Friday, June 30, 2006

Quotes of the Day

"Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."
--Gary Lineker

Fucking Germans.


I've been late to the "Prepare for Milwaukee" party and have spent the last few hours trying to come up with a bounty for the WPBT. Last summer, Scurvy was the proud recipient of my bust-out prize, my favorite novel, "Homeboy", which he, being a man of taste and honor, devoured quickly and summarized perfectly,

"...completely fucking blown away by the raw energy and life someone pumped into desperate, printed words.

Last December, it was Dr. Jeff who provided the coup de grace--though, truthfully, it was F-Train who crippled me one hand prior--and his prize was a DVD of the exceptionally hilarious R. Kelly joint, "Trapped in the Closet." So, you see, my range is wide. Which might be the problem. Poker-specific stuff is nice, but boring. It's a little late to design my own t-shirt, not that I'm funny in a t-shirt designing way or at all capable of artistic endeavor. Maybe facial care products. Got lots of those laying around.


I jinxed myself with that screen capture from last night. Moments after I took it, I doubled up G-Rob, whose SMTL was vastly superior to my Tourist. Shortly after that, I gifted him another buy-in when he sucked out on my Hammer with K5s, thus giving him the opportunity to type a phrase in chat, one he's been itching to use for seven months,

"This Big Blind brought to you by Joe Speaker."

Ten, maybe 15, people know why that's funny. But it's REALLY, REALLY funny. Anyway, regardless of my chip clearance sale, the title of the last post remains true. I was far too drunk to play (oh really, Captain Obvious?) and far too stupid to be playing with G-Rob, who has a bigger range than Wyoming. You know, if he's the aggressor on the turn on a ragged board, you're screwed. I remembered that this morning, about 6 hours too late.


I'm on a run of about 10 straight hundred-degree days in my posh desert dwelling. I rarely use the A/C, because, well, my ancestors lived in caves. It's genetic. I've discovered that drinking Hefeweitzen on hot summer nights is a fine way to cool off, but man am I hurting today. I'm mulling trying something new, like instead of drinking 12 beers per evening, I'll just put 'em in my pants to ward off the swelter.

And you wonder why I rarely have visitors.


Have a great holiday weekend all. Don't getcher hands blown off or anything.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm 39. Shut Up.

I'll transfer you $5 if you stop chatting for 15 minutes.
--Me, to Waffles

Online poker has bored me of late, so I lucked into the only reasonable cure for it: A $25 NL blogger table. Six bloggers (and more in the queue), three rednecks and too many Sam Adams mimosas for Waffle = Yeeeeeee-Haw!

Hey (Redneck Guy with Redneck Guy avatar), do you drive a Camaro?
--Iggy, to Redneck Guy

Veneno alerted me to the festivities and I hopped in to join the above, as well as mookie. jj and Carmen would also eventually make their way into the fray, with Miami Don playing the part of Waffles' conscience from the rail.

I tend to play pretty haphazardly at blogger tables and last night was no exception, though I was the opposite of my usual LAG self, as in tighter than Meatloaf's boxer briefs. I missed a couple bets against the Redneck Baby Armadillos, I passively played a set of deuces right into a river scare card and generally played like a 3-year-old afraid of the dark. Thinking my table image was solidly that of a big, fat pussy, I ran an elaborate ill-conceived bluff on Waffles for my whole stack, which went in on the turn when I held unimproved and drawless T6s. The six on the river doubled me up.

Happy Birthday!

Well, it is my birthday (and was, tehcnically, at the time of the suckout in some time zones). It's Scurvy's as well. Sally Brompton sees good things for us:

Your Horoscope for June 29, 2006
While it may be true that there is nothing new under the Sun you must not let that stop you from trying to find new ways to express yourself creatively. What you come up with may be a variation of what has gone before but that does not make it any less valuable. On the contrary, it could make you a great deal of money.

We're gonna be rich!

Also, belated birthday wishes to BG and change100. Us sensitive Moonchildren gotta stick together.

Because it is my birthday, I will be unable to compete in DADI7 tonight because I will be drinking Thunderbird out of a bag under a bridge to celebrate. I might get home in time to see some of the endgame, though, and fire up some online poker of my own. I never lose on my birthday (checks the archives). Oops. Ran my stack into quads last year at this time. Nevermind.

ANYWAY, play the DADI, if only in tribute to awesome photoshop skills.

(Blogger, you are fucking retarded. Again with the no ability to post pics. I fucking hate you. See Jordan for DADI details.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bring Out the Pimp

Look, over there. Three new clicky things to for you to enjoy on the sidebar. Yes, I'm an html idiot and they don't line up, but it sorta looks like my sidebar is drunk, which is appropriate.

Poker Stars offered to make me an affiliate recently and I had to oblige for all the free t-shirts joy they've given me over the years. If one person signs up using that link from this blog, I'll eat my own poo. So basically, I'm giving them free advertising. I don't mind.

Pauly, of course, needs no introduction and I'm really looking forward to his subversive WSOP coverage. Methinks the suits bet on the wrong pony and are gonna catch a bucket full of the type of stinging commentary the Good Doctor is known for. I'm starting to get a little pissed with all the hot poker chicks he's meeting, however, and not a single mention of him slipping them my number.

Otis is also in The Room, kicking his usual standard of ass. No Hooker Bar stories from Otis (at least not in print), but plenty of human interest, emotion and scene-setting, areas in which he is the superior of most everyone I know.

Read 'em. Learn 'em. Live 'em.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In the Halls Where We Have Been

We had all gathered in the dining room at Springfield Castle, candlelight flickering on the deep scarlet walls. A 60-ish couple from the nearby village of Broadford had joined the wedding festivities and agreed to provide some entertainment. The woman, Angeline, sat next to the banquet table in a high-backed chair carved from sturdy oak. Her husband stood nearby, shifting his weight on the oiled amber floors. We were spaced around the room, some seated, others standing in small groups still talking and drinking and laughing. Someone asked for quiet and as the room hushed, she began. In a sweet, tremulous voice, Angeline sang, "As I Leave Behind Neidin..."

From the first note, the room was enthralled. The song demanded a light touch, almost timid, yet each word echoed like a cathedral organ. My eyes pooled almost immediately, so beautiful was this voice, which rose and trilled effortlessly. I stared at her, frozen in place, eyes half-closed and full of joyful concentration. She reached the chorus for the first time, and her husband silently prompted us to join in. Hesitantly, we sang,

Won't you remember
Won't you remember
Won't you re-mem-ber me

As she continued, my heart clutched. This was one of those rare moments, a magical and spontaneous occurrence that stays with us until our dying breath. Pure and defining, a valuable addition to life. I broke out in chills, stem to stern, and struggled to both keep my emotions under wraps and focus on Angeline, her performance very much that of an Angel. When the chorus came back around, I joined in, my quiet voice wavering and cracking.

On the climactic verse, Angeline seemed to falter a little. I thought the song was having the same effect on her. She struggled to the end, still topping the high notes, but straining more than before. She got there though, and the final chorus thundered and echoed in the room, everyone raising their voices in tribute, picking her up, strength behind the volume, appreciation in the pitch. I was unable to lend my sound, however. My words were caught in my throat.

We erupted in extended applause when the song ended. I know I wasn't the only one who was moved. But as some shouted for more, I broke. Head down, turning quickly, I brushed past a few people and walked briskly outside. What I felt right then was anger. Anger at my thoughts. Anger at my inability to control the onrushing flood inside me. I stomped around the graveled front of the Castle, admonishing myself, willing myself to not lose my shit. I lost the battle. And that is why I found myself sitting beneath a tree and weeping uncontrollably.


The seeds of that jag were planted a few hours earlier as Schotty and D stood hand in hand before Father Tony. I suppose I should have anticipated it. But I didn't. As Father Tony began the ceremony, my whole body spasmed and tears ran into my eyes. As he said the words, words so familiar that they sometimes lose the force of their meaning, I begged myself to maintain. "Honor and cherish," he said. "Richer and poorer." These words had weight, heavy, penetrating weight, and in my mind I returned to my own wedding day, heard those words repeated by X, now knowing she never meant them.

I managed to keep the tears at bay, even as I roiled on the inside. God bless dark, wraparound sunglasses. I didn't want to ruin their day with my moment of misery. I didn't want the focus on me, on my troubles. And I talked myself down. Willed myself to push those thoughts away and concentrate on Schotty, on D.

They stood a couple feet apart, hands clasped. But there was no distance between them, that space filled by the glows off each of them, the way they looked at each other, easy and confident, lost and happy. It was apparent my friend had found his other. And maybe, maybe a couple of those pooling tears were the good kind.

When the ceremony ended, I stood off a bit by myself. I didn't trust my emotions to remain in check for long and didn't want to make a scene. Kool Breeze walked up after a time and asked,

"You okay?"
"That was a little rough," I said.
"I noticed."

He noticed? I guess I didn't keep it as cool as I thought. That's one of the things about my friends, they'll always have my back, will always watch out for me.


The bench looked like a mini-Stonehenge, two rectangular rocks holding up a third. It made me think of Spinal Tap as I walked up and I forced out a bitter laugh. I sat down, pulling out a cigarette, hoping the acrid smoke would quell the tears I felt rushing, but I never even got it to my mouth.

The bench was right up against the trunk of the tree, a great, huge tree with heavy branches bowed earthward, partially blocking my view of the Castle, providing me with cover. Night had fallen and pressed white shirt or no, I was pretty well hidden. I hung my head, mimicking the leaves surrounding me and let the flood come.

I cried for untold minutes, tears falling on the grass like morning dew. I knew I had just experienced something rare, a song I will hear in my head until I can hear no more. It filled me with emotion, its simple beauty making me appreciate the moment. But I let it get taken away from me there for a second. See, because one of my first thoughts was, "I wish X was here to share this with me." It made me sad.

I wondered if X remembers the moments we shared, moments like this one, unplanned surprises that resonate forever. Like the time we stood in the harbor-side cobblestone courtyard in La Rochelle on the west coast of France. A heavy mist encased us as we held each other for timeless minutes, the full moon a beacon through the damp air. We never spoke a word, melting into each other, touch, smell, sight, filing it away. Does she remember those countless mornings we watched the sun rise together in our bed, running our nails on each other's backs, holding our bodies close, laughing off-handedly at nothing in particular, at nothing but us, pure, carefree, always. What about that lazy Sunday afternoon when AJ was but a month old, us staring at each other across his sleeping body, finding solace in our togetherness in the aftermath of 9/11, sorrowful for the world and its evil that he will have to face, hopeful he would be a light against such forces.

About that time, I saw Kool Breeze come out the front of the Castle and have a smoke. I stayed quiet, sniffling, gritting my teeth. He puffed, walked around, and then went back inside. I had finally calmed down enough to light my own fag (valid use of the word in Ireland, I assure you) and did so, straightening up from my hunched sorrow and taking a long, relaxing inhale.


It was a long time before I went back inside, long after the tears had ended. I was a little angry with myself, not only for disappearing from the party, but for even thinking of Her. The singing had ended and most of the party was in the courtyard, a welcome--darker--venue for me, my eyes still red and puffy. It was a few minutes later that Kool Breeze pulled me aside and asked, "Where'd you go?"

I murmured an evasive nothing, shocked for the second time that day at his observation. He nodded at my "answer" and joined the conversations around us. I remained rooted to my spot, something tingling at the back of my head, feeling some of that recently spent emotion returning. Only this time, it was different.

I remembered the four of us sitting in a tree at Max Baer Park, listening to Trouble, drinking Budweiser and watching Sparks go ballistic over the lackadaisical play of his softball teammates. I remembered the four of us at Kool Breeze's parent's cabin, that first time we went, smoking dope on the dock and catching a fish in the midnight dark. San Felipe, moonlight flashing on the rippled sea, tribal beats from an aging radio, wandering friends and the contented silence you can only embrace when sharing it with those closest. New Year's Eve and Robson snoring (Hi Mike!) and stupid drinking games and souvenir Coors Light. And on and on for years on end.

I remembered other things, too. Scoring a goal in the State Cup Final and sprinting off the field into my father's arms. The look on my mother's face, pure amusement, when I brought home a vacuum cleaner I bought for her at a garage sale, a measly buck. The girl in my dorm room on a perfect spring day, afternoon turning to naked dusk, together. AJ, walking his first few yards, collapsing in my arms.


I looked around me, saw Kool Breeze, Donny, Schotty, his wife, their families, contentment on their faces, hearts filled. I saw my past, my fulfilling past, one without X, without the slightest hint of her cruelty. I've known many happinesses and the majority of them had nothing to do with her. The song, Neidin, didn't either.

These last few months I've obsessively looked for signs, for meaning, for the truth behind X's betrayal. I've come away empty on almost every occasion. Maybe there is no meaning there, except to point out what is really important. She was unhappy. I get that. And her solution was to run away from the people who loved her the most, into the arms of a random stranger, in order to find her version of relief.

Sometimes it takes a dramatic event--even a bad one--to illustrate all that is good in a life. When this happened, my sorrow was complete and irrevocable. In MY moment of pain, of unhappiness, I turned to my friends and family, who, in turn, rallied around me more forcefully than I could have ever thought possible, prodding me, loving me, carrying me. I should not have been surprised. I have always believed in them as much as I once believed in X. And they've never let me down.


I stood back still, looking at them all, my smile as wide as the Irish countryside. Schotty's hand on D's thigh, Donny doubled over in laughter, Kool Breeze strident and gesticulating. My friends. My blood. My brothers. I will always remember Angeline and her song of Neidin. And who I shared it with. I will never forget, nor minimize, everything I've shared with these guys, who willingly accept me for all my failings, who love me unconditionally, who have given me so many special, unrepeatable memories and who propped me up when my life turned wrong. They've turned it right again, just by being there, listening to the words.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Remember When?

With all that's been going on--and I'm talking less about my mental state than I am about logistical headaches such as moving and taking a Euro vacation--the WPBT gathering has sort of snuck up on me. It has just been in the last week that I've begun to fixate on it, goading people to come, thinking of a bounty, planning my wardrobe down to the very millisecond. It's only two weeks away and my late transition into Full "I'm Going To Vegas!" Giddiot Mode reminds me of how I felt a little over a year ago when I was anticipating my first such gathering.

Back then, I started running a weekly forecast of the trip SEVEN WEEKS ahead of time. Yes, I was treating it very much like Christmas morning. Since many of you will be popping your WPBT cherry (are there any who are coming to Vegas for the first time?), I thought I would re-print here some of my previous "advice" posts. Well, and one just because it still might be the funniest moment in Vegas history. So, even though it's like cheating, Enjoy!


Originally posted April 29, 2005

How to Deal with Hangovers

Stay home. Even if you don't drink, you will. It's like when I stay with my Midwestern relatives for a few days and suddenly start saying things like "sodie pop." It is inevitable. The only sure way to avoid a swollen cerebral cortex and a pissed off liver is to not leave the house.

Drink Non-Alcoholic Fluids. Eventually, you are going to reach a point where further alcohol consumption results in one of two things:
1. The saturation point where not even back-to-back-to-back Irish Car Bombs can move your drunk forward, or
2. Find yourself curled up on the cold tile floor of casino bathroom in a puddle of godknowswhat.

The key is recognizing that time. And mixing in some water. Or Gatorade. Flush out the system. Pee a lot. Also have plenty of these beverages available for the first thing in the morning. Futhermore, the weather in Vegas can be oppressively hot, akin to spending a weekend in Dom DeLuise's armpit. Hydrate, people. The heat/alcohol can dry you out in a hurry. Take steps and you won't wake up looking like Iggy Pop.

Don't forget to eat. You will be surprised how the simple tasks of daily life fail to translate in the land of round-the-clock gambling and drinking. At some point, you will surely exclaim, "Holy Shit! I haven't eaten today!" and you'll grab a hot dog or a bowl of chili or some jalapeno poppers. DON'T! Try getting a nice foundation in the morning (breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know), but stay away from the greasy stuff. Breads, cereals and muffins are preferable (the judges will also accept Krispy Kreme). And at some point during the afternoon/evening, take an hour or 90 minutes away from the table/bar to get a proper meal in you. I'd also recommend avoiding the 4 a.m. stampede to the cafe for three-egg omelets, but then I'd be a hypocrite, because I LOVE THAT PART.

Sleep it off. Face it, you aren't going to sleep much. But a well-timed nap can do wonders. Don't go too long though, Van Winkle. I find an hour is about perfect. Make sure someone is available to bring you back to consciousness.

Pain relievers. Anyone with experience in these matters can tell you the best pain relief for a morning hangover is a hit or six off the water pipe. If that's not your thing, Tylenol works too. Wait until after breakfast, though.

Hair of the Dog. Oh precious bloody marys. You are so fine and delicious. I find 4-6 of these bad boys after breakfast to be the perfect tonic. There's a crash, though. And that's a good time for the nap.


Originally posted May 6, 2005

A quick tour around the blogosphere reveals a deep gurgling of excitement, a low, but unmistakable, rumbling that forecasts an eruption of Vesuviusian proportions. And also, not surprisingly, some concerns.

Well, that's what I'm here for, to alleviate those worries. Nobody will be nervous about how they are perceived in Vegas after I remove all doubt that I am the biggest idiot on the planet and worthy of copious heapings of scorn. You're welcome.

Today's (main) topic:

Tipping in Las Vegas

Don't try this at home:

Trent: "Listen why don't you bring a single malted Glengary for me and my boy Mike here, and if you tell the bartender to go easy on the water then this 50 cent piece has your name on it"
Mike: "What an asshole"
Trent: "Baby that was money"
Mike: "I can't believe what an asshole you are"
Trent: "What are you talking about she smiled"
Mike: "She was smiling at what an asshole you are"
Trent: "She was smiling at how money I was, what I did with her"
Mike: "Can we just get out of here"
Trent: "Why do you want to get out of here, the honey-baby's bringing us a cocktail"
Mike: "What are you nuts, you really think she's coming back here"
Trent: "Baby, I know she's coming back here. Didn't you here what she said 'you shouldn't leave here without getting something for free' she wants to party mike she wants to"

I'm pretty sure that only works in the movies, no matter how goddamn charming you are. It's not like these Vegas cocktail waitresses are schleping drinks to try to meet Mr. Wonderful, especially if Mr. Wonderful is an egomaniacal, if hilarious, scenester.

Still, God Bless Double Down.

Now that we know what NOT to do (and you can add wearing a suit with a skinny tie to the list), let's go through some tipping advice.

Cocktail Waitresses: Nothing is more painful than staring an empty bottle/glass while seated at a table. The tongue starts to swell, the brain's endorphins start to scream "MORE!" and there are no ridiculously-attired barmaids in sight. The solution is to make a great first impression. See those red chips? Toss her one or two when she arrives with your initial drink. Bribery will get you everywhere. Flash her your pearly whites just to drive the point home. It says, "I'm rich, I'm happy and I might be totally gullible." At this point, you can assess her mood toward you. If she's harried, let the money do the talking. If she seems especially grateful, be sure to further implant yourself in her neurons with something along the lines of, "There's more where that came from if you keep 'em comin' steady." Get her name. Shout it gleefully every time she comes around, sprinkling the greeting with complimentary suck-uppery. As long as she remains amused, you're gold. And never parched.

Poker Dealers: I don't think anyone needs any advice here. As scholars of the game, we know a dealer toke and I don't think it's going out on a limb to suggest the group is more generous than your average bear.

Blackjack Dealers: Always a fine line. Table karma is a powerful tool. An instant bet for a new dealer is often an excellent investment. A lively dealer with a solid rap and genuine interest in keeping a good vibe will always get some chips from me, regardless of my results. On the other hand, when the pit boss brings in the coolers from the Asian Bullpen, those hard-line dealers with fewer facial expressions than an Easter Island statue, I'll tend to keep the tipping to a minimum. Of course, getting those types of dealers is always an opportunity to try and break their facade. A full table of drunkards trying to get Ling from China to utter something more than a grunt is always good for a fiver if successful.

Another aspect is that many casinos pool their tips for dealers. I always ask. If they do, I tend to tip more equally across the board, though that part is based more on whether I'm winning or not.

Craps Dealers: A craps table begs a party. There is no game in Vegas that can produce so much adrenaline, so much shouting. It's a great rush. I tip more liberally at craps than any other game, if only for the opportunity to yell out, "TWO-WAY YO!" something I don't get to do enough of in daily life. Another fun one is to ask a female croupier if she wants a "hard four." They'll almost invariably reply that they prefer a "hard eight."

Other: What the fuck is with the tip jar at the coffee bar? Are you shitting me? You want my change because you turned around and filled a cup? Some of them don't even do that! They give you a cup and you fill it yourself! You people are not waitresses. Your wages are not taxed based on a percentage of sales. What a scam. And yes, I once worked at Starbucks.

So there you have it, several more useless paragraphs based on a flimsy premise written at a juvenile level. I'm nothing if not consistent.


Originally posted on May 13, 2005

Things to Do in Vegas When You're Drinking Yourself to Death

It has come to my attention that we will have several first-timers in the fair city of Sin, so I'm here to offer a list of "must do's" and "bests."

Walk The Strip: Few things are as liberating as rolling down Las Vegas Blvd. with a drink in each hand. I do this every time I go. I stop in at the various casinos for a drink or some quick table action. I people watch. Get a little exercise. Get propositioned for every imaginable act/substance.

Some of my favorite places to stop:

Barbary Coast: Old school casino is my favorite place for blackjack. Centrally-located and they feature two-deck games with as little as a $10 minimum, even on weekends. It's always a party in there and the dealers are fantastic. Last time I was there, some incredibly drunk guy was giving me $100 chips to bet.
New York, New York: Best greyhounds on the planet, thanks to the freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Also the best collection of restaurants in a single casino. Special shout-outs to the carnitas burrito at Gonzalez y Gonzalez and the authentic Irish pub smack in the middle of the casino.
The Mirage: Has lost its luster in recent years, but their Lagoon Saloon features the city's best bloody mary. Get it spicy, you big baby.
Caesar's Palace: For you shoppers/metrosexuals/people who brought wives, The Forum Shoppes are the first place to go.
Paris: This hotel has a great outdoor cafe to sit and drink in the sun and watch the masses go by. As an inveterate people-watcher, I've passed many an afternoon here. It also has quite the wine list--so I'm told--for you vino-philes.

Nightlife: I hate nightclubs. Gimme a noisy pub with a killer jukebox over a dark dance joint with rib cage-rattling techno music any day of the week. As such, I have next to nothing for you here. I DO like the Double-Down Saloon, an off-strip dive bar near the Hard Rock, though I liked it better 5 years ago. Last time I went, it was a little too "scene-y" for me. I have been to "The Beach," an off-strip nightclub that is tolerable, thanks to areas where you can hear yourself think and an around-the-clock sportsbook upstairs. And I can see the lure of The Ghost Bar, located at the top of The Palms.

Best Places for Breast Implants: To see them, not to purchase them. The centrally-located bars at the Hard Rock and The Palms. Again, people-watching opportunities up the ying-yang. I'm especially partial to the ultra-wealthy shriveled-up toads with back hair and a hooker on each arm. Also, I suppose some strip clubs might fall into this category, but I can't confirm, nor deny, any particular knowledge on that score.

Best Place to Pass Out: I'm not sure, but I DO know a bathroom stall at the New Frontier isn't it.

Best Looking Cocktail Waitress/Revealing Outfit Combination: Rio. Ah, serendipity.

Best Show: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! How the fuck would I know?

Best Fine Dining: Well, I've only been to two of your upper-crusty Vegas food troughs. Aqua, at The Bellagio, was unbelievable. Like being drunk on food. Like an edible orgasm (that's meant to sound appetizing, even if it doesn't). Delmonico's, an Emeril Legase joint in The Venetian, was excellent, though not quite as good as Aqua. In both, the service is impeccable, far above any standard I hold for wait staff. Take you wife/husband/partner to either of these places and you'll reap great reward.

Best Day Trip: I suppose it's Hoover Dam. Or the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. Again, I have no idea. Neither has to do with gambling or drinking.

Best Pool: Hard Rock. Oh Sweet Lord.

Best Buffet: Rio wins this one as well. Often a ridiculous line to enter, but a few dozen drunken railbirds might be able to clear it out in a hurry.

Best Wedding Chapel: Don't do it. Get on a bus to Albuquerque. Now.

Please note this is only one man's opinion and despite that one man being a BAD-ASS motherfuckin' card player, your mileage may vary.


Originally posted on Dec. 14, 2005

As mentioned, most of the evening, I was 'round the corner at the bar. I like that bar. It's where I first met most of the bloggers six months ago. They have Newcastle. The bartenders are quick with service and tolerant of the bloggers' desire to tilt most everyone. Some were serenaded, some were flattered, all were engaged at levels to which they are probably unaccustomed and performed admirably. Maybe because, tilt efforts aside, bloggers tip like motherfuckers.

At one point, I was standing there with Chad, across from--and facing--the bar. TrumpJosh, whom I'd met earlier and had filled me in on the meaning and origin of "Slainthe" (Gaelic for "cheers") was talking to Rini. When all of a sudden...

People falling is funny. America's Home videos has been on...what?...15 years. But on that show, you see the set up and you know what's coming. Uh oh. It's a pinata! Someone's gonna catch one in the junk! In the case of Josh, there was no warning. One minute, he was there, his left elbow leaning on the bar. The next, his feet were above his head. When his legs went out from under him, he grabbed at the bar with his free hand, but missed, the attempt only serving to put him more off balance. With his other hand, he cradled his beer. His full pint of beer. Impressively, he managed to hold onto it, saving a shattered glass cleanup on Aisle 4. More impressively, he managed to throw 12 of the 16 ounces right into his own mug.

There's that beat after something like this happens. Uh, what's the protocol here? That was the funniest thing I've seen in my entire life, but...uh...maybe he's hurt. I stepped to give him a hand back up, getting there late, as his feet where already under him. He was embarrassed, but provided insight anyway,

"I just fell and threw my beer in my own face."

Aaaaaaaaaaand...there it is. Chad and I doubled over immediately. There was no way to stop it. I'm aware this is quite possibly one of those "had to be there" moments. But let me try to illustrate Just. How. Funny. it was.

The next morning, I found Chad and drizz in the IP casino. I took one look at the former and said, "Dude, the first thing I thought of this morning was Josh falling and I started laughing all over again." Not only did Chad confess to doing the exact same thing, but we then proceeded to laugh uncontrollably about it AGAIN. It would not be the last time either. So, for this trip, Otis was definitely off the hook.


It's not about the poker, people. It's about the people, people. And the best memories you'll take from the upcoming weekend will not be about raking pots, but about those unplanned, spontaneous moments, of which there will be many.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Story Time!

The latest edition of Truckin' has been released, marking its four-year anniversary. Congrats to Pauly on the milestone. I am honored, as always, to have a piece included, so please head over and give it and the others a look and feel free to pass along the link to anyone who might be interested.

I had a good time writing--and experiencing--that story and it's a more or less accurate rendering of my Saturday night in Glasgow. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the hooligans who made it possible. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No More Linkee My Wankee

I am a procrastinator on some things and getting people linked up is one of them. I average two updates a year. But here's the latest, so quittcher bitchin'. I've added everyone (I think) who will be in Vegas for the WPBT, as well as some others I've played with, stumbled across, received link requests. On the last, I know there are some of you that I've missed, because, in addition to being a procrastinator, I'm fucking lazy and didn't want to sift through 6 months of comments to find you. If you fall into that category, hit me up again (I got that phrase from myspace) and I'll rectify.

In addition to the sidebar action, I'd like to highlight a few blogs that I read regularly for their fine content.

First is a newer blog titled My Totally Gay Online Diary. I do not believe further elaboration is necessary, nor do I think further elaboration could eloquently describe the contents therein.

I met Amy Calistri at the WSOP last year, though I imagine she doesn't recall such a historic encounter, mainly because Al was there, too, and he's considerably more charming than I. Amy rules. And proves it daily at Aimlessly Chasing Amy.

Hoyazo's got skillz and I swore I'd never link him after he bet me off AK with a Hammer Re-Raise, but I am not one to hold grudges. He has recently won the Party $40K and a WSOP Bracelet Race.

jjrok, who either loves "Good Times" or is "meh" about pocket jacks has had some hilarious (and disturbing) recent posts, one using photoshop (Al + Pauly + Speaker + The Wiggles) and another on the maiden voyages of some poker blogs. Funny stuff.

Like Jen Leo needs a link from the likes of me, but consider it a tribute. Jen Leo Live!

cc is throwing down consistently excellent content, including a series on poker and relationships, as well as interviews with high-profile poker luminaries. I am still waiting for the Poker and Infidelity insights.

Visual Aides

Working on the thousand words. In the meantime, picture dump:

Springfield Castle

Ireland is very green



The "Hobbit Trail."

Cliffs of Moher

Funny Money

The Boys

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Planes, Trains and Buses and Taxis, Too

When we last left our traveling hero, I was sprawled out in my underwear on the hard mattress and thin pillows of Jury's Inn Glasgow, drooling beer out of the corner of my gaping mouth and snoring like a machine gun. My 9 a.m. wake-up call rousted me from this pitiful scene and I stood uneasily, scratched my balls and splashed some cold water on my face.

My plane from Glasgow to Shannon, Ireland left at 11:55, but I was warned that RyanAir, my carrier--the Southwest of Europe--closed their gates a half-hour BEFORE departure for some stupid fucking reason that has nothing to do with security since they let stand-by passengers rush to the gate at the last minute. But I am an early-to-the-airport guy and Prestwick, the (much) smaller of the two Glasgow airports, was a simple 45-minute train trek from my hotel.

I planned to get the 9:30 train from Central Station, located conveniently two blocks from my hotel, but I missed it by a couple minutes. I had packed the night before (the night before, as in, before I went out and got hammered), so had little to do but shotgun a gallon of water with a java back. I was hydrated, but still feeling like shit.

I caught the 10 a.m. train and all was going swimmingly until about halfway through the journey when we stopped dead on the tracks. And stayed there for a half-hour. I kept glancing nervously at my watch, seeing the minutes tick away, knowing I had to check-in by 11:25 to make my flight.

The train finally got moving and pulled into the Prestwick Station at 11:18. I was standing at the doors when they opened and dashed across the walkway. The terminal is a small one, without the post and fabric barriers to mark serpentine queues. It was just like one blank space with people milling about. I saw a RyanAir sign and sprinted up to the customer rep.

"Is this where I check-in for RyanAir?"
"Yes. Where are you going?"
"Shannon's closed."
"Whaddya mean it's closed?"
"It's closed. Forty-five minutes before departure. Go over there," he said, pointing toward a line 20-deep with purple-faced people in various stages of agitated and profane.

RyanAir WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES let you on the flight if you are not there before they randomly "close" it (when they made the announcement at 11:45 that Passengers Fuck Face and Dick Head should report to Gate Asshole for stand-by boarding to Shannon, it was a good thing I wasn't armed, because I'd have taken out everybody in a blue polyester vest). I, and a dozen others on my stalled train, found this out from a Stepford Wife, who could only offer a glazed look at the pleas of now-stranded travelers. She also gave us the oh-so-inviting option to switch our ticket to their Dublin flight leaving two hours later and hope to get on as stand-by passengers. For the privilege, we got to pay an extra 56 pounds, better than $100 US.

Having decided mass murder was out, I glumly accepted. I was quietly pissed at myself for not making the 9:30 train until I found out the reason my train was delayed was because the 9:30 took a crap on the tracks and had to be towed, never even making it to Prestwick. I slouched in the terminal, shotgunned another gallon of water, nearly broke 60 at St. Andrews on my PSP and hoped I'd make the Dublin flight. I did. And slept the hour trip westward.

Now in Dublin, I had to get from the airport to their central train station. A bus was on hand to do the trick. After a 45-minute wait and the cost of 5 euros, I rode to the city centre. It was quite a picturesque journey, traveling along the River Liffey that intersects the city. The weather was unseasonably hot and a lot of people were out walking, their white freckled shoulders burned bright pink. There was plenty to look at, from hilltop churches to modern hotels to the exceptionally hot redhead on my bus who felt compelled to remove her jacket and stand with her cannonball breasts jutting forward provocatively. Once we got to the train station, I stalked her for an hour while I waited. No, not really.

I got a train from Dublin to Limerick. Two-and-a-half hours, 41 Euros. I slept almost the entire time, eventually waking up with a sweat-soaked t-shirt because it was 80 freaking degrees in Ireland, quite a switch from the seven straight months of rain they'd been having (possible I exaggerated the length of time there). At Limerick, I caught a bus (20 minutes, 4.20 euros) to Adare, where I walked into the nearest pub and ordered a taxi to take me to my hotel (5 minutes, 7 euros).

So, to sum up, a tale of the tape if you will:

Planned Journey
Total Travel Time: 3 1/2 hours
Cost: About $90. Train from hotel to airport: 6 pounds), Air fare from Glasgow to Shannon: 36 pounds, Bus from Shannon to Adare: 12 euros.

Actual Journey
Total Travel Time: 13 hours
Cost: About $276. Change ticket: 56 pounds, Bus: 5 euros, Train: 41 Euros, Bus: 4.20 euros, Taxi: 7 euros.

Surprisingly, my ire stayed mostly in check. I'll chalk that up to my massive hangover. I had neither the energy to expend nor the desire to do anything but sit down and sleep. Check-in at my hotel went smoothly and I planned on a shower (which I predicted would be one of those Top Five showers I'd speak about in referential tones along side such Greatest Hits as The First Shower Back After a Weekend of Camping in Mexico or the First Shower I Ever Took With A Naked Lady), a Guinness and a bite to eat in the hotel bar.

Alas, I couldn't get the lights turned on in my room. Only one worked and it did no damage in the bathroom. Again, I had no energy to trudge back down the lobby an perhaps be forced to move to another room, thus delaying the shower experience, so I just proceeded in the dark. I had to guess at which of the two pump bottles was shampoo and which was body wash (and found out later I'd guessed correctly). It was a pretty impressive effort, aside from flooding the entire bathroom. I stepped out into water two inches deep on the floor, which presumably escaped because I left the shower curtain open to all what little light there was to filter in. Screw 'em, I thought, giving a guy a room with no lights. Serves 'em right.

I changed into jeans and a linen shirt, refreshened to a point, and went downstairs. I complained about the lighting situation and the helpful desk jockey informed me that that little card on my key ring? the one that looks like a typical door key for most hotels? there's a slot by the door that you stick that into to activate the lights.


I have traveled more than most and while I see the reasoning behind such a move to prevent people from wasting electricity, how's about we INFORM THE GUESTS OF THIS LITTLE QUIRK at check-in so they a) don't have to shower in the dark and b) don't look like total dickwads when they come to ask about it later at the front desk. The hotel dude wasn't condescending about it. In fact, I saw him later that week in a pub (it's a very small town) and we had a short conversation and a laugh about it.

I headed for the bar. Guinness, please. Ham and cheese toastie, please. There were two couples there, all four of them intently watching one of the two plasma screens which was showing "Lost." Ah, Irish ambiance.

The sandwich was good, the chips excellent (as they would universally be on this trip) and the salad a delightful mixture of sweet and mustard. I inhaled all of it quickly and decided against another pint. It had been a long day and there was much to do in the morning. I collapsed on my bed, flipped on the BBC and fell asleep immediately, right about the time my friends were boarding a plane in Boston. I hoped they made their flight.

Two Tickets to Paradise

Thanks to Joanada, Absinthe, biggestron, TX April and others for the council and railbirding. Congrats to Nerd for another solid finish and he even had chat on while we were briefly at the same table. Extra special thanks to Veneno, who I would not let get off the phone until I busted. She took me from 30th to 3rd with her Magical Mystery Dust.

(Linkage and more info after I sleep)

And forget what I said about how you all should be playing this tourney. I want to keep it for me.


The Paradise nightly $10 re-buy is a sordid affair, full of spectacular beats statistically improbable circumstances and play that makes you wonder if the participants got their full compliment of chromosomes at birth.

I fit right in.

When I first stumbled across this tourney, and it was a totally happy accident, it was just to play a tourney with the small remaining money I had deposited at Paradise for the WPBT satellite. I ended up finishing 11th in that first go-round and I've moneyed in it more than half the time ever since. Yet, last night was a) only the second time I'd played it in months, since I depleted my online holdings for mortgage payments and b) my first final table in the event.

I re-bought 6 times, twice my preferred number. I was ahead on 5 of them, at least 70-30. And that's why I love this tourney, because, facing a push and a re-raise, folks will call with 44. Or KTo. I mulled giving up the ghost at the final level of the re-buy, but I told myself that I'd gotten all the rotten luck out of the way. So I did a double re-buy, added on and took the minimum of 5500 chips to the second hour. I was also in for $80, meaning I'd need to finish top 50 (out of 892) to make a profit.

I had a very good second hour, chipping up to 18K or so without ever having to dodge bullets, holding dominant hands every time. Boy do these people love Ace-anything. In fact, one of the key components of last night was me calling raises with KQ, knowing I was not a big dog. You've got people making 6x pre-flop raises with A4o. I won two of those 60-40 matchups (turns out you get paid off, too, since they'll even call with an unimproved ace), the second of which propelled me to the chip lead with 40 left (yeah, I left out like two hours there. Suffice to say I was kicking people's asses).

Once we hit the final table, I was third in chips and we had a very polarized crowd. Four stacks in comfortable range and 6 with Ms below 6. And those 6 would not fucking die. Every time they got their chips in for the first half hour, no matter if they were ahead or behind, they doubled up. By hitting gutshots on the river. By hitting runner-runner flush with an underpair. Just incredible. I figured I'd just lay low until we got down to 6 or so, but it seemed like it was never gonna happen. Eventually, someone went out. Then I picked off the guy in 9th place. With a more equitable distribution of stacks, play tightened and I stole where I could (a necessity as each orbit was costing six figures). With 5 left, I had __ in the BB.

The SB, who I had covered only by 200K (not much at this stage) open-pushed. My question to you is, what's the worst hand you call with here? Before I tell you the answer, let me tell you I called and put him to the rail, where he called me a donkey retard.

I had KQo. He had 43o. I'd call with worse than KQ in that exact situation. You?

Soon it was 3 and we were all over a million in chips. One guy got cripped down to 250K only to win a race (a win that cost me $1200) with TT v. AQ to get back in it. The largest stack was pressuring me and I couldn't defend my blinds with T6o. Any push and he has odds to call (and had been all game long). I eventually pushed with Q8 from the SB, got called by A6 and my 40 lost to the 60 this time as he made a boat by the turn.

All in all, it was satisfying to play well again. I owe a few people (yet another) thanks for pointing my head back in the right poker direction. You know who you are.

I probably won't play it tonight (sleep deprivation), but I'll be back soon. Oh yes.

Monday, June 19, 2006

State of Love and Trust

Everybody take a seat. I'm gonna pause here in the trip reports because I finally came to the conclusion that I have to get this stuff down. I've actually been writing a great deal on the following subject, because it keeps just getting more and more absurd. But first, a disclaimer:

I am doing really well. I'm happy. I'd been trending this direction for about a month now, roughly around the time I moved out of the house. I left those ghosts behind, assisted by the seemingly daily revelations about X and both her past and present behaviors. It became slap-in-the-face clear to me that the woman I loved was largely mythological, a product of my trust that the person she presented to me for more than six years was the real her. This made it easier to turn the corner, to analyze our past and present with minimal emotion, allowing me to see things clearly, perhaps for the first time.

My trip to Ireland and Scotland was invigorating. I enjoyed myself immensely, and though I missed AJ on a fairly constant basis, I mostly left the real world behind. I had long discussions with my friends about my situation, a brief moment of tilt and then, a seminal experience. I will write about the last at some point soon. While I hesitate to call it an epiphany, it was definitely a light bulb moment, one born from a magical encounter. Perhaps the best example of my "healing" was when I returned home. After a similar previous adventure (ahemPlayboyMansionahem) I came home to that empty fucking house and the whispers of my tattered real life, a realization that amped my depression level to its all-time high. This time, I came home anxious to work on my apartment, set about building my life there, both individually and for AJ. It's only been a week, but that glow is not in any danger of being rubbed out.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know my frame of mind before you read what happened to me yesterday. It's positively cringe-worthy and when you read it, you may instinctively cover your testicles (and you ladies, well, not sure what you cover...clasp your breasts, maybe?). It might read like a kick to the nuts. Followed in rapid succession by another kick to the nuts. And yet, I tell you right now, after the initial shock wore off, I just laughed. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all, from Point A right down to Point Z. I mean, it was 96-degrees yesterday, who in their right fucking mind goes to the supermarket to get soup!?

AJ and I, that's who. On the way home from my soccer game, I asked him what he wanted for dinner. When he offered no solution, I suggested grilled cheese, a perennial favorite, not to mention easy fixin' for a heat-sapped Dad with a potentially cracked rib. He liked the idea, but wanted some tomato soup for dippin'. I tried to talk him out of it, as the very idea of soup on this day made me swelter, but he was adamant.

So there we were in the bread aisle, when AJ dashes a good 30-feet, hugs a guy around the leg and says, "What are you doing here?" The guy had his back to me, standing there with two kids, one probably a pre-teen, the other a bit older than AJ. I figure it's a teacher at his preschool or something and start to push the cart that way when the guy turns around.

It's the Douchebag Poet.

Now, this moment was inevitable with he, X and I all living in close proximity. But ON FATHER'S DAY? Stranger than fiction, people. All the ways I anticipated this meeting went flashing through my head. I was literally drunk on firing neurons and could do nothing but stand there open-mouthed as AJ talked with the younger of the two kids. He walked toward me and of the million things I wanted to say and do, they were all crowded out by the Voice of Reason. That fucker. He said, "Don't make a scene in front of AJ." So when the Douchebag offered his hand and his name, I took it and gritted mine in response. I finally found my voice and told AJ to come back and something he heard there made him do it instantly. I grabbed a six-pack of sesame buns and turned away, but not before hearing something said between AJ and the younger kid, something which exposed yet another deception.


So that was awkward, but that's mostly all it was. I was a little upset, but not nearly as much as you'd expect I would be if you heard that story in a vacuum. And by the time we'd left the store, I had shrugged it off, though it did cause me to forget two items I needed. At the time, I was unsure I'd handled it well, what with (once again) taking the high road. I wondered if my penchant for doing that makes me some kind of sucker, some kind of pushover.

But, in retrospect, I know it was the best thing. AJ has enough confusion and insecurity right now. And for me, I'm not the least bit worried about losing my influence over my boy, or having his love for me altered by the presence in his life of this other. My main, sometimes my only, focus is AJ and he's plenty perceptive enough to feel that. As someone said to me, he may not even be aware of how much he loves me. It's simply instinctual. It is, in fact, one of the things about him of which I am most proud: his goodness, his willingness to befriend everyone. Just yesterday, he met the child of a new soccer teammate and by halftime wanted to know if Cole could come to our house for a sleepover. This is just the way my boy is and his hugging of the Douchebag in no way affects or minimizes our relationship.

As for the High Road, later last evening, I got right the hell off of it.


What AJ said at the supermarket exposed the fact that X invited the Douchebag and his kids to her company picnic while I was in Ireland, once again violating our agreement to not bring him around our son. This is the one thing upon which I have insisted and time and time again, she has agreed to abide by my wishes. She doesn't believe for a second that bringing to two of them together is harmful in any way toward AJ, but, to my face, she tells me she'll agree for now. And then, behind my back, does whatever the fuck she wants.

Again, this is a situation that a month ago would have put me on massive tilt. Now, I can unemotionally assess the problem. And it was in that kind of mood that I called X last night and let her have it, said all those things I'd kept to myself the last few months. Not angrily, but forcefully, and with nary a pause for her to respond. I had no interest in hearing her feeble attempts at rationalization. This was for me. Not because I think my words will have any afffect on her. Not because I think my words will alter her bahavior. Because I have held back some things that needed to be said.

I'm not surprised, by the way. There have been dozens of incidents over the past months that have cemented my knowledge that she holds me in little regard. That fact doesn't hurt me any longer. In fact, it is helpful for me to know that in this trashed relationship, I was the stand-up one. I was the one who trusted and gave and if the end result is that I was a fool to believe in her, that's fine. That's the way I am, believing that people are essentially good, that the words they speak and the actions they pursue are indicative of their inner self. Just my luck to pick this woman with a the cheerful facade and black fucking heart. Yet, I make no apologies for being that way. It's the way AJ is too, which is just how I want it.

And there's the thing. It's not me that X has to answer to. It's AJ. And that day will come sooner than she thinks. So while she continues to do whatever she wants with no regard for anyone else, she's hastening that day of reckoning. There's nothing I need to do to ensure that time will come. There are no more demands I will place on her. She's free to do whatever she wants--within reason. I believe this is known as giving her enough rope to hang herself.

As for me, all I can do is hope I can exert my influence on AJ. It's not a task with which I am either uncomfortable or inexperienced. I'm confident he and I can handle anything that comes our way. He'll never hear a bad word about his mother from me. But he will soon know very well how different she and I really are. She told me a few months back, by way of explanation for her cheating, that she came to the conclusion we didn't have enough in common. I scoffed then, but she's exactly right. As far as our concern for others, we are polar opposites. As far as our willingness to sacrifice for our son, we're miles apart.


There have been several instances lately where I've quite literally said aloud, "Man am I happy I'm not married to her any more." I can not state that with more forcefulness or sincerity. If this all came as something of a surprise to me, I am no longer lamenting this change in my life. It could have been much worse. I could have spent 10 more years of rapidly dwindling happiness with her before she checked out. It was inevitable and I'm thankful it happened now, before I wasted another second loving my perception of her.

As those of you who've been reading here for a while know, most of last year, X and I were trying to conceive another child. Were trying, in fact, right up until December, even as she was in the throes of her affair. We even went so far as to go to the fertility clinic for tests, tests which showed no medical reason why we couldn't conceive. And I can't tell you how much of a fucking relief it is that we didn't. I can only believe there was someone watching out for me, for that unborn child.

Much of what I've found out about her was shocking. At first. But with each confession, with each piece of information that leaks, the picture becomes more fully formed to the point that I now greet these revelations with a simple shrug. "That fits," I say to myself. I'm not surprised at all. Nor was I surprised at the following recent tidbits, two items which will close this post, which I present to you here and now without further elaboration:

She dyed her hair blonde.
She's getting implants next week.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Godfather's Day

After watching and re-watching the US-Italy match, I have two thoughts.

1. That is where the team has grown. Instead of folding after a poor performance in the first game, they came out willing to take chances, to force the game, to WORK. Good for you guys. Pride restored.
2. Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda got a call at some point on Saturday informing him that his children were being "watched" by two rather large wiseguys in dark suits.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Think I'm Dumb

Strange that a 111th place finish in the Full Tilt (now with new client goodness!) $18K last night, what with it being 30 places off the money, could make me feel invigorated about my poker game, but it did.

The previous poker post generated further discussion (a typically-literate post from Absinthe) and an e-mail from a respected blogger/tourney player. Both of them, while rich with mechanical and theoretical truisms, spoke to me in a way that can be boiled down to just a few words:

Pull your fucking head out, Speaker.

(Before we move on, can I just say I love referring to my fake internet name in the 3rd person? Thanks.)

At the most basic, these posts/discussions/e-mails made me think about the game, about my game, and it quickly became apparent that is something I have not done nearly enough of in a while. I let the endless parade of 94o make me lazy. Click the fold button and go back to watching the World Cup (speaking of which, I saw the first half-hour of Argentina's clinical dismantling of S&M this morning and coupled with their classy win over a tough Ivory Coast side on Saturday, they have stamped themselves the favorite. Brazil looked like...well...the US team...v. Croatia compared the the free-flowing moves of Argentina).

So, the result was me...and this is important...PAYING ATTENTION to the poker last night and I made good plays and great plays and only one poor (non-fatal) one, which could be explained by the fact the guy had proven himself to be a moron and just happened to wake up with aces that hand. On the hand that I went out on, just before the second break, I made my best play of the night, pushing my 33 into a J74 flop, a play I would be LOATHE to make if I was just playing the cards, was not in tune with the table or the players. One of the two other players in the hand called 90% of his stack with KQo and made a runner-runner flush (after I made a set on the turn).

And I was happy! I was happy I a) worked through the action b) came to the conclusion I was ahead c) bet d) was right. Too often lately, I simply played the cards. I was reminded that's no way to win a tournament. I didn't worry that I was well below par with the antes kicking in. I didn't worry about how many players remained. And I thought through every hand.

You'd think these sorts of things, this skill set, would be second nature by now. I'm chagrined to say that's not the case for me. But thanks to the refreshers, I'm gonna turn it around, get back to playing my A game. I wasn't card dead. I was brain dead.

Of course, I have no time to play poker this weekend, not even the Blogger freeroll at Stars. That's okay. I have ideas.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tourists Say the Stupidest Things

I woke up Sunday morning after precious little sound sleep, the events and smells of the previous evening much fresher than I felt. I think I got about four hours. After drinking for the previous 11. And mixing those drinks. Specifics must remain a mystery for now and names will be changed to protect the married.

On tap was a tour of Celtic Park, home of Glasgow Celtic. I dragged my fuzzy ass down Jamaica St. to a taxi queue where a bunch of cabbies were standing around drinking coffee and smoking. "Excuse me," I said to one, a silver-haired gent in a flannel jacket. "Are you on the job?"

There was laughter. Another cabbie said, "He hasn't been on the job in 30 years." I was puzzled and I don't even know why I used that particular phrase, since I can't remember uttering it previously in my lifetime. After I got in the cab, I was told "on the job" means "having sex." I laughed and added that I could relate to the driver's cold streak.

It was a gray day and began to rain as I waited outside the park for Div. I welcomed the drops and the wind. Fresh air was my friend. I was awfully woozy. The stadium was locked up and we stood around waiting for entrance.

The Guide was an older fella, with the club a long time, and his memory for events and obvious passion and affection for the history made for an interesting presentation. We were joined on the tour by a couple of Dads and 8 very active 9- and 10-year-olds. My quesy stomach and pounding head might have rebelled at their boisterousness on some other day, but they were mostly fine, the one exception being when they would all scramble past me while we were walking through doors or narrrow hallyways. Whippersnappers almost upended me on more than one occassion. I did have one moment in the visitor's locker room where I thought I was gonna puke. Quick wave of nausea, cold sweat on the forehead, faint smell of linament and dirty socks. It passed, though.

We got to go down to pitch level (that's the tour guide in the tie there) and I could just imagine the rafters shaking when the home side put one in. I tend to get all nostalgic when entering baseball stadiums, remembering games and visits and friends, seeing the impossibly green turf when you first emerge from your section's tunnel. I felt that way here, too, though, I've had no experience with live European football (which I am totally gonna remedy with a trip to Anfield, perhaps as soon as early next year). Ballparks are cathedrals and should be treated with proper reverence. Which is why it's an outrage they let a jackass like me sit in the dugout.

(It's doing it again! Picture me, in the dugout at Celtic Park, puffy hungover face, Adidas hat pulled over on ratty hair.)

They showed us a very interesting DVD, narrated in heroically wooden fashion by current Celtic captain Neil Lennon, and then we headed over to the souvenier shop for some goodies. I got AJ a Hoops jersey with Henrik Larsson's name and number on the back. Not much call any longer for the Swede, said the sales girl, since he moved on to Barcelona (and now on to a Swedish club), but I wanted AJ's 1/4 Swedish blood to be represented. I guess I could have went with current player Nakamura in a nod to his quarter Japanese, as well, but it would have been tough to fit that on the child's jersey. Got a Bhouys sweatshirt for myself, in green, just the shade Felicia likes on me.

We then walked back to the city centre, carefully avoiding a few hardcore Rangers blocks and dreaming about food. I had a big plate of pasta with extra (yummy) garlic bread, served by a hot blonde of Eastern European birth. I was in no state to be charming, what with my hangover and my mouth stuffed with penne, but I did watch her ass straining against her tight jeans for the duration of my meal. She got me so worked up I went back to the hotel and napped. For four hours.

I'm a wild man.

I ate dinner in the Cafe, ordering my first fish and chips of the trip. It would be my last. There were fucking bones in it. For the second time that day, I nearly gagged. Div, Tank and I browsed a couple nice little watering holes in another section of the city before being enticed by three "free" passes to a night club. Strange rules they have in Glasgow as most of the pubs shut down around midnight, but the clubs are open pretty much all hours.

The bouncer at this particular club asked us where we were coming from (odd) and how much we'd had to drink (odder). Div said, "four or five pints," which was MORE than we'd had, a white lie that went in the opposite direction of what I'd expected. He explained that they wanted people with a little buzz so they'd drink more. Apparently this bouncer does not know us very well.

I had a few Vodka/Red Bulls (£1 each!), but had a hard time being comfortable in the loud, sweaty, dark club, which is no surprise since I've always felt that way about such establishments. Still, £1 each! And there were some nice, fresh-faced young lassies to look at. Yes, I talked to one. She didn't talk back so much.

It was around two in the ayem, so Div headed home because of some committment he had in the morning called "work." The Tank suggested we go to the riverboat and the next time I turn down an early morning blackjack expedition will be the first, so off we went. We got a round of beers and sat at a £1 minimum table and decided to wager £5 each shoe on who did better. He won two out of three shoes, but my margin of victory was large on the third and, despite the £5 hit on the prop bets, I ended up £16. We drank another beer on the terrace overlooking the River Clyde. Or I drank half of it before I hit my saturation point. We bid each other adieu and I headed back for my last night in Glasgow, the second in a row in which I would get four hours sleep. But I had just a short day planned--one-hour flight to Ireland, one hour bus ride to my hotel--so I wasn't worried about it.

Oh how wrong I was.

First Dump of the Day

Okay, so the poker is at an all-time Frustration high. I went out of the $9K last night without winning a single pot in 6 levels. I finished 5th in a $30 SnG, hamstrung by a rivered 5-outer which was the difference between Chip Leader with 5 left and less-than-average stack with 6 left. And then I went card dead, which is a familiar refrain 'round these parts and should really have a more evocative label, like Card Famine or Scorched Earth.

I was lamenting how this statistical anomaly of Card Castration has affected my game, basically making me gun-shy and passive, as it seems no matter how far ahead or behind I am, the cards fall the other direction. One of the examples I used of my passivity was something that happened in the $9K. I raised two limpers with AQ (this is Level 4; 30/60 blinds) who called. The flop came 9-high and the the limpers went to war with 98 and K9. Now, getting out-flopped is nothing rare against these types of hands. What I commented was that I was HESITANT to raise with that hand because of all the bullshit I've beeen putting up with the last 6 weeks in regard to losing with these types of hands versus lesser (and much lesser) holdings.

The well-respected Absinthe responded to my comment by saying he will rarely raise with AQ there in the first hour. Which set off a 45 minute discussion that kept me up past my bedtime AND caused me to lay awake for another hour pondering the points and counterpoints that were raised.

The issue is whether to exploit/risk chips on small edges early in these low buy-in MTTs when the blinds are small and stacks are "short."

Now, I've written about this. In my Low Buy-In Online Tournament Mainfesto Version 1.0 (scroll down), I talk about playing EXTREMELY tight in the first hour, the primary reason being you will get paid off when you have a monster hand, because people suck and you don't. I also talk about being willing to limp. The easiest way to build an early stack is to get cards and have dummies pay you off.

So what happens if you don't get cards in that first hour? Well, I'll tell you, because I have a wealth of recent experience with this. What happens is you end up with less than your starting stack in the second hour and are forced to push with 66 or KQ into an 8K stack who will call with almost anything and out-flop you send you to the rail. You know, as an example.

I heard Howard Lederer say the following few months back, concerning playing online or live against the internet kids: "You have to get cards to beat them," implying that they won't lay down a hand. This is certainly true. So, that raises the question, if you don't get any fucking cards early in an MTT, you're done?

Probably. And maybe my present zeal to raise with my AQ is precisely because it's the purtiest hand I've seen in a month. Perhaps my frustration has caused me to lose patience. It's possible I'm trying to force the issue with less than dominating hands because I'm unable to find dominating hands to play. In which case, I've let the cards alter the way I play, let them take me out of my comfort zone and thus make sub-optimal decisions. And I'm stacking off with these hands (because the RNGs of the world lick balls) with chips that might be useful later on if I do catch a pocket pair higher than 44.

But there's still the larger question. Will you take a chance on a coin flip early? Gamble with a small edge/deficit to amass a stack, which you can hope to grow exponentially? And does doubling up early really give you that much of an advantage, since 3K chips ain't a whole lot once the antes kick in? Is the risk worth the reward? Is the reward really a reward?

So, I dump that on your plate this morning. Maybe more trip report later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scot Free

I suppose we'll start at the beginning, though that seems boring. Linear narrative. Bah.

On both my flights between LAX and London, I traveled with rock stars, though their current standing in the world of music was illustrated quite clearly both in their appearance and seating. I noticed Tom Delonge right away, his new band Angels and Airwaves (worst. name. ever.) headed for a European tour. The group sat in first class. The road crew had me surrounded back in aisle 38. On the return flight, a grizzled and emaciated fellow seemed familiar to me while we waited at the gate. It was Leif Garrett. He sat a couple rows in front of me, minded by a big gorilla of a handler/bodyguard who liked to stand up and look scary and important once every half hour.

Being a sketchy flyer anyway, I figured the return flight was going down since Leif hasn't made the best choices in life and probably deserves to die. Fortunately, that karma didn't visit on this day.


My stop-over in London was only an hour and twenty minutes, which is way too short a time if you've ever been to Heathrow. It's this massive, spread-out place and to get from one terminal to another, you usually have to take a bus or a subway. This in addition to having to walk a couple miles on either side of that ride, a jam-packed security area and a crowded airspace/tarmac that generally results in some kind of delay getting to the gate. I had navigated most of it okay and had some time to spare when I got to the passport check-in and found myself behind a swell of elderly Asians.

I was not alone, however. A young Aussie chick in front of me was also sweating making her connecting flight. She had ten fewer minutes than I. But we got to talking and she was nice and pleasent and coming from Marrakhesh(!) and if she didn't have that sloppy body and those horribly yellow, over-bitten teeth, I might have tried to have a little sex with her right there. It's been a while for me. I had plenty of time. But I passed.

I dozed the entire hour to Glasgow, hemmed in my window seat by a rugby player who liked to spread his broadsheet wide. I've been working on being more assertive lately, but this was not situation where I felt it prudent to speak up.

Div graciously ferried me from the airport and after I got checked-in at my hotel, he and I headed out into the city. I was centrally-located and we walked to a nearby cafe for some food. I went with the bacon, avocado and mixed greens salad, blaring my California-ness, while Div had black pudding and I was remiss in asking him what the hell is black pudding, since I still don't rightly know. After the food (and a Scottish Ale), he asked what I wanted to do.

"Let's go drink."
"Okay, what do you want?"

So he took me here:

(Picture, if you will, an image of a drinking establishment entitled "Beer Cafe." 'Cause that's where we went. 'Cause I have a picture of it. but FUCKING BLOGGER WON'T POST IT.)

Here I am, all set with the jokes, the visual prop comedy you've all come to know and love from me and Carrot Top and today, of all days, blogger decides to be ineffective in the photo posting department. It was called "Beer Cafe!" Beer! Cafe!

Ahem. I was surprisingly not jet-lagged. The last couple times I made the trip to Europe, I had a rough time with it. Well, once I got brutal jet-lag. The other time I got deathly ill, an occasion which allowed me to experience the "model" socialist health care system of Sweden, which was neither model, nor the slightest bit effective, so next time somebody holds their system up as some kind of ideal, just remember that their doctors suck and they pay half their salary for the privilege. Yet, I digress.

I had no jet-lag, partly because I had a solid 5-hour block of sleep on the flight. Undisturbed, deep sleep. Also unusual, but I bought one of those travel pillows for the occasion and it was the best 15 bucks I ever spent. It kept my head from lolling forward (or to the side) which is what generally wakes me up during travel. That I had an aisle seat (my preference) and an empty seat next to me was also of great comfort.

So we're plowing down pints of Guinness in various establishments (some of them not named "Beer Cafe") and I'm able to get the gist of what Div is saying, despite only understanding 70% of the actual words. Div talks fast. And he's got a funny accent.

We called it around midnight. I was up and at 'em early the next morning for a bus tour of Glasgow while Div had a family function. The tour was a little underwhelming because I was cold and a little hungover tired and hungry and my camera battery (freshly charged) ran out almost immediately, so I didn't get any good pictures of the cool things I did see (the University of Glasgow had some great architecture). I did see two pigeons fucking in George Square, which made me momentarily lament not ravaging the Aussie when I had my chance to hit the under on my meaningless sex with meaningless women in meaningless queues prop bet.

I had some lunch in my hotel cafe and prepared to head out for the Cincinnati Club for some poker. Div got a lift (not the elevator kind) from his lovely wife, who I got to meet, along with his gorgeous giggling daughter. It must be said Mrs. Div was quite permissive with the hubby that weekend. Not only that, on Sunday night, she kept texting me updates of the A's-Twins game. I would say that is the very definition of a "keeper." Cheers to Mrs. Div.

(In your mind's eye, imagine a wrought iron and pillared facade, a black sign hanging above spelling out the club's name with a neon yellow "Poker Club" below, weak and ineffective in the afternoon light. I have a picture of that, too.)

I met the whole crew: Rod, Tank (who I would later introduce to an exotic dancer as "Tank," causing him to say, "You don't know my real name, do you?"), Dave, Laz, Stephen, Billy. Most of us eventually settled into the first of two 20+1-pound (that's about $40, Larry) SnG, winner-take-all. I made nary a dent in either. My cards were so fucking crappy that when I did raise, everybody folded to my "aces." I actually had 64o. "I'm really not this tight!" I continued to assert.

The best part was watching them all have a go at one another. The table talk was fast and furious. Steven asked me if I could understand their accents and I mostly could, but not when they were all talking at once. I was having such a good time, in fact, that Div and I missed our dinner reservation, realizing the fact far too late. No haggis for me.

The club was cool. Tank and Rod were running a charity heads-up tournament to send a Scot to a UK-wide competition later in the year. The owner or manager or whatever he was, a Middle Eastern guy with a sketchy squint, began to get a little perturbed by all of us hanging around since he had a $10K guaranteed running soon and his "big" customers were showing up. Other than that, I felt right at home. Perhaps the coolest feature was the three computer terminals set up in the room, on one of which a guy was four-tabling.

The rest of the'll have to wait for this month's edition of Truckin' for that. I'll pick up next time on Sunday morning, where I toured Glasgow's most hallowed cathedral, Celtic Park, nursing a wicked hangover.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just a Few

I have 700 e-mails to answer delete. I have over 250 posts stored up in Bloglines. I have a month's worth of material from my trip and other stuff I jotted down. When will I get to any of it?

God only knows.

Welcome to the furious tornado that is the return to Real Life after 10 days of immature galavanting. I hate this part. Anyway, I'm all tied up, but I thought I'd at least give you a few brief looks at what you may or may not find in this space in the coming days and weeks.

I dropped £42 playing poker during the trip, in two £20+1 SnGs at the Cincinnati Club in Glasgow. The best hand I was dealt during roughly 100 hands was 88, which ran into TT. I am officially card dead on two continents...I met a player who achieved Supernova status at Poker Stars, meaning I know TWO of that very exclusive fraternity. Of course, I had to find out if The Tank knows The Nerd and he responded (good-naturedly) to my query with, "I own The Venetian!" Cocky Scots...Back-water, dip-shit tourists from Alabama arguing exchange rates with condescending Asian money-changers is pure comedy fucking gold...Driving Irish backroads is a harrowing experience, even as well as Donny managed it...I met people, actually living, breathing Irish people, who refer to Guinness as "cheap beer" and consider Budweiser a delicacy...I missed my flight from Scotland to Ireland. It totally wasn't my fault. In fact, I'm almost certain I was simply a faceless pawn in a global racketeering scam, a faceless pawn who got to spend an extra hundred bucks to fly to an airport not of his choosing...There are a few mouthy youths in the village of Broadford, Ireland who are fortunate Kool Breeze and I posses requisite amounts of self-restraint as we were both quite willing to, in the immortal words of Tom Araya, "spill the blood." If, by some quirk of fate, you kids are reading this right now, allow me to use an Irish expression I picked up, "Mind yerselves"...I may have a gambling problem based on the fact I was making blackjack prop bets with The Tank at 4 a.m. for stakes 500% higher than those we were betting on the cards...Schott's new wife is beautiful and gregarious and treated me as if we'd known each other our whole lives even though we'd only just met. She's also a good listener and I really appreciate it, D, even if I can't quite remember what I said, only that I said a lot...I learned Donny's three rules for finding the right woman. Only one of them contains the word "fuck"...The women in Scotland and Ireland seem "fresher" to me. Less make-up, less haughty attitude. I've been in LA too long...Despite paying €99 per at my reasonably posh hotel, I spent two nights sleeping on a coach fully dressed...Picking up your room key at 10 the next morning while still wearing a rumpled suit tends to give you a reputation at small town lodges...I had one of the most beautiful, heart-breaking experiences of my life during the week, which, frankly, I'm not sure I can even talk about yet and no, it's not anything like what you might think...Won't you remember, won't you remember, won't you remember me?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Unbridled Jingosim

Twenty minutes to kick-off and I'm sitting here shaking like a leaf in a gale. Perhaps it's the four cups of coffee I needed to get my jet-lagged body going this morning. It might be the DTs after nine straight days of no-holds-barred pub patronage. But I'll put my money on the unrivaled excitement of a World Cup. I am in Full Giddiot Mode.

I just got done watching the TiVo'd Australia-Japan match, the Socceroos getting three in the last 6 minutes to win 3-1. What a rush. Except, of course, for the fact Shep Messing is the color commentator. Shep Messing? Really? That's the best we can do for soccer announcers, a mediocre goalkeeper from 30 years ago? I could offer more interesting commentary about a prostate exam than what ol' Shep had to offer on the game. I could enunciate better with a mouth full of marbles. Apologies for be-fouling such a historic event with a rant at ESPN.

8:52: Here they come out of the tunnel. Looks like McBride will be the lone striker with Donovan tucked in behind in a 4-5-1. Convey appears to get the nod on a wing over O'Brien. He certainly deserved it. He's been the brightest player on the pitch during the run-up friendlies and had a great season at Reading. Mastroini in the holding role behind Reyna and Donovan. I fully agree with this lineup. Well done, Bruce.

8:54: Czechs have some injury woes. Koller is in the side, but didn't see erstwhile Liverpool striker Milan Baros. Apparently Nedved limped off this week, but I won't believe it until I (don't) see it. Smicer already ruled out for the tournament.

8:56: Nice. ESPN cuts away for commercial after the Star Spangled Banner. Screw the Czech anthem. Now in the director's chair in Bristol, General George Patton.

9:00: Let's get it on! There's Nedved. Told ya. ESPN says it's a 4-4-2 with Donovan up top. I don't believe it, especially with the Czechs in a 4-5-1.

9:01: Koller vs. Onyewu. Clash of the Giants.

9:03: Just don't do anything dumb in the first 15. Settle in. Easy balls. Get a touch.

9:04: Early yellow for Gooch. Not good. Stay aggressive, big fella.

9:05 Fuck. Free Koller header from 5 yards. 1-0 Czechs.

9:05: Too easy. Terrible. Worst possible start. Let's see, how much more negative can I get?

9:10: Better. US really should be able to get loose on the flanks. Couple of good balls in from Convey and Lewis.

9:13: Reminiscient of the US opener against Germany eight years ago. Giving up a cheap early goal to strong European competition and having to chase the game. It's not a role that suits us, though we have better players this time. I have no doubt they'll get chances, but beating Cech AND not making more mistakes in the back make this a tall order.

9:16: We do have a considerable pace advantage in several areas of the pitch.

9:17: Beasley's bad first touch wastes a chance. C'mon DMB. Play with confidence.

9:19: Less important than the score (in the grand scheme) is finding a rhythm right now. Plenty of time.

9:22: The early goal eliminates the counter from the US game plan. Czechs getting 11 behind the ball. Gonna make it increasingly tougher.

9:26: ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. Reyna hits the post. Cech was beaten. But that's exactly what they have to do. Got a turnover in midfield and went forward with speed. That's our main advantage, maybe out only one. A nice move.

9:30: US is pulling itself into the game, but that early goal is just a killer. You don't draw up a game plan that includes conceding after 4 fucking minutes. Margin for further error is nil.

9:35: And there's your football match. Poor clearing header and Rosicky shows his class from 35 yards. 2-0 Czechs.

9:37: They were always gonna have to play a perfect match to have a shot today. Didn't happen.

9:45: Nothing like two years of qualifying and months of anticipation being killed within 45 minutes. I think I'll do my laundry.

9:50: Well, there is some good news: The A's swept the Yanks in the Bronx over the weekend.

I had a great fucking time in Scotland and Ireland. I know this is a (very) common theme in this here blog, especially over the last few months, but it's something that always bears repeating: the best part about these experiences is the people you get to share them with. It's less about what and where than it is about who. It's difficult to explain how rewarding it is to spend time with my friends and I think that's partly because we have such a long and deep connection. I could not convey how hilarious it is just to be around these guys. And as impressive as I found the Cliffs of Mohrer, as beautiful as I found the Irish countryside, none of it would have resonated with me as much as it did if I didn't get to experience it with Donny, Schott and Kool Breeze. I give you all an A+.

(Not to mention making the acquaintance of Div and his Merry Band of Scots, that champagne-swilling, re-buying group that made my nights--and early mornings--memorable. Thanks to you gentlemen as well)

9:57: Expect more filler in the second half.

9:58: Today I have to go to the Dry Cleaner.

9:59: And clip my toenails.

10:00: And call my mom.

10:01: The thing I hate most about this is the World Cup is really the only chance for the game to gain a foothold in this country. I'm certain we'll never approach the levels of fanaticism in other parts of the world, but it can't be denied that a US team making waves in a global competition piques the interest of the general public. This is what makes fans. Not a huge percentage, but some. Along with that, such a dismal start gives more fuel for the ignorant in the media (which is only about 90% of the country's columnists) to burn the game and the club.

10:02: Eddie Johnson and Johnny O'Brien in as the US switches to a 3-5-2. Smell that? That's desperation.

10:05: Beasley looks a mess. His touch is poor. His ambition to take guys on is missing. Funny game. How quickly it can disapper. Not that I've ever been out of form, myself.

10:13: C'mon, Speaker, you say. Where's the optimism? Where's your Yankee Can-Do spirit? You're right. The US can pull off a miracle and come back to get a result. If they do, I'll eat my own poo.

10:14: Nothing like looking forward to thirty more minutes of hopeful long balls. Yes, I'm bitter.

10:16: I'm paying my bills.

10:24: They're toying with us now. Men vs. Boys. Exhibit A.

10:25: Rosicky bangs the bar. US goal differential breathes a sigh of relief.

10:26: Bring on The Azzurri!

10:28: Eddie Johnson with a couple nice efforts. Consolation prizes.

10:29: I would rate this as the second-worst performance by a club so far in the Cup. The Chicken Swedes retain bottom spot.

10:30: Commentator Marcelo Balboa being correctly hard on the boys, especially in regard to their passivity. How you don't come to play in a game like this is beyond me. Maybe they just had no belief and the early goal cemented that feeling. Again, I didn't expect they'd take the game to the Czechs, who have shown their class and experience. I would have preferred a better performance, one I know the team is capable of.

10:33: If it wasn't a laugher already, it is now. Nedved and Rosicky carve up the back three for a simple finish. 3-0.

10:34: Gonna end this right here. Wholly disheartening. If anyone needs me, I'll be over there. In the fetal position.

Trip Report

I saw this:


And a lot of this:

Okay, all done.

Editor's Note: Due to the US opening their World Cp play in an hour, no other thoughts can be dissemenated right now. Live blogging? Oh, I think so.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Green Hills of Ireland

Wedding today. Reception tonight. Odds of driving into hedgerows on narrow Irish roads currently set at 3-5.

Had a great time in Glasgow with Div and his fellow Scottish punters. He's got a write-up, but I have to disagree with his euphemishim, "establishment of dubious moral provenance." There was nothing dubious about Chloe and Jasmine. NOTHING!

Today is, according to the tele, Waynesday the 7th of Roon, as Wayne Rooney goes for a scan on his broken metatarsil. I'm nopt kidding when I tell you 45 minutes of every hour on the BBC is devoted to this afternoon's x-ray. I love it here.

I will have many tales for you--some actually of dubious moral provenance--upon my return. And I hope to add to that cache in the coming days.


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Quick Update

From The Cincinnati (Poker) Club in Glasgow:


Thursday, June 01, 2006


Today's challenge: Try to transmit the firing, multi-tasking, downright spastic thoughts careening about my skull into some semblance of explanation that could COME CLOSE to illustrating how fucking excited I am.

Remember when Mrs. Human Head won me $100 Killing Phil Gordon at Roshambo? Kinda like that.

Remember when Eruzione went top shelf against the Rooskies? Kinda like that.

Remember when I bubbled for the Main Event seat? Yeah, the exact opposite of that.

In roughly 22 hours, I'll be landing in Glasgow, where I will immediately commence drinking for 9 straight days (just kidding, Mom! not really, everybody else!). I tend to get horrible jet-lag going east (not so much going west), but if I'm able to keep my eyes open and my body upright after touching down, I'll be treating Div to a pint or twelve for his above-and-beyond kindness and assistance in planning this little adventure.


I'm an efficient packer, another of my hidden talents. I rarely forget anything. And I didn't this time, either. I did have to get up a half-hour after going to bed to get one more item into my carry-on, however. Just my passport. Nothing big.

I also had to make that last, late dash to Target to get a few things. The haul? Two travel bottles of Aloe Vera, moleskin (more on that in a sec) and condoms. Sheepskin, not latex, as I've been informed that Irish women (I have no notes on the Scottish lassies) prefer sheep. Or something like that. What? Well, of course, but better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.


Yesterday, I was having a bit of trouble walking. I have no idea how it happened, but the pinkie toe of my right foot has become irritated and it was really bothering me, so much so that it afffected the way I walk. Now, Dizzy Dean taught us a lesson many years ago about toes (he fractured his big toe--"Fractured?! Hell, that thing's broken!"--and altered his pitching motion to compensate, thus injuring his arm and prematurely ending his careeer) and damn if I didn't have a slight groin strain this morning. We'll pause in our narrative while BG calls me a "pussy."

I do walk kinda funny normally. My left foot always points straight forward, but my right veers out at about a 30-degree angle. I also land on the outside of that right foot, as demonstrated by the weird patterns of wear on my shoes. But it's never given me a toe problem before. And I haven't bought any new shoes lately. So its origin is a mystery, but a little moleskin on the toe this morning has made it quite tolerable, which is good since I'll be doing a lot of walking.


I'm going to be completely unplugged this trip. Debated back and forth whether to bring the laptop and ultimately decided against it. Trip reports will have to wait until my return, but believe you me I am packing lots of pads and pens. I return late (local time) on the 11th, so note that on your calendars as I know you'll all be dying to hear how I got stabbed in a Glasgow strip joint.

I board in 8 hours. If you're reading this, do me a favor and train your positive thoughts toward my airplane seating assignment. I'm not even going to ask for a hot, bisexual, single twenty-something with rabid fantaises of joining the Mile High Club as my immediate neighbor. Just let them smell good, be courteous with the arm rest, no over-active bladders, no talking about inane things, no allegiance to Allah, not under the age of 6 (and this goes ESPECIALLY for the seat behind me), not having a huge face mole with hair growing out of it (personal issue that skeeves me out) and please, please, please, be well under 400 pounds.

That's not too much to ask, is it? Pray for me. All of you. I'll be back with more fun and debauchery soon.