Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Call Bullshiat!

Was it just me, or did sitting around trying to watch football yesterday seem like an exercise in extreme futility? I mean, I wanted to enjoy the games, but the national media beclowned itself all day long with the breathless, and constant, Tiger Woods coverage.

Seriously--it reminded me of the Saturday Night Live parody sketch of Buckwheat getting shot.

We don't have any real info to share, but we just can't help ourselves, so we'll just keep running the same footage over and over again on and endless loop.

Ok, so at first, when the initial update came in saying that Tiger Woods was 'injured in a car accident and was admitted to the hospital in serious condition', I, like the rest of the TV-watching world, sat up and thought, Whoa!

But then, as more and more info trickled out, I realized that this was either a non-story or that the car accident was just a very minor detail in part of a much bigger story.

First of all, the facts that we were given:

-Accident happened in the middle of the night
-Single-car accident
-In a subdivision
-No airbags were deployed
-He hit a fire hydrant and his neighbor's tree

No big deal, that shiat happens all the time, especially in households with teenagers. But then there are other, more interesting tidbits:

-He had cuts and scratches all over his face
-Blood in his mouth
-His wife 'rescued' him by smashing the rear window of the SUV with a golf club and "pulling him to safety"
-Alcohol was allegedly not a factor
-When the cops showed up, he was lying in the street fading in and out of consciousness.

I definitely call bullshiat on the no-alcohol bit, especially if he was passed out in the street. Unless, of course, he had a seizure or some sort of other medical condition that the general public doesn't know about. Or his wife went upside his head with a frying pan and knocked him the f*ck out, like Deebo in Friday.

Sounds to me like this was a big-ol' domestic disturbance where Elin was kicking his ass and took a golf club to his back window as he was driving off. I mean seriously--if he didn't hit anything hard enough to deploy the airbags, um, why couldn't she just open up one of the doors to 'rescue' him. Smashing out the rear window and dragging him out the back? Puh-leaze. How stupid do you think people are?

Knowing what few details of this as we do, my guess is that there was plenty of alcohol involved, there was a huge fight, Mama got a few licks in and then took a driver to the back of the SUV as he was trying to get away. And the shock of rear window shattering, coupled with his already agitated, perhaps inebriated, state, distracted him long enough to crash his vehicle down at the end of the driveway.

Are we to believe that he just had a craving for a Gordita and some loaded nachos, and was just heading out to get his fourth-meal on when he lost control and Kelsey Grammared his way into the neighbor's tree? And if the airbags didn't go off, how did his face get all jacked up?

But the biggest question mark in the whole thing is wifey and the golf club. Seriously, she heard the accident from inside the house, grabbed Big Bertha, and came running to the rescue? Something does not compute. If he drove into a tree--not even hard enough to set off the airbag--how did she hear that from inside the house? Hell, one time my neighbor backed out of the driveway and into the streetlight when I was standing in the garage, and it sure as hell didn't sound like an accident, at least one serious enough to cause me to grab the sticks and go all Office Space on his rear window.

And I'm guessing the local neighborhood security folks, along with his publicist, are doing what they can to help cover up the more sordid details. In the meantime, as long as the folks at ESPN are ramming this story down our throats all weekend, I'd like to see a picture of the SUV and hear what the responding officers have to say.

Otherwise, I'd wish they'd just shut the fark up about it and let me watch football in peace this weekend. Because like most of the rest of the world outside of Bristol Connecticut, we don't give a rat's ass about Tiger Woods until Easter weekend at Augusta.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Anti-Christmas List

Christmas cards? Who needs 'em. I'm sending a few letters out this year, instead. Here's what I've got so far:

Dear Cox Cable--

I do not want digital home telephone service. I don't care what it costs, how much you say it saves, or how great it is. I don't want it, and I will never buy it. Please quit trying to sell it to me. You're wasting your breath, and you're killing too many trees with all that shiat you put in my bill every month trying to get me to buy it (and I just send it back to you, anyways). And your stupid 'bundle-eaze' commercials are not only annoying as hell, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to sign up for your service after seeing one. Please, just stop. Take all that energy and expend it on making my TV service more reliable.



Dear Best Buy, Casual Male, and other retailers of your ilk--

Please stop asking me for my phone number, zip code, or email address whenever I make a purchase at one of your stores. If I say 'unlisted', leave it at that. I'm not giving it to you, and you're never gonna get it. BTW, if you haven't figured out that 60613 is the zip code for Wrigley Field and not Henderson, Nevada, well then, what does it matter where I live, anyways? Do you really believe that I'm road-tripping out here from Chicago every time I shop at one of your stores? Besides, if I'm paying cash, I want you to treat me like you're a hooker and my name is 'John'. I want to get in, get out, and get on my way as quickly as possible. You don't need any of my personal info.




I love your service and prefer to do most, if not all, of my shopping with you. However, please stop trying to sell me a Kindle. I don't want one, I don't need one, and I certainly don't travel enough to recognize the utility of such a device. I will probably never buy one. I prefer to do most of my reading curled up on the couch, or in my bed, with the soft glow of an incandescent bulb providing the illumination, enjoying the tactile experience of a real book. Perhaps the next generation enjoys staring at a computer screen all of their daily interactions, but I'm over 40 years old and do not. Please direct your marketing efforts to a more receptive demographic. However, if the graphics technology exists sometime in the future where one could discreetly download, say, certain magazines of an adult nature, we may do some business at that point. I'm just sayin'.

Thank you,


Dear McDonalds--

I haven't been a regular customer of yours since whatever animal that you make the McRib out of went extinct. But just so you know, whenever I *do* make the occasional visit, NO--I don't want fries with that. Or a pie, now that I think of it. If I wanted fries, I'd order them. It's not like I'd forget to order a side with my double cheeseburger. I know that most of the population of the world just loves your French fries, but I'm not one of them--I'm just not a fry guy. However, rest assured, that if I ever do decide to order a side of French fries with my meal, I will happily purchase them from one of your fine establishments. But on that matter, I, however, will be the one to initiate contact, if you don't mind.

Thank you,


Dear 'Dex'--

There's this thing called the 'internet' now, and on this internet, they have this thing called 'Google'. If I want to find something, I think I'm just gonna use that from now on. You can stop leaving phone books on my front porch. They're just gonna end up in the dumpster anyways. If you insist on passing them out, might I suggest partnering with the fine folks at Cox Communications. Maybe the people who buy their digital telephone service may find the need for a phone book at some point, but I haven't used one since I needed to find somebody willing to sell me flashcubes. Or maybe talk to the people at Amazon and see if they'd be willing to put it on their Kindle device. Then it wouldn't sit in that little cabinet above the fridge, unused, for years on end. It would probably save a few trees, too.



Dear Manhattan Pizza--

Your pies are not good. Please quit leaving menus on my doorknob. Take some of that marketing budget and order something from Villa Pizza instead, so that maybe you'll get a better idea of what a delivery pizza is supposed to taste like.



Dear John Barr, Geico, and Progressive--

Your commercials are so stupid and annoying that you're probably losing more business than you attract. Because of your advertising efforts, I will never use your products, and I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels this way. Please, just fire your entire marketing department and start all over from scratch. Trust me, it won't hurt your business. Or at least take an entire fiscal quarter off from advertising and put all that money back against your bottom line, pleasing your shareholders and giving the rest of us a break. That's a win-win right there. Also, could you please forward this letter to your colleagues at Kay Jewelers, too? Thanks!



Dear WalMart--

If you're going to present yourself as a 24-hour super-center, please make sure the entire store is accessible 24 hours a day. Roping off the dairy section so you can buff the floors every morning between 3:00 and 4:00 am isn't helpful to those of us who choose to do our shopping at that time of day. Creatures of the night need milk too.



PS--Sorry about the footprints.

Dear John Mayer--

Just stop. Seriously. Please--just stop. We're begging you.



Dear Lee's Discount Liquors, Costco, Fausto's Mexican Food, Home Depot, M Resort, and Spearmint Rhino--

Y'all are doing a fine job. Keep up the good work.

Happy Holidays!


Bunker Mentality

Damn. Just when I kicked that nasty flu bug that took up residence in my chest a few weeks back, I catch a mild head cold. No, I'm not sick sick, but I've got the sniffles and a little bit of nasal congestion. Nothing that heavy doses of vitamin C and Zycam can't handle, but I'm still not feeling 100%. Hot coffee seems to help a bit, too.

Thankfully, I was still functional enough to pull a full shift at work last night. And by full shift, I mean six hours. I hardly ever work eight hours unless I get called in early. But I'll take a busy six hours anytime--I was locked down the entire time with no break. Last week I worked a total of eight hours in three days--that's how slow it was--but this week is looking absolutely stellar compared to that. With picking up a shift on Sunday and having last night's game go all night, I feel like I'm back to normal again. Still, December is a slow month for the off-Strip casinos and locals joints, and I'm guessing that it's gonna be a lean month until the day after Christmas, then it'll pick back up again.

Because of that, I'm scaling back, holing up here at the Batch Pad and reading, watching movies, and working on puzzles and such. I went pretty much the entire last weekend without spending any money, and I'm hoping to be able to do the same thing again this Thanksgiving weekend. And even though the holidays overall are a slower time for us, the casino is usually pretty busy on Thanksgiving weekend. So I guess I'm hoping to grab an extra shift or two if I can. If not, no big deal--I'll relax a bit.

The problem with not getting called in to work on a four-day weekend is that I get bored, and of course my first choice of activities is to go out and play poker. It's been a grind lately and I haven't been having much fun, so we'll see if the depth of my boredom will overcome my desire to not go out and play. I'm not afraid of losing any money, but maybe I just don't feel like taking the chance, if that makes any sense.

Here's my dilemma... Let's say I get to the end of my work-week on Friday morning, and since all the bills are paid up, maybe I've got an extra five hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket. For a long time, whenever I had extra cash, my first thought was What can I spend this on? But now, every time I get any extra money, the little angel on one shoulder tells me to send it to E*Trade, but then the little neon devil on the other shoulder keeps whispering Then what? What are you gonna do for the rest of the weekend?

Ideally, if I had the discipline and a more hermit-like outlook, I'd send every stinkin' dime I make into the investment account and spend my days holed up here on the computer writing my manifesto like the unabomber. But then what if one of the gals calls me up on Saturday night and wants to go out--it's not like I can just go to an ATM and get money back out from that account immediately. And I hate to cry 'poor' when an opportunity for some high-quality Vegas-style buffoonery presents itself. And also, after hanging out in the house for two days straight, it begins to feel like a jail cell and then I need to get out and do something.

Maybe I just need to find a hobby besides poker. Something cheap that I can do outside the house. The only problem is, in my vast experience of 42 years, every hobby is expensive. Golf? Yep. Guitar? Oh dear god, if I only had back half the money I've spent on that over the years... Shooting? A new gun is definitely not cheap, and ever since the lefties took over, the price of ammo has gone through the roof. (I sold my .45 a few years ago during the really lean times, so now I've got nothing but an empty holster and 80 pounds of .45 ACP in a surplus ammo can sitting out in the storage closet).

I suppose I could take Eric's advice and pack up the truck with some firewood and head up to Mt. Charleston with nothing but a bottle of rum, a sleeping bag, and a good book, but winter has arrived in the mountains, and I'd freeze my ass off up there. Besides, I'm on call all weekend, so I couldn't really do that anyways. I need to stay within a half-hour of the casino, just in case.

I guess I could just take my camera and go on a little photo safari around town and post some pics here. I did that once a long time ago and people seemed to enjoy that. I dunno--we'll see how the weekend goes. If it looks like it's gonna be a busy one, then this whole discussion is a moot point. Same thing if this head cold gets worse.

In the meantime, I'm just gonna lock myself down like it's Defcon 2 outside and the Russians are massing their tanks at the Fulda Gap. I've got a DVR full of movies, a shelf full of books, and a pantry full of canned goods. If the phone doesn't ring, I can survive quite nicely in here for a good long time.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh Dear God What a Boring Post.

Re-reading last night's post (the one directly below this one) in the light of day is certainly a humbling experience. Good lord, what a hot mess. It's clear that I was both extremely tired and extremely bored when I wrote it. My apologies for making y'all suffer through that on a Monday morning. If I could refund your time, I would.

I suppose that this morning's coffee has given me a clarity of mind that I didn't have last night. (By the way, have y'all tried that peppermint mocha creamer? It's damn good!).

Anyhow, I'm thinking of revising my code (it's more like guidelines, anyways) about not using the heater because I live in the desert. I use the heater in my truck all the time, and as far as the home heater goes, it shouldn't be about the money because I've never been accused of being a cheapass. Maybe it's just the principle of the thing. But the last two nights, I've been curled up under a blanket in the corner of my sectional, watching TV for hours on end when I couldn't sleep. And if y'all remember the pictures of my living room, there are two windows right there in the corner, too.

So while I was lying there last night, I could literally feel the cold air creeping in and washing over my face, like the fog of death and destruction from so many scary movies. But I'm one of those people who likes to sleep in a cold room under a pile of blankets, so it didn't bother me too much at the time. However, waking up with the sniffles this morning has caused me to re-think my whole no-heater philosophy. That, and maybe I should do something to seal the obvious gaps in my living room window sashes.

On the other hand, a pot of hot coffee and a dose of Zycam has made me feel whole again, so I'll probably do nothing about it and learn my lesson the hard way.

Oh--remember my rant from a couple of weeks ago when I was so pissed at ESPN and Cox Cable for denying me the opportunity to see the last half-hour of the final table at the World Series of Poker? Well, last night, I'd gone to bed early, but once I realized I was wide awake, I got back up and went back out to the living room to watch some late-night TV. As I was scanning through the channels, I landed on ESPN2, and saw that they were re-broadcasting the final table match-up, and I'd just stumbled in to the point about a minute and a half before the recording cut off. Nice--and looking at the clock, I saw that it was the bottom of the hour, so I knew I'd finally be able to see how the thing went down.

Of course, about twenty minutes later, with maybe ten minutes left in the broadcast, the damned cable went out. I shiat you not--suddenly I was watching nothing but a screen full of gray static, presented in beautiful 1040i High Definition.

I was so f*cking pissed at that moment that had I been independently wealthy or still watching my old TV, I would've chucked the remote through the screen. Instead, I just said some very bad things about the people at Cox Cable--something, I believe, about what they do with their mothers...

After the initial burst of anger, I spent about a minute or two rebooting the cable box, and that seemed to do the trick, and as it turned out, all I missed were a couple of the insufferable commercials that they play over and over on the Worldwide Leader of lame advertising (the Evil Empire, messin' with Sasquatch, etc). It came back on just in time for me to see Darvin Moon get hyper-aggresive at exactly the wrong time and lose it all to Tony Romo's little brother.

Seriously, has there ever been a more-lucky and less-deserving champion? Maybe Jamie Gold, but damn, after watching that, I felt like the two worst players at the final table lasted the longest. I know that there is a huge luck factor involved whenever you play hold-em, (believe me--I'm one of those people who swears that whenever I win, it's due to skill, and whenever I lose, it's due to bad luck!), but it seemed to be way out of proportion this time around. Skill, apparently, took a back seat this year.

But who am I to complain? I just came down from one of the luckiest runs I've ever had, so I know what it feels like to be running better than I should. Still, four grand is a long way from eight-and-a-half million, and even though only a handful of people saw it happen, it was nice to get a taste of what it's like to be amazingly lucky at the poker table.

Now if I could only transfer some of that out into the real world, I'd be set...


A Mellow Weekend Winds Down

Here it is, the middle of the night, and I can't sleep. I guess all this time on the graveyard shift has reversed the polarity of my system, and I'm just used to being a creature of the night--albeit with much lest angst than Edward Cullen and his ilk.

My goal for the weekend was to spend 72 hours away from the casino, but plans, like a leaky roof, sometimes fall through.

Awhile back, I submitted the paperwork to change up my direct deposit, and send a good chunk of money to my E*Trade account every payday. Well, when I logged on to my bank account on Friday morning, no money had been deposited. Now, it had been a really slow couple of weeks for me, so I figured that maybe I had such a low take-home amount that all of it went to the investment account. So I logged on to E*Trade to take a look. Nope, no new money there...

Hmmm... No paycheck? Suddenly I began to feel like Milton from Office Space, except that I never had a cube or a stapler to begin with. So I called down to the payroll department, and found out that this was the pay period that they 'tested' my new-to-them account, so I would be getting no direct deposit. I had to hike my chubby ass down to the casino and pick up a real-live paycheck, something I haven't done in over four years. Oh, and I was instructed to also ask for a direct deposit stub, too. WTF? I didn't quite understand, but agreed to ask for both.

When I got down there on Friday afternoon, yep, I had both--a paycheck and a direct deposit stub. The paycheck was pathetically small, the worst one I've ever gotten (but then, it's been kinda slow and I hadn't been called in for an extra shift in three weeks), but the direct deposit stub was interesting in that it had both accounts listed on it and it simply said that the account was validated.

So I wandered up to the payroll department and they assured me that all was well and everything would be back to normal next time around, no problem at all.

While I was there, I *briefly* considered wandering over to the poker room, but then I remembered what a grind the last few sessions had been for me, so I just bailed out. I went grocery shopping, instead, and then spent the rest of the evening at home, clearing out the archives on my DVR.

Saturday was a sleep-in and be-a-slug day, and I was rewarded for my slothfulness with three incredibly fun games to watch--UConn/Notre Dame, LSU/Ole Miss, and Cal/Stanford. Of course I started the day watching Ohio State put the beatdown on Meat-chicken, and I'm sure that Buckeye Nation is damn happy that they're going to Pasadena and won't have to face another SEC team in their bowl game. They might have a chance to win one this year.

Anyhow, after all the games, I stayed up for most of the night watching all the JFK assassination shows on the History Channel and Discovery, finally calling it a night around five in the morning. At 9:00 am on Sunday, my phone was ringing--it was the poker room. One of the full-time dealers was sick, and they wanted to know if I could come in.

Hell yeah I could, just not right away, if at all possible. At first they wanted me at ten, then at one, but then I got a call back a few minutes later and they settled on having me come in at noon. I was cool with that--it gave me enough time to set my alarm and get another hour and a half of sleep.

I wasn't completely happy about waking up again, much too soon for my tastes, to Sonny and Cher singing I Got You Babe from the alarm clock, but what's a brotha to do? I got to make a living. So I got up, shuffled out to the kitchen, poured myself a bowl of Special K, and sat down in front of the Colts game for about fifteen minutes. I couldn't sit around long, as I had to shower, shave, and get my tired ass down to the poker room.

There was just one game going when I got there, and for a minute I thought it would be a real short day. But within just a few minutes we had three full games going, and a waiting list for a fourth. That's always nice. So my day went by pretty quickly, and unlike graveyard shift, I got a few breaks here and there. Instead of walking the beige mile back to the dining room, I just put on a jacket and went to the sportsbook to watch football for a half an hour. Oh, and hot dogs were only a buck from the hottie manning the cart, so bought one of them and sweet-talked the cocktail waitress into bringing me a bottle of water.

So my day at work was actually fairly enjoyable, and I got cut loose after about six hours when the swing-shifters started showing up. I'd made a decent day's wages, so I was cool with hitting the exit. No, I wasn't tempted in the least to stick around and play, either. Usually, I expect to win every time I play, but lately I've just been breaking even or walking out twenty bucks in the red. And one time, a few months back, I remember working all night, then playing for a couple of hours and losing a hundred bucks in the morning game. One of the other dealers chirped in and said Man, that sucks, you just worked all night for free.

Well, not quite, but the words stuck. So I decided right then and there that I'm not gonna stick around and play after my shift with money that I just earned. And I almost always empty my wallet before I go to work--so it's easy to keep track of exactly how much money I've made at the end of each shift--so any cash on hand when I leave work is brand-new to me. And that stays in the wallet.

So I came straight home, pretty tired, actually. And hungry, too. That lone hot dog didn't do much to curb the appetite, so I made a bowl of soup and ate the rest of my cornbread from the other day, then watched the Eagles/Bears game. However, it was nice to use my dining room table for something that it was actually designed for.

I thought I was pretty tired, so I went to bed early, but only got an hour's worth of a catnap before realizing that I was wide awake again. So here I am, pounding away at the keys in the middle of the night, trying to make the mundane sound interesting.

The rest of this week is gonna be pretty mellow, so I'm guessing that posting will be light. On the other hand, I'm having dinner on Wednesday with Linda Lou, so that might give me some interesting material to work with. And I've got a dinner invite for Thanksgiving, but it's way over on the west side, and I'm on call that day (and I'm guessing that at least one of my co-workers will probably call out that day, so I may stick around close and try to score an extra holiday shift). Besides, since I've got no family around these parts, Thanksgiving has lost some of it's luster for me, so dining with mostly strangers doesn't really appeal to me that much. I dunno. Maybe I'm just feeling a little grinchy right now, but at this moment, I don't really want to go.

But that's the news from here. I wish I had some good stories to tell, but the muse ain't singing and I haven't done anything wild, crazy, interesting, or foolish for several days... But give me some time--the smart money is on 'foolish'.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dinner Time

So I'm having dinner with Linda Lou on Wednesday night... If y'all want me to do a food-pr0n review with pics, send in some suggestions.

A few caveats:

No sushi, or restaurants from funkified places like Russia, India, Egypt, or Ethiopia. I believe the green-lighted countries of origin would be China, Thailand, Mexico, USA, Ireland, Italy. I think seafood in all varieties is off the table, too.

I'm leaning to Casa di Amore on Trop, or China Mama out in Chinatown. Maybe Garduno's at the Palms. Any other suggestions?

Oh, and it can't be over-the-top expensive, either.


Friday, November 20, 2009

I Lead The Dullest Life Ever

Ok, so taking the pulse of Hurricane Mikey Nation, it seems that you folks want stories about 1) Strippers and Hookers, 2) Poker, and 3) Food.


Well, as far as strippers and hookers go, not much of that going on around here. I suppose I could have Reverend Dave on as a guest blogger--he's got much more experience in that particular arena. Heh.

And poker has been a grind lately, too. No big wins, no big losses, and no really interesting stories either, unless y'all want me to rehash some of the bad beats I've taken over the last couple of sessions. But I don't really wanna do that. In fact, even though it's Friday night in Vegas and the local rooms are gonna be full of people doing their damnedest to give away their money, I'm taking the night off. I'm just not feeling it right now.

As far as food porn goes, well, I haven't had the inspiration to try anything new and exciting around the kitchen right now, either. (Well, maybe I'll make some coconut rice and teriyaki chicken at some point this weekend, but that's about as exciting as trying out a new brand of peanut butter). I'd like to try a new restaurant, so maybe I'll revisit the old list and see what's out there. Maybe next week I'll try something new. At some point, I'm supposed to get together with Linda Lou for dinner, so that'll be a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Otherwise, I think that maybe I'm just kind of in a funk right now. All the household projects are done, I'm kinda bored with poker, and I just don't have much else going on that captivates my imagination. Tonight, my plan is to stay home and clear out the DVR--I've got several hours worth of WWII in HD to watch, plus a few more shows I've recorded over the past month or so that I haven't gotten around to watching.

And now that I've got a proper dining room table, I'll probably spend several hours this weekend working on that unfinished jigsaw puzzle from over two years ago that's been sitting in storage ever since I moved out of the Man Cave. I took the box down out of the closet this week, and I want to get back into it. I really like doing jigsaw puzzles--it's relaxing, but it stimulates the ol' melon at the same time. And I like the challenge. I've also got a few books to read, so I think the next few days are gonna be spent here at the homestead, being mellow.

Speaking of puzzles, I'm probably gonna buy another one this week that I've wanted for quite some time. It's a 2000 piece monster of this exact picture:

It's a French training ship, called the Belem, and I actually had this same puzzle about ten years ago. Unfortunately, at the time I also had two cats, and boy did they ever love to chew on the pieces and bat them around the house. So that was a fruitless endeavor. I lost so many pieces to the felines that I just gave up and tossed out the entire puzzle after about a month.

Anyhow, I have no more cats (and no, I'm not getting another one and certainly wouldn't spend my time blogging about it), so I think it's safe to try again.

So while the rest of you folks are out enjoying your weekend, I think I'm just gonna be holed up here at the Batch Pad for a few days, pursuing quieter activities, maybe watching a few football games and just chillin'. I feel like I need to recharge my batteries.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Got Nuthin'

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gonna Wake Up Sore

Happy Monday, hurricaners and hurricanettes! Yes, I know it's still Sunday night as I'm posting this, but I know that most of my readers prefer to slack off here on Monday morning at the office. So to you folks here on the company dime, welcome! Stickin' it to The Man feels pretty good, doesn't it?

Before I go any further, I gotta get something off my chest. I think that some of you folks out there in the ether really need to take a big ol' chill pill. Everyone seems to have overreacted a little bit, but some folks went head-first off the deep end. That was not my intention.

My little post about the lost Mojo was nothing serious--I thought about making another post about my weekend poker sessions, but there was nothing really interesting to tell--I didn't win big, and I certainly didn't lose big, either--I just treaded water all weekend and I think I came out down about $30, that's including about twenty bucks that went to the cocktail waitress over the course of two nights and also includes the redbird I tossed to my gal Sammi as I was leaving the M late on Saturday night. I just had a dull weekend at the tables--every win was followed by a loss, and I never really got over the hump the entire time. I wanted to write a clever entry, but the theory was much better than the practice, so I just posted the picture instead when the idea never got past the 'idea' stage.

However, judging from some of the comments and emails I've gotten, I've really sparked some controversy with the small-minded yet highly-imaginative set. Apparently, some folks seem to think that Karma gave me an ass-kicking that I so richly deserve. Those comments won't ever see the light of day, but they sure were fun to read.

So, besides my unproductive hours in the poker room this weekend, what else did I do? Well, as some of you may remember, I've had a few shipping boxes stacked up against the bar in my dining room for the last month, and my inherent laziness has kept me from doing anything about it. It's kind of pathetic that I insisted that I really needed a new headboard and dining room table, and then once I got 'em, I just let 'em sit for so long, not doing anything about it.

But no longer--my procrastination days are behind me and I was some kind of productive dude this weekend, although I started out as a slug on the couch. Since I was having no luck with college football bets, I've gone three weeks now without wagering on any of the games--and I'm enjoying them a lot more. And let's face it, what's not to love about seeing Notre Dame getting beat. Again.

Anyhow, I had the two TVs going, but I suppose I was feeling guilty for being such a sloth. So I busted out the tool kit, took out the utility knife, and started opening all the boxes. I was tired of looking at them, and maybe a little tired of being asked about it. So I dove in.

And these are the before pictures of my headboard:

Oh yeah, it was quite a mess in the beginning, and I have to admit--I was surprised at how long it took to put together. Even having the proper tools on hand and kind of having a feel for how stuff like this goes together (because of all the experience of furniture assembly I've gotten these past few months), it still took almost two hours to get it done. But most projects like this go more smoothly with four hands or at least a garage with a proper workbench. I was by myself and all I had was my dining room floor. So it took a little longer.

However, once it was finished, it turned out really nice.

It matches the bookcase pretty well, but the nightstand, not so much. Oh well. I was never going to be featured in any interior design magazine, anyways. But since I had the mattress and box spring up, I put in a new frame (this one with feet) and changed over to flannel sheets. Needed 'em too--it's been downright chilly here in Vegas these past couple of nights, and you all know that it's against my code to use the heater out here in the desert.

Also, if you look closely, you'll see that I had the box spring sitting up on the edge of the frame when I took the picture--that's why the bed looks crooked. I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. (Well, maybe I would have when I felt a little tilted and rolled out on the floor later on that night).

My plan was to get both the headboard and the dining room table done in one day, but that didn't happen for me on Saturday. By the time I finished futzing around with the bed, it was 5:00 pm, time for the Pitt-Notre Dame game, so I called it quits. And once the game ended, I took a shower, got dressed, and headed over to the M for the rest of the night.

When I got home, I slept like a rock for a good solid eight hours. Those flannel sheets and my fuzzy blanket worked wonders, and I was just a little too comfy--I didn't get up and hit the coffee maker until almost eleven o'clock in the morning. Clearly, I'd squared myself with my feelings of guilt for being a sloth the day before.

But my assembly skillz weren't limited to the bedroom and dining room. Oh no. Since it was still a chilly day outside, I decided that the best thing to have with my weekly dose of NFL was some chili and cornbread. Behold:

It wasn't quite done when I snapped that picture, but it was close. And yeah, I cheated on the chili. I didn't want to wait all day for a scratch-made crockpot batch, so I just opened up a can of Hormel instead, doctoring it up to my tastes. Normally, I only use it to top hot dogs, but we've already established that I'm lazy.

The cornbread, if not scratch-made, at least took a little more effort. I used a couple of boxes of old-skool Jiffy corn muffin mix, added the egg and milk per the directions, but also added a can of diced green chilies and a handful of cheddar-jack cheese. It turned out pretty damn good, but I think I'll skip the green chilies next time. I'll lose my commission as a Southern Gentleman if word ever gets out that I blasphemed the cornbread in such a manner.

As the day wore on, that shipping crate with the dining room table kept mocking me from the corner. I knew I had to do it, so late in the afternoon, I finally gave in and unpacked the thing.

The table itself went together in about ten minutes. The frame was already attached--all I had to do was mount the legs--eight bolts and sixteen washers. Of course, the bolts were pretty close together on each leg, so getting the upper one attached was kind of a knuckle-buster. Yeah, I drew blood. Again.

Thankfully this was my last household project, because I've already earned two purple hearts for wounds received in furniture assembly. One more and they take away my tools and make me a cook. And instead of a screwdriver and a hammer, I'm back to putting stuff together with a butter knife and the heel of a penny loafer.

The table might've gone together in a hurry, but the chairs were a cast-iron bitch. Ok, maybe a Malaysian rubberwood bitch, but still a royal pain in the ass. It's not that they were that complicated, it's just that the instruction manual was written by somebody who had no clue and probably knew they were about to get fired anyways. Seriously, Linda Lou and Suburban Hausfrau--y'all need to slap the shiat out of have a few words with some of your technical writing colleagues. The instructions were completely vague and left *much* up to interpretation, and the pictures were of no help whatsoever. It was a complete joke. And not a very funny one, either.

I think the first chair took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to put together, and after that I took a break, if only to make sure that the neighbors didn't think I was involved in a very one-sided domestic disturbance. The second chair was a bit smoother, but I goofed up and put the wrong-sized screw in two of the holes, and had to go back and take all eight of them out to find which ones were missing. Oh, and I also mounted the backrest backwards, so it was convex instead of concave. That was fun.

I finally figured it out on the third chair, and was cruising right along, thinking I'd found my rhythm. But no. One of the allen-bolts decided to strip, so I had to deal with that for about ten minutes.

By the way, whoever invented the allen-wrench, there's a special corner of hell for you. Each of these four chairs had ten bolts and screws that needed to be allen-wrenched, and at least two of them on each chair didn't want to go in without a whole lot of motivation on my part. And I swear, if I got a dollar for every time the damn allen-wrench fell out on the floor, I could afford to take the whole family on the cruise. Seriously--I did like a thousand crunches just from picking up that f*cking wrench off the floor every fifteen seconds. Not like my fat ass couldn't use the exercise, but damn, I should have a six-pack good enough to be an extra on Baywatch by now.

Eventually, it all came together. And it actually looks pretty nice, too. If you look closely, the chairs are not 100% finished--I still have to put the wooden plugs over the screw holes, but I'm gonna wait a few days and make sure everything is still tight before I seal 'em up.

It needs a centerpiece or a candle or something, but I'm just glad that it's over. Out of all the projects I've done this summer (TV stand, bookcases, coffee table, booze cabinet, headboard, dining room table) the out-and-out champion pain in the ass were those chairs. Good lord, what a job that was. Thank god I didn't get the bigger table that came with six chairs. I'd still be out there in the dining room swearing to the heavens and cursing the satan's spawn who designed them.

But it's all over now. My household is complete, except for a few wall decorations and maybe a kitchen gadget or two. But my big empty spacious apartment is now a comfy and cozy home that I can be proud of.

I think it's time to throw a dinner party!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Like Austin Powers...

I seem to have lost it.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reclickers --1, Mikey-- 0

Ok, y'all win. I'll make another post before Monday--if only because I can't sleep, all of my housework is done, and I don't care for ESPN's programming for another hour or so.

I had a pretty good Thursday, though. Once I got my nap in after work, I woke up in time for the UPS man to drop off a batch of those cask-aged Partagas Black Labels, which are now resting comfortably in my humidor as I write this. I've realized that I really need to get smokin'--I can't squeeze another single stick in the thing and get the lid to close, so I'm thinking that this weekend I'm gonna be spending some quality time out on the patio in my camp chair, fondly remembering what it was like to not have furniture.

Later in the afternoon, I took off and headed to the bank to make a deposit, then dropped off the utility bills in the mail. I'm so glad that autumn has finally made it to this corner of the Mojave desert--my September electric bill was $107, but October's was just over fifty. I then made my way over to the casino to submit my direct deposit paperwork, then found my way over to the poker room and took a seat at a 4-8 game.

It wasn't a great start, and I took a significant beating early on. Whenever I play 4-8 limit, I almost always buy in for $100, and in that session, I started off so badly that I ended up rebuying, twice, for a total of $215--basically all the cash I had in my wallet. But it's not like I was playing badly--actually, I was playing very well--but I took a couple of ridiculous beats where all I could do was shake my head and think Wow, you don't see that every day...

But I screwed it down and knew that the law of averages was bound to catch up sooner or later, and if I kept getting my money in with the best of it, I was bound to get paid off. And that's exactly what happened. I caught a few nice hands and was more than happy to take the chips of folks who stayed in on draws that never made it, or somehow never quite grasped the concept of having a kicker.

Eventually, after about four hours or so, I had exactly $300 in chips stacked in front of me, so I figured it was a good time to rack up, take advantage of the furious comeback I'd made, and walk with an $85 profit. Besides, I wanted to go over to the 'a.t. M' and play at their juicy tables. So as I cashed out, I called the poker room over at the M and had them put my name on the waiting list, telling them I'd be there in about a half hour or so.

It was raining on that side of town, making it feel even cooler outside than it already was, but once I scurried in from the roof of the parking garage, there was an open seat at one of the 4-8 tables. I grabbed a 'rack of white' (a hundred bucks worth of chips), and took my seat.

On my second hand, not a minute after I sat down, I got involved in a sick sick sick hand. I was on the big blind, and about five or six players limped in. I looked down to see an 8-3 of diamonds, so I just checked.

The flop came out 8-8-4. Bingo--I'd just flopped trips!

Since I was first to act, I checked, hoping to check-raise somebody in late position. The action checked around to the button, and he bet. I raised, everyone else folded, and he re-raised me!

Thinking that he probably also had an 8 and most likely had me outkicked, I just called, pissed off at myself for succumbing to a case of 'fancy play syndrome'. I was probably beaten, but it was only four more dollars to see the turn, and trips is still a monster. I could lay it down after one more card with minimal damage.

The turn card was a three, pairing my kicker and giving me a full house! Oh hell yeah, it was on!

So I bet out, and my opponent raised me again! I couldn't believe how lucky I was, so I popped him back. And he re-raised me again.


Now, I'd played against this guy on several occasions in the past, and he's truly a horrible player--I beat him like a drum all the time, so I figured I had him beat. Thinking for a second, I put him on something like King-Eight or Queen-Eight (if he'd had Ace-Eight, we would've raised preflop on the button--some things you just know. And I couldn't put him on 8-4--What kind of donkey would play that?).

So I re-raised.

He immediately came back at me. So I re-raised again, figuring that the second-nuts were a lock. It went back and forth like that until there were eight bets and raises each, before I put the brakes on and said to myself You know what, this jackass may just have 8-4...

The river was a harmless Nine, but I still checked, just in case. He bet, I called, and yep, he turned over 8-4. Not suited, no reason whatsoever to play that crap, but he did and got extremely lucky. At least I was on the blind and saw the flop for free, so I had a reason to be in the hand.

Talk about a kick in the gut--I hadn't been at the table five minutes and I was already stuck $84. Yep, that's how much I lost on that one single hand. Ouch.

On the other hand, at least I lost it to a complete donkey, so I knew it wouldn't take long before I got my money back. So I called for another rack of chips, and pulled another Benjamin from my wallet.

I also put on my iPod and went into the tank, determined not to say anything or give away any kind of tells, hoping to just play my A-game and grind my way back.

Luckily for me, I got paid off on a couple of other big hands--I turned another full boat a few hands later, and my nemesis had three pair and bet them all the way, thinking they were good, so I got a nice chunk of my chips back less than 15 minutes later. I also bet on-the-come on a flush draw that got there, so nobody had me on it at the river. And that same guy made a nine-high junk flush with his crappy cards, so he built the pot for me on the end, and again, I dragged a nice fat pot.

I was within five bucks of being even when I had pocket Sevens on a six-way pot pre-flop. The flop came out King-Ten-Seven, and Mr. 8-4 flopped top two pair and did all the work for me. Everyone else at the table knew he was kind of a crummy player, so he always got lots of action. Of course I raised him on the river when there was no possible straight or flush lurking in the weeds, and he couldn't wait to re-raise me. I hit him back, hoping he'd go to war again, but he just called, but before I could get my cards turned over he stood up and slapped his cards down face up and yelled TOP TWO PAIR, BABY!, like he was on TV and fully expecting to take another huge pot off of me.

I calmly sat there, slowly turned over my set of Sevens, and said Three of a kind, BABY!

Heh. I wish I could've captured the look on his face--I would hang the picture over my desk for days when I'm feeling a little down.

He sat back down, stunned, and I decided to twist the knife a little. Heh--I knew I'd get all my money back from you, and then some, but damn, I thought it would take a lot longer...

He didn't play much longer, and as usual, didn't need a rack when he left.

However, I went on a huge rush after that. I caught a couple of other nice hands, and I was reading other players cards like they were face-up. Seriously, I was really playing my A+++ game at that point, and I just kept stacking chips. Not only that, but every time the smokin' hot Cuban waitress would come over and talk to me, I won a pot--like four times in a row! It got to be so obvious that one of the guys down at my end of the table said something along the lines of Damn dude, you've got the best good luck charm EVAR!

The problem with running over the table like I was, is that it tends to break the other players, and if nobody else comes in and sits down, the game breaks. And by the time I had over $400 stacked in front of me, we were down to just five players. I didn't want to play short-handed, so I decided to call it a night. The game broke at that point, and even though there were seats available at other games, I called it a night, happy to book another big win, especially after getting bent over and reamed on my second hand of the night.

A buddy of mine was working the floor on the graveyard shift last night, so instead of going straight home, I decided to stop back by his casino and say hello. Of course there were a couple of games going, and there was a seat open, and well, I can't pass up an opportunity like that.

The problem was, the game was kinda lame--not a lot of action, I was kind of card dead--and I kept yawning. I felt like I was going to fall asleep at any second. Also, there was on uber-creepy guy in the game, and I remember thinking to myself Man, that dude looks like he's got a freezer full of body parts...

To make things worse, after about a half hour, he decided to change seats and come sit right next to me. No problem, he was probably the most aggressive player in the game, and he was moving into a seat directly on my right, exactly where you'd want him to be. But oh dear god--he stunk so bad. Truly eye-watering. I lasted exactly one hand and asked the dealer if I could move to the 8-seat--the spot he'd just come from. I just couldn't handle the stench.

About two hands later, it was a kill-pot, and since four other players had limped in, I did the same with my 10-7 of hearts.

The action got around to Buffalo Bill and he raised it--$9 to go. Since there were seven other players in the pot, I was getting the right price to call.

It was a crappy flop, King-Ten-Four, all spades. Yuck. It got checked around, but Mr. lotion-in-the-basket bet $6 from the button. Again, everyone called, and since the pot was so big and I had a pair of tens, I joined the call-party.

The turn was the Seven of Diamonds, giving me two pair. Now I knew beyond any reasonable doubt that NOBODY had a flush--the pot was too huge with too many callers--anyone with spades would've bet out on the turn, or raised on the flop. Since nobody did, I felt like my two pair might be good. So when it was checked to me again, I put out a feeler bet of $12, ready to run away like a scared little girl at the first sign of a raise. But nobody raised, everyone just called--all six players!

The river was a rag, no pair, no straight, not another spade. Again it was checked to me, and I gambled with another $12 bet, feeling a little more confident in the strength of my hand. This time I only got three callers, one of them being the initial raiser. He immediately turned over pocket Aces, but the other players were reluctant to show, so even before turning my cards over, I knew that my two pair were the winner.

It was a HUGE pot. Well over a hundred bucks.

And since I was tired as hell anyways, plus not really feeling the vibe at the table, I immediately racked up my winnings, not feeling guilty in the least for doing a hit-and-run. I wasn't even there for an hour, getting home just a few minutes after midnight.

When I first sat down to play eight hours earlier, I had $218 in my wallet, and when emptied the wallet once I got home, I had just short of six hundy in it! A very nice night all around.

I went straight to bed, but couldn't sleep right away. And sometime around 4:30 this morning, I woke up in the worst way possible--multiple charlie-horses in both legs--bottom of my foot, my quads, my calves. It was awful. I couldn't even stand up! Seriously, I laid there going WTF is going on??!?!? Eventually, I made it to the kitchen and drank about a quart of water and downed four aspirin, then followed it up a little later with a big glass of grape juice.

I was fine after that, but damn, I must've been some kind of dehydrated to get leg cramps like that.

I finally got back to sleep for a few hours, but then spent my Friday doing housework.

AC came over early in the evening, and we watched The Warriors and ordered a pizza--still a good flick, and it holds up surprisingly well. After the movie, we sat out on the patio, shooting the shiat and smoking a couple of fine cigars and sipping on snifters of Grand Marnier, enjoying the good life.

We decided to go play some poker after that, and we called down to Sunset Station and got on the list. There were two seats available at the same table, so we took 'em. It was a good game, and after just an hour or so, I was up over a hundred bucks. Gotta love that. AC'c gal got off work early and was coming down to pick him up, so we decided to call it a night before the blinds hit us again.

I racked up a $125 win for the session, and I think he made five bucks (not bad considering he took a pretty bad beat a half-hour earlier). He took off to meet his gal, and headed over to the M.

Unfortunately, my streak is over--I just couldn't get a hand to hold up at all. I played for about three hours, had Aces cracked twice, and couldn't even begin to count how many other hands turned to shiat on the river. I had another full-house cracked by a bigger one again, but that second time it didn't hurt nearly as badly.

And then I went card dead--I think Queen-Nine was about the best hand I had in over an hour, and ended up calling it a night after another pair of Aces was cracked on the turn. As bad as it was, I only lost twenty bucks total for the night, but I just couldn't get the cards to cooperate at all. On a more positive note, my gal Sammi was there and I got to flirt with her over the course of the evening, so that was nice. However, she's been sick all week, and when she had the chance to take an early out, she grabbed it. She was gone, and the combination of exhaustion and being card dead were working against me, so I saw no reason to stick around.

That pretty much covers the past two days. Today I've got no agenda except watching college football all afternoon, and of course, I'll probably go play some cards later at night, maybe get my mojo back. We'll see.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kicking Off My Weekend

Woot! My workweek is over... Thankfully. I don't know why but it was a tough one to get through--only last night seemed decent. Otherwise, it was below-par for me, money-wise. But talking to the cocktail waitresses, they all said the same thing--they all had a below-average week, too. I'm just glad that it's over, because I seemed very tired all week long. Of course, I'm still on call all weekend, and if the phone rings I'll be more than happy to pick up a shift. But knowing that I don't have to set my alarm for midnight tonight makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

After work this morning, we had breakfast over at the Gold Rush (I'm really starting to like that place a lot. Yeah, it's a hole-in-the-wall, but the staff in the cafe are all really nice folks, the food is good, and their prices are very reasonable). After the tab was paid, I motored my way across the street to Wally world to do a bit of shopping--I needed hangers, desperately. All of those new clothes I bought? Well, I ran out of hangers. Not that I'm exactly diligent about hanging everything up as soon as it comes out of the dryer, but it's nice to have the option. And Mamasan was giving me a ration of shiat the other day about my lifelong aversion to the ironing board, so I also picked up a new Black & Decker steam iron and a countertop ironing board, too.

A couple of my new shirts are linen blends, and they wrinkle up like a mofo in the washing machine. So instead of taking them to the dry cleaner after every wearing, I decided to cough up the scratch and make an effort to iron my nicer shirts every now and then. We'll see how that plan works out.

It was a pretty cheap trip to the store this time around--just a few other household goods made it into the basket and I got out of there for less than sixty bucks. Once I got home, I wrote out the last of the bills for another month, and I've gotta tell ya, it feels great not being on the hook for anything but rent for another month.

Of course, later this afternoon, I have to go to the bank and deposit all my cash and drop the bills off in the mail, and then I'll be done with my financial responsibilities for a few weeks. Oh, I'll probably go over to the casino and drop off a new direct deposit form at the payroll department. I always forget about my paychecks--I mean, I live almost exclusively on tips, as the casino only pays me minimum wage. And since I never come close to working 40 hours a week anymore, the money on my paycheck is like a little bonus I discover a couple times a month whenever I log on to my bank account. And I never pick up my stubs, either--the window is never open when I'm at work, and hell, the food in the dining room is so bad that I refuse to eat it, and so I haven't even walked over to the back of the house area where my locker is in probably two months or more.

So while the rest of the world looks forward to payday every other Friday, I always forget about it. Anyhow, a couple hundred bucks every couple of weeks is always nice, and it goes directly into my checking account already. But I'm going to have 'em send fifty or sixty bucks out of every paycheck over to my E*Trade account, just so it's already over there before I get my hands on it.

That's my plan for the day, but it's all on hold until the UPS man gets here. Yesterday was like an early Christmas for me--I got three boxes of stuff at once. But today I'm waiting for a load of cask-aged Partagas Black Labels from JR Cigars, along with a bonus Dominican sampler 10-pack. That should pretty much wrap up all of my purchases for a few weeks, but I'm really looking forward to tasting one of those Partagas.

Tonight, I'll probably go over to the M Resort and hopefully treat their 4-8 game as my own personal ATM once again, and maybe flirt with my gal Sammi and probably overtip the smokin' hot Cuban cocktail waitress, too.

As far as the rest of the weekend goes, I guess it depends on how well the poker game goes tonight. But tomorrow, I think AC and I are probably gonna get together for a little film-fest. We're gonna watch the Mother of all Blaxsploitation films, Truck Turner, followed by a viewing of my new Director's Cut dvd of the cult classic The Warriors (Can you DIIIIGGGG it?!?!?). Word around the campfire is that we may indulge in some cigars and some Grand Marnier while we're at it...

Anyhow, that's the news from the Batch Pad. Y'all probably won't hear from me again until sometime on Monday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ESPN -- WTF?!?!?!????


The geniuses at ESPN and Cox Cable have conspired to keep me from seeing the last half hour (hell, maybe hour--I have no idea) of the final table of the 2009 World Series of Poker.

According to ESPN, and the Cox digital cable guide, the final table was to run for two hours, from 6 pm until 8 pm local time. No problemo. Since a two-hour show means 44 minutes of comercials, my plan was to wait until 6:45 to start watching, fast-forwarding through the commercials and ending right about the same time the broadcast did.

I got a late start and didn't sit down on the couch till a few minutes after seven, but no problem there. I watched all the way through, and then just as the action got down to three-handed and Joe Cada caught a deuce on the flop to come from way behind, the recording ended--in the middle of the hand. I quickly clicked over to ESPN, and frickin' SportsCenter was on. ESPN2 didn't even have it on... WTF? What happened to the rest of the broadcast?

Oh, I know what happened as far as the tournament goes--there are blogs and webcasts all over the place describing the action, and a guy I know was there at the Rio last night watching the final table live, so I know how it all went down, but I was really hoping to see it on TV. But the morons in charge--and I don't know who to lay the entire blame on--at ESPN and Cox Cable have kept me from doing so.

Nice going, idiots.

Wine, Women, and Song

Sorry for the late start today, but this whole work thing has got me wrapped around the axle. It really interferes with all of the other things I'd rather be doing.


I had a pretty good Vegas-style weekend, all things considered. It began on Friday night--I chilled out here at the house for most of the evening, but the plan was to meet 'Dr. K' and his entourage of nurses over at the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay at 10:00 o'clock that night. I got an early start, planning on having a drink at one of the bars beforehand. Of course, I'd forgotten what a clusterf*ck the valet at Mandalay Bay is. After sitting in line for about 20 minutes just trying to move the last 100 yards or so, I was told that unless I could produce a room key, I wasn't parking.

But I'm going to the Foundation Room.

-Do you have a membership?

No, I'm a guest tonight.

-Beat it.

That kinda sucked.

Luckily, the guys over at the west valet at TheHotel were much more accommodating. So instead of walking in through the front door, I snuck in by the sports book and made my way across the casino to the lobby bar.

I ordered a Captain and diet from the bartender, who went all you-want-fries-with-that? and offered me a double for just $2 more. Ok, whatever...

$14 plus tip later, I was enjoying an eight-ounce glass of mostly ice and some very valuable booze, simultaneously watching the eye candy and trying to text Eric, telling him that I was there. He showed up about 30 seconds later with four chicks, the introductions were made, and we shuffled over to the elevators.

Of course, we had to pound our drinks before they'd let us on the private elevator that led to the club--no outside booze allowed up inside the Holiest of Holies. No problem there--we all had drinks in our hands at the time, but less than a minute later the table next to the host stand was full of empty glasses.

When we got up to the club, it was only about half-full. And the Foundation Room is a whole helluva lot bigger than I imagined it was, having never been there before. But the first thing we did was make our way out to the balcony and deflower all of the Vegas virgins with the view. Simply awesome!

The waitress came by, drinks all around, and the conversation flowed. The gals were all very nice, and lots of fun to talk to. I really enjoyed myself. As we got to know each other a bit better, it was picture time. Everyone had cameras, so I'll share what made it onto mine:

Eric and the ladies.

Behold, the power of rum!

What's better than hanging out with four attractive gals in little black dresses and the Strip in the background? Nothing comes to mind right away. Vegas, baby. Vegas!

After a few Long Island iced teas, I was told that I should rest my head. Who am I to argue?

You know what's better than $20 lappies down at the Rhino? FREE ones on the balcony at the Foundation Room!

I don't remember exactly what was going on right here--just one of those special moments captured on film.

Vegas Virgins no longer! I'm glad that I was there to see it.

Of course, as the evening went on, the conversation flowed, as did the cocktails. And I have to admit, I was quite surprised with the 'reasonableness' of the prices at the bar. It wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be to purchase a round of drinks. The Foundation Room might be a little exclusive, but they certainly don't gouge you at the bar.

We did a little drinking, a lot of socializing, and a bit of dancing, too. Oh, and being in a hip and happenin' place, we ran into a minor celebrity or two, also:

I've been thinking about it, Mikey--I want my suit back!

Yep, we ran into 'Kenny Bania' while we were up there. He was a pretty nice guy, probably had something to do with the fact that we were the only people that recognized him. I kept cracking up when, after a few minutes of conversation, he finally said "You can just call me Steve" and without missing a beat, Kristen said "Ok, Bania". He was trying pretty hard to get with one of the girls, but when he realized that wasn't gonna happen, he moved on...

We had a great time up there for several hours, and I really enjoyed spending time with Eric and the gals. Eventually, the booze caught up to one of the members of our entourage, so we called it a night before any derailment was caught on film. I said my goodbyes to all the ladies and made my way back downstairs to the poker room.

I put my name on the list for the 3-6 and 4-8 games, grabbed a bottle of water, and sat down to wait for a seat to open up. It never did, and eventually I gave up, fetched the truck, and came home, collapsing in the bed with a grin on my face. It was a great night!

The next morning, Saturday, I awoke much too early. But I had stuff to do. I puttered around the house, keeping one eye on College GameDay, but doing things like cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. Around noon I packed a bag, showered, shaved, and put on some decent clothes, and headed down to the Hilton.

My day was to be spent at Lee's Wine Experience, an adventure so fun the previous year that I decided that there was no way I would ever miss it for the rest of my days in Vegas. Basically, it's billed as an upscale wine tasting event, but it's pretty much The World's Largest Cocktail Party, at least on this side of Jacksonville. For $40, it's a full day of free booze and wine, hors d'oeurves, and eye candy.

I got down to the Hilton about twenty minutes later, and was able to check in right away. I'd booked a room online earlier in the week for $119, a little more than I wanted to pay, but it sure beat the alternative of trying to find a ride home after debauching myself, or even worse, risking a DUI. But the room was pretty nice--right off the elevator on the 27th floor of the north tower, overlooking the Strip.

I dropped by bag in the corner, turned on the TV to watch some football, kicked off my shoes, emptied my pockets, and crawled up on the comfy bed and dozed for an hour and a half. Of course, I totally spaced going down to the sportsbook and getting a bet in on Zenyatta to win the Breeder's Cup, and even though she was a favorite, I feel like I missed an opportunity.

Around 2:15 or so, I got up out of bed, put myself back together, and made dinner reservations at Benihana for after the wine tasting. No longer a rookie, I was gonna do it right this time.

As I made my way through the casino and over towards the convention center, I noticed big red signs everywhere offering a room rate of only $59 that night for patrons of the Lee's Wine Experience. Hey, that's a much better deal than I was getting, so I stopped at a house phone and called the front desk. They kind of gave me the runaround, and I ended up talking to reservations, but it seemed that nobody could help me out--all I wanted was to be credited the difference--but it seemed to take an act of God to do it. I booked in advance for $119, but if I would've just showed up at the last minute, I could've had the room for sixty bucks less. Anyhow, it didn't seem like it was happening for me, and after about ten minutes of getting shuffled back and forth between people who couldn't, or wouldn't, help, I gave up and headed for the ballroom, telling myself that I'd take care of it at the front desk the next morning when I checked out.

I got there about 15 minutes before they opened the door, and there was already a line forming. They checked everyone's IDs, even those of us old enough to be 21 twice already. But after that, I didn't have to wait long--I was one of the first 30 or 40 people through the door.

Now, last year, Lars and I made the mistake of hitting all the hard stuff right away, and then a couple of hours later when we needed it, there was no food left to be had. So the first thing I did was hit one of the small buffet stations and grab a plate with some finger foods--mini quiches, stuffed pastry, cheese, crackers, etc. I was able to lay down a good base while I went over the tasting book, mapping out my strategy for the evening.

The first thing I did, of course, was go to the back of the ballroom and see what they had as far as cordials, liqueurs, and other goodies. I was sorely disappointed as I discovered that the 'booze' part of the event was only about half as big as it was the previous year. I don't know if it was the bad economy or what, but the selection was pretty lame. Nevertheless, I had a few sips of premium bourbon while I flirted with the cute redhead at the margarita mix booth.

I wandered back and forth for a bit, sampling this and that, but nothing really jumped out and screamed BUY ME! like last year with the Castries and the coffee flavored tequila. So instead of getting stupid right out of the gate on hard liquor, I decided to be a little more genteel and I grabbed my wine glass, heading back into the main part of the show.

I decided to expand my red wine horizons, so I tasted several varieties of Malbec--all good, I found, and lots and lots of my favorite red, Pinot Noir. As you may have guessed, in the course of my travels, I met a few gals here and there who wanted me to try other odd things--I ended up drinking a few sparkling whites that were pretty good, along with some of the worst Sangria I've ever had (it went straight into the rinse bucket after one sip).

I also had some sort of Argentinian shiat that was so tannic that it tasted like fermented bandaids. It also went directly into the discard bucket and I immediately ran over to get a cracker to get the taste out of my mouth.

But there were a few surprise finds. I really really liked the Sebastiani Russian River Unoaked Chardonnay. It was more sweet than dry, and seemed like the perfect fruit-and-cheese wine. And the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot was also excellent. I also tried something called O'Brien Seduction, which was a blend of Cabernet and something else (maybe Zinfandel?--not sure, and my notes are incomplete). Anyhow, it got circled and I gave it a few stars in my tasting book, so I'll be on the lookout for that the next time I hit the liquor store.

There was one more standout wine, as far as I can remember, it was MacMurray Ranch Central Coast Pinot Noir--surprisingly good and it didn't have the 'burn' that Pinot can sometimes have. I really liked it a lot, and remember thinking that it could also be had at a surprisingly reasonable price point.

Those were the wines that really stood out for me, although I tried lots and lots of different ones. After awhile, all that red wine started to taste the same, so I grabbed a sample can of citrus-flavored Pellegrino, found a table, and sat down to go over my notes and enjoy my wine buzz. I'd only been there about two hours at that point--I still had three more to go, so I had to pace myself.

Other people had the same idea, so it was nice to sit and chat with strangers and go over our finds and hear about some of the things that they liked. After about an hour or so, I felt like I was ready for round two, so I got back in the game.

I went back to the booze section again, just because, and tried some Jeremiah Wood Country Peach Sweet Tea. It was damn good. Vodka-based, with a nice hint of iced tea and peaches. Reminded me of a summer day in Georgia, minus the humidity and the gnats. I tried a few different varieties that they had on hand, and I think my favorite came from making an impromptu Arnold Palmer, mixing the peach iced tea and the lemonade flavors.

The also had some of that Crystal Head vodka on hand, which I've never heard of before I moved to Vegas, and Dan Akroyd does local commercials for it. Somehow, the only picture I took during the whole event was of one of their hotties pouring fruit juice though the ice-skull:

It's good, but nothing I'm gonna run out and make a point of buying. I also tried some god-awful tequilas that I'd never heard of, but one thing that was a big hit was called a 'Merry Feckin Christmas'. There was a booth offering up that spiced 'Feckin' whiskey, and they mixed it with white chocolate liqueur. That was pretty damn good, on the rocks. I met a pack of gals about that time, and we spent a good twenty minutes or more at that booth enjoying the samples. Of course, I was all about the hot redhead named Lisa who was handing out the samples, and somehow I neglected to get a picture of her. That kinda sucks, because she was quite the hottie.

After that, I spent the balance of the evening revisiting my favorites in the wine section and getting seconds and thirds of the ones I liked. And I made my way over to the J. Lohr table and had a glass or two of their Merlot, one of my favorites (having bought a bottle of it last week).

It was pretty mellow this year--I tasted a whole lot more wine and a whole lot less booze, and even though my wingman Lars wasn't with me to provide comedic relief, I still had a great time. Around 7:15 or so, I was done. I grabbed a bottle of water and sat at a table up near the front of the ballroom, content to enjoy my mellow buzz and do some people-watching for the last 45 minutes before they pulled the plug.

Once it ended, I joined the herd heading back to the casino. But I had dinner reservations, so I stopped at the Benihana village, told the hostess I was there, and sat in the lounge watching the tail end of the USC/ASU game until I got paged.

I didn't have to wait long, unlike everyone else who didn't have reservations (two hours for a table, they were telling them). I went to the table with six strangers, and as much as I wanted some sake, I decided that ice water would be best.

I had some really good sushi for an appetizer, and enjoyed the conversation with my table mates. The gal next to me had that same Rita Wilson/Marcie-the-psycho look that I find so damn attractive, so it kinda put me off my game. Being pretty well hammered, I didn't want to say anything inappropriate, so I was pretty quiet and mellow during dinner.

The shrimp and soup was good, and for dinner I ordered the Land & Sea combination--filet mignon and sea scallops. Oh hell yeah! And while we were watching the chef put on his show, I was reminded of the last time I was there--over ten years earlier when Eddie B, my old roommate Tammie, and I took our first trip to Vegas together. Man, what a great time that was, and it was hard to believe it'd been so long since I'd been there. I remembered an inside joke Eddie tossed out at dinner that night-- Looks like Ma Brooker is feelin' horny tonight, Mikey! --which damn near made me shoot saki out of my nose at the time.

But I enjoyed my meal, realizing afterwards that it was about as Japanese as Pizza Hut, and probably not worth the $75 tab. Still, a good way to end my evening.

After I paid my tab, I shuffled off to my room, kicked off the shoes and crawled back into that comfy king size bed, the lights of the Strip just outside my window. I turned on SportsCenter, but ended up passing out pretty much as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was out cold, but at 4:00 am, I was more than willing to pay the $16-per-gallon for the bottled water on the nightstand. Good racket they've got going on there...

I finally woke up for real around nine o'clock or so, took a shower, got dressed, packed my bag, and headed out. My stop at the front desk proved to be a fruitless endeavor, as both the clerk and the manager refused to even consider discounting my room, no matter what amount of logic I tossed in their direction. It was a complete stonewall, and all I got was "Sorry, we can't help you, you booked a non-refundable rate". I was pretty pissed, but after ten minutes of going around in circles I just gave up, vowing that next year when (if) I stay there, I'm taking all of the towels with me when I leave. Sorry Hilton, but I really feel like you dicked me for sixty bucks, and I'm pretty sure you lost me as a customer, permanently.

Once the valet brought my truck back, I briefly considered going over to the Peppermill for breakfast, but I decided that I'd rather just get back to the Batch Pad and call it a weekend.

And it was a pretty good one, now that I think about it.


Monday, November 09, 2009

I Suppose I Should Post Something

Happy Monday, everyone. I don't know why I'm so apathetic about my blog lately, but I just am. I know that everyone checks in first thing Monday morning, and I should have something up, but y'all know I'm naturally lazy, and just didn't feel it, so there.

Oh, I've got stuff from the weekend to share, but I'm just not up to the task today. Maybe tomorrow. Besides, I'm feeling kinda groggy right now, and I'm still working on my first cup of coffee. After a long weekend of living like a tourist again, I had to work last night. That was no fun. And when I got home, the big electrical junction box on the wall outside my window was buzzing so damn loud that I had to turn on some music just to drown out the sound so I could get to sleep. I set my iPod on my 'Martini Time' playlist, which is about 90% mellow tunes. But there are a few WTF IS THAT? songs that snuck through, and I woke up to one such piece of musical crap with lots of annoying horns, a horrible singer, and the upright bassist playing like he had to pee really bad. Not the best way to wake up and face the week.

So yeah, it sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays...

What else is going on? Let's see here. Well, somebody pointed out to me this weekend that I never mentioned buying any toys on Amazon after I won my pile of hundies last weekend. Honestly--I'd completely forgotten about that kinda stuff. When I came home that night, honestly, my first thought was getting a picture with a handful of Benjamins and sharing it here--which I did. Then I had all day Sunday to think about what to do with the rest of the money. Actually--it was a no-brainer. I paid off every bill I had, plus pre-paid my next two truck payments. I then sent a chunk to the cruise line and to my E*trade account, and that took up the majority of it.

Oh, I spent about $400 on new clothes, and another couple hundie at WalMart and Costco, stocking up on essentials, plus household staples and canned goods for when the inevitable lean times make their return. I also paid for a hotel room in Florida next year--when I go on my cruise, I'm gonna fly out a day early and spend the night. Leaving the same day from the other side of the country cuts it a little too close, not giving me any time to spare in case of bad weather or mechanical delay, and I certainly don't want to miss the boat, as they say.

I'd thought about coughing up about $600+ and picking up a new Canon DSLR, but I decided to wait on that purchase. It'll happen, but not until after the cruise is completely paid for, I decided.

Besides that, I spent another couple hundred this weekend living like an out-of-towner. I spent a few bucks at the Foundation Room on Friday night, then checked into the Hilton on Saturday afternoon, went to the all-day wine tasting, treated myself to an overpriced dinner at a nice restaurant, and then crashed in a comfy king-sized bed in an overpriced room that overlooked the Strip. But more about all that later.

You'll be surprised to know that I didn't make a single bet in the sports book these past two weeks. Yep, none of my new-found fortune got recycled back into the casino by way of the football sucker bets (although I really really wanted to put a bet in on Zenyatta on Saturday, but I completely spaced it once I got to the Hilton, so that was a missed opportunity). On the other hand, I purposely gambled away a couple hundred bucks in the poker room last week--every time I set foot in there, everyone wanted me to "bring your four grand to this table, Mikey!", so I played like a donkey a couple of times, (calling some of my favorite players when I shouldn't have, raising and folding, etc.), if only for the sake of goodwill towards the people who keep me in the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed (you know, living indoors).

So that pretty much took care of my little windfall, but when I was talking to Mamasan yesterday, she asked me if I'd stopped reading, because I never mention any books anymore. Well, the truth is, I'm down to book 20 of the Patrick O'Brian novels, and I'm a little pissed that it's ending. I know the author passed away in the middle of writing the 21st installment, so I know that it's coming to an end, and not in a way that ties up all the loose ends and leaves me with a feeling of closure. So I've been dragging my way through the last one.

Also, I'm up to volume 8 in the 'Prelude to Glory' series, and I'm extremely irritated with it. It's a decent series, but it's not that great. I'm enjoying the story, but I have issues with it. The problem is, most of the fans of the series are truly fanatic, and volume 8 is impossible to find. Even the used copies are selling for upwards of $120 on the internet, and all the reviews I've found tell me that it's the worst, most tedious, of the entire set. There ain't NO WAY on Flying Spaghetti Monster's green earth that I'd ever pay that kind of money for any book, much less one filled with so much Mormon dogma. Seriously people, $120? You've got to be kidding me. Now, it's available at the Henderson library, but for whatever reason, the online system won't let me reserve it, so I have to drive my ass down there and reserve it in person.

So my book reading has slowed down quite a bit. Besides, I'm still on a huge heater at the poker tables--forget about the loose play in my own room, where I've given a little back this week. Every time I walk into the M Resort, it's like collecting a paycheck. I haven't lost in that place in over a month, so I just keep going back there every chance I get. Between that part-time 'job' and my real job, I haven't had much time to indulge in feeding the reading monster.

However, I got to thinking about it, and this weekend I broke down and finally spent a few bucks at Amazon. I had to buy some replacement Sennheiser earbuds that I use with my iPod, and well, I got a little carried away on my wishlist. I think I ended up spending another couple hundred bucks there, too. I got a few non-fiction books, a couple of DVDs, and something I've had on my list forever--Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells.

I've gotten pretty good at reading people, especially since I get lots of free practice while I'm dealing, but I'm no pro, that's for sure. I think this book might help my no-limit game a bit, and maybe even give me some insight on what to do when it gets down to heads-up on the river in a limit game. We'll see.

With that, my spending is done. Well, except for maybe later this week when I go down to the Verizon store, pick up a new Droid, and tell AT&T "It's not you, it's me".

Anyhow, that's the news from here. Once I get properly caffeinated and motivated, I'll toss up a couple of pictures and a few paragraphs about my weekend's activities. Until then, enjoy your Monday, everybody...