Friday, May 30, 2008

No Way

I have no plans to go to Vegas this summer. It will be my first non-attendance at some point during the WSOP since 2004. I am totally fine with this. I haven't been playing, so I'm stale (though my bankroll's fine since I haven't lost, either). I've got other engagements, like parenting and a mid-July trip. And Vegas wouldn't exactly be a positive influence on my non-smoking lifestyle. Seriously, I've done a good job so far, but why chuck myself into the deep end (hell, more like the bottomless end)?

Again, I'm totally fine with this. Fine. No issues at all. None. Really. Certainly didn't start convulsing a little while reading all the posts from our fine bretheren (and sistren) gearing up to cover seven weeks worth of poker and scenery.

So let's just let the linkage commence:

Pauly will be doing most of his posting at home and at Las Vegas Vegas, which is awesome, since we'll get mostly color instead of play-by-play. Joe Speaker advocates color.

change100, Geno and 130 lbs of Rookie Fury will be on hand donkumenting (hehe; clever) the action for PokerNews and Falstaf (still one 'f' last I heard) will be providing his morning recaps from his bunker in NC.

My Main Spaceman will be doing his thing for Poker Listings and the venerable Otis will be short-timing it for Poker Stars blog at the end of the month.

I'll also be keeping an eye on Pokerati (for the articles) and Wicked Chops (also for the articles).

If I forgot anyone who would like to be mentioned here, please drop an e-mail or comment. I can't be held responsible for my behavior since I'm not going to Vegas this summer. I'm really not. I don't care how many of you (and you and you) say you're going or thinking about going and I don't care my birthday falls on the same weekend you're going and my birthday plans fell through and the economy has rendered rooms relatively cheap.

Nope. Totally not going to Vegas. Not a chance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The question I've gotten more than any other is "What made you do this now?" which is like asking Stephen Hawking if he has any opinions on the origin of the universe. I've made a career here out of intrepid and constant navel-gazing, so such inwardly-focused inquiries are bound to set me off on extended flights of introspection. Please move your seat-backs to the upright and locked position.

As I reach Day 45, the mid-way point of my Total Body (and Mind) Makeover, I have, as you'd expect from me, a few thoughts.

Before I get to The Theory, let me get everyone up-to-date on the bare statistics.

Pounds lost: 13
Belt holes reduced (in lieu of "Waist Inches Lost." More masculine): 1 1/2 (I can totally pull to two, but it's a little--just a little!--snug)

I've reached "slender" status again and am not going to lose any more weight. I don't really have any more to spare, though a decade of decadence has likely rendered my beer gut (and attendant love handles) permanent. I'm okay with that, I suppose. I've shrunk it, continue to try to cardio and crunch it out of existence, but will happily live with it, since it's not about appearance or vanity, but health and energy and feeling better mentally and unintended benefits and not having man tits.

Near as I can tell, the process came about organically. I was tired. Tired of smoking and drinking and living a life of dreamy disconnection. I felt terrible. Every morning, every day, most of which I was hungover. To get out of the subway, I had to climb a few flights of stairs and by the time I got halfway, I was wheezing. When I got to the top, I had to stop and rest, catch my breath, so I could light up a cigarette. I'd wrestle on the bed with AJ and need a break after two minutes. The house was a mess. My clothes smelled like stale bread. I wrote long loathesome screeds about missed opportunity and failed potential and sheer motherfucking laziness. I think it's safe to say I hated myself. I found my niche and it was this roller coaster ride of fleeting euphoria, white-knuckle intensity and abject wallowing. Bi-polar, basically. Or maybe tri- or quad-.

Kurt Cobain said it best, "I miss the comfort in being sad." The episode with X left me rotten inside. I've acted less than admirably. Woe is me and because of this bad beat, I could afford to be reckless, with myself and others. "Look what tragedy has befallen me!" I could shout and use it as an excuse for erratic behavior, escapism. My mood was capricious at all times, going zero to 60 in no time flat for no reason at all and the only ways for me to silence the demons were to drink them into oblivion or lose all contact with myself via total and laser-like focus on another.

This served as the basis for me to ignore the path down which I was heading. Total self-destruction. I busied myself with the logistics of my relationship, plans drawn in the sand with no contingency for rising tides. I held fast to the way I felt for her, avoiding self-examination, even when she asked for it. I could answer, sure. Glib one-liners and profligate adverbs.

You know what comes next. She became too real for me to handle. WE became too real for me to handle. So I detonated a bomb and blew us to smithereens. Zero to 60. And then I could wallow again, where I felt comfortable, as opposed to holding up my own end. In retrospect, I think that's exactly what I was doing. Subconsciously. My feelings were valid. Deep and true. I've no doubts of that, for they continue to this day, more clearly even, more easily grasped with a less-muddled heart. But knowing I wouldn't be able to play my part, not in that present condition, pushed me to an unjustified level of anger and disappointment.

The aftermath was similar. That pain, profound and murky, that has no antidote. The sudden outbursts, waves of irretrievable sadness, all familiar to me from when X walked away. And somehow, this stung at an even higher level, because of all those things I said I'd do when X left, all those improvements, changes, goals and desires. Lies. I was nowhere different from where I'd been then. And what struck me, finally, irrevocably, was that I am, now and forever, officially on my own.

While there are aspects of this view that focus on the maudlin ("I'm going to die alone" is a biggie), the acceptance and the wider implications are nothing but positive. It means I have to build that trust in myself, a trait I've not possessed in a long time. It means my self-worth will come from within, will radiate outward, instead of trying to find personal value in the character and actions of others. What it means is, I have to take care of my own fucking business.

So, on the same day, at the same hour and moment, I quit smoking, drinking, playing online poker (five nights a week) and started eating right and exercising. I feel unbelievable.

Yes, I've had to sacrifice. I don't get to talk to a lot of you as often as I'd like. That's a temporary affliction. My social life is comatose (which is too bad since I'm getting kind of ripped for a skinny guy. Hear that ladies?!?!). There are things I can't say, things I want to, feel like, I should say, but have no right. Not yet. Not honorably.

Make no mistake. I consider this a full-scale rehabilitation. It's not simply physical and/or mental. It's about discipline more than anything. It's about character-building. Maturity. Sincerity. Spirituality.

I like to joke about my little mid-life crisis. That may well be what it is. Gold chains might be just around the corner for me. But I'm not forecasting. I'm living in the present, trying to attach myself to something permanent instead of the blurred decade that has preceded Now. There's only one person I'm going to wake up with from now until the end, so I guess I'd best get used to what I look like in the morning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Sorry, Dude."

Thanks to Miami Don's post, I was reminded of one of the greatest moments in the history of the Murderer's Row home game. Though I was not present that particular evening to experience it, everyone's favorite Poker Geek tells the story so perfectly that we all feel like we were in attendance. It does help that we've all seen Chanel get bad beat hundreds of times, too.

Go read this exceptional post:

Two Time Cover Boy for Bad Beat Magazine

Monday, May 26, 2008


All I ever wanted. Lipstick scars I wear proudly and touch unconsciously like twirling a discarded wedding ring, flexing a severed limb. Ghostly fingers on her neck. Forgotten trail.
Tasting something awful. Acrid smoke rising like a phantom, burning comfort and I bow, forced reverence, fear, sudden crack of thunder. Thank you. I missed you. Covers over my head.
Falling to pieces. I hide behind handsome words and black sunglasses; with yellow wisdom I can flip your manger upside down. Cold and still signatures on a contract. Dispensible.
Solitary man. Echoed verses off the stars; that vast tormented distance altered by sound, tricks of time so I can reach my burdened elders in unfamiliar hours. Statues decay and cast shadows.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Drowning His Sorrows

Sometimes I'm tempted to start an Ichiro blog. He may play for a division rival of my favorite team, but he's the best quote in sports these days. Perhaps the best since Mike Tyson. Who can forget his excitement at facing Dice-K for the first time stateside?

"I hope he arouses the fire that's dormant in the innermost recesses of my soul. I plan to face him with the zeal of a challenger."

Now, he's applying his zeal to the atrocious season of his Mariners and a theoretical enjoyment of alcohol.

“Playing on this team and seeing what is happening around me, I feel that something is beginning to fall apart,” the center fielder said after Friday’s 13-2 loss to the Yankees.

“But, if I was not in this situation, and I was objectively watching what just happened this week, I would probably be drinking a lot of beers and booing.’’

Over at USS Mariner, the un-edited quote includes recommendations...

"Usually I enjoy Japanese beer, but given the situation, if I was objectively watching the game, I wouldn’t care if it was Japanese beer, American beer or beer from Papua New Guinea."

...which has set the faithful (and you'd have to be a "faithful" if you are spending a lot of time on an M's message boards as repellent as that team is--for the low, low price of $117 million!) on a quest to find beers from Papua New Guinea in the Seattle area.

They've failed as of this writing and because I take such great pity on M's fans (partly because of their team's horrid history, partly because an inordinate percentage of them are morons), I beg my readers in the Pacific Northwest to be on the lookout for South Pacific Export Lager, SP Lager Beer and Niugini Ice.

Perhaps, if you locate some, you can Fed Ex it to M's GM Bill Bavasi with a note suggesting he trade Ichiro to the A's for 5 replacement level players, which seem to be the kind he likes to sign to multi-year contracts (coughJerrodWashburnCarlosSilvacough).


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day at the Zoo

Twenty years I've lived in L.A., but I've never been to the Zoo which sits on the northern rim of Griffith Park, next to the Wilson and Harding golf courses where I used to play every Friday morning before I broke my wrist. You can tour it in three hours, see everything it has to offer, less than $20 for Dad and son, unlike the World Famous San Diego Zoo, where we've gone twice, just a couple hours south, an all-day affair and you'll be sore in the calves the next day from all the hills and you ain't getting out of Balboa Park spending less than $150 for the privilege.

So, ghetto zoo it is.

The fairly pedestrian nature of the flora, fauna and, it must be said, some emaciated looking jungle cats, didn't register on AJ. We might as well have been smack dab in the middle of the Serengeti. Here, he explains to me all I need to know about lions.

So yeah, price was right, kid was amused, we were home and dry by Happy Hour and got some good pics. And some less than good. I told him to look cool with the camel.

Then he wanted to take a picture of me with the same camel and...well...if you look closely can see a couple humps back there (that's what she said).

That became the game. Each of us taking pics of the other and trying to get both human and animal in the picture. He managed to get me and animal in once more.

I swear there are some flamingos back there.

Last, my favorite picture of every trip AJ and I take: the one with him passed out from exhaustion while I drive home (this time with his new stuffed viper; it's not a boa constrictor. Trust me). I swear, when I'm in adult diapers, I'm going to do the same to him every time. Except I'll snore louder.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One Thousand and One

When we'd lie in our bunk beds, he, the older, on top, he'd tell me stories about his classroom, a ridiculous place with a frustrated teacher and a roster full of cut-ups, and he'd do all the voices and parts like a stage show, which it was, in a manner, since he was simply aping Cheech and Chong routines and no, there was never anybody in his grade who never washed his neck. Sometimes, I'd keep him awake with chatter and he'd challenge me to count to one-thousand, to myself. I would, triumphantly finish, announce my success, and hear only his snores in reply. Once, he told me the best way to make sure my punishment was short was to tell Dad that his whippings didn't hurt. We'd wrap dish towels around our hands with rubber bands and box each other; the more he hit me the angrier and bloodier I got and I'd flail away at him, tears mixing with my gushing nose and he'd grab me and pin my arms to my chest and laugh, which infuriated me even more, that the game was over and that I had no chance to win. He was in charge of me and my sister most times when my parents went out and he had as little use for the rules as we did, so we played baseball with a wadded-up sock or built walls in our doorways across the hall from behind which we threw tennis balls at each other. He's six years older than me but when my parents brought me home from the hospital, wailing into his only child world, he wanted to play with me. He couldn't pronounce my name, so he gave me a new one that everybody still uses. I tagged along with him everywhere after we bought the house and if my mom forced him to take me, he never let me know that, and he made sure I didn't get picked last for his baseball games, he'd always choose me before one of his friends 'cause he knew how sad it would make me to be last, though a case could also be made that I was better than at least one of his peers. He put his arms on my shoulders that day I told him I was sick of all the white bread kids at my white bread school teasing me about my dark skin and he said his friend with the dark skin got all the girls. He got in big trouble the night I got the scar on my forehead from playing blind man's bluff in his room, when I gashed myself open on the bed frame and sat sniffling with the dog in my lap on the sofa while Mom yelled at him and my forehead didn't hurt so much as the thought he wouldn't play with me any more because he got grounded even though it wasn't his fault. And I don't know what I can do to repay him all these things, though I'm really fucking trying.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The Santa Anas arrived today, blowing hot and dusty like morning breath, jarring rocks from the hillsides and spilling pollen into the air. The wind is a summer preview, weeks on end of triple digits, where the mercury threatens. I dressed in shirt sleeves and leaned into its warning as I crossed the parking lot toward the train station. On the platform, I waited in the shade of a pepper tree, bells jangling far off, when I saw a spider web, vast and intricate and beautiful, its fine threads pulled tense between leafy branches and bowed in the wind like a top sail. The spider, black like a scorched pan, scurried back and forth on its delicate creation, panicked and purposeful.

The forecast calls for winds up to 30 mph. The tensile strength of a spider web is comparable to high-grade steel. Its silk is able to stretch 40% of its length without breaking.

No contest.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day (Revision)

They stood together mostly, crowded shoulder-to-shoulder in packs, bearing each other up like pillars or sitting under umbrellas against the May sunshine, the heat radiating off the manicured grass and the colorful flowers contrasted with their somber faces. I saw them off to my right, a slap in the midst of a daydream and my indistinct afternoon shuffled off stage left and behind it was that familiar hole, gaping and irretrievable, that comes when I never expect it and stays past its welcome.

The lawn was a sloping green and red seemed the order of the day, roses pinned in lapels, Tiger on Sunday. Mother's Day. Generations bent to honor their matriarchs, passed from this world into the next and even as I drove by, just a flash, persistence of vision, I could see the sadness in their bodies, the heaving shoulders and bowed heads, their arms around one another as they stood or the bleak way they walked as if they weren't quite sure where to go. The blooms in the air went rank.

I kept my eyes on the rear-view as I idled out of sight and I wanted to go for a long, aimless drive, maybe the mountains, oceans of trees falling away amidst the ribbon of asphalt and one involuntary jerk of the wheel. Just as much, I wanted to turn around and watch them, because I felt what they felt, had taken their anguish as my own, smelled it coming off me in waves like an abandoned house, weeded and mildewed and dreams that withered. Tell me how you cope, I wanted to ask. Do they answer you? When they're gone and the one person you need the most falls silent, when you stand beside their grave on the impossibly green slope, hoarding against the desert heat, the illusion of life, color against the hardscrabble rocks and black plants of the foothills, and you turn to them still, begging for the circle to close.

I dialed her unconsciously, not like I used to. My reasons were, as my life, indistinct. To hear her voice, to poke at her with despairing needles, breathless excitement, mundane information and ennui, passing the time. Somewhere in the midst, I told her what I'd not told anyone recently, the black mood like noxious gas. Tears marched to their posts and choked my throat and I kept them there with every straining muscle I could gather, just out of reach, though she knew anyway, knows me well enough, the echoes of gouging loss.

The sun was falling behind the mountains, making the light hazy and thick, as we talked like actors in a play where I ad-libbed trying to find the right note and she repeated those rote phrases she always does, but with an unfamiliar warmth I'd forgotten. We ran out of original thoughts, mine like the dimming light, too heavy to lift, but the words fell like a soft rain on my neck, a comforting rhythm, a baby breathing in time with its mother's heartbeat.

I ate up road a little faster then and rolled down the windows. The air held a trace of spring. My mind raced off elsewhere, to another bitter ending, scorched earth and death becomes renewal, and I counted how many times in my life I've had to start over unfulfilled. From the beginning, from scratch, on your mark, get set and go. As I sped into the faltering sun, I wondered what it would be like to finally win.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

These Kids Today

So, what's your problem? House getting foreclosed on? Kids skipping class? Asshole for a next door neighbor? Girlfriend leaving you? Aces cracked again?

Quit yer bitchin'.

You're not an 18-year-old with terminal cancer. And a peerless attitude.

Money quote:

Why can't people just see the best in things? It gets you so much further in life. It's always negative this and negative that. That's all you see and hear."

Go. Read.

Against All Odds

In the last three weeks, I've done two things that you degenerates out there would have lost money on had you wagered against me, a bet that would have undoubtedly been the chalk. One, I went to my local Indian casino and played 4/8 w/Kill for seven hours. Two, I hung out at my mom's on a Saturday night, which is about the most boring, spirit-crushing thing a man can do at my age.

I smoked in neither circumstance.

Eff you, haters!


I made guacamole last night. At 10 p.m. For no reason other than I got a wild hair up my ass to eat my guacamole, which is the finest in this land and others. Naturally, I didn't have any chips on hand, so I just smeared the finished product on a whole wheat tortilla. Got damn.

This morning, I slathered some on a turkey sandwich. I'm gonna eat that soon. Show it who's boss. Give it "what for."


The 4/8 game was awesome. In the first orbit, I raised with The Drizz and got three-bet. Folded to action on the KQx flop. The three-bettor was a middle-aged woman who was catching all manner of ridiculous straights on the evening. This time, she had K4s and turned two pair to win the pot.

This is the sort of game where I usually get crushered and that evening was going no differently. I was down to about $80, half of what I started with, when I got pocket 7s in a Kill pot. I raised and got 486 callers. The flop came down 752, in a lovely shade of rainbow. I bet and got three callers, including the Straight Lady from above. The turn is a 6, which is, in a vacuum, a little ugly. At this table, it's an Iron-Clad Scare Card.

Still, it's checked to me and I bet. I get called and then Straight Lady raises. Gutter hit. With my re-draw to at least a boat, I've got the odds to call the $16 (and whatever the other dude had, he felt like calling, too), so I do, leaving me one bet in front of me. I stand and yell at the dealer, "C'mon!"

A deuce comes on the river (um...Hammer Boat anyone? Wait, it gets better) and as Straight Lady bets, I say, "This is a big pot I'm gonna win." Win it I do, her 84s no good, and I spend the next 10 minutes stacking $1 chips. I tipped the dealer $10 for that river and when I finally have all my chips in towers, the total is $217. Add the tip to that. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Weird, huh? I thought so, too.


I haven't made guacamole for 6 months. It's not the kinda dish you make when you're eating by yourself. Last time, I left it behind, to be enjoyed after I was gone, which is a nice way to live life, I think, and all too infrequent.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Limping crawling shag knees
and burning holes
Eyes lifting
Idol worship denied though your hands grope for it
Aerobic snatch at air in the dark shaking out a cramp
All your fears are lies
Told to get out of class early
Distract and slam the door on the tears you sold behind the screen, the pleas
Don’t leave me she sobbed smothering. Take me back
The back seat, the park, dew on the grass
Hot sighs steaming windows
Curtains of faded gold, cat’s claws
Sheer fabric black and coarse and desperate underneath. Twist the knob
Slide the lock biting fighting hiding voice of hate a shrinking hem
Best I’ve ever had
Daylight bed and stained shame
The letter
(hah) volatile
Pinned painted sky blue.
Eyes probe on us. Crowded corralled steers driving flesh around endless ending. Comprehending.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Stuff I Wrote That You May Not Have Read

Cilia (Revision)

She was asleep already. Soft breaths like quiet sobs. Her face unlined and glowing blue in the shadow of the television, a child’s innocence, a Greek statue, a velvet dune at moonlight.

I watched her in the mirror, her hair in my nose, that scent I can’t describe, but fresh, tousled, beckoning me.

She moved against me unconsciously, a spasm. I felt the heat of her and pressed my back closer and felt her radiate, the way she fucked me, lost and dreamy, taking me into her like a salve, lathering us both, sweat, come, blood, guts, hell, heaven, inferno of gold and tundra of steel.

Her chest rose and fell imperceptibly so that I kept checking to see if she was still breathing, the way you do with a newborn. My fingers to her neck, brushing aside that hair and lingering, waiting for the beat, beat to prove that she was real.

I drove home one night when the Pacific’s mist crawled over the range and filled the Sepulveda Pass. It was late, early, and I ran into brake lights, which rose from nowhere, like shrouded flames. The red was like an alarm and it thudded in my eyes even after I passed, to where I was seeing colors, jaundiced and bloody; cilia, waving back and forth, side to side, like a parade, my own private celebration. I waved back and the car drove itself, my path prescribed. Hands of fate. "How did I get here?" I muttered to nobody in particular and put my fingers to her neck.