on every hand. It was a thing of beauty--he didn't win or push a single time. But the best part is this--he's one of those players who takes a shot at the game every time he plays, and I'm always looking to catch him doing something that'll get him 86'd.

He usually plays the Fortune Bonus for $5 per hand, but his main bet for just $10. So whenever he wins a hand, I pay him $9.50. He always pockets the change, but after he wins, on the following hand, instead of betting $5 on the Fortune Bonus, he only bets the four white dollar chips I just paid him.

However, most dealers are lazy and leave the 'Envy Bonus' lammer out on the table in front of him, and since he always sits in seat two, he's hoping that somebody in seat six or seven gets an Envy Bonus and the dealer forgets that he didn't qualify for it. But I watch his ass like a hawk, because I'm onto him.

So he pulled that shiat again tonight, and I yoinked the envy bonus lammer away from him as soon as I saw that he'd only put up four bucks instead of five. And as luck would have it, he had a crummy hand, while I had two pair, so I beat him, of course. And one of our better players on seat seven just happened to get a Straight Flush for a $250 payout. Well, whenever that happens, whoever was playing the Envy Bonus during the hand gets $20.

Everyone else at the table was eligible except for him, so when I made the payouts, I acted like I was going to give him twenty bucks worth of chips, but then I stopped short, saying "Oh, I'm so sorry Robert, you only bet four bucks that time--I guess you don't get an envy bonus..."

Heh. That made my night.

The next hand was his last, as he went all-in. I ended up having three pairs, Kings on top with sixes and threes on the bottom. He had Queens on top and Aces on the bottom, and I could barely contain my laughter when I took the last of his money and saw him shuffle off towards the exit.

Unfortunately, that three pair cleared everyone else off the table too--my cards were falling just a little too hot and chased away my good players, too. I hate when that happens.

But other than that, I was busy for the rest of the night. So busy in fact, I couldn't get the half-hour early push that I was hoping for. I had to stay till the bitter end, finally punching out around 3:00 am, and headed for the store once again to buy some more powerful medicine. I also picked up some sausage links (I've got a bunch of blueberry pancake mix in the cupboard, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day!) and a can of cashews to munch on during the game this afternoon. I also grabbed another 12-pack of that new Vanilla Coke Zero. I'm not sure yet if I like that better than Diet Coke with Lime, but it's pretty damn good. I think if they ever came out with Coke Zero with Lime, then I'd be set.

But now the drugs are kicking in, I've gone almost five minutes without coughing, and my nose is starting to get unstuffed for the first time in the past ten hours without the aid of wasabi paste. I guess it's probably a good time to try and get some sleep.

Y'all have a great day!