Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another Successful Poker Night

It had been far too long. The natives were gettin' restless. I hadn't hosted my usual weekly poker night in almost a month and something had to be done.

So I sent out a mass text message to my crew on Monday, seeing who might be interested in cranking it up a notch. I got two maybes, one 'I'll be there really late', and three other definite attendees. Sounded like just enough to run a game of Chinese poker.

That meant that Wednesday was clean-the-house day. Not only did I have to make the bathroom sparkle in case any of the gals showed up, but I had to bust out with the broom, mop, and vacuum, too.

I also did a bunch of shopping beforehand, too. I made the usual spicy Rotel queso dip with hot sausage, but I also made a pot of bbq'd Little Smokies (everyone loves those things!) and then I went out on a limb and made a big bowl of homemade salsa. I mentioned it earlier--the black bean and pineapple salsa. Oh hell yeah was it ever good... Everyone raved about it. It's pretty simple--just a can of black beans (drained and rinsed), a couple cans of pineapple tidbits, a chopped red pepper, a chopped jalapeno (minus the seeds), a handful of chopped cilantro, the tops of six green onions, a quarter cup of pineapple juice, and a generous splash of zesty Italian dressing. Mix it all up and let it marinate together for a few hours, and oh holy hell--some of the best damn salsa you've ever eaten. So good!

Luckily, there was a little bit leftover, so tonight I'm gonna grill some tequila lime chicken and garnish it with the salsa.

Oh, and we had a whole mess of Pacifico, Corona, and Smirnoff blueberry lemonade. No mudslides or margaritas this time--all the gals bailed on us, so it was just the dudes last night.

We had a great time, too. James was the big winner, racking up a $35+ win. I came in second place, with a $24 profit. Dave lost about twelve bucks, and Zack got the collar, losing his entire stake and then some. After he bailed out, the three of us hung out for a bit--AC called and said he be there around 11:00, but he never made it (he was in the chair getting some elaborate ink done, and it took all evening). So James, Dave, and I cashed in our chips and then played another card game called 'golf' for a few hours, finally calling it a night sometime around 1:30 this morning.

For having an epic poker night, the kitchen and dining room were in surprisingly good shape after all was said and done--I did a quick post-party cleanup, but left a sink full of dishes to worry about sometime later this afternoon once I get some sleep. But man, there are a ton of empty bottles to get rid off. It's funny, when the gals come over to play, I have tons of leftovers, and they hardly drink anything. But when it's all dudes, it's like a swarm of locusts hit. Which is totally cool with me--I need the room in my fridge.

I'm off tonight, but since the FedEx man dropped off a bunch of books for me yesterday, I'm not going out or spending any money. I'm going to stay in, enjoy a cool beverage and the breeze of the ceiling fan, and just chill like I'm getting paid to lounge around.

You office drones have a lovely Thursday, and all you clowns up in Wisconsin try to be safe this weekend. No more hospital visits or wrecked ATVs. And try to limit the number of gunshot wounds this year, too.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The REAL Cruise Week

Y'all remember back a couple of years ago when I did my own 'Cruise Week' post? I think, at the time, I was a year away from the next planned cruise with the family. Well, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to go on that one--my sisters went without me.

However... That won't be the case this year.

In less than three months, I'm eastbound and down! Yep, it's creeping up on me--the regularly scheduled Sibling Revelry cruise is just around the corner. I can't wait. We planned this thing a year ago, and I paid it off a few months back, and not only that, I also got my plane ticket as soon as Southwest opened up the dates. All I have left to do is gather a little spending money and rent my James Bond tuxedo and I'm good to go.

This time, we're doing it right. No more piling four of us into one interior cabin down in steerage with the goats, chickens, and Irishmen. Instead, we've got four cabins in a row, all with balconies. And Sherry and her husband Steve have a mack-daddy suite on the stern of the ship, with a huge balcony.

It's gonna be a good time.

Of course, now that it's getting close, the emails and chatter have started to increase in volume. Lots of 'what should we do in this port?' and 'who's gonna sneak which booze onboard?' type of stuff.

Since I live so frickin' far away from our departure port in Florida, I'm heading out a day early--already have the hotel room paid for, too! There are just no flights leaving Vegas early enough in the day to get me to the ship on time for embarkation, not to mention any extra time for delays, so I'm just gonna go ahead and get out there a day ahead of everyone and then just meet up with them once we board.

Man--I can't wait. I haven't been on a cruise since 2004, and I'm good and ready to go. It's been far too long. Hopefully, at one of our stops, I'll be able to get some daysailing done. I really miss that. If not, I'll be content to plant my ass on the beach somewhere--toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand--and just enjoy the view and the tropical breeze.

Three months, baby. That's all. It'll be here before I know it.


Long Nights, Impossible Odds

Well, at least I think I'll be able to sleep tonight.

I was running on about three hours of quality snooze time when I went to work yesterday afternoon, and I was beat. Although I didn't sign the Early Out list when I got there, I think in the back of my mind I was totally cool with getting the quick hook.

And once I clocked in, I thought for sure it would happen. We only had two games going and five dealers. But we managed to scrounge up enough players to start a sit-n-go type tournament, and before I knew it, it was 11:30 at night and I was looking at completing a full 'hard eight'.

That was nice, since I only had two days this week. But I'm back to the grind with plenty of hours next week, and I've already got a few days on the schedule in August, so things are looking good.

Another side effect of that rut I've been talking about is that I haven't been eating anything either. Too unmotivated to go grocery shopping, much less cook, I've been back to living on granola bars and Gatorade lately. So when I got out of work last night, I was starving. Casa di Amore is closed on Tuesday nights, so that was out of the question. Instead, I just made a midnight run to Del Taco. I haven't had that in months, maybe years. Hell, I don't remember the last time I went to Del Taco. But it was damn good. Waaaay better than Taco Bell (although the Bell has it's place too). So I enjoyed my two Big Fat Steak Tacos and a nice watery fountain Coke while surfing the net and trying to come up with a to-do list for when I wake up.

Oh, I've got to run to the post office and the alterations shop (six weeks of double shifs beat the hell out of several pairs of those sexy black polyester work pants, so they need to go in for a tune-up), and then I'm gonna hit the grocery store to get a few more munchies for poker night. I'm gonna go ahead and make my spicy Ro-Tel dip, but Mamasan turned me on to a black-bean pineapple salsa dip recipe that everyone raved about this weekend, so I'll probably do that, too.

But I've got to get all that stuff done early--the FedEx man in bringing me all kinds of goodies from Amazon, and they never knock on the door. They just throw the boxes into my camp chair out on the patio and keep on truckin'. At least UPS has the courtesy to knock and wake my ass up, which I appreciate, but it also kinda sucks because the damn UPS man has seen my lucky Elvis boxers a whole helluva lot more lately than any of my lady friends have.

Oh well. That's all there is from this corner of the neon playground. Y'all have a wonderful hump day.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bored, Can't Sleep, Unmotivated...

Man, I am in a severe funk this week. I just can't seem to move on all eight cylinders.

Remember how I was so tired for so long because of work? Well now, I cannot sleep at all. I have the worst insomnia every night and end up lurking around the house doing not a damn thing, but then I eventually pass out around 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. Usually I get about two hours of sleep, but without fail, the phone rings, somebody knocks at the door, or there's enough noise outside to wake me up. So I get up, drag ass around for several hours, then lay in bed all night trying to sleep. It's been an endless cycle for a couple of weeks now.

That would explain the dearth of interesting posts. Seriously, I've gone back and read everything for the past month or so and I must apologize. I'm ashamed of my lack of effort. But right now, I'm just not feelin' it--in a big way. It's not like I don't have the time to do it, either. It's just that my brain feels like a cold cup of coffee, forgotten on the nightstand.

I suppose that most of it has to do with being up in the air about the job situation. I'm highly confident that I'll have a permanent spot, but damn, I just wish they'd tell me already--one way or the other. It seems that most of my decisions--even little piddly ones, hang in the balance waiting to find out. I mean, I'm not gonna go to Costco and shell out a couple hundred bucks on economy-sized laundry soap and other non-perishables if I find out that I'm out of a job next week. So I don't do that. Same with going to the regular grocery store--do I stock up, like I usually want to do, or do I sit and wait, because there's an off-chance that I'd bail out of Vegas completely if I'm unemployed again. And who the hell wants to pack up a pantry full of canned goods?

I have a little money stashed away to survive on for awhile, but even so, the economy out here still sucks, and if it doesn't improve soon, well, I'm not gonna be out contributing to it, either. I'm kind of in 'bunker' mode right now. I haven't gone out and done anything fun in awhile, and part of the reason is that I just don't want to spend the money.

Oh well. That's the way it goes. Maybe I'll know something this week. Believe me, if I find out that I *am* going to be kept on permanently, well, it'll be like the weight of the world off my shoulders and I'm guessing that the floodgates of creativity and productivity will come crashing open.

Other than that, right now I'm working my way through a couple of less-than-stellar books that have been sitting on my shelf for awhile. On the other hand, we have a full crew confirmed for poker night tomorrow night, so that'll be a lot of fun. AC still has softball, so he won't be around spilling drinks or burning holes in the green felt this week, but we'll somehow manage to still have a good time. I still have plenty of mudslide and margarita mix on hand, and a case of Mexican beer in the fridge, so I guess all we need is some munchies and we'll be good to go.

Later kiddies...


Sunday, July 25, 2010

So Why Don't Ya Kill Me...

Yep. I'm a loser, baby!

Just let me tell you how much...

I set my alarm, showered, shaved, got dressed in my black & whites, sat in Saturday night strip gridlock, and showed up to work. All good, right?

Except that when I got there I found out that I wasn't even scheduled to work. I just went out of habit. I work every other Saturday night--I have all summer long. But apparently, I can't read a schedule, and I was actually off. In fact, I only had two days scheduled this week--I don't work again until Tuesday.

First, I was a little irritated because weekends are usually a good chance to make some great money, but then I stepped back and took a look at the big picture. We're down to just a handful of temps now, and another one is leaving on Sunday. I figured, if they were gonna dump me, they wouldn't keep me on the schedule for just two days, especially when it's kinda slow. So I'm liking my chances. Besides, before I turned around and split, I saw that next week's schedule was already up, and I've got four days on it, plus another on-call day. That's more like it!

But still, no official word yet.

I know things are gonna pick up again in September when football season starts, and I can survive on two or three days a week until then. But I'd just like to know that I've got a permanent job. This long-term temp stuff, I think, is directly responsible for the fact that I just can't sleep at night anymore.

Normally I'd be out looking for another job, but I'm not gonna make the mistake of having schedule conflicts if I can possibly keep this job--it's by far the best I could hope for in this economy, and anything they want from me is top priority. Besides, if I get a permanent gig, I won't need a second job. I lived quite comfortably on the peanuts I was making at Sunset Station for the past two years, and this new gig is a cash cow compared to that job.

Speaking of Sunset, I had drinks with AC last week and he told me some interesting stuff. They fired another dealer for some sketchy-sounding reason. (It seems to be a well-known trade practice there that they'd much rather fire people for the slightest thing so that they don't have to pay severance that comes with doing proper layoffs). Second of all, they also booted four full-time dealers back to the extra board, taking away benefits and such and making them part-time, on-call. Truly that place is circling the bowl, and I'm guessing that a year from now there won't even be a poker room--probably two tables at the end of the pit, Terrible's style.

The more I think about it, the more I'm glad I got out of there when I did. If I were still there these past few months, I'd probably have been booted a couple weeks ago when they did their latest housecleaning; and right now, two weeks after the World Series, is *not* the time to be out of a job if you're a poker dealer in Las Vegas.

Hell, I went down there on Wednesday night to play a little bit, but it downright sucked. At 9:30 at night, they only had two 4-8 games going, and both of them were shorthanded. Not even a half hour later, our table broke, so there was only one game. And it was pathetic. I don't think I've ever been so bored in my life at the poker table. After a couple of orbits, I just said the hell with this lame-ass casino and colored up. I don't think I'll be going back.

Green Valley isn't much better, and as much as I love The M, it's still 15 miles away--downtown is closer, and I'm only seven-and-a-half miles from the Strip. I'm gonna have to find another 'home' poker room soon. Until then, I signed up with Full Tilt, but I still haven't funded my account yet. I'm debating whether or not to do it at all. I think I'd rather find a good live Omaha High game, but the nearest one at Boulder Station is a smoking room, and their regulars make the crowd that hangs out at the trailer park laundry mat look like a bunch of blue-bloods at a country club.

So what else is new?

Well, I've gotten some more reading done. Normally I'm not a fiction fan at all, but based on recommendations, I've gotten extremely lucky. I've already mentioned how much I enjoyed the Dewey Lambdin books, and my dad told me about a good one that he liked a lot: Scorpion in the Sea, by P.T. Deutermann. So I ordered it last week and it arrived Thursday afternoon. I stayed up all night reading it--another one I couldn't put down--and finished it around eight o'clock the next morning. Yes, that good. So good, in fact, that I ordered four more books by the same author. They'll be here on Wednesday, which sucks, because that's when my new work-week starts. I've got nothing to do for the next two days, so I think I may hit up the local Barnes & Noble in the morning.

Since I'm so bored and there's only so much housecleaning and reading I can do (still too damn hot to play outside), I'll probably host another poker night on Wednesday. It's been a few weeks and I think the natives are getting restless. And permanent job or no, I'm getting to the point where I want to bust out that big-assed 2000 piece puzzle and start putting it together.

Maybe tomorrow night I'll get adventurous in the kitchen, too.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It's Hump Day... Again

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope all you working stiffs are enjoying the midweek grind, while I, well, I'm not doing much of anything.

I had a lot of grandiose plans for getting things done yesterday, but I'll admit. It just never happened. I swear, I had zero motivation all day long. On the other hand, I've gotten a lot of reading done, something I really enjoy. Especially since it's too damn hot to sit out in the sun by the pool in the afternoon. I mean, 114 degrees--fark that. There is no shade until early evening out there, so it's just too damn hot, no matter how many contraband bottles of beer I haul out there with me. 'Tis much better to lounge around in the air-conditioned comfort of my living room while basking in the pleasant breeze of the ceiling fan.

What was I reading, you ask? Well, on Monday night and into Tuesday, I was reading Check Raising the Devil, the autobiography of Mike 'The Mouth' Matusow. It's actually a very good book--much much better than I expected. And you get a whole new perspective on him, the side the ESPN cameras never seem to show. Well worth reading, if you get the chance. But you can't borrow mine--it's a personally signed copy, and the inscription in the front says: To Mikey -- If you suck out on me again, I'll kick your ass!

Yes, I met Mike Matusow a few weeks back and had a very interesting conversation with him. And to tell you the truth, he's actually one of the nicer poker players I've ever met. All that stuff you've seen on TV is highly edited, and he's definitely the not the same person he was five years ago. Same thing for Phil Hellmuth--I've talked to him a couple of times this summer and he is 180 degrees different when there are no cameras around. People have told me that his whole 'poker brat' shtick is just an act, and I'm a believer. He's actually a pretty nice guy. The only pro I've seen act like kind of a dickhead lately is Phil Ivey. I wasn't impressed with him very much at all. But I only saw him for a few minutes, so it wasn't like I was at the table with him for hours.

I could go on and on (Jerry Yang--also extremely nice, as is Dennis Phillips), but I won't--lets just say that my jobs this summer have afforded me some pretty interesting opportunities...

But back to the books. I actually finished Matusow's book, cover-to-cover, in just over four hours. I literally couldn't put it down. Last night, I was looking for something else to read, and I picked up The Requiem Shark, by Nicholas Griffin. I think I bought it about five years ago, and it's been on the bookshelf ever since. So far, I'll give it a five on the one-to-ten scale. It's ok, and I think most people that are into seafaring adventure fiction would probably like it, but having digested 16 volumes of the Alan Lewrie series in the past couple of months, well, the bar was set pretty high, and this book falls a little short, at least to me. The premise is good; a young and educated fiddler is pressed onto a merchant ship in the early 18th century, but the ship is then captured by the pirate 'Black Bart', and the protagonist is taken aboard in the employ of the pirate captain as a biographer/historian of all of their seafaring adventures and misdeeds.

Like I said, it's ok, but it doesn't feel nearly as 'authentic' as some of the better books I've read in the genre. I'm about two-thirds of the way through it right now, and will probably finish it off sometime this morning.

As far as the rest of my day goes, I'm still looking for inspiration. Wednesdays, this summer, have been my busy errand-running and housecleaning day, as it's usually poker night, and it was generally the only day off I got every week. But today, I don't think I'm gonna do much. There are no plans for poker tonight, and frankly, I don't feel like cleaning, shopping, or cooking, so I'll probably spend another well-deserved quiet evening at home with a good book and a bottle of something tasty. I might even fire up my ol' briarwood pipe and do my thing as an armchair sea captain.


Monday, July 19, 2010

This Has Been A Typical Monday...

Yeah, it's been sucking so far...

Like I said, I've had a very busy week, but that came to an end last night. I've worked 11 out of the past 12 days, and now I'm not on the schedule again until at least Friday. Woot!

I haven't had two days off in a row in the last two months, so right now, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do with myself. But of course, the fickle hand of fate raised it's middle finger at me this morning, and I've been dealing with the fallout for a good portion of the day.

T-Rev was in town for the past few days, and came by the casino to play some hold-em last night. When I got the boot at 1:00 o'clock in the morning, we took off to get some dinner. We hit Casa di Amore (again) and had another helluva feast. I don't recall what he had, but I know we had toasted ravioli and a bottle of damn good wine (half price after midnight on Sunday and Monday nights!). For my dinner I had fettucini alfredo with shrimp and scallops. It was soooo good. The chef really knocked it out of the park with that one.

Anyhow, once I dropped him off back at his hotel, I headed back home to the East Side to try and get some sleep. When I emptied my pockets, I saw that my new replacement phone was jacked up again. It looked like somebody had taken a hammer to the touch screen. No, the glass wasn't broken, but the display looked like a tv test pattern on some really good acid. Of course, it was useless. I managed to make a couple of calls this morning before it completely died, but I figured another trip out to the AT&T warranty center on Decatur and Sahara would be on the top of the to-do list this afternoon.

So I tried to sleep, but then, text messages and stuff started coming in, and I was not only unable to retrieve them, but also unable to see where they were sent from. Even after I popped the SIM card out of the LG and into the spare G0-Phone I have, it didn't show any messages. So if any of you have tried to contact me today before 4:00 pm, I have no way of getting the messages. Sorry.

I managed to get a couple hours worth of sleep, finally, but got up around two in the afternoon, gathered my deposits, paid my bills, got dressed, and headed out. First stop was the bank to deposit a stack of hundies, then over to Costco to fill up the tank (it's $2.75 out here, if anyone is interested).

Then I said Fark it, it has to be done, so I saddled up and made my way over to the west side--a place that I hate to go. And there is absolutely no good way to get from my neighborhood to the corner of Decatur and Sahara, so I mentally prepared myself for eight miles of stoplights in the 114-degree heat as I made my way down Boulder Highway. Stupid traffic all the way, and nobody refusing to come within five miles-per-hour of the speed limit. Not only that, but once I turned onto Sahara, there were dead cars blocking the road everywhere. This heat just kills batteries and radiators out here, and usually, it's taxicabs that break down. It may be 114 in the shade, but in the direct sunlight it's a good 130+, and I hate driving in that, especially in stop-n-go traffic, but it had to be done.

Luckily, I made it to the service center without incident, but of course the toad behind the counter took one look at my phone and said Sorry--this is 'physical damage', and that voids your warranty--nothing we can do. Next! or something to that effect. So they wouldn't do a damn thing for me. The lesson here kids, is NEVER buy an LG phone. Hell, after this whole experience, I wouldn't purchase any electronics made by LG. Seriously, their stuff is such pieces of shiat that I wouldn't use a toothbrush that they manufactured.

So I was there for about, oh, three minutes or so, and then turned around and headed back out into the heat to make my way back over to Henderson. What a waste of time. So once I got home, I dug out the old cheap-ass Samsung Go-Phone, charged it up, and now I'll be using it for the next six months until I'm eligible for an 'upgrade'. At first I'd thought I'd lost all of my contacts, but everything I had up until May (the original breakdown) was saved on my SIM card, so I only lost a few numbers. It doesn't have a full keyboard or all the normal capabilities of a regular 'smart' phone, so those of you who like to send me a lot of texts and pictures and such, please try to curtail it until after the holidays.

But that's not the only thing that's been pissing me off today--I was excited that the Phillies/Cardinals game was on ESPN, so I sat down to watch it. But the past few days, the picture has been disappearing for a few seconds (or minutes) at a time, and wouldn't you know it, in the Cardinals half of the inning where they got three home runs, I missed every single one of them because the picture kept blanking out. (Of course it works fine during the commercials!) So I've been on the phone with the Cox-suckers for the past 20 minutes trying to get that ironed out. I don't know why I even bother to call them--their answer to everything is the same as Microsoft's--just reboot it!

They're also sending some sort of magic signal to my cable box, and they said it'll take a half hour before it diagnoses and cycles through everything, so even though my team is on, I'm unable to watch the game (but thank god for gamecast on!)

Anyhow, that's enough negative vibes for one day. As far as good news goes, I found out today that they will be for sure hiring a few permanent dealers at my casino (formerly known as Job #2, but shall from this point forward be known as The Good Job, or probably just 'the job'). So I spent some time this afternoon doing all the paperwork that they wanted me to do, so now I just have to sit and wait and hope that I'm one of the people that they are keeping. I like my chances though--my co-workers all want me to stay, and my supervisor told me that he'd give me an enthusiastic recommendation, so I hope hope hope that it all works out.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what the time frame is. But as soon as I know--you'll know.

So what else is new? Not a damn thing, to be honest with ya. I've been working so much that I haven't had much of a life, although I did manage to squeeze in a few hours of fun here and there when random friends have come to town. But now that life is somewhat back to normal, I should be able to get back into a routine. Hell, we haven't even been able to do a poker night in almost three weeks!

Once I find out that I have a permanent job, however, it'll be a little bit easier on me and I'm sure I'll sleep better at night, and I'll be able to make plans and such. I've already decided that once I get 'permanent' status (fingers crossed), I'm gonna start on another puzzle and get it framed, buy a poker table, and also maybe get a hookah (the kind you smoke, not the kind that tries to crawl in your car window when you're sitting at a stoplight--get your minds out of the gutter!).

Anyhow, that's the news for now. I'm gonna relax tonight, but tomorrow is full-on housecleaning and laundry day. Now that I've got a bit of time on my hands, I'm gonna get this place organized and stop living out of the basket and the dryer. Oh, I might have a rum drink and spend some time at the pool, too, now that I think about it...


Until We Close Our Eyes For Good...

Hey gang.

Sorry for the protracted absence from the keyboard, but damn, I've been a busy little free agent lately. But as of today, I have--count 'em, folks--four full days off in a row!!! That hasn't happened since sometime in late May, and let me tell you, I am good and ready to enjoy them.

So once I get some sleep and get a few errands run, I promise to sit down at the keyboard and pen a few thoughts and maybe get back into my regular writing routine. I've got a 'to do' list that's long and distinguished, so I have to address that stuff first. But then, I'm back to having too much time on my hands, so maybe you re-clickers out there will reap the benefits.

Until then, have a wonderful Monday!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dinner with Steve & Edie, Frank, Sammy, Dino...

... Mayor Oscar, Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, Natalie Cole, and a host of others...

Yep, I have found a new place to hang out.

Back in the day, my favorite after-work joint was Chilly Palmer's over in Henderson. But when I left the pit for the poker room and all of my friends moved on to other jobs or other shifts, we stopped going there. Once I made a bunch of new drinking buddies in the poker room, we started hanging out at Sierra Gold. But James went to day shift, A.C. took a new job, and me, well, I got kicked to the curb. Besides, Sierra Gold is just a little too proud of their prices, I think, and every time I go there, I end up feeling like I got shaken down Mandalay Bay style. (You Vegas veterans know what I'm talking about!)

Anyhow, now that I spend most of my time on The Strip (it only took five years!), I decided that I need a new place to go after work. All the joints out in Henderson are kind of depressing, seeing how the local economy is still in the shiatter, so I felt like I wanted to go somewhere a little more Vegas-y. And I certainly wasn't going to loiter around in my own casino after work, either.

Anyhow, after a month of commuting, I've discovered that the easiest and quickest way back to Hendertucky in the middle of the night is to make my way to Tropicana and take it east until the neon glow in the rear-view mirror disappears below the horizon. At that point, a few twists and turns aside, I am back home in the comfort of my occasionally gated community. And since the employee dining rooms I've been subject to have been less-than-stellar, I'm always starving when my shift finally ends. Besides, one can only live on Gatorade and granola bars so long... So I've been looking for a restaurant/coffee shop/bar/pub to visit a couple of times a week where I can take care of my hunger and my thirst.

Well, I need to look no longer--we have a winner. Ladies and Gentleman, a big round of applause for Casa di Amore on East Tropicana.

Oh, I've been there before. Angy and I talked about going a few times, but we never made it. I think Linda Lou and I had our pre-Thanksgiving dinner there last November. I remember it being pretty good, but I hadn't been there since.

But what got me in the door this time was the fact that somebody last week was sitting in the poker room eating some sort of damn-good-smelling Italian food from somewhere, and ever since then, I've been craving it. For days now, I've been thinking about fettucini alfredo and veal marsala, garlic bread and red wine... And every night I drive by Casa di Amore and I see that blue neon 'OPEN' sign beckoning me, yet I never stopped.

Until last night.

I had a long and busy 7-hour shift before getting cut loose, and yeah, besides being thirsty, I was pretty hungry, too. My first order of business was to stop and get a bottle of Gatorade and damn near shotgun the thing (I swear it's 110 degrees in our poker room every night, so we go through bottled water by the 55-gallon drums on swing shift), but then after that, I told myself that no matter what, I was stopping for a bite to eat at Casa di Amore on my way home.

I pulled in and parked in back (can't use the front door after midnight), and was surprised to see that they were pretty busy once I got inside. I took a seat at the bar (the exact same one the dude in the white t-shirt is sitting in in the picture) and ordered myself a Captain and Coke, with lime, of course.

For those of you that have never been there, the place just oozes that Old Vegas vibe. If it were in Jersey, you'd swear it was mobbed up. Seriously, the first time I had dinner there, I halfway expected Michael Corleone to come out of the bathroom and put a few bullets in Sollozo and McClusky at the next table. It's dark, it's got brick walls, red furniture, and lots of photos of old Vegas celebrities and casinos adorn the walls. You can almost feel the ghosts of good times past lurking around.

The bartender told me that the entire late-night bar menu was half-price from midnight until closing time at 5:00 am, so that's where I looked first--lots of appies, a selection of five or six sandwiches, and any pizza. Of course, the entire menu was available all night long, but at regular prices.

So I settled on some fried ravioli as an appetizer (and I should've stopped there). Of course, they ask you what else you want while you're sitting there hungry, so I ordered some veal parmigiana with a side of fettucini alfredo. Oh, and a glass of that MacMurray Ranch Pinot while you're at it...

The ravioli was excellent, and it came with a mild red sauce for dipping. And just as I was finishing off the last piece, thinking Man, I shouldn't have ordered dinner..., my dinner arrived. Sitting before me were three pieces of thin-pounded, breaded, pan-fried veal, covered in browned and bubbling mozzarella and a ladle full of that same house red sauce, accompanied by a too-large-by-half bowl of creamy pasta.

Of course I dove right in.

It was excellent, as expected, and a few minutes later the chef brought me out a basket of their straight-from-the-oven Italian bread, gratis, with butter.

I got about halfway through the meal when I realized that there was no way I'd ever finish. Seriously, I felt like that dude on Man Vs. Food, minus the camera crew and stupid jokes.

I gave it the ol' college effort, but gave up soon thereafter. I was so full that the idea of taking the rest home in a to-go box almost put me over the edge. So I just asked for my tab, instead. It came to almost fifty bucks (wine, plus ordering off the regular menu), but it was well worth it. And the crowd in there was a lot of fun, too. Lots of nice, friendly people sitting about the bar (not like that sketch crowd over at the Double Down), who also work the swing shift on the Strip, so it was nice to have a good conversation with strangers I could relate to.

So yeah, I'll be back. I'll stick to the late-night happy hour menu from now on (but I had to address my craving this time), and maybe have a drink or two while listening to some Rat Pack music and imagining, just for a second, that maybe Frank, Dino, and Sammy will come strolling in for a nightcap, fresh off the late show in the Copa Room.


Friday, July 09, 2010

Same As It Ever Was

Well, I thought that life was gonna get a lot less busy and that I'd have a bunch more free time on my hands now that Job #1 is history. But that's just not the case. Job #2 (the *good* job) is working my ass off.

I just got home from another lucrative night at the casino, and checking the schedule, I have to work six nights this upcoming week--I don't have another day off until next Wednesday. I'll take it, but man, it sure doesn't agree with my innate laziness. And two years of barely working 20 hours a week didn't help prepare me for this. Oh, believe me, I'm very happy to be working right now. The economy out here stills sucks like you wouldn't believe, and a lot of my contemporaries would kill to be in my position, because I've stumbled into a little gold mine this summer. I'm going to enjoy this feast as long as it lasts.

So basically, now that I'm down to just one job, I've been spending all my free time catching up on all the sleep I lost these past six or seven weeks. Usually I have Mondays and Wednesdays off (no consecutive off days for me), and my Mondays are spent in bed until late afternoon, coming off of five very hectic days of work. Wednesdays are my busy days where I'm running errands and doing my shopping and stuff like that. The rest of the time, I'm either working or trying to sleep.

So that's why I haven't been posting anything interesting lately.

Hell, even poker night this week got canceled at the last minute--all of my friends were hungover or sick, so we took the night off. It was because of Tuesday night--my phone started blowing up at work--it was all the buffoons from Job #1 telling me that there was an 'End of the Grind' party on tap for that night, and that I was to ask for an Early Out and get my ass out to Chinatown, post haste.

Apparently, some of my former co-workers had reserved a 'VIP' room in a karaoke lounge in a seedy strip mall that had three massage parlors and four different karaoke lounges as tenants. Anyhow, I found my way over there at like 2:00 in the morning and the party was going strong. There was bottle service and everything, and we had our own private 'studio' to party in. It was kind of funny, because it was some serious Asian karaoke--nothing like the stuff you're used to seeing. And instead of just words on the screen, the best part was the home-made videos they featured with every song.

Anyhow, I lasted about two hours and two drinks, then made my way home once we found out that there was no Neil Diamond or Robert Earl Keen to be had. But some of my compadres made a full night and day of it and didn't come crawling home until sometime after noon. So yeah, poker night got canceled as everyone was pretty much still in bed at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

I didn't do much--I wandered down to Sunset and had a drink with a couple of friends for an hour or two, but then I came home and stayed up all night futzing with my iPod. My old iTunes bypass software decided to take a dump, so I downloaded another thing called 'CopyTrans Manager' and man, it worked like a charm. So I messed around with that for several hours, making playlists and editing my music and such. Then I went to bed around 7:00 in the morning, but I spent another couple of hours listening to newly-loaded music before falling asleep. That was pretty much it for Thursday--I slept all day and then had to work.

Today (Friday), I'm gonna try and get up early in the afternoon and run down to Job #1 and pick up the last of my tournament tokes--they owe me about $80 or so for my last day on the job. After that, I'm pretty sure that's the last I'll hear from them.

Other than that, I still need to get down to Costco and renew my membership and do some shopping--I haven't had any of that good Mexican Coke in months, and I'm out of cashews, too. Once those errands are run, I'm gonna just relax for a bit before another crazy night in the casino gets underway.

Peace out, y'all!


Monday, July 05, 2010

And on the Seventh Week, He Rested

Finally. The worst is over. I have been burning my candle at both ends for over a month now, and I can finally relax a little bit. Job #1, such as it was, is thankfully over. I'm kinda bummed out because I had such high hopes for it, but on the other hand, it was such a grind that I was glad when it finally wound down.

I don't think that they'll be keeping me--I've heard nothing one way or the other, but that's the vibe I'm getting. I guess I'll find out for sure on Thursday when I go in and pick up my last bit of tokes. Of course I'll post my final thoughts about the experience then, too.

On the other hand, things are cooking right along at Job #2--it has exceeded all expectations, and I hope I get to stay on once the circus leaves town in a couple of weeks. I swear, I've made more money there in the last ten days than I did in the past month at Job #1, or the last two months I was at Sunset Station. It helps, also, that I've had no time to spend any of it, either. Not only that, the people I work with are top-notch, and that helps more than anything to make a job more enjoyable. I actually look forward to going to work there every night.

Anyhow--I finally have today, Monday, off. I'm so excited about being able to rest and not having to worry about making sure I have enough clean work clothes on deck to get me through a seemingly endless parade of double shifts that I barely know what to do with myself. Seriously--it feels like my life has revolved around the washing machine for the past six weeks, doing one load of blacks followed by another load of whites every other day, and getting my shirts ironed, when I had but maybe seven or eight hours a day that I was home. It really cut into my sleep time.

But all that is behind me. I'm down to one job now, and luckily, it's the good one. I can relax and do nothing. I think my plan for the day, once I go to bed (I just got home, so it's only 3:30 in the morning right now), is to just lay in bed all day like that dude in Office Space and ignore the clock and the phone. Oh, I may go do some grocery shopping and run some errands, but then again, I might not.

Of course, I'm not getting measured for the baby-blue leisure suit just yet--I'm still working my ass off at Job #2 and I only have the one day off--I'm back at it again on Tuesday. In fact, I'm on the schedule five days this week, and the other two days 'off' (not consecutive, mind you), I'm on call. So yeah, I am the casino's bitch, but at least they're paying me for it and treating me well. Back when I was the casino's bitch at Sunset, all I ever saw was their pimp-hand--I never got any of that sweet sweet lovin'.

That's all for now, kiddies. I'm tired and my bottle of Gatorade is empty. Time for a shower and about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Y'all have a lovely Monday!