Thursday, May 28, 2009

Get Yer Red Hots!

Fresh, piping hot WSOP action coming to you live from lots of people you know. Personally, I'd rather read these guys than watch the hands play out on ESPN. And I've been to Norman Chad's house.


The once, present and future king.
Poker Stars Blog
Not sure if new, doubled-up Daddy Otis will be making the trek this year, but brand loyalty and all that.
Poker From the Rail weeks in Vegas for Al? This will not end well...except for the readers! (See what I did there?)
Ultimate Bet Blog
Sure, the poker reporting is top-notch and Geno's is a style to envy, but I can't help but picture him as I once saw him on press row in about Week 4 of a previous WSOP engagement: Looking but not seeing. So, every time I read him, I look for clues as to when he's about to snap. This probably makes me a bad person.
Michalski money is the sweetest money. Ask Pauly.
Wicked Chops
Mom, if you're reading this, don't click the link.
Poker News
All you need to know. Constant updates. Chip counts. Strung-out players. Irate backers. That this site once employed me is the exception to their rule of excellence.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

She'll Never See It

The timing seemed unusual, all these people still wearing suits and dresses, splattering electric blue paint up on the walls of the apartment. I called AJ over and gave him $25 from my wallet. "Here, give this to your mother," I said, "For the paint." I turned to leave and passed my son's new step-father on the way to the door. "Congratulations," I mumbled, without looking at him.


That was how my dream ended last night. It was a long, meandering tale with the setting being some sub-conscious-driven version of X's impending nuptials (23 days, but who's counting). The ceremony took place in a synagogue (!) and I picked a fight with the fey co-ordinator (!!), whom I threatened to "turn into whipped cream," (an awesome challenge in any mental state). At another point, I was naked, for a reason I found wholly legitimate, and was indignant when chastened by the groom's father. My mother was there (!!!) and when I was tossed by the Jews at the synagogue, with whom I also nearly fought, we wandered the streets of San Leandro, CA looking for my car, which we never found.

Yet I still ended up back in the newly-electric blue apartment of my ex-wife, much to the chagrin of a pack of snarling Jews.


I suppose it's fair to say I haven't known how to deal with this imminent wedding. The primary issue is, I didn't exactly know what bothered me about it. I'm confident the Jews are not relevant (I finished reading "Portnoy's Complaint" just yesterday, so I'll assume that's why they were there). My feelings have been the same as when I found out they'd become engaged. No visceral emotion to seize. Some incredulity. I'd grasped some random straws long enough to quicken my blood, but discarded them just as swiftly. All I've had is this nagging itch, familiar by now, but just out of reach.


When I woke up today, the blue paint thing reminded me of another break-up, one long ago when I had my teen-age heart broken. On the day she delivered to me the bad news, she also asked to borrow my new Scorpions LP so she could tape it.

I let her. Regardless of how these women hurt me, I am, as always, the nice guy, which makes me a sap, most likely.


I've been listening to a TON of Airborne Toxic Event. I've said this to other people, but I say it to you all now: If that album had been around three-and-a-half years ago, I might've offed myself. It's all heartbreak and anguish and failure, beautifully, achingly rendered. "Innocence," is the gold standard and there's a line in there that resonates, now, and from out of the past.

"I woke up, tired, scared and sad."

I recognized it immediately, but also not. I used to say, during that time, I woke up either angry or sad, and always rooted for angry. I never pegged that anger came from a place of fear. More than anything else, I was scared. For what was to happen to me. For what was to happen to AJ.

And that helps, because I'm not scared any longer. Sad? Sure. Some days are bad ones. Not because I long for the repair of my marriage, or for the days we were happy together, but for my son's future, for what we will, and already have, put him through. I know it's hard on him still. I see it in his confused face, in his nervous manner, and I'm so sorry for what we've done.

Yet, I no longer fear he will ditch me, as his mother did, replace me with his step-father. Never gonna happen.


X and I sat together at AJ's baseball game last night. She told me my ex-brother-in-law wanted to grab a drink or eight with me while he was here for the wedding. That was pretty cool. Niklas is the only one who reached out to me during The Troubles, even though I practically begged for help from the other members of her family. I don't blame them for anything. Perhaps they spoke for me in private, though, more likely, I was asking them to do something which is not in their nature.

Niklas asked X, "So what kind of places are there to go out?" in our little desert hamlet. X laughed relating the story. "I don't go out," she told him.

Which is ironic. That being Reason #1 for why she ditched me. We didn't DO enough stuff together.


Like my feelings about the engagement to now, I have another thought that hasn't changed. It's one I relegated to non-status after a while, because it didn't matter. It was over. She was gone. But it came back to me last night. That conversation with X was, like my nagging itch, familiar. Other things she said, some recent actions. She's not gone anywhere. And I remembered. Something I told a lot of people back then, something I believed, something that came more from a place of logic than from one of emotion.

She's making a mistake.

Seems rather simple on the surface, yeah? X would, at this point, even concur that what she did was not just wrong, but a mistake. I don't think she'd admit, however, that marrying this guy is also a mistake.

It is.


I don't know that it's any of my concern. Certainly, there's potential for AJ to get hurt, but I can't police every one of their actions. But that familiar itch, it's not just giving me a fact, it's telling me I could do something about it. I could pay for the paint. Or loan an album.

I will ignore it, of course. I can't tell her. That conversation would never go anywhere. But that's what it is, reduced to another lyric.

"And this light from the window of my car. She'll never see it."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

On the Subject of Name-Calling and Book Cover-Judging

"Hey Daddy! Look! The Giants have a nerd on their team!"

I look up to see Tim Lincecum--reigning Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum--at the plate.

"That 'nerd' is the best pitcher in baseball," I say. "And it's not nice to call people names."


"His actual nickname is 'The Freak.'"

"Whatever, he still has stupid hair."

"I dunno, it's kind of like Daddy's hair right now."

"Exactly what I said."

Friday, May 08, 2009

Not-At-All Live Blog of a Weekday Off

With my department's staff at its lowest number ever, I am now required to work the occasional Saturday. While that blows in many ways, the one benefit is having a day off during the week and, yesterday, I took full advantage.

8:00 a.m.: There was no sleeping in. Seize the day! Nothing like a trip to the dentist to get the morning started off right. Deep cleaning. Wow! Did that suck!

It wasn't so much the cleaning, but the discomfort of sitting in the chair for 90 minutes. My jaw hurt. My neck was stiff, so much so that I made them bring me a pillow.


9:30 a.m.: Lecture by the dentist on flossing. Right. Like I have time for flossing. You know...that's why I hate the dentist so much. Not the pain. The tsk, tsk-ing. I'm a man! I'm 40!

9:31 a.m.: 40-year-old man with numb face comically spills mouthwash all over himself. Twice.

10:00 a.m.: Back at Emet's house and I hear the news about Manny. Pisses me off. It's almost as if you can't get excited about anything regarding baseball any more. I had surprisingly found myself caught up in "Mannywood." Dodger Stadium hasn't seen such a frenzy since Fernando Mania. More often than not, I'd watch the Dodgers on TV, rather than the A's, perhaps simply because it's fun to see a team actually execute at a major league level.

But the real point of this is that I'm cursed. Didn't see that coming, did ya? Yep. My ego is so huge that I believe I have an effect on events completely out of my control. We all know the manner in which the A's have shit the bed in the playoffs this millennium. And now this with the Dodgers.

On Wednesday, talking to Dodger-lover Donny on the phone, I said I was really enjoying watching his team play. Might even be called...gasp...a fan. And what happens? But a few hours later.

So, what exactly is the genesis of this curse? What have I done to the Sporting Gods? Honestly, I have no idea. Was it the night I unleashed a stream of expletives dirty names (the worst kind; you know...the compound words) for not pinch-running for that Fat Ass Jeremy Giambi, resulting in the Jeter Flip Throw? Was it the Terrance Long voodoo doll? Dating Gil Heredia's underage daughter?

Regardless, an exorcism is needed.

11:00 a.m.: Finally un-numbed, I grab a coffee and muffin at Starbucks on the way to the golf course. I should mention it's 90 degrees. Nothing like hot coffee on a summer's day.

11:45 a.m.: Emet meets me at the golf course. Like any good girlfriend, she takes a half day off when there's fun to be had, a difficult choice for her as one so dedicated to her craft, that of keeping her students from stabbing each other during language arts. Thank a teacher today, everyone.

12:30 p.m.: I par the first two holes. This is notable because I'm not good. We're playing an executive course (par 62) because Emet's just starting to learn how to play, though she's taken more lessons (five) in her life than I have (zero), which might explain why I'm not good. Just as I learned how to play poker from watching WPT Final Tables, I learned how to play golf watching the Northern Bank Trust Open.

12:36 p.m.: Triple Bogey. I question the inclusion in my bag of the pitching wedge, as it seems I'd get similar results if I used a craggy tree limb.

1:00 p.m.: Beer > coffee on a hot summer day. I also slather myself in a few ounces of sunblock, using the time-honored and effective Garth "aggressive application" method.

3:30 p.m.: I somehow end up with a 79, even though I parred 6 holes. Which means I played the other 12 in 17 over. That is just plain fucking horrible. Even for someone who is not good. Like me. My main problem is distance control. I'm just too long.

That's what she said.

4:30 p.m.: Showered and freshened, Emet and I head to The Auld Irisher for food and beer as a prelude to the evening's Red Wings-Ducks tilt at Honda Center. Nothing says hockey like an Irish pub. Nothing!

5:00 p.m.: Mmmmmmmm, corned beef and "Awesome Old Man's Beer" (that's two Garth references today. I think I miss Garth).

6:30 p.m.: The two-mile trip from The Auld Irisher to Honda Center is a cock-up of massive proportions. Emet claims the problem is Angel fans trekking to the nearby ballpark for their game with the Blue Jays, but I respond that is impossible, seeing as this is the worst possible route to Angel Stadium before reversing myself once I recall that Angels fans are idiots.

I suggest a "pizza move," so named for the nebulously legal actions I used to take behind the wheel when I delivered pizzas during college. It works. Then we jaywalk.

Fight the Power!

7:25 p.m.: Comfortably in our seats, seven rows up from the glass right behind the net, I take a picture and drop my cell phone into my 24 oz. Pacifico. Fortunately, the Ducks have handed out garish, orange hand towels, presumably to spin over our heads during moments of high emotion. I will not be doing this. For one, I'm not a Ducks fan. I am here a) for the beer b) to see someone's head bleed c) to support my girlfriend. Also, if I spun my towel, beer would fly from it like a whirly bird sprinkler since I used it to dry my cell phone. And my arms.

I'm 40.

7:40 p.m.: Ducks score in the first minute. Honda Center goes bonkers. Well...70% of it. The rest are Wings fans. They travel well. Emet swears off beer. Says there's too much going on to continue drinking. I see her point. Having never sat this close to the ice, for any hockey game, let alone the playoffs, it's exhilarating. Johan Franzen skating right down on you? Eff me.

8:20 p.m.: End of first period. Despite early goal, Ducks are getting destroyed in all facets and now trail 2-1. Bathroom line provides plenty of hilarity. To wit:

Guy wearing meticulously faded Wings t-shirt tries to bond with other Detroit fans, bald, ugly, hardcore guys in Yzerman jerseys. I can tell t-shirt guy is not "true" (maybe it was his perfectly coiffed hair, not that there's anything wrong with that), but trying hard to fit in and he's doing okay until he mentions how it "won't be tied for long."

"Uh, we're ahead 2-1," Yzerman Guy says and turns away with contempt.

The trash talk is beauty, too. You know how it goes. Detroit fans mock Anaheim ("Is it even a real city?") and OC fans, to a person, lean on, "Why do you live here, then?"

8:25 p.m.: Emet runs into one of her students. Tries to hide her beer under her shirt.

9:30 p.m.: Second period ends 4-2 Wings. Could be 8. Could be 10. All over 'em. This thing's over, but for the fights. While we don't get any on the ice, I see at least two in the stands, one contested by senior citizens. Awesome.

10:20 p.m.: Game over. 6-3 final. Coulda been 15. Coulda been 20. I sing "It's So Cold in the 'D'" all the way back to the car. Not a single person sings along with me. Disappointing really.

I'm 40.

10:30 p.m.: I'm starving. That corned beef sandwich seems so long ago. And I don't want to go to bed. It's a Weekday Off! I suggest a bar and some pub grub. Emet's dragging. Been a long day for her and she has to teach in the morning. We reach a sublime compromise: Jack in the Box tacos. I only have two.

Coulda been 6. Coulda been 12.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Better Be Just a Phase

AJ has taken on this disturbing new personality trait wherein he actively roots against my favorite teams. He despairs as Liverpool dismantles Newcastle. He jumps around the house in glee when Manchester United pins five on Tottenham. He fist pumps when the A's blow another lead. Cheering on the Mariners for God's sake. Cutting me deeply.

I gave him a stern warning. Then I threatened to sell him to the next passing band of gypsies.

"Daddy, gypsies don't have any money. That's why they're gypsies."

It's not just sports, either. In the car the other day, one of my favorite bands came on the radio.

"I don't like Kings of Leon," he said.

"Because Daddy likes them, I'm sure."

"No, it's just my opinion."

"So, who is your favorite band?"


Well...there's hope.