Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Can't Get Rid Of Me Yet **UPDATED**

So, y'all thought you were done with me after today, huh? Well, I may be taking a hiatus from the keyboard for a couple of months, but I'll still be lurking around the blogosphere. In fact, tomorrow night I'll be a guest on the Aging Nymphs BlogTalk radio show, talking about this website.

I don't have a proper link to it right now, but Linda Lou will send be sending me one later this afternoon/evening once she gets a few minutes away from that whole work thing. I just wanted to give you all a heads-up, just in case you had nothing else to do tomorrow night. Besides, there is also a link to the radio show's main page over on Linda's website. If you want, you can go over there and try and listen to an archived show just to make sure that you computer has the proper software working so that you hear the show.

I'm pretty sure I'll be on around 7:10 pm Pacific time on Wednesday night, if you want to hear it live. But if you can't listen right then, it'll be up in the archives within a day or so.


Update-- Here's the email I got from Linda with the info:

Hey. Mikey—

Thanks again for agreeing to do our show tomorrow night. It’ll be fun!

Listeners can go to www.blogtalkradio.com/agingnymphs and click on the show title to listen live. To join the conversation, they can call (347) 215-9937 (number will display on the screen) or they can come back anytime and listen to the archives.

You’re the best!



Work All Night

... Sleep all day

Hey, isn't that some cheesy hair band rock anthem? Well, I think it is, and it popped into my head as I made my way back to Casa de Mikey this morning. Had a good night at work, and now I'm kinda beat.

I'm feeling much better, but it's because I've been home resting for the past few days instead of being out collecting germs from the various women-folk I run with. In fact, my gal Hailey called me a couple of days ago asking if I was sick since she hadn't heard from me since last Sunday, and I told her that yep, I was under the weather all week. She said she's been out of commission also. Of course I blamed my illness on her funky germs, and she blamed hers on me. Either way, we were both down for the count for a few days. I'm feeling *much* better now, although I can tell I'm still not quite 100% yet. But it's getting there.

I still don't have all my strength back--being locked down at work for several hours last night really kicked my ass. I'm not complaining--I prefer it that way, but man, when I was finally done, I was draggin'.

Besides going to the bank to deposit a few hundies in a couple of hours, I've got no plans for the day except to lie around reading and relaxing. Yesterday, I got a visit from Amazon-Claus, and I spent several hours reading when I should've been sleeping--that probably contributed to my current state of exhaustion. I got one history book that completely sucked ass--I blew through it in less than an hour and was completely disappointed, but then I started reading Bill Simmons' latest edition of Now I Can Die In Peace, which is highly entertaining. I'm already almost 200 pages into it because I couldn't put it down. And the bonus is that it gives me something of his to read while I wait for him to get over his ridiculous NBA obsession and turn towards the football season.

I figure that once I finish this book off, my three Hornblower books will arrive and that'll give another week's worth of material. But then again, this is a holiday weekend coming up, so I figure I'll probably be at the casino pushing chips around the table for several days.

On the kitchen front, I found a few Thai recipes that I'm going to try as soon as I get a new wok, and I'm also going to try my hand with coconut rice. Also, as soon as I get a new dining room table and some individual casserole crocks, I'm going to try Coquille St. Jacques. I love me some scallops, and the fancy French version will give me a good excuse to go buy a couple of bottles of good wine. But y'all will have to wait until September to read about that--I've got a vacation coming up.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

More Reading, Less Poker

After my run of ridiculous bad luck at the 'M' the other night, I've decided to take a week or so off from the poker tables. And while I generally feel like playing poker is a positive expectation game for me, right now, I just don't want to take the chance on taking a hit to the bankroll with another slew of bills due in a few days.

So I've been chillin' here at the new apartment--something I find that I really enjoy, now that I live by myself. It had been so long that I'd forgotten all the small joys of having one's own space. Of course, having a sweet TV helps, but then again, most of the time, there ain't shiat to watch. I've already seen every episode of Deadliest Catch and No Reservations at least three times, AMC seems to show Clear & Present Danger about six times a day, (and it was a sucky movie anyways), and while I love me some History Channel, Food Network, and Discovery, I will *never* watch anything that has to do with aliens, ghosts, bigfoot, mummies, or Rachael Ray.

It's also too getting too hot to do anything outside except go to the pool, and for the past three or four days, the maintenance crew here has drained the pool and are working on resurfacing it. So swimming is out of the question. Oh, and I'm still a couple of days away from kicking this head cold, so I don't feel like doing much except reading and cooking (although my appetite is still on the wane due to being kinda sick).

Thankfully the NBA season is finally over, and now that the draft is behind us, maybe Bill Simmons' column will be readable again. In the meantime, I've been doing a lot of other reading. Most of my books have been sealed up and stored for over two years, and some of them I've never even read, and some of them are almost ten years old. But I've been unpacking them all, and it seems that I've lost a storage tote somewhere. I cannot find my guitar notebooks anywhere, and while I can't name any specific titles, it feels like I'm missing some of my other books.

Oh well, at least I'm pretty much all unpacked now. And I see that I have some empty shelf space, too...

Over the past two days, I found and read the first two Back Bay editions of C.S. Forester's Hornblower saga, Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and Lieutenant Hornblower, both of which were fantastically fun to read. Normally, besides Tom Clancy novels, I'm not much of a fiction guy--I prefer history books--but well-written historical fiction is quite enjoyable.

Of course, absorbing that much Royal Navy adventure in so short a time has left me wanting for more. So this morning, I broke my promise to myself that I'd buy nothing but necessities until there was a new couch in my living room--I got onto Amazon and ordered the next three volumes in the series. That'll give me the first five out of the eleven total Hornblower books , and I'm sure that by the end of the summer, I'll have read the entire saga. (I'm also waiting on another shipment of a couple of other books, but I ordered them before I decided to stop spending money).

And even though I'm still a bit sick and kind of not hungry, I find that eating one meal a day of cheese, crackers, and apple slices just doesn't cut it. So this morning I felt like I had to make some sort of substantial meal.

So I broke out the big cast iron skillet, cooked up a pound of breakfast sausage, made a roux with real butter and bacon drippings (Oh yeah!), added some white and black pepper, mixed in a bit of milk, and let the whole mess simmer for a bit while I baked up a pan of biscuits. While watching an episode of Triple-D on the Travel Channel awhile back, I saw that one of the diners used maple syrup in their gravy recipe, so added about a quarter cup to mine, too.

Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman is in the restroom at Jack Rabbit Slims, does a line of coke on the counter, then stands straight up with a slight quiver and yells in the mirror "Gott-damn!!!"?

Well, that was my reaction when I took my first bite. It was outstanding.

I may have been in kitchen exile for the better part of the last year, but I still got mad skillz. This was probably one of the best batches of sausage gravy that I've ever made. And lucky for me there are leftovers, too.

Anyhow, there's not much else of interest going on around here. I'm just gonna enjoy the peace and quiet, the cool breeze from the air conditioner, and perhaps a rum drink or two, and spend most of my weekend reading and waiting for the phone to ring.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thumbs Up

While kicking around the house this morning, enjoying my coffee and relaxing, I sat down in front of my favorite new toy.

Usually, daytime TV really is a vast wasteland, but I scrolling through the channels, I stumbled upon a diamond in the rough. I landed on the Encore Drama channel about five minutes into a movie I'd never heard of called Greenfingers. But it was interesting enough to hook me in, and I decided to give it a few minutes worth of attention.

Anyhow, I found it quite entertaining and ended up watching the whole thing. It was actually a very good movie, kinda funny, and a bit of that underdog, power-of-the-human-spirit kind of uplifting tale. I don't think it won any awards or got much critical acclaim, but it was a nice enjoyable feel-good flick.

Basically, it's a tale about a bunch of convicts in an open-style British prison who take to gardening, and catch the attention of a famous gardener (it's a British movie, so I'm guessing gardeners are celebrities over there like chefs are over here). Anyhow, with a few plot twists and turns, she convinces them to compete in a national gardening competition.

It pretty much follows the predictable underdog movie formula, but then again, it's a formula that people find entertaining, and I really got a kick out of it. And one-liners are almost always funnier with a British accent, so it's got that going for it, too.

I looked it up on Amazon, and while the DVD is no longer in print, it can still be found out there. It's certainly worthy enough to get on your Netflix list, and I'm sure that Encore will play it again. So if you get a chance to see it, check it out. I think you'll like it.


42 Bottles of Booze On The Wall

While making a pot of coffee a few minutes ago, I decided to count all of the bottle of booze I have. Yes folks, there are 42 different bottles, 15 of which are some variety of rum. The rest--decent stuff like Bailey's, Kahlua, assorted vodkas, two bottles of Crown, and then some weird shiat like Blue Curacao to round out the collection.

So if anybody is thirsty, come on by. I have a blender, a cocktail shaker, and a bunch of ice cubes, too. Not to mention a mini-fridge full of Amber Bock.


Pinche Rio

OK, I think that today, I'm just gonna lie around the house and whimper for a few hours.

I'm still under the weather, and you know how it is with a cold--you always feel like shiat in the morning. And this morning, I definitely feel like I've been run over by a large angry vehicle.

Yesterday was a fun day, though. I met up with Big Drew from Wisconsin--we had lunch at Grimaldi's. I hadn't been there in over a month, so it nice that he chose it as a place to meet up. The pizza was excellent, of course.

After we finished eating and catching up, Drew and his wife wanted to head over to the M Resort and check it out, so I gave them easy directions from the restaurant, and I headed out to run a couple of errands. I still haven't found the post office in my new neighborhood, but since Grimaldi's is so close to the old 'dog house', I headed over there to the post office that was damn near directly across the street from my old place.

Now, the main Vegas post office across from the airport on Sunset is a model of efficiency, but the 89012 outpost on Horizon Ridge is staffed by the most ridiculous collection of inept morons ever to pass a civil service exam. I *hate* going in there because it's always a clusterf*ck, and a thirty second transaction always manages to take five minutes. Even if there are only four cars in the parking lot, I know that at least a half-hour of my life is going to be wasted.

Well, thankfully they got a new toy there--an ATM style stamp dispenser. Normally, I'd just buy stamps at the grocery store, but twice this week I'd been shot down--both stores were out of stamps. That's the only reason I broke down and went directly to the source. Anyhow, in the past, that particular post office had a vending machine, but it was always out of the 'Forever' stamps, it only took cash, and unless I wanted to spend $40+ on a hundred of them, I usually had to wait in line.

But the new ATM-style stamp machine saved me the trouble this time. I bought a book of 18 with my debit card and was out of there in less than a minute. The six people in line, of course, had that exasperated look of DMV patrons, all knowing that they'd be there for the long haul, while the morons behind the counter took full advantage of the fact that they were indeed being paid by the hour, not per-customer.

I also hit the local Smith's grocery store for a few things--normally I've been going to the WallyWorld super center, but as big as their grocery section is, they seem to have a limited selection of things (like salsa), their produce ain't that great, and they ridiculously over-charge for bread. But with stamps and groceries in hand, I made it home and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Around six in the evening, one of my gals called, seeing if I wanted to go play some poker. I did, but I didn't want to go the same room she was looking to play in--I wanted to go back over to the M. She didn't want to drive all the way out there, so I told her maybe I'd just meet up with her later.

I took a shower and got dressed, then called down to the M poker room and had them put my name on the waiting list. When I got there, I was still about 7 or 8 spots down on the waiting list, so I was hoping that they'd just open a new table. That didn't happen, so I just sat in the sports book watching the College World Series.

But while I was sitting there, I saw my favorite dealer, that cute gal with the kookie blond hair and the pierced tongue. She was just getting up from a game and saw me, so she came over to say hello, asking me where I'd been for the past month.

Mikey, I haven't seen you since before you headed off to Phoenix for the Jimmy Buffett concert!

True, I'd been gone awhile--I spent a week in Phoenix, then a week or so moving, and then after that, the bad beat jackpot over at Stations was so high that I was either working every night or playing there trying to get a piece of the action. So I hadn't been to the M in quite some time. (Actually, I went there on Sunday with my gal Hailey, and we played cards for a few hours and went to dinner, but my favorite dealer is off on Sunday and Mondays).

Anyhow, we spent a few minutes chit-chatting and catching up and then they decided to go ahead and open a new game--and since she was the break dealer, she would start it. Nice! So we sat down and a few other players came over, but then they realized that there was no rake-box under the table--it was just a big empty bracket--the box was never replaced after they did the drop the night before. So, they couldn't use the table.

We were getting ready to move to another one when a seat opened up in the main game and they called my name. So I went over there to play.

Unfortunately, I was just card dead for about two hours. I couldn't get a 'mustache card' to save my life and up until around 11:00 pm or so, I'd only had three pocket pairs for the entire session. Jacks, which of course lost. Pocket Jacks always lose. Sixes, which were no good after the flop, and Fives, which actually won a small pot for me when I flopped and outside straight and turned the winner, only for it to cost me a bet when the third heart hit the river. Grrrr... I still won the pot, but I couldn't bet the river from early position.

Anyhow, I was running so badly--a never-ending parade of stuff like 6-3, 9-2, 7-4--that I asked for a seat change and got it when somebody finally called it a night.

I should've just stayed put, because in one hour, I flopped two-pair five times! Unfortunately, I was rivered by a three or four-outer each and every time. It was just ridiculous--I've never seen so many people make ridiculous suck-outs on the river against me--it was like I was playing four games at a time on Poker Stars. It was just an endless string of bad beats. And of course, every time I'd flop four to a flush, I never got there, but everyone else did, so suited cards only cost me more money.

There was one huge pot that I felt I was sure I was going to win--I had Nines full of Jacks, and when all was said and done, it was about a $150 pot. Of course, somebody else had the same thing, so we split it. My best hand of the night ended up being a split pot--that's how bad I was running.

On my last hand of the night, I had Six-Five of hearts on the big blind. There were six limpers, so I just checked when it came to me. The flop came out Six-Five-Deuce, so I bet right out, and everyone called. The turn brought a King, so I bet again and got a couple of callers. It was a nice pot by then, so I was anticipating finally getting nice payoff. The river brought a Three, there was no possible flush out there, so I bet. Of course some jackass called, and when I showed my two pair, he turned over 9-4 offsuit to make his inside straight.

Unbelievable run of bad luck.

I was so fed up by that time--stuck almost $180--that I didn't even play my small blind or button. I had $14 left in front of me and I was just pissed off. So I got up from the game, went over to the table where my favorite gal with the kookie hair was dealing, waited for her to push her pot, and then gave her all of the shrapnel I had left and said goodnight. No use standing in line at the cashier for fourteen bucks.

It was just a sucky night all around.

I got out of there sometime after midnight, tired, pissed off, and hungry. No, there was no chance of going to the Red Cup Cafe for breakfast--the staff there seems to have taken customer service lessons from the doofusses there at the Horizon Ridge post office. So I just came home, fixed myself a pimento & cheese sammich and watched TV for a couple of hours.

Finally, when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, I took some medicine and put a mellow big-band CD in the player and went to bed.

I'm hoping today turns out a little better, although I don't have a thing on the agenda. I'm gonna chill out here at the house, do a few chores and whatnot, and just relax today. I'm still not feeling well, but it's nothing that a pot of coffee and some good drugs won't fix. Maybe later tonight I'll bang around in the kitchen some--one of the cocktail waitresses at work hooked me up with some homemade tortillas and refried beans two nights ago, so I might marinade a flank steak or something and make some burritos or fajitas.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More 'Vacation' Stuff

Wow--over 50 comments! It's nice to be loved, that's for sure. But Dougie was right--with that many comments, you'd expect to find a coleslaw recipe tucked in there somewhere in that post.

Anyhow, thank you all for your outpouring of support and understanding. No, I'm not going away permanently--Even if I wanted to, I think after a couple of weeks I'd get the itch and post something. But knowing that I get to take a 'leave of absence', well, I think it'll do me some good. I'm kinda sorry that some of people are a little bitter and disappointed and feel let down, but you know what? Them's the breaks...

Keeping up a blog like this is a lot of hard work. And it began to feel like a part-time job--a part time job that doesn't pay much, either. And I don't need that pressure in my life. Besides, Linda cursed me with a quote that I can't un-hear when she told me "I only do things that bring me joy. If it doesn't bring me joy, well, I just don't do it". Sage advice, but I think I've taken it to heart. Not that I don't enjoy writing, but sometimes it's a chore, and a lot of times I only did it because I've felt obligated to. I don't know why that is, I don't owe anybody anything, but I think it has to do with a midwestern work-ethic combined with 20 years of guilt-inducing Mormonism (Hey, the Catholics got nothin' on the Mormons when it comes to telling you what a sinner you are!). I may be inherently lazy, but when something has to be done, I usually do it without too much complaint.

Sometimes, however, there just wasn't any joy to be found. But that's on me, not on you folks. I appreciate all the support and feedback I've gotten over the years. And it's always nice to know that people enjoy your work.

Anyhow, I don't know if there's really a point to this post, maybe just a little clarification was needed. But all is well and life is pretty good. And once I take a little me-time, I'll be back in the saddle again, and hopefully better than ever.


Down Goes Frazier!

Man, I sure would like to find out who it was that gave me this head cold and kick them directly in the ass. Is there nothing worse than having a cold in the middle of summer?

I pulled an all-nighter at work last night, locked down the whole time, which is always a good thing, but this morning when I was getting ready to leave, my boss heard me sniffling a bit and trying to suppress a cough and said "You can't be getting sick on me now".

Unfortunately, I've already been sick for several days, and although the common cold takes about two weeks to run it's course, I'm right in the middle of the worst of it. Luckily for me I had plenty of drugs handy, else I would've never made it all the way through my shift. And I can never afford to miss any work, especially right now.

Once the morning crew came in, I was glad to be able to get out of the casino, take some medicine, and get some breakfast (What is that saying "Starve a fever, feed a cold"?). Nothing like beer and pancakes to make ya feel better. But once I got home, man, I crashed hard. I could barely keep my eyes open once I got in the front door.

But it's been like that for the past couple of days--I've been busier than hell for a few days, and just haven't gotten enough rest. Until today, that is. I got a good five hours of sleep without interruption. I heard my phone go off a couple of times, but it was just out of reach and I didn't feel like making the effort to grab it. Oh well.

I really wish I was feeling better--I've got a couple of days off later this week and I wanted to play in at least one, if not more, of the Binion's Poker Open tournaments over the next several days. As much as I was looking forward to this series of tourneys, I've only managed to get into one of them so far. I wanted to play this past Sunday, but I was just feeling too poorly. One lesson that I've learned the hard way is *not* to play cards unless I'm feeling 100%. In hindsight there is nothing more stupid than thinking "Well, if I go bust on this hand, at least I can go home and get some rest..." Seriously--that's just poor judgment. Besides, in this town, there will *always* be another game or another tournament tomorrow. No need to be miserable and lose money at the same time.

Anyhow, I wish there were more going on around here, but my adventures are somewhat curtailed until I kick this bug. Oh, and by the way, I *still* have my sense of smell, but rest easy--I won't be buying anymore Zicam nasal spray once this bottle is gone.

I just wish somebody would make some wasabi-based cold medicine--that always seems to work, and it tastes good, too.


Monday, June 22, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Hey Gang... I've got an announcement to make that some of y'all ain't gonna like.

I'm taking a vacation.

No, I'm not going anywhere (as far as you know), but I am going to take a break from the keyboard for a little while. After almost seven years of trying to be creative, I think I've become a little burnt out. I find myself using too many adverbs, repeating the same movie lines and song lyrics over and over again, and damn, if I had a dollar for every time I wrote about having to go to the bank or do laundry, I'd never have to work again.

Basically, I'm just getting kinda bored. The thrill is gone. In fact, I've actually considered just shutting this joint down and finding something else to waste time with, but my writing-guru Linda just about went upside my head when she heard that. Nothing really wrong at this end, but I just find myself staring at a blank screen longer and more often every time I sit down at the keyboard. I think my outlook has changed for the worse, too, as whenever I'm in a situation, good, bad, or indifferent, I find that I'm always asking myself How do I write about this? I don't like thinking that way, to be honest--I'd rather just enjoy the moment and not have to worry about the best way to share it with everyone else.

So I think some time off to recharge the batteries is in order. I'm not gonna go away, I'm just gonna take the rest of the summer off, starting on July 1st. I'll keep posting until then, but after that, I'll see y'all in September.


The 'After' Picture

Ok, so I finally feel like I'm pretty much done with the whole unpacking chore that comes with moving in to a new place. I haven't had a lot of free time this weekend, and I'm still feeling under the weather a bit, but I managed to get a lot done.

Remember the 'before' picture from last Wednesday morning?

Well, that's what my living room *used* to look like. I cleaned it all up, got the new furnishings put together, hooked up the new TV, and now it looks like a nice place to live. Check it out:

Oh yes, it's still missing a few things, like a couch/sectional, a coffee table, and some sort of art to hang on the wall over the TV, but it's getting there. And as soon as I make my way down to the music store, I'll get a guitar stand and set the acoustic up between the tall bookcase and the TV stand. That's an empty spot that needs something, and I'd kinda like to hide the cable outlet if I could. I might also get an area rug of some sort--something that really ties the room together.

One one hand, I'd also kinda like to get rid of my old TV, but it's still in perfect condition. I may just store it for a couple of months, and once football season rolls around, I'll set it in the corner on top of the beer fridge, and have it showing the secondary game on the weekends.

I'm glad that chore is done, but I'll be even more happy once I get some real furniture in here. I remember back in the early 90's when Reverend Dave and I first moved to Phoenix, we didn't have *any* furniture. Nothing--no couch, no chairs, not even beds. We rented a two-bedroom place in the ghetto and sat on the floor for like three months until the money started coming in. (We were still dirt poor, though--we had to walk across the street to the Circle K to use the pay phone in the alley!). Eventually we bought a cheap living room set that went into the dumpster about four or five years later.

But not this time around--I'm gonna buy the best stuff I can afford, the heavier the better. It may take a few weeks, but I don't mind waiting. All I know is that once football season kicks off, this place will be fully furnished with comfortable seating for everyone who comes to visit. Oh, and once I finally get real furniture, I'll have all the ladies over for dinner one night, too--I can't wait to take pictures of Linda Lou eating guacamole for the first time...


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Potato In Search Of A Couch

All I can say is Wow! It's so pretty!

Yep, I finally got my TV hooked up and running properly, and man oh man, is it ever a thing of beauty. Having not watched HD television anywhere but the sports book for the past year, I'd forgotten just how much of an eye candy treat it was. And now, if I weren't so tired, I'd be up all night watching Ice Road Truckers re-runs or something equally brainless.

Anyhow, once I got home late last night (after winning a whopping $22 at poker), there was a pink sticky card on my door from the postman, telling me that there was a package waiting for me down at the rental office. HDMI cables! Woot!

Unfortunately, the office didn't open until ten o'clock in the morning, and I had to be at work at eleven, so all I could do was pick them up on my way to the casino.

My workday dragged--I'm still not feeling too well, and the day was just a straight grind for me. Normally I have a lot of fun at my job, but I'll be the first to admit that Saturday just wasn't any fun for me. Nothing I can put my finger on, but it was just one of those shifts that had to be endured rather than enjoyed. I was glad to finally pull the ripcord and head for home.

Of course, I'd gotten up early enough that morning to get the TV put together and ready to go on the stand, hoping that the set-up would take just a few minutes. It went pretty smoothly, and once I figured out the initial set-up instructions, I was treated to a beautiful broadcast of the Nascar Busch race from Wisconsin. (Seriously, the people at Sharp need to hire the Suburban Hausfrau as a technical writer. Whoever they've got doing it right now, well, they just plain suck). Well, at first glance it was a beautiful picture, but it didn't quite fit the screen. It was like I had a 44-inch picture on a 40-inch screen. And the TV zoom options just made it worse.

It took me about a half hour of cursing and throwing things before I figured out that there was an HD zoom button on my cable remote too, and it had been set to 'Stretch' when the guy came out to install all my goodies a couple of weeks ago. I set it back to normal, and Voila!--The picture was absolutely crisp, stunning, and perfect.

Normally, I don't give a rat's hindquarters about the Busch races, but it was total sensory overload, and once I got the settings right, I had to sit and watch the whole thing. Oh, and during the commercials, I switched it over to Discovery HD to watch Deadliest Catch reruns. Oh man--just amazing.

I was so tired that I could barely get up out of the chair, but I was also starving, having not really eaten anything since my granola-bar dinner the night before. So I ordered a pizza and some wings to be delivered from some joint over in Whitney Ranch who's menu ended up on my front door the other day (again, something I haven't done in years!). The wings--great, the pizza, not so much. I ate about five of the wings, and after two slices of pizza, I gave up and threw out the rest. It was gross. Manhattan Pizza, you're dead to me! (On the other hand, I found out last week that my new apartment is in the delivery area for Pie Town--that great Chicago-style joint on GV Parkway).

But that was pretty much my evening. I tried to do a few household chores, and started unloading the books and such, but I just didn't have it in me. I'm off for the next couple of days, so I'm guessing that if I get a good eight hours of sleep, I can spend my Sunday doing the final bit of getting the living room together. Once everything is in it's proper place, I'll post an 'after' picture to go with that 'before' one I took the other day.

And now that I've got that awesome new TV, I need to get crackin' and buy me a comfy place to sit. I'm gonna get tired of that camp chair really soon.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Hey Girls, Gather 'Round

Finally--all the construction projects are Dee-Yoo-In DONE! I spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening working on the TV stand, and I have to tell you, for a hundred bucks, it's a helluva piece of furniture--very well built and will probably outlast me. And it looks great, too.

The new five-shelf bookcase, on the other hand, I'm less than enamored with. First of all--whoever decided to call the color 'espresso' must use a whole lot less creamer in their after-dinner jolt than I do, because if I were to come up with a name for the color, I'd go with something more along the lines of 'Valdez Sludge' or 'Tar Baby'. The damn thing's almost pitch black, straight out of the 80's. I feel like I need to go get me a framed Scarface movie poster to complete the look.

Actually, it's not that bad, but it certainly doesn't match my pecan-finish TV stand or faux-oak bookcases. Also, as rugged and well-built as that TV stand is, that bookcase is basically a hunk of shiat--all fiberboard with fake veneer, and no metal to be found anywhere except for the eight pegs holding the two adjustable shelves. All the rest of the 'hardware' is plastic. Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for, and I only paid thirty bucks for it. But it's not moving anytime soon, and it'll be weighed down with books, so it just has to sit there and look not-exactly pretty.

But the tool kit got a workout these past few days, and I'm feeling like quite the handyman. I hung up a few more pictures, adjusted the cabinet doors in my kitchen, tightened up the mini-blinds on a couple of windows, and now I'm done. The only thing left to do is get the new TV out of the box and hooked up. Unfortunately, I still don't have my HDMI cables, but I checked the package tracker on Amazon this morning, and it said that they arrived at the Henderson post office around 5:00 o'clock this morning. I'm hoping they get here this afternoon, but at the latest tomorrow. By Sunday night, I shall be enjoying full-on High-Definition goodness from the comforts of my... camp chair.

Oh well. I'll get a couch soon enough.

Anyhow, now that the construction is finished, I need to take some pictures. But I think I'll wait until I get the books and such unloaded and put in their proper places. I've also got to do something with the pile of cardboard and styrofoam on the dining room floor--it's a huge mess, and one match will send this place up in a bonfire that would make an Aggie fan proud.

But that's all for now. T-Rev just called and we're gonna hit the brewpub at Monte Carlo for lunch, then maybe smoke a cigar or two. And later this evening, I'm gonna hook up with Cool Pacific, and I know some epic buffoonery will ensue.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nothing New To Report

Nothing new happening here at Casa de Mikey. Still working on my construction projects, still fighting a cold. T-Rev and Cool Pacific both come to town this weekend, so there may be some buffoonery on tap. Oh, and thankfully I picked up a shift on Saturday, so I won't feel like I'm poor anymore (no more Benjamins in the coffee can).

I'm also happy to report that even though I used the Zicam a few times, my sense of smell is intact. I mean, without a sense of smell, how's a bachelor supposed to do laundry? Just wash everything?

Also, I looked up my package tracking on Amazon this morning, and my cables left Walnut California yesterday, so I'm hoping to be enjoying full-on HD goodness by Sunday.

Other than that, there's nothing new under the sun.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Properly Motivated

Here it is, just past eleven in the morning, and I've been up for a couple of hours and gotten a lot done already. Yes, I'm still sick and kinda feel like shiat when I sit down and think about it, but Alka-Seltzer Plus and Zicam work wonders on a head cold. So does sunshine and fresh air, I'm finding out...

Anyhow, just so you know what I'm up against, here is a picture of my living room at this very moment: (clickie to embiggen)

Yes, at least there is a picture on the wall, but lets take a closer look--from left to right. First of all, a couple of milk crates. The bottom one is full of books, the top one is full of toiletries. I have no idea why I haven't moved it to the bathroom yet. Then there is one of my small 3-shelf bookcases, with nothing on it but my humidor and Jack Youngblood-autographed mini Rams helmet (the first thing I unpacked after the booze). Then there is my old 27-inch Sharp TV that I bought ten years ago, sitting on the floor, angled upwards by two Anthony Bourdain paperbacks (notice the digital cable box sitting atop it, too). Lying flat in the corner is my TV stand that I bought back in November, and sitting next to it is my tool kit and yesterday's 5-shelf bookcase purchase. Beyond that, we have my Coleman camp chair and cooler (which I use as a coffee table--in fact I spilled some real live coffee on it two days ago!), and rounding out the unfinished dorm look is a stack of Rubbermaid storage totes, full of books, CDs, and DVDs. What you don't see is more totes against the wall on the right, filled with the same kind of stuff.

I've decided that I need at least one more, if not two, pieces of framed art for the living room, a big clock for the dining room wall, and oh yeah, some furniture. Since I had the day off, I figured I needed to get cracking and start making this place feel more like home. The kitchen is pretty much done, as is the bedroom, but the living room still looks and feels like a storage unit.

So I got up this morning, got dressed, and raided my coffee-can stash of Benjamins. I took a thousand bucks with me and headed off to shop. I hadn't made up my mind yet, although I knew I was either going to buy my new sectional or a new TV.

But here's the thing--as much as I want that sectional I saw at Ashley Furniture last week, it's a regular item and will always be there. But that Sharp Aquos 40" LCD with the full 1080p HD for $749 at Costco was a special one-time offer. I *know* that ain't gonna last. Hell, even Amazon, which usually has the best prices, couldn't compete. (As I write this, today's price for the exact same TV at Amazon is $879).

So the first thing I did was drive over to Costco to see if they had any left. I walked in--gone. Damn. Even the big end-cap display was gone. Talk about a missed opportunity--I really wanted that TV. A quick look around showed that they had a few 42-inchers for about a thousand bucks, but suddenly that didn't seem like such a deal. But as I turned the corner from the main big-screen aisle, I saw where they had another aisle of smaller TVs. At the far end, guess what I saw--Yep, a Sharp Aquos 40-incher! And below the display model, there were still four boxes on the shelf.


Now, before I got too excited, I figured that they'd taken it off sale and jacked the price up again, but when I got closer, I saw that the deal got even better. Not only was it still regularly priced at $749, but they had a special this week offering an instant manufacturer's rebate of $50! $699 plus tax, baby!!!

When I saw that, the other shoppers at Costco got an extra bonus--they got to see a fat white guy doing his best Jesse Owens impersonation as I ran back out front to get a flatbed cart.


No way in a hundred years am I gonna beat that deal, so I grabbed it. And here it is, sitting on my dining room table:

After that, I wandered all over the place looking for HDMI cables, but apparently they don't sell those at Costco. If they do, I never found them. But while I was there, I did a little more shopping, and saw that the exact same sectional that I wanted to buy from Ashley for $899 (plus tax and delivery) was for sale there at Costco (with an ottoman, too), for only $729. Unbelievable. I guess I'll be going back in a couple of weeks and getting that, too!

Of course, you can't walk out of Costco and only buy one thing, even if that one thing costs seven hundred bucks. I ended getting a twin-pack of new queen sized pillows for my bed, and at the last minute I did a hat-tip to my late brother-in-law David and grabbed a huge plastic container of Kirkland cashews. When I lived in Nashville, I spent a lot of weekends hanging out with Cyndi and David, and we'd usually end up doing some shopping on Saturday mornings before the college football games got started. And he always bought a big jar of cashews to nibble on, and it seemed like whenever I was at their house, they always had cashews on hand. So bought some and got to relive a nice memory for a few minutes while standing in line at the checkout stand.

Of course, pushing that flatbed around the warehouse, three or four different people stopped me and asked me how much the TV cost, and when I gave them the whole story, every one of them was like Wow, that's an amazing deal. Somehow I doubt there will be any left by the time the store closes tonight.

Since I couldn't find any HDMI cables, I ended up ordering some from Amazon after all--I got three of them for twenty-one cents apiece, but with shipping and handling, it upped the price to not-quite ten bucks. A great deal if you ask me--last night after work, I stopped by the Walmart SuperCenter to buy cold medicine and a few groceries, and I swung by their electronics section to see about picking up a couple of cables just in case. The cheapest price they offered was $32 f*cking dollars, a complete ripoff if I've ever seen one, but that just goes to show, people are willing to pay it, thinking that they're getting a deal over the $100+ cables at Best Buy.

Anyhow, I saved a few bucks, but I won't be enjoying the full-on High Definition experience for a few days yet. Gotta wait for the cables to get shipped.

But at least now I'm properly motivated to get all the furniture put together and all of my books unloaded and organized. And I'm hoping for the phone to ring a couple of times this weekend so I can pick up another shift or two--I want to go back to Costco and pick up that sectional as soon as possible--the camp chair needs to go back out to the patio. Oh, and I'll probably pick up some ribeyes this time--David used to buy those, too.


Green Shirt Wednesday

Here it is, Hump Day, and I don't have a green shirt.

Back in the old days when I was working at Schwab, my "team" consisted of myself and six other brokers, plus our boss. We had our own designated team area, but it was basically a cube farm like every other office across the country.

Anyhow, one Wednesday, just by coincidence, we all showed up to work wearing green shirts. So that kicked off a tradition of Green Shirt Wednesday that went on for about a year before the whole company went to hell in the last recession.

I have no idea what they're wearing today. My old team is long gone, and out of the eight of us, I doubt that there are even three left.

Now that I work in a casino, I'm stuck wearing an ugly brown polyester shirt every day. It's not much fun at all. But my workday is already over and I've got the rest of my Humpday to myself.

Today is construction day. My TV cabinet is still in pieces in the corner of the living room, only because I haven't been home much in the past four or five days. Also, while I was over on the 'psycho side' of Henderson yesterday, I stopped in that new Target over on Lake Mead parkway and found a five-shelf bookcase with a pecan finish that kinda-sorta matches the finish on the TV stand. So I'm gonna get both of them put together today and hopefully get all of my books out of the totes, and then get the totes out of the living room.

And once I get some furniture in there, it'll look like a real apartment instead of a college dorm.

Anyhow, it'll be nice to have some free time again today--like I said, I was crazy-busy all weekend. Yesterday would've been a good day to chill out, but I had to go make an appearance at the Henderson Justice Court because of my encounter with the motorcycle cop.

My citation said to show up at 1:00 pm, which I did, and by 1:03 I had appeared before the judge and made arrangements to pay my debt to society. The wheels of justice turn a bit faster in Henderson than they do in Vegas--when I got a ticket there, that mess took months to resolve. Now, I'm free to take online traffic school and I have 30 days to pay my fine. No points on the license, no return trip to court needed.

Of course, I learned a few things--going to court is way worse than trying to get on a commercial flight. You still gotta lose the shoes and get randomly probed, but I don't have to take off the belt at the airport. Oh, and the judge doesn't allow people to wear shorts in his courtroom, either, and it says so on a big sign next to the door. It would be nice if it said that somewhere on the ticket the cop gave me. I'm just sayin'.

But they let me slide, since I was a one-time offender. Sorry, but it's June in southern Nevada, and I'm attending at their convenience, not mine, so cargo shorts and sandals was my outfit of choice. Apparently, that is frowned upon. But they didn't make a big deal about it, and like I said, I was in and out of there in less than five minutes, so my advice to you, dear readers, is that if you're gonna do something out here that lands you in court, do it in Henderson, not in Vegas proper. The courthouse is nicer, more easy going, not crowded like the DMV, and the parking is free. And make sure to wear long pants when they haul you in front of the judge, too.

Anyhow, after finishing off my own personal episode of Law & Order, I stopped at Target to do a little shopping--again, I didn't find much that I needed, except that bookcase, but once I got home I pretty much slept all afternoon and into the evening. I'm fighting a mild head cold, but it's just bothersome enough to keep me from sleeping well and it's sapping my energy, too. Not only that, but it's taken away my motivation. So aside from working a lot and running around with my friends all weekend, a mild illness has conspired with my inherent laziness to keep me from writing any updates, along with not answering any email for about a week. Sorry 'bout that--I'll get around to it later today.

But that's the news. I wasn't missing in action or in jail or on a bender or anything like that. I was just kinda busy and not interested in sitting at the keyboard for any length of time. But it was nice to know that I was missed.


Still Alive. Just Busy

Y'all all can untwist your panties--I'm still here. I've just been busier than hell the past couple of days, and now I'm down with a head cold.

I'll have more sometime on Wednesday afternoon.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gettin' Lucky In Hendertucky!

How lucky can one guy be? I kissed her and she kissed me...

I have to admit, the past 18 hours or so have been pretty good to me. Let's see... How did it start?

Oh yeah. I was kickin' around the house, hanging pictures on the wall, cleaning the kitchen, stuff like that, when my phone started ringing. A couple of my gals desired my company last night, so we made plans to meet up in the poker room a couple hours later. I finished off a few of my projects, took a shower, made myself pretty, and rolled down to the casino around 8:30 or so.

The poker room was pretty damn busy--that Bad Beat jackpot is down to four-of-a-kind Fours getting beat, so that creates a lot of action. Even though my gal Sheena was already in a game, I couldn't get a seat at her table. I had to wait for them to start a new game. About a half hour later, the waiting list had grown large enough to open up another table, so I finally got a seat. It wasn't the best table in the world--lots of tight players just sitting there grinding away, slow playing, hoping that they wouldn't have to actually spend any money while they waited for the Bad Beat to hit.

So I asked for a table change, and was able to move to a better game. Also, I was able to sit next to one of my other gals, Laura, who's a cocktail waitress down at the double Circus. We had lots of fun, but I just couldn't get a hand to stand up. Once my initial hundred-dollar buy in was ground down to about forty bucks, I bought another twenty, just in case I caught a big hand. Still, nothing held up for me--either that, or I'd just completely whiff on the flop. While sitting there, at least I was having a good time. My gal Hailey showed up a little while later and got a seat at my table, too, so even though I wasn't catching *any* cards, I was having a great time laughing it up with a few of my favorite gals.

Since we couldn't win any hands, we decided to order some free grub for dinner--I'd had a plate of leftover spaghetti earlier that morning, but almost twelve hours had passed by then. So we called up room service and had them deliver a chicken quesadilla and dozen hot wings. That created the domino effect once it was delivered, because the food smelled so good that everyone else at the table suddenly had the munchies. For awhile there, our game was more of a dinner table than a poker table.

Even though I was stuck somewhere north of fifty bucks for most of the evening, eventually I caught a couple of Aces in the pocket. It was a Kill Pot at the time, so I made it nine bucks to go. I got six callers!


I *knew* there was no way I was gonna survive that onslaught, but I bet out anyways, thinking I might chase some people off. If not, I might as well go down in flames. I thought I was in trouble when the flop came out all raggedy and I still got raised, thinking somebody had trips. I was short-stacked anyways, so I went ahead and got all my chips in the pot.

Miraculously, even after all the betting and raising going on with four players at the showdown, my Aces held up, and I raked a HUGE pot, taking me from the felt to just above even for the night! Gotta love that!

A few hands later, my gal Sheena and I got involved in a pot--I had Ace-Nine, and the flop came out Nine-Four-Nine. She bet, I raised, she re-raised, I called. Turn was a rag, I bet, she raised all-in, I called. The river brought the case Nine, giving me four of a kind, but she had pocket Fours, having my ass beat with a full-boat right up until I caught the miracle case Nine on the river.

Even though I knocked her out, there were no hard feelings--she still gave me a goodnight kiss before heading home. That brought a laugh when one of the other guys at the table spoke up and said Damn Mikey, how the hell did you pull that off? Not only do you knock out the cutest gal in the room with an awful suckout, but then she kisses you afterwards??? You've got some lucky mojo going tonight, my friend!

Heh. Maybe I did. But I'll take it!

As the night wore on, players started dropping off. I wanted to go home, knowing that I had to work at 11:00 am this morning. But I just couldn't get over the break-even hump. Not only that, I was getting pretty damn bored--there was one guy at the table who was exasperatingly slow--every time it was his turn, he didn't know how much to bet, he took forever to make up his mind, he was just a pain in the ass. Even the dealer was getting pissed off at him. Not only that, he was one of these moronic twenty-somethings that never shuts up about every hand, and he wasn't coordinated enough to talk and play at the same time, so it was truly a grind. Luckily, I had my iPod and just tuned him out and ignored him, even though he tried to engage me in conversation a few times.

It got so bad that I could see the dealer getting visibly frustrated, and all of the other players started grumbling under their breath. So one time while we were enduring the human rain delay, I finally spoke up and said Dude--just ONE time, could you please be ready to act when it's your turn? Just once???

I didn't hear his reply--I put my earphones back in and turned up my music, staring straight through him nonresponsively as he started talking in my direction.

Luckily, I got a hand a few minutes later and snapped him off. I had some kind of raggedly and low suited cards--I think it might've been the 7-3 of hearts. It was his big blind, so I raised it, just to irritate him. I think there were a couple of callers, and he re-raised. Of course I called, like a donkey, but I was ready to go by then--it was late, I was just about even, and I'd had just about enough of him.

But the flop came out King-Six-Deuce, all hearts, giving me the flush. He bet out, I raised, everyone else dropped out. He re-raised and I called, hoping that I didn't just donkey off a bunch of chips to a bigger flush. The turn was a rag, but he checked. By the look on his face, I didn't really fear a check-raise, so I bet. He snap called. The river was another rag, and he checked again. At that point, I knew my flush was good. I bet, and he *almost* folded a couple of times, but then at the last minute decided to raise. I knew beyond a doubt that I was good, so I raised him. He sat there thinking about it for what seemed like forever, and finally called.

I turned over the Flush, and it took him a second, but he showed King-Six of diamonds, having flopped two-pair. Sorry, chump.

I saw a bunch of grins on the faces of the rest of the players, because that beatdown left him extremely short-stacked--he had one more hand in him at the most. On the other hand, I took enough of his money that I was actually up $80 for the night, so I immediately racked up and said goodnight. I wasn't gonna give the guy one chance to win his money back.

Heh. That last hand felt really good. In the poker world, there aren't many things more enjoyable than beating the snot out of the most annoying person at the table.

I came home, exhausted, and collapsed into bed, setting my alarm for 9:30 in the morning.

Damn I hate working day shift.

Funny thing was, I woke up about a half hour before the alarm went off. So I made a pot of coffee, and kicked off my day with some English muffins and websurfing.

When I got to work at 11:00, it was another one of those overcrowded mornings--there was one game going, five names on the waiting list, but six dealers altogether. The floorman had to send somebody home. I immediately volunteered because 1) I was still kinda tired and dayshift is a grind, and 2) I knew that if I didn't work in the morning, there was a chance I could get called in later tonight and make some real money--that Bad Beat is gonna bring in the crowds.

So I didn't even clock in--I took off the work shirt, but sat down at the second table and bought a rack of chips. I figured, well, since I'm here, I might as well play a little bit, just in case...

The morning game is quite a bit tighter than the night games are, but you gotta be careful on how loose you can play. Besides, there was one 'loose cannon' in the game already--raising with any face card when he was in late position.

It was an enjoyable game though--I had a lot of fun dealing to a bunch of the old guys I hardly ever see anymore, and even though it's kinda tight, it's still a nice social way to spend a few hours. And then, Deja Vu struck.

There it was, another kill pot, and I had the button. I looked down to see pocket Aces. There were a bunch of limpers, and of course I raised it to $9 to go. I got six callers, again.


Before the flop came out, I announced, Well, I know I'm beat--I can't hold off six of ya! But everyone checked to me, and I bet $6. That eliminated half the field, and I thought my chances started to improve. The turn and river were all rags, and even though I bet another $24 into the pot, I got a couple of callers to go with me. I showed the Aces, and they both mucked their hands, so I dragged another nice pot, amazed that Aces held up both times against so many callers. I don't know if that was luck, or it was just the law of averages evening out against all those times I've been cracked, but I'll certainly take it! Talk about a huge sigh of relief when that hand was over...

A few hands later, I dragged another monster pot when I held the stone-cold nuts of a full-house and a guy re-raised me on the river. I loved that. He had three nines with an Ace kicker, but I had nine-five suited from the blinds and flopped three nines (as did he), but then I made my boat on the turn. I let him build the pot for me, but there were no straights or flushes out there, so he had to figure his top set was good, so I loved loved loved the lucky turn card and his re-raise on the river.

Once I got my chips all stacked up, I saw that I was up $120 for the session--and I'd only been there for two hours. Sure beats the hell out of working. Had I stayed, I would've gotten sent home by 3:00 anyways, so luckily I made more money by *not* working. I tipped the dealer five bucks, and the same to the floorman, took my winnings, and headed for the door.

I stopped at Target on the way home, looking for kitchen gadgets or a decent five-shelf bookcase, but finding nothing I needed but a box of Brita water filters, I got out of there for less than twenty bucks.

My plan this afternoon is to chill out for awhile, get some rest, and wait for the phone to ring. I'm *sure* my gal Sheena will call--she does every day. And I'll go and meet her for an evening of poker and buffoonery. But I'll wear a pair of Dockers and nice shirt this time, and I won't be drinking, either. And I've got a spare work shirt in my truck. I got a feeling that it's gonna be busy tonight, and if I can pick up another late swing shift, I'll definitely take it.


Tech Support Question

Ok, I've been doing my research regarding my upcoming purchases, and I have a question regarding HDMI cables. Apparently, with new components, HDMI cables are the cat's ass, making the jumble of red-yellow-white RCA cables obsolete, and also doing away with the need for fiber optic digital audio cables, S-video, and all that other nonsense that's been driving me nuts every time I try to hook up my home theatre system.

Anyhow, very soon (well, at least sometime before football season kicks off), I will be purchasing a new HDTV and also a new home theater system, too. My old TV still works like it's brand-spankin' new, but it's almost ten years old, and while it was nice back in 1999, well, it's pretty also on the trailing edge of technology--HD was just a glimmer on the horizon when I brought this baby home from Best Buy. And my Pioneer system, well, even though I got it on sale and got free financing and all that, I've never *really* liked it that much. First of all, it's silver, and I prefer black, second of all, it's bulky and old-school looking, third of all, it's very tempermental with DVDs--sometimes they just get hung up and don't play correctly (the most egrarious infraction is that every time I watch Ocean's Eleven, it freezes up on the scene where Matt Damon gets out of the elevator after they steal the pinch). It's not the DVD--it's the player, and no amount of cleaning the optic reader has helped. And fourth, my surround system/receiver/DVD player does not have HDMI outputs. So it's going to the pawn shop.

(In the meantime, I spent $40 on a Phillips progressive-scan DVD player at Walmart several months ago, and it works like a champ!)

So here's my question--once I get my new HDTV and surround sound home theatre system, my understanding is that to hook it all up and get awesome picture and sound is that I'll only need to use two (or is it three?) HDMI cables. Is this true?

From CNET:
HDMI is typically used to connect a high-definition device--such as an HD DVR--to an HDTV. To make the connection, you simply put one end of the cable into the HDTV's HDMI input slot and the other end into the device's HDMI output slot. And that's it--just one cable and you're all set for the high-definition experience. If you have an AV receiver, just put it in the middle of the signal chain. The output of the AV receiver goes to the HDTV and you connect your high-definition device(s) to the AV receiver's input.

Anyone have any experience with this stuff?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two Girls, One Crockpot

Ok, so remember how I was dreading having to work day shift for the rest of the week? Well, sometimes life throws a hanging curveball, and you get lucky.

For me, it was last night--work called, looking for somebody to come in and deal for a few hours. Of course, I reminded them that I was scheduled for 11:00 in the morning. But the counter-offer was for me to come in at 9:30 on Tuesday night, and they'd give my Wednesday day shift to somebody else. It took me about half a second to say SOLD! I'd *much* rather work the late swing/graveyard shift than any day shift.

And it was a lucrative one--I pushed six tables in a row before getting a break, which was great, and the room pretty much died after I was there for four hours. But in that four hours I made more than I would've working eight on day shift. Woot!

Oh, and on the other hand, I got my envelope from that 12-hour tournament I dealt the other day, too. For doing 13 downs, I made whopping $37 in tips. Yep, that works out to less than three bucks a down. Just for perspective's sake, this past shift I just came home from--I pocketed over $30 per half-hour down. Now you understand why all the dealers bitch about getting stuck working that tournament--most people's free time is more valuable than that.

Anyhow, lemme tell you about Tuesday at the homestead. First of all, I need to come up with a nickname for this apartment. There was the 'Stripper House' back when I first moved here, and we can't forget 'Reuben's House', either. And Rob and I lived in the 'Man Cave' for a year over on GV Parkway--and my old house I just moved out of, I'll just refer to it as the 'Dog House'... This place, nothing springs to mind quite yet... So I'm open for suggestions.

But I was kickin' around here on Tuesday morning, hungry, so I made a damn fine breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast, and coffee, but I cooked up a whole mess of extra bacon so that I could 1) get more drippings to cook with, and 2) have some real bacon bits for my spinach salad I intended to make later that evening. Breakfast was great, of course, and I left the latest batch of drippings in the pan for a bit--that cast iron is a bitch to handle when it's hot. It's heavy as hell, unwieldy, and well, flat out dangerous to pick up. So I chose to let it cool on the stove while I ate and then puttered around for a bit.

Eventually, I found my way back to the kitchen to clean up the breakfast mess and get my spaghetti sauce going. The first thing I did was heat up the cast iron skillet so the bacon drippings would pour a little faster than cold molasses, and while that was going, I diced up a large onion and a large green pepper. About halfway through the onion, I realized that something was missing--you can't cook Italian food without listening to Dean Martin, so I dug out a two-disc set of his greatest hits, turned it up, and got down to business. I think everyone should listen to Dino when cooking pasta and such. It makes the Italian food taste better, I'm convinced.

So once the veggies were diced up, I poured off the bacon drippings from the cast iron skillet, but didn't wash it--I gave it a splash of rather expensive olive oil, and set to sauteeing my onions and peppers. That was a brilliant move on my part, I've got to admit. Those little bits of bacon did wonders... Once they got a little 'sweaty', I added a healthy dose of minced garlic to the mix. But you can't leave that in there very long on the heat--nothings f*cks up recipe like scorched garlic. But after a few minutes, I deglazed the pan with about a third of a cup of good Merlot. Oh man, did that ever smell tasty!

I let that simmer down, and while that was going on, I sliced up about a half a pound of baby Portobello mushrooms. In the meantime, I used a couple of jars of Prego as a base. Normally I'd just use regular tomato sauce and doctor it up, but whenever I see Prego or Hunt's or any of the other canned or jarred red sauces on sale, I grab them up and then add a few things of my own.

So I dumped two jars of Prego into the crock pot, and instead of rinsing out the jars with a quarter cup of water to get all the sauce out, I used a couple of splashes of that same Merlot. I screwed the lids back on, gave it a shake, and then poured out the remainder of the sauce into the crockpot. I also added a generous squirt of that hot Thai 'Sriracha' sauce to give it some zing, along with a few pinches of stuff like dried basil and oregano. The sliced mushrooms went in after that, followed by the onion, pepper, and garlic mixture from the stove.

Once the veggies went into the crockpot, I used the same skillet to brown a half pound of sweet Italian sausage and a pound of seasoned ground beef. Once the meat was cooked through, I drained it and spooned it into the crockpot. I gave the whole thing a good stir, set the temp on low, put the lid on, and left it for several hours.

I had a bunch of errands to run, so I got dressed and headed out while the sauce cooked. The first thing I did was go over to Costco and fill up the tank for $2.44 per gallon (it's about $2.63 everywhere else). Once that chore was done, I decided to go over to Ashley Furniture and have a look around. I'm sorry--I just can't have company until I get some living room furniture, so I have to start shopping.

Of course, I was accosted by a vulture salesperson as soon as I set foot in the door, but she was a few notches less intense than the clown I had following me around the other day at a different store. Actually, she was quite helpful, and let me wander around for quite awhile without trying to sell me anything. I found two different sectionals that I really liked, but one seemed like it might be a little too much--not as far as price goes, but size. I think it was a bit too big for my needs. And then when I sat in it, it felt like it was too low to the floor. So, I decided on the second one I looked at--it was more comfortable and just a touch smaller, but then, I'm still about two weeks away from being able to cough up a thousand bucks for furniture.

But it's nice, and I've decided that the cocoa-colored microfiber sectional with the chaise lounge is what I'm gonna get. If I have a couple more nights at work like I just had, though, I'll be lounging on it in no time.

I actually spent a good chunk of my afternoon at the furniture store, but then I had to go back over to the Wallyworld SuperCenter and spend some more cash. I had a few groceries to buy, and I looked at a five-shelf bookshelf, but it was a hundred bucks--a little too steep, I thought. And as much as I know I'm gonna need a vacuum cleaner pretty soon, now that I've got the furniture within reach, I didn't want to spend the money on that, either.

But I did, however, spend a few bucks on a new bamboo cutting board. My white plastic one that I've had for years is no longer any good. While sitting in a storage tote out in the hot-ass garage for the last year, it warped, badly. Seriously, I might as well have been using a giant tortoise shell from the Galapagos Islands as a cutting board when I did my veggies--it would've been flatter.

By the time I got home after a few hours away, the spaghetti sauce had time to cook together and get all kinds of tasty--when I opened the front door, I couldn't believe how good it smelled here in the apartment. Man, it made me hungry right then.

I resisted the urge for almost two hours, but by the time Deadliest Catch came on, I had to get busy. So I filled up my new stockpot with water, a splash of olive oil, and a couple of pinches of salt, and set it to boiling. I had so much sauce going (a full crockpot), that I had to cook the whole two pound package of pasta. No problemo--my stockpot can handle it. Just about the time I pulled it off the heat, I cut off a couple of inches of French bread from a fresh loaf, sliced it open, buttered it, sprinkled on some garlic salt, and the covered it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Into the toaster oven it went, while I drained the noodles and then combined them with the sauce (I'm not one of those people who keeps the sauce and noodles separated--even Alton Brown says to mix them together, so that the sauce will stick to the noodles better).

When the toaster oven went 'Ding!', I got a nice big scoop of spaghetti and had two amazingly good pieces of garlic bread on the side (it was so good that I thought it better than the garlic bread at Triple 7 brewpub, which everyone *knows* is top-notch!). That spaghetti smelled so good that I couldn't wait to dig in, and oh hell yeah, I have to admit, I really outdid myself this time. It was probably the best batch I've ever made, due in no small part to the merlot and the bacon pan sautee. Oh, and using good Parmesan on top helps too.

In fact, it was so damn good, and I had so much anticipation going when I dove into it, that I totally spaced on making the spinach salad! Damn--I love me some spinach salad, but you know what--it didn't matter. Just the spaghetti and garlic bread was a damn fine meal all by itself.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't go back for seconds--it's quite a hearty meal, and I know it's gonna taste even better today. Spaghetti, like stew, always tastes better on the second day.

After dinner, I just sat there rubbing my belly and patting myself on the back for a job well done, when my gal Andrea called! I hadn't heard from her since I was in Phoenix, but I wanted to know where she finally decided to move to now that she's realized that this part of town is waaaaay more cool than Summerlin.

You wanna hear something funny--she's moving in about four houses down from Kimmy. Seriously, when I asked her where her new place was, she gave me the general location, and I said Hey, that's right by Kimmy's house--she lives on 'blankety-blank' street! Then Andrea was like Holy shit! That's the same street my house is on! Amazing. Now the two hottest brunettes in Silverado Ranch not only live on the same street, but they have drunken adventures with Mikey in common, too. If I play my cards right, I'm gonna go over there and see if I can't talk them into stripping down to the lingerie and having a tickle fight... That would pretty much be the highlight of my entire Vegas experience, I think.

That's about as deep in the conversation as we got when I was rudely interrupted by the poker room calling and shocking me back into reality. The rest, they say, is history. And you just read about it.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A Bunch Of Stuff I Didn't Do

I don't know why I always make grandiose plans for Mondays--I never follow through. My to-do list for yesterday was long and distinguished, and twenty-four hours later, it still is.

Oh, I did a few things, but I never left the house. I even started to assemble the TV stand, but one time through the directions and the parts inventory was enough to demotivate me for the rest of the afternoon. Besides, I had that gnawing in the back of my mind telling me that I needed to sleep, since I'd been up since around 2:00 in the morning, so finally around 6:00 pm I gave up, took a shower, and went to bed.

My alarm went off at ten minutes after midnight, and five minutes later, my phone was ringing. It was the poker room, so I knew it wasn't good news. If it rings earlier, I know I'm getting called in, but if it rings 45 minutes before my shift starts, I know that the room is dead. And that was the case last night. The floorman called, saying he only had a three-handed no-limit game going, and one dude just went all-in, and one of the other players was one of our dealers. So, there was no chance that the game would hold together all night, much less for another 45 minutes, so I was free to go back to bed.

That really sucks--there are 10,000 poker players in town this month, and it just *kills* the action in our room. All of the locals are down on the Strip fleecing the tourists. Hey, I did the same thing last summer, cashing in a couple of sit-n-go's down at the Mirage, and pocketing a few bills down at the MGM during the Series. Seriously--the room I play in is pretty tough--it's great training, because whenever I motivate myself down to the Strip to play, I always find myself thinking It shouldn't be this easy...

So yeah, I lost both of my usually lucrative graveyard shifts this week, and starting tomorrow, I've got a string of day shifts for the rest of the week. Not fun at all. I really *do* prefer the graveyard shift. But I got plenty of sleep, so that leaves me with a free day to hit that to-do list again.

Oh yeah, I'll be doing housework, and shopping, and I'll finally get the TV stand put together (right now it's in pieces in the corner of my living room). I've already organized the storage closet this morning and found all of my coffee cups and pint glasses (MMV BITCHES!), so my cupboards are slowly filling up and looking like a normal person lives here. And since I made more room in the storage closet, a bunch of the stuff that was in the living room is now gone, further highlighting the big empty space.

Oh, and because I never got any sleep yesterday, I postponed the whole spaghetti incident. I didn't want to make a big dinner and then have to go right to bed, so as soon as I clean up the kitchen from this morning's breakfast, I'll start cooking the sauce. There may be pictures involved.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Far Too Long

I think I'm living back in the real world again. Don't get me wrong--living in Green Valley Ranch was nice, but I think I like this area much more. It's just as quiet, but it's a little older, so the trees actually provide some shade. The only shade at my old house came from the streetlight out in front, and well, I'm a little wider than that particular shadow.

But I realized today, as I opened my front door and had a couple of delivery menus hanging on the handle, that I have not had Chinese food or a pizza delivered in over two years! Seriously--how many of you can say that? (Besides Hoya, who lives out in the sticks). That's pretty amazing when you think about it. Now, I tried to get Metro Pizza to deliver a couple of times, because they say that they do, but every time I called them, they always said it would be at least two hours. So yeah, in theory, they offer a delivery service, but in practice, not so much. And my old house was about a mile away from the Metro on Horizon Ridge, but I could never get them to bring me a pizza.

Anyhow, the two year streak is probably gonna come to an end next weekend, just because a couple of pretty good one-off local joints have been hanging stuff on my door (sadly, Grimaldi's doesn't deliver, and my new place is much further away, anyways). I *know* I'm gonna take advantage once football season rolls around (BTW, training camp starts next month!).

But I while I was sitting here amazed at the fact that I haven't had a pizza delivered in over two years, another oddball thought crept into my head. I've been working in the same casino for over four years now, and I still have never seen the swimming pool. I don't even know how to get to it. Seriously--I just never wander over to that end of the property. Weird, huh?


Grease Is The Word

My kingdom for a sandblaster!

Ok, I'm seeing the downside of having all of my kitchen gear stored for a year. First of all, my heirloom-quality cast-iron ebelskiver pan that I dug out of the bottom of a storage tote this weekend is was totally covered in rust. That really sucked.

Apparently, I forgot to season it before I stowed it, and well, it may as well have been sitting out in the backyard for the whole year. I swear it looked like something that came off of an old tugboat that had been sitting in dry dock for far too long. So I spent my morning with a copper scrub brush going to town on it. It wasn't easy, or enjoyable, but I finally got it cleaned up after far too many minutes of scrubbin'.

Once that little chore was finished, I washed it and dried it, then got it nice and hot on the stove, and and finished by covering it in a healing layer of Wesson oil. While I was at it, I also seasoned my new T-Fal stockpot, as per the enclosed directions, but that took maybe a minute--just heat it up for a few seconds, then put a teaspoon of oil inside, and wipe it down. Done!

Luckily, my other cast-iron pans had seen some action in the past few months, so they didn't need too much attention. But I used the big deep heavy skillet to cook up a few strips of bacon this morning, and coupled with a pot of hazelnut coffee, my new apartment no longer smells like fresh paint and carpet cleaner. It smells like home.

Another benefit of delving back into the tasty and mysterious world of bacon is that I now have a small container of drippings on hand, which anybody's grandma on the right side of the Mason-Dixon line will tell you is an essential kitchen staple, every bit as important as butter, flour, eggs, or hot sauce. I see a batch of sausage gravy in my near future...

Now that the cooking is done for a few hours and another batch of laundry is going, I'm gonna do a few odds and ends before heading out to fill the gas tank, get the truck washed, and pick up the Parmesan cheese that I forgot this morning. At some point, however, I've got to get some sleep. I'm back on the graveyard shift tonight.



Good morning and Happy Monday to all you cube-dwellers out there who chose to be here instead of working. That's right--Stick it to The Man!

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Mine was long--I did about 24 hours straight on Saturday, slept all day Sunday, went out on Sunday night, and now I'm home, thinking about breakfast. And bacon, eggs, grits, toast, and coffee is sounding pretty damn good right now.

While I got quite a bit of housework done yesterday afternoon, those damn crappy tortillas did a number on me--I felt kinda sick after eating them. You've been warned--do not eat the flavored Mission tortillas. They are evil and taste like shiat. So once I cleaned up the kitchen and watched some SportsCenter, I made a couple of calls and then laid down for a bit. Unsurprisingly, I fell asleep for a couple of hours, waking up around midnight.

Fully rested, with no place to be and an extra hundred dollars in my pocket, I called my buddy who was working the floor last night in the poker room. He said there was a juicy game going on, full of people who I regularly pound on. So I told him I'd be down in about 15 minutes.

The game was a good one, but I lost $39 on my first hand when I flopped a straight, but one of my opponents went runner-runner and picked me off with a higher straight. Not a good start. Also, there was one other guy at the table who I've never seen in the poker room before, but I remember him from my days in the pit way back when. Luckily, I hardly ever had to deal to him because I was always dealing Pai Gow in Chinatown, but he had a distasteful reputation with the blackjack crew as somebody who always smelled really bad and also never tipped. Falcon Rob knows him--I think he used to call him 'Edgar Winter', which was about the nicest nickname he earned from the casino staff.

Anyhow, this guy was a horrible player, and it was my mission to take every dime off of him and be a hero to my former co-workers out in the pit. I started out pretty well after my initial beat-down. After about an hour, 'E-dub' was down about three racks, and I was up $66. Hell, even one of the dealers who *never* plays got in the game after her shift ended, just because the guy was so bad (and he was stiffing the dealers every time he managed to win a pot, too, so I'm sure that provided some motivation).

The problem was, I was either card-dead or catching a never-ending string of second-place hands. Twice I flopped straights, both times I got rivered. A couple of times I turned top-two, only to lose to a set on the river. It was ugly. And three times in the span of twenty minutes or so, the smelly guy re-raised with a three or four-outer gutshot draw, and hit all three times! It was amazing. The dude went from being stuck over $400 to having almost $500 in front of him because everyone was gunning for him and giving action. He just happened to get absolutely run over by the deck--he caught every card he needed for over an hour straight.

On my last hand of the night, I had pocket nines, and the pot had $105 and seven-way action preflop. I caught a set, and my neighbor caught a set of fours, so the battle was on. The 'well groomed gentleman in the seven seat' kept re-raising with Jack-nothing and raked a $200+ pot when he made another inside straight on the river. I swear, it was like he was fooling around with the Matrix, stopping time, setting the deck after the turn, and then sitting back down...

I gave up after that, losing all of my profit plus my hundred-dollar buy-in. I just couldn't beat somebody who was that lucky.

Oh well, I guess I'm back to where I was before Saturday night... But it sure would've been nice to snap that guy off. I've *never* seen anyone run that lucky before.

Anyhow, after I gave up on that endeavor, I sat around shootin' the shiat with the floorman for a bit, but then headed out to do some shopping. I went over to Walmart to get all the goods for making a batch of spaghetti (and I just realized I forgot the Parmesan cheese, dammit), but also bought a few more household items--a new set of real glasses, so I don't have to keep drinking out of plastic cups, and a really nice 8-quart T-Fal stockpot.

Of course, the first thing I'm gonna do is boil water in it for my spaghetti noodles, but it's so nice that I want to make some actual, you know, stock with it. But I don't have any bones on hand, and onions are the only aromatics I've got in the veggie crisper. Eventually I'll get there--a good stock needs about a week's worth of leftovers, anyways. But then the question arises--what would I do with a bowl of stock? I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there, but for right now, I just want to make some bacon and eggs for breakfast. Later this afternoon, I'll bust out my Italian kung-fu and make The Mother of All Spaghetti.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Uh, No Thanks

I'm in the middle of small kitchen experiment gone awry. Actually--experiment isn't the word--I'm just making quesadillas and realized I made a huge mistake while shopping for tortillas. I have the plain-old regular kind, but while in the store the other day, I saw some Mission Jalapeno & Cheddar Wraps. An impulse buy if there ever was one. I mean, how can you go wrong with cheddar and jalapeno? How indeed. I don't know how they managed to screw them up, but they sure did.

I've got one word to describe them: Yuk.

In the culinary sense, it's the opposite of synergy. All of the ingredients added up to less than the sum of their parts. I won't be making that mistake again. Flavored wraps--you can keep 'em.


I've had a helluva busy several days now, and I still don't feel like I'm able to relax. I had lots of stuff that I planned to do on Thursday once I punched out of the casino after being there about five minutes, but like my Canadian friends like to say, I accomplished 'f*ck all'.

I came home, started unpacking a box full of books, found a Tom Clancy paperback that I purchased last July and never read (the receipt still sticking out like a bookmark), so that pretty much killed the rest of the afternoon and evening. On Friday, I had to work all day, and even though I'm not a big fan of the grind on dayshift, it was a decent showing. I got out at six or so, took a shower, and laid down for a minute, trying to organize my thoughts as to my next shopping trip. But that minute turned out to be almost eight hours, as I fell asleep and didn't wake up until 2:30 on Saturday morning.

I was hungry by then, so I made some breakfast and then went back to bed, reading my book for a couple more hours until the alarm went off at 5:45.

Once I got dressed, I was out the door and heading for North Las Vegas, where I had twelve hours of Hell ahead of me. Yep, it was Poker Plus time again, that semi-annual gathering of every poker player in the Stations orbit, a free-roll where everyone gets $700 worth of chips, 15-minute blind levels, and they roll the dice, hoping to win their share of about $300K. It's about my least favorite thing I've ever done, as far as work is concerned.

I was eligible to participate in it, but since I had to work the thing, I couldn't play. But my name was on the master list of participants, so as soon as my first table broke, I got in the 'loser line' and collected my $75 prize money that everyone got just for showing up. That'll help supplement the $4 per down we usually get in tips.

Actually, as much as everyone rags about working it, it's not *that* bad. It's just a very long day for very little money.

During the last session of the day, which started at 5:00 pm, I saw a couple of my gals in the crowd, and of course they wanted to hook up and go out later. I was tempted to just say screw it and go home and go to bed, but since I knew I'd have plenty of time to snooze on Sunday, I agreed to meet up with them later that evening. I clocked a solid 12 hours before getting the ok to leave, and I pointed the truck south, back towards the safe and familiar area of Henderson.

As tired as I was, I still took a shower and got dressed, then headed over to the casino. Basically, all we did was sit in the poker room, drink, and play cards all night. I could tell I wasn't playing my best--I made some really boneheaded mistakes, plus we were doing kamakazi shots over and over again. But I got lucky on one hand and made four sevens, which paid me a bonus of $100. That went right into the wallet, and even in my tired and inebriated state, I managed to not only break even, but pocket a whopping $8 in profit (not including my jackpot hundie!) for the session. Finally, by 2:00 am, I'd had enough. I cashed out, $108 richer, and came home. I think I was asleep about thirty seconds after my head hit the pillow.

The weather here in Vegas has been unseasonably cool for the past couple of days, so I enjoyed sleeping with the windows open to the cool breeze. I caught up on all the rest I'd missed from the night before, and it was wonderful--and there were no dogs barking either.

When I finally motivated myself out of bed, I got quite a bit accomplished. My dining room is now completely cleared out, my kitchen is about 90% put together, and most of the stuff is out of the living room. Basically, all that's left is putting together that TV stand and also getting all the books on shelves (although I'm thinking of buying another bookshelf first). After that, it's just a matter of hanging a few pictures on the wall and figuring out what I'm gonna do for furniture for the next few weeks.

Since I'm scheduled for the maximum 32 hour over the course of the next week, I don't have to work tonight, so I'm just gonna relax now. But maybe in a bit I'll go over and play some cards. I'd like to raise another hundred bucks or more, and one of my gals already called, asking if I was gonna go out tonight.



PS--I got a message from Carmen today. She's doing ok, just dealing with the latest curveballs that life has thrown her.