Monday, December 31, 2007

The Countdown Is On

My place is clean. Okay, I need to clean the cat hair off the couch, and make some space on the counter to put the booze... but the big stuff is done.

I have everything I could possibly need for eating and drinking on hand. It just needs to be cut, mixed, spread, or baked. In the case of drinking - opened or mixed. Or both. Beer's in the fridge.

Videos are converted and my Archos (bite me Apple and your iTouch) is hooked up to the TV. Music is on shuffle.

Decorations are bought and some are even hung. Did I mention the theme is "Tackiest New Year's Ever"?

Even my outfit (which is ironically awesome) is ready.

4 people have dropped out of coming. Dang.

Wait, the only 2 non-drinkers who were attending are in that group. Punch is spiked and nog is loaded. No need for non-alcoholic champagne now either.

I think I'm ready for the party... and with luck will have 3 hours to put the finishing touches in place.

Should be good times.

Whatever you're doing tonight, wherever you're doing it, whomever you're doing it with - have a Happy New Year!


It's going to be on of those days. Loaded with links.

First - mild poker. Played in the 750k last night, went out in the 2000's. Lack of focus being the culprit. I was happy to lose, since I had too much shit to get done and should have never signed up. That said, it was fun to totally dominate one of those rapid turbo 100-chip satellites to get in 15 minutes before the start.

Every other game I played, I played like crap. Except a $1 Turbo to get the donk out. THAT was fun. All-in with A4o on the first hand won (against QJ and K9s?), and I steamrolled the table for awhile before succumbing in 4th. The funny thing is, I lost my massive chip lead on GOOD starting hands and solid draws. Ah well, it accomplished the goal.

Enough poker. Onto other things.

Goodbye Netscape. The first browser I ever used was XMosaic. The creator of this went on to make Netscape. I, like everyone else, used this in those heady early days of Web proliferation. We all know the story. IE came in and wiped it out, AOL took it over and screwed the pooch with it, the codebase became Phoenix which became Firefox, but the AOL Netscape continued to flounder. AOL fucked it further, and now it's officially dead. Poor Netscape. Then again, I'm using Opera right now, and Firefox at home.

Goodbye musical fidelity. I won't go so far as to say that today's music sucks like a toothless hooker, but it's not very good. Especially the popular stuff. This is partially due to the technical reasons outlined in the link. Mixing and recording for an inferior format seems ridiculous to me. I get it, everyone listens to MP3s today. They're much easier than CDs, and let's admit it... cheap or free. The problem is that most MP3s and other lossy compressed formats lose a huge chunk of dynamic range. Highs and lows are lost (just like if you played it through a BOSE system), and the subtlety is destroyed. So what do you do if you're a producer? Crank up the loudness. So stuff like The Arctic Monkeys becomes a nonstop assault on the ears. Toss in tweaking of pitch and "mistakes" and you have loud, unsubtle, "perfect" music. It's crap and sounds artificial. It also explains why I have such an urge to flip the station or hit the next button when listening to new music, yet can stay on classic rock, jazz, or classical for hours.

Good riddance Circuit City. Most of the article is boring financial stuff. EPS, share price, etc.. I've never been to a Circuit City, because we don't have them in Canada. Correction - we have The Source by Circuit City... essentially Radio Shack with a different name (legal issues). That said, I've heard enough stories, and had enough tech store experiences to relate. The important part is at the bottom:

Circuit City laid off 3,400 workers in March to replace them with lower-paid new hires. This week, it announced the approval of millions of dollars in cash incentives to retain its top talent after the departure of several key executives over the past year. Executive vice presidents could claim retention awards of $1 million each, and senior vice presidents could get $600,000, provided they stay with the company until 2011, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Get it? 3,400 senior employees fired so they could hire cheaper workers. In plainer terms - the salespeople who knew what they were talking about were canned because they earned $14/hr and replaced with new idiots with no sales or tech experience for $8/hr. Why would you want to shop there? Then the moron executives who have led to the downfall of this company got paid $1 million to stick around and keep fucking up. Bravo.

Hello common sense. One of the best articles I've seen on the ridiculous security theatre that is now encountered at airports in North America. Thank you once again USA for making my life difficult. I was in Israel earlier this year, as was another friend of mine later on. When you leave that country, the security goes like this: Pre-screen of all bags before you can get in line. Check your bags. Standard security checkpoint (x-ray and metal detector). Get on your plane. You know what they laugh at? People who throw away liquids or take off their shoes. Why? Because, "We only scan for real threats in Israel sir." You can't walk into a shopping mall without a bag check for explosives in Tel Aviv, but airport security is quick and painless. The staff is trained and know what to look for, so that there isn't a line going out the door because someone has a bottle of Evian.

Robert Reed sticks it to the writers.No, this has nothing to do with the WGA strike. Robert Reed is dead. You know him as the dad in The Brady Brunch. He was also a classically trained Shakespearean actor, and had a hard time with some of the scripts in the show. That's a letter to the writers where he explains the basics of writing and drama to them. It's incredibly well-written, if a bit on the cranky side. I think I'll have to find a way to use "Batman in the operating room" in casual conversation.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


There, that should mess up everyone looking for "I can't believe I took the whole thing." That will mess them up more. Welcome.

Ham!! Baked for a bit, now glazed.

Closer ham!

Done ham!

Carrots, mashed potatoes, bread and HAM! (beans were added after)

Glazed with the recipe from a few posts ago. All kinds of tasty. I'm still using the leftovers.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Nothing To See Here

Seriously... methinks I have just about nothing to write about. Not that that's ever stopped me.

I seem to recall playing in the Riverchasers last night. I slept in my chair through the first 15 minutes, only paid peripheral attention, and ended up going out 18th of 50-something. In fact, after about 10 minutes I just really wanted to be doing something else. It turns out that something else was playing more Guitar Hero III.

I have an embarrassment of games sitting around again that need finishing (or even startintg in many cases). GH3, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Zack & Wiki, Gears of War, Crysis, Bioshock, Sam & Max Season 1, Timeshift, Super Paper Mario, and oh so many more... I haven't even mentioned the DS games. But of course there's always the poker.

Not that I have time. I'm hosting a New Year's party, and need to spend the next 3 days getting everything ready for it. Anywhere from 20-30 people showing up... should be a decent time. Of course, that means filling in those alcohol holes (which are few in my collection. A couple staples, a liqueur or two, and one type of beer that I'm short in), cleaning, prepping background music and video, cleaning, buying snacks and making food, cleaning, decorating, and cleaning. Plus I need to get a few "Christmas" gifts for friends I have yet to see. These things take time.

Which means I'm missing a Tuckfards home game in Barrie tomorrow. Kat & K are heading up, I imagine BamBam and Pebbles, Carson, and whoever else falls into that group will be in attendance. Me? I'll be shopping and cleaning. That's okay, there's still Eh Vegas in February to see all my Canadian degenerate brethren. I would hope a few of you Yanks can make the trip up too. I understand if you pansies in the warmer climes don't have the sack to bear our crisp Canadian winter.

What else can I ramble about? How about Christmas? Pretty standard with one exception. My brothers and I pretty much asked for nothing. It wasn't some moment of selflessness; we just couldn't think of anything we wanted or needed. So we got a few items, with my youngest sibling making out the best. The strange thing? No complaints. Every year since my middle brother was old enough to actually appreciate what was going on, there has been complaints. Someone has had a tantrum about not getting something they really wanted or getting the wrong version of something. The past few Christmasses I've pulled it back to civility with surprise big-ticket purchases for the siblings. This year? All quiet on the western front. It's amazing what a lack of greed can accomplish. I'd go so far as to say it was the calmest holiday we've seen in over 20 years.

That best friend of mine went and got me a cornucopia (not literally) of kitchen stuff. A great cast-iron mortar and pestle (one kitchen implement I've been lacking), and a TON of spices and dried herbs. I'm not sure what I can use dehydrated lemons for, or some of the other more exotic choices, but I'm dying to find out.

Can I say how much I like a week split up into weekend-1 day of work-2 days off-2 days back-weekend? Yesterday felt like Monday, but today is Friday! Awesome. The 1-1-3 week coming up should be good too.

I'm looking forward to the end of the holidays though. Why? because I'll finally have some free time. Somewhat ironic, non? There's a pile of friends I haven't seen in a while that I should hook up with, and right now hasn't exactly been the time of relaxing.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Mix together

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
a few good pinches of alderwood smoked salt
a few cranks of fresh ground black pepper
some garlic powder

reduce over medium heat until a little syrupy. Should only take a few minutes.

mix in 1/8 cup Sweet & Smokey mustard.

Glaze a ham with it. Yum.

Why Bother?

The States has Black Friday - the day after (US) Thanksgiving when there are supposedly big sales all over the place. Traditionally this is where retailers finally see their way into the black for the year, and really kick off the Christmas shopping season.

Here in Canada, we have Boxing Day - the day after Christmas. You've spent the previous day with family or friends, are enjoying your gifts, maybe got a little Christmas lovin', and are stuffed from the turkey/ham/prime rib feast. What better to do than hit the stores for some crazy deals as retailers clear out the current year's stuff to make room for new models?

Despite the signs of "OUR BIGGEST BOXING DAY EVER!" or "UNBEATABLE PRICES" or "WOW!" the deals sucked ass this year.

In previous years I've been up a little later than advised and stolled down the street to the heart of shopping in Canada - Yonge & Dundas in Toronto. The Eaton Centre is there, the big Best Buy and Future Shop, the giant HMV, and countless other random electronics, CD, game, and clothing stores. I usually walk away with a few hundred dollars spent on CDs, DVDs, games, and the like. This year? $14 spent on 2 DVDs, and one of those because it was cheaper than renting.

Oh, and a fair bit of the tired from getting up early, walking around for a few hours, and generally being unimpressed with the "deals". Plus I don't see the point of standing in line for 20 minutes just to save 15% on overpriced crap, which I get to then stand in line another 20 minutes to pay for.

Maybe if I was looking for a new TV or something I'd have found a deal I liked. But it seems I have everything I could need or want. I did get one other thing though - the solid conviction to sleep in next year and avoid the rest of the sheep who are falling for this.

Seriously - this year felt very much like, "we'll lure you in with 1 or 2 things that are mildly interesting, and then keep everything else overpriced." 20% off MSRP on CDs and DVDs? I can get a better deal any other day of the year.

They keep this crap up, and I won't be at all surprised when brick and mortar stores become nothing more than glorified pickup kiosks for their online counterparts. Hell, that's what they mostly are for me now anyway.

At least dinner was tasty.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Antigua's Minor Victory

"PARIS — In an unusual ruling on Friday at the World Trade Organization, the Caribbean nation of Antigua won the right to violate copyright protections on goods like films and music from the United States — an award worth up to $21 million — as part of a dispute between the countries over online gambling."

Story here.

Is this progress? Yes.

Does it matter? Maybe.

The problem is the US Gubmint and its cowtowing to the right-wing (which in this case has been a complete disaster) isn't going to change with the current administration. To the rest of the world, the States looks like the schoolyard bully, brandishing the WTO as its bat. They've gone after country after country with the WTO, fighting against what they see as unfair trade practices that hurt US interests. If someone doesn't comply, they whine to the international community that China isn't playing fair.

But when the WTO gets turned on them, they curl up in a corner and hope it goes away. They're now rewriting their trade laws and treaties so the WTO doesn't have a say over gambling-related trade. Brilliant. You don't like the answer? Change the question. The country sounds like a bunch of lawyers, fishing for the words that can be twisted to help their case. Why not just send out a press release that says "nuh-uh!" Oh, wait... they did that the last time the WTO called them out on this.

The world has been tired of the big swinging dick of the US for a long time. I imagine the EU will still get involved, and they'll be harder to ignore. Then we can talk about progress.


So this is Christmas...

I hate that song. No, strike that. I don't hate the song, it's a nice song. I greatly dislike that the Christian Children's Fund has co-opted it so that all I can think about when it plays is starving children with flies in their face and a fat woman telling me how hungry they are.

Anyway, that was a tangent. They should really have an honest-to-goodness "tangent" tag in HTML. And this is another tangent.

Going to the folks for Christmas. Should be the generally fun time of sitting around watching TV and wondering which brother will go off and storm out of the room on Christmas morning It's tradition after all. Dinner there will be a nice roast and all the trimmings.

Then on Boxing Day (holiday up here in the Great White North donchya know?), after a day of convincing myself I really did get some great deals, I'll be doing up some ham with my best friend.

Veggies will be carrots, and green and yellow beans. Maybe some roasted or sauteed peppers as well. Mashed potatoes for sure, made with BUTTER and CREAM. Anyone who uses chicken stock, margarine, or skim milk in mashed potatoes should be shot. I may even put in some 7 year-old cheddar or parmesan reggiano. There will also be a Caesar salad perhaps, likely with homemade dressing.

But the ham shall be the centrepiece. While I like me a maple or honey-glazed ham just fine, my friend is less amenable to the sweet flavours with meat. I'm a libra, and a cook, so I'm more than happy to compromise. So begins the quest for an alternative. I think I've found it.

Smokey mustard, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar (need to make it sticky after all).... and bourbon. There could be a few other spices put in (smoked paprika, garlic, and pepper are all possibilities). I'll have to make a small sample tonight to make sure it all works, but it strikes me as damned tasty.

'Tis The Season

Merry Christmas everyone. May you tolerate your relatives and enjoy the time with your friends, and may Santa bring you a deck of cards that looks just like mine has this year... all aces and kings.

Lovin' It

While waiting for something to install on my machine, I fired up a 1/2 table on Full Tilt. 15 minutes later I left, up $350. It came almost entirely from two players. One who just couldn't let go of over overcards against me... TWICE. The other from a hand that went something like this:

I have suited connectors that I get in with cheap (limp or minraise). I flop middle pair with an inside-straight draw and 2 other players, in MP. I bet after EP checks. LP calls, EP min-raises. I call. Turn brings me the flush draw as well. EP bets around 1/4 of the pot and I call, LP folds. River brings me the flush and EP goes all-in for what amounts to around 60% of the pot. Naturally I call, and he mucks his flopped straight.

Typical slow-play to no-pay. It happens. He continues to stay in his seat, but doesn't buy back in. I play a couple more hands and then stand up before the BB hits me. I do, however, leave the table open. Almost as soon as I'm gone, buddy buys back in for half. Someone says, "that was a sick beat." He responds with, "I flopped it. Guy hangs around with nothing."

I chose not to tap on the glass.

Let's see: cheap flop. Checked to me with a pair and draw. Called, minraised. 4:1 odds to call. Turn gives me 14 outs (or so I thought. In reality it was 9 to win, and 2 to tie) , and I get better than 4:1 to see a river? Sure thing. River naturally played itself.

Shame it was so late, I would have stuck around if not for that pesky work thing.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One For The Elf

Love Elf asked if I had any tips for prime rib. While I'm far from an expert, here are my tips:

- Make sure the roast is at ROOM TEMPERATURE before cooking it. Take it out an hour before you plan to cook. This is so it cooks evenly. Don't worry, it's not chicken, it'll be fine.

- Get a digital roasting thermometer. The kind where you leave the probe in the meat and the readout attached by a wire and kept outside the oven. They're accurate, and you won't have to open the oven at all during the roasting (which is death for a roast). One of the best kitchen gadgets I own.

- Don't TIME your roast. That's stupid. Use a thermometer. The temperature is key, not how long it's been in. Shape is just as important as weight, and nobody takes that into account when giving times. That said, timing charts are good to give you a rough idea of how early you'll need to start.

- I also highly recommend a coil-based oven thermometer. They run about $5 and are basically a big dial-like thermometer. Put it in the oven when you're preheating to make sure your oven isn't lying (mine is off by 15 degrees, my friend's is off by 25 - they had no idea why nothing cooked quite properly). You're only as good as your appliances.

- Keep it simple. Oil, salt, pepper (fresh ground if possible), maybe some garlic. You want the flavour of the meat to shine through. That said, I'm not sure it's possible to use too much salt or pepper, and most people use too little, so don't be shy about it.

- There are two schools of thought on roasting - start high and turn down the heat, or start low and turn it up. I go for the latter. Starting at 500 degrees will dry out the meat. There's also no need to sear the meat in a pan beforehand, unless maybe if your oven sucks.

- If you're doing a gravy or jus, you might want to set the roast on a bed of vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, herbs, etc..)

- For the love of all things meaty - LET THE ROAST REST after you take it out of the oven. It ain't done yet. 30 minutes is a good resting time. The meat is still cooking in its own heat, and the juices are being reabsorbed.

So, putting it all together, here's how I do a roast:

(all temps in F)

- Take out the roast 1 hour beforehand and let it come to room temperature
- Rub the roast with canola or vegetable oil, making it all shiny
- liberally apply salt and fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees for 30 minutes
- Place the roast on a bed of vegetables or a roasting rack in the roasting pan. NO COVER
- Insert your thermometer probe into the roast from the top, at a slight angle, making sure it's in the center. Set the alarm (if it has one) to 135 degrees. (or 125 degrees if you won't be watching it, which should be come clear shortly)
- put the roast in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200 degrees.
- leave it alone until you the thermometer is about 10 degrees below the target temp (this is why I said 125 degrees. Target temp = 135. 10 degrees less = 125)
- take it out of the oven, cover lightly with foil.
- crank the oven to 500 degrees. When it hits 500, let the oven continue to heat for 15 min.
- take off the foil, and return the roast to the oven to get a nice crust and hit the target temp. 10-15 min.
- Take it out. Put the roast on a rack over a cutting board or plate (to keep it from sitting in its own juices) and cover it with foil and let it rest for about 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
- If you're a doing a gravy or jus, take out the veggies, deglaze the pan, and use your favourite gravy recipe with the juices.


Saturday, December 22, 2007


Waking up after 3pm is a side-effect of staying out until 6am I guess.

Quick hands from Niagara before I run out to try and get some shopping done.

I get dealt The Hammer in MP after a couple limpers (common for the table). I can't resist and raise it to $16 (1/2 NL). One caller after me in position. Flop comes Axx, check-check. J on turn, checkcheck. Brick on the river and I bet out $20 into the $40 pot. Caller folds... I show to the awe of the table.

VERY next hand... oh you knew it was coming - AA. I raise to $16 again, get a different caller, and proceed to take a very nice pot ($140ish) when he calls me all the way down with TT on a board with two queens. I wonder why he didn't respect my bets? From this point on the table had absolutely no idea what I was playing.

As I said, I was hot. The details of the hands would sicken you I'm sure. AKd turns the flush, rivers the 4-flush, with a straight on the board. I was impressed by the laydown of the aggro guy I was heads-up with. AK against a friend flops two pair turns the Kings-full boat. 88 flops quads early on for a quick double-up after I trapped a pretty solid player into bluffing at the pot. Plenty of other straights, sets, and other fun.

I also had some solid reads on the competition. The pot where I called the guy who didn't have the four-flush with nothing more than a pair of sevens was good. The times I pushed off the lagtards with bottom pair or nothing at all were also enjoyable.

Plus a ton of hands that I took because the table was far too weak to stand up to my bets with air. I guess showing the above ones had them thinking I was some kind of luckbox. The 2 or 3 that I won blind were particularly fun.

Needless to say, a few players were happy to see me leave at 4am. I'll have to go back soon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Surprise Trip

I love getting home after a tough day that kept me at work 4 1/2 hours later than normal, and then getting a phone call with this question, "Niagara for poker? 30 min?"

Sign me up!

And I'm off!

**6am: I'm back! Being up 3 buy-ins isn't a bad way to spend a Friday. Now to sleep for a few hours before a day of shopping! Or not. I could have stayed for hours more, the table was great, and I was on a huge heater. Too bad the guys I went with were broke.


Shamelessly stolen from web zen

Not Food!

So there was some kind of poker tournament last night. I made the fatal mistake of playing the freeroll. I figured it would be a good little warmup to get the donkey out before the TOC. Little did I know that the horseshoe up my arse would mistake the freeroll for the important game. Aces, flops and turns caught with ridiculous cards... it's like I was Astin or something. Oh, wait... that explains it.

Then the TOC started and my focus shifted off the freeroll entirely. Meaning I was getting timed out, missing hands, and generally not caring. My stack in the freeroll kept dropping and I eventually just donked myself out to close it. Kind of a shame since I was kicking ass before that.

The TOC structure was great. Tons of small blinds, and an ante that didn't kick in until almost the 2nd hour. 3000 starting chips. My plan was easy enough. Play tight to start, and see flops with either premium or drawing hands. Problem was, with Fuel, Chad, and XxMagicianxX at my table, the aggression and randomness of played hands was up. Turns out PirateLawyer is a touch aggro too. So I folded... a lot. If I did get into a hand, I was quick to toss anything that didn't catch, unless weakness was being show. Problem was, if I HAD a hand and bet, I got nothing. If I was trying to take down a pot with air, I got raised. It ended up dwindling my stack slowly but surely. After the first break I was down to an M of 7 and that quickly became a 5. I finally got all-in (about 800 chips if I recall) with KQc vs PirateLawyer's jackace. A on the flop but no JT runner-runner to save my ass, and I was out 20th. I screwed myself early on with some questionable plays and it came back to haunt me.

It was disappointing obviously, but I'd rather be 20th after an hour than this guy. Congrats to JEC II MD again for taking down not only the ToC but dominating the whole BBT II. A well-deserved victory. Now go kick some serious ass in Australia Dr. J. A great game by both guys.

In other, completely unrelated news, Mr. Splashy Pants has defeated Japan! GOOOO MR. SPLASHY PANTS!


What? You want me to talk about going out 20th in the TOC? Later maybe. Congrats to Jeciimd for kicking 17 types of ass on his way to taking that mofo down! Couldn't have been a better choice.

Anyway, promised Love Elf in Vegas I'd put up more food. Also promised a drunken LJ and CK I would about 20 minutes ago... so here we go. These are in no particular order because it's 2am.

Roast veggies from Thanksgiving. Awesome.

Stuffing! Also awesome. I loooove stuffing. Made by my best friend, who is also a fantastic cook.

Turkey from Thanksgiving. Brined the night before. The best fucking Turkey ever.

Tomato and mini bocconcini salad... with basil. Also made by my friend. If there's two plates, chances are she's the guest.

Chicken with a lemon sauce and capers. Looked good, sounded good. WAAAAY too much lemon made it almost inedible. Next time - less lemon.

Shaved carrots and red onions sauteed. Soooo good.

A martini! I have a post about it somewhere in the archives. If I recall, it was good.

Elk roast on its way to the oven. So lean, yet so tender.

Roasted elk roast. Just fresh ground sea salt and black pepper on it

Perfect. I love my digital probe thermometer.

Great dinner. Mashed SAVOURY sweet potato (no fucking brown sugar, cinnamon, or marshmallows, wtf is up with that?), zucchini, garlic, onion and mushroom if I recall as the veggies.

Served. Really good Cabernet Sauvignon with it too. 2003 Catena Alta if I recall. I COULD go look at the other bottles of it I have, but I'm lazy.

Another drink. Looked cool. Tasted okay. Soda, melon.. something else.

When it's time to make sauce... you need supplies. I love the local farmer's market.

Mmm.. tomato.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

Donkerful Tonight

Well, it certainly came fast. Tonight is the BBT 2: Australian Boogaloo Tournament of Champions. 27 of us donks fighting it out for an $18,000 prize package to the Aussie Millions in Melbourne. Flight from LA to Melbourne. Limos to the Crown Casino, where a nice little room will be waiting for the sleeping. Wine tours, golf, nightlife, shopping... oh, and some sort of poker tournament too. Helluva prize. Did I mention you get to bring a guest?

But first - last night. I came home from a bunch of Christmas shopping gone awry and was on uber-tilt. Impossible to find items being snatched from under my nose or with jacked up prices. Places that are usually well-stocked with obscure items are now sold out. Every other item in a series EXCEPT the one I'm looking for. Hell, even the toiletries I bought on my way home were on sale today. It was one of those nights where you needed to come home and find comfort somewhere. I decided to combine poker with popcorn and hot chocolate with booze.

A $1 SnG almost instantly fixed my tilt when I pushed all-in from the SB on a minraised and multi-called pot on the first hand with 84o. This induced FOUR all-in calls (AQc, AKs, KJh, A9d), and a board of J8QKA or somesuch. Suddenly some lucky guy has 5x the starting chip stack after ONE hand. I felt better.

I also signed up for the 50-50. Donked my way to 484th or something out of 1005. An over-aggressive table early made my "good enough to see a flop" hands into chip bleeders. No way I'm calling all-ins with only an overpair to the board 4 minutes in.

And then there was The Mookie. Made about 100x better by the return of Joanne - one of the first bloggers I met before she went on her year-long hiatus from blogging and poker for various reasons. I last saw her/heard from her before last year's December gathering when I was skiing in Banff and stopped into Calgary to play some poker and meet up with the woman who strikes fear into the heart of Waffles. Welcome back Jo. Stick around for a while, will ya?

I played INCREDIBLY loose and fast last night. At one point I was seeing over 1/3rd of the flops, and settled around 29%. It was wonderfully therapeutic and fun. I decided to throw up a Hoy bet to NumbBono and folded when he min-bet the river. Lollercoasters all around as I claimed I didn't have the odds to call. I wanted to see if I could come back. I folded the next hand, and then pushed my 1 chip all-in with K8o something. Flopped an 8 that held and I quadrupled up! Two hands later I pushed again for 4 chips with Q5o. Ran smack into Pokerpeaker's aces. Q56 on the flop had me laughing. Brick on the turn, and... NO!!! A 6 on the river gives Peaker the suckout win over my and ends my massive comeback. I could have had 16 chips there! After that it's easy as the blinds would hit me and I'd be all-in twice more, and obviously would have at least 200 or so chips. Would've been sweet.

So then I played a $10 27-man SnG on Stars and went out 22nd when some donk with K9o turned a straight against my two-paired QJo. Obviously my bet and re-push on the 3-spaded board wasn't enough to scare him.

That was it for poker last night... early to bed, late to rise.

Tonight though.... tonight is the big one. The TOC. I was the last person to get a seat (Jec got the last seat, but he already had one), despite two 2nd place finishes and 5 final tables. 27 donkerrific players fighting it out for the big prize. It will be a hard-fought, hard-nosed, bloody affair. Winner-take-all. This is easiest the biggest and toughest prize ever in these blogger affairs. Al continues to impress.

It's a hell of a mix too, and even though there's some big blogger names involved, it's anyone's game to win. My strategy? Get lots of premium hands and extract maximum value without putting much effort into it. Why change what got me here, right?

Chad's got his highly scientific odds up (1:9 for me and the prediction I'll tilt the entire final table at the Aussie Millions so they just chip dump to me a day early), and VinNay has a player roundup (we're all Tier 2 except for those who aren't). Hoy's got his "Fearsome Foursome" up. My luckboxy ass is on it. Go figure. Naturally, since I've been picked to do well, I'll gigli out when my KK meets AA and AA after Fuel folds his KK pre-flop. Just read the post that got him a seat. Then again, he claimed I was drawing dead pre-flop in that hand... a 9TJQ board could have won it for me :).

Me? I make no predictions. I want 1st as badly as anyone else. Anything less will be... disappointing.

Oh, and there's the $1000 freeroll too at 9pm. Multitabling is awesome.

Bigger Things

First - congrats to LJ for taking down the Mooooooooookie last night! I guess I finally found the right thing to say that didn't make you lose.

Anyway... Kat started it.

Politics: Bush is a freakin' moron, but I'm not American so I can laugh. Then again, Harper is a complete tool, as is McGuinty, but neither one has any legitimate competition on the horizon so we're fucked. In the end, it doesn't matter who you vote for, the Government gets in.

Religion: To each their own. If it works for you, who am I to argue? Just don't try and drag me into your belief system. Same goes for vegetarians.

The price of gas: Damn, it's high. Lucky me I barely drive so my gas bills are surely down from a few years ago.

The quality of public education: Does the word "quality" even apply here? I had a comment-discussion on Hoy's blog a little while back on how sick I was that private schools had become so important for a quality education. What amazes me is that here in Ontario at least, a lot (if not most or all) private schools don't require their teachers to actually have a teaching degree. Then again, I went to a good Catholic school (same as public, but with a uniform and one mandatory theology course every year), and there were some shitty accredited teachers there. Regardless, I think public education is one woefully run organization that needs an enema.

Writer's strike: Go writers! Stick it to the studios and their creative math.

Digital divide: For those with the access, but not the knowledge - you just need to stop being afraid. You ain't gonna break it. For those without access - they're working on it.

Disease: As soon as health care stops being for-profit in the States and pharmaceutical companies develop a soul and decide that curing a disease is more important than making money by endlessly treating one, we might get somewhere.

Poverty: There are hundreds of trillions of dollars floating around out there. If you want to eliminate poverty (and take a major shot at disease, the digital divide, politics and the problems with religion), then education is key. Eliminating the gangs, organized crime, and corrupt governments of impoverished nations is key. Here at home, it's all about education and engaging people while they're young. Not just those in poor areas, but everyone to help eliminate prejudice and create a more level playing field. There are a lot of really stupid and ignorant rich people out there.

Mental illness: I've known my fair share of those with "issues". It's not pretty, and it hurts those around them. The problem is, they either have to admit they have a problem and get help, or they have to be so far gone that they're forced into help. It's sad.

Cruelty to animals: I don't get it. Okay, I get wanting to kick your damn cat, or smack your dog once in awhile. I don't get beating them, electrocuting them, putting them in fights to the death, or otherwise causing them anguish. Sick fucks.

Child abuse: Sick. Anyone who beats, molests, or otherwise abuses a child should be dealt with harshly. Hell, there isn't an adult out there who could take what people dole out on their kids. Repeated offenders should be locked up with a very large and lonely cell mate for a very long time. That said, I'm one of those poor misguided fools who thinks the occasional spanking doesn't qualify as abuse and that sometimes, sending them to their room isn't going to teach them anything. But who am I to say? We just live amongst a generation of spoiled pansy-asses who grew up without hearing the word "no" and getting a solid sense of entitlement.

The inadequacy of food banks to deal with the prevalence of hunger in the midst of our plenty: See: poverty. If food banks can't deal with it, it's because we're greedy bastards who don't donate enough. Yes, the root causes need to be addressed, but in the meantime, there are families going hungry and not enough food for them. Meanwhile, there is enough bread and other uneaten, yet perfectly good, food being tossed out every day to feed millions. Go watch We Feed The World if you want to really feel like shit.

There, now we're talking about meaningful topics.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Monkeys can add. Maybe if they practiced the 10 Habits of Highly Effective Brains they could subtract too.

Then there's the music industry. When MTV proclaims its broken, you know something's up.

Just ask David Byrne or Thom Yorke.

Some days you just need to put up a bunch of links.

Wash Rage

Guy loses glasses in car wash. Goes nuts.

Pajamas Get You Laid

Anybody else seen this Pajamagrams commercial? It pops on throughout the day on CNBC. Basically a bunch of women stripping and changing into the pajamas their husband got them for Christmas. Does the world really get so sad that a pair of pale green fleece pajamas with an ugly-ass Christmas pattern on them is a turn-on?

The sound is generally off here at work, so commercials come through on visuals alone. This one might as well have a voiceover saying "Buy her pajamas from our website and she'll totally fuck your brains out after doing a striptease for you."

I think it's the same company that does the teddy bear gram commercials around Valentine's day, which is even worse.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Um... so I have this whole post written up on reads and playing "wrong" poker in certain situations. I swear I was going to put it up around 9am today, but then decided to wait until after the TOC to post it. It's here in draft, I swear.

After all the Jr. High bullshit (gotta say though, I'm do love watching a good online battle royale) being tossed around today, I think I dodged a bullet.

CK's got a post that covers some of what I was going to say. Go read it. Man, how tacky it would have been if we'd BOTH posted similar things? Have I mentioned that I love her tagline of "Little, yellow, different."?

In the meantime, don't forget to vote on the "Give Al A Seat" post below if you're in the TOC. So what if Al says he won't take it?

Give Al A Seat!

Congrats to Jeciimd for taking down his SECOND seat last night in the BBT II: Australian Boogaloo TOC. Didn't he only make the cash once in the last one? And didn't anyone try and buy the seat off him HU?

Anyway, I looked back at Lucko's post re: Al getting a seat. And mine from a few days ago. It looks like the idea has the support of the following TOC players so far:

Fuel55 (I'll assume his vote for Al for President qualifies)

And on the Nays:


Asians with a fencepost up their ass:

RecessRampage :)

So that's 6 15 out of 27 players so far with an opinion. I know plenty of others who didn't make the TOC support it, but frankly, it isn't their equity on the line.



What say you? I think Al deserves an organizers exemption seat in this thing for everything he's done for it. Especially since there are 2 "free" seats thanks to XxMagicianxX and Jeciimd winning twice. I'm willing to give up the small amount of equity for it, but I don't think I can make this happen unilaterally.

*Update: Al has already said he won't take the spot. I'm still curious where the support lies though. Chad makes a perfectly reasonable point against it in the comments, I just disagree with him. Besides, if the support is overwhelming, then Al can always sit out... wouldn't that cause a ruckus.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A History of Hands

Some will be quick, others more detailed. I personally can't stand looking through the text hand histories. The quick and dirty stats are at the bottom.

My starting table: Chitwood, Emptyman, Maudie, Pvanharibo, Qwackers, Hoyazo, Iakaris, and Lucko21. I was never moved to another table.

1st hand was KK UTG, I got no action.

2nd hand was KQo in the BB, Iak raised to 105 (15/30) from MP, I called the 75.
Flop comes 7J9 rainbow, I check, Iak bets 150 (< 1/2 pot), I call with the inside draw.
Turn is the T. Bingo. I bet 210 (1/3 pot), Iak raises to 600, I raise to 2325, Iak tanks, goes all-in, I call. Iak has 86o for the baby straight. I double up early, and am convincingly in first.

3rd hand was QQ. I re-raise Lucko, he calls. QJK rainbow flop. I bet, Lucko folds.

Not a bad way to start any tournament.

Next orbit I get KK UTG again. I get the pot on the flop.

Two hands later I flop middle pair and turn a straight against LJ. The flop is all diamonds, and she won't give up, so I figure she has the flush. She value bets the river and I call... she flips over AA, no flush. Oops.

Next hand I get the Hammer and reraise Hoy with it. He wonders why he even calls, flop is a bunch of bricks and I bet at it. Hoy folds and I show.

Another KK came later where I took a big pot off Lucko who chased a draw that didn't catch. Nothing on the board was in the least bit scary.

There were other minor hands in there... and then came the first break. I had over 16k in chips.

2 minutes after the break I got.... KK.

Sometime later I had TT and raised. Recess pushed and it smelled very racy. I said as much and called. He flipped over AKo and my tens held for a big pot.

Then I had AQc, and folded to: LJ raising, Lucko re-raising 3x LJ's, and Chitwood calling all-in. Lucko with AA, Chit with 77. Flop? Ts9cKc. Turn 6c. Damn.

Some set mining later worked well to take a good pot on the turn.

Then I ended up with Maudie all-in against my AKo with TT. No improvement for me doubled up Maudie, and brought us within 3k of one another. This was a sign of things to come apparently.

Nothing more of note came before the second break.

I got into an all-in withTripjax with presto vs his 44. The board played with 99AA9. Wow.

Then KK again for a non-showdown win.

9 minutes later... KK again against Tripjax's all-in 99. It held but 4-flushed for good measure. I'm over 22k with the blinds at 500/1000/125.

A key hand was soon later. I had dropped to 15k after a few rough hands. Maudie had 42k. I managed to pull down the pot on the turn with an all-in re-raise that moved me to 20k.

The next hand was... oh yah! KK. No action.

DDionysus got all-in with A9o vs my A5h. The turn gave me a ton of outs, and they hit on the river with a flush. Over 37k in chips now.

Maudie and I kept switching places in terms of chips. I took down a pot on an ugly board to bring us even at 55k again.

Another hammer was nice too.

Then Chad started with his regular banter of, "Why don't you raise every hand? I'd be all-in all the time if I was you."

Eventually came this hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #4528972193: Blogger Big Game (31592889), Table 5 - 1200/2400 Ante 300 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:58:04 ET - 2007/12/17
Seat 1: a104l9 (10,969)
Seat 3: Astin (55,090)
Seat 4: Maudie (68,935)
Seat 5: cracknaces (21,897)
Seat 6: pebble78 (12,730)
Seat 7: jeciimd (16,661)
Seat 8: emptyman (7,188)
Seat 9: cemfredmd (31,530)
a104l9 antes 300
Astin antes 300
Maudie antes 300
cracknaces antes 300
pebble78 antes 300
jeciimd antes 300
emptyman antes 300
cemfredmd antes 300
Maudie posts the small blind of 1,200
cracknaces posts the big blind of 2,400
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Astin [7h 7d]
pebble78 folds
jeciimd folds
emptyman has 15 seconds left to act
emptyman folds
cemfredmd folds
a104l9 folds
Astin raises to 9,600
Maudie folds
cracknaces has 15 seconds left to act
cracknaces: OMG, Astin has AA??
cracknaces calls 7,200
*** FLOP *** [Jh 3s 8h]
cracknaces bets 11,997, and is all in
Astin has 15 seconds left to act
Astin has requested TIME
cracknaces: hammer?
Astin calls 11,997
cracknaces shows [5h Qd]
Astin shows [7h 7d]
*** TURN *** [Jh 3s 8h] [6s]
*** RIVER *** [Jh 3s 8h 6s] [9c]
cracknaces shows Queen Jack high
Astin shows a pair of Sevens
Astin wins the pot (46,794) with a pair of Sevens
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 46,794 Rake 0
Board: [Jh 3s 8h 6s 9c]
Seat 1: a104l9 folded before the Flop
Seat 3: Astin (button) showed [7h 7d] and won (46,794) with a pair of Sevens
Seat 4: Maudie (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 5: cracknaces (big blind) showed [5h Qd] and lost with Queen Jack high
Seat 6: pebble78 folded before the Flop
Seat 7: jeciimd folded before the Flop
Seat 8: emptyman folded before the Flop
Seat 9: cemfredmd folded before the Flop

Things of note: It would cost me a bit less than 1/4 of my stack to knock out the biggest threat at the table and take a big lead. I finally put him on a flush draw or overcards, which put me ahead. It took a while to discount J9h as a possibility. When he flipped over Q5o, I nearly spit out my drink. The claim is that he'll never try a move against me again.

Oh, and he was playing blind. But I didn't know that at the time.

I started to bleed chips. Maudie had the lead again with 87k to Jeciimd's 49k and my 42k in 3rd. 5-handed at the final table.

AK got me a good pot from Maudie to bring me around 55k and some room to work with.

I limped in a pot with 44 and the flop came T42 rainbow. Pirate Wes pushed with 35o for the straight draw vs my set. The board paired on the river to give me the full boat and chip lead.

4-handed, Maudie took the lead again, which we then proceeded to bounce between us.

Jec took a hit to Pebbles' boat.

Then he went down to her pocket jacks. I had over 100k

Then Pebbles went all aggressive for a few hands and chipped up nicely, bringing her close to Maudie and Me (we had around 80k, she had 63k)

Then her 99 ran into my JJ and she was gone.

HU with Maudie. Me 141k, her 83k.

It was back and forth, until I had her on the ropes. She pushed her small stack and I called with K7o. She flipped over KK and doubled up.

I then got hurt but stole and pushed back until the ugly win of my K3 over her J3 on a 536 flop.

From there it was short. Up, down, a flop of three jacks and my A-high held.

Then the last hand.

132k vs 92k.


I raise to 19,500 with QJo. Maudie thinks and pushes. I call the remaining 72k.

I couldn't put her on an ace or any strong pair, and I don't think she'd push with just K-high (barring KQ maybe). That left either suited connectors or a medium pocket pair. I'd have 40k left if I was wrong, and knew I could fight back with that again.

She flipped 44 and we were racing.

Ks2cAd flop. I'm yelling for the T. T hits the turn and I throw up my arms and holler. K on the river does no harm and I collapse in my chair.

And for the record:

398 hands
28 pp

KK 7x
QQ 1x
JJ 1x
TT 1x
99 1x
77 2x
66 1x
55 5x
44 4x
33 4x
22 1x

No AA or 88.

AK 5x
AQ 7x
AJ 1x
KQ 4x
KJ 2x
QJ 3x

No History Yet

I'm not at home, so I can't pour over the hand histories with a fine-toothed comb. That will come later, where I will regale people with my tales of luckboxery.

In the meantime, now that I've calmed down a bit, stopped yelling, and am not school-girl giddy over the Big Game win, I can post rationally.

First and foremost: I called it. Congrats to The Goat for taking down one of the two write-in spots for the TOC. Congrats to Fuel55 as well for the second seat, I'll assume my being busted with KK on the first hand in your tale was the point that put you over the top . Condolences to everyone else who didn't make it. Considering I didn't even get mine in due to the constant scrapping of it, I'm impressed by people even entering. Not that my opinion counts for anything.

It was a less than stellar week, as was pretty evident in the posts from at least one day. I didn't get enough sleep, I fell firmly into "friend" territory, and I found out I'd be getting paid 1/3 less than the previous year. It was a hell of a downer to come back from Vegas to. Mix in some other random bullshit, and poker on Sunday was a means of starting fresh. When that ten hit on the turn on the last hand of The Big Game, days of frustration and angst were released in one incredibly loud series of phrases... some of which aren't suitable for the children.

I believe Chad's comment when I turned the straight was, "that sums up the BBT right there." I'll take that phrase and twist it to my own uses. This increasingly less-little group we've got is about far more than poker. The BBT series takes a hobby we all love (and even if you're playing for a living, these Blogger games are a hobby), and raises the stakes. It brings us out of whatever rut we're falling into game-wise and gives us a reason to play harder. But through it all, there is still the underlying camaraderie. You can knock out someone and they'll turn around and cheer you on at the final table. People you respect offer their support and good luck. If you fail, there's no shortage of those to commiserate with. Sure, the BBT is about that Aussie Millions seat, but would any of us keep driving for that if it wasn't for the crowd we're running with down the stretch? I think THAT sums up the BBT right there.

Thanks as always go out to Al. He's once again taken the reigns and created a memorable and fantastic series. It's not over yet by a long shot, but he can't be recognized enough. Naturally, without Hoy, Mookie, and Don, there wouldn't be much of a tournament, so thanks go to them too for setting up some great games.

Which brings me to my next point. This was something Lucko brought up a few weeks back and I think now needs revisiting. There is essentially one vacant seat in the BBT with XxMagiciaNxX winning two events. This should be given to Al - an organizer's exemption if you will. I don't know how he feels about it, but I'm pretty sure that the majority of those in the TOC would support it. Let's make it happen.

Hands of interest will be posted tonight before the MATH. Non-BBToo, 6-handed NLHE. Nice.

Fingers Don't Work

My neck is SOOOO tight. My fingers are tingling. I'm wide awake, and so is my entire condo.


Led to this:

MUTHERFUCKING YESSSSS! I can't believe I grabbed the last TOC seat. Although I guess they're finishing off the Riverchasers that suffered an Full Tilt outage tomorrow... so that's the new last seat.

And before anyone gets on my case - I'm a fucking luckbox. But I also played hard, stole like Jesse Fucking James all night, and used my big stack. I took no screen shots but those. Hands will go up later today when I it's not 2am. For the record - 7 or 8 cowboys.. not sure.

Great game Maudie, it could have gone either way, and I hated having you on my left for pretty much the entire last half of the game.

Thanks to EVERYONE who railed and sweated me both in the chatbox and girly chat. It's tremendously appreciated and got me through a lot of it. Never have I appreciated the railbirds more.

Oh, and this was nice too, sorry Grind, but it kind of pales in comparison:

Plus 4 knock-outs I think. I increased my online roll by about 6x tonight too with those wins. I was THIS -| |- close to reloading after buying into the Big Game, Skill Game, and PokerGrind.

16th in The Skill Game was way better than I deserved as well, especially since I tried to give away my chips at least 3 times and won. I thought 3-tabling was a terrible idea (plus I was playing Gin online when the Big Game started), but maybe I was wrong? Congrats to Chad for winning his own inaugural tournament.

There goes the 2nd place curse. Now to take down the TOC.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Vegas Odds and Ends

A few things that I've remembered in the past few days:

- Waffles tells me on the way from the MGM to the IP that he's never seen a hooker in Vegas. I offer my consolation on his obvious blindness and attempt to start his education on spotting a pro. The IP is a good place to start. I hear that others completed it.

- I sat next to Otis for a bit at the Blogger tourney, and didn't say hi. I have no idea why, probably because I'm shy or something. I also had no idea Nickerson was there. There's two regrets that must be rectified in the future.

- Yes, I will get some food posts back up here. There's a bunch of pics in various places that should be posted.

- Tragedy mentioned the gas station issues on the way to the airport. I neglected to mention them earlier. As anyone knows, if you bring back a car without a full tank, you get nailed big time on the gas price (in this case: $6.99/gallon). I don't do the pre-payment, because that's a sucker's bet, especially if you know you won't drain the tank and roll it in empty. So with 10 minutes before return time, we go looking for the gas station I know we passed on the way out. It's quickly found and tank and hose are lined up. I pull out my trusty card and swipe it. "Please enter your zip code." What?? Umm... I don't HAVE a zip code. So I try the numeric equivalent of my postal code. No dice. A random zip code is no good because they're authorizing the card. Oh, if you're using a non-US card, please see attendant. Okay then, I'll go with the "pay inside option" instead. "Please wait for pump authorization"... wait.. wait.. 5 minutes before return time. Buzz the attendant, "Can I be authorized?" "You need to pre-pay inside." How the hell do you pre-pay a fill-up? By this point both my buddy and Tragedy (not that Tragedy isn't a bud) are out of the car to see what's up. Finally I pull out my debit card and hope that there isn't any retarded reason it won't be taken. Success! Gas goes in, and we're driving over the "severe tire damage" spikes (the non-damaging way) right on time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I'm actually less frustrated than last night when I scared yelled out, "DAMMIT!" Followed by ranting to LJ and CK.

Played well in the Mookie last night. With the exception of a couple orbits where I was hugging the bottom with an M around 4, I was always in the middle of the pack, which is where I love to be. I didn't get hit with the deck, which is great because it forces me to actually, you know, play poker.

I made some good laydowns, solid reads, and managed to get paid off on the hands I caught. I was tight, aggressive, tricky, and feeling good.

I'd doubled up with JJ vs 99 to move me back to the middle of the pack, with 28 left (having just been 28th), and was looking to move up some more.

Then I got AKo UTG. I make a 4x BB raise (2000 chips) to get out the crap. Newbie blogger MEMPHIS00 reraises me to 5000 and as others debate what to do I start calculating. Memphis had been re-raising me all night, generally defending his blinds like he couldn't bear to lose them. So I had backed off for a few orbits and waited for a hand I could hit him with. This time though, he wasn't in the blinds. If I folded, I had 4k chips left at 250/500 with 50 antes and the blinds approaching me. I figured it was a no-brainer and that I'd likely be racing.

I pushed over the top and he easily called the extra 1000 and change. I was thrilled when he flipped over QJs. Not only was I ahead, but if it held, I had a read on the chip leader for the rest of the game. J on the flop was all he needed and I was done, and mightily pissed off.

Congrats to Emptyman for pulling down the TOC seat and his first Mookie win.

I won't be making the Riverchasers tonight, barring me shoving food down my throat and guzzling expensive wine... somehow I think that would not reflect well at my group's Christmas dinner. I also missed the deadline on the write-in portion of the BBToo after scrapping and rewriting the damn thing 3 times. So that leaves The Big Game as my last shot.

I should be safe for a freeroll entry though. Umm... yay?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Let's call this an early New Year's Resolution. I'm going to redecorate my office.

I need to paint my solarium a new colour anyway, so why not two rooms? Plus I have to pull up the shitty carpets in my place.

Let's restart.

My solarium is marmalade or mandarin or something. It was a colour I was fine with on the paint chit when I moved in. It came out a bit more pastel than expected. I think it needs to become a green. Something that compliments the tuscan colours of the kitchen (olive walls, orange backsplash, yellow/orange floor tiles with some red in them), especially since the tiles continue into the solarium. So that needs to change.

The carpet in my office/2nd bedroom is... organic. It's a cheap carpet that was there when I moved in. Neutral. However there was a water leak from the upstairs unit 2 years ago that came into my place. No discernable damage, but in the winter, when the window gets closed, there is a definite organic smell from that part of the carpet. That would mean mold. Yum. Carpet needs to come up, and I'll carry through the parquet from the main room and hallways.

Then there's the same carpet in the master bedroom. It was fine, except it's now fallen victim to the cats. Stains, pulls (as it is a defacto scratching pad), etc... so it comes up.

Kitchen cupboards need to be replaced too. And my ensuite cupboard facings have been sitting in a closet for months. Those vertical blinds on all the windows need to go too.

So with all this on the horizon, I might as well redecorate the office, since it will be all reorganized anyway. When I first did it, it was painted to be a neutral second bedroom. Light grey-blue walls and ceilings. I like the bookshelves, and the desks are fine. The pullout couch is new and will stay as well.

So, that leaves paint, lights, and art. If I can get adequate lighting in, I think I'd like a more masculine colour in there. Either a brown or even a red. As for the "art"... I'm thinking at least one Leafs-related print, and maybe some Godard prints. I COULD go with some original oils/acrylics/etc... but that the kind of stuff that sometime in the future will be relegated to a basement, so the thousands of dollars spent would be a sunk cost. I spend most of my time in that room anyway (which is kind of sad), so I should tailor it to exactly what I want.

An Observation

Red Bull tastes like piss. Not that I know what piss tastes like.

Regardless, Red Bull is awful. Especially when compared to Sobe Arush. Also, the Sobe works better. I'm drinking that now. But it was a whole rediscovery of how much better it is after drinking Red Bull in Vegas.

Red Rain also decent.

Just sayin'


It's 11:35am and I'm planning to take a nap as soon as I get home around 5-something this afternoon.

Please don't take that as an invitation to call me. I will send poison through the phones if you do, and then you will be poisoned and possibly die. That would suck, because then I couldn't punch you in the face the next time I see you for waking me up. Unless I'm invited to your funeral. But then I'd be worried it was a sting operation to get me for putting poison in the phone. I'm sure once I explained that I warned you not to call me that they'd understand and let me go. Then I'd punch you in the face. So let me sleep.

No, this isn't continued Vegas recovery, that was Monday. Sweet Jeebus was I tired on Monday.

Went out for drinks and a party last night. Stuck around until the bitter end. I kinda hate being a friend. But I understand it.

Still, I wish I had bugged some of the other friends. Would be interesting to hear the conversations today.

Too bad Kaja wasn't in town today instead of yesterday, I would have liked to have met him.

Mooookie tonight. I'm missing the Riverchasers tomorrow, so I've only got 2 more chances to make the TOC. I might have to try and get my token for the Big Game too. Chad's running a HORSE game as well on Sunday. I hate HORSE. Mostly because I keep missing the game changes and end up playing Razz hands in Stud. Also, getting aces is bad for Razz.

Anyway, Mookie. I plan to come into it well-rested and well-fed with a chip on my shoulder. Just stay the fuck out of my way and you'll be fine. I'm taking this bad boy down.

Vegas Recap - One Last Thing

To Falstaff,

Thanks. You took the time and put in the effort to organize one hell of a gathering. As always, a good time was had by all. Lining up The Venetian as the tourney locale was fantastic. Somehow managing to get over 120 degenerates together without any major incidents is mind-boggling. While I wish I had spent more time with everyone, knowing that people like Falstaff are on the job means knowing that there will be ample opportunities in the future to do this all again. Thank you. You did a hell of a job.

To The Wife, Dr. Chako, and Tragedy,

Everyone came looking to win the Golden Hammer, a couple grand, and the respect of bloggers everywhere. You added something unique and special to that experience. While not an American, the importance of that flag being made available to a bunch of drunken buffoons like us wasn't lost on me. I think I found the guitar an even bigger symbol though, if only because it's so much more personal. I can't possibly imagine what Doc and Wife must feel every day they're in this situation, but it's truly amazing that so many people who may not have even met them could make a gesture like this. You managed to elevate this event to something far more sublime.

To everyone else,

I'll see you again in the summer, if not sooner. You all rock.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vegas Recap - Day 4

Checkout was at 11, so I set an alarm for 8:45am. It went off, I was called a bastard. So be it. The pillows stayed in place on this morning. We were ready and checking out at 10:30. No line. Sweet.

Breakfast was lunch was some pizza. A bit more free slot redemption and a consistent winning slots session at PH was a welcome change. I cashed out, got my small cashback (7o pts = $1400 bet on slots = 2 free buffets or $11 back). No, I didn't put $1400 into machines, I just played that much. I suppose if I cashed out after every win, I'd be in better shape, but I tend to play down to a certain number. A little roulette was also played and then it was time to drop off another friend at the airport.

After saying goodbye, the remaining two of us went downtown. Why? My friend had never been to Vegas before, and wanted to see Binion's. So be it, we went. I spent more on slots (loosest slots in town my ass), we looked around Fremont, and made our way back to the IP in time for the late game. Tragedy, Don, Scott, Waffles, Love Elf, Bayne, Zeem, and Buddy were still kicking around and I stuck around for the 1st quarter before heading off to Caesar's to see Fuel and LJ before calling it quits.

Fuel and LJ were playing a little 2-5, but weren't doing dinner until it would be too late for us. So I railed a bit before saying goodbye. A quick dinner at the Carnegie Deli (soooo much food) and we were done. We strolled back to the IP to get the car and passed Tragedy waiting for his now late shuttle. A ride was offered and accepted and we all made it to the airport and, eventually, home.

All-in-all, it was a good trip. I ended up down, but still had money left in my wallet. Most of my losses were in craps and poker, although after tallying everything, I could have plugged the slots hole a bit more I think.

If I forgot anybody, please don't take it personally. I know there's a lot of names repeated in these, but that's because it's who I ran into again and again. I think our "little" group is full of some great people, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it. I'm there in June for sure.

But I think next time I'll be coming solo again. I love my friends, but I hate feeling torn between two groups. I didn't spend NEARLY enough time with you guys, didn't play enough poker, and every meal was with those with whom I came. I would have loved to have spent more time with everybody. I wanted to play craps with Bayne, 2-5 with Fuel, do dinner with CK, and Kat, hang out with LJ, sit and chat with Tragedy, and raise a few more drinks with Iggy and Al and Pauly. I never met Tripjax. Hell, there's a dozen more people I would have loved to have done something more with but didn't get the chance. So in June, I'm either coming by myself, or with someone who plays poker seriously enough that they'll gladly come hang out with my imaginary Internet degenerate friends.

If you're one of those people who almost came this time but didn't - you missed out. Don't make the same mistake again in June.

Vegas Recap - Day 3

Before hitting the hay, I said to myself, "Get up around 10." At 10:15 I was wide awake. My buddy was still asleep, so I waited 15 minutes. Then creeped out of bed, took a pillow with me, and brought the feathery fury down on his head. Similar to me the previous day, he woke up just enough, and threw his arms up to protect himself from the soft death from above. Ah payback.

Come 11am my phone rings. My golfer friends are getting off the course early because it's cold and raining. We head down for brunch at the Spice Market again around 12:30. Tasty stuff. Good crepes, good meat.

With just enough time left, me and the other poker player wander to The Venetian for the tournament. We sign up and take our seats just as it's about to begin.

My table consisted of Zeem, Don, Pebbles, Bayne, The Wife, and three others I didn't recognize. As I sat down, Don let out a cry of dismay as I took a seat 3 to his left - "Oh God no! Not Astin too!" It seems Bayne was directly to my left. Literal AstinBaynage in real life. Carmen got a picture. To cap it off, in the first orbit Bayne beat my hand with a rivered boat and I got pocket Aces two hands later, which I naturally had to show. Also, floating T8o behind Don, almost flopping the straight, and having Don afraid to bet into me because he knew I'd pull a donkey move like that was classic. The tournament was fun for the people more than the game. I went out in the high 60's or low 70's when I finally pushed my M=1 stack blind and caught nothing. I'd made a couple stupid moves to cripple me - doubling up Falstaff, partially out of charity for the organizer (granted, I thought my AT could be good against his low stack), and bet-calling with pocket 8's on a board with 3 sixes... into pocket jacks. I was a touch angry with myself, but what's done is done.

One story out of it was of the bitchy cocktail waitress. As anyone there knows, the drink service was terrible. Our table waited a good 10-15 minute into the tourney before we saw a waitress. After that it was over an hour before Don flagged one down. Some tables had been served 3 or 4 times in that span. So Don flags a server down and asks if she can take our orders. Please note everything she says is in a bitchy tone, and Don starts civil but ends up aggravated.

"This isn't my table"
"We haven't seen anyone in over an hour"
"We have 6 waitresses sir"
"Fine, but some tables have been served 3 or 4 times, which one is ours?"
"I don't know, but there are enough, and you have one assigned to you. Don't yell at me because I'm doing my job." *walks away*
"Nice attitude"
*turns back, drops empty bottle on ground, walks back 10 ft* "I don't appreciate you complaining about me, we have a lot of people in here and you'll have to wait until your waitress comes." *leaves*

5 minutes later the manager comes by:

"I don't appreciate you yelling at our staff and throwing bottles at them"


"WHAT?? I didn't throw any bottle at anybody. And everyone here will back me up that she yelled at me first."
"We have more help coming in"
"Good, it's been 1 hr 15min since we've seen a server"
"We have two large tournaments going on"
"You knew they were happening, and some people have been served 3 or 4 times since we last SAW someone."
"Well... um.. we have more help coming in."

The tournament was a GREAT structure to start with, with good chipstacks, and a nice room. The drink service was crappy and really the only major complaint. Still, it was 1000x better than The Orleans in June.

I did get to chat with Love Elf a bit, wandered the floor to chat it up with the others and wish everyone luck. Iggy stood up from his table, came over and said, "Astin. Hi, I'm Iggy... did I already meet you?"

"Twice so far."

"Oh shit."

Don pipes up with - "HA! I told you!"

That was the third, and final meeting with Iggy on the trip.

I then went to meet up with my other friends at the Casino Royale craps table, where I ended up winning a massive $35. If I'd left immediately after I was knocked out instead of puttering around for 30 or so minutes, I'd have likely been up a grand. I love craps, but my timing was all wrong this weekend.

From there it was dinner at Planet Dailies in PH... 1/2 lb burger is a lot of burger. We dropped of one of my buddies at the airport, with a whopping 40 minutes to spare before his flight left, and then two of us proceeded to the MGM on fight night for some poker while the 3rd walked The Strip.

No bloggers that I recognized at the MGM (perhaps still waiting for drinks at The Venetian? The tourney was still going on at this point - after 11pm), but lots of fish. I was jealous of my buddy getting a brand new table to play with, which he did quite nicely at. Me? I was put next to two local regulars, a halfway decent player, and a bunch of donkeys. Next to that annoyingly loud bar. Now normally, none of this is a problem. In fact, I played and won two hands blind, had fun with the few hands I did make, but generally folded a bunch. I paid for information once but never got to use it as I left before playing that particular donkey again (yes sir, your limp-call pre-flop with QTo is brilliant. As was your pushing of my pot-sized bet on the flop of Q66 that was $1 more than a minraise). But the most notable guy was this one:

Skinny white guy, I'd put him in his late 20's to mid 30's. Four layers of clothes on. Looked a little like Ichabod Crane. On his first hand he limp-pushed with kings. It quickly became obvious that he only played premium pairs, ace-face, and paint. He'd limp-push with aces or kings, push on the flop if he had overs, and would otherwise play very weak. If his post-flop bet wasn't a push, you could beat him with a raise. Totally played like he was an online multitabler.

Fine. Except he was also a dick. He gets to the river on T-high board, calling all the way. The bettor flips Tx, and he SLOWROLLS Jacks. Beat... beat... beat... flip one jack... beat... beat.. flip second jack. We were almost ready to throw something at him from our end. One of the locals speaks up, "Sir, you realize it's INCREDIBLY poor etiquette to slowroll in a live game? Or you do you not care?" No response. "You don't care. Okay." The dealer turns to us and says he hasn't seen a slowroll like that in a looong time, and it's been 6 months since he's seen anything close. This is when I noticed that this ass hadn't tipped the dealer ONCE, despite having 3 buy-ins in front of him. I played a couple more orbits and finally left. Called it an early night at 2am. I did regret having only seen the bloggers during the tournament though.

Vegas Recap - Day 2

I awoke around 10:30 with a pillow about to come down on my face. As usual for me, I was awake before the attack could be launched and threated a slow and painful death if any contact was made. Two friends were already on the links and my roomate had gotten to bed around midnight or something lame like that. I had slept like a baby. Not one of those crying ones that's up all night because they shit their diaper... no, one of those babies that sleeps all night and even housekeeping slamming the door into the safety lock isn't enough to wake them (but the soft sound of a pillow being lifted can).

We were out the door 2 hours later (one bathroom, 2 guys... I have no idea how it took that long). Down to the Spice Market Buffet for lunch. Not too shabby. As far as buffet fare goes, it was pretty solid, and definitely worth the $13.

From there we wandered to The Venetian to pick up our tickets to Blue Man Group and make a reservation at Delmonico. A phone call from the golfers and we now had a ride for the rest of the day. Picked up in front of the lobby, we proceeded to the Hilton and Star Trek: The Experience (yell out "neeeeeerds" now. Go ahead, I'll wait. Done? Good. It's fun, your loss.) This was my 3rd visit, but the first for my fellow geeks. There are a few moments in both rides that really shouldn't be spoiled. I think I did a good job of keeping my mouth shut. Especially since one of them jumped and cried out "Sweet Jesus" at one point. Fun was had, geekiness was satisfied, and we made our way back to the car and the Venetian for our show.

Blue Man Group didn't disappoint. We were in the 3rd row, which is in the "poncho zone". I think this is more for trepidation's purpose than actual splattter, as only once were we in any real danger of getting anything sprayed on us, and that was minor. It's a solid show with great audience interaction, humour, and artistry. I think I was in the mood for something a bit more high-octane, but it did pick up as it went.

The show wasn't uneventful though. Before anything started, a cute blonde and her relying-on-his-looks boyfriend find themselves in our row. She sees the ponchos and asks the usher is she (and her white dress) will be getting wet. The usher replies, "Well, 'wet' implies water... so no!" She isn't quite dumb enough to completely miss this misdirection here but doesn't know how to respond. The eye shes gives her boyfriend as he tries to convince her everything will be fine was priceless. I turn to my group and say, "Somebody isn't getting laid tonight."

Then a group of four - two kids and I'll assume their parents - were brought down to the seats in front of us. "Take any four of these five." It seems that it was one of the kids' birthday, and the right people knew, upgrading their seats to 2nd row. Not too shabby. Mom is thrilled as she's lived there for seven years and has been dying to see this show. Twenty minutes in, the mother suddenly stands up screaming at the father, smacks him on the shoulder and makes him switch seats with her. About thirty seconds later she stands up again, dumps her poncho, and leaves.

She returns ten minutes later, only to have something else happen to set her off. More screaming, and another dramatic exit. Husband gets up starts wiping the chairs and floor with the poncho (which is where we learn that impermeable plastic is a terrible mop), and follows her out. He returns solo a bit later. She finally comes back again, and he, being an obvious moron, tries to talk to her. She hisses, "I don't want to talk about it, just watch the stupid show." He, like a brain-dead moron, continues to try and talk about it, and she screams a third time, and once again storms out, never to return, despite him following after a few moments later. This third exit actually got the obvious attention of the performers, as two wandered over and gave a subtle glance to one another that spoke volumes - "What the fuck? Is that our fault? I don't think so. She's probably just nuts." I imagine the audience missed it if they weren't in our immediate area.

I took a peek over the chair - two spilled drinks littered the floor. From what I can surmise, she spilled the first on herself, and he spilled the second on her. Good times. I felt terrible for the kids though, who had to be completely mortified. One of them turned back and gave the "What the hell are my parents doing?" look to us. The only reasonable response was a shrug. Dad eventually returned, but mom was nowhere to be found.

The final bit of interest in the show was that with fifteen minutes left, it broke. A scene where the Blue Men are encased in televisions had technical difficulties. The video froze, the music stopped, and a voice came over the speakers - "We apologize, we are having technical difficulties." The house lights came on, and the crew came onstage to remove the performers from their costumes. It COULD have been a brilliant John Cage-like bit of commentary on how we miss the music that surrounds us, but I doubt it. Anyway, the show started back up about five minutes later and they picked up after the scene that went fubar. One great ending to a show if you take a look at the audience.

From there we had a 10pm reservation at Delmonico (thanks for the suggestion Kaja), so we killed time at the slots and the bar before being seated. A solid dinner (Caesar, Kobe, and Brulee for me), good wine ('01 Damilano Cannubi Barolo - admittedly a little young (2008 maturity), but was a good price/quality point, especially since the other guy drinking it was stuffed up with allergies, thereby diminishing any wine-drinking experience for him), and the best server ever made for a great experience.

The server - at first glance she seemed... awkward. Blonde ponytail, glasses, and a uniform that didn't quite fit. She made up for it with attitude. By the end of the night she was joining us in berating one friend for his order. He skipped dessert but ordered tea. She'd seen us joking and ripping into one another all night and piped up with, "Tea? I'll see if we have any. Is this your first time in Vegas? How weak would you like it?" She comes back with his tea and "Would you like some milk with that? Or would that be too strong for you?" Further insults flew and we were in stitches. She was tipped well.

It was midnight by this point and I had yet to spend any blogger time that day. I went to the MGM while my friends sought out more craps at the IP (where they lost). I signed up for 1-2 and wandered the room. Bloggers weren't hard to find. Alan, Don, Chad and others were at one table, friends of Falstaff at another, then Fuel at 5-10, Schaubs, Bayne and LJ playing in a row, and the mixed games still going strong with the rest. I walked past LJ and gave her shoulder a squeeze before shaking Schaubs' hand. She turns around and, in all honesty says, "Do I know you?" No sarcasm, no irony, just a complete blank. I'd have been insulted if I didn't know she was faceblind and was, in fact, expecting exactly that response. So, me being me, I played it up. I gasp and reel back slightly, "of course you know me." I stare her down and she's still lost. Finally she extends her hand and says, "Hi, I'm Lan... OH MY GOD! ASTIN!" She stands up, gives me a hug and apologizes profusely. I forgive her and laugh. The best part is that she'd "been looking for [me] all day!"

Naturally, two seconds later she gets stacked by Bayne's 5th pocket kings of the night and stands up to leave. I finish my rounds before sitting down at my table.

Perhaps playing after midnight and half a bottle of wine wasn't the best move. I basically slept through my one hour of play before pushing in my last few chips. It turns out loose-weak and tired isn't winning poker. I did have a Red Bull though, which meant I was wide awake right after I lost.

So I wandered back to see who was still around and ran into Veneno, Kat, Iggy (who introduced himself to me for the second time), Tragedy, Waffles and JJok. To the IP! Tragedy drunkenly led us to the front of the casino (for a guy who said, "I don't drink very much." he was pretty gone) for a cab. Here was when Veneno mentioned she had a van in the parking lot. Did I mention that Tragedy and Iggy were good and plastered? So we wander across to the lot (instead of taking the convenient passage downstairs), lose Tragedy, find Tragedy, and the search for the van. The van is found, Iggy is missing. Iggy is found. This is made easy by the fact that the parking lot security guy who is escorting him has a bright yellow vest. Also, Tragedy yelling "we have a problem!" helps with the locating. Did you know that urinating on a car in the MGM garage is frowned upon? Kat extricates our drunken compatriot from the guy a step down from mall security and we're on our way.

We survived the ride to the IP and Iggy, Blinders, and I hit the craps table. CK was already there with her bestest friend (who was gambling purely for CK's enjoyment). I ended up quickly down $200, and then another $200. I blame Alan. Multiple times I told him to shut up, but he just kept jinxing the table. I decided againt buying back in, and watched as CK proceeded to not only go on a run, but hit the freakin' FIRE BET (only 4 points though). A shame nobody was actually playing them. Grrrr. Of course, Recess kept his mouth shut during that run. :)

I guess I COULD blame my fairly loose betting style in that game. But you've got to support your friends when they roll, right?

From there I hung with CK and her friend a bit as we watched CK play a wee bit of Pai Gow. Now, the friend (who lacks a fake name as far as I know, so I'll refrain from using her real one), and CK claim she's sarcastic and dangerous. I saw minimal evidence of this, and am still of the belief that the bark:bite ratio is higher than they think. Then again, "sarcastic bastard" is an understatement when referring to me, and I've dated women that have beat up my guy friends, so perhaps my water mark is higher than most. I finally called it a night and rolled into bed around 5:30am.