Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Lights

Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, when all the women were running around to the mall looking for the latest sale on this or that, Jeremiah Green would get up early, go to the garage and get down the cardboard boxes of lights. Then he’d get out the ladder, the hammer, and the extension cords and set to work. He’d work most of the day, with a break around lunchtime for a sandwich made from yesterday’s dried-out turkey on white bread with French’s yellow mustard and Miracle whip and maybe some celery on the side with salt sprinkled on it. He’d sit on the porch in his old flannel shirt eating his turkey sandwich and celery, and crack open a Pabst from the cooler in the garage.

Helen didn’t cotton much to drinkin’ so he only had himself a beer on those rare occasions when she was gone and he had the house to himself. Most years a six-pack bought after the Fourth of July would last the rest of the year, then he’d allow himself another beer or two for New Year’s after Helen had gone to bed. She’d long since given up caring about watching some silly ball drop, figuring that she could tell it was a new year when she looked at the calendar the next morning at breakfast. The day changed every evening without her help; she didn’t need to stay up past her bedtime just to ring anything in. Jeremiah liked to watch all the commotion on the tv, so he usually stayed up and had himself a beer or two while that Clark fella nattered on until he fell asleep. Then he’d wake up sometime in the middle of the night and go to bed.

Then once he finished his turkey sandwich, Jeremiah (not once in his eighty-two years was he ever Jerry or Jer, or God forbid, Jed) would lean the ladder up against the side of the house and start to string the lights. By the time Helen got home from shopping with her sisters it would be full-on dark, and Jeremiah would be back inside watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy if she ran particularly late. Once she got home and got all her prizes deposited in the front bedroom for later wrapping and distribution, they’d go out in the front yard together and take a minute standing on the lawn of the house he bought when he got home from the war, a time he never really talked about, not even to Helen. They’d admire his handiwork, Helen would remind him to put the ladder away before they went to bed, and he’d reply that it would get done eventually, and anyway, what if there was a light burnt out? Then he’d go up to the outlet he had installed on the porch by that Reynolds boy down the street just for this purpose, and he’d plug in the main extension cord.

With that, the whole front of the house, roofline, bushes, little cedar tree by the driveway and all the porch railings burst into white light, and the whole neighborhood could tell that the holidays were upon them. There were never any colored lights, at least not since 1973 when Jeremiah shaved off those sideburns. There were never any flashing lights or strobe lights, and never any plastic Santas and reindeer on the roof. There was just a bright white celebration of the season. For over fifty years, from the time the armistice was signed and Jeremiah came home from Korea, he dragged that ladder out of the garage every November and lit up the night sky in a celebration of the season, of family, and of just being alive.

Until this year. When Helen passed in August Jeremiah sat down in that vinyl recliner in the den with a Pabst, probably the first time in thirty years he’d had a beer in August inside his house, and it seemed like he didn’t move from that chair for months. Neighbors would come to visit, to see how he was holding up, and he’d tell them, in the stoic way that octogenarian men who’ve seen young men die have, that he was doing about as well as could be expected.

As well as could be expected didn’t really amount to much, he thought to himself after the well-wishers, the pastors and deacons, the neighborhood widows and friends of his children that had moved away years before and were back in town visiting their own parents had left. As well as could be expected was getting up three times in the middle of the night to pee and being confused every single time when he went back to bed and there was no one there. As well as could be expected was fixing his own breakfast every morning and finally going into the garage to drag out the old coffee pot that Helen had wanted to toss out back twenty years ago when they got the new programmable kind but he wouldn’t let her for fear that just this thing would someday happen and he’d have to make his own coffee and be too old and near-sighted to read the instructions on the damn thing and besides, what does a coffeepot need all them damn buttons for anyhow? You just put the coffee in it, put some hot water in it, and it turns into coffee. It doesn’t need a clock in it, much less more buttons than one for off and one for on.

So as well as could be expected wasn’t really very well at all, if he would take the time to think about it. Which he didn’t, because Jeremiah was never a man to spend too much time in deep contemplation. But now, at 83, there wasn’t a whole lot left for him to do except sit. And think. And since thinking was less appealing, he managed to lose himself in some of the seventy-six channels if eternal drivel that spouted from the 19” color television that sat in the living room on top of the old console tv that had finally breathed its last some eight years ago. So Jeremiah sat. And watched tv. And that’s how most days went. He watched tv until bedtime, watched the late news and went to bed, where he lay awake listening to the silence beside him until sleep finally took him off for a couple of hours at a time.

So on this Friday after Thanksgiving, instead of listening to Helen get up at the crack of dawn to go shopping with her sisters, then getting up to drink the coffee she left for him in the machine he never did figure out how to operate, then heading out to the garage to start on the decorations, he sat. He turned on the tv and watched a little bit of that, then fixed himself a dry turkey sandwich with Miracle Whip from the leftovers from the turkey that the Methodist women brought by on Wednesday.

He ran out of mustard last week and kept forgetting to put it on the list that hung on the refrigerator. If he didn’t write it down, he wouldn’t remember to get it when he went grocery shopping this Sunday, either. He had taken to grocery shopping at eleven on Sundays so he didn’t have to worry about seeing any of the church women in the store. Helen had always been real active in the church, but with her gone he didn’t see much sense in him going. He figured he and God still had a few things they needed to sort out from about fifty years ago, but they were the sort of things a man needed to talk through with his maker face to face, and going to church wouldn’t do him a whole lot of difference one way or the other.

As he was sitting, not really enjoying his mustardless sandwich but not really not liking it either, he started to hear some rattling around in his garage. The neighborhood, which had been full of young veterans when they moved in all these years ago, had seen its ups and downs, and was currently on the beginning of one of the up periods, which was to say that there were a lot more people living there at the moment who could be considered down than up, but in general they were hard-working people who didn’t cause too much trouble. The people on the tv liked to talk about it as a neighborhood “in transition,” but Jeremiah just thought that was a fancy way of saying there were some poor people that lived there, some white people, some black people and some Mexicans thrown in for good measure. There was some crime, sure, but in general it was decent place to live. But when he heard somebody rattling around in his garage, he didn’t run out to go look and see what they might be stealing.

It’s not that he was afraid that whoever was in his garage might hurt him. He’d known pain at different times in his life, you didn’t make it past fourscore years on this earth without getting hurt more than once, but he just really wasn’t that interested. And as the day wore on and the noise in his garage continued, he finally decided that if there was something worth taking out there they should have already took it and left him alone, so he went to the back door and stuck his head out to yell at whatever hooligans were back there. But by this time whatever perpetrators there had been were already gone, so all he saw was a closed garage door and a q quiet back yard. He went back inside and dozed in front of his tv for the rest of the afternoon, watched a little football, not that he knew or cared anything about any of the schools playing, but it was something to pass the time, and napped a little more.

Along about seven o’clock, he started to listen for Helen’s sister Mary’s car, and then remembered that Mary didn’t drive anymore after she got so blind they took her license away last summer, and besides, she wasn’t going to be dropping Helen off tonight anyhow. But as he stood in his kitchen alone, feeling once again the lost feeling of someone who is missing something that he just can’t quite put his finger on what it is, there was a knock at his front door. He had left all the porch lights off to keep folks from coming by to check on him since he didn’t really feel like sharing another afternoon of how you holdin’ ups with somebody who he didn’t really give much of a damn about and he figured didn’t give much of a damn about him either, so the knock was a little surprising. He figured it was a kid, since they weren’t usually smart enough to figure out that when the porch light wasn’t on it meant that the body inside didn’t want to be bothered.

So he made his way through the darkened house to the front door, and pulled it open to find an empty porch. He looked around for a minute, confused, before he saw it laying over to the right of the door. It was an orange extension cord with a red bow tied to the end of it. On the bow was a card, and Jeremiah reached down and pulled the card off the end of the card and read it.

“Dear Mr. Jeremiah,

We are sorry that your wife died. We are sorry that you are sad, and that you didn’t want to put your pretty lights up this year. We hope we did it good and it will make you a little happy.
Feliz Navidad,

Jose y Hector Garcia (from across the street)”

Jeremiah stood there for a minute looking around, not really knowing what to think, when he looked up and saw two boys looking out of a living room window across the street. The bigger one looked like he was about thirteen, and the little one looked to be maybe eight. The big one just watched him, but when the little one saw him looking, he waved excitedly, indicating that Jeremiah should plug in the cord.

So he did, and he walked out on his lawn to see his house lit up just like it was every year, with white lights on the little cedar tree by the driveway, on the porch railings, on all the bushes on the front of the house, and even on the roofline, although how those little boys got all the way up there he had no idea. Until he saw his ladder leaning up against the side of the house just like he did every year until after he got everything working just right. He stood there for a minute imagining he could feel a smaller hand in his own as he stood there on his lawn not quite as alone as he’d been a couple hours before, then he turned around, nodded to the two boys in the window, one waving like his arm was one a spring, and one nodding back solemnly, gathered his ladder, and put it away in his garage until after New Year’s.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Day 1

In an effort to force myself to write more, and to take more pictures to decide if I can justify the expense of a digital SLR camera instead of the cheap-o Kodak digital I've been rockin' for the past year, I've launched the picture a day plan. This is kinda ambitious, so I reserve the right to fail.

I want to take at least one picture every day for a year of something I see. Most of the time I'll write about them, so hopefully this will spur me to write more. Here's today;s entry.

This was the window dressing that my employees put up in my office when I was at LDI in October. I came home to a lovely set of My Little Pony drapes in my office. I've left them there. It starts conversations, alright. And says a lot about the industry I work in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is Twitter killing my blog?

Well, it certainly hasn't helped it. I do find myself twitttering all the short, random shit that I would typically post here, and with work getting busy I'm having to retrain myself to post more regularly. This week was certainly interesting, with getting back from Vegas, being home for almost 48 hours then taking a work trip across the state, managing to injure myself along the way and then spending 36 hours practically bedridden.

So we got out of Vegas before the snow, and I made my tight connection in Chicago with about 10 minutes to spare. I won the exit row lottery on both my return flights, and there was no one in the middle seat from Chaicago to Charlotte, so that was a comfy flight. I don't really remember the Vegas-Chicago leg, because I was asleep before our wheels left the ground and was barely awake when we landed. So I got home ahead of Suzy and Bonnie, and they got in safely, and all was right with the world.

Tuesday was my only day in the office, because I had a meeting planned in Manteo on Thursday afternoon. Manteo is about as far away as you can get while still being in North Carolina. When they called that part of the world the Outer Banks, they weren't kidding. So my plan was to work Tuesday and Wednesday, drive halfway to Manteo Wednesday night, and finish the trip for a 1PM meeting Thursday. Except my project manager's wife sprained her ankle over the weekend so he had to drive her to work every day. Which precluded him from making a site visit in Greenville (NC) on Wednesday. So I took that visit, which cut out my planned Wednesday in the office. The site meeting was fine, just a basic walk-through with the electricians, and then I was off to Manteo.

The Lost Colony is one of the longest-running outdoor dramas in the US, if not the oldest. It tells the story of the first colony on Roanoke Island, and the first English child born in the US, Virginia Dare. It also explores the mystery of the vanished colony on Roanoke Island, without giving us any answers, because frankly, we don't know what happened to those people. We helped them with a major infrastructure renovation last summer, so they want us to work with them over the next two years to fully renovate all their lighting. So I headed out there to meet with the Executive Director and several guys from the National Park Service (because Roanoke Island is a national park) to talk about the plans for that.

It was a good meeting, and we've prettty much got the gig, and it was neat to walk around that facility, that's seen the work of several theatrical giants. Terrence Mann (Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast) has directed there for several years. Andy Griffith got his acting start there, and the current costume and production designer is a little guy who some folks in the theatre world might have heard of - William Ivey Long. William is one of NC's most famous theatrical sons, with 5 Tony awards to his credit. So there's a lot of history there, and the absolute coolest back stage I've ever been on. It backs up right on the water, to the point where if the wind is blowing over the water, you get wet standing back there. There's probably 10' from the back stage area to the water, so that's pretty cool.

Then I drove most of the way home, waking up in the middle of the night with a screaming pain in my right foot. I made it through the night sleeping intermittently, and then drove the 4 hours back to Charlotte and went to an urgent care joint. Turns out that the tendon that extends my big toe has become inflamed from all the driving and walking that I've done over the past two weeks. So the doc gave me one of the dorky post-op shoes, some anti-inflammatory drugs and told me to stay off it for a day or two. It's mostly better now, as long as I keep the Cataflam in me, so hopefully I'll be able to finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow night. Or at least start my Christmas shopping tomorrow night. Suzy gave me her list, so I've got some guidelines, just need to get the wheel back in shape so I can do it.

So today was all about catching up on my movie watching, which so far consisted of War, Inc. (highly recommend), one episode of Numb3rs, which I had never seen before (not bad), two episodes of Eleventh Hour (which I am oddly enamored with), two episodes on NCIS with Suzy (which we both love) and Stealth (which was every bit as cheesy as I thought). Tomorrow we have Christmas with Suzy's fam, then some shopping, then the Sunday Warm-up on Stars, then the huuuuge Sunday night game with the Panthers and Giants. Then back to work for another short week on Monday. I like short work weeks. Unless I have a bunch of stuff to do, in which case I hate them. But I've lined most of my stuff up so I don't have too much cooking until the first of the year, so we should be good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is not a WPBT trip report

Just a few disjointed thoughts from the weekend.

I got in a few hours ahead of Suzy and my sis Bonnie, who was making her first-ever plane ride, and got completely bomber at the IP. Thanks to everyone who bought me a drink, thanks to everyone who drank with me, and damn you all for how I felt Friday morning (and early afternoon). Overall the whole weekend was a great success, I thought. We all got together, we all drank a little (or a lot), some of us got married, one of us won a poker tournament, some of us won money, some of us lost money, but we all had a good time in each other's company.

Thanks to all the friends, old and new, who I saw this weekend. You guys inspired me to write again, if not significantly more frequently. I am always amazed at the feeling of closeness I have with people that I see for only a few days once or twice a year. In one of those rare quiet islands of thought right in the middle of the chaos, Iggy and I stood in the middle of everyone at the Geisha Bar, looked around, and just shook our heads at the insanity of what we are. We're a group of incredibly disparate individuals, who, almost by accident, became something bigger and better than ourselves.

Walking back to the bus after Gracie and Pablo's wedding, I was trailing along in the back of the pack and could overhear Pablo talking to his mom, and one thing that he kept saying really resonated with me. He said more than once "we're so blessed." He was incredibly touched that a pile of people would ride in a bus down to the magistrate's office in Las Vegas to see them get married off, but it's a lot more than that. I feel blessed to have you people in my life. I know that you're out there, my invisible internet friends, and that if I ever need you, all I need to do is call. It's really amazing the strength of the network that we've built.

Sure we might not all play the blogger tournaments. Some of us can barely be considered poker bloggers with all the other stuff we write about (yeah, I mean me). But the connection is real. We've laughed together, cried together, drank FAR too much booze together, raised money for good causes together, and made compete idiots of ourselves in public together. But this weekend reminded me that somehow, with all the different lists, and generations of bloggerdom, and groups within groups, that just walking up and saying "I'm (insert blogger name here)" and being a decent person is an instant ticket into something really kinda special. Something I'm honored to be part of.

I'll ramble more about the weekend at some point, but right now I'm in the cadillac of Fairfield Inns in Williamston, NC (I don't really know where that is, either), and it's almost time to look for food. I slept in my bed for two nights in a row, which is kind of a big deal lately, and now I'm on the road again. I think it calms down for a week after this, but then the Monday after Christmas I'm back in the ATL. So if any of you boys down there wanna sling some cards early in that week, let me know. I'll be there Monday and Tuesday nights, driving home for New Year's.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not bad for a first day...

It went pretty well, I think. I'll admit to some trepidation coming into this meeting, but I think I got across the point that I'm not here to replace anyone, and that no one will lose their job because I'm working here now. The office has done well, but I think that I can help them find some new markets to explore, and work on increasing profits. That's the kind of thing that I'm good at, finding new ways to do things in our industry and maximizing the amount of money that we make. I also think I managed to convince them that I'm going to support them, and not try to change everything that they're doing just for the sake of change.

So I'm in Atlanta until Wednesday afternoon, when I drive home to pack for our trip to Las Vegas. Then it's a weekend of drinking and degeneracy with my invisible internet friends. We've got about 70 people lined up for our Tourney at 3PM at the Venetian, and I told them to plan for 90 or so, so if you wanna play, show up.

Looks like I'm gonna be back in the ATL every couple of weeks for the foreseeable future, with my next trip coming the week between Christmas and New Year's. I'll likely get down here Sunday night and leave on Wednesday again, so if anybody wants to get together for a drink or some cards, lemme know. I didn't try to get together with anybody this trip because I was unsure about how the trip would go, so we'll have to hook up next time. Now I'm in my hotel room watching the Panthers/Bucs game (which might decide the future of the entire NFC), and getting ready for tomorrow.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Yeah, it was a Facebook/Twitter tease...

When I said I could talk about my promotion and then didn't talk about my promotion. Thanks to everyone who sent congrats, and thanks again to everyone who sent congrats (and/or incredulous comments about the longevity of my marriage, I'm just as baffled as you are) on our anniversary yesterday. All I can really say to that is that a bunch of you have met my wife (and if you haven't she'll be the short blonde I'm hanging around with next weekend, introduce yourself) and you know she's a doll. She's a doll with the patience of Job to put up with my sorry ass and all my degenerate gambling and travel.

Which leads me to the promotion, because that travel is about to increase, at least for the next couple of years.

Jeez, I've reached the point in my life and career when I can reasonably project a quantity of work for more than the next two weeks. Never thought I'd see that shit.

A lot of you know what I do - I'm the Systems Division Manager for a large theatrical lighting company, which means that I design and install lighting and rigging systems for theatres, churches, high school auditoriums, tv studios, high-end architectural projects, casinos, etc. Well, for the past several years I've been the head of the systems group for our Charlotte office. This week I accepted the promotion to head up the Atlanta office's systems group as well. Atlanta has been without a systems manager for a couple of years, and since the two offices are run together as one company (it gets complicated), everyone decided that I would be a good choice to lead that office for the near future.

Which is cool. It's a whole new set of challenges, a whole new set of personalities to learn, a whole new set of opportunities to help folks grow and flourish. It also means that I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the ATL in the foreseeable future. Like one out of every three weeks is kinda what I'm thinking for right now. Might go to half a week every two weeks, might be less, might be more. As we all get comfortable with each other and start to figure things out, we'll figure out how much time I need to have boots on the ground.

Which also means that I will not be doing much theatre for the next little while, because week-long trips out of town really bite into the whole rehearsal process thing. Good thing I was trying to take a hiatus, huh? Since now I'm going to be taking a hiatus regardless.

I'm looking forward to this. It's the first time in a while that there has been something staring me in the face that's actually really challenging. The guys in Atlanta have done a great job without my help to this point, so hopefully I won't screw up their groove. The hope is that I can cross-pollinate some ideas between the two groups and boost sales and profitability for both teams. My first trip is next week, Mon-Wed. So if I look like I REALLY need a drink when you see me Thursday, then it didn't go well. Or I'm just beat from the week/weekend which includes the following schedule.

Saturday - Get up, recap LAPT and APPT for Pokernews. Go get oil change. Go get haircut. Get tires rotated, too. Go perform in final show of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. Go to cast party. Try to drink with the cast, most of whom were in grade school when Suzy and I got married (that realization last night sucked).

Sunday - Get up at a ridiculous hour for a Sunday and cover the World Cup of Poker for PokerStars. Recap the LAPT and APPT. Nap. Cover the Sunday Warm-Up for PokerStars. Drive part of the way to Atlanta.

Monday - Wed. - Meet with my new team in Atlanta. Try to let them know that no one is fired and they all rock, I'm just there to make them rock harder. Wednesday drive home to CLT, pack for Vegas. Cover EPT Deauville for Pokernews while I'm there.

Thursday - Go to Vegas. Party like a rock star. Avoid getting wheelchair drunk.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's that time.

No, not the time that we all get together and get drunk in Las Vegas (although that time is coming fast upon us).

No, not the time that we eat too much (although that is also true).

No, not tech week for another show (Elegies for Angels, Punks & Raging Queens, opens Thursday).

It's time to do something nice for somebody else. I don't know about the rest of the world, but this weekend saw the beginnings of winter-type weather in North Carolina. And there are people out there who are cold. And hungry. And folks that can't buy Christmas presents for their kids.

And that sucks.

Since I obviously am willing to spend more than my fair share of money on myself (note new television, Xbox and home theatre system) I decided after reading the paper this morning that it's time to spend a little of my money on other people. Or more to the point, to give it away. So I'm gonna donate some of the money that I get from this here blog this month to the Salvation Army. And I've put a widget on my blog to let you do the same. It's called an online red kettle, and the money goes to help people who can't help themselves.

The economy sucks right now, and it's the duty of all good bleeding hearts like me to help out the folks that are a little more screwed than we are. So if you've got a few bucks to spare, please click on the link and help out somebody who needs it. It's good karma, and we could all use some of that. And frankly, there but for the grace of whatever you believe in go you and I.

So lend a hand. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

After all that...

It's a statement on how sick I ran earlier this year to realize that as badly as I've run since July that I'm actually still in the black playing poker for the year. Goals for December's trip to Vegas -

1) Don't play 2/4 unless it's in the same way as I play blackjack or pai gow - as pure entertainment.

2) Ditto blogger mixed games.

3) Play NLHE when it's time to play real poker, and play it like I've got a little bit of sense.

Frankly, if I could do #3 more often I'd be way more ahead than I am, particularly in home games. My biggest leak is tossing just a buck or two in there (again and again and again) for the ridiculous factor if I hit with those crap cards. I'll never take a home game as seriously as an opportunity to take money from strangers, but when the stacks are $300+ deep at a home game, perhaps I should treat it with a little more caution and respect my dramatically reduced bankroll with a little more respect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Far...

This is who I have for the tournament at the Venetian in a couple of weeks. If you're not on the list, let me know if you wanna play. A few people that I haven't heard from yet include -

Miami Don
Mr. Subliminal

So let me know if you're not one of the folks below and still want in -

Bad Blood
CA April
Bakini Mary
Astin's Buddy
Dawn Summers
Buddy Dank
Joe Speaker
Johhny Hughes
Dr. Chako

So if I've forgotten that you emailed me or left a comment, please do so again. I drink a lot this time of year and have been known to forget things. If you wanna play, but haven't let me know, please do so quickly. I'm giving Tim at the Venetian our list on Monday the 8th, so if I don't have your info by then, you're SOL. If you're on the list, and mentioned a friend, I have that info as well.

See you in a couple of weeks!

And you plan on playing. Even if you're a "maybe," it's better to set it up for too many people than to have too few seats.

Looking forward to seeing all of you!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Then there was poker...

Of a sort. Most of the gang was out of town, so we played 5-handed at Brian's joint this weekend. It was fun, if a little gassy. With no chicas in the room, the boys felt even less restraint than normal, and I'm just glad no one lit a match. And that pillow I was sitting on? Yeah, sacrificial cushion. It should be burned. I finished the night down by about $40, nothing tremendously notable happened except me picking up aces in back-to-back hands. Me and Jim got it all in preflop and his Queens didn't find a friend, so that was the night's first rebuy.

There were many more. Almost all of them by me & Jim. It could have been ugly, but we mostly passed the same money around the table for 5-6 hours. Sunday I cracked open Assassin's Creed for the first time (new Xbox 360) and whenever I got ill watching the Panthers game (which was often) I switched over to the game. Badass. I'm taking recomendations on what I should put on my Xmas list. I currently have Fable 2, Assassin's Creed, Elder Scrolls Oblivion (I think, whatever the Elder Scrolls game is), Lego Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda (they came with the Xbox, don't ask). I want Left4Dead, but not sure what else is badass enough. I have GH3 for Wii, so I'm probably gonna get World Tour for that. So make your recommendations.

Sunday was also all about moving heavy shit. When we got the LCD tv for the den (which is actually for the bedroom but is currently in the den, don't ask) we decided to give our old TV to Suzy's dad to replace his 1980-ish tv. Which was great, except that a 32" Sony Trinitron WEGA is a monster of a TV, so it was all Tim and I could do to get the TV into his apartment. If there had been more stairs it probably wouldn't have happened. Then I had to hook everything up, because that's kinda my gig. So I did that, got all hot and sweaty, then went home to see my team get crushed by a division rival and move into 2nd on the division (since we currently lose the tie-breaker with Tampa based on an earlier loss to Tampa).

This weekend we have some distinguished visitors from up north in the region for turkey day, so I'll be rolling south to Greer to play cards. Check out Bad Blood's blog for the lineup from hell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Continuing the streak

Of a post a week, whether I needs it or not. Really, there are even things going on. I've even played a little poker. Wanna hear about it?

Didn't think so.

Still don't care. Here goes.

At long last, the Falstaff home game made a resurgence Saturday night with a table full to overflowing. T, Jim, Nate, Brian, Little Nick joined the party, as well as you intrepid host and a couple of bloggers from around town and from down south. We even had an old friend Carver show up for a little while, but he hit his stop/loss mark early and packed it in.

The night started off poorly for yours truly, as I bled out my first two buy-ins in short order. Nothing really spectacular happened, I just picked up a lot of second-pair hands and missed a lot of draws. I reloaded for a hundred (first two buy-ins were for $50), and decided I might want to play a little poker at some point before I gave away ALL my money.

Nate started the night like Nate starts, by running over the table. I picked up a decent pot from him on a hand where I called him down with second pair, decent kicker because I knew that it was good, then I hit him with an absolutely sick beat. I picked up Q-J in late position and called a raise from Nate, because his raises mean either he has a small pair or that he has any random ace. Well when the flop came down K-J-X and Nate led out for a huge bet, I assumed that he probably had either a small pair or a worse Jack. I moved all in for not much more, and picked up a Queen on the turn.

I said "I now have two pair." Brian looked over at Nate and said "that's not enough." I tabled my two pair, and Nate turned over pocket Jacks for the set. At this point Jim doomed Nate by saying that he folded a Queen, and sure enough, the case queen hits the river and I go runner-runner one-outer for the double-up. It was only fair that Jim return the favor, since I did the same thing to Special K earlier in the night when Jim was on a flush draw and behind K's hand when I mentioned that I folded the same flush draw. Boom, club on the river and K goes for a rebuy.

I picked up a couple other decent hands, and dragged a couple of big pots (or at least 3/4 of a couple of big pots) in Omaha to finish the night up a bit after being stuck bad early. I think most folks had a good time, even though nobody hit hands like Jim did. Looking like a couple of game possibilities this week, assuming I make it through the work week. Got a monster of a project that I'm pricing out, and if I get this one, my quota for '09 is pretty secure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter Gathering Tournament Update

Here's the deal -

Private Blogger Tournament
Venetian Poker Room
Saturday, December 13th
$135 ($100 buy-in, $25 juice, $10 toke)

Please email me your real name and blogger name if you want in. I need to let Tim at the Venetian know by a week beforehand. If you have FOBs (friends of bloggers) who want in, let me know how many.

You have to have a Venetian Player's Card to play, so if you don't have one, get there early.

Bring knockout bounties, that's the coolest part of a blogger gathering.

Friday, November 07, 2008

In which we write about poker for a change

So there have been a couple of trips to Vegas since I last regularly updated this here blog (yeah, sorry about that, been a really busy time in the non-blog life, and not much going on at the home game, so not much fodder for the blog. Hell, you should just follow me on twitter, I ramble less there anyway), so I figured I should probably write about them at some point.

I went out for Sir Brian the Red's 40th birthday, hit a high hand jackpot and still lost $1,600 in five days.

That one's out of the way, at least.

Most of it was only due to moderately donkish play, but a lot of bad situations that I should have been good enough to get out of, but wasn't. It happens. Meh.

Then I went back less than two weeks later for work. I took Suzy along so she could mooch free meals off of manufacturers and we added a day off on the front end and back end. I covered the front end and Suzy's tournament success in another post, but the day at the back end was a lot of fun and pretty relaxing, actually. We got up whenever we felt like it and wandered over to see the tiger cubs at the Mirage. They were every bit as ridiculously cute as you would expect, and the baby dolphin was also adorable. We had a good time with that, then wandered down to the Bellagio to see the fall decor at the conservatory.

In addition to being a costumer, Suzy loves the flowers, so she was in hog heaven. The fairies and watermill were very cool, and the big tree with eyes that followed you around the room was pretty spiffy. Nice lighting, too (it is, after all, kinda my gig). Then we watched the fountain show, which never really gets old for me. We had a decent, if less extravagant than the business dinners we'd had the previous three nights, and I headed down to the poker room at the IP to see how life was going there. We were stuck about $650 for the trip, and I wanted to make a last surge and book a win before we left. I sat in the open seat at a 1/2 table and bought in for $100. I've taken to buying short while I try to figure out the table, and if it's soft enough, I build that up quickly enough. If the table's tough, I probably blow through a hundy pretty quickly and just head off in search of greener pastures.

This looked like a pretty good table, with one kid wearing the whole getup, iPod, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses at night, the whole deal. I figured he was either going to double me up or stack me, because that's kinda how you earn your Junior Douchebag merit badge nowadays. He was a decent player, and he and his buddy were in town from Colorado. That actually helped me evaluate how to play him, since Colorado also has no legal real poker (but they did just pass a law allowing you to bet up to $100, I think, which should help the games there quite a bit), so he either was an online guy without much live experience or just a kid without much live experience. I pegged him as someone who was very impressed with himself and figured I could take advantage of that a little.

I was right and wrong. He was impressed with himself. He didn't have much live experience. And he did double me up. But he was a good player, and I got lucky to get money out of him. The first time we tangled I picked up Aces in middle position and raised to $11. The table had been pretty tight, and my "yo to go" raise was a little stiff. I was pretty surprised when Junior re-popped me to $45, but since I had about $150 in front of me, I shrugged and stuck it all in the middle. He thought for a long time before finally laying it down, and by the way he agonized, I narrowed his range to just a few hands. He claimed Queens, and I believe it. He was a little too proud of the laydown for it to be anything smaller, and only a very few people fold Kings preflop.

A few hands later he went on uber-tilt when he folded what he claimed was pocket tens preflop in the face of a raise and a three-bet and the flop came out 10-high. The three-bettor's aces held up, and Junior was pissed. A little bit after this I picked up A-10 in late position and called a preflop raise. Flop came down Q-J-9, and I called a small bet from Junior looking for my gutshot. A player behind me went all in for not much more, and Junior and I both called. The turn was an 8, and I had to double-check to realize that I'd actually been double-gutted and now had the second nuts with a redraw to the nuts.

The action checked around, and when a King hit the river, I led out with a bet of about half my remaining stack. Junior went into the tank for a bit before making the crying call, and whined about his K-10 getting cracked by me hitting a 3-outer on the river. I might have mentioned something about him not being allowed to cry when he checked the turn and let me get there, but my recollection was a little fuzzy. I thought about playing more to try and exploit his tilt, but when I almost missed my straight on the turn realized that I wasn't thinking straight and racked up. So I made a nice little comeback, due in large part to a couple of lucky hands, but that's kinda how that happens.

Conservative does not equal bigoted

I was a little disturbed to see this article on CNN today. Obviously, when you lose a bunch of seats in Congress and a presidential election, a party is going to be a bit in disarray. But I think this is a little wrong-headed -

Pointing to measures in California, Florida and Arizona barring same-sex marriage that passed Tuesday, Perkins said President-elect Barack Obama's election did not mean the country had embraced liberal social views.

"There was clearly no mandate to shift the country to the left on social issues," Perkins said. "What Tuesday was, was a fact that people wanted change, and it's a rejection of a moderate view."

This bugs me a little. I know a lot of conservatives (and on some issues am one myself), and I know a lot of bigots. They aren't mutually exclusive, but by no means does being one automatically grant inclusion into the other group. In my never-ever-humble opinion, a big chunk of what you saw this week had practically nothing to do with social issues, and was almost entirely about economic issues. People saw a Republican in the White House, their 401(k) plan in the shitter, and voted in the other direction. It certainly didn't hurt that Obama was the most inspiring political speaker I've seen in my lifetime, but if we'd been cruising along with cheap gas and a Dow over 12,000, it may have been a whole different outcome on Tuesday.

But the politics of hate are not going to be successful much longer, and that's what Prop 8 was about. If the Census Bureau is right, then in 2042 (significantly less far away than it once seemed) non-white people will outnumber white people in the US. That means that if you're only appealing to white people, you're going to increasingly have issues in the upcoming years. And the narrow Gingrich/Rove politics of the recent GOP will continue to have issues.

For the record, I'm not a Democrat. I'm a fiscally conservative socially liberal registered independent who voted a split-party ticket for both state and local elections, and I'm a little disturbed to see the huge Democratic majority in my local government now. I think it's better when there's some dissent, and would like to see the Republicans take back at least one house of Congress in the mid-term elections to create that dissent. I know a lot of people consider my support for Obama to not be fiscally conservative, but I at least hope he remembers what it was like to be broke, and tries to look out a little more for lower-income folks than McCain, who has never been poor. But hey, the only thing I'm really an expert on is my opinion, so there it is.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Day

Today is the day. The day that (unless we have a repeat of the ungodly limbo of 2000) that all the noise will be over. So maybe tomorrow we can all be friends again.

I apologize to anyone who I have hurt by my words and opinions through this election season. It was never my intent. I think that it was very easy to get caught up in the fervor of the moment and cast broad aspersions that hit closer to home than I intended, and for that I'm sorry.

I hope you get out and vote. I don't care for who. If you wanna vote for the old white guy, go for it. If you wanna vote for the less old black dude, go for it. If you wanna vote for Bob Barr, then go for it.

I stood in line for over 6 hours on Saturday to vote, and would do it again. I saw people that were inspired by politics for the first time in their life. I saw people who were re-energized about what role they could play in deciding the leadership of our country, and all that was very heartening. I hope they paid as much attention to the local races as to the national one.

That's what unfortunately gets lost in the hype of a presidential election - the races where your vote not only counts, but is critical. The county council races, the state senate races, the gubernatorial races. Those are the races where you can affect real change, and the ones where you should pay the most, not the least, attention.

I had a moment to chat in line with the chairman of the Mecklenburg County Commission. She was out campaigning on Saturday and pushing for the bond referendum. I told her that while she still had my vote, I was unlikely to vote for the bond package because I thought that this would be a terrible time for the county to borrow money. She then explained that the bond package was merely asking permission to borrow money at a later date, and that the county manager had already told the commission, who agreed, that they shouldn't borrow any money until 2010 at the earliest. I then told her what a crap job they had all done selling the bonds and that given that information, and the fact that I like the greenways we have for me to ride my bike on, I could vote for the bonds at that point.

We also chatted briefly about her compatriots on the Democratic At-Large ticket, and she expressed high hopes that these new folks would be elected. I told her I would likely be voting a split ticket, as I think Dan Ramirez does a good job on the County Commission, and that a lot of people would likely do the same. But that got me thinking - why do people vote a straight ticket? I have actually never voted a straight-party ticket and always felt like it was the province of the true believer (or the truly brainwashed) within a party. Since I think 99 44/100% of all politicians are assholes, I can't really be considered a true believer in either party.

But I realized something today that I hadn't really thought of (and feel free to respond with a "DUH!") - it's also the province of the lazy. People that don't want to take the time to think about individual candidates can vote a straight-party ticket and not have to do all that troublesome reading. You can decide whether you want to be an ass or an elephant, blue or red, and just vote that way. To me, it's a copout. If you're true believer that's one thing (but there's probably a little copout there, too), but if you're not a dyed-in-the-wool whatever, isn't part of your job to study the candidates for office, or not vote for that office?

I admit to not voting for judges in this election because I hadn't researched them. T gave me a list of Republican judges so I could vote the other way if I wanted. but all the flyers people were passing out in line talked about judges who were for "change." Well, call me crazy, but I don't want a district court judge who's looking for change. I want a judge that's looking to uphold. As in, uphold the laws that other people write. I know, what kind of liberal am I if I don't want activist judges? But I don't.

There was probably a point there somewhere, and if you find it, let me know. Anyway - go vote. It's your job.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

This is how controversy gets started...

So after I spent 6 1/2 hours waiting to vote, and I'm finishing up, I notice a woman being turned away and told that she can't vote because she doesn't have the right documentation. Now, I wasn't asked for any documentation, but I've been a registered voter in Mecklenburg County for a long time, and this is (I think) the 3rd presidential election that I've voted in since moving here. And we had one of the volunteer voting dudes (I don't know what the board of elections volunteers are called) come outside and explain to the crowd the following -

If you are registering to vote today, you must have photo ID and something the proves you reside in Mecklenburg County with you.

Now North Carolina allows you to register and vote the same day if you're doing early voting, which I didn't know until I looked up the early voting sites online. But if you're registering to vote, you have to have proof of residence, and a photo ID.

All good, right?

Now if you're a registered voter and you've voted in your county before (like me) you only have to prove your identity by telling them your name and address.

I did find it interesting that I was not asked to provide my birthdate, while the guy beside me and the woman behind me at the sign-in kiosk were asked for this additional piece of information.

Now the controversy begins here - If you are a registered voter and you have not voted in this county before, you must show a photo ID to prove that you are you. But according to the poll observer outside (because he was kicked out by the lady running the voting room over this disagreement) that is only to prove that you are you, and is not required to match the address given. For example, you could use a passport, which is a government-issued photo ID, but does not display your address. According to the woman in the voting room, if your photo ID does not show an address in Mecklenburg County, and you don't have proof of residence with you, then you can't vote, even if you have a voter registration card showing you're registered in Mecklenburg County and a photo ID showing that you are you.

So at least a couple of people waited in line for hours today only to be told that they couldn't vote because they registered early and only had their driver's license with them. Now we'll ignore for the moment the fact that you're supposed to immediately get a new driver's license when you move to a new state, and just say that this is the kind of thing that makes a fuss. Especially when the poll workers are all one level of pigmentation and the voters turned away (and asked to provide birthdays when I wasn't) are another level of pigmentation. I choose to believe that it is a misunderstanding of the finer points of election law rather than some underhanded desire to prevent people from voting, but I'm not the media types.

I just put it on the internet, but that's not media, right? Interestingly enough, there were no McCain supporters to be found anywhere in line around me. Are Republicans scared to vote in my neighborhood even in broad daylight? I thought they had all the firepower?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I can't imagine

Being a fat guy, and riding a bike (albeit far less than I should), it was inevitable that I became a fan of the Fat Cyclist blog. If you haven't read it and have any interest in cycling, you should check it out. But right now he's going through about the worst thing I can imagine - he's watching his wife die of cancer. If you've got a minute, stop by and wish him well, lend him a little of your strength. Right now he needs it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Return of the grievous degenerate

With apologies to Gram Parsons, of course. There's a valid question at the end, so skip ahead if you want.

I'm back in Charlotte-town after what seems like a month away, when in reality it was more like a week. I was back in Vegas, this time ostensibly for work, but at a trade show in the entertainment industry, that often equates to a fair amount of play. Not to be so this time, I was at the show or in meetings/dinners with manufacturers for 12-14 hours every day, leaving very little time for the pokering.

Suzy and I headed out a day early, in hopes of getting some festivities out of the way before the festivities began, as it were. We met up with CK and F-Train for lunch, and along for the ride was surprise guest brdweb, who was just finishing up some training for work. Or at least that was the claim. And he didn't look like he'd been rolled by a hooker, so I guess he was telling the truth. We dug in at the Pizza Palace at the IP, which at $5.50 for two slices and a soda, is the best lunch value on the strip, then wandered downstairs for some gambool. We lost a little at let it ride, then a little at craps, then found the douchebaggiest dealer in the world at a 3-Card Poker table (or maybe Suzy and I played 3-Card alone, and the d-bag was at Let it Ride, I can't remember). So after we lost a little there, decided to wander over to the Mirage to see the baby tigers.

Yeah, that was the idea, anyway. So we met up with John and Barry, two of my work buddies who had just gotten in and were starving since they were still rockin' the East Coast time and felt like it was dinner. We'd just eaten two hours earlier, but really, do you think I miss many meals? So we hung with them at Japonais at Mirage for a bit and managed to crush our way through $400 worth of sushi pretty easily.

If there's a cheap but good sushi joint in Vegas and you want to make an excursion there in December, lemme know.

So after that we ambled over to the poker room where F-Train and brdweb were playing 3/6 and CK took a seat in a 5/10 Omadraw game while Suzy and I got on a 3/6 list. We ended up getting seats, but then everyone else wandered off. We played for a little while until some asshat at the end of the table decided he didn't approve of all the "conversation" at our end of the table. You know, obviously out of hand things like my wife asking me "how much is it to me?" and "can I raise?" that kind of stuff. So since the old asshat made a stink about us talking, the dealer instructed Suzy to ask questions only to her (which is correct), but I still racked up as soon as Suzy felted the old fuck and he had to rebuy. So we took his money and left.

Now I realize that there are regulars that a casino has to cater to somewhat, and I don't have an issue with the dealer doing her job. My issue, and it's becoming more of one the more I play casino poker, is with the old fucks. Don't get me wrong, I like some older people, and I'm making a generalization here, but there's a bunch of nasty old fucks at a poker table. If you want proof that I like some old people, ask Jim, or better yet, Nate. He's older than Moses and I like him just fine.

But you get these old fucks who show up and buy in short, don't ever give any action, and shoot every fucking angle they can think of. I see a guy in WWII ball cap, and I assume I'm gonna see a slowroll at some point. These assclowns call you down with bottom pair, no kicker, and then bet out when they hit their second pair, but don't want to turn their hand over at showdown until after you table top pair and they know they're good, regardless of whether they're acting in turn or not. They'll fold out of turn, fake a bet and check, grab chips to fake a call to induce a check, fake a muck and bet, all kinds of rinky-dink asshattery that slows down the game, but they'll be the first to jump on you if you do something they don't approve of. Because they are the arbiter of the game, of course.

And they're not there to haver fun. They're not there to make money, because really, at the lowest limits, limit poker in a casino is pretty much unbeatable mathematically. They exist only to spread misery and bide their time until they die. So I'm at the point know where once an old fuck makes is oldfuckedness known to me at the table, I try to win one big pot off him, and then rack up. There's enough poker in the world without having to play with doucheballs.

Don't worry, there's plenty of young fucknuggets out there, too. And one of them was responsible for me tripling up my last session at the IP, but that's for another post.

So the valid question - if the Venetian was willing to host another tournament for us in December, how many of you would be willing to play? I sent an email this afternoon inquiring, despite my earlier protestations of not organizing anything. Our rooms are booked for the MGM, since there was a killer deal. I get in Thursday afternoon, and my wife and stoner sister are getting in late Thursday. So if anybody's holding, and would share, hook up with my sis on Friday or Saturday, she'd really appreciate it since she can't carry on the plane. And if you know what I mean, then I'm talking to you.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Honest Question

Can one person make a difference in our country by running for office? Or is our system so corrupted by partisan politics and pork that one person of principle cannot make a difference, regardless of party affiliation?

This question has nothing to do with the election in 17 days, and everything to do with the one two years from now.

You're an educated bunch, and some of the smartest people I know. So tell me, does one person have the power to change anything?

And if not, what would it take for one person to make a difference?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I live

And at some point I'll write up last weekend's Vegas trip. Let it suffice to say that two winning sessions and one high hand jackpot are not enough to make a profitable trip out of 4 days in Vegas.

Things I learned this trip -

1) The Venetian is superior to almost every room in town on almost every level.
2) The 10/20 game at Mirage is not a bad game
3) Don't call big raises from anyone over 65.
4) The Hard Rock poker room is pretty nice, and the dealers typically have big tits.
5) AQ is not enough of a favorite of K7 to keep me in the Venetian noon tourney.
6) The play at Harrah's is almost bad enough to justify the $6/hand for rake and jackpot drops

I'm headed back out next week, this time for work, so I'll have less time to gambool (which is probably safer), but I'll have a proper post at some point that will regale you with tales of Purple Hooter shooters, 2-outers, puking and a great dinner for our buddy Brian's birthday.

As our waitress at Hofbrauhaus said "It's not Friday night unless the ambulance gets called."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A pleasant surprise

I'd forgotten that I'd submitted the story of our wedding to Pauly for Truckin'. If you've never read the silly story of how Suzy and I got married on my lunch break, head over and check it out. As always, I'm in the company of writers I don't deserve to share the page with, but I'll take the talent by association.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So this is not really up for discussion here...

But if you want to chat about it over a beer, I'm all in favor. This post is designed to outline why I'm voting for Barack Obama for President in a little less than a month. It's not designed to tell you to do the same, nor is it intended to sway your opinions. These are my opinions, and if there's anything in the world I'm an expert on, it's my opinion. Feel free to leave comments, but don't waste your time in silly attacks. If they annoy me, I'll delete them. It's my blog, after all :).

There are a few reasons that I'm supporting Obama in this election, and I probably won't get to all of them here, but I'll try.

1) He comes across as a real person. Yeah, I know the classic line "sincerity? I can fake that." But Obama presents a sincere face. He has me convinced that he still remembers what it was like to be poor. I also remember what it was like to be poor. Yesterday. And maybe again tomorrow. I can relate to this guy, and that counts for a lot with me. After years and years of political figures that seemed so detached, having a candidate who seems much more down-to-earth is huge.

2) He's eloquent. I'm sorry, but the last two presidents we've had either were (W) or sounded like (Clinton) stupid rednecks. There's no question in my mind that Bill Clinton is a very intelligent man, but he frequently sounded stupid. There's no question in my mind that W has the IQ of a houseplant, and he frequently fails to live up to that low standard. I want someone who can stand up in front of the world and present himself well. He's put-together, clear-spoken and eloquent.

3) He's willing to sit down with bad guys before we bomb the shit out of them. War is, in my opinion, the ultimate failure of diplomacy, and someone who comes out and says "Yes, I will sit down and talk with _________________" insert name of despotic dickweed here. Is the kind of leader I want. I don't want a leader that will commit the lives of our troops without exhausting every single diplomatic alternative first. If we are attacked, then bomb 'em back to the stone age. But if not, then I want someone who will talk first, and shoot later.

4) He's young and healthy. I don't think a man who is 10 years past the age of his first Social Security check has the stamina to run our country. Almost every president we've had looked like death warmed over by the time they left office. McCain is a cancer survivor, POW survivor and generally an old man. Regardless of running mate, I want the candidate I vote for to have as good a chance as possible of living out the full term. And there are some sectors of public careers where 72 is the mandatory retirement age, not the time to start a new career.

5) He's willing to look at alternative energy sources. I'm tired of hearing all this stuff about drilling. By the time we can get new wells built, we could have spent that money building wind farms, solar farms and other alternative fuel methods and it'll take the same time and money! I'm enough of a hippie to want cleaner air, so that means less oil, domestic or otherwise.

6) He wants to end the war in Iraq. And fast. Since I was never in support of the war in the first place, obviously that's gonna be a big one with me.

7) He favors stem cell research, which is huge with me. Too much Alzheimer's in my family for me to not pay attention to this as an issue.

8) My taxes would not increase under Obama's plan. I don't make more than $250K in a year, so my income tax wouldn't go up. I also wouldn't see any breaks, since I itemize and don't have any kids in college. But my taxes wouldn't increase. According to the Tax Policy Center, my taxes would actually decrease under both candidates' plans, but Obama's plan would save me about $200 each year. I got that from CNN/Money, so insert liberal bias statement here.

9) Better backup. This isn't a huge point with me, since I'm voting for a president and not a VP, but I think Biden is a political lifer and no better or worse than most of them. I think Sarah Palin is an abject idiot who should never be allowed back into the contiguous states, so it matters a little.

10) I do believe in change. And I used to think John McCain would be the guy to do it. Before his own party killed him off in SC in 2000, I was a big McCain supporter. But after the Republicans killed his campaign, he stepped into line with whatever the big boys told him to do, and has done so for the past 8 years. He used to be a maverick, now he's just another old rich white guy ready to fuck up my country. So I'm gonna give the brotha from Chi-Town a shot. Seriously, it can't get any worse than the past 8 years.

These opinions are completely mine, and they're my opinions, so you don't really even get to tell my I'm wrong. You can tell me you disagree, but it won't matter. I'm not an undecided, so unless video shows up in the next few days of Bill Ayers teaching Obama how to build pipe bombs in his den, I'll pretty much stick with this plan.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Yeah, another political post

But this one has nothing to do with Obama or McCain. Or about the fairly entertaining debate between Joe Biden and Tina Fey. But here's the question - what's wrong with tax and spend as a governmental philosophy?

Now let's make things very clear - I don't like paying taxes. I don't like giving my money away to the government, event though there are things that I do want the government to pay for, like armor for soldiers, airplanes with missiles to defend my house, and teacher salaries. Not to mention garbage pickup. That's kind of a big one for me. And yes, my taxes do pay for garbage pick up in Charlotte. Not my federal taxes, but taxes nonetheless.

But I hear a lot of people griping about "tax and spend Democrats" while claiming to be fiscally conservative. Now my question is - what is more fiscally irresponsible, taxing and spending, or just spending? Our government seems hell-bent on spending trillions of dollars every year, and the last time I checked, that money has to come from somewhere. So either we pay for it in taxes, or we borrow it from other countries and pay for it in taxes later.

So while I'd prefer to pay less in taxes, and certainly agree that there are a lot of government programs that could be cut (and yes, I believe the NEA is one of them, regardless of the fact that I'm an artist), I realize that our government spends money like a 17-year-old with daddy's gold card, and I'd rather have someone say "The government is going to do these things, and here is how I'm going to tax you to pay for it." At least that way I could decide if I liked those things, was willing to pay for those things, and vote accordingly. But everybody now is giving me bs lines about how they're going to cut my taxes while spending a couple trillion bucks on economic rescue plans and war. And I don't believe any of it. You can't continue to cut taxes and increase government spending, the math just doesn't work.

So either tax and spend, or don't spend. But don't not tax and keep spending, that's just bad math.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Contest

So I promised a flowery, embellished account of my wing-eating contest with Jordan. And it's coming. And since John Juanda won't just fucking put Stanislav Alekhin away at the final table of the WSOP-E so I can finish this recap and GO TO BED, now's as good a time as any.

Hey, at least I haven't been covering that thing for 15+ hours.

So our hero spent the afternoon preparing for battle, forgoing all sustenance in favor of libations (or, I didn't eat much and drank a lot) in light of his upcoming battle. It was sure to be an epic confrontation, the litigator versus the lighting designer, the Jew versus the Gentile, the North versus the South, the... you get the picture.

It was with no small trepidation that our hero sallied forth onto the field of battle. He was the Goliath of the match, facing a smaller, nimbler opponent. Frankly, an opponent that looked a little like an appetizer himself.

I did mention that I'd stopped eating early in the day, right?

The plates of battle were brought forth, and extra libation was provided for the competitors. The mighty Jordan applied his headgear, a bandana of intimidation +2, and forsook the option of a chair, choosing to stand and attack the wings. Our hero sat, napkin tucked into his t-shirt, calmly waiting the go-ahead nod.

And it began - 10 wings - as hot as the kitchen could make them - to the finish or to the vomit! Jordan did indeed leap out to an early lead, largely on the strength of his two-fisted attack. Our hero waded in gamely, methodically, like there was no hurry. Because there wasn't. Slow and steady was the plan, and when the bones began to hit plates, we were even. Around wing #4 there was a moment of concern as a series of volcanic mini-belches wracked my frame, threatening with an explosion of wing from mouth, nose, ears, and other places that food was not supposed to explode from. But I prevailed, the fate of our team and the pride of my Southern heritage riding on this one contest.

As Jordan turned his back on me to play to the crowd, I picked up my most challenging wing - a massive drumstick with far more skin than was necessary. I knew if I could get through this wing without losing much speed, I was in good shape. I didn't lag much, and as Jordan turned back to me, I had a 1-wing lead. I grabbed a flapper, and showcasing a talent developed by years of eating a LOT of chicken, sucked it clean in a second, giving myself a solid lead and becoming comfortable in the bout. Jordan found himself hung up by his grab and stuff tactic, with two hands full of wing and more chicken in his mouth than he could chew, while I just plowed through the wings without pause. As I grabbed for my last wing I saw that he had one in his mouth, one in his hand, and one on his plate, and I knew that victory, at long last, was mine. I sucked the last wing clean, stood, spiked the bones into my plate and raised my hands in victory.

The other benefit to my slower approach was that I was a little cleaner than Jordan at the end of the match.
Now I never mentioned to anyone the real reason that I felt I was the clear leader in this event the whole time. It's not because I outweigh Jordan by a good 40 lbs. It's not that I'm a redneck. It really all goes back to my childhood. I grew up on a chicken farm. My parents had something in the neighborhood of 8,000 of the little bastards when I was a kid. And one pecked me when I was very small. Ever since that day, I've eaten a fuckton of chicken, and I see that feathery bastard's face on every piece of chicken I eat.

It's personal. It's payback. And with that kind of Freudian shit going for me, Jordan never stood a chance. He kept it close, though, and for that, good game, bro.

Photo by Bam Bam

Bash Semi-Report Vol. 1 - The tourney

Since I suck at trip reports (let's face it, I'm no Jordan) I've just got a couple stories to tell about my Bash experience. But suffice to say that it was great seeing everybody again, especially the folks I've had far too little time to hang with at these gatherings in the past. It was also great to see everybody that's worked so hard all summer getting a chance to blow off a little steam - one of my favorite images of the weekend will always remain Otis pogoing to "My Own Worst Enemy" without a care in the world.

But there was a poker tournament, and my table certainly led the charge in rebuy early and often. Al leapt out to an early rebuy lead when he kept his word of shoving all in blind on the first three hands. I caught up pretty quickly when I shoved, not blind, on the following three hands, one of which was Riggs crushing me with a runner-runner inside straight draw as he peeled off a six on the river. Let's all remember that it was Riggs dropping a deuce on me on the river against The Luckbox when we were heads up at the Bash tourney two years ago that gave his Hammer a pair against my Korean Jew to cripple me. So, new Bash tradition - Riggs deals Falstaff dead.

But who cares? It was during the rebuy period! Rebuy! And on rebuy #5, things started to go my way. First I got aces. I got no action to my under-the-gun shove, but I got aces. Really? You laid down AJ to ME of all people preflop during the rebuy period? That was a bad beat. But then the same guy doubled me up when he called the next time he picked up AJ and I shoved. I had AQ, I got more chips. I doubled up again before I got moved to another table, where there hadn't been nearly as many rebuys (Al, Drizz and I were up to 14 at that point). So there weren't that many chips at my new table, and I didn't know as many of the players, but I managed to pick up a monster just before the end of the rebuy period to stack Vinnay and Evy (I think they were in the hand) with 7d-6d. I was in a blind, Evy raised preflop, Vinnay called or re-raised, I looked down at soooted connectors and jammed. They both called with A-10, I hit a 6 on the flop and rivered the straight. I had mucho chips.

Once the rebuy period was over, I played the hand of the weekend against Vinnay, who I've now busted a few times with donk moves, not that this was one of them. Apparently the first time we played together, I stacked him with the Hammer at a blogger gathering. This time I called his 3x BB raise from the big blind with 8h-5h. Flop comes down 7h-6h-7x, and I've made a gutshot straight flush draw. I check, Vinnay bets, I raised 4x his bet. He thinks for a minute and says "you did this the first time we played together."

To me, I thought he meant that I got uber-aggressive and tried to steal his chips, which is highly likely. But, since I'm an ass, and I wanted him to fold, I responded with "Did I stack you that time?"


"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

I mentioned I'm an ass, right? He thought for a moment more, and made my second preferred move from him - he shoved. I had a bunch of outs, and a bunch of chips, so I called. I was actually better off than I thought, since he shoved with Ace-high. I hit a 5 on the turn to take the lead, and the 6h on the river made my straight flush. Vinnay gave me the BEST. BOUNTY. EVER. when he whipped out an XL Captain Hammer T-shirt from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and I was a happy Falstaff.

I remained a happy Falstaff until we got to the final table and it got to be past 3AM. By that point I had over 25% of the chips in play, and the Rooster, the other big stack, with almost as many chips, had just been moved to my right. It only took a couple hands for him to come over the top of a preflop raise for all his chips, and I had found my moment. I looked down at A-Q and snap-callled. Rooster showed A-10, and the short stack showed A-5. A 5 on the flop, no help for the Rooster, and I had about 50% of the chips in play.

And then I blew it. I couldn't adjust my game enough to stay alive with the blinds escalating amazingly fast, and I tried to continue playing the same patient game that got me to the chip lead with 6 players remaining. I should have just put people to a decision on every hand, but I couldn't find that gear, and when I doubled up a short stack, I found myself back in the middle of the pack. I picked up pocket sixes on the button, shipped it in, ran into tens, and went home. I was pretty frustrated at the implosion, and a little frustrated that the guys changed the timing on the levels on us at the final table, but I understand why. It was ridiculously late, no one expected the event to go as late as it had, and they needed to get out of there. I was still grumpy, but got over it the next day when I found out that our donkishness raised close to $2k for the Boobie Charity. And that was the whole point, anyway. That and my kickass new t-shirt.

So a good time was had by all, and Herb and Veronica did a great job of managing their short stacks at the final table to chop first place. Herb, incidentally, was my nemesis all night, being the guy who laid down AJ to me preflp when I jammed with Aces in the rebuy period, then being the shorty I doubled up to find myself with a medium stack, then knocking me out an orbit later. Homeboy had my number all. night. long. Good people, good time, and good eats!

Don't worry, the legendary tale of Sir Falstaff vanquishing the Evil Jewish Lawyer in a wing-eating contest is coming soon. It's a tale worthy of the Bard himself, as our very own Shylock bathes in wing sauce in an Achilles-like attempt to become invulnerable, but I become his hillbilly heel to take down victory. Yeah, I know, Jordan's already written the story up very well, but I plan for a lot of thee's and thou's and fairy tale flourishes. Plus I'm bored today - I'm home playing chauffer to Suzy as she gets 4 teeth pulled and then has to go back to the orthodontist later this afternoon. Yep - festive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ah, home. Ah, shit!

So my first twitter today was something like "Welcome home from vacation. Your bank has failed, there's no gas in your city, and you've got $350K worth of quotes due today. Welcome back!"

Well, fuck. That about sums up my glowing return to North Cackalack. But there will be some stories forthcoming. Here are a few highlights of the trip -

I took the chip lead in the poker tourney at about the end of the rebuy period and held it to the final table.

Then I bubbled when the blinds went high and I went card dead while not shifting gears enough.

I crushed Jordan in a wing-eating contest.

Then I bobbled the snap on the Car Bomb Relay and my team never recovered.

After the wing-eating I headed back to the hotel for a little poop n' rally.

The Bash was glorious, with good tunes, more booze, hot chicks making out, and hanging with some of my best friends in the world.

I think I found the worst poker players in the world in Charleston, WV.

And still lost a buy-in. But I will return, oh yes, I will indeed...

Then got home yesterday to some other random silliness about falling skies, dropping Dows, and Wachovia being bought by Citi. Meh. I keep a lot of cash and can afford to pay my mortgage, so it'll be months before the effects of all this mess are felt at the Casa de Falstaff.

I'm in the office for a total of one day this week, then a couple days next week before I head out to Vegas for my buddy Brian's birthday! I'll try to hook up with anybody out there who wants a beer or seven.

Real recaps to come, including the tale of my legendary conquest of Jordan in the wing-eating conquest, but for now I must look busy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Destination Bash

Made it. I'm sitting in my room at the Courtyard Collegeville listening to Suzy shower up and thinking about water conservation...ahem, anyway. We got here around 11 last night after about 10 hours of driving, making following the GPS instead of Google maps the first (and hopefully last) truly poor decision of the weekend. I didn't know exactly how long and how stupid traffic can get north of DC at 6:30. The answer, if you've never driven from DC to Baltimore at that time of day in the rain, is LONG and STUPID. We lost at least an hour in traffic, but still made pretty good time. Suzy was a real trouper, putting up with my most minor of pee and beverage breaks until we were just outside of B'more and stopped for a quick sandwich. I think that 45 minute break at Panera Bread was the longest we were out of the car 'til we pulled in here. So I got her settled in the bed, fired up the Macbook, and banged out my last story of the week for PokerNews. And now I'm on vacation.

This weekend marks the first time in a year that I've asked for time off from everything. There have been a few times that it's fallen just right and I haven't had anything to do except enjoy myself, but it feels different to actually request, and be granted, time off from day job and freelance job. It's a nice feeling. I'll admit to a certain level of insecurity in my freelance work, which sometimes leads me to not turn down anything for fear I won't have the chance to take the next gig. It is, after all, freelance work. But now that I've been doing this writing thing for a couple of years, I've gotten to where I trust the people I work for to keep throwing me work, and they trust me to generally keep throwing them good content. I know I bitch from time to time about having to work too much, but I get bored if I don't have anything to do, so two jobs is about the minimum I can stand having.

There have been a couple of things I've knocked out this month that I was pretty pleased with. The profile on Tom Schneider when he won his WCOOP bracelet was good, I thought, and there were a couple of recaps for PN where I tried some different things that I thought added to the piece. Last night's was one of them, where I took the focus a little narrower and dialed in on three young internet studs who bluedgeoned each other at the tables. I found their rise and fall interesting, and hopefully the readers do too.

But for now, I'm off, and I'll see you guys on the other side. I've convinced Suzy that Charleston, WV is a great halfway point for our route home, even though it's 2 hours out of our way. They just added poker to the casino there, and I wanna see what that's like!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Continuing the streak...for a little while at least

So Sunday I fired up the internet poker box again (can you tell that it only takes a little success to rekindle my interest in the online game?) and signed up for three tourneys. I took a shot at a $24+2 deep stacked, turbo knockout SNG on FTP, a $5 HORSE tourney and a $10 NLHE tourney. I tripled up on my first hand in the NLHE game, and ground out a decent stack in HORSE while spewing my chips in the expensive event because I'm good like that. So I busted from the $24+2 in short order, but final tabled both of the other events. And I have come up with a couple of keys to long-term success in tournament poker, based on my two days of success in 2008.

1) Win coin flips. If you can't come out on top a couple times when you're 52-48 to win, you're not going to do well.

2) Don't brick out in Razz. I'm convinced, through tons of study and long seconds of pure speculation, that Razz is the most luck-based of all the HORSE games. So don't catch bricks.

3) Run good when the blinds get high. This is not the time to get unlucky, so channel all your lucksackery to the later rounds.

There you go, those are the tips that have turned me into a hundredaire in just a few short hours. Then to maintain that status, don't multi-table LHE above your bankroll just because it's Happy Hour on FTP.

I'm just sayin'.

Suzy and I leave tomorrow for The Bash. I have no great expectations for my performance in any gambling activities that may ensue, I'm just there to drink, see my friends, and have a good time. I have been drafted into the Pub Olympics, and think my best event might be the falling down. See you soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who are you and why are you playing my Full Tilt account?

That's kinda what I have to ask after this weekend. I know $400 isn't a huge score by even my standards, much less the standards of people who actually play online tournaments routinely, but this run was pretty good in my less-than-humble opinion.

5 tournaments played
4 cashes
3 final tables
1 5th-place finish
1 3rd-place finish
1 2nd-place finish

No, I didn't actually win any of these tournaments, but I can't remember the last time I actually played 5 MTTs in a month, much less a weekend. And I certainly can't remember the last time I cashed in more than one MTT in a month.

Saturday evening I was hanging out finishing my articles for PokerNews and the PokerStars blog, and Suzy was watching some chick flick on TV that I wasn't interested in being a party to, so I looked around at FTP to see what was going on. I found a $3 NLHE tourney about to happen and a Pot Limit HA Tourney (1/2 Pot Limit Hold'em, 1/2 Pot Limit Omaha). I signed up for both of them, with a total investment of $8.80. Given that I had a little less than $60 in my Full Tilt account, that was about all I was willing to spend. I then kicked back with a new collected graphic novel (X-Men: House of M) and generally ignored the game unless I picked up a big starting hand.

Really, before I knew what had happened, one of the tourneys was on break, and I was floating around average chip stacks in both events. I hadn't gotten the start times quite right, so they didn't both go on break at the same time, but that was my only complaint. I don't really remember too much about anything, just winning a few coin flips when the blinds got high, and then realizing that I had busted in 30-something in the NLHE event and that I was at the final table of the HA tourney. Cool, I'd forgotten about the changing background when you get to the final table. No really, I had. It's been that long. There weren't a ton of players in the HA tourney, so 5th place only got me about $44, but adding that to the $6 I got out of the NLHE tourney I had doubled my FTP account in a few short hours. Felt good to get on that horse and actually ride for a while instead of just getting kicked in the head. And boy, the low buy-in tournaments have some abominable play.

Tomorrow, we'll look at my much more succesful run on Sunday afternoon, but for now, here's your poker tip of the day, brought to you by me and our friends at Bodog - Omaha is hard. Four tables of Omaha is four times as hard. And if you see me online at a cash table. just get in line, there's money being given away. I donked off about $30 Sunday afternoon playing O8 before I realized that I was playing too fast, too many hands, too irritated, too sober and about 7 more "toos." So play fewer tables to reduce your toos.

Two more days of the day job before Suzy and I drive north for the Bash. If they're all like today, I'm moving in with Al.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plugging Along

So nothing terribly exciting going on here, nothing noteworthy, but that will ALL CHANGE SOON!

Not really, but it made for like half a second of exciting typing anyway. This weekend was the 5th Annual Metrolina Theatre Awards, and I was nominated for Best Lighting Design in a Drama for my work on The Diary of Anne Frank. The whole show was nominated, but another show called The Pillowman swept the drama category. I saw both shows, and The Pillowman was a great show, but some of the awards that it received were trickle-down awards based on the strength of the lead actors and the directing. Yup - I'll put it out here in the interwebs - I think I got fucked. I have seen shows that I've gone "Yup, that was better than mine." This wasn't one of them. The lighting was okay, but my work for Anne Frank was better. But a group of my peers who voted on the awards disagreed, and that's that.

I had a couple of bigger issues with the awards, and since I'm venting, here they are.

1) Backstage, at least for the first presentation, was a clusterfuck. The kids who were supposed to bring us the awards were always slow getting stuff to us, and sometimes brought us the wrong awards - which is a bit of an issue when they were bringing us the envelope with the winner's name as well! One time there was a tie in one award, and they didn't bring us both awards at the same time. So I went backstage to ask the accountant folks if there was a tie, and was told, unequivocally and repeatedly "No." So then ten minutes later the emcee got to go out by himself and present the second award, because the folks backstage didn't have their shit together.

2) Where's the fucking food?!? Every year up to now, there has been a buffet at the after-party.This year, because we missed dinner, Suzy and I actually bolted out of the awards a hair early to get to the after-party early and grab some food. I usually end up working the event and never get to eat, but this year I was off the hook. We got there - no buffet. I corralled a waiter and asked what the deal was, and there was no provision for a buffet - so no free food. I was more than a little grumpy, but we ordered food and got something to eat, then had to wait a year while the overwhelmed wait staff tried to deal with 300 people descending on them to eat.

The whole vibe this year felt a little "off" for me, which was disheartening, as I helped create the event with an idea of bringing the theatre community together, and I'm not sure it does that. Of course, part of this might be my views on the organizations as a whole spilling over, because I'm afraid I've turned into that guy who sits around and says "in my day, it wasn't like this." I also feel as though my long-time contributions to the organization have been ignored or forgotten, as have those of a lot of other people, so it's led to a general disgruntlement with the organization and a limiting of my involvement.

But on a more interesting front, last night's interview of the winner of WCOOP Event #11 turned into a phone conversation with the guy, who turned out to be Brent Carter, #7 on the list of all-time WSOP cashes and a 2-time bracelet winner. Very nice guy, and you can check out the profile here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Headed to pick up my repaired truck today. Total repairs - $2800.00. Kelly Blue Book value - $3800.00. And I need to get it detailed before anyone in their right mind would buy it. Hopefully at this point I can get $3500 out of it, so that I realize a puny amount of profit on the deal. Yucky.

Maybe I should ship it down to Texas - compared to a lot of vehicles down there this morning, it's worth a gold mine.

Honestly, though, I hope everybody I care about down it Texas just got a little rain and wind. From all reports, it was supposed to turn back east before dumping too much on the parts of the state where you guys are. I hope so.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Breathing room - I has a little

Just a little, but thought I'd toss up a quick post. Since the beginning of the month I've covered the following events for Pokernews -
APT Macau
APPT Macau (yep, the event names only differ by a P)
APPT Macau High Rollers Event
PPT Main Event

And I've profiled three WCOOP winners plus pitched in at the last minute to live-blog a few hours of Event #1 so that Otis could focus on other stuff for a few hours at least. Wish I could have been more help, but it was a school night and all. So that's 17 articles in 9 days with an average of 600 words. There's math there, but it's a bunch.

It's not really much compared to what my cohorts that are live-blogging the WCOOP or reporting live on these PokerNews events are churning out, but I defend myself by saying that I'm also working a day job and in tech rehearsals for a musical while I'm doing this writing work. So it's been a little hairy.

And my new windows came in, so we've had guys in the house for two days putting those in. And tomorrow they'll be done. Which is great, because we have new windows. But it sucks, because now I have to write them a big check.

And the new windows, because they're vinyl replacement windows, do not come with a full new casement and tearing out of a bunch of existing wood. They come with essentially an insert of a new window in the hole made by removing the old window. Which makes for a smaller aperture of window. Not really noticeable, because our windows were ridiculously wide.

Except that now the height is different. Which means that some of my window unit air conditioners do not fit. Since it is September in North Carolin, the idea of going without A/C is not really an option. At. Fucking. All. So in addition to the new window treatments that I get to purchase for pretty much every room, I get to buy a bunch of new window units. Like three. Today. And more to come tomorrow.

And what's a window treatment, anyway? They're new windows, it's not like they're sick and need treatment. I just need curtains. And some blinds to go over the A/C units. I don't get what I'm treating, unless I'm treating any possibility of ever having money, because that symptom is certainly treatable by home improvement.

But tonight is pretty much final dress rehearsal, since tomorrow night is the gala season-opening preview with a fuckton of VIPs from all around town. So I don't really get to change much after tonight. Which is good, since I stayed at the theatre two hours after rehearsal reprogramming the entire crucifixion sequence last night and don't really want to do that again tonight. But I can see light at the end of the tunnel now.

Hope it ain't a train.

This weekend and next week looks better - only one event going for PokerNews, and no rehearsals, so I may actually get to play poker at some point. I think I remember how. As much as I ever knew how. Alright, I'm done whining now, I did ask for the work, after all. And it all pays for the trips to Vegas in October.

And window treatments.

BTW - I think I want to unload my iPod Touch - 16GB with updates. Anybody interested? $250 cash (or negotiable), Xbox 360 with some games if you've got one you don't want anymore, or something cool. Lemme know - you know how to find me.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I enjoy talking politics

I really do. It's one of the few things left in the world that you're allowed to actually disagree about. And I disagree with several of my good friends on politics. And we can still be friends! It's ok to disagree.

For example, Easycure has a post up about the "liberal hack job" that Us weekly is doing on Sarah Palin. I commented, and StB replied to my comment. Instead of adding yet another wordy comment, I thought I'd just post here.

My Comment -

I just think she's a bad choice overall. This bit takes the "moral superiority" card off the table. The TrooperGate BS takes the "reform politician" card off the table. And her two years experience running Alaska takes the "my opponent has no experience" card off the table. She may be a very nice person, but politically she takes away valuable ammo from the McCampaign.

I don't doubt that she's a fine person and a good mom, even though her stand on abstinence-only education seems a little retarded now. But she was not the right call for the McCampaign. They would have been better off with any of several more visible, more viable female candidates.

StB's response -

Troopegate takes the reform card off the table??? That is laughable. Sure, let's put aside her ousting her own corrupt party members. No big thing there. How she didn't get pushed around by "big oil".

The experience card is gone because of Obama's experience doing what? Leading a city? Leading a state? It must bother you that Palin has more experience that Obama. That she has accomplished more than Obama. That she has taken on bigger challenges than Obama. Refute that.

See this pick is so much better than Biden that everyone feels the need ot bash it to bits.

As writers you should be concerned about Obama's attacks on free speech. But that isn't the cool thing yet so ignore it.

Now there are a couple of good points here, so I'll address them.

1) To me, Troopergate, unless it's resolved quickly and Palin is absolved of any innapropriate use of authority, does indeed take the reform card off the table. If she is found to have fired her employee because he wouldn't fire her former brother-in-law, then she's not much of a reformer. If she did indeed get a bunch of pork-barrel for her state by the same tactics that every other politician in the world has used for decades, then she's just more of the same. Not saying that the folks I've chosen to support are necessarily better, just that if those things are true, then she's no reformer.

2) The experience card is off the table because she has actually less experience in national-level politics than Obama. Yes, she has led a city. And she has led a state. She has the most chief executive experience of any of the four people on either ticket. She has more chief executive experience than her own running mate. And she still has never had to deal with any type of international politics, or make any decisions for more than 700,000 constituents (based on 2006 Alaska population stats). Obama, in his role as senator from Illinois, represented nearly 13 million people in the US Senate.

Now I'm not going to argue that there isn't a difference between governing a state and being a senator. Obviously the two posts are very different, but you can't really play up chief executive experience when your own lead dog doesn't have any. And since she's got less foreign policy experience than Obama, the card is off the table. And it was the best card the Republicans had t play against Obama.

And yes, she has accomplished great things, becoming the first female governor of Alaska. Raising a family while she's doing it. More power to her. But really, how much more has she accomplished than the guy who came from a broken home to make it to Harvard, then on to the Senate, and to become the first black dude to get on a major party ticket for president? I'd call this one a push on personal accomplishments. Now if we're talking accomplishments in office, we're probably gonna go with a push there, too, since neither of them spent enough time in office to actually make any lasting changes. Obama is a first-term senator, so he's not managed much. And Palin's been governor for less than two years, not nearly long enough to make much sweeping change. But I could certainly be wrong, and am prepared to concede this point if I am.

3) She is a much better pick than Biden. Hands. Fucking. Down.

StB, you picked yourself off the floor yet?

I've never been thrilled with Biden's selection, although I see it for what it was - a move to get some old white guys on board and shore up a weak foreign policy background. Even though I think Palin is totally unqualified to be one more tumor away from the White House, I still think she's a better pick. My gripe about John Edwards four years ago was that he didn't swing for the fences. The Palin pick is swinging for the fences, and that's the kind of moves McCampaign needs to make to win.

But she's just getting the same treatment every other candidate got through the primary season of upon their emergence into national politics. She certainly would have seen this same level of scrutiny by the Republican power machine if she'd run for the big chair herself. So she's getting tagged for having a knocked-up unwed daughter. Well, some of us (myself included) think that's what you reap when you sow abstinence-only education. Unfortunately, she's reaping a dose of reality about the fact that teenagers like to fuck! And the Troopergate thing is just like the Clinton land swindle. It's a pile of BS that the opposing party is bringing forward to make her look bad. Yup, it's BS, but it's no more or less BS than the fact that Obama sat on a board of directors and took $200 in campaign contributions from William Ayers.

TrooperGate is 99% likely to be a pile of crap. And Obama is 99% likely to be completely uninfluenced by the fact that William Ayers was a domestic terrorist. But the 1% makes it worth looking into. Which brings me to the most disturbing allegation - that Obama is attacking free speech. So I googled it, and it looks like the Obama campaign is pissed about some attack ads featuring his connection to William Ayers. And they've asked for a big DOJ investigation into the ads in the hopes of getting them blocked as “a knowing and willful attempt to violate the strictures of federal election law,” according to Obama's general counsel.

This is stupid. It's a terrible move on Obama's part and makes him look too much like the people he's fighting to depose. Srsly, he needs to get back on message and drop shit like this. It does need to be talked about, which might mark a record for number of times I've agreed with StB in any political discussion.

But I do think that Palin was the wrong call for the McCampaign VP slot. If she was a grab for Hillary voters, someone with no national or international-level politics is going to get it. If she was a grab for gun-toting anti-abortion voters, just run another war hero ad and get someone with more experience who has no surprises floating around. But it's gonna be interesting.