Lookee! A report! Kind of.
Insert all other reports here. Arrived, ate, played poker, saw good people, gambled, drank a bit, ate more, left. Good eggs, etc, etc..
I mean, why be repetitive? You know how these things go by now. Okay, fiiiiine, here are the highlights of a busy 5.5 days.
Small group this year. Around 40 in the tournament. The group of veterans of previous gatherings who were in New Orleans certainly cut the numbers down a bit. So be it. People can do what they want.
Brought my friend along so she could experience what I always rave about. This led to a tour of the classics for me.
Robuchon was as incredible as ever. This time the chef came out to talk to another table, and I noticed the tri-coloured collar on his jacket. The sign of a M.O.F. - the highest order of achievement of artistry in France (for many categories, cuisine among them). This should have come as no surprise, yet I was still impressed.
é was it's usual creative best, save for the annoying guest who felt it was his duty to educate his friends (often incorrectly) about what they were eating. The staff was visibly annoyed/amused, and the sous-chef for the evening focused on us as it was clear the other party couldn't hear him over their braying companion.
Craftsteak was delicious, even if we had to cover the cost of flakes who bailed last-minute, despite my rather clear exhortations to let me know ahead of time. Next time I think we aim for multiple small groups.
Raku was solid, but disappointing only because I've been there before and it didn't live up to past visits. A clearly missing broth course (that bowl and spoon wasn't for fried fish, I guarantee you), and the definite impression of at least one or two more courses missing (asparagus? chicken on a bed of spinach? where were you?). What was served was excellent, but if costs have gone up, then I wouldn't mind paying a bit more to get the full experience.
The last night's meal was at FIX, courtesy of Grange, and it was a great way to end the trip. Good company, good drinks, imported brandy (thanks Lori!) all adds up to a fine meal.
Also grabbed some fries and a beer with OhCaptain, Absinthetics, Nickerson, and Atarifan in there too.
Ziplining was freezing, but fun nonetheless. Maybe I'll get some video of my legs flying through the air up here sometime. Or some pictures at least.
The Neon Museum on Sunday was also pretty chilly, but the place looks far more orderly since the visitor's center went in. Pics eventually.
Managed to grab a bottle of can't-find-at-home liquor (Swedish Punsch) at Total Wine. Struck out on high-end whiskeys this time, but what can you do? I got good beer, some of it even free from Nate/Atarifan (yay backpack of alcohol!). Sadly, I didn't catch up with Grange in time again to snag an offered free bottle of Templeton. Them's the breaks... Superman slots were being too kind to me, and night photography outside the Bellagio is hard to pass up.
Even hit the north outlets and bought clothes and sunglasses. Although I think I could have got the shades cheaper back home.
Saw Beatles Love for the second time (first time was... wow, 8 years ago), and actually stayed awake through it (yay caffeine mints!). Great show, great seats.
Saw what's become of the IP. Bones are still there, but it's a scarily sterile place now.
Went out halfway in the tournament, but my last-longer partner Vinnay went out as Gigli on 0 hours of sleep in the previous 30ish hours, so I don't feel too bad. Then made a bit of profit playing cash at Monte Carlo with CK, Grange, Penner, Mondo, Katie, Matt, and some random others, I recall Drizz railing for a bit too. Hope I'm not missing anyone. Oh yah, and Bayne finally joined us too. This is where some Edmontonian convinced Grange and Katie to bet on a terrible hockey game.Suckers.
Railed BrainMC at Pai Gow, but when I finally sat down to a game, only Penner was still around. It's for the best, as the dealers hated me and kept taking my money away, so I may have been dubbed worlds worst Pai Gow player if there were more witnesses.
Some craps was played and some slots. A wee touch of bad video poker too. All told, I ended up a small amount. Enough to cover... well... not much. Gas? Resort fees? But it's better than a loss. And as always, not the point of the trip.
See you all same time next year? Super.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Lookee! A report! Kind of.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
It's rapidly approaching that time of year again.
The hap-hapiest time.
With brightly coloured lights, friends sharing food and drink, laughter abounding, stories being told over the warm glow of green felt tabletops.
WPBT time is next weekend. Remember when there used to be blogs about it?
I'm once again in town for my maximum tolerance level, and have once again crammed my schedule full of food and fun. Maybe even a comet this time around, depending on the power of our mighty sun. All hail Sol, destroyer of icy rocks.
I think we've got 13 people lined up for Craftsteak on Friday night so far. Still room for more if you're interested.
I'm running through my schedule in my head. I think I have a window of not doing anything early Thursday afternoon, and of course, post-midnight every day. Of course, this is under the assumption that my last longer partner Vinnay and I end up heads-up in the tournament. I see no reason to doubt that will come to pass.
But hey, Pai Gow and craps are always better after the witching hour, with a stomach bloated with food and a liver working on fine wine and cocktails. Which reminds me to check on my caffeine supply. Ah Vegas, land of health. Hell, dinner on Saturday starts at 10pm. Positively European... except that it's Japanese.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
I was watching the local news last night, mostly to see if anything new was going on in Ford Nation.
They ran a story about how His Worship Laughable Bumblefuck still has strong supporters and showed interviews with 3 or 4 people who more or less made excuses.
"There's been nothing proven in the courts."
"I think he's doing a good job, and if this doesn't interfere, who cares?"
"Everyone makes mistakes, we're all human."
Now, for the majority of viewers, this may have seemed fine. I noticed something though. I knew the neighbourhood all these people were being interviewed in. I used to live nearby, and I worked a couple summers across the road. All these people-in-the-street were found in the same place - directly in front of a pub, in the middle of the day. Each one looked... off. Unkempt, eyes glazed, and speech a wee bit slurred.
Yup, they found a bunch of drunks and asked them what they thought of Rob Ford.
At least we have an excuse for his base now.
Friday, November 01, 2013
As a kid I remember it occurring to me that "or else" could mean nothing. Counting to 3 without a defined punishment at the end means that 4 could be what comes next.
I often find myself also thinking how delicate the agreed-upon rules of society are. If you walk out of a store with a bag full of stuff, that's shoplifting. I'd like to think most people don't steal because they know it's wrong. Many probably don't because they're afraid of getting arrested. But the reality is that if you went somewhere you rarely frequent and randomly walked out of a small store without paying for anything, that you'd probably never be punished.
An extreme example? Maybe. But so many rules are set up with the expectation people will act decently. The line "make me" or "what are you gonna do about it?" come to mind.
Which brings me to Rob Ford.
Toronto's Mayor's foibles and fuck ups have been well-documented. The latest twist is his friend, Alexander Lisi, a "stand-up guy" by Ford's own written admission, has been arrested for extortion, drug trafficking, and probably a few other things. The press got the documentation for the search warrants released, and they were revealing. Photos of Lisi and Ford going through spy-level package drops and meets, possibly drinking and driving, and generally looking shifty. Along with these came the admission from the Chief of Police that the cops also now had a copy of the crack-smoking video in their possession. The video Ford said didn't exist. The one that Ford had hoped had been mostly forgotten.
So with this revelation, the media descended on City Hall. Ford came out, mumbled his way through excuses, and said he wasn't going to resign, because there was no reason for him to.
He's kind of right.
There are no criminal charges against Ford. Even if he WAS smoking crack in the video (and his lawyer has already said it wasn't crack in the pipe, or more accurately, that they can't prove it was crack, because straws offer good grasping support), that's not enough evidence to charge him with anything. It just means he's a liar, which most people already knew.
If you were accused of a crime and told to quit your job, would you? Or would you defend yourself? Especially if there was no actual charge, just the public casting you as guilty.
Ford SHOULD temporarily step aside to avoid being a further distraction, with the promise to return when his name is cleared. But he won't do that either.
For he knows full well that there's nothing anybody can do to him. Council can't have him removed. There's no recall option. The Provincial Government can only remove him if he's charged with (or convicted of?) a crime. He also knows the support he has left is among die-hard morons who would stand behind him as he threw puppies at a button that would nuke the city. So in short, what can be done to him? He'll just keep deflecting and denying and hoping it all blows over and is forgotten.
What this will do is reignite the investigations into his life and past. He will have no privacy, and no secrets. He knows the police are following and recording him. His friends are rapidly getting arrested. His allies are abandoning him to save their own hides. It will end up being him, his brother, David Price, and maybe one or two council members who are too stupid to get away.
Oh, and I expect Lisi will look for a plea bargain to avoid court, which could keep the video under wraps indefinitely. Because for some reason, the Ford family seems to be scarier to criminals than jail.
Here's hoping he doesn't see a second term.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Either $747.28 or $622.73 depending on how the bonus works on tier credits.
That's all I need to hit platinum on my M life status. A pittance by Vegas standards. But it has to be achieved by October 1st.
So I'm heading to Vegas this weekend to reach that goal. Clearly I'm a sucker for loyalty programs. I get a 10% better point bonus, taxi and valet priority, and an extra 5% off at retail shops I buy water and snacks at. Oh, and probably better deals on hotel rooms for future trips.
Just checked - also turndown service! (which I've had the past couple trips on Gold, but maybe that was the tip at the front desk). Priority access to cabanas and clubs I don't frequent!
But the card is a different colour, and that taxi thing and better deals are the real appeal. After all, I'll be back in December and February, so that's when this pays off.
Anyway, off to Vegas this weekend on a flight paid with other points. The hotel rooms pretty much cover the tier points I need (due to some big-ass music festival this weekend driving up the prices), but I'll do a dinner or two in MGM properties to make sure... plus the gambling.
Solo trip. But it helps to have friends there so I don't seem too degenerate. I just have to make sure I actually set some stuff up with them. I'm also curious how the festival (which has some pretty huge names) will affect The Strip. Massive crowds usually means expensive tables and busy poker rooms.
But I'm not even sure how much gambling I'll see. I'll likely play in a tournament or two, and maybe play bad poker at cheap tables. I can't see me not rolling some dice and hitting the slots as I wander around, but I can't say I have a huge gambling urge this time around. I suppose that's generally a good thing.
No, I think I'm most looking forward to seeing a few friends and generally taking it easy. I'll keep the planning to a minimum and try to clear my head. Maybe get into the right mindset for my even less-planned birthday the following weekend. After all, it's a completely non-number one. No 5's or 0's. No significant milestones of life, just another tick on the calendar. Hell, nothing even expires this year. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Who the hell goes to Vegas to relax? This guy apparently, and I don't even know where the pool is.
Friday, July 05, 2013
They call it a frenzy because they can't think of other F words that work. Fustercluck?
It's free agent day in the NHL. Lots of players get overpaid and everyone gets to complain about their team. Man, hockey is truly the sport that never has an off-season.
The Leafs managed to re-sign their #1 Centre, Tyler Bozak. They also picked up David Clarkson, a power winger, Toronto native, and one-time 30-goal scorer. Yesterday they dumped Grabovski to free up some money. I like Grabo. He'll do fine wherever he lands.
So, as is typical in Hogtown, the Leafs fans are bitching about the signings.
First, Clarkson - 7 years and $5.25m/yr. The general consensus is that 7 years is a long contract. Especially in Leafs land. I agree. But those extra 2 years are what it takes to get the top UFA this season. Hell, $5.25 million is a bargain in this market. The Leafs aren't looking for a 30-goal scorer in him either. 15-20 goals and his tough play will be enough to make fans happy. Lay down some hits. Get knocked down and jump back up. Occasionally put the puck in the net when it matters, and he'll be loved. But of course, the fans are jumping on this as a terrible overpayment for a mediocre player who will never pay off. He's actually exactly what the Leafs like and the fans cheer for. Sigh.
Remember, these are the fans that think Phil Kessel is awful. Because they're idiots.
Which leads to Kessel's buddy - Tyler Bozak. They were dubbed Bert & Ernie in the locker room. They live together (Bozak didn't have an apartment and the season was short, so Phil offered him a spare room.). They've played on the same line for 2.5 seasons now. It's called chemistry. It's what makes a team.
And $4.2 million for 5 years is just fine. It's a small overpayment for the guy, but hardly ridiculous. But the knock on Bozie is that he's not really a first-line centre. He doesn't have the size, or the points apparently.
I've covered this before. The top-line centres that had better numbers than Bozak tended to have names that will be in the hall of fame one day, or played with a pair of guys who sit atop every scoring category. And guess what? None of them were available. So if you lose Bozak, you end up hoping Kadri is ready to play every day on the first line. He may not be there yet.
Bozak had a decent faceoff percentage. He made plays happen. And he ALWAYS knows where his linemates are. He took every damned defensive zone faceoff. He was a major key to the Leafs getting to game 7 in the first round, and his absence was a possible reason why they couldn't get to round 2.
Sure, I'd love a Crosby or Staal or Stamkos or Datsyuk, Getzlaf, or Toews on our top line. Ain't gonna happen. So I'm happy with a solid all-around 2-way player with some heart and a desire to play for my team any day. Leave it to Kessel, JVR, Lupul, and Kadri to rack up the points. Or hell, maybe Bozak's one of those guys who will actually try and be worthy of his contract and prove all the naysayers wrong. He stepped it up in the playoffs when the "we lack a centre" talk was getting louder, here's to a career year in 2013-2014.
So he doesn't fit in the big #1 Centre mould? So what? Change the game. He's a playmaker who can win faceoffs. With a top-10 scorer on his wing that likes playing with him. If a team can't make that work, then the coach has issues. If the fans can't see past the "he's not 1st line centre" mantra, then they should open their eyes, because guess what? He's ours.
$4.2m/year for 5 years? I can live with that.
Friday, June 07, 2013
Gotcha! Just one musical - The Book of Mormon.
I shall sum up my review thusly -- meh.
I shall put some blame on hype. Some more on the touring cast and sound guy being unable to spell enunciation, let alone pronounce it clearly enough for me to understand it.
But most of it goes on the show. An uneven, poorly-connected tale that relies on occasional shock value to create the illusion that you just saw a great show.
I didn't. I saw an alright show. Adequate. Not worth the $130 for a good seat in the 1st balcony.
The songs dragged on, the jokes were repetitive, and the story was edited to the point of being barely coherent. Which is a shame, because the underlying tale had a lot going for it. False belief, seeking meaning, logical fallacies in religious texts, opening one's mind, the selfish nature of evangelism, the core purpose of helping people, etc, are all messages the world could use exposure to.
Yes, there were some funny spots. There were even a few hilarious ones. There was clever use of jokes to misdirect for another, unexpected joke. There was the trademark Parker/Stone shock humour that was great the few times they were actually able to use it. I love irreverent humour, and they did nail it occasionally.
But it was all too little and was overcome by the larger, mediocre whole. There was maybe 30 minutes of funny vs 60 minutes of "is this song still going on?"
Give me Spamalot or Evil Dead: The Musical any day. They may not have anything under the surface, but they were hilarious and entertaining. I have both their original cast recordings on my shelf. In fact, I left the theatre last night singing Evil Dead songs, because the melodies shared so much with what I'd just seen. I didn't buy the Book of Mormon CD. 12 hours later I barely remember a single song.
Although "Hasa Diga Eebowai" was pretty good.