Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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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.