Friday, November 28, 2008

Fingers Crossed

Hey gang, sorry for the lack of updates since my bigoted tirade about my new shoes, but I've just been busier than hell for a few days.

Thanksgiving, this year, completely sucked for me. But I hope everyone else had a great turkey day, surrounded by loved ones and lots of good food. I worked all night on Wednesday--I was very busy in the poker room--not getting home until around 7:00 am. I tried to down a McMuffin and some OJ on the way home, but I really wasn't feeling well, and tossed it out before finishing half of it. I took a shower and then crashed, hard, for the rest of the day. I was out for over 12 hours straight and completely missed the Macy's parade and all of the football games, too.

My family was all scattered to the four winds this year, so there was no big gathering back in Nashville and no phone call where I got to talk to everyone and have them pass the phone around. Hell, I didn't even have a turkey dinner or a single slice of pumpkin pie.

Worst. Thanksgiving. Evar.

And, worked called me in early again, so basically I did a split shift yesterday, so it was work-sleep-work for me. Once I got to the casino, the poker room was hopping. So the money was good, but man, I got worked like a rented mule once again--I was locked down for hours at a time. Of course, when I finally *did* get a break, it was very disappointing.

Remember that scene in A Bronx Tale, about the car door?

Well, I ran into Kimmy just as I went on my break, and while I'll spare the details here, she completely and utterly failed our own version of the 'door test'.

failure--Self-centered-ness taken to a new, unprecedented, level.

Even though I've been pretty much over it as far as she's concerned, I've still always had a soft spot for her. Now, all I can do is shake my head and move on. I now realize that she's very much like a beautiful piece of art that just doesn't go with anything in my house. And as much as I'd like to have it, it would completely clash, no matter where I hung it. I think I'd be better off just finding a rug that would really tie the room together...

After that encounter, I wandered back to the break room to get a bite to eat, since by then it had been almost 24 hours since I'd put anything in my pie-hole. What did they have back there on the buffet line? Why, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, of course.

So I grabbed a plate, and decided to have my own Thanksgiving dinner, by myself, a few hours after the holiday officially ended. I sat down to eat in the empty dining room, and while it seemed like it tasted good, it really wasn't. About halfway through, I waved the white flag. I got up to take my dishes back to the dishroom, and I got about halfway there before puking the whole mess up in a garbage can.


I don't know where that came from, but I grabbed a glass of water and made it back to the poker room just in time for the next push. I sat down in the no-limit game for about ten minutes, and I could feel myself getting sick again. So I called the floorman over and said I need you to sit down and deal this game right now! And then I got up and ran to the nearest restroom, where I proceeded to redecorate the bathroom stall for several minutes.

Once that happened, I felt much better. Apparently, the turkey and dressing in the employee dining room just didn't agree with me. I cleaned myself up, and then ran over to Fatburger to get a Coke, and that seemed to settle my system down. A few minutes later I sat back down in the no-limit game like nothing had happened. And I was fine after that.

From then on, I was locked down until the games broke, which was fine with me. I had a good night, toke-wise, and offered a huge sigh of relief once my night ended. Last week was a terrible week for me, and I was panicking, wondering how I'd come up with the rent and first-of-the-month bills. I felt like a complete dumbass for spending a few hundred bucks on toys the week before and then making $23 in tokes last week. So as much as I hated to do it, I sold a bunch of mutual fund shares on Monday and ordered a check, just so I'd be able to pay the rent on time. But because of the past couple of nights, this week turned out ok, and I made all that I needed and more, so my stress was for naught.

As soon as I finish this post, it's all going to the bank.

On the other hand, as up-and-down as things have been for me, there is a slight chance of a HUGE up. I'll find out in a couple of hours, but I may be able to go back to Tennessee for a week over Christmas!

Officially, I'm only scheduled two days a week in the poker room, so I figured that I could get away this year. I found a decent round-trip ticket on Southwest for only $380, but it would require me to be gone for an entire week. Mamasan also has an old flight credit, too, and offered to use it to help me get back. I also still have 40 hours of minimum-wage vacation pay on the books at work, so even though I'll lose a bundle by taking a week off, I'd be able to recoup about $280 from the house.

With all of that working in my favor, I talked to my boss today, hoping to get home for the holidays for the first time in four years. She's working on it, but there are five other people off that week, including three floor people who's shifts need to be covered, plus there is another holiday free-roll tourney going on. So it's difficult--maybe a 50/50 proposition. But she told me that I'm the only one who never turns down a shift, doesn't dodge the phone calls when it's busy, and always does whatever they ask of me, so she'll do whatever she can to make it happen. It's nice to have a boss who remembers all the sacrifices I make.

Hey, I'll take that. I figured my chances might be much slimmer, but all I can do is hope that things break my way.

Longtime readers know just how much it would mean to me to get back to Nashville and spend Christmas with my family. It would be the best thing ever. So I've got my fingers crossed and I'm hoping for the best.

In the meantime, I've got to go and take a shower and get dressed. Doc Al's flight is going to arrive in about 45 minutes, and we're heading downtown to the ElCo for some good old-school Vegas buffoonery. I think we're having free dinner at Roberta's tonight, so I'm hoping the prime rib sticks around a little longer than last night's this morning's turkey did.

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's The Shoes!

All of my latest purchases have now arrived. I got the last package this morning when I left the house. Sitting on my porch was box from UPS--my new Reeboks that I ordered last week from Amazon.

Here's the thing with me and shoes. I hate hate hate all of the stupid athletic shoes they've had on the market for the past several years. It's like every time a new shoe comes out, it's gotta look like something straight out of the ghetto. Either that, or a hip-hop video. And I hate that shit. I want plain old white tennis shoes. Experience has taught me that as good as Nikes are, they don't fit me as well as Reeboks, nor do they last as long. And I used to like K-Swiss also, but when they started putting gold-plated eyelets where the laces go, I was done with them. And New Balance shoes just downright suck. So I prefer Reeboks. Just my personal choice. But Reebok, like every other shoe manufacturer out there, has decided that all of their shoes, except for the truly purpose-built althetic models, must look 'urban' and edgy.

F*ck that. I want shoes that white people would wear.

Oh, I'll admit, back in the 80's, I wore my Reebok high-tops unlaced just like Run-DMC, but then again, those guys had some talent. And I was young and dumb back then, too. Hell, I had zipper pants and a keyboard tie, so I can't be held responsible for my taste in fashion.

So after looking high and low, I finally found those shoes last week and ordered a pair. Believe me, they're not always available. I seriously considered buying two pair, just because who knows what kind of shiat they're gonna be trying to sell me in a couple of years. So I'm happy now. I've got some decent shoes that look decent and are very comfortable too. And I don't look like some wannabe tool on MTV when I wear them, either.

Anyhow, I grabbed my shoes and headed off, making sure I looked in the rear-view mirror before I pulled out of my driveway. I hit the grocery store, got a couple of necessary items (like a box of Bounce dryer sheets), and while I was there I saw that they had Vernor's Ginger Ale in cans! Oh hell yeah, that stuff is amazingly good, so I picked up a six-pack for my mini-fridge.

After making my purchases, I wandered across the parking lot to Pie Town Pizza for lunch. I had to get another one of those awesome Polish dogs with sauteed onions and mustard. It was just as good as the first one I had last week. I also got a single slice of their thin-crust pepperoni pizza. It was very good, but of course, nothing compares to the mother of all pizza at Grimaldi's. But for Chicago corner-joint thin crust, the kind they usually cut into squares, it's pretty damn good.

I considered getting another deep dish to go to eat later tonight and tomorrow, but I was so full from lunch that it didn't sound good at all. But again, it was an enjoyable lunch, and made even more fun by talking to one of the guys who worked there who was telling me stories from when he used to drive the 'L' train.

After lunch, I headed back towards the house, looking for that $1.96 gas I saw last night on the way home. But nope, apparently the guys at Chevron were a bit hasty in their price-dropping, and it was back up to $1.99 today. Just up the block at the 7-11 however, I found unleaded for $1.97, so I went there and put thirty bucks worth in my tank. It almost filled it up, not quite, but it was close enough.

Now I'm back at the house, just chillin', hoping the phone rings. I could use another shift.


Caught In the Act By One of My Readers

Good morning, all...

Apparently, the road to my own personal hell *is* paved with good intentions, because I really wanted to have another update posted first thing this morning, but damn, I just didn't have the energy to write last night--as soon as I sat down at the keyboard, it was lights out. I managed to get a bit of emailing done and check a few other things, but other than that, it was sleepy time.

So yesterday, as you recall, I got called in to work just about the time I'd loaded up the new washing machine with all of my work shirts. And there was no dryer available. So I did my usual morning toilette, got dressed, and then grabbed one of my shirts from the washing machine once the spin cycle ended.

It was time to leave to head back to the casino anyways, so just as I was heading for the front door, the dogs started to go apeshit, indicating that there was somebody in the yard or driveway. It was USPS messenger guy, delivering a package that I had to sign for--yes, finally, my Amoxicillin had arrived. It was about damn time--the cold symptoms are pretty much all gone, but I can't kick this cough. Anyhow, as soon as I signed the card and got my meds, the guy looked at me and said Heading back to the casino, huh? Didn't you just get off work a couple of hours ago?

Well, that gave me a chuckle--it turns out that the mailman had been playing poker at my table the day before.

So, I opened the padded envelope, popped a pill, and hopped in the truck. I rolled down the window and held my wet shirt outside, aiming to dry it in the breeze as I drove to the casino. I backed out of the driveway without looking, like an idiot, and noticed just a bit too late that I'd backed out in front of one of my neighbors coming up the road in his BMW. I caught a glimpse of him, but avoided eye contact since I was probably pissed him off by backing out without seeing him. I took off, driving a bit faster than I should, so I could escape the dirty look of the guy behind me, and to put more air over my shirt and hopefully get it to dry before I got to work.

But his car is as fast as my truck, and when we got to the stoplight up on Horizon Ridge, he pulled up next to me, honked, and motioned to me to roll down the window.

Great, I thought, this guy wants to cuss me out...

As soon as I rolled down the window on the passenger's side, the guy in the BMW leaned over and said Hey--are you Hurricane Mikey?

That caught me totally off guard, but I told him that yes, I was. He then said Well I'm a big fan of your site! I'll email you later!

I gave him the thumbs up, and just then, the light turned green, I turned, and he went straight. I kinda went the 'back way' to the casino, driving through the subdivisions, just so I wouldn't draw so much attention to myself with my wet shirt flappin' in the breeze.

It seemed to do the trick, as by the time I got to the parking garage, my shirt was only slightly damp. I put it on, strolled in to the poker room, and spent the next eight full hours doing my thing.

I was so happy to be called in again on Monday. Like I said, after last week's debacle, any and all shifts are much appreciated. And luckily we were good and busy yesterday, too. For a bit, though, I thought I'd only get a couple of hours in--I saw that a new group of dealers were coming in at 3 and 4 o'clock. But I forgot to account for the fact that the early morning dealers would be going home. So when the swing shift floorman asked me if I wanted to stay until eight pm, I believe my response was Oh hell yeah I do!

Actually by late afternoon, there was no way I could've gotten out even if I wanted to--we got really busy and they kept opening new games. At one point, I believe I pushed five or six tables in a row--three hours of dealing without a break.

When 8 pm finally rolled around, I was good and ready to get out of there. I'd run out of cough drops, and one antibiotic pill wasn't enough to keep me from coughing, so it was getting hard on me. But I was in that happy place where I'd made so many tokes that every time I leaned over the table, the chips would spill out of my pocket. So when I got pushed out for the last time, I colored up with the cashier once more, clocked out, said goodbye to everyone, and ran over to Fatburger to get a Coke--I was dying of thirst, having not had a sip of water for over three hours by that point, and my throat was raw.

I wandered over to the pit because I saw all of my old swing shift buddies working, and one of the guys was sitting on a dead Deuces Wild game. So I went over to chat with him for a bit and he gave me all the latest gossip and news from the table games crew. And further improving my day, Kimmy came strolling by, so we got to talk for a few minutes too. That always makes me happy.

But I was absolutely exhausted by then--I'm certainly not used to working those eight-hour days anymore, and Sunday and Monday were both just crazy-busy for me. I had a pretty good weekend, money-wise, but damn, I earned every cent. (Sunday was a story all on it's own, but since I'm not allowed to talk about it, I'm writing it down for that tell-all book that gets published once I leave the casino biz for good...)

I was really hungry when I left the casino, and I needed to go to the grocery store anyways. But I really wanted to go over to Pie Town and get another polish dog for dinner. As much as I wanted to do that though, I was just too tired and it was out of the way. And I needed to get home and put my clothes in the dryer and get a second load going.

So instead of going to the store or going out to dinner, I just came straight home. My roommate told me that the dryer was good to go, so I took care of the laundry issues and then stumbled up to my room, too tired to bother with messing around in the kitchen and getting something to eat. So I skipped dinner altogether last night, and just went upstairs, took a shower, and went to bed.

Luckily, my laptop doesn't need to be on the desk, so I checked my mail before checking out. This is the message that was waiting for me:

Hurricane Mikey,

Ok, I swear I'm not a stalker. (Or if I am, at least it's better than me being a secret admirer.)

Yes, I'm the nut who rolled up next to you this morning.

Here's the story. I found your blog a few weeks ago and have been reading it ever since. I even went out and found your epic 2004 March Madness post (on T2V I think). Damn, that was long but good.

Anyway, you're always describing local hotspots (Grimaldi's, Steak, etc.) and it got me thinking that you must live somewhere near me. I've read about you mentioning the great view, etc. and for a brief moment I thought, could he live right near here? But then I thought no way, Henderson's big and there are hundreds of neighborhoods. [The view is huge deal for me as it is one of the reasons that I bought my house in this neighborhood.]

So when you pulled out of your driveway this morning, the first thing that caught my eye was your license plate -- BFOONRY or whatever. Then I read the license plate holder -- Hurricane Mikey's Casino / Brothel / whatever. And then, I think, "NO WAY" (yes, I thought it all in caps). And then I'm thinking, "What are the odds?" I'd insert a joke here about the betting line for this situation, but I can't come up with anything funny. (You're probably thinking that about the rest of my email as well--but it's all done as a poor imitation of your awesome humor.) So what's my point? As I said, I'm a huge fan of your blog. Great writing, great stories, and funny as all hell.

I can't believe I'm bookended by poker celebrities. Not sure if you know (you probably do) but Mike Matusow lives a couple blocks south of you.

Hope to see you soon.



So that was cool. I wrote him back, and yeah, he mentioned that he noticed me doing my best to dry my shirt on the way to work, too. But he was too polite to say anything about it the first time he contacted me. But he hasn't made it over to Grimaldi's yet, so we're gonna get over there one of these days pretty soon and I'll introduce him to the culinary perfection that he's been missing out on.

But after all that, I was done. Too tired to eat, too tired to write, and too tired to watch SportsCenter, I called it a night and crashed hard.

Around 12:30 in the morning, my phone was ringing again, though. Yep, it was work. The graveyard floorman asked me if I wanted to come in and pick up a shift. I told him that I totally would, but that I'd just gotten off work less than five hours earlier, and if I came back, we'd both get in trouble. (I can do a split shift, but if I put in a full eight hours, I'm not allowed back for 16 more unless it's an emergency. They'd have to pay me overtime then, and we all know that the casino can't afford to pay anyone ten bucks an hour...)

I think his exact words were Oh shit--I didn't even see you on the list! So he said to go back to bed and he'd call somebody else. But I told him that I'm free tonight, just in case he needs somebody.

After that, I pretty much slept for almost eight hours straight, and it was just what I needed. I feel a bit rejuvenated, and if I get called in again today or tonight, I'd be just fine with it. Otherwise, I'm not gonna do too much. I may go down and squeeze as much of the $1.96 per gallon gas into my tank as can fit (first time in over six years I've seen gas less than two bucks!), then go to the grocery store, and if I still have some time, I'll make it over to Pie Town for lunch.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Failure to Launch

Hey gang, after that epic post about the night down at the booze-fest, I felt like I was pretty much spent. I know it only takes about ten minutes to read something like that, but it takes about four hours to write it, download the pics, and do all of the editing.

So my plan for the day was to do a whole lot of nothing except housework, since I've been gone for the past couple of days and the house needs a bit of attention. But, I woke up this morning after about seven hours of sleep when Reverend Dave called, and once we got off the phone, I made a pot of coffee. I guess that motivated me to get busy, so while I was mulling my next few posts around in my head, I went downstairs to do a load of laundry or two. My workshirts needed to be washed, along with about 30 lbs. of black clothes.

To my surprise, I saw that my roommate had installed a brand-spankin' new washer and dryer down in the laundry room. So I put in my first load, took out the trash, and then started to clean out the fridge and the pantry. Then I heard my phone go off upstairs--somebody had left me a message.

I ran up to check, and it was work, saying they needed me and they'd give me a couple of minutes to call back before they called somebody else. So I did the quick redial thing and managed to pick up another shift in about an hour and a half. Whew! It's been a very lean week, so this helps enormously.

So then I ran back downstairs to check the settings on the new washing machine to see how long the wash cycle took, and then I noticed that the new dryer was unplugged. Uh oh, that's not a good sign. So I called my roommate, and he told me that he needs to get a gas-coupling reducer or something like that to make the new dryer fit onto the gas line. So we have no dryer yet. And all of my uniform shirts are in the washing machine as I type this.

So it looks like I'll be tying one to the antenna and driving to work like a white-trash hillbilly, trying to dry my shirt.

Actually, I'm hoping this new washing machine has a super-high speed spin cycle, and since my work shirts are 100% polyester, I figure they'll be mostly dry by then anyways.

Anyhow, the point is, now that I've got all this motivation, I was going to spend a good chunk of the day writing stuff for your enjoyment. But now I've got to go to work...


Sunday, November 23, 2008

THIS Is Why I Live In Las Vegas!

(Editor's Note: Pay no attention to the time references in this post. It was started late on Saturday night and finished up late on Sunday night. Just go with it. Oh, and don't forget to clicky on the pictures for full-sized goodness!)

I just got home. And I just stumbled up the stairs. And I am buzzed beyond all belief!

This post may not make any sense, but I'm putting it up right now while it's still fresh in my brain, because if I fall asleep without writing it up, it'll be lost in the fog forever. And I really want to remember this night!

Anyhow, tonight was the 6th annual Lee's Discount Liquors Las Vegas Wine Experience down at the LV Hilton. I never knew such a thing existed until about five or six nights ago when I saw a commercial for it. I thought it was such a great idea that I immediately emailed Lars and asked him what he was doing on Saturday. He was up for it, so I went down to my favorite liquor store on Friday night and picked us up a couple of tickets for $40 apiece.

It's billed as a huge wine-tasting party, but it's much more than that. It's basically a booze convention, and forty bucks gets you five hours of open bar-- Best. Idea. Evar! It's such a big deal that they hold it in one of the monster-sized ballrooms down at the Hilton. There are about 70 wineries from around the world represented, and they've all got samples of all their varieties on hand. Plus, all along the back wall, the liquor distributors all set up camp and there are booths pouring everything from vodka, tequila, rum, gin, bourbon, Scotch, and all kinds of other crazy one-off liqueurs to sample.

Since we predicted that we'd get good and stupid at this event (I'm not one of those wine-tasters who spits it out--I drink every drop!), we talked Lars' wife Shari into taking us down to the Hilton and dropping us off, and then we figured we'd split the cost of a cab to get back home later. We guessed (correctly) there was no way on God's green earth that either one of us would be able to walk, much less drive, after spending five hours in the Ballroom of the Bottomless Glass.

This is the "Before" picture. You will not see the "After" picture. But trust me--It's not pretty:

Anyhow, we got there about a half an hour early (it started at 3:00 pm), and we were about the fourth and fifth people in line. When we got into the ballroom we were amazed at the scope of the operation. First of all, the ballroom was huge. Just as we entered, there was an enormous display of wine glasses, and everyone was supposed to take one and carry it around with them for the evening. In the corner, there was a small stage with a Jazz combo performing live music, and the rest of the room was covered with vendors, cocktail seating, and hors d’oeuvres stations.

We skipped the wine glasses at first, and made a beeline for the liquor area. We wanted to try all of the premium scotches and rums first. Lee's was kind enough to provide a notebook for everyone to carry where you could jot down your impressions of each drink you tried, and we took full advantage of it for the first hour and a half or so. We gave it the ol' college try, and it was funny as hell trying to decipher our notes after like two hours. But early on, we were serious booze journalists on a mission. I actually took over two pages of legible notes. And about four pages of illegible ones.

The first thing we had was a single malt Scotch called Aberfeldy. It's a 12-year old gem of a whiskey that is so smokey and smooth, it's like a campfire in a glass. It was very good. Right after that, I had some Laphroig 10-year old Scotch, and it wasn't nearly as tasty. Oh, it was super-premium, but it wasn't to my liking. Lars, being a huge Scotch drinker, slurped it all up and was immediately in his happy place.

Now, the best part of an event like this, besides all of the ridiculous eye candy, is that you get to try a bunch of stuff that you'd normally never do. But I went in with an open mind and tried all kinds of weird shiat--some of it very good, some of it disgusting. But there were some truly amazing liqueurs to be had, and I was very surprised by how much I really enjoyed a few of them.

First of all, there was this stuff called Aqwa. It's a liqueur made out of the coco leaf. And they had little vials of powdered lime essence that went with it, so you'd dump some out on the back of your hand, (and it's obviously meant to look like cocaine), lick it, and then shoot the booze. It was surprisingly good--it went down smoothly, but then had an afterburner to it.

This is me about to put down a shot of the Coco liqueur. No, it doesn't taste like the stuff you make brownies out of. It tastes like the stuff you put up your nose back in the 80's. If you look closely, you can see the lime powder on the back of my thumb.

There was also an amazingly good booze called 'American Honey'. I've not seen it yet in bars, but it's making it's way around. Basically, it's Wild Turkey bourbon mixed with honey. It sounds disgusting, but oh hell yeah it's extremely tasty. I could easily sit and drink it on the rocks all night long. We hit that booth three or four times.

There was also some weird shiat that we didn't much care for. Ty-Ku is some sort of sweet Asian liquor that was just a bit foofy for me, as was this stuff called Nuvo. It was sparkling vodka--pink and bubbly and just waaaaaay too girly for me. I can't see myself drinking that unless I'm sitting around watching Oprah and Sex and the City reruns all afternoon and deciding that boobies just don't do it for me anymore. It was easily the gayest thing I had all night, and I was ashamed to be seen drinking it.

A little on the girly side, but still pretty damn good was one booth serving champagne mixed with Chambord. Normally, I don't like raspberry at all, but the chick serving it was just so frickin' hot that we couldn't resist her feminine charms. So we stepped up and had some--it tasted like raspberry soda pop--not bad at all!

The biggest surprise of the night was something called Right gin. It's very peppery. Normally I don't like any gin except Bombay Sapphire, but they were serving this stuff with grapefruit juice, and the pepper of the gin killed the bitterness of the grapefruit, and it was pretty damn good. As soon as we finished that, the guy behind the table fixed us up a drink that just blew us away. It was the Right gin on the rocks, with just a slice of orange in it--not squeezed, but just dropped in the glass and stirred.

Oh my god--It was amazingly good. We had him fill up water glasses with it, and we wandered around a bit raving about how we had just found a replacement for the Bloody Mary. It was a serious breakfast drink, and neither one of us could believe how much we liked it. It didn't sound good at first, but that pepper spice and the citrus just balance each other out and it was a fantastic drink.

And right next to the gin booth was the absinthe booth. Man, what a wicked drink that is. Imagine licorice and jet fuel mixed together. But we had to drink it. I think we had it with rose water and muddled cucumber. Hell, I don't remember. I had it three different ways, each one more goofy than the next. But the gal serving the gin and the gal serving the absinthe were both just smokin' hot, plus they were a lot of fun to talk to, so we hung out there for quite some time, chatting with the hotties and getting hammered on their free samples.

After that, we were good and buzzed. We'd only been in the room for an hour, but Lars and I began referring to ourselves as Mr. Aldrin and Mr. Lightyear, so we decided it would be best to grab a couple of bottles of water and a handful of crackers and go sit down. Of course, we couldn't just sit there and do nothing--so we did the only thing we could think of--Drunk dialing!

I called Angy and told her that she really should've been there with me. Seriously, this party had her name written *all* over it. I think I talked to Hoya and Dane after that and told them that next year, they've got to plan their Vegas trip in November to come out and participate. They are wine drinkers, so I'm sure they'd love it.

Anyhow, we took about a twenty minute time-out, then we were right back in the game. Now, back on Friday night when I went to the liquor store to get the tickets, I couldn't *not* buy anything, so I picked up a bottle of The Captain while I was there. And going to Lee's Discount Liquor on a Friday night in Vegas is like going to Costco on Saturday morning--they have lots and lots of free samples. So while I was hanging out talking to the 'sample girls', one of them told me about her favorite liqueur, something called 'Castries'.

I'd never heard of it before, but there was a booth where they were giving out free samples. For those of you who don't know what Castries is, as near as I can figure it, it's a rum-based cream liqueur, but then it's flavored with peanuts. So it pours like Bailey's Irish Creme, but it tastes like booze and peanut butter. Can you say "Mikey's favorite breakfast"? Oh dear god, you have no idea how good that sounds to me! I put peanut butter up there in the pantheon of Greatest Foods Ever Invented, along with bacon, rum, ranch dressing, and chicken fried steak.

But that's not all--the gal behind the bar was pouring shots of it mixed with grape-flavored vodka, so everyone was getting happy on PB&J shots! About that time, Lars and I hooked up with a pack of cute gals, and we hung with them for an hour or two. We'd steer them to our favorite drinks, and they'd make us try stuff that they had discovered. As you can imagine, it was almost as much fun as free lappie night down at the OG!

My new friend Lori provides the background to my glass of peanut liqueur. I swear she still had her top on when I snapped this photo.

This exact photo was taken by at least seven different cameras within the space of five minutes.

There were an abundance of perfect breasts on display this evening, and well, they're meant to be played with, right? And if straight chicks can't resist them, how do you think it feels to be a guy?

Anyhow, those PB&J shots were really good--we kept joking that needed some Pringle's flavored shots and we'd have lunch taken care of. I think the gal behind the bar even let me have a bottle or two to play with. There is no truth to the rumor that I was suckling directly from the teat, however.

Peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time!

As good as those PB&J shots were, nothing could compare to just drinking the Castries straight up on the rocks--it was wonderful. It tasted like peanut brittle. So good! I must've had about eight or nine of those mini-shots over the course of the evening, and I was a great salesman for 'em too, getting all kinds of strangers to come over and try it. The gal in charge of pouring it became my new best friend.

Everybody loved the PB&J girl. In fact, I think she got a couple of marriage proposals throughout the course of the evening. Unfortunately, we're both still single. As far as you know.

Somehow, during the midst of all this buffoonery, we actually managed to get a bunch of wine tasting in, too. In fact, I really enjoyed the Merlot from the J. Lohr winery, and they told me that it was only about twelve bucks a bottle, too! Who'da thunkit?

Anyhow we wandered all over that ballroom, Me, Lars, and five or six gals we met up with, sampling all the goods, telling jokes, and laughing our asses off at our own drunken stupidity. But the gals had an appointment at some club that night, so we said our farewells and Lars and I were on our own again. But we took full advantage of all the treats on display, and tried a bunch of new stuff and hit our favorites for seconds (and thirds). Of course, being Gentlemen of Leisure, we made lots of new friends of the female species.

One of the rum girls really was so impressed with my knowledge of booze that she thought Lars and I worked in a bar. Nope, we told her, we're just educated drunks. And after I took this picture, I showed it to her and complimented her on her lingerie.

This girl made me put my hand on her ass when we snapped the picture. Who am I to say no? So we had to re-take it several times, just to make sure we got it right.

Lars finally learns what the 'Shocker' is from his new friend.

While we were out wandering and flirting with every girl who crossed our path, we actually ran into Mr. Lee and his son Kenny, of Lee's Discount Liquors. Due to their commercials, they are minor celebrities here in Vegas. We thanked them for throwing one helluva party, and they were kind enough to let us get a couple of pictures:

Three of the happiest guys in Vegas

At some point in this madness, we discovered Lars' personal Kryptonite. Or at least what put him over the edge. While running around with our harem of little black dresses, somebody discovered coffee-flavored Patron.

Oh dear god. Tequila is one crazy-assed liquor, but the intensity of it is kind of it's own deterrence. If you do a shot or two, you just know it's going to kick your ass. But Patron is stealth tequila. It's pretty damn smooth. Don't get me wrong, it still burns all the way down, but it's a smooth burn. Not this coffee flavored stuff--It's super stealthy. It's almost like mixing Kahlua and pure grain alcohol. Well, it tastes much better than that, but the result is the same. Seriously--it's like Special Olympics in a glass. Extreme caution should be exercised. Unfortunately, those words weren't in the vocabulary by that time of night, and we dove in head first.

I could handle it, but I think that's pretty much where I lost Lars. The girls were no help either. They kept wanting to drink more of it. And if I learned anything in college, it's that if attractive girls want more tequila, you always give it to them.

Are you going to say no to this? No, I didn't think so.

After a few rounds with the coffee-flavored tequila, it was time to prop Lars up in a corner somewhere. By then, there was only about an hour left to indulge anyways, so we got him a bottle of water and sat down at one of the tables over on the side of the room and said goodbye to the latest group of gals to join us on our adventure.

While Lars was fading fast, asking me to put the brakes on the room, I was still feeling pretty damn good and still wanted to wander around a bit--I still had plenty of mojo to expend. So he said he'd be ok there, recovering at the table for awhile, and I said I'd come back and find him later.

This is where my evening got really good.

I decided to wander back over to the gin and absinthe booth on the other side of the ballroom, just because the sample girls were such cuties and lots of fun to talk to. Well that, and I was thinking I could do another bit of that spicy pepper gin. When I got over there, I somehow started talking to these two pretty attractive girls, and found out that they were sisters. We hit it off right away, and I was immediately smitten by one of them.

Ladies and Gentleman, may I present to you Corlie and Carrie...

Corlie seemed to have made friends with another handsome bald dude, so I started talking to Carrie for a bit. Not only was she very nice, but I thought she was very stunning. She was kind enough to let me take a picture of her, and that's when I discovered just how photogenic she was. Wow. She hit me like a ton of bricks.

Once I caught a glimpse of the pictures I took, I told her that I wanted to get some more, just because they turned out so well. She was ok with it, and now my memory card is full of her pictures--and I can't stop looking at them!

I have no idea why I'm not smiling in this picture, because I was feeling very content at the time. But then again, nobody is looking at me, anyways...

I wish this picture wasn't so blurry, because it truly captures the essence of the tail-end of the night. Me and a very attractive gal, a glass of booze, and a rubber chicken. Like they say, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff...

And one more, just because I like the picture subject matter so much!

Corlie and her new friend. They make quite the handsome couple, don't ya think?

Anyhow--I could've stayed there talking to her all night, and I found myself wishing that I would've met her earlier in the evening. She was very nice and it was the high point of the evening, as far as I was concerned. But the lights finally came on and the party was over. So we exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes. I think I only had about one drink the entire time we were talking, so my buzz was starting to really mellow out by then and I headed back over to where I left Lars an hour before.

He was gone.

Now, I know he couldn't have gone very far under his own power, so I did a lap of the ballroom to look for him, but he was nowhere to be found. I ran into three gals who were sitting at the same table as we were, and I asked if they'd seen where he had gotten off to, and they told me that they thought he had gotten sick.

Oh man, that's not cool. So I called his phone, and after about three rings, some chick answered it. I told them who I was and who I was looking for, and they said they had him outside in the lobby of the ballroom. I met up with them just a couple of minutes later, and Lars had found himself a couple of nice blonde gals to babysit him. He was kind of a wreck though, so we walked him out to the casino and parked him in front of a slot machine. I wandered over to the little deli in the main lobby and bought a bottle of water for him, then went back.

One of the gals lives down here in Henderson, and she very kindly offered to take us home. I thought that was going way above and beyond the call of duty, but she was totally cool with offering to take care of us. I figured we should wait around just a bit and let Lars chill out, drink some water, and make sure that he could make the entire drive without redecorating our new friend's car.

So we sat for a bit, just chilling and visiting, while Lars dealt with his personal demons. Of course, being a typical guy, I couldn't help but take a few blackmail pictures. Heh.

Eventually, he was feeling like he could make the drive home, so we dumped him in the backseat and headed of towards Henderson. Getting through the entry gate in his highly-secured community was an adventure, but eventually we managed to find a gadget that worked. I got him inside his house, and at that point, he became Shari's problem. Double heh.

A few minutes later, I was saying goodbye to our new friend Cindy, thanking her profusely for taking the time to get us home safely, and saving us cab fare to boot. Once I got up out of the car, I realized that I still had a pretty good buzz going, but I made it up to my room without hurting myself, and I started working on this post. I finally went to bed around midnight, and slept like a baby, waking up about an hour before my alarm.

Thank god work didn't call--I was in no shape to deal the cards. But I was scheduled the next morning, so I knew it was highly unlikely that I'd get called in.

Anyhow--it was one helluva great time, and I couldn't believe how much fun I had. Not only did I get to try a bunch of tasty wine and booze, but I had a great time meeting new people and enjoying a night out.

I really look forward to doing it again. And maybe, just maybe, sometime soon I'll get to see Carrie again, too. She was really somethin'...


Friday, November 21, 2008

I Want My Two Dollars!

Well. This week is completely sucking ass.

I set my alarm for 11:45 pm last night after sleeping through the Steelers game. I got up, showered, shaved, got dressed, grabbed a can of energy drink, and headed for the casino.

I wasn't too shocked when I got there and saw that once again, there was only one poker game going--a shorthanded 4/8 game. But there were also two other dealers still there, too, giving us 3 dealers and one game. So I had to go take a break for my first half hour, then push in at 1:30.

So I headed back to the dining room and no amount of pickled jalapenos could overcome the pasty, gritty taste of the nasty cheese sauce they had sitting on the line, congealing into a toxic orange mess. Even though I should've known better, I made a plate of the worst-tasting nachos in the history of mankind. I managed to choke down about five or six of them before giving up in disgust while watching the middle-of-the-night replay of Georgia Tech laying the smack down on 'The U'.

While I was in there, I ran into several of my old compadres from my days in the pit. They're all still bitter and angry, but this week, they have nothing to complain about when comparing their apples to my oranges.

After my 'break', I headed back over to the poker room and pushed in to the game just in time for it to break up. Yup, I dealt a whopping two hands before the last three players colored up and called it a night. Even the dealer I pushed out offered to sit down and join the game, but by then, all the fish had been gutted and fried and the game wasn't worth continuing.

So I closed the table, reset the decks, and locked up the bank. I then went to the desk and cashed out my two dollars in tips I made. And doing a quick calculation in my head, it appears that I've earned $23 so far this week. Good times!

I didn't want to come straight home, and the floorman has to stay there all night regardless, so I just hung out with him for a couple of hours talking about poker, booze, football, and chicks. You know, normal stuff. Since the cocktail waitress had nothing to do either, she came by and kept us company between her laps around that side of the casino, too.

By around 4:30 or so, I'd had enough and was ready to come on home. I stopped at the convenience store on the corner for a carton of juice and a granola bar, then motored back to the pad. I was halfway tempted to hit Blueberry Hill for some breakfast and a newspaper first, but that would've cost me half of my week's earnings.

Anyhow, before I left, the floorman said he'd try and call me in tonight to help me make a little money--we both figured that there would be some games going late and it would be a chance to pick up a shift. Otherwise, I've got nothing else this weekend except a few hours of dealing a freeroll on Sunday. Sadly, that doesn't really pay anything, either--the players all get in free, and they all make deals to chop up the winnings, so it's not a lucrative gig at all. Ugh. I guess if I'm gonna make any money this next couple of weeks, it'll have to come from playing poker instead of dealing it.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Well, That Was Fast

Ok, so after having three days away from the casino, I was looking forward to going back this morning and making an honest living for a few hours.

Problem was, somebody hit the bad beat jackpot again yesterday afternoon and killed all the action. When I got to work, there was one five-handed 4/8 game going, and one of the players was the floorman doing his best to keep the game from breaking.

So I dealt for one half-hour down and made a whopping $21 before the game broke. I killed a little bit of time chit-chatting with the cocktail waitress, who also had nothing else to do, but I came home an hour after I left. Feast or famine, I tell ya, and well, it looks like famine again for the next couple of weeks months.

But that's ok, I got a big box from Amazon last night before I left for work--my new camera is here, along with that HUGE Digital Photography for Dummies book. Seriously, the book is like 800 pages thick and is heavier than a cinder block. So I've got plenty to keep me busy today.

Also, I'm scheduled to be off on Saturday, and it looks like Lars and I will be attending Lee's Wine Experience down at the Hilton. I've become a big fan of wine tastings over the past year, and this one looks to be the Mother of all Wine Tastings. And the 'premium spirit' area with a bunch of fine rums available looks like the spot where you're likely to find me for most of the day. Of course I'll take the new camera and have a report for you.

That's all for now.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something For Everyone

Hey Gang! I know it's been a few days, and the re-clickers out there are feeling a little abandoned this week, but I'm back. I've just been so busy this week that I haven't had time to write a decent update. So this one is gonna be long. I suggest you grab a beverage and get comfortable, because it's probably going to take me all afternoon to write.

So where did I leave off?

Oh yes, it was Monday morning, and all I wanted to do was drink coffee and read books. If I recall correctly, I managed the pot of coffee. The books, not so much.

This new schedule, coupled with the lingering bug I've been fighting, have tag-teamed to just wear my ass out. I'm sleeping in fits and spurts, eating once a day, if that, and running at half speed. So on Monday, I decided to go out and get some fresh air.

Actually, I returned to the scene of the crime.

After my foray into the ladies room last week, I had pretty much sworn off Green Valley Ranch for the foreseeable future. I wasn't going back anytime soon. However, GVR is the closest casino to my house, and along with all of the diversions at The District, it's a good spot to hang out when one has some free time. Besides, I really wanted to see the new James Bond flick, and they have a movie theatre.

At least the theatre is downstairs and has it's own separate entrance, so I could go catch a movie and avoid the casino altogether if I just parked over by the Elephant Bar. I figured it was worth the risk, so I headed on over.

I made it in time for the first showing of the day, and matinees are just $7.75 at Regal theatres. But the change from my twenty dollar bill evaporated a few seconds later when I ordered a small popcorn and a large fountain Coke. Seriously, $11.75 for popcorn and a soda? WTF? Next time, I'm gonna smuggle in a box of Junior Mints and a 20 ounce bottle under my jacket. F*ck those crooks.

I got in just in time to catch the beginning of the Coming Attractions, and I swear if I have to sit through another totally ghey preview of the new Fast & Furious movie, I'm gonna hunt down Vin Diesel and personally kick him in the nuts for being such a douchebag. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of audience that movie would appeal to, and I can't come up with any scenario where something so craptacular actually turns a profit. Yeah, I know there is a subculture of brain-dead adolescents who are really into street racing, but I'm not gonna cough up a dime to sit through one of their stroke-films. Hell, I'm pissed off every time I have to sit through that lame-ass three-minute trailer. I guess it's just because that insipid 'I live my life a quarter-mile at a time' line from the first one that has embedded itself into my subconscious is the reason for my bitterness. When I heard that, I all I could think was What kind of retard says shit like that? and I immediately moved Mr. Diesel into the column of "People who need their skull bashed in with a cast-iron frying pan".

So if you're one of the people willing to cough up money to the Fast & the Furious franchise, do the gene pool a favor and go get yourself castrated or otherwise sterilized.

Anyhow. I can't believe I just went on a rant like that over a movie trailer...

But back to Quantum of Solace. Lemme give a couple of thoughts. First of all, I really dig Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. He's easily the best one since Connery. And I thought Casino Royale was a fantastic rebirth of the Bond franchise.

However, Quantum was a huge step backwards. I like how they picked up where Casino Royale left off, but beyond that, this movie kind trips over it's own wang. First of all--there are no Q-style cool gadgets. That's a Bond staple, strangely missing this time around. And apparently, Miss Moneypenny has been replaced by a metrosexual bureaucratic lacky functioning as an administrative assistant. M must have a hankerin' for boy-toys in the office.

But the absolute worst thing was all of the hand-held cameras and skip-editing during the all-too-common action scenes. Remember how unwatchable the second Jason Bourne movie was? There was a lot of that style of direction where they 'enhance' the action by what appears to be nothing more than a bunch of bouncing cameras filming each sequence. It's awful--the beginning chase scene is impossible to follow, and a very lame fight scene that takes place on some ropes and scaffolding is just ridiculous. Just hold the goddam camera still fer chrissakes! It gives one a headache to try and follow the action.

As bad as the direction is, it wasn't a visually appealing movie, either. Most of the action is in Haiti and Bolivia, probably two of the ugliest places on earth. Nobody wants to see that shiat on the big screen. The next Bond flick needs to get back to Eastern Europe, Russia, or the Orient. And seriously, using James Bond to head off a coup attempt in some third-world banana republic? Please. Weren't there any former KGB officers or old East German intelligence types up to no good that week? Were there no internationally-known villains plying their trade in Amsterdam or Prague at the time?

There were a couple of high points--the banter between Bond and M as she tries to reign him in is always good. There is good chemistry there, and they should've done more with that. And this particular Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko, is amazingly sexy. Granted, they really dress her down in this flick, but you catch glimpses. She's got that whole eastern European thing going on which really turns my crank--that cross between smokin' hot and bat-shiat crazy which pulls me in like a moth to the flame. But there isn't much chemistry between her and Bond, and sadly enough, he never even gets her close to the sack. At the end, when they kiss goodbye, the chemistry is so bad between them that she's got a look on her face that looks like it says Holy shit, why is my cousin trying to slip me the tongue?!??!?

As good as the women are in this one, the 'villain' and his, ahem, sidekick, don't really instill a lot of fear or apprehension. They remind me more of Niles Crane from Frasier and Ruprect from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Seriously--Worst. Bond Villains. Ever. And don't get me started on how Bond can overpower three Secret Service agents in an elevator, yet it takes him ten minutes of fight-to-the-death scrapping to subdue Niles Crane in a burning hotel. Something does not compute. Again--more Bourne, less Bond. All he does is fight in this one. Outsmarting his rivals seems to be a skill they took away this time.

So the bottom line, is that yes, it was a mildly entertaining flick, but it doesn't even come close to being as good as Casino Royale, which was deemed DVD collection-worthy as soon as the credits rolled. This one, I'm just glad I only paid eight bucks to see it. Imagine the fall-off between Ocean's 11 and Ocean's 12, and you'll get where I'm coming from. Worth seeing once, that's it. I just hope that they set things right with the next one and make it an actual James Bond movie, not another Jason Bourne sequel.

After the movie, I came back to the house, turned on the tube, and did nothing for the rest of the evening but watch the football game, drink a little rum, and sleep for like 13 hours straight. Work, luckily, has not called for a couple of days.

When I got up on Tuesday morning, I was really hungry. I'd had nothing but popcorn the day before, and I found myself perusing the online menu for the Omelet House over on Boulder Highway. It's just a few minutes away from the house, and that Popeye omelet was looking mighty tasty. Besides, I had the day off again, and I needed a palate cleanser after seeing that less-than-stellar Bond movie. So I took a shower, got dressed, and headed out.

When I got out to my truck, there was a bright-orange warning sticker on the window. Apparently the Henderson police department thinks that since my truck is parked in the same place on the street every day, I'm 'storing' it there and I had 48 hours to move it. I thought that was kind of shiatty, since parking on the street is legal here in our neighborhood. But I work nights, so it looks like my truck never moves. But I had been parking it in the street because my roommate had noticed oil spots underneath it in the driveway, and I started parking it out there until I get another oil change.

Anyhow, that note on the window kind of changed the situation--I didn't want to take a chance on getting towed, so I needed to go back to parking in the driveway. So even though I didn't need it yet, I decided to take my truck down and get another oil change, this time at a different place, and have them check for leaks and such.

The note on the window made me forget about breakfast for awhile, but since I had all day to get the oil changed, I headed back over to GVR first. Yep, time for another movie! This time around, I opted for Role Models, with that guy who plays Stiffler in American Pie, and the other guy, I think, was Alicia Silverstone's step-brother in Clueless. As disappointing as the James Bond movie was, this one exceeded all expectations and I found myself chuckling all the way through it.

There were a few big laughs, a whole lot of little ones, and a few gratuitous gross-out moments thrown in just for good measure. It's kinda tough to give it a review--the plot is out there in the previews. Basically a couple of slackers have to do 150 hours of community service or 30 days of jail time. Their service turns out to be mentoring a couple of 'at-risk' kids, and even though it's kind of a predictable formula, there are a few cool twists and turns and the surprise over-arching 'KISS' theme makes it even more fun. Seriously, I enjoyed the hell out of that movie and would recommend it to anyone looking for a couple of hours of mindless entertainment.

When I got out of the movie, my phone was ringing. It was my sister Cyndi back in Nashville, and her and a couple of her girlfriends had embarked on a Thelma & Louise roadtrip during their lunch break. They blew off work and decided to road trip down to Tunica and gamble all night and then come back in time for work the next morning. She said it made her think of me, so she called to tell me of her plans. I haven't heard back from her yet, so I hope it went well.

Once our phone call ended, I decided to go and get the truck worked on. I drove down to the Firestone shop on Eastern & 215, and told them to change the oil and give the truck a thorough going-over. I opted for the tire store for two reasons--I wanted them to pay particular attention to my tires and brakes, it was less than a half-mile from Grimaldi's, too.

After sitting in the waiting room for about a half an hour, they came back in with bad news. There were a few minor things that needed attention, but a seal on my transmission had failed and was leaking, and needed immediate replacement. Suddenly my $30 oil change turned into a $300 afternoon at the garage. They said it would take a couple of hours to get the part delivered and then do the labor required, so I said the hell with it and started hiking. Grimaldi's was just up the road.

Luckily, it was a beautiful sunny day out here in America's Playground, so it was a pleasant walk. It was mid-afternoon by then, so the restaurant was fairly empty. I took a seat at the indoor-outdoor bar and ordered a tall Peroni draft.

I don't know why I always look at the menu, because I always end up getting the same thing--a large pepperoni and mushroom pie. So I sat there for about an hour and a half, drinking cold beer, eating fine pizza, and enjoying pleasant conversation with the bartender. Eventually, it was time to hike back to the repair shop, so I boxed up my leftovers and headed back.

My truck was all done within a half hour or so after I got back, but the repair bill was a tough nut to swallow. But at least it was a problem that got caught early. I've had to pay for a new transmission before, and if I never have to do that again, I'm totally cool with it. $300 is a much easier pill to swallow than $2200. And I didn't have to worry about leaking oil or tranny fluid on the driveway anymore.

I was carrying my pizza box from Grimaldi's when I paid my bill, and it was a conversation starter with the gal at the desk. But she was from Chicago and insisted that I try her favorite spot, Pie Town Pizza. She even gave me a menu from the drawer that she just happened to have, and told me to come back and tell her my thoughts...

By the time I got home, I was extremely tired, so I wanted to get a little sleep in before going out again. My plan was to play in the 8:00 pm tournament down at Binion's. But I wasn't home for an hour before my roommate came up and told me that my truck was leaking all over the driveway again.


I went down there to look, and yep, there was a small puddle of clean oil on ground under my truck. I had a flashlight and checked the filter and oil pan, and everything was in order. But there was a whole bunch of oil all over my axle, with beads forming and dripping off. It appeared that whoever changed my oil let the pump nozzle go once they'd filled the crankcase and just sprayed oil everywhere. My engine is still damn near spotless, and all of the oil was very clean, so it seemed to be the best guess.

I chose not to worry about it at the time, and just headed on downtown to Binion's. The tournament area was eerily quiet, and when I paid my registration, I asked how many players had signed up so far. They told me they had enough for two tables. That kinda sucked--every other time I've been there, their 8 pm tourney has gotten at least three or four tables worth of players.

Well, that two tables was a bit optimistic. When 8:00 rolled around there were six of us sitting at one table. I was ready to get a refund and split, but everyone wanted to wait and see if we'd get a few more players, so I agreed to stay if we could get a full table and treat it as a sit-n-go. Finally about a half hour later, we got the tourney started and we actually had 13 players. Because of that, they were going to pay the top three spots, with the winner getting like $650. That kind of sucked, since the buy-in was $125, but by then I was already in.

On the very first hand of the tournament, I got pocket Aces. Unfortunately, everyone except the button folded, and all I could get out of him was one bet. As soon as I bet on the flop, he folded too. Ugh.

The tournament turned into what amounted to being a very expensive practice session. For only having 13 players, it was truly a grind. Nobody would bust out--money was just moving around the table in a circle. I played for almost four hours before going all-in with Ace-King (I only had about three big blinds left in my stack), and I got one caller who had pocket sevens. Neither hand improved and I went out in sixth place because the other player had me covered. Seriously--how tight is a tournament if it takes four hours for the seventh player to bust out?

I was a bit disappointed--not because of my play, but because of the lame field. My next tourney will be against a bigger field down at the Venetian, I think. But that won't be until next week at the earliest.

So I said goodnight and good luck to my opponents and then headed out to the valet to fetch my truck. I sat down on the bench to wait, when a mildly attractive blonde gal with fake boobs, too much makeup, and a Juicy Couture sweatsuit walked up and sat right next to me. I mean, all up in my personal space. She started a conversation, and I realized very soon that she was a dancer next door there at the Gulch and was just finishing up her shift. Getting all up in personal space was just second nature to her. We chatted for a bit, but my truck showed up before she made her pitch, which I was sure was coming.

Due to all of the construction downtown, I was unable to get over to the on-ramp at the Boulevard and I-95, so I took the 'scenic' route back to Henderson, ending up on Boulder Highway. Luckily for me I did, because a little while later I saw that the Circle K at Russell and Boulder had unleaded for $2.07 per gallon, by far the cheapest I've ever seen. (It's still $2.19 per gallon just about everywhere else). So I pulled in there and filled up before coming home and collapsing in bed.

When I got up this morning, I had a few errands to run. I wanted to run back over to the bank and move some money around, and then I was planning on getting my engine de-greased. Unfortunately, the only do-it-yourself carwash that I know of is over on the other side of my old neighborhood, just off of Tropicana.

After stopping at the local bank branch, I drove down to the car wash place with a pocket full of quarters. Since my truck was pretty filthy anyways, it was a two-fold mission. So not only did I wash the outside of the truck, I managed to get the engine compartment all squeaky clean and all of the oil residue off of the bottomside, too. It only took about a half hour of scrubbin', but now my truck is all pretty again, inside and out.

Of course, after finishing that little chore, it was lunchtime. Where did I go--to Pie Town Pizza! However, since I'd had Grimaldi's the day before, I wasn't in the mood for pizza. But looking at their menu, I saw that they also offered sandwiches and one of my latest cravings, hot dogs.

First of all, the location is just right--it's in a strip mall over on Sunset and Green Valley Parkway--about midway between my current place and 'Rueben's House' where I used to live. A lot of people rave about Amore for Chicago food, but the biggest drawback is that it's way the hell over on the west side of town, and I hate driving over there unless I know I'm gonna get my hands on some boobies or something while I'm out there.

Anyhow, it's a very small place--barely a storefront with just six booths for those who wish to eat in. But you know the food has got to be good when the kitchen is over twice as big as the dining room. But the dining room is very cool--both brick walls are covered with huge murals featuring pictures of every famous Chicago icon you can imagine, from the Blues Brothers, to Oprah, Ed Bundy, and the four 'Da Bears!' guys from SNL.

And the staff--three of the four people I met were from the Windy City, and they were very proud of their restaurant. So from the extensive menu and the pleasing asthetics of the restaurant, it looked like I was in for a pleasant meal.

I was fairly hungry, and in the mood to put on my food critic hat and sample different things, so I ordered a 'Bull' dog (a Vienna beef dog with chile, cheese, and onions), a Polish dog, side of fries, a pepperoni pizza puff, and a large Coke. Oh hell yeah, they get bonus points for being a Coke place!

While the chili dog was very good, the Polish dog was just out of this world fantastic! Easily the best one I've ever had. I know, that's a bold statement, but this one came on a steamed poppy seed bun, and it was covered in yellow mustard and sauteed onions. Way better than the 'award winner' at Costco. It was sooooo good. I could've easily eaten about four of them and walked away very happy. The pizza puff was pretty good, but didn't move me. It was like eating a pepperoni Danish, and the pizza puffs at Native New Yorker back in Phoenix are just a little better, I think.

I also have to give props to the fries. Normally, I don't order fries whenever I eat out. They're just not my thing. But one of the guys behind the counter talked me into a side order. I'm glad I did it, because these were very good. They were the double-fried kind, lightly seasoned, and like a good Vienna beef dog, they had a good snap to them, yet the insides were tender. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and no ketchup was needed.

While I was sitting there enjoying the food, I couldn't help but compare it to a visit to a place called Chicago Tasty Dog I went to a few weeks ago. One night, Kelly was over, and we decided to go out and get a bite to eat, and we ended up there. Overall, it was pretty bad. The buns were stale, the fries were greasy and limp, and it was waaaay overpriced. I was really bummed because I was craving a Chicago style dog, and these were no good at all. Not a good place at all--if you want a hot dog, avoid this place at all costs.

But Pie Town was great--I can't wait to go back again. But before I left, I thought it would be a mortal sin if I didn't try their deep dish pizza. So I ordered one to go to eat later tonight. I got a 12" Superfan Special, substituting mushrooms for the olives. It took another half hour or so, causing me to wait around, but I was cool with hanging out talking to the cutie behind the counter and watching ESPN.

I was chilling in my booth when the cook brought out my pizza box. He set it on the table and presented it to me like a briefcase full of money. He opened the lid, and I swear the immediate area lit up like when Jules Winfield opened the mystery suitcase for Ringo there in the Hawthorne Grill.

I almost broke into my bad Tim Roth British accent and asked Is that what I think it is?

Yep, it was a work of art, weighing in at a good eight pounds or more.

I brought it home, and as full as I was from lunch, I managed to eat a piece while I've been making this post. It's damn good. Better than Amore. So all of you Chicago food fans out here on the east side of town now have a place to call your own. The deep-dish pizza is great. The Vienna dogs are authentic, and the Polish dogs are damn near orgasmic. I'll be back there for lunch next week on my day off. Oh, and they have garlic knots too. I didn't try them, and frankly, I'll be surprised if they're as good as the ones at Chicago Brewing Company, but hey, it's just another reason to go back.

Anyhow, that's pretty much what's been going on in the World of Mikey for the past two days. I'm back home now, getting ready to go to bed because I have to work late tonight. But I may have another slice of pizza first...


Monday, November 17, 2008

Leading Indicator

Yeah, the economy is in the shitter right now. So say the talking heads. And everyone who's lost a job in the past couple of months.

Here in Vegas, they're trying to generate traffic, so they're giving away the store. Back when times were good, properties on the Strip didn't give two shiats about local business. I couldn't pry an offer out of MGM-Mirage even if I had a truckload of Cristal and limo full of half-naked coked-up Playboy bunnies delivered to the hosts at Treasure Island. But now that occupancy rates have fallen below 90% and the Mirage is offering $5 blackjack on weekends, my inbox is suddenly full of juicy offers. Free nights at the Emerald City, discounted show tickets, and even $129 rooms at a swank joint like the Bellagio between now and The Holiday That Shall Not Be Named.

Yes, it's going to be a cruel winter, according to the bean counters, but Spring is just around the corner.

Try getting a decent room rate for March Madness. This town is already anticipating a sell-out for the entire month, and prices reflect that. Ed W and I booked our room for the Madness this weekend, and three nights at the Nugget are gonna cost us almost $500. And that's for the privelege of hiking back and forth the South Tower ghetto all weekend. If we wanted to stay in the trendier North Tower zip code, well, then we're talking about coughing up a full-on Kobe tasting menu and premium wine flight for two at Craftsteak.

Six bills or more for three nights on Fremont Street? For that price, there better be a couple of twenties stashed inside the nightstand Bible and a complimentary bag of Mexican Gold in the mini-bar.

Granted, we could go old-school and pile everyone into one room at the Plaza, with rollaway beds and a pre-trip Rochambeau tournament to determine who would have to spoon up together, refreshing ourselves with a styrofoam Walmart cooler full of canned Pabst while watching one bracket at a time in the room on a 19-inch Zenith, but no, we've outgrown such spartan accomodations.

So I guess we're going to have to pay. If the oddsmakers in Vegas know anything, it appears that the recession is going to end around St. Patrick's Day.

You heard it here first.


Reading, Writing, and Recovering

That's pretty much it for my plans today. I've got the day off (so far), and I don't plan on doing much at all.

Last night, I briefly considered going out for some Grimaldi's and then hitting the 8 pm tournament down at Binion's, but I never motivated myself out the door. I didn't really get any sleep yesterday, and while I was getting dressed to go out, the thought of sitting at a poker table for five hours just didn't appeal to me. So instead, I just took a shower, put on a flannel shirt, and went to bed. No dinner, no poker. Besides, I was afraid that I'd get called in to work again. Not that I would've minded, but once I went to bed, I was totally cool with staying there.

So I got plenty of sleep, dozing through the last half of the Cowboys/Redskins game, then just giving up completely at some point and turning off the TV altogether. I finally woke up around 4:00 this morning, and this time it wasn't because of my phone ringing. Apparently, the poker room can function without me on occasion. So I watched last night's recorded episode of The Unit and then turned on Mike & Mike to provide the background noise while I do this post.

I've got a pot of coffee brewing, and a fresh bottle of peppermint mocha creamer to put me in the proper frame of mind, and my plan is to do nothing for awhile but surf the net and do some reading. I've got a stack of books on my desk that's two feet high that I've acquired over the past couple of months that I need to attack at some point. Besides that, the only productive activity I see on the horizon is going down to the bank when it opens and depositing a small pile of hundies (if only I had that 'chore' every week!) and then filling up the gas tank. As much as I'd like to work today and earn a few more ducketts, I think I'd probably enjoy a full day away, too.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Treating Myself

Well, I was right about one thing this weekend. I was guessing that I'd get called into work late Friday night, and it happened. Once I got back from that poker tourney at Planet Ho, I came home, did my write-up, then took a shower and went to bed. Around 2:30 in the morning, the poker room was calling, needing my assistance at 4:00. I figured that there would be no way a game would still be going by then, but I was wrong about that--when I arrived there were two games still hopping, and I got locked down until 6:30.

The games were very juicy, especially the no-limit table. There were five or six guys playing, and there must've been six grand on the table getting pushed around. So I made a nice little pile of cash, which was great, especially since I hadn't been scheduled that day. I ended up working until 9:30, and I was going to go home and go to bed, but one of my favorite gals was working in the sports book that day and she talked me into sticking around and watching football in her section. She kept the Captain & Sevens coming at a regular clip and came by to visit whenever she had a lull, so it was an enjoyable morning. I finally bailed out around noon because I was just too tired to hang around.

Once I got home, I spent about a half hour scrubbing and polishing the bathroom--because of the big UFC fight on Saturday night, I figured that my roommate would have people over, and my bathroom is the 'guest' bathroom when everyone is hanging out upstairs in the gameroom playing poker or lounging out on the balcony. Once that chore was done, I took another hot-as-I-can-stand-it shower and went to bed. I'm still fighting the bug I picked up, and it had been a very long day by then.

I slept straight through, the party outside my bedroom door didn't even phase me, but again, my phone woke me up in the middle of the night. Yep, I had to go back to work again.

Sunday morning in the poker room wasn't nearly as lucrative as Saturday morning was, and I was done by 6:30. I hung out chatting with the relief dealer and the floorman for a bit, but then I came on back to the house. I was wide awake, so I spent the morning surfing the internet, then called back to Nashville to talk to some of the folks back home.

While I was talking to Mamasan, I was telling her that I *almost* purchased a new digital camera this morning, but I just didn't want to spend the money. I've been wanting a new one for over a year, but I never could justify the expense. My current digital camera kinda sucks--just click on all those Binion's poker room photos from last week to see how grainy the pics are. But it's an old hand-me-down camera from Angy--she gave it to me over a year ago when she upgraded to a newer one. I only kept it because my old Canon Powershot 3.2 mp I bought back in 2003 has been beat to hell and doesn't work half the time.

Anyhow, I've needed a new camera for some time, but other things have always taken priority. And a lot of my Vegas adventures would be a lot more interesting to read about if I had some good photos to go along with them. So I've been thinking about it more and more lately. Anyhow, my conversation with Mamasan must've gotten me off the fence, because she convinced me that it was time to treat myself and not worry about buyer's remorse. I've had an and unexpectedly good month financially, plus I cashed in that tourney on Friday. So I could certainly afford a luxury item for myself.

Before I bought anything for myself, though, I got on Amazon and sent Mamasan a couple of little things she wanted--a kitchen gadget and some slot-machine software for her computer. I figured I could spread the wealth a little bit.

As far as buying a camera goes, I couldn't decided what I wanted. Ideally, I'd like to get a nice DSLR, but the price is still a little bit out of my budget, even for the lower-end models. I was looking at another 10 mp Canon model, but it seemed a bit bulky--modeled to look like a full-on DSLR, but it really wasn't, and the lense wasn't one that could be changed out. It was only about $350, well within my budget, but the more I researched it, the less I liked it.

But then I found a really nice 8 mp Canon Powershot model, with optical zoom and image stabilization, and unbelievably, Amazon had it on sale for just $116! I couldn't believe the price, so I jumped on it and put it in my online shopping cart before they could jack it up again. I also picked up a 2 gig memory card and a padded carrying bag for it, too. Since I'd saved so much money versus what I thought I'd be paying, I did a little more browsing there on Amazon and picked up a new pair of Reeboks, too. I needed some decent tennis shoes--my other ones were getting worn out, and I wanted something besides black in my wardrobe anyways. And in the back of my mind, I figured I should do my part to help out our ailing economy, too.

My online shopping spree didn't end there. After all that, I figured it was time once and for all to kill this nasty bug that's had me under the weather all week. So I looked up one of them Canadian pharmacys and ordered a bunch of Amoxicillin. Since I don't have insurance anymore, going to the walk-in clinic and getting a prescription is almost cost-prohibitive. Ordering online was fairly simple, although I have to wait for a 'medical specialist' to review my health questionairre before they release my order. Hopefully it'll arrive within a week or so and I'll be able to kill this bronchitis or whatever the hell is ailing me.

The problem with working in a casino is that there is so much nastiness and so many skanky germs around you all the time that it actually kind of helps your immune system--it's no problem to fight off most of the milder bugs. But once you *do* finally catch something, it's usually so bad that it just wipes you out. I feel like I've done nothing but work and sleep for about the past ten days straight, and I'm getting tired of feeling like crap.

So I spent about $45 on my Amoxicillin, and as soon as I got to the checkout portion of the process, I got a pop-up window (heh) telling me that if I spent at least a hundred bucks on medications, I'd get four free Viagra pills! But I couldn't really think of any other medications I needed at the time, so I had to decline their generous offer. Apparently their marketing department isn't really big on common sense--If somebody is buying penecillin, Viagra probably isn't the best thing for 'em. I'm just sayin'. But four free Viagra pills...that's like a year's supply... I should've bought more antibiotics!

Anyhow, now that my shopping spree has concluded, I'm just kickin' it here at the house, watching a little football and enjoying the evening. It's my dad's 69th birthday today, so I got to talk to him for about a half an hour or so, which was nice. We had a lot of laughs and caught up on all the latest news and gossip. I'm trying to convert him to the wonders of Photobucket and Flickr, just because he does a bit of traveling and picture-taking now that he's a full-time retiree, but he's still old skool and doesn't like that new-fangled intarweb thingy as a way of sharing pictures, although he has a very nice Sony DSLR and uses photo editing software before he makes his prints...

As for the rest of my evening, I'm considering heading out to Grimaldi's for some dinner. I haven't been there in entirely too long, and I've got a hankerin'. I'm also thinking of going down to Binion's for their 8 pm tournament, too.