Friday, February 26, 2010

I Wanna Rock Write!

It's 5:00 am in Hendertucky, I'm wide awake, I've got a fresh pot of coffee, and I'm sittin' at the keyboard, waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration to hit.

Still waiting...

Why am I wide awake at five o'clock in the morning? Well, I'm usually up working at this time of night, anyways. And damn if I didn't sleep all day yesterday, too. Seriously, that long shift I did overnight on Wednesday just kicked my ass. When my normal-hour colleagues work an eight-hour day, they usually have about three hours worth of breaks sprinkled in amongst their work. When I work that long on graveyard, I generally don't take a break. Usually, I'm locked down after the first hour or so, and if there is only one game after 3:00 am, then I'm the only one dealing it all night long.

The one question I get all the time is 'What if you have to go pee?'. Well, in that case, I can have the floorman jump in the box and deal a few hands for a couple of minutes while I hit the head. It works out well because usually at that time of night, they're pretty bored, and that way they can also earn a few bucks in tips, too. As far as having to pee goes, well, that's usually not an issue. I can hold it for hours. My biggest 'problem' is that my toke pocket gets so full that it starts to spill out onto the table whenever I lean over. That's not cool, and even though players, for the most part, are very generous, all it takes is one drunk to speak up and say Damn--look at all that money that's leaving the game and going to the dealer! and it just ruins the mojo. So discretion is the key.

Besides, I can get $60 worth of dollar chips into my shirt pocket comfortably, and if it's a really good game, I can force $80 in there, but after that, I'm out of space. I usually push about 30 pots an hour, so it's fairly easy to judge how much I'm making while I work. But that's just if you're making a buck a pot. A lot of times, thankfully, players will toke two or three bucks a pot, and sometimes, if you get a real George in the game, you'll get a redbird or more for every pot. That's why dealers always want to deal the ram-jam crazy action games--bigger pots mean bigger tokes. Besides that, it's much more interesting and fun to watch.

Believe me, sometimes late at night I get stuck in those watching-paint-dry games where everyone limps in, checks to the river, and then turns their cards over. Yawn. In a game like that, it would save time just to deal the cards face-up... I would much rather deal the high-drama big action games. The down side of that is that they usually don't last very long. Sometimes, however, I get lucky and everyone in the game has got that magical combination of deep pockets and big ego.

Anyhow, my game on Wednesday night was one of those big games where everyone had huge stacks in front of them and nobody wanted to go home. But once I got done, it felt like I'd been on one of those March Madness-style benders, minus the cool buzz, the glitter, and the naked stranger in my bed. I was worn out and sore from sitting in one position all night, bent at the waist and stretching out to gather in bets every few seconds for hours on end. For sitting on your ass all night, it's a good workout. But it still doesn't compare to the cardio blast you get from dealing a crowded dice table full of strokers.

Once I was able to finally go to bed, I literally slept all damn day. I woke up around 3:30 in the afternoon, returned all the calls I'd missed while I was asleep, and then called up AC. The plan was to spend the evening hauling a couple of truckloads of boxes and small stuff over to his new place, but when I called he said that he was all done. Once he got out of work that morning, he decided not to go to bed and got most of the moving done. Just about the time I was waking up, he was getting ready to go to bed. Whew! I'm not sad about not having to do that...

I stayed up for a couple of hours and finished off all the intricate drive-me-crazy brown pieces of the puzzle. Now the entire bottom half is done. By the way, here it is:

All that I have left is the sky and clouds. Yeah, I'm fully aware of those three missing pieces there in the ocean, but they are solid blue with no ripples or waves or anything, so they will turn up eventually while I'm working on the solid blue sky.

I guess that means that today I'll head over to Michael's and look for some frames or some way to mount the thing. I'll probably finish it off this weekend, if not, then sometime next week. After that, I'll glue it together and hang it on the wall over the TV. And then it's on to this one:

The puzzle I'm currently working on is 'only' 1500 pieces, but this next one is 2000 pieces. It's called 'Belem' and the picture above is the print that the puzzle was made from. Now, here's something you probably didn't know...

I had this puzzle about ten years ago, back when I had my condo in Phoenix and life was good. The terms 'internet bubble' and 'recession' weren't part of the everyday vernacular, nor was '9/11'. Anyhow, it took up my entire dining room table, and on weeknights I'd pop a few Jimmy Buffett CDs in and work on it for a few hours.

I remember that I was studying for my NASD Series 8 registration at the same time (I believe it was designated as 'branch manager', but all it meant is that you could sign more forms and do more approvals than a regular broker--still a must-have for the career path I was on back then). I'd study for a bit, get burned out, work on the puzzle for awhile, come to a roadblock, and go back to the books, lather, rinse, repeat. That was my life for about three months straight.

But then my cats discovered the puzzle--I had two of them and they just loved to steal the pieces and bat them all over the house. More than a few times I'd find a chewed up piece under the couch. Eventually, they treated it as their favorite toy and ruined it, so I tossed it. I no longer have the cats, the condo, or the Series 8, but now I've got the puzzle again, thanks to one of my generous readers. This time I'll finish it. (And even though it was ten years ago, one of those kitties is still alive and doing well, living the life of luxury with Eddie B's parents).

While I was up, finishing up that section of puzzle I'd been working on, I got hungry again. I still had two small potatoes left in the produce basket that hangs over my counter, so I peeled and sliced them and made another batch of home-made fries. Yep, that recipe still works--they were just as awesome as the first batch.

I considered, briefly, going out and playing some poker last night, but my heart just wasn't in it. A week ago, I took a series of ridiculous bad beats that had me scratching my ol' bald head for days. Seriously--if you can flop or turn a full house four times in five hands, yet still lose every single hand, then you have to question whether or not poker is the game for you. I don't have any idea what the odds are against that happening, but I've got to figure that it'd be easier to win the Powerball instead, and it won't hurt nearly as much when you come up empty...

So I just stayed home and went back to bed around 9:00 o'clock.

Around 10:30 or so, I got the mother of all teases when my phone rang. It was the poker room calling, asking if I'd be able to 'come in an hour early'. I wasn't scheduled, but said that I would be more than willing to come in, and then the floor man was like "Oh damn. I forgot that it wasn't you that was working tonight, sorry. Never mind."

That sucked. I would've loved to have picked up another shift last night (and I woke up and called in at 2:30 just to see what was happening, and they still had a crazy no-limit game going with a full table).

I've been up since then, clearing a few things off of my DVR and surfing the internet. Besides a quick trip to Wallyworld and the craft store, that's pretty much the agenda for the day.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Basket Full of Oh Hell Yeah

Howdy kiddies! I'm totally exhausted right now, but I just don't want to go to sleep right away. I'll go to bed in an hour or so because then I can sleep for six hours before having to get up and help AC move a truckload of stuff over to his new place.

Anyhow--I just got home from a very long and prosperous night at work. I was so busy that I had to stay an extra hour, too. That helps, because remember, I lost my Tuesday night shift completely. It was a great night of work, but I was locked down for five-and-a-half hours before another dealer came in to relieve me. I'll take that every day, but damn, I sure feel it when I finally stand up. Hell, I'm half-tempted to wander down to one of them Asian massage places and tell the chick No happy ending--I'll give you a hundred bucks just to walk on my back for an hour!

I'd probably just get in trouble for snoring though, so that idea shall remain in the hopper.

Anyhow... I had a great night, but it's good to be home.

Yesterday, I spent most of my free time working on that puzzle. I got so much done--All that's left is the sky and maybe about 15% of the water pieces. That's it--it's almost finished. But around 6:00 o'clock or so, while watching the Canadians beat the Russians like an angry pimp finding out his best girl is holding out on him, I was getting hungry.

I didn't have any meat thawed, I wasn't in the mood for breakfast food, didn't wanna go the canned or delivery route, and I didn't feel like having chicken salad, either. Wandering around in my kitchen, I saw a few onions, peppers, potatoes, and the like, but couldn't come up with anything. But then I remembered seeing a recipe from Bobby Flay about how he makes the perfect French Fries.

Now, longtime readers know that I'm not a 'fry' guy. I never order them. Only McD's has tolerable ones, but they get to cold unless you eat them in the car on the way home. Every other restaurant's fries just plain suck. And sit-down restaurants are especially bad at making French Fries. So I just stopped eating them a long time ago.

But I'd heard about those Bobby Flay fries and I wanted to try them out. I have a deep fryer, so I can eat them piping hot, just like god intended.

Anyhow, instead of just chopping up a bunch of potatoes and frying them in hot oil, like 99.999% of the population does, Chef Bobby says to cut the fries into quarter-inch slices, soak them in cold water for at least an hour (and up to eight), dry them off, and then cook them for a few minutes in 325-degree oil for about three or four minutes, stirring them constantly.

Then, once they are 'pale, blond, and limp', take them out of the oil and dry them on paper towels for a few minutes. While they are drying, crank the oil up to 375 degrees, and then return the fries to the hot oil for another four minutes or so, again, stirring them around a bit about once a minute.

Oh holy shiat--they turned out amazing. Crispy on the outside, on the inside just completely melted in your mouth. Sprinkled with a little bit of Kosher salt, they were the Best French Fries Ever. I am not kidding--they were that good. I've heard Anthony Bourdain talking about how double-fried fries were the only way to go, but I wasn't exactly sure what he meant at the time. Now I know. I've still got two potatoes left, so I'll probably make another batch tonight.

And no, I didn't take any pictures--once they came out of the fryer, I didn't waste any time letting them get cold. All I can say is 'trust me on this'. Next time you make home-made French Fries, do it this way. You won't be disappointed.

I'm out!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making Progress

Here it is, Wednesday morning at 2:00 am, and I'm wide awake. I should be working right now, but I'm home pounding the keys instead.

Tuesday was a completely lost day for me--I mean, you could totally take it off the calendar as far as I'm concerned. When the day comes that I walk towards the light and they replay the movie of my life, yesterday is only going to be a test pattern on the cosmic big-screen.

It all started on Monday night--I went in to work and there were still a couple of strong games going at midnight, which is always nice. Eventually, around 3:30 or so, the second game broke, leaving only a really good 1-2 no-limit game. The other dealer went home, and I ended up being locked down all night. It was a great one, too. Had a bunch of fun regulars in the game--I knew all of them but one token tourist--and they played for several hours.

By the time I got done at 7:00, I was wiped out. I'd been up for about 19 hours straight, and I was ready to go home and hit the bed. After clocking out, however, I sat down to visit with the old guys that come in for the morning game that I used to deal to every day when I first started working in the poker room--I rarely see them anymore, but they're a fun group of guys to sit and have a cup of coffee with and shoot the shiat with while they wait for a new game to get started. So I ordered up a tall coffee with Bailey's & Kahlua from the waitress and parked myself for a bit.

A few minutes later, I saw a gal standing by the entrance to the poker room waving at me. I motioned for her to come in. She looked really familiar to me, and kinda cute, but I just couldn't place her. She walked in, gave me a hug and said Hey Mikey--so good to see you again!

You too! was all I could muster, completely at a loss as to what her name was or where I'd met her.

She sat down next to me, ordered a cup of 'whatever he's having' from the waitress, and proceeded to give me a rundown on everything she's been up to for the past few months. I swear, right then, I could've gotten the Oscar for Best Performance By A Dude Who Has No Clue. Seriously, I had no idea who she was.

My buddy James was standing there at the desk watching, mouthing "Who is that?" to me, but all I could do was shrug. It was a rather comical situation. but I managed to pull it off without making an ass out of myself.

Enough of the morning crew started wandering in to start a new game, so I got up from the table. My new friend asked me what I was going to do next. Tired, confused, and unshaven, I must've really been out of it, and said the first thing that came out of my mouth. I think I'm gonna just go home and go to bed.

Oooh--I'm up for that...

Wait. What?

Did she just say what I thought she said?

Normally, when that happens, the only thing I hear in my head is the crowd going wild and the announcer from National Hockey Night on ESPN yelling HE SHOOTS--HE SCORES!!!! but for some reason all I got was the car alarm noise and flashing red lights.

During the pause while I was thinking this, she realized that she may have overplayed her hand a bit and went for the retraction. Oh, I meant to say that we should play some video poker or something and finish our coffee..

Ok, cool.

In the meantime, I was still wracking my brain trying to figure out who she was or where I'd met her. Some random hookup after a night of binge drinking? Someone I met at a party or at a bar? A friend of a friend? I still had no idea...

We found a five-cent triple play machine and sat down to play. I was willing to spend whatever 'breakage' I had in my wallet beyond the big bills--that was nine bucks; a fiver and four singles. I put the Lincoln in the machine and we started playing for minimal credits. On one hand, I was thinking, Oh yeah, gonna get some Afternoon Delight by 9:00 am, but on the other hand, I was still wondering Who the hell is this chick?

As we played, she did all the talking. I wanted to listen for clues and maybe figure out who she was or at least where I knew her from. I'm glad I kept it one-sided, because I started to figure out that she was a serious degenerate gambler and a complete freak. Yep, the more she talked, the less interested I became.

Finally, after about twenty minutes or so, it hit me--She was the kookie convenience store clerk at the Speedy Mart up on Horizon Ridge, about a block from my old house.

Mystery solved. She always worked the graveyard shift and sometimes I'd stop in for an energy drink on my way to work, or maybe a bottle of juice or something after work. Whenever I'd go in there, she'd always be flirting with me. I never thought much of it, and when I moved away to the current Batch Pad, well, I had no reason to ever go to that particular convenience store ever again. So I hadn't seen or talked to her in about seven or eight months, thus forgetting all about my occasional random encounters with her. But she remembered me.

Anyhow, once that realization set in, and then listening to her current life drama, I spent my time crafting my escape. After coming up with some wildly creative excuses, I just figured I'd be honest, and told her that I was going home after we blew through that five bucks.

You want some company?

Nah--I'm exhausted and need a shower and a good six hours of sleep. I wouldn't be much fun anyways.

At that point, she lost all interest, but I could tell that she was just looking for somebody to finance her gambling addiction. (When I first put my players card in the machine and she saw all the points I had on account, she desperately wanted me to convert them into slot-play credits, and like a dog with a bone, she just wouldn't let it go). I chalked it up as another typical life-in-Vegas encounter--just another person wanting to get their hands on some money to gamble with. I see it all the time, and thankfully my well-developed 'scammer radar' was working. Even though she was mildly attractive, she was just too farked up between the ears. And I don't care how freaky, kookie, or downright awesome the nookie would be, she's definitely not a chick I want knowing where I live...

Anyhow, once I dodge that bullet, I made my way home. I was soooo tired, but my phone started ringing. Yeah, I forgot to turn it off.

One of the calls was from my sister Amy, and she was asking me all kinds of questions about her collection of old 401k's from jobs past, where to put her money now, and stuff like that. I told her that while I could guide her, it'd be better to let her talk to an expert and I'd make a few calls for her.

I sent a text message to my old roommate Tammie, who's a VP of business development or some other such lofty title back at Schwab, telling her to call me when she gets a chance. She was in a meeting at the time and said she'd call me back in two hours.

Damn. Still not gonna get any sleep...

I managed to doze for a bit and missed her first call, but it was enough to wake me up and call her back. I gave her all the particulars and she said she'd have one of her people take care of it and get Amy all hooked up. Then she hit me with the bomb.

Hey, if you want to come back here to Phoenix, we could use you again.

What? Really?


Wow, that gave me pause. I really loved working there at Schwab and all of my closest friends are still there (and a bunch of them are running the show now, too). But if I went back, I'd go right back to the beginning and have to start all over again as a rookie broker--I lost all of my NASD registrations and licenses a few years ago, and I'd have to take the Series 7 test again, too, something I *really* don't want to do. And I'd have to start out at like $35K a year, also. (That's not such a big stumbling block--when I first worked there over a decade ago, my salary went up 17K in less than three years--and I've lived on a lot less). But there are bonuses, and benefits, and all that 'real job' stuff to consider.

On the other hand, I've got a pretty good gig going on here in Vegas. I love living here, and while the job situation isn't ideal, it's pretty far from sucky. And once the economy finally turns around, I'll be back to making damn good money again, where right now it's just 'decent'. Still, it's nice to have options and it's something to think about, although I'd rather just stay here in Vegas and ride the wave I'm currently on. Besides, if I went back to Phoenix and started back up again with Schwab, it'd be like stepping into a time machine back to 1997, almost as if the past 13 years never happened...

It's almost too much to wrap my brain around.

Anyhow... we'll revisit this again some other time. I've convinced myself that I'm better off here for now.

Eventually, I got a couple of hours of sleep, but I woke up again around four in the afternoon, remembering that I had to go to the bank to deposit the latest collection of hundies. The electric bill and truck payment are due this week (fifteen more payments and I own that thing outright!). So I put on some clothes and ran that errand. I was hungry, so I hit the Micky D's drive-thru on the way back home and much too late I realized that whatever animal they make the McRib out of, it's extinct again. By then I was already trapped in the traffic maze with cars behind me, so I confused the hell out of the kids in the drive-thru window when I refused to order anything. Seriously, I hate McD's, except for the occasional guilty pleasure of a McRib, and once that goes away, I see no point in ever going there. So, like an idiot, I sat there trapped in the drive-thru line wasting a few minutes of my life...

Still feeling that ache behind my eyes that says "You're exhausted, get some sleep", I came home and went back to bed. Around 11:20 or so, my phone was going off--it was work, telling me that if I wanted to come in at midnight instead of 1:00 am, I could. I said that I needed to shower and shave, but I could be there by 12:30. No problem, I was told, come on in anytime. About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang again.

The last game just broke--don't even bother coming in.

That sucked. But that's the poker biz for ya. One minute you're busy as hell and need another dealer, and a few minutes later a big stack wins a four-way pot and the game is suddenly broken. Welcome to my world.

So, instead of going to work, I got up and worked on my puzzle for a couple of hours. This is what it looked like last week when I posted my last update:

This is what it looks like right now:

All the pieces in the white box are water, and all the pieces in the cookie sheet are sky. And that's all I have left. I will admit that the hardest part so far was that big brown area on the left under the trunk of the palm tree. It was a cast-iron bitch to do that, as many of the pieces are non-descript and most of them were the same shape, so I kept putting pieces in the wrong spots, although they still fit. It took forever to figure it out and get it that far, and yet there still a big chunk of it left to do with about twenty solid brown pieces that don't offer a whole lot of clues as to how they should fit together.

On the other hand, that big white cloud reflection on the bottom of the puzzle went together in about five minutes--it was the easiest part of the whole thing. But once I finish the water, I have to work on the sky and clouds, but I can't imagine it being any more frustrating than all those brown pieces on the side.

Once I decided to stop, I figured I should get on the computer and try to post an interesting update, especially since I've been such a slacker lately. So here it is. Before I did that, however, I brewed a pot of coffee and made a batch of blueberry muffins, and that has fueled this latest creative outburst.

Y'all have a great Wednesday. I'll be back soon...


Monday, February 22, 2010

Since It's Monday Anyways, It May As Well Be Raining

So much for all that beautiful sunshine and warm weather we've had these past few days. It's all gone. It's rainy and cold again, and it's been raining all night here in Hendertucky. I'm actually cool with it. Lord knows we need the rain--it's been such a drought here for so long, Lake Mead is actually about a half mile further away than it used to be. I just don't like the cold weather, that's all. I turned off my heater last week and dammit, I want to keep it off. NV Power is gonna bend me over soon enough when I start using the air conditioner, so I'd really like to be able to just enjoy a few months of 70's and 80's during the day, and 50's and 60's at night.

Oh well. I was gonna stay in today anyways.

I've been busier than hell the past few days. I played a little poker, but not much. I took a couple of ridiculous bad-beats on Friday evening, so I called it an early night. I think I was home by 11:00 pm on Friday, unwilling to risk my bankroll when it was obvious that I had somehow offended the poker Gods.

On Saturday, however, I got to spend some time with 'My Gal Tara', from the sidebar over there on the right, and we went to Linda Lou's new show over at Alexis Park.

Linda does an hour of stand-up comedy, sprinkling in tales and tidbits from her book. It's a good show, and although I've seen her stuff a few times, she still brings teh funny.

After the show, we gathered in the lounge for a bit to have a couple of drinks and such with Linda, Lori Biker, and Mama Lou. They stayed and watched the late comedy show, but Tara and I took off for the Strip.

Our first stop was the Flaming-O, where Tara decided that Donny's package needed some adjustment.

We wandered up and down the Strip for a bit, popping into random casinos here and there, grabbing a few drinks, doing a bit of people watching, but never really finding a good table seemed to call our names.

Eventually, we ended up at Margaritaville for a late dinner. We got a couple of 'boat drinks' and an order of the legendary Volcano Nachos. Here they be:

Oh, we were kinda hungry and ordered some real food too--I got a Cuban sandie and Tara got a club. Big mistake. Oh, they were good, but we didn't finish either one, and the nachos, well, we didn't even come close. Here is the 'after' picture--after we threw in the towel:

Seriously, it was like we hardly made a dent in it. After awhile, we felt like we were in an episode of Man vs. Food and the food was kicking our asses.

Regardless, we had a fun visit--the food was good, as were the drinks, and there was a kick-ass cover band playing in the restaurant too. They did the most awesome rendition of Foreplay/Long Time by Boston that I'd ever heard--we were blown away to the point of wondering how awesome it would've been to have been stoners back in the 70's, with big ol' 'fros, wearing bell-bottoms and sitting around on beanbags, getting high in the basement. Yeah, they were that good...

Eventually, we called it a night and I dropped her off at her hotel and I headed back here towards the Batch Pad. I made a quick stop at work to try and scrounge up another shift, but that wasn't happening--it was a long shot, but I figured I'd stop in just in case it was unusually busy on Saturday night. I didn't mind too much to find out that they didn't need me--I was tired anyways, so I came home and chilled--even being tired, I couldn't sleep, so I stayed up till 5:00 in the morning watching a bunch of old episodes of The Unit that I'd recorded over the past couple of weeks.

Eventually, I made it to bed, and I spend most of my day on Sunday working on my puzzle--I got a lot more done, but I forgot to take a picture of the latest progress--maybe in another day or two.

Besides working, poker, hanging out with the gals, and working on my puzzle, I've done a lot of reading over the past few days, too. I picked up one of those 'complete idiots' guides--one for writing a novel. I'd love to do that, but I think I'm more of a non-fiction guy. I could easily write a book about life in the casino and the local poker scene--it would almost write itself. But I think I'd rather write a novel. One big stumbling block, though--I don't have an epic adventure handy that is good enough to write about--and it needs a good twist, too. So I'll kick the idea around some more, but we'll see.

Anyhow--that's all I got. I know I've been a slacker lately on the blog posting front, but I'm just not feeling like I have anything interesting to say at the present--it's been a fairly dull month!

Maybe something cool will happen this week...


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It Feels Like Another Hump Day!

My Tuesday was rather productive, but I still didn't get everything done that I wanted to do. And I didn't goof off at all--I was busy all afternoon and I didn't even touch my puzzle, as much as I wanted to.

First of all, I moved a few picture frames around on the walls and I hung up a combination white board, mail bin, and key hanger thingy on my kitchen wall. It looked really cool when I ordered it online, but I think it's ugly as sin no that it's been delivered. Oh, it's functional and all, but the color is downright awful. It looks like it was dipped in sweet-and-sour sauce from a cheap Chinese restaurant, where I thought it was just gonna be stained bamboo.

Oh, it's stained all right... Burnt reddish-orange. It doesn't match a damn thing in my house, and if it did, I'd probably be fined by the Taste Police. Even the people wearing the Three Wolf Moon t-shirts and rocking the Velvet Elvis paintings are making fun of it.

I'll keep it, and maybe it'll become an ironic conversation piece, like 'Who has the ugliest thing hanging on their kitchen wall'? One time back in college we nailed an old tennis shoe to the wall over our avocado-green stove, but I think this thing runs a very close second.

After the wall hangings were done, I spent several hours at the computer printing and organizing all of my old bank statements, 401-k statements, brokerage statements, and trade confirmations. I picked up a few notebooks at Wallyworld a few weeks back, and decided that since I'm no longer technically 'broke', I should probably keep better records.

Back in late 2008 when the economy was starting to really tank and the liberals swept into office, I sold absolutely everything I had in the market and went to cash for a few months. I missed the absolute bottom by about four days the following March, but I got very close when I turned around and put everything in my retirement accounts into an S&P 500 index fund. It's up over 40% since then, and I'm feeling like I made a great move at the time.

I've also made a few other moves since then and they seem to be working out, I just hope that when the double-dip recession hits this summer it doesn't wipe me out again (and I still get to keep my sort-of job, too). Also, I'm just under a year from paying off my truck, too, and once that burden is lifted, I'll feel like a rich man even if I only work 12 hours a week!

Anyhow, all that record-keeping business took a lot longer than I anticipated, and I also burned through half of an ink cartridge. Seriously, E*Trade--if you insist on electronic statements, could you at least make them printer-friendly? Pretty please?

Today I have a few other pain-in-the-ass projects to do. Besides vacuuming the whole apartment, I'm going to move the mini-fridge and the second TV. The mini-fridge will go in the dining room next to the booze cabinet, it's natural home, but the other TV is gonna come back here to the bedroom. I'm not getting a cable box for it, but I can set it next to the desk and keep CNBC running in the background while I'm working at the computer. It'll be kinda like my old days at Schwab, except for that whole work thing and the fact that don't have to wear pants while sitting at my desk. They kinda frowned on that back in the day...

I'll move the TV back out to the living room once college football season starts up again, but for the next several months, it's gonna be in here next to the desk.

Anyhow, once I called it a day on my chores, I hit the rack and tried to get some sleep. I'm glad I did, because I got called in to work a couple of hours early. Busy is good! Tonight will probably be even better, as I've got some regular guys who come in every Wednesday night and they usually play for several hours. And before I left this morning, the floorman told me that I might be picking up an extra graveyard shift this weekend, too. I hope so--those are usually always good nights to be working.

In the meantime, I think I'll make myself a pot of coffee and find something to munch on. All I had for dinner last night was turkey jerky and green tea. It didn't quite fill the hole...



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bursting the Funk Bubble

I'm feeling much better this week. I don't know why, but last week really kinda sucked and my whole outlook was on a low ebb. But the sun finally came out, it warmed up outside, and I had a very good weekend, too. It's like the weather was really getting to me.

Since I last wrote, I got my poker mojo back, also. I've played four times, and batted a thousand--all four were winning sessions. On Sunday night, I could've really made a small fortune on one particular hand, but I got skeered and folded my 10-6 of Diamonds to a $16 pre-flop raise while I was on the button. Turns out that the big stack at the table had pocket Jacks, and he got a couple of callers. There were two Tens on the flop, and the case ten came on the turn. He went all-in and won a decent pot, but I was sitting there kicking myself for not making the damn broken-connectors call from the button. I had about $500 in front of me at the time, and he had me covered. Had I been in the hand, I would've doubled up. Grrrr...

Yeah, it was a missed opportunity, but I still did very well that night.

Anyhow--what else is new? Well, other than grinding out a few bucks at the local poker rooms, I've been spending a lot of my time working on my jigsaw puzzle. (Mostly during the interminable delays of the Daytona 500 on Sunday). It's coming along nicely now--I'd say I'm about 40% done, but that was the easy part. Most of the rest of it is large swaths of tedious water and sky pieces. But that palm tree damn near drove me nuts a few times, too.

Hey, at least it keeps me home and out of trouble. All those Benjamins I won made this weekend have already gone to the bank. Trust me--there is nothing dumber than wandering around this town with a stack of hundreds in your pocket and nothing to do...

Once I finish this puzzle (all 1500 pieces of it), I've got two more in the hopper. One of 'em is 2000 pieces, and another one is 3000 pieces. That one is so big that I don't know if it will even fit on the dining room table. I may have to go get a sheet of plywood and have it cut down a bit so I can use it as a base. But I'm a long way from having to worry about that.

While I was out running errands on Monday afternoon, I got to sit out in the direct sunlight for a good ten minutes or so while waiting to pump my gas at Costco--probably the first time I've done that in three months. It felt good to be warm again. Seriously--it's been too damn cold here for far too long. I got another dose of natural vitamin D a few minutes later as I was walking across the parking lot at the local Office Depot.

I live directly under the approach path for McCarran airport, and I hear and see dozens of jets coming in every day. After awhile, all the 737s and MD-11s start to sound the same, but every now and again I hear something new that causes me to look up and gawk. It happened again yesterday--as I was getting out of my truck, I heard a much deeper rumbling noise in the sky and I looked up to see a Virgin Atlantic 747 coming in on final approach. Holy crap that is a huge plane--especially when you're used to seeing nothing but a bunch of punk-ass Southwest 737s flying in every day. It is so big that not only does it dwarf everything else in the sky, but it seems to just hang up there, barely moving at all. It's amazing to watch, and I wasn't the only one standing there in the parking lot staring up at it like a slack-jawed yokel.

Seriously--for a moment there, it looked like a scene from a movie, where everyone just stops what they're doing and stares up in the sky. I guess a 747 coming in for a landing is still a big deal--it's a beautiful plane and one can't help but stand in awe when one flies overhead at low altitude.

Eventually I finished my errands, and on Monday night I attended another gathering of the Henderson Writers Group, but this time I got to read some of my own work. Instead of the Reggie Miller stripper story (which is way too long), I offered up an edited version of my old Slippery Slope to Old Age essay--the one about Asteroids and roller skating. Everyone seemed to love it, but man, once we got to the critiquing part, it was like I was being pummeled by a room full of Linda Lou's, everyone telling me how to tweak it so it can be a magazine article. (She's always nagging at me to submit stuff for publication).

I didn't write it to be one--I wrote it to be a blog post, so it needs a lot of work if I want to turn it into a magazine article, but that seemed to be everyone's frame of reference. It was kind of frustrating, but then again, I still got some really good feedback.

Also, it was a very enjoyable evening because I didn't have to sit through one single story that involved wizards, dragons, demons, vampires, or magic spells. Everyone that read seemed to have really enjoyable material--adventures and short stories and such--and one guy had some really well-done scientific stuff that was dumbed-down to layman's terms. I had such a good time that it inspired me to write some new material for the next meeting, instead of rehashing leftovers from the archives. But as of right this moment, my slate is still blank...

As far as my Tuesday goes, it's Operation Home Improvement Day here at the Batch Pad. I've got a to-do list longer than John Holmes', uh, list of film credits, and as much as I wish it would, the trash ain't gonna take itself out. Once the chores are done, I'm gonna spend the balance of the afternoon separating about a thousand jigsaw pieces of sea and sky into their respective color-coordinated piles, while CNBC drones on in the background, filling up my head with subliminal market knowledge.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Revenge. It's Not So Sweet...

Especially if you're on the receiving end of it. But we'll talk about that in just a second.

I hope you all are having a good Valentine's weekend--everyone remember to wear your good drawers tonight, just in case! As for me, I was gonna go out and play a little poker this evening, but I found out that I have to work, instead. However, before I don the brown polyester clown suit, I'm gonna play Valentine's Day Santa Claus and make a delivery to a certain fetching young lass who has an affinity for red wine, dark chocolate, and big bald guys with large hands and boyish good looks...


Remember the other day how I was saying that my poker game was in kind of a rut? After an amazing run that lasted several weeks, all I could do was grind away with dead cards for hours on end. So I decided to just hit a couple of the smaller rooms closer to home and play some low-limit, if only to work through all of the bad cards I had coming to me. I've played the last couple of nights, hitting a little 3-6 and 4-8. Both nights were profitable, but nothing like my run at the no-limit tables. I think I'm up about $150 total for the past two sessions. Not great, but it certainly beats the alternative.

Oh, and remember the game I got into the other night that had four dealers in it, plus a couple of rookies, where I popped that same guy three times in about 15 minutes with monster hands? Well, he got his revenge last night.

I was playing at a 4-8 half-kill game in his room, and around midnight or so, he came over and pushed in to the game. It was a kill pot, meaning that we were playing 6-12 on that particular hand. He dealt me pocket Kings--Nice. I liked my chances to rake a big pot.

I raised it up to $9 to go and got three callers.

Because I was sitting in the 2-seat at the end of the table, I saw the door card when the dealer went to spread the flop. It was the Ace of spades, and for a split second I got pissed off. Nothing coaxes an Ace on the flop like having pocket Kings. But then, right behind the Ace, came a Six, followed by the third King! Woot!!!

Two players checked to me, and I bet $6. The hottie blonde gal on my left insta-called, so I knew she had the Ace. Both other players called, too.

The turn was beautiful--a second Ace! That gave Miss Blondie trip Aces, but I now had Kings full. Oh hell yeah. Again it was checked to me. I bet $12, and the gal couldn't raise fast enough. The other two players folded, and then I re-raised. She thought for a moment, and then just called. That told me that she didn't have a Six, and probably had a weak kicker.

But then the river came out. The dealer who I'd popped in the no-limit game the week before, beating him with four-of-a-kind, a straight flush, and trip Aces over trip Kings, finally got his revenge. He put another Six out on the river, sabotaging my hand. My Kings full of Aces was worthless against my opponent's Ace-rag shiat hand which had suddenly turned into Aces full of Sixes gold.


I checked, she bet $12, and I mucked my cards face up for the entire table to see. Several players groaned when they saw the bad beat. Ugh. It was awful. That crippled me for several hours. I think I saw the dealer crack a faint smile, too...

Fortunately for me, I made a little bit of it back when I busted Blondie's boyfriend about a half hour later, but it took me another three or four hours of grinding away just to get back to even. Finally, around 5:00 o'clock this morning, I called it a night with a $60 profit. I was dead tired and the game was short-handed anyways, so there was no more money to be made. A couple of my buddies were there, so we hung out for a bit and had a beer once the game broke, but I was falling asleep in my chair, so I came on home, turning down the offer to go out to breakfast.

After I got home, I got a call from work telling me that I'd picked up the graveyard shift for tonight. That made me happy, as it's been a slow week for me. Our room has been busy, but people have been going to bed early or the big stacks have been dominating the no-limit games. So while everyone on swing shift was pocketing the cash, my graveyard shifts haven't been quite as good. So yeah, I'm very happy to get a shift tonight, although normally I'd rather be hanging out at the M trying to make a few hundred bucks in the no-limit game.

Anyhow, that's the news from here. There's really not much else going on this weekend--I think I'm working the next several days. So even if when the red wine and dark chocolate works it's magic, I won't be able to do a damn thing about it for awhile...

But I'm gonna wear my lucky Elvis boxers tonight, just in case.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

At the Bottom of the Sine Wave


That's how I feel this week. I don't feel like doing anything. I'm off for the next couple of days, and that's just as well. If I don't feel like doing anything fun, I certainly don't feel like workin'. Maybe I've just got a bad case of cabin fever. It's still chilly here, but at least the rain has stopped and the sun has finally made an appearance. Even so, I can't recall being this unmotivated. I've got a pantry and fridge full of goodies to go crazy with in the kitchen, but I'm just not up to it. Normally that would be fun, but I guess I'll wait until I'm good and hungry, first.

I've played a bit of poker in the past week, but it's been a grind. I was on a huge 6-week long heater, not losing a single session, but that has kind of turned around. The last four times I've played, I lost three times and broke even once. I was card-dead for a week, so I've been taking a vacation from the game for a few days. Normally, on Thursday nights, I head down to the M and play a little no-limit, but with no winnings, plus another slow work week, well, I'm not gonna take the chance. I may, however, hit one of the local grind-joints late tonight and play a little low-limit, just to get my fix in and be able to play all the junk cards I've been getting, anyways.

With all of the free time I've had on my hands lately, I've gotten lots of little things done around the house. I've run out of laundry to do, and I think I've got a late-blooming case of OCD as far as scrubbing my bathroom is concerned. I think my tub may be cleaner than my fridge at this point. I've also read a few books this week--Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton just sucks like a case of vacation-week food poisoning . Seriously, I'm guessing he grunted that one out due to being under contract, and it's a crime that so many trees had to die because of it.

I've also spent a couple hours this afternoon working on my puzzle, after not having touched it in almost a month. It's coming along nicely, but after going about ten minutes without finding any two pieces that went together, I just now took a break from it.

This is what it looked like a couple weeks ago:

And this is how it looks tonight:

I've still got a long way to go, but I'm making progress. It's a long and tedious process, but it's great for clearing the mind and taking a break from everything else I normally spend my time thinking about. I remember about 20 years ago, I could knock out a 550-piece puzzle in about three hours. But this one, well, it's exponentially more difficult. Still, it'll be nice once it's done--I'll figure out a way to mount it and I'll hang it on the wall.

Anyhow, that's all I've got--like I said the other day, if I had anything interesting to write about, I certainly would. But right now, the normal routine is even duller than usual.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If I HAD Anything Interesting write about, y'all know I would.

But sadly, the cupboard is bare, the well is empty, the pickin's are slim.

Maybe this weekend. I dunno.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Take The 'L' Out of Lover Football, and It's Over

Today is a most depressing day, as the realization sets in that there will be no more football until late August, more than six months away. Oh, there will be a few pre-season games which will get everyone excited, but the novelty wears off after the first couple of games and it makes the wait for the start of the regular season and the college season that much worse. Seriously, now that football is over, it marks the beginning of the least enjoyable part of the year--tax season, the interminably long NBA playoffs, and the return of summer.

Those of you in cold places look forward to summer, I know, but those of us that live in the desert don't much care for it. It's the painful price we have to pay for living in a place that for the most part, has wonderful weather for the rest of the year (this year being the exception. It's been cold and rainy for what seems like forever). I'm ready for some sun, but I can certainly do without the 110-degree daily temperatures and roasting in my own juices every time I get into my truck. And that whole sensation of walking into a blast furnace every time I open my front door kinda sucks, too. Spring is cool, but Autumn is where it's at...

Anyhow, as much as I'm going to miss football, there are a few things that help tide me over. The Daytona 500 is next weekend, and my redneck roots can't help but love me some Nascar racin'. March Madness is on the horizon, followed by The Masters. Cardinals baseball is just around the corner, and maybe this summer I might find my way back to the ocean and get some sailing done. And just about the time I've had it with the blazing heat of summer, football will start up again and then I've got that cruise to look forward to. But still--it seems like it's going to be a very long summer.

But right now, it's still very much winter here in Vegas. As far as my rainy weekend went, it was quite mellow. Illinois Marty popped in to town for a quick visit and we got to hang out for a bit on Friday night. I picked him up from the airport, and after he got checked in to his hotel room, we had a nice dinner at Ruth's Chris. Surprisingly, of all the good restaurants I've been to, I'd never eaten at Ruth's Chris.

It was damn good though--I had a superb dinner of French onion soup, a perfectly cooked ribeye, and a huge loaded baked potato. And we had some great Oregon Pinot to round out the meal. And we had a nice visit, too.

Once I got home that night, I went straight to bed, and got the middle-of-the-night wake-up call from work. I rolled in at 4:00 am to a very busy poker room, and I worked a full shift. That was a nice surprise, and I made some good money, too. I stepped out of the casino into the pouring rain--it was cold, foggy, and more than a little drizzly when I finally got cut loose. A perfect day to do nothing but curl up in bed with a good book and a hot cup of coffee.

I ended up going out on Saturday night to the M to play some poker. But it was a total grind. I played for almost six hours, getting absolutely crappy cards all night long. My biggest hand was a flush, and I only got one of them. Oh, I got me some pocket Aces three times, but the first two times, everyone folded in front of me, and even with a small please-call-me bet, all I could do was pick up the blinds. I got 'em one more time and only won a $22 pot, getting only one caller. It really sucked because the guy directly on my right was like the biggest fish ever, dumping a thousand dollars into the game. Everyone else was racking up as big winners, but I just couldn't catch anything. And with all the big stacks in the game, it was tough to bluff at pots, too.

I finally gave up, down $150, unable to make any sort of hand or any sort of play. It was just one of those nights where no matter what I did, I couldn't grind out a profit. No good bluffing opportunities, couldn't hit a draw, and I never got a big hand.

There was one hand that bothered me for awhile, where I'm pretty sure I got outplayed, and I kicked myself over it for the rest of the night. I thought I had the best hand with middle pair and a flush draw after the turn, so I bet $15 into a twenty-and-change pot. I got check-raised all-in, and I thought about it for a long time before finally laying it down. But the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that I got bluffed, or maybe semi-bluffed (had I made my flush, it would've been King-high, so I'm sure it would've been good). Anyhow, just from watching my opponent play the way he did the rest of the night, I have to admit that he got the better of me on that hand.

But that's about how my night went--no bad beats, but nothing good happening either. It was probably best to just go home stuck a few bucks than to go home completely broke.

On Sunday morning, I slept in, and saw that I'd missed a middle-of-the-night phone call from work. Had I heard my phone, I could've picked up a few more hours and easily made back my poker losses from the night before. That pissed me off. I hate hate hate missing a chance to pick up a shift. And since the bad beat jackpot is so juicy right now, our room has been much busier at night.

Anyhow--I spent the day chillin' here at the Batch Pad. I didn't go down to the book to watch the game, and most of my friends had to work anyways. And my inherent laziness saved the day, too. I was talking about parlaying the Colts and the Under, and thankfully I never got down to the book to make the bet--it would've been a loser.

After the game, I stayed up watching all the coverage on ESPN, but I still made it to bed relatively early. I woke up around 3:00 am and called down to the poker room, just to maybe see if they were busy enough to have me come in for a few hours. They still had some games going, but they were covered. I was tempted, for about a minute, to go down and try and make a few bucks, but I opted to stay in bed and sleep in again. Who knows, maybe that bit of laziness saved me even more money...

I don't have anything on the agenda for today, but the sun has finally come out again and it seems to be a clear day outside. I'm not gonna get too excited though. It's only like fifty degrees, and we've got more rain coming. I might head down to the store this afternoon and pick up a few groceries, though. I'm thinking Beef Stroganoff tonight.


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Picking the Super Bowl

That's right. I said SUPER BOWL. The NFL can kiss my ass. I'm gonna say SUPER BOWL all day long. None of this 'big game' bullshit. They don't own the English language. They may own the brand, but they can't stop me from saying it. And, just to tweak them a little bit, I'm gonna talk about the SUPER BOWL and gambling in the same sentence!

I have yet to make my bets for the game, although going over the multi-page prop sheet from the sports book while at work the other day was lots of fun. Good lord, the number of sucker bets is overwhelming--I think one of my buddies put $5 (at 15-to-1) that the Colts would score exactly 31 points.

I'm not gonna do anything that ridiculous, but I'm leaning heavily on taking the Colts and the under (Colts by 5 and the over/under is 57 as of right now). Not that I particularly want the Colts to win--I'd much rather see the Saints win it all, after all, they are the *real* America's Team. Besides, if I bet on the Colts, no matter who wins, I'll be happy (unless, of course, the Colts don't cover).

I completely spaced off putting my bets in before leaving work yesterday morning, but there is still plenty of time. There's a hole-in-the-wall Cal-Neva satellite book about two minutes from my house in one of those slot-grinder joints that dot the local landscape, so I can run up there if I really get the urge to put some action on the game. But I'm not so sure I want to bet on it this year. I was 3-for-3 on cashing SUPER BOWL tickets starting after I moved here, but I don't recall betting the game last year (if I did, it was a small bet, not a memorable payday or loss). This year, it's just shaping up to be such an enjoyable game that I'm thinking I'll probably just watch and not worry about getting any action.

Also, I'm gonna enjoy the game on the comfort of my own couch here at the Batch Pad. For the first three SUPER BOWL Sundays that I lived here, I had to work and couldn't really enjoy the game. Last year, I attended a SUPER BOWL party, but at the last minute, half of my friends got called into work, so it wasn't nearly as fun at it could have been. Besides, the host had two stupid-ass yap dogs that didn't stop barking the entire f*cking afternoon, and the guy working the remote had the volume of the game turned up to ear-splitting level (probably to drown out the sound of the barking dogs), and then he'd mute it during the commercials. Not exactly the best time I've ever had.

Most of my peeps are working today anyways, and I don't want to hang out in the sports book all day, if only because I'd get suckered into making a bunch of stupid prop bets, so I'm just watching it solo. My game plan is to grill a burger, have a beer or two, and just have a mellow afternoon enjoying what I believe will be one of the most entertaining SUPER BOWLS we've seen in a long time (although, it'll be hard to top last year's classic matchup between the Cardinals and Steelers).

But if I *do* make a bet, I'm gonna parlay the Colts and the under for $25.


Thursday, February 04, 2010

A Night At the Regal Beagle

Hey gang, since my reputation for laziness is known far and wide, I get the opportunity every now and again to offer up the scribblings of a guest blogger. We've had Reverend Dave, Josie, Marlisha, and now Vegas Joe, one of my long-time readers who I met several years ago at the annual Buffoonic Convergence that happens out here every March.

Anyhow, he had an experience that he thought was worthy of sharing with the group, and he tells me that he wrote it as a tribute to my style of storytelling. I'll let y'all be the judge. But here is a tale sent in from Vegas Joe, about living the bachelor life...

As a single guy I recently attended a Singles Mingle dance. You know what that is….one of those dances for middle-aged people where you pay a few bucks for admission, some guy is spinning CD’s, you get to meet people in a low key situation and have the opportunity to “strut your stuff” on the dance floor. Well…that’s what I thought.

I swear though, instead of spending $7 on a ticket to the singles dance, I should have bought a bullet and rented a gun. I swear. I’ve never seen such a cluster of pathetic losers in a group I belonged to since I was in 8th grade and a member of the audio-visual club. I didn’t think my life could get much lower but it never ceases to amaze me.

First, the men…..

I’ve never seen so many comb-over hairdo’s, jet-black dyed hair, shirts opened 3 buttons down to show hairy chests, and pants hiked up so high that I kept thinking it must really be raining for those guys to be wearing flood pants like that…in my life. The term “smarmy” comes to mind. There were guys just trolling around the place acting like they were really something else in their print shirt and dockers. I almost began suspecting that I was at a vampire convention because there was no way those guys could have a mirror in their house and actually go out in public looking like that.

There was one guy who really mesmerized me. Although admittedly he was a decent dancer, he was just so “over the top”. He would raise his arms as he would lead a girl into a spin or kick his leg up and out as he was entering his own turn that he clearly thought he was a cross between Fred Astaire and Maurice Chevalier. He reminded me of the type of guy who would be on a cruise ship and hired by the cruise line to dance with the older ladies.

If he would have toned it down a bit I might have been impressed. But as it was, he just looked like a big geek dancing. I’m guessing he was about 65 years old, jet black hair, long side burns (jet black), and a skinny little mustache (jet black, of course). His pants were a little too tight for a man of his age and they were hiked up higher than normal. I’d imagine that the little bulge that was in his front pocket was either an inhalator or perhaps a long pill box that probably kept his heart pills and Viagra.

It looked like he was either wearing makeup or had gone a little crazy with a bottle of instant tan because he had an orange hue to him. Thank goodness they keep the lights low in there. And I can see why.

Now let me tell you about the women….

I was sitting at a table and these two Slavic women came and sat by me. I couldn’t hardly understand them and the woman sitting next to me who was trying to strike up a little conversation had breath like 3 day old borscht. (Not that I know what borscht actually smells like but whatever was on her breath was not pleasant). She would ask me questions in a deep raspy voice that sounded like Natasha from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons like “Thees yaw virst time heare?” and “Dis caaan be inteemidating, noooo?” I thought I was going to pee myself.

They weren’t in the least bit attractive and I’m pretty sure the one sitting next to me could’ve kicked my ass without breaking a sweat. And she was the more feminine of the two. I know she wanted me to ask her to dance but I just couldn’t see how I could expend that much energy dancing and still be able to hold my breath for the 4 minutes the song would have lasted so I wouldn’t have to smell her breath. I would have either passed out on the dance floor or, if I had been thinking, could have feigned injury just to get off of the dance floor.

At one point, a guy who kind of reminded me of Pee Wee Herman wearing one of the flowered shirts that seemed to be so in vogue at the event, asked the one woman (the one not sitting next to me) to dance. That left me sitting alone with nasty Natasha and I could really feel the pressure increasing of her wanting me to dance. She even turned to me and said, “Soooo dooo yoooou daaannnnce?”.

Proud of my last 9 months of dance lessons and not thinking fast enough to realize that answering this question with a “Yes” would result in having no alternative but to ask her to dance….I did tell her “Yes” but was quick to recover and add “….but I don’t know this song”. It really was a pretty stupid answer since you really don’t need to know a song to dance to it. But hey, I was under pressure and it was the best I could do.

I sat there in stoned silence and praying that the good Lord would be merciful and throw a minor miracle my way and have someone come and ask my new best friend to dance. Or if he wouldn’t do that, would somebody please come by and offer her a breath mint? But no….there was no minor miracle for me and the good Lord did not send anyone.

When enough time passed that I knew there was not going to be any divine intervention, I put away the rosary (figuratively speaking) and just sat there looking around the room trying to make it appear like I was looking for someone. My thought was that if I appeared to be busy she wouldn’t ask me to dance. My ploy worked long enough for me to wait until a strategic moment where I knew she could see me out of the corner of her eye and I lifted up my head as if I was nodding, said out loud “Hey” as if I was acknowledging I saw someone I knew and I got up from the table.

I stopped in front of one of the comb-over guys on the way to the door and paused long enough to make it appear from my back like I was engaged in a brief conversation. Mr. Comb-over didn’t know what was going on during my brief pause in front of him and I just said “Excuse me” to make it appear to him as if I was just a kind of a confused clod who didn’t know how to walk around someone but instead would walk up to them expecting the other person to move. (Something that was certainly not unusual given the crowd I saw).

I ended up walking out the back door and going to the bathroom. When I returned, I spent the remainder of the evening standing in the back.

I saw one woman walking by (a rather large woman but who could probably get by with being described as rubenesque) wearing a dress. The dress had a halter type strap to it that went around her neck, and then criss-crossed down the back over her shoulder blades. Not a bad looking dress and she wore it rather well…all things considered. Of course, had she had the foresight to not wear her white bra under it may have improved the appearance further.

That’s right. I said I could see her white bra.

She wore the bra and you could see the straps going over her shoulders. I guess she came from the same vampire city that the men did and must not have had a mirror (or been able to see her reflection) since she wore the dress and bra proudly. My only hope for her is that she is totally colorblind and that at least she thought she was at least wearing a flesh colored bra.

Now I know I’m no Tom Cruise…I don’t have his looks nor do I remotely have his money. So making this next observation may be a bit cruel. (BTW, just as aside, I’m not a closet gay person like Tom Cruise has been accused of being. But a few more dances like this I might have to begin weighing the pros and cons of becoming one. But I digress).

Anyway, the women attending were, how can I say this delicately, for the most part “beauteously” challenged. Yep. I began thinking of the old ugly jokes from my youth. (i.e. “She’s so ugly, people go as her for Halloween” and “She’s so ugly, she makes onions cry”). I felt kind of guilty but I just couldn’t stop myself from doing it.

And I wondered what was the deal with many of these women and their makeup? Some of them had such a heavy base color on their face…and nothing going down their necks blending in….that you would have thought they had on a mudpack or something. Thank goodness again for the poor lighting which may have been the one thing that possibly prevented me from experiencing temporary blindness…or a more permanent blindness condition….as a result of me gouging my own eyes out.

I did see a few attractive ladies. But they were mostly being swarmed by one of the 100 or so “Corsican brothers” (i.e. two wild and crazy guy types) that were attending the dance. So I didn’t even think about trying to approach them for fear that some of the grease from those guys’ over-moussed hair would have dripped onto the floor and I would twist a knee and end up on crutches.

I did manage to dance twice. I asked one lady and one lady asked me. Both ladies were very nice but the dances were slow dances so I didn’t have the opportunity to “strut my stuff”. Both dances were just turning in little circles pretty much the way I danced at my high school prom.

I left around 10:30 or so (about 2 hours and 15 minutes after I arrived) because my feet were getting sore from standing the past 1:45 minutes. I was really afraid that if I sat down again my two Slavic girlfriends would come and sit by me again. Or even worse, they’d kick my ass for having ditched them the first time. So by standing, I was always ready to make a quick beeline for the door and it made me feel safer to stand.

I used to have a healthy respect for the creativity of comedy writers of television and movies. But after seeing the stereotypical clowns I saw I realized that those comedy writers are not all that creative. They’re just normal people who go to these type of events and write down what they see. I’m not kidding. You couldn’t have scripted a better caricature of sleazy men and nerds looking for fun.

And what is most painful is that I am one of them. These are my people Mikey. This is what I’ve become.

But still being in a state of denial, I am writing this long description so I can tell myself that I’m really not one of them. Instead I am more of an investigative reporter after a story.

I can’t wait to go again because you can’t make this stuff up. Next time you’re in the area you have to go with me so you can see for yourself. I’ll bring the garlic cloves and wolfbain.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Winner Winner...

In a nutshell:

-Had a great night at work

-Played a little no-limit before coming home this morning

-Hit quad eights and a straight flush less than fifteen minutes apart, against the same opponent.

-Won a nice pot with set-over-set (my pocket Aces versus his pocket Kings, he flopped his set and slow-played it, I hit my Ace on the river and crushed him)

-Cashed out with a full rack of red in less than an hour

-McGriddle for breakfast. Oh hell yeah.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

It's Groundhog Day... Again...

Go nuts, everybody!

Wow. I'm still messing up the date on checks every time I pay a bill, and we've already got one month in the books for 2010.

Everyone always says that the calendar speeds up as you get older, but my theory is that time only goes fast when you've got monthly obligations and you're not quite sure how you're gonna meet them every time. Ask somebody sitting in the joint looking at three-to-five for probation violation. They'll tell you that the calendar is moving waaaay too slowly. Hopefully, we all fall someplace between the two extremes.

Anyhow, there's not a lot going on here today. I had a short shift at work last night, but I'm not complaining. Two days into my workweek and I've already tripled up my hours versus last week. So things are looking up.

I finally finished up the last of the pineapple chicken yesterday afternoon, and it was damn tasty. I managed to stretch it out and get four meals out of it, so not only was it good to eat, but it went a long way, too. The mushrooms, on the other hand, were kind of a flop, and as much as I wanted to enjoy them, I'm saving them to be the first thing I toss down my new garbage disposal (that should be installed sometime today). I'm gonna take a break from the wok for a couple of days, I think, and maybe wait to do the chow mein on Friday.

Yesterday I got so busy doing little household projects and such that I only managed to get a couple of hours of sleep after I got home from work. Around 2:00 in the afternoon, I remembered that I was scheduled to read that night for the folks at the Henderson Writers Group. So I formatted and printed out the Reggie Miller stripper story, and then gave it a practice run out-loud. I timed it, and it took just under fifteen minutes to read it, and I was going pretty fast. That wouldn't do--I needed to cut it down to ten minutes or so in order to have some time for constructive feedback.

I spent about an hour cutting and trimming, and got it down to four-and-a-half printed pages from its original seven, but still, I felt it was a little too long and disjointed. It needs some more smoothing. By then, it was late in the afternoon, I'd had no sleep, and I still would have to go to Kinko's and get a bunch of copies made. So I just emailed the club president and rescheduled my reading for two weeks--it wasn't up to snuff, and I really needed to get some sleep.

I went to bed around 5:00 in the evening, and forgot to set my alarm. I ended up waking up just seven minutes later than usual, but I wasn't late to work or anything. However, once I got to work, I felt like crap. I was just a little dehydrated, not sick or anything, but still, I didn't mind so much when the big stacks knocked out the little stacks and we called it a night after just a few hours.

Once I got home this morning, I drank about a half a gallon of green tea and watched last night's episode of 24. As much as I enjoy that show, I'll admit that I'm not in love with the filler they're using this season. One would assume that you'd have to pass a pretty thorough background check to work at CTU, and also, as much of a computer genius as Chloe's husband is, you'd think he'd be able to find some sort of gig in a year's time. I dunno--I could rant all day about all the stuff that's wrong with the show, but instead, I'll be happy to embrace the transference of reality while I watch.

I don't have much else to report today--I've got no plans except to hit the bank at some point this afternoon. I may go to Costco, too, but I'm not sure. I just made all this money, I don't want to spend it all so soon.

Maybe I'll just hang out in the local diner and strike up a conversation with Nancy Taylor...


Monday, February 01, 2010

All My Foodie Cousins

Well, it seems that I'm not the only one who has been banging pots and pans around in the kitchen lately. People with much more developed skillz than I have are also getting creative.

Also, I want to address a few criticisms I've heard regarding my recent attempts of nibbling at the edges of Asian cuisine. I think one of my favorite comments, from one of my Chinese friends, was It always amazes me how Caucasian folk can mess up Chinese cuisine, even if they have the tools of the trade in hand. Heh. Um, well, this is my first foray into the mysterious world of wok cookery, and I'm all about the baby steps. I've got a few recipes, and I'm following them to the letter. I'll experiment more once I have a few more dishes under my belt. Hell, I'm not even up to the Sandra Lee level of f*cking things up yet, much less Chef Ming. I'll get more authentic as time goes by. You gotta remember, I didn't grow up with a wok in my kitchen.

Also, Confucius say electric stove can no way get the wok hot enough for proper stir fry. Yeah, I'm also aware of that, but I have to work within the limitations of my kitchen. I've alerted the maintenance crew here at the apartment complex that I don't have a gas stove, and they're even less interested in replacing that than they are in replacing my broken garbage disposal.

But for now, I'm gonna sit back and enjoy my tasty leftover pineapple chicken and turn over the keys to my good friend Marlisha from Arizona. She already had some mad skillz in the kitchen, but she decided to crank it up a notch. Her words and pictures follow...

I've been attending Scottsdale Community College Culinary Arts Program since Jan. 19, 2010. I really enjoy cooking and sharing what I cook and bake with everyone--friends, family, and neighbors. Everyone usually tells me what a great cook I am and that I should pursue it. I've been wanting to go to culinary school for a few years but it's so expensive. I looked into SCC and saw that they had a culinary program and it was very affordable compared to the other schools like Le Cordon Bleu and Arizona Culinary Institute. I signed up in Sept. and here I am...

Here are a few of the projects I've been working on these past couple of weeks.

This picture has Hors d'ouevres of:

-Thin sliced cucumber on crostini with herbed compound butter and marscapone cheese, red bell pepper, and chive garnish.
-Cucumber cups with smoked salmon rosettes and yogurt garnish.
-Sushi rolls with poached shrimp.
-Endive leaves with goat cheese and figs.

These hors d'ouevres were all done by my classmates and myself. We were all separated into teams and we all had 3 or 4 different appetizers to work on. In this pic. one of my classmates and I worked on the endive leaf and goat cheese hors d'ouevre.

Here is a closer look at the Endive leaves with goat cheese and figs.

Here are some Cucumber canapes, herb butter, with chive and red bell pepper garnish. Quail egg canapes, marscapone spread with caper and micro lemon basil garnish.

For this one my classmate and I made the quail egg canapes. The filling was made from marscapone cheese, the yolks from the eggs, capers, cayenne, paprika, lemon juice, salt and white pepper, chives and sour cream. Garnished with capers micro lemon basil and paprika.

These are quail egg canapes. My classmate Joanna and I made these.

This is a Chicken salad sandwich with toasted almonds and cherries, on a croissant, with wild rice salad, and a baby greens bouquet garnish.

One day we got to make fresh mozzarella. This was our house salad for the day at the restaurant at the school, "The Artichoke Grill." Fresh mozzarella, tomato and asparagus salad, herbed crostinis with a balsamic honey reduction sauce for garnish. My classmates, Joanna, Katie, and I made this salad.

This is Asian noodle salad with shrimp spring rolls and dipping sauce. For this dish, all of us were separated into 2 groups with several kinds of noodles to make salads out of. This is the one I made.

Compound butters--these are just flavored butters. Room temperature butter with herbs, garlic, or any of your favorite things whipped in, then piped into a little dish with a pastry bag using a star tip to make it pretty. My classmates, Joanna, Katie, and I made these butters. They are parsley, chive, and garlic butter; the other one is orange honey butter. The third is just plain.

As far as the actual courses go, these are the ones I'm taking:

-Garde Manger (pronounced- gar manzhay)(This is a pantry chef--the cook in charge of cold food production including salads and salad dressings, cold appetizers, and buffet items).
-Dining Room Operations I (working in the campus restaurant)
-Culinary Principles/Kitchen Management I
-Food Costing/Purchasing/Inventory Control
-Food Service Sanitation/Safety/Stewarding.

In another few weeks I'll be finished with Garde Manger and Dining Room and I will switch over to my other classes: Hot Foods I and Pastry. I'm excited about the baking and pastry part.


Whew! Man, how good does that stuff look? This is how the pros do food, not recipe-book hackers like me. Seriously, I would *love* to take courses like these if money and scheduling weren't an issue. We talked on the phone for a bit last night and all the different dishes she was describing made me drool like a St. Bernard. Of course, she reminded me I still have an open invite to drive down to Phoenix and chow at their place any time I want, so it looks like I need to plan another trip. In the meantime, I think I speak for all of my readers when I say that we're very impressed and wish you only the best in your studies!

Also, Marlisha, if you keep sending pictures and descriptions of your class projects, I'll keep posting them here.