Thursday, December 31, 2009

And A Happy New Year

Apparently this is post #1,206. How the hell did that happen?

Anyway.... umm... Happy Western Gentile New Year!

Because it's not the New Year in China. Nor for anyone else who doesn't follow a Gregorian calendar. Okay, so EVERYBODY actually follows the Gregorian calendar, because that's what the money follows.

So... Happy New Year. No it doesn't come early in Canadia, but I don't plan on being online much tonight outside of drunken tweets perhaps (bottle of Ten lined up and ready to go), and tomorrow, if all goes well, will be spent either sleeping or grumbling and shuffling to my couch.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hey, you... yes even you. Merry Christmas.

Not Happy Hanukkah, because that's already over with. What? You think all us gentiles are ignorant? Hope you had a good one though. Mine wasn't any great shakes, what with not being Jewish and all.

So, Merry Christmas to the rest of you consumers. Here's hoping you can look back on it in a couple months and remember the good things and forget the stress.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Are They STILL Playing Football?

I mean, the season ended up here weeks ago. You still slogging it down south?


Do they play during the Christmas weekend? If so, here are my picks:

Thursday: I'll be brining a turkey and hanging w/ the family. If any bird-based teams (Eagles, Cardinals, Falcons, Orioles, Hawks, Ostriches, Emus, Kiwis, or otherwise) are playing, they'll win, but it'll be salty.

Friday: They don't play football on Friday do they? I'll be eating the aforementioned turkey, some ham, sides, and then having dinner of roast venison, roasted root veggies, brussels sprouts, beans, and potatoes. So... umm... I'll be too full to care.

Saturday: Boxing day! That means big sales in Canada! I don't foresee myself doing a ton of shopping this year, but more likely sleeping in and taking it easy whilst avoiding the crowds.

Sunday: No idea what I'm doing Sunday, but I won't be giving a shit about football.

Monday: Day off because Boxing Day is on a Saturday! I plan to sleep in and then wake up happy that I'm not at work. I might not even put on pants. I suppose there's still MNF, and I'll be really busy not caring.

Leafs will go 1-1 over the weekend. They may win tonight.

A Vegas Story

An acquaintance of mine relayed a story that happened to him in Vegas a while back. I got a laugh out of it.

He was there for a bachelor party with some of his GF's buddies. They were at a club at the MGM (Studio 54? Tabu? Beats me). One of the guys he's with suddenly shows up at his side and says, "we have to go... NOW."


"We have to get out of here before the cops show up."

"Uh... okay."

So they leave. Once they're out, his idiot compatriots reveal they stole 3 bottles of vodka from the club.

They head back to their room (apparently at Bally's), and they pull out 3 bottles of... Smirnoff from under their jackets.

"Are you nuts? We'll get caught! It's amazing we got out the door!"

"Don't worry dude, we do this shit all the time at the halls back home."

"This is VEGAS, not some fucking Portuguese hall in Toronto!"

"Calm down dude."

Not too much later, the phone rings.

"We know you took 3 bottles from us. We want $500/bottle or we call the cops and blacklist you from Vegas."

The morons who took the hooch shit themselves and paid up.


Now, my first reaction during this story is "Wow, you guys are retarded." But my immediate second reaction, which came as soon as the brand was revealed - "Smirnoff? How fucking dumb are these guys? If you're going to steal, steal THE GOOD STUFF! Not the paint thinner!"

Then when I was told the price tag, I laughed. These douchebags stole shitty vodka from a Vegas club, and then had to pay $1500 for it! The cost on that was probably $20. Nice payday for the MGM.

And they didn't even bother trying to negotiate. They could have at least attempted to get the price down to $200/bottle + $100 for the guy on the phone.

New Year's Dinner?

Well, Riggstad asked for a menu for a New Year's buffet. Since I live to plan Riggs' meals for him, here are some suggestions.

- Prosciutto-wrapped scallops. Use a 12-month aged prosciutto and fresh scallops. A nice combination of the old year and new. These shouldn't actually be hard to make, as scallops don't take long on the pan, and prosciutto fries up quickly. In fact, baking/roasting them might be a better method, as it would be a slower, gentler cooking. But I don't generally do scallops, so you'll have to check on that.

- Smoked salmon with capers

- Butter chicken - takes a while, and involves marinading overnight in yogurt and spices and such to really get it right, but can be awesome. Throw down a bunch of roti or pitas next to it.

- Carve-your-own roast. Minimal work to roast a chunk of meat, and you can get it started with some slices, letting people cut as they want from there.

- risotto

- scalloped potatoes

- When you do the roast, toss in some beef stock and root vegetables, potatoes, onions, etc... big dish of roasted veggies.

- Dessert on the buffet as well? Either ambrosia or mousse would be my call, maybe fruit cocktail if you want a healthier option.

- And drinks - either a rum punch (I used to do a really sweet one with frozen fruit punch, canned fruit cocktail, ginger ale, and lots of white rum, no idea if I'd still like it today), or egg nog. Alton Brown's Nog recipe is a favourite of mine. I can't stand store-bought nog, but homemade is awesome.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


1 = My finish
12 = E's finish
3rd number = N's finish.

60=What I was told
60's=What he thought (so max is 69)
86=Worst possible finish (which wasn't him)

Just being passive-aggressively prodding.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Some Math

1 + 12 + 60 = 73

73 < 78

Alternate #1:

1 + 12 + 69 = 82

82 < 86

Alternate #2:

1 + 12 + 86 = 99

99 < 105

Obviously, something has been missed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Light Moved

Another shot from the room. This time as soon as we checked in the first night.

View at Night

I did the initial culling of shots from the golf game last night. Down to 97 in the short list (had around 400 to start with). Will probably trim that down some more. Still figure I'll have 'em up by Sunday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WPBT Report - Epilogue

This trip marked one of my longest stays in Vegas. It also marked the first one where I wasn't positively sick of Sin City on my way out. I love to visit, but constantly staring at the façade that's is The Strip wears on the soul after a few days, and I long for the reality of streets that have buildings in all directions as opposed to only one.

But on this trip, I wished for more time. I toyed with the idea of moving my flight 12 hours ahead just so I could hang at the Venetian, eat Emeril's food, and not bet on football. Why? Because I hadn't spent nearly enough time with my IFFs. Sure, I'd had a few conversations with Pauly, spent hours zipping between foursomes on the golf course, had a drink with Iggy, downed SoCo with Al, joked around with BamBam, talked photography with Alan and OhCaptain, met Lightning36, talked about AWOL friends with JJ, pissed off CK (not really) with my talk of the dinner she missed, and tons of other interactions with this mosaic of a group we have, but it wasn't nearly enough. I barely saw LJ, which always kills me because we were among the first bloggers either of us met IRL during the '07 summer gathering. I once again didn't roll dice with Bayne, making me 0-for-5 I think on times we've both been in Vegas. I didn't get to mock Recess at a craps table for making me lose all my money with his mere presence. I didn't teach OhCaptain craps (something Dawn Summers will no doubt call a blessing for him). While I got to joke around with Jordan at the tournament, not once could we get a Jews vs Gentiles game of anything going. Hell, I almost only see Kat, BamBam, and Pebbles at blogger gatherings, despite them living within an hour's drive, and I didn't even raise a scotch with Bammer (or OhCaptain for that matter, but there's no excuse for that one). There are people I wanted to meet that I didn't even see, and I people I saw who I didn't get over to at least shake hands with.

And I didn't sit down at a Pai Gow table even once.

So yah, I wanted more time. It's impossible to see everyone you want to see, and do everything you want to do on these trips, and looking back I didn't exactly come up short, but it still doesn't stop me from wanting more.

So next year, both before and after I successfully defend my Golden Hammer, I MUST find more time.

But until then, there'll be an Eh-Vegas, maybe a Summer Gathering, maybe I'll actually make an Okie Vegas, and who knows what other opportunities for meeting up with subsets of this group. See you there?

Monday, December 14, 2009

WPBT Report - Day 4, or where I kick your ass

Day 4. Saturday. The last day of consequence for me. The biggest of 'em too. This will be a long one.

First though - the view from my room as I returned the first night/morning

Sunrise From The B

Up for the Bellagio buffet breakfast, I roped Kat, Lightning36, JJOK, and OhCaptain into it with myself and E (N & M off golfing in the cold rain). It just doesn't feel right to do Vegas without at least one buffet.

We talked, we ate, we talked, and then went off to prepare for the tournament in our own way. For me, E, and JJ, that meant walking from the buffet to Caesars.

The tournament kicked off, and I was 100% zen. I had no expectations, and just wanted to have fun. In fact, I knew I wouldn't mind busting out early because it would mean more time hanging with the other bloggers who were done.

That didn't quite happen.

Here's a quick hand recap from the beginning of the tourney to the final table:

crap, crap, more crap, crap, not quite crap so I'll raise, oh re-raise? fold, crap, crap, KK - raise and win blinds, crap, crap, nada, nothing, zip, zilch, crap, crap, 1-gapper raise, called, get bet out on broadway flop, crap, crap, shit, crap, more crap, what the hell is this crap? AQ - raise, get blinds, crap, crap, where are my chips? AJ raise, get re-raised, fuck it, all-in over the top for less than the re-raise, you folded? Sweet. Crap, crap, crap, crap, table change, crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, garbage, small pair all-in with the short stack, double up and survive, crap, crap.... etc...

You get the picture. It was a game of pushing with an M of 3 and whatever I had holding up to keep me alive a bit longer. Any strong hands tended to win the blinds alone, and I caught nothing on the board. The first hour was so useless to me that I tore up my Bellagio buffet receipt and folded some origami card cappers (a crane and frog). I commented that I needed 999 more cranes to win the damned thing.

N went out somewhere in the 60's (69th according to him, 60th according to CJ), which pretty much kiboshed hopes of winning the last longer. Nobody could beat Team Roach (congrats guys!). E went out 12th with KJ losing to Alceste's aces or something, just before Change100 bubbled the final table.

And just before E and Change went down to put us at a final 10, I managed to double through AlCantHang (his second double up for me in the game). Q6s or something similar against AJs or something similar from him. I caught a card and it held. It's one of the few hands I remember, along with presto catching a set on the flop earlier to save my ass, and pocket 3's making it through an all-in on the flop from me and scaring off people who should have called.

No aces so far, by the way.

The highlight to this point was my second table. Pauly, Iggy, Garth, Maigrey, Obie, Smokkee, Blinders, Bayne... and someone else I can't recall. Blinders went out and was replaced with AlCantHang. Talk about the TV table! I figured that table was as good as any to double up at. I did a couple times, but only to survive.

Leading to the final table, I was barely above water. 40k in chips was not nearly enough at 4000/8000/1000. But we made that final 10 and the blinds were rolled back to 1500/3000/400 for some serious breathing room added. From here I had one goal - build a big stack. I knew I could take this down if I could get enough chips to take some risks and push the table around at the right times.

The bubble was tight, but it was quickly decided that we'd all chip in $10 for the bubble. Chilly got $90 to nearly break even when he went out in 10th.

Once we were in the money, my game shifted a bit. I could now take those risks without necessarily having a monster stack. It wasn't that I thought the $200 for 9th was big money, but that I'd just beat my bubble-boy performance of the previous year. 10th sucks.

So I stole some blinds, took some shots at flops, and kept ahead of the blinds as much as anyone could with the insane "get the hell out" structure that we'd hit at this point.

What was most surprising was how long the final 9 held out. Nobody was going out. Nobody was risking a significant portion of their stack to call a short all-in, because you just couldn't afford it with those levels.

I can't remember how everyone went out, but we lost Elissa, by far the best looking one at the table, in 9th. That was a loss for everyone. I blame The Rooster for distracting her with his manly charms.

Anyway, eventually people started dropping out. It was just a matter of time. Somewhere in there I knocked out someone, took some bigger pots with the right moves at the right time, and found myself as chipleader with 8 to go, then again with 5 to go, and I generally stayed up there.

By far my best played hand was against Gnome. He'd been using some timely aggression preflop to take blinds and antes, and had c-bet with some success when he actually saw a flop. He'd chased me off at least one hand earlier, and ran some air into a decent Al hand to reveal his range.

He raised preflop from the button, around 2.5x the BB, and I looked down to T8d in the BB. I called. Flop came J87 with two spades. I was pretty sure I was ahead here, and was sure he'd bet into a check from me. So I checked. He thought for a second and checked behind.

Hrmm... turn brought Qs, and I thought briefly about him having hit. I opted to check with every ounce of body language that said *I* had hit it. He started debating. I started wondering how I'd deal with a bet here. He reached for some chips and counted out a few, running them through his fingers. I put him on air, and knew he wasn't sure about me either. He put down the chips and checked.

River was a T. I didn't like this one. It gave me two pair, but also put the straight out there if he had a 9, or AK, along with the three spades on the board. But I had played this whole way with the intent of checkraising his action into me, and still had a hard time accepting he had anything. If he had hit the Q on the turn, it wasn't enough to keep him in, and he knew it. He was short enough that he could risk a bet, but not a call of a re-raise if he wasn't positive he had this. No, he had air... I checked.

And he bet 40k.

I paused, counted out the 40 while debating on the size of my raise. I wanted enough to get him out, but also wanted to leave enough behind that I could fold if he came over the top himself. 50k on top seemed like a good number. It was too much for him to just call, enough for me to leave on the table, but also enough that it looked like I was committed if he did raise. It said "I've got this and want you to call this bet..." It wasn't quite a value bet, and it was a semi-bluff even though I was almost positive he didn't have anything.

And he folded. There were plenty of mumblings around the table of what I had, if I'd just pulled off a monster bluff, or if I had the stone cold nuts there. That might have been almost as good a feeling as winning the whole thing. Especially since I have a ton of respect for Gnome's game. It was easily my favourite hand of the tournament.

Eventually, we got to 3-handed between myself, JoeSpeaker, and AlCantHang. Two guys proclaiming their drunkenness, one making sure we knew he was colour blind, and me. Both these guys were dangerous though. Speaker had been hanging back and using his whole stack strategically. Strong preflop raises and re-raises, and pushes for c-bets that were working. Al was happily shoving and raising seemingly at random, but he had enough chips to make it work.

And I realized exactly what I had to do.

Play them against each other.

But first, we had a chop discussion. With $4800 in the pot for top 3, and 7 1/2 hours of play behind us, it wasn't a bad idea. Joe and I were good with a straight up split, as only 10k separated us, and we'd even toss Al a premium as he had about 1/3rd more chips than us. But Al wanted the trophy too, and that was non-negotiable. We were playing for the trophy, not just giving it up. Al refused to chop without the Golden Hammer in the deal, and I decided it was time to start talking.

"No worries, that sounds like the kind of thing someone who doesn't think they can win it on their own would say."

That got Al ready to rumble. There was laughter and "ooooos" from the rail. Someone asked if we're going to go Canada vs America, to which I had only one response - "Find five more Americans to sit at the table and we'll call it an even match."

Game on.

The three of us passed around chips. There were walks, position raises, and some legitimate hands that got bet and shown. Al and I were pretty evenly matched stack-wise and I wasn't getting much I wanted to tangle with him with. But I also happened to be sitting directly across from him, and could tell when he was planning on pushing his stack in the middle. I avoided at least two bluffs and bet with a small pair from the button by reading his intentions. Twice Speaker bet into him only to have to fold to Al's push, and the third time Al grumbled about getting a walk and flipped over an ace.

The downside of this is that I wasn't winning more than I was losing, and my stack was shrinking. I needed something that could stand up to an Al all-in (a regular occurrence by now). This is the time when you learn who your real friends are.

And they came to my defense in a BIG way. I was in the BB, looked down, and saw my old buddies A and A looking right back at me. I'm pretty sure they winked too. They'd been holding out the whole game so they could show up when it counted the most. Al pushed from the SB and I instacalled, flipping over my rockets to a round of "oh BIG surprise! Astin has Aces." from the peanut gallery.

They held... they more than held, they brought along another of their ilk on the flop, killing all drama for the hand and announcing to the world that they had my back.

I was now the monster stack.

Al got pushy again, as Speaker picked his spots. Then Al says, "all-in in the dark" from the SB. I look down at K3o. Al starts with "instacall! You have a King? Insant!" I wait. Is he really in the dark? Is K3 worth it for 1/4 of my stack and a courtesy double-up for the biggest wildcard at the table? I'm leaning towards "no" when he peeks and says "Oh, I have an ace." I fold. He flips over AQ. In the dark my ass.

A few hands later, he tries again. "All-in in the dark." Sigh. I look down at A9o. Good enough, I call. "I have a pair." Pocket 4's from Al hold up and he's doubles while I drop 1/4. We're close again, and Speaker is letting us fight it out.

It goes between the 3 of us for a while, and Al and I are really close in chips, when I bet with A6o and he goes all-in. I think about it. I put him on nothing particularly good. In fact, I figure my ace is good. He isn't as strong as he was with his "in the dark" bets, and is hoping to get rid of me here.

I call.

Al flips over KJo, and we're away to the races. My ace hits the turn, and Al is livid. "CON-GRAT-ULATIONS! You just won the blogger tournament!" "Ace-six? Ace-six!" "What about me told you your ace-six was good?" Okay, livid isn't the right word. Tilted might be, and it wasn't even entirely from that hand. But my instincts told me I was good there, and I've lost more by ignoring those instincts than by following them.

Al is about to leave when I point out we're pretty close. Turns out Al had me beat by 4000 chips... or an ante.

Al's ante goes in, I call the BB, Speaker completes his SB. Al triples up.

Al ends up all-in with the SB, and I'm auto-in with my BB, Speaker folds. I had crap, and Al had better crap. Al doubles up.

Joe has the BB in, Al goes all-in, I look down at AKo. Speaker says he only has a few thousand behind, so I put him in, and he calls. Al has presto, Speaker has a dominated ace. Presto is gold and Al triples up, I get the remainder of Speaker's chips, and we're HU for the Golden Hammer. GG to JoeSpeaker.

We go back and forth a bit, but I have a huge chip lead, so I'm just waiting for the spot. It comes when Al goes all-in and I see AKs and insta-call. Al flips over AQh, and that's all she wrote.

Wait... what? I won? I WON? I WON! WOOOHOO!! Have I truly entered the illustrious guild of Golden Hammer winners? Is it sad that the $2600 prize is the biggest score I've taken down? Who cares! I have a hammer trophy that turns into a screwdriver (I think that may be ironic), and I went from sadly down on the trip to happily up! Up is good. Down is bad.

Now to find a place of honour for this trophy. Also, there's the parade planning. I wonder if I can catch up to the Olympic torch and help draw more crowds...

Anyway, I never thought it could happen to me, etc, etc.. Congrats to Al for taking 2nd and putting on a hell of a game. It could have gone either way a few times if not for my luckbox powers activating when needed. Thanks to April and F-Train for setting the whole thing up, CJ for the last-longer tourney, PokerStars for adding some gravy to that one, and everyone there for making the actual game a secondary concern to just having a good time and enjoying the company and competition amongst friends.

Post-game I chatted with Smokkee a bit before heading back to the room to drop off some of the winnings and meet up with E & N for dinner (having taken M back to the airport for the red-eye). Since it was after 10, most of the higher-end establishments were closing down. We opted for Burger Bar, where I had the Kobe burger on an onion bun with caramelized onions, aioli, dijon, peppered bacon, and something else I'm sure.

But that all took longer than I expected, and we didn't get back to the IP until 1am. There was a small group of bloggers at the Geisha Bar (Al, Iggy, OhCaptain, April, and a few others), Falstaff at the Pai Gow table, and a couple others scattered around, but no group... this saddened me, as I was hoping to see more people I hadn't had a chance to talk with at any length yet. I remember last year being crazy at the IP late into the night.

Regardless, I was there losing at Let it Ride and craps, and slots until 6am. The plan was to go until we needed to get to the airport, but once I started passing out at the the LiR table, I knew a power nap was needed. One hour later, we were up and out to catch the flight back home.

WPBT Report - Day 3

Seems I'm flying through these. It's not like I can write a ton about losing sessions, and if I write about dinner in-depth, it will probably piss off at least 2 or 3 people... and that warrants its own post :).

Day 3. Friday I think. It's tough to tell on 10 hours of sleep spread over 3 nights. Did I mention the amazing sunrise over the Strip when I went to bed after Day 1? No? There will be pictures.

Where was I? Oh yah, Vegas, day 3. Golf time.

Who golfs? Crazy people who like getting up early and standing around in the cold. Who's worse? The guy who only takes pictures of them.

That latter one would be me.

Now normally I'd throw some pics in the post, but those aren't sorted and processed yet. Soon though. I promise.

Golf was... cold. Now, it wasn't Canadian cold, and standing around was fine. But when zipping around in the carts, that wind chill was downright brisk. Some eggs benedict before tee off, hot chocolate at the turn, and California April's mittens (after she went inside at the turn) helped me stave off the cold. But from what I saw bouncing between the groups, everyone was having a great time. Congrats to DrChako, N, Colin, and Katkin for taking it down! And a cheer for the course's beer cart girl who was working with a broken foot (suffered in a dancing accident), a tear in her pants (right on the ass), and who still managed to provide drinks and chase down 3 dogs to be returned to their yard.

Some post-game drinks in the clubhouse and a trip back to the hotel with a sleepy Chako in tow. There was some time to kill before my next dinner... so N and I hit up a War table and promptly lost money. Bad us. Then it was on to video baccarat! That was terrible too. So instead of continually losing money, I opted to suit back up for our dinner at Delmonico.

I've said it before - this is tradition. This year however, I was disappointed. Seated at the front of the restaurant, near the door, after having made the reservation over a month ago, and this being our 3rd straight year there. The level of service was fine, but lower than previous years. To top it off, my steak was overcooked, a problem that was at least remedied without hesitation on the part of our server with a new filet. In the end, the food was still quality, and experience still a good one, but it seemed lessened from previous years. And no, that's not in comparison to Robuchon.

Food was digested, and then it was off to the IP again! We kept the suits on, but left the jackets behind. There's only so much class the IP can take.

And we were apparently too much. We managed to heat up our craps table BIG time. Taking what had been a quiet and subdued group to a frenzy rarely seen. Cheers for every roll, good or bad, high fives around the table. And everyone winning some cash.

So they upped the limit and we all left. Fuck you IP.

We went to Casino Royale. Where we had the best craps run of the trip. I was betting 6x-8x-10x odds, with 20x odds on 6 & 8 on the pass line. I doubled my money and then some before the table cooled a bit and I had just doubled up.

The key moment of that table though was a drunk guy named Ray. With a strategy of betting the field, and then placing bets on the non-field numbers, he'd amassed quite a rack of chips. Which he proceeded to count out on the felt when an 8 was rolled. $10 place bet. $1000 odds bet. 100x odds being used!

And he rolled an freakin' 8! $1200 won! So when he rolled another 8, he counted out $1000 again!

And sevened out to lose it.

Good times.

Sadly, in all this I missed Steel Panther and the MGM games. Next year for sure.

It became a relatively early night as we headed back around 4am... plans for the Bellagio buffet and and the Winter Classic loomed large for Day 4.

WPBT Report - Day 2

Ziplining. We did this for the first time last year and had a blast. This time around we switched Asian friends and convinced E to come along. We also opted for an earlier start time, especially since we had dinner reservations for 6pm.

3 hours of terrible sleep had passed since we called it a night. I tossed and turned out of fear of missing the alarm and being late for our reserved time. When the alarm did go off, I shuffled around getting ready and we managed to get out with a reasonable window available (which is exactly why I aimed for 30 minutes earlier). Sadly, our only food option before flying over Bootleg Canyon was McD's in Boulder City. You yanks have WAY more options than we do up here. What gives?

Turns out we didn't need to fear being late, as we were the only 3 going that day. They course had changed a bit, and the training line was gone. We finished in about half the time of last year, but still had a blast. Next year will be round 3. I'll try to do it on the Friday though, so guys like Alan and Peaker can come along.

Back to Vegas we did go, with a few hours to kill. E had also never been to Mandalay Bay, so we pulled in there, walked the floor, and I turned $20 in the Burger Girl machine into $80, and turned that $80 into $200 at Blazing 7's. Slot wins! Sadly, this would be the high point of slot play for the weekend for me, and it didn't even cover my losses on them so far.

We wandered through Mandalay to the Luxor to Excalibur and out to The Strip. The goal was to find Joël (pronounced like Noël dammit) Robuchon so we could beeline it there later in the day when we came back to eat. Finding it wasn't an issue.

I took the opportunity to swing by M&M World to buy $80 worth of the little candies that melt in your mouth, not in your hands. Yes, $80 worth of M&Ms. Deal with it. I once again got a free dispenser with my ridiculous purchase.

Then to Walgreens to finally charge up my prepaid phone with minutes. This wrapped up all the "errands" I had to run on the trip. It was a small load off my shoulders.

The thing is, once you get to where the Walgreens is, it's a shorter walk to the Bellagio than Mandalay Bay... so we abandoned the car in favour of more time and walked back to the hotel, where we had just enough time to suit up for dinner.

Cab back to MGM and quick walk to the finest dining in Vegas, and one of the top in the States, if not the world. What can I say about this meal? It was simply amazing.

13 types of bread offered. 15 minutes of covering the cheeses available. 40 types of petit four for the taking. And those were just the carts. N and I both opted for the Menu Degustation - 16 or so course for $395. E went with the $195 Prix Fixe option. All of use were overwhelmed with the quality.

The room is the definition of lush. Firm purple couches. A massive chandelier. A bio wall that makes you forget that you're not sitting in a restaurant in the French countryside. Impeccable service and knowledge. And each dish an eye-opening taste of excellence. Hell, here's the menu. It shows 13 courses, but the carts add 3 more. If you ever have money to burn or win big enough to not care - go here. Just make sure you're dressed for it.

I'll probably be back, and will start saving now. :)

The meal took nearly 6 hours to finish. We changed down to protect the suits from the IP smoke cloud, and made it to the Palace around 1am. Lucky for me, it was Thursday night, also known as the night everyone gets in and stays up late. I started with a hug from Kat, a surprise attack hug from CK, handshakes with JJok, Ohcaptain, Schaubs, Iggy, Pauly, Falstaff, Peaker, Penner (either one), Otis, BamBam, Pebbles, and the list goes on and on of course. I gave the Wife instructions for drunken husband, drinks were drank, stories told, and a good time had by all. I can't remember if I gambled... I think I wandered off to lose at slots a bit. Regardless, it was 5am when I bid the room adieu and wandered back solo to my room for another solid 3 hours of sleep.

WPBT Report - Day 1

It's the same every time. Days before I leave, the tune gets stuck in my head. Then it fades as I rush around to get ready. Then, as the wheels lift and the plane starts climbing, a distant singing begins in my brain. It's as if the man is standing there on the Strip belting out the tune and I can just pick it up over the Toronto skies. As we approach, it gets louder and louder.

Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire

I watch TV, movies, read, and usually doze off for a bit. But eventually I turn my head and look out the window. Blackness for miles starts to brighten. Outlines of mountains and valleys are barely visible. Then, a road, and a speckling of lights.

Got a whole lot of money that's ready to burn,
So get those stakes up higher

The smile that's been sporadically appearing on my face for the past few days starts to grow again. It has no intentions of leaving this time.

There's a thousand pretty women waitin' out there
And they're all livin' devil may care

Finally, the lights fill the window. Desert gives way to a civilization that has no right being there. Some of those lights are higher in the sky than others. Some spell words like "Flamingo" or "MGM", and one shoots straight into space. The songs starts hitting its crescendo.

And I'm just the devil with love to spare

We touch down, with The Strip looking close enough to touch. And I hear nothing but The King's voice going through my head.

Viva Las Vegas, Viva Las Vegas

I'm back baby. As sick as I get of Vegas after a weekend, there's no other feeling quite like the joy and anticipation of landing at McCarran. It's time for my 3rd WPBT Winter Gathering.

We got in Wednesday night, a full 12 hours earlier than usual. The flights were cheaper than the extra night in the hotel, that's +EV. N picked E and I up, having arrived a few hours earlier. First stop? In-N-Out Burger. Verdict? Decent fast food burger, fresh ingredients, and the worst fries I've had in a long time. They were pretty obviously overcooked in stale oil. Shame about that.

Then it was check-in time, where I was going to put in my first bet of the trip - $20 on upgrade. The line was short, but long enough for me to pull out President Jackson, fold him up, and make a sandwich with him and my cards. I handed that meal over to the middle-aged woman behind the counter, and the bill fell out in front of her. Without missing a beat, she picked it up and put it the side with just enough body language to let me know I was a winner.

"One or two beds? Smoking or non?"

Hmmm... info that is in my reservation already. Unless she's redoing it.

"Okay. We have you in a lakeview room on the 36th floor, which is the highest floor I have to give, and they're all suites. Tune to channel 22 to listen to the music for the fountain show, and at that level you can reach out your window and touch the fountains. I'm just kidding about the last bit. You will need your room card to access the floor."


Standing next to me was N, with a reservation in his own name. I'd mentioned a couple times that I was dropping $20 to shoot for the upgrade. But he missed the part where I actually did it. I had mentioned he was checking in with me in the hopes I could spread some of the mojo his way. He neglected to provide any green paper to the woman, and was given a parking lot view on the 25th. Lesson learned.

The room was great. Fairly standard 2 queen layout, but a HIGH ceiling, on the top floor, dead-centre of the hotel (one room north of the middle column of the Bellagio). The Eiffel Tower across the road completed the scene. I'll have some pics to get up soon. For $90/night + $20 at check-in, this couldn't be beat.

Checked in, it was time to explore. E had never been to the Rio, and had an interest in the cocktail waitresses' outfits, so despite my warnings of it being a Wednesday, we went. And were disappointed by the lack of staff. So it was time to head to the IP, for I had heard rumours that they had craps there.

Dice were rolled, money was lost. There was a cute flirty girl from Alaska having a blast at the table. She couldn't remember where she got the fat lip from the night before, but we all assumed she won the fight. She left with some drunken skeezebag who wouldn't leave her alone. No, it wasn't me. It was 6am when we called it a night. When the staff says "you guys don't know when to quit" and accusing you of spreading lies and falsehoods when you announce that "this is my LAST roll!", you get the impression that it's time to get some sleep. Besides, we had to go ziplining in a few hours.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


More later, as I'm on that winner's high and trying to figure out where to gorge myself in celebration.


Short version? Down the felt more times than I remember. Hands holding up when I needed them most, and finally getting a stack that I could use, and using it.

My old friends AA showing up 3-handed for the first time in the game.

AKs vs AQs for all the marbles... and big slick holding up.

Blogger money is the sweetest money.

And just like that, the Bellagio fountain show kicks off (Singing in the Rain), and it looks great from the top floor. TOP O' THE WORLD BABY!

Monday, December 07, 2009

You Might Be An Asshole If...

Played in the last home game of the season yesterday. I finally got my buddy E out for a game, convincing him it would be a good warmup for the clusterfuck we'll be playing on Saturday with you degenerates. My advice was to bring $100 but only spend $20. I think he got $80 in vs my $40.

Poor guy was card dead, and when he DID have cards, he ran them into me.

His first big raise was an all-in as his stack dwindled during the rebuy period. I had been planning on going all-in blind from the button myself this hand. He pushed, and I hadn't looked at my cards yet. I figured he had to have a decent pair or AK/AQ, and would be in a solid position against my random cards. Plus, I didn't mind putting another $20 in if it meant he got to win a big hand, go a bit deeper, and come out to more games in the future - it's all about having fun.

So I announced that I hadn't looked at my cards, but was going to call him anyway. The blinds folded and we here heads-up. I flipped over my cards while looking across the table at his holding. He had pocket nines. The table let out one of those exasperations that only happen when something notable is in play. I looked down at my flipped over cards at the Hiltons. E lets out a "you asshole!" (jokingly, I've only REALLY pissed him off once or twice in the years I've known him), and I laugh. "I swear I didn't look at them first!" The ladies held up, despite him getting a ton of outs by the turn (flush, OESD). He rebought.

The next time we tangled, I did look. We were out of the rebuys, and I had him covered by a bit, but we were the short stacks. He went all-in over a bet from me and I opted to call with a suited 1-gapper. He flipped over TT.

The board straightened out and we split the pot.

We then threw rock, paper, scissors for the extra blind chip (not splittable at this point, and it's a fun game). We tied 4 times before he finally beat me for the extra small blind.

He eventually went out in 5th, seemed to have a good time, and didn't smack me for being such a luckbox.

I finished 3rd to break even. I played passive poker until the bubble, which was a mistake by me. The luckbox powers are warming back up just in time for Vegas, and I'm reviewing my favourite poker book to kick my ass back into gear too. Victory will be MINE!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Less Than A Week?

Where the hell did the time go?

My first ever trip to Las Vegas was with a bachelor party 5 years ago. It was a good time, but I largely remember learning to play craps from that trip.

I definitely caught something from that trip though, because I would regularly get this itch if I stayed away from the neon lights too long.

The next year I returned with a buddy who had never been, didn't gamble much, but was looking for something to do. I introduced him to terrible casino poker tournaments and cheap drinks on Fremont street.

Somewhere between those two trips I started playing poker online. A little site known as PokerStars, in a little tournament dubbed The Wheatie (by me at least). Here I did meet some other bad poker players, and even a couple decent ones.

It seems that some of these degenerates would meet up a couple times a year in Vegas to drink, gamble, and generally have a blast. I, however, was new, a bit shy, and not entirely sure I wanted to meet up with dozens of people I only knew from their cards and icons.

So I didn't go that December.

But June rolled around, and a summer gathering was happening. I'd gotten to know these calling stations a bit better and figured it was time to take the plunge. I booked a flight, and a room at the shitastic Orleans hotel. By the time I had checked in and wandered downstairs, it was nearing 1am. I didn't know a soul, or what anybody looked like.

Of course, the Zeem and Falstaff jerseys that were being worn at the Pai Gow table helped matters. This led to meeting The Penners, Irongirl, and whoever else was around at the time. The next morning I met up with LJ, another newbie, for breakfast before finding everyone else who had made the trek.

By the end of the trip, hell, right from the start, I knew I'd be back. December came and I landed in Sin City as planned. This time with a couple friends in tow. Then Kat dragged some people up north for Eh Vegas. Then I found myself in Austin for a Weekend at Mookie's. I was in Vegas again the next summer for a much less organized gathering that involved a lot of running into people around the Amazon ballroom. Then once again in December with a posse in tow.

This year has been slimmer for meetups. I didn't make it out in the summer, but did meet up with Dawn and Mary in Atlantic City, saw VinNay a few times in either of our hometowns or Niagara falls, and of course another Eh-Vegas in the chilly Toronto winter. Yah, slim - I've only gone out of my way to see these people a half dozen times since last December.

And starting Wednesday, I'll see a whole bunch of them again. Let us ask Zoltan how it will go, after all, he was so insightful at Eh-Vegas this year.

Hail Zoltan!

Zoltan predicts the usual amount of far too much fun.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rolling Rolling Rolling

As I mentioned last week, I spent the bulk of yesterday at Casino Niagara putting little plastic circles in various places on green felt while I or someone else threw clear red cubes with pips all over them across a table.

And it hit me as I bellied up to the rail that I haven't played craps since August, and that was in Atlantic City and was terrible. I hadn't played craps at Niagara since last year. It was a damned shame. My brain had taken the craps reflexes and shoved them in a dark little corner. I was placing minimum odds for the first few rolls, and felt like something was askew. Then I looked at the card - 3-4-5. It was all coming back. I confirmed that I could bet 3x odds on the 4 and 10 and the craps portion of my brain came leaping into the light, crying out in joy at his freedom.

The crew at Niagara was awesome as usual. Of course, it helps that when my group walks in, we turn a quiet, boring table into the most fun place in the house. Even on the cold streaks we're cheering and hollerin', joking with the crew, and showing the rest of the table what tipping is. They love us there.

And for the next 4.5 hours, we cheered ourselves hoarse and clapped our hands sore. And we didn't even win that much.

N drove E and myself there, and we started off warm, but things quickly cooled off. My $500 initial rack started to dwindle, climb back up, and dwindle again. It got to the point where I had around $28 left in front of me and N about to roll. I pulled out another $500, saying that I had faith in my buddy. Darryl, one of the top-notch crew (and who has been there EVERY time we've gone), pointed out that if I had faith, I wouldn't be reloading. I pointed out I needed the chips to bet on him.

I never touched that second rack. N went on a heater. Hitting 4 points for the fire bet and $125 to me ($5 fire bet on my friends). Breaking even was suddenly a possibility. M and his brother showed up around this time and brought new energy to the table, and the hot streak continued. By the time the dice went through the 5 of us, I was looking at a nice profit. The opposite end of the table had slowly warmed up to our revelry, but seemed afraid to roll... and they kinda sucked at it anyway. Except one older Asian guy who had high-fived N during his roll. That move alone had us up the volume when he got the dice. He was shocked, confused, and happy as a pig in shit when we started cheering him. The guy probably lost a few hundred bucks yesterday, but undoubtedly had more fun then he's ever had at a craps table.

The dice got back to N, and my profit was gone again. He went on another sweet roll, hitting 3 points and a lot of numbers in between, and our side once again turned it around. It went back and forth like this a few times, with us winning, and the other side of the table taking it away. We'd sucked in a random player to our side who was fist-bumping us whenever a point was hit. He was loving it too. The ups and downs continued, until the dice got to E for the last time. A conservative player who has no faith in his rolling, E always enjoys hitting the tables. He started his roll. 8......8. 5.....5. 8.....8. 9....9. 10.

The man was on the verge of our second fire bet hit for the day. The table was going nuts. He was having a blast. And he'd been hitting numbers between points like mad too. The 10 roll took a while, but with the bases loaded for me and my friends, we just kept raking it in regardless. Then.... HARD TEN! The table exploded! And he kept rolling! 4! C'MON 4!!!

But... 7 out. I looked down at my nearly $400 profit and we kept going. The next guy lost me around $100 and we called it a day, all of us happy with the results. -$475 to +$285 isn't a bad swing on a $5 table. Plus, we were starving.

We cashed out, and I couldn't resist the Blazing 7's, where I promptly lost $105.

Dinner - steak for the winners! Tanqueray No. 10 martini for yours truly. And it was decided we were going back!

Dinner wrapped up, M & his bro went home, well those of us who intend to have FUN in Vegas returned to the casino. The table was STILL $5 (unheard of for us - it's usually upped to $10 around 5 or 6 pm, and it was now 9), but our crew was gone, and we love our crew.

So I returned to the slots. Burger Girl! Where I went on a huge side game run and turned $20 into $90 on a quarter machine. I took that winning ticket and returned to the Blazing 7's that had taken my money earlier. In went the ticket, and out came $200 a few minutes later. BOOYA!

Off to Let it Ride! Oh how cold that was. Lucky for me, I had a 3-card wheel as I was getting ready to leave the table and $5 on the bonus. My loss had become tiny and I opted to up and leave the table.

To WAR! Easily the game that requires the least skill in the casino. It was mindless fun. Our first dealer was a bit of a downer, but he was soon replaced with Greg, who we engaged in banter immediately. He made what could be a boring game fun. I had been timing my bets horribly, increasing and losing, decreasing and winning. I was halfway through my stack and opted to finish off my reds and call it a night. Then the tied War happened, then another War was won. Suddenly I was even again, and it seemed like a good time to take off.

Up $335 on the day, which may not be a huge hourly rate, but it's tough to find another way to get paid for having fun. Vegas is right around the corner, and now I'm more psyched for it than before.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Assholes, Fun, and No Profit - For the Kids

Well, the charity game came off pretty much as expected. Except for the pleasant surprise that the dealers actually knew what they were doing. Sure, there were a few small flubs, and corrections that wouldn't fly at a real game (ie.- dealer accidentally mucks cards, asks player what they were and fishes them out for them), but you can't expect Vegas rules in a game populated with people who are only donating to charity.

My first table was a good one. We had 3 rebuys within the first orbit, and many more to come. There was chatter among strangers, jokes, and drinks. Hell, everyone there even seemed to know how to play.

Except one guy. Drunk, belligerent, and generally an asshole. String betting, neither listening nor understanding the dealer as she explained why she was refusing his raises, and belittling every server that passed. To the point where he brought a completely innocent one to tears because she followed his instructions and he was too drunk and sociopathic to realize he was in the wrong. I wanted a table change just to get away from him.

Then he offered his bottle of Grey Goose to the table, and staying seemed like not such a bad idea.

I was generally card dead and in for $300 when I finally put away my cursed Caesars AC dice. A friend had swung by to see how I was doing and prompted this dice removal. The next hand was cowboys. An all-in before me screamed aces, but I called anyway. Sure enough, the rockets had me dead to 2 outs. The K on the river prompted a fistpump from me followed quickly by an apology to the guy I busted. What can I say, I'm Canadian.

Then it was back to no cards until the same friend came back along with N. I look down to cowboys once again. This time they're good all-in against pocket Ts and I'm looking pretty good. The TT I saw the next hand took out the guy I'd just crushed with the Kings.

The table broke and that was the beginning of the end. No huge hands, and a few stolen blinds kept me around an M of 10, which was less than comfortable, but completely reasonable for the structure we were playing.

Then I made my big mistake.

Pocket 8's and a limping table had me raising it up to 8k (1k/2k blinds). I got two callers, putting the pot at $28k. KQ3 on the flop didn't look good. My buddy M pushed his last 7k forward, and there was one to act behind me.

I gave it some thought. Chances of a K were good, but he could also be making what he figured was a move (not a lot of poker experience) with his stack, so I couldn't discount AJ or a lower pocket pair. Plus, of course, I had my 2 outs to a set, or a whopping 8%. With 5:1 odds, I should have folded. But instead I called. The player behind me called as well. Now she was the worst player at the table. The type who didn't have any idea what her chips were worth, or even how dirty her stacks were. She was relying on the dealer for all instruction. After the dealer counted out 7k in 1k chips for her, she decided she was in.

I was done. She could have bet $1 and I'd have folded. Instead, she checked the brick turn and the brick river, and I happily checked behind. My buddy had AK for TPTK, I had my melted snowmen, and the newbie had KQ for flopped top two pair. Half my stack was now hers.

With only 15k left and the blinds at 1k/2k, I wasn't doing so hot.

I eventually looked down at JTo in position and decided to call a raise to 5k. KQx on the flop kept me in. The flop was checked. Turn was a brick, and another 5k was bet out. I ran the numbers. 8 outs once, or 17-18% 8k left. I go all-in, he's insta-calling, so it's around 6:1 for me to push here. Odds said to push, and I did. River brick sent me home. Right move, wrong card.

Still, it was a fun time, with a generally good group. I'm sure a good chunk of change was raised for the children, so I can't complain.

Next live poker? The usual home game the weekend before I head off to Vegas. I'm leaving the cursed dice at home.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Charitable Fear

Back in '07 I played in a charity poker game. It still ranks as the worst-run tournament I've ever played in. And I played at The Orleans WPBT tourney a few summers ago!

Tonight, I return to that scene. Actually, they moved it from the Hockey Hall of Fame to a less glamourous location - the upstairs lounge of a downtown bar/restaurant/club. The buy-in is substantially lower too, leading me to believe the days of open bar and free eats are long gone as well. But, it's poker, it's live, and it should still be a fish pond. Plus, it's for kids, so I'll justify my desire for live poker by saying it's for a good cause and building karma.

So $100 to play. $100 rebuys, and a "top-off" as well. I get the impression they haven't become any less clueless than 2 years ago, so my guess would be that it's a rebuy only if you're busto, and truly a top-off instead of an add-on, so you can't head into the break with a real stack if you're in trouble, making the appeal of rebuying towards the end of the period pretty thin.

But here's hoping they at least start mildly on time and don't start eliminating levels or changing the structure partway through the game. And that the dealers can keep track of the levels and hand rankings.

So, expecting terrible play, I'm torn between playing tight ABC poker, or being a maniac. This may be one of the rare times I opt to have a few beverages while playing... hell, I'm pre-drinking tonight. Maniac it is.

In fact, I decided to bring a Caesars Atlantic City craps dice with me as a card capper. I shall let it determine my choices for at least some hands this evening. THAT should fuck with everyone at the table, fish and shark alike.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maybe I Should Make Plans For Saturday

The way my poker game has been going of late, I expect I'll be out of the WPBT game in Vegas around the same time as dead stacks would be. I'm playing terrible poker. Weak, scared, frustrated poker. I'm letting card death control my play, and am ignoring everything else. That's a formula for bubbling, which I've been doing a lot of recently.

I've got a live game tomorrow, but it's a charity rebuy event, so I don't expect it to be indicative of real poker by any stretch. The $100 buy-in will probably stop people from acting crazy, but the structure will no doubt be horrible, and the play painful.

I should probably once again step away from the online game, much like I did last year, except I'm not playing very much these days anyway. The craving to jump online has long-ago subsided, and the desire to stay there when I do log on is minimal and quickly wanes. I still love the live game, but seldom get to one anymore. I haven't been by my local club since they were busted, and the nearest casino is still 90 minutes away.

Speaking of which - I'll be at Casino Niagara Sunday afternoon with a whack of friends to roll some dice if anyone has nothing better to do. Depending how that goes, some terrible table games may be played as well.

Point being, I should figure out which craps games I want to hit while the tournament is going on after I've busted out 2 hours in.

Oh who am I kidding? I'll be due for so many pocket rockets and river suckouts that your heads will spin.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Vegas Itinerary

Ah, it's that glorious time of year. The leaves have fallen, the air is crisp (actually, it's been pretty warm here the past week), and my blogger brethren and sistren start heading into overdrive on the anticipation of the coming Winter Gathering.

I, of course, am no different. The excitement for the upcoming trip continues to increase as the date rapidly approaches. The flight was booked awhile ago, and the rooms at the Bellagio shortly thereafter. Car is rented. Ziplining is booked. Two dinner reservations are made. Golf payments have been forwarded, and the poker tournament has been RSVP'd to.

In other words - all that's left is the waiting. Well, the waiting and maybe a new pair of pants.

So, because you care, here's the general outline of my trip:


- Get in around 10:30pm, check-in, and hit The Strip until my brain stops working


- Up, eat, and head out to Boulder for noon to zipline over Bootleg Canyon - want to come along?
- Back, do some shopping, and then gamble if there's time before dinner at Robuchon
- Dinner at Robuchon. This is where new pants may be needed.
- Mosey over to the IP for degeneracy and the gathering of degenerates
- Gamble and drink until my brain hurts


- Up, eat, and head out to Golf course for to take pictures of the golfing bloggers. Really, I do it to zip around in a golf cart.
- Golf ends, Strip is returned to
- Dinner at Delmonico
- Back to finding bloggerdom. MGM mixed games I believe are in order? Whilst I dislike mixed games, I like the MGM card room
- Gamble until my brain screams at me.


- Up, eat, be amazed that I'm still in Vegas
- Register for poker tournament
- Play in poker tournament
- This period is foggy due to uncertainty of how I'll do in the tournament
- Eventually, everyone will gather at the IP and we'll drink, gamble, and be merry
- Brain thing again


- Get up, be totally sick of Vegas, go home
- Get home, start missing Vegas already

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How To Kill A Weekend

Has it really been over 2 weeks since I posted? I blame Twitter - all the stuff I'd normally drag out to hundreds of words I'm not cramming into 140 characters. Time to reverse that trend!

My weekend was dominated by a single thing. I heard about it on Thursday, and had planned to look into Saturday, but a bit more information revealed I might not have that long.

So Friday I rushed home from work and headed out. What I was looking for was easy to find. Right up the stairs, you can't miss it.

"Can I help you sir?"

Someone was about to make the easiest sale of his life.

But this all starts much earlier. Maybe some 7 years earlier.

I was looking for a house back then, and walked into one of the many I had seen. The place was nice, but didn't suit my needs. What DID suit me was up on the wall. A glossy black thing of beauty.

And on Friday night, I got one of my own - a 50" Pioneer Kuro Elite Signature.

They're sold out in Canada. The Pioneer warehouse is bare, with no more coming in. They're out of the TV-making business in 2010, and the 101FD is going fast. But the place down the road from me had some in stock. It was now or never.

Of course, buying a TV means killing a weekend. After annoying me by refusing to drop the delivery fee after I just dropped a few grand with minimal effort from the commissioned guy, I opted to come back Saturday with a vehicle capable of carrying this beast.

Saturday was spent setting the system up. 160lbs of 34" 480p/1080i CRT taken down, 70lbs of plasma glory going up. Furniture rearranged, wiring redone, and a universal remote reprogrammed for the new screen.

Oh, and I picked up that CD player I wanted too (far too lazy to rip/download my entire music collection), so that came into the mix.

A side benefit of the whole thing was fixing a few wiring issues from the last time I redid the system (Blu-Ray player and new receiver). Now the whole system works as I'd planned, and it's a thing of beauty.

50" of THE top-of-the-line TV, 7.1 surround, and at least half a dozen ways to send data to it all. Naturally the rest of the weekend was spent watching anything I could on it. Yah, I guess I'll be watching more TV and movies for a while. Even football and golf seem enticing now... okay, maybe not golf.


Friday, October 30, 2009

A Touch More Heat

Well, as inspired by yesterday's post, I made some jambalaya last night. This would be the... 3rd time I've made it. First inspired by the terrible concoction I received at the once great Southern Accent (seriously, it was as if they'd just slopped some pre-made rice, pasta sauce, and meats together instead of slow-cooking them), I was further angered when I realized how simple it was.

And it had some heat last night. Just the right amount - you could feel it, but it didn't cause pain and suffering.

The beauty of jambalaya is that it's pretty versatile and forgiving. My version, with a couple additions you won't usually find (namely mushrooms and zucchini).

The whole thing gets made in one pot, so make sure you use one big enough for your purposes. Also, note that measurements are all approximate.

1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
1/3 of a zucchini (store bought size), sliced and quartered
3 or 4 white mushrooms, cubed
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1/2 lb chicken breast (about 1 good-sized boneless, skinless half-breast), cubed
1/2 lb Louisiana/andouille/spicy sausage, sliced and halved
1/2 lb uncooked, peeled shrimp (the good kind, not those stupid rings), cut in halves or thirds
Salt, pepper, and spices to taste
1 large can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
4 cups poultry stock
2 cups uncooked long grain white rice

- Heat oil and butter in the pot over medium heat
- Add celery, pepper, and onion, and some salt
- Cook until softened
- Add chicken and sausage, cook until chicken is white
- Add zucchini and mushrooms, cook for a few minutes until starting to soften
- Add garlic and cook until you can smell the garlic (a couple minutes tops)
- Add spices (I used [deep breath] - kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, ghost pepper salt, habanero salt, roast garlic salt, habanero powder, sweet smoked paprika, marash pepper, mexican chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and ancho chili powder)
- Add canned tomatoes, cook until bubbling
- Add 1/2 stock and bring to boil
- Add rice and stir to distribute it
- Reduce heat to med-low and cover, stirring occasionally
- At first, check and stir regularly, to avoid sticking. If rice is sticking to bottom, pull back the jambalaya so you can see bottom and drizzle more oil in, repeat in a few spots and stir, scraping the bottom as you go. If you're using a pot that's prone to scratching, I suggest a wooden or plastic utensil
- As the liquid absorbs in the rice, check the rice for texture. Add more stock as needed, stirring each time and recovering for a few minutes.
- Taste the rice (try to avoid the other stuff) to gauge if you like the level of tomato. If not, add tomato paste to taste. I used the whole can cuz I likes me my tomato flavour.
- Once the rice is the texture you like, reduce heat to low and add the raw shrimp. Stir the shrimp in and cover for 5 minutes.
- Check the jambalaya, if the shrimp is cooked, it's good to go.

Total time after everything is prepped is about an hour of cooking. This is largely due to the rice needing time to absorb the liquid. I like adding the liquid in stages and stirring until it's absorbed - much like risotto. Alternately, you can just dump all the liquid in and let it absorb like when you cook rice regularly.

Regardless of how you do it, you should reduce the amount of stirring your doing as you progress, unless you want the rice to me more of a goopy mush that is.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not So Hot

As with most things in life, heat is something we adapt to. Which heat am I talking about? Spice.

I often find myself looking for the next step up in spicy when I cook for myself. I'm not one of those guys who grows his own super-hot peppers, or tries to break the record for most suicide wings eaten in 20 minutes (in fact, I tend to stay at the "hot" level when it comes to wings), I like heat, not pain.

I'm sadly disappointed when it's not there as advertised.

There's a fantastic sausage maker that operates out of the St. Lawrence farmers market on Saturdays - Gaucho's Chorizo. Delicious offerings, no filling, lean, and one hell of a variety of flavours. Honey garlic? Easy. Red wine and fennel? Sure. Beer and cheese? Right here. Etc, etc.. They also have their hot ones. Hot chorizo, spicy Louisiana, and their top of the heap - Internal Combustion. I picked up an IC a few weeks ago and fried it up last night.


The barest hint of spice. I was ready for eye-watering, tissue-grabbing heat. Not even a sniffle. The sausage was tasty for sure, but not hot.

I was also saddened that I had apparently not used enough ghost pepper infused salt on my fried potatoes, as they also lacked heat (but were delicious). Next time, I'll also toss in some habanero powder, as the hot cayenne ain't doing it.

There's my favourite mustard place at St. Lawrence too (in the south market). When I first tried them years ago, I was tearing up with their mild mustards. The last time I made a purchase there, I tried their XXX hot mustard and shrugged. The woman behind the counter missed me trying it and asked what I was looking for. "Something hot." "Have you tried the XXX?" "Yah, not doing it for me." She was shocked. She pointed me to their hot russian, and IT had some bite. Nice! So I bought it, and it sat in my pantry for months. Then I noticed it had popped its seal and honey was leaking out. I opened it, it was fine, and put it in the fridge. But sadly... the heat was gone. I'm not sure if just mellowed over time, or if I once again had moved up the Scoville scale in my tolerance, or a combination of both, but I was disappointed.

I have a bottle of "Super hot" horseradish I bought for a roast beef sandwich. I nearly wept when I opened it the day I bought it and discovered barely any FLAVOUR let alone heat.

So now? I'll stick with the thai chili infused pickles in my fridge. Not burning, but still hot. Might be time for more Jambalaya. Have to remember to pick up shrimp...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What AC Needs

So Pauly put up a link to this NY Times article about the "death spiral" of Atlantic City.

How appropriate.

It's a piece that touches on some of the problem areas of the city by the sea, but offers little in solutions or depth. What it does give the impression of, however, is that the decision-makers in town have absolutely no idea how to fix anything.

My suggestion? An enema.

Think big? Think HUGE. AC needs to be flushed out. Entire neighbourhoods, within a block of the boardwalk, need to be razed and rebuilt. The confusing and terrible road system in there needs to be redesigned. The garbage that is visible at every turn needs to be cleaned up.

In short - someone actually has to give a shit about the place.

And maybe, in that rectal torrent, they'll get the casino owner's heads out of their asses. My visit in August, a weekend where the biggest thing going on was the Atlantic City food festival with some celebrity chefs, floored me with the cost. Your boardwalk hotels - and there's not ONE that rises above a mid-level strip hotel in Vegas - were asking more per night than I've paid for twice the quality in the desert. Freebies? Ha. You can't even park for free. And the receipt-swap trick (pay for parking at one hotel, it's good for parking at another) isn't advertised anywhere.

And it's not like these are rookie operators. Harrah's doesn't know how to do the little things to keep people happy? I just lost $1000 in your casino, and now I'm being dinged $10 for parking? Fuck that.

The casino floors are so ultra-80's-cheesy that it hurts to walk through some of them. The smell of desperation saturates the air as you pass seniors pulling their pensions away.

There's a simple reason the Borgata is suffering less than the rest of the city - they have a fucking clue. They do it right. You walk onto the floor and feel like money. You want to wander around, see what the place has to offer, and eventually find a chair and offer up some lucre at the altar of the gambling gods.

The rest? They feel like the casinos your grandmother warned you about. Unsafe, dirty, and untrustworthy.

Burn it to the ground, collect the insurance, and build something people will want to visit. Not something where they want to find a clean shower to wash off the filth and despair they've absorbed during their brief stay.

Yet still, I keep eying the cheap flights from YYZ to ACY...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Economic Thought For The Day

The Great Depression was ended by WWII, not by any monetary policy considerations of the administration of the time. WWII ended it not by upping military production (which is just more government stimulus), but because the rest of the world's major manufacturing base was destroyed, leaving the US/Canada to pick up the slack for the world. Our still intact production lines had the rest of the developed world as consumers.

Now? Well, unless you see another global war where the "West" remains untouched coming, it'll take some old-fashioned time and common sense to restore financial stability.

Sports Weekend!

Hey! It's time for more exciting sports talk.

After I went a stellar 100% in last week's NFL picks (I'm assuming), I'll once again go with the "I couldn't give less of a shit if I was constipated" line of picking this weekend. And the winner is... me!

But hey, there's always the NHL. Which in Toronto means The Leafs. Which means sucking. 0-6-1. The only winless team in the league. 1 point in 7 games. Worse than the fucking Islanders and Wild. Seriously. Wow.

And they play the Canucks tomorrow night. Who aren't exactly tearing up the league themselves so far. Can a full week off, playing dodgeball and getting beaten up in the media help the mighty Leafers? Probably not. They're still starting their third-string goalie, still have no offense, no depth, and a defensive line that can't seem to get on the same page.

Can the Canucks lose? Sure. But it won't be due to any efforts from the boys in blue and white. We just don't have a very good team. But I have faith. They can achieve 11th place by the end of the season, I'm sure of it!

Me? I'll be drinking Whisky tonight, eating organ meats, and then sleeping. Tomorrow? I try and squeeze into my nice suit and head off to a wedding. Maybe the bride or groom have some hot cousins or coworkers I haven't met...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lucky Jersey

I've written at length in the past of a regular home game I play in. Just a dude having people over, nothing fancy, but there's a trophy with the winners' names inscribed on the base (an extra level had to be added last season), and a ToC at the end of the year. Last year saw me take down 3 regular games and the ToC with relative ease, and turn a very tidy profit for a $20 rebuy that averaged around 11 players. Especially considering I only played in 5 or 6 games (and one of the non-wins was a 2nd place)

This year has been less successful. I've seen 2nd place, but it was in a game with only 6 people, so we went with winner-take-all. Turnout has been down, and I once again missed a bunch of games to start the season. In short - no cashes at all so far.

Until Sunday.

A bachelor party the previous night had made my attendance at the game tentative, but after half an hour of semi-conscious internal debate, I opted to get out of bed and head out. After all, this was the penultimate game of the season, and I needed the points if I wanted a shot at the ToC.

A couple tournaments ago, I realized what had changed in my game - my wardrobe. See, after a couple games last year, I opted to come as full douchebag to the games. Full Tilt hockey jersey, Bodog cap, and sunglasses indoors. I figured looking like a complete poseur would be beneficial to me. Most of the guys got the joke, but even so, I won that first game. So I wore the outfit to every subsequent game and met with much success.

This year? I opted to dress normally, figuring the joke had run its course. No success. Last game, I wore just the cap, but achieved nothing. So this time the jersey came out, but the cap was replaced with my relatively new Maple Leafs hat (which is obviously the cause of them sucking so much this season). I informed everyone there of the reasoning behind the jersey, and by the end of the game was asked not to wear it next time, having systematically destroyed the other players.

The makeup of this game has changed over the years. Many of the regulars from last year cycle in and out, with newer guys showing up more frequently. This round had a complete newcomer (to this game, but not poker), and a few guys who had been there once or twice before, mixed with a few of us old guard. Of the 4 newish players, it didn't take long to figure them out.

The returning champ from last time isn't a particularly good player. He's aggressive, but often loose as hell. I stacked him twice during the rebuy period and knocked him out in 4th or 5th place, usually with 2nd pair or TP with a mediocre kicker beating his shitty ones.

The older guy was very by the book. Not Vegas-regular-rock style, but not hard to get a read on, and he was able to fold to pressure when he wasn't holding a strong hand. This came in handy a couple times.

The guy next to me was there for fun. He had some game, but played a pretty wide range of starting hands and wouldn't get off top pair if you pushed him. He essentially blinded out and went down to the hammer from the chipleader (not me).

And the last new guy was your typical younger player who takes the game too seriously. He was overly-tight and prone to complaining about his "bad luck" and the terrible play of those around him. He had one solid outburst when QTo beat him about what terrible hands the guy (mr. won't get off TP) played. The response of "complain all you want, who has more chips?" was the perfect riposte and shut him up for the rest of the game.

The rest I knew well from before, and had beaten them all at some point.

The game lacked any stellar hands of note. I had pairs that held, and those that lost. I turned a straight or two to beat A-high callers. My stack fluctuated, and when it got short, my all-ins held up. I generally let the defending champ and one of the other veterans of the game keep the attention on them and their large stacks while I stayed around the average, using my table image (tight, calm, usually with a playable hand) work for me to stay ahead of the blinds. I knew that as long as I stayed away from being short, the "champ" would implode and the chipleader would be a ripe target.

I stacked the defending champ with KQ vs his Q7o (JQJ board). And after we each did our share of KO's, it was me and the chipleader, who had become less intimidating as he gave away some of his chips in attempts to bully and they got laundered by the fish to me. By the time we were HU, his lead was far from secure.

A couple hands went his way, and then I stepped up the aggression. I let him bet into me before re-raising him out of pots. Then I played a hand weakly to induce his retaliation re-raise. It worked like a charm with him going all-in. I quickly called with top pair and a draw vs his bluff. I took it down, but he had me covered by a couple blinds. A bit more back and forth kept him alive before I found the ducks. A cheap flop of A2x sooooted was seen, and he pushed his air into my bottom set, and that was all she wrote.

The only hand that came off as odd was a KO of the host by me. I was dealing and held AJd. He got all-in on the 3-way flop of two diamonds. The brick turn got me betting out and scaring out the older guy, leaving us HU. He flipped over Kx for nothing, and I flipped over the two burn cards in front of me... which were AJo. I stopped for a second and cocked my head. "Those aren't my cards... OH! THESE are my cards!" as I flipped over my hole cards DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME. The table found it all quite amusing that both my cards and the burns were AJ. My A-high held, the old guy congratulated my bet to get him out, and I happily raked in the chips.

All-in-all, the win catapulted me to 4th in the standings, which makes me a lock for the ToC. The money covered either the weekend's entertainment expenses (a club known to the Eh-Vegasers of a couple years ago) or my poker buy-ins for the home game for this season. Either way, it was break-even poker!

Also, it continues the trend of me recreating a groove. Poker is becoming fun again as I'm once again finding my game and profiting from it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Picks?

Here are this weekend's NFL picks:

I don't give a shit about any of the games, and wouldn't be watching them even if I did. Since the only world that exists is the one I observe, there are therefore no games, which means everybody wins.

That was easy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How'd I Do?

Two turkey dinners down, and a ton of leftovers staring me in the face, what else is there to do but see how my fairly random NFL picks went?

Just remember kids - always brine your turkey before roasting. You won't regret it.

CIN @ BAL - Baltimore - Cincy?? What? This is like the year of the Bengals
WAS @ CAR - Carolina - Carolina!
CLE @ BUF - Cleveland - Cleveland! Held to 6 points and they win by 3. Ha!
PIT @ DET - Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh!
DAL @ KC - Dallas - Dallas!
MIN @ STL - Minnesota - Minnesota! Man, do the Rams ever suck.
OAK @ NYG - New York - New York! Wow, talk about a whuppin'.
TB @ PHI - Philadelphia - Philadelphia! I'm on a roll!
ATL @ SF - San Francisco - Atlanta. So much for the roll.
HOU @ ARI - Houston - Arizona. Things were looking good there for awhile.
NE @ DEN - Denver - Denver! See Dawn, this is why I don't pick the Pats.
JAC @ SEA - Jacksonville - Seattle. Wow, could I have been MORE wrong?
IND @ TEN - Tennessee - Indianapolis. Whoops.
NYJ @ MIA - New York - Miami. What?

8 right again. Talk about average. This system needs some refinement.

Friday, October 09, 2009

NFL Picks Week 5!

Skipped last week, because I don't give a shit. Doing this week because I still don't.

CIN @ BAL - Baltimore - Bengals still suck

WAS @ CAR - Carolina - Panthers are still awesome creatures

CLE @ BUF - Cleveland - I just can't bring myself to pick Buffalo

PIT @ DET - Pittsburgh - Lions fear rainbows. It's a fact

DAL @ KC - Dallas - Cowboys are worth more as a team than the Chiefs. Also, US history

MIN @ STL - Minnesota - Remember when the Rams were good?

OAK @ NYG - New York - Oakland had to travel a long way to get their asses kicked

TB @ PHI - Philadelphia - Eagles, as a species, are kinda awesome

ATL @ SF - San Francisco - I can only assume there are 49 of them, which is more than 37

HOU @ ARI - Houston - Houston once banged 600 guys. That's impressive.

NE @ DEN - Denver - In memory of both John and Bob

JAC @ SEA - Jacksonville - Jessie Jackson knew MLK Jr.

IND @ TEN - Tennessee - In honour of Sam McGee

NYJ @ MIA - New York - Unless rocked by a hurricane. [guitar riff]

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Jays Post-Mortem

How do you measure a season? By expectations going in vs final result? Or by the peak of your hopes vs the rocky cliff they fell down?

The Blue Jays had a season that fell right into the expected results at the beginning of the season. They went 75-87, finishing 4th in the AL East. At least they were miles ahead of Baltimore.

But for a couple months there, they looked liked winners. The pitching was unstoppable, and the hitters were actually hitting. Perhaps everyone had underestimated these birds.

But my usual mantra at the beginning of the season was "talk to me in August" because I had little faith in the team maintaining its lofty standards, especially once their scheduled toughened up.

And I was right. The hitting collapsed, and the big names in the lineup never found a groove. Pitching? It was surprisingly good for a team that started 6 or 7 rookies and didn't have a steady closer for the duration of the season.

But the season was marred by J.P. Ricciardi's ham-fisted handling of the Roy Halladay situation. Now I don't think he had intended to start the firestorm when he made his comment about listening to trade offers, but he's an idiot when it comes to dealing with the media and said exactly the wrong thing for stability. Giving the impression that you're willing to trade your one legitimate star tells the team you've given up on them now and in the future. It screws with your ace's mind and Halladay's performance from the height of the trade talks forward showed that and likely cost him the Cy Young this year.

And J.P. was rewarded for his incompetence by being fired. It's about fucking time. The guy has shown time and again that he's all talk, but a poor judge when it comes to creating a team that plays well together. Big contracts, long terms, and regularly poisoning the clubhouse at the worst possible times with his blabbering to whoever put a mic in front of him had what remained of the fanbase up in arms. Good riddance to him.

Now someone do something with Vernon Wells.

But there were a few highlights in the season - Ricky Romero, Aaron Hill, and Adam Lind. Ricky's got rookie-of-the-year consideration for a 13-9 record, although his 4.30 ERA is a bit high. Hill - 36 HR, 108 RBI, 37 2B. Lind - 35 HR, 114 RBI, 46 2B and a .305 average, and .526 slugging.

And of course Halladay was excellent as always, even with his JP dip. 17-10, 2.79 ERA, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, and 239 innings pitched. The man's a workhorse and the model of consistency.

And the Jays were in the top 10 in the league for nearly every offensive category. Hell, they were in the top 5 for some of the key ones.

Running through so many rookie starters showed something else - depth. Most of these guys came up too young and still performed. There's at least a couple future stars among those arms, and next year could present a good problem for the manager - who's in the rotation. If one assumes Halladay will be back, that leaves 4 spots. Romero is a shoe-in, and then there's the 3 guys who have missed this season - Marcum, McGowan, and Litsch. With those 5 starting, it leaves a glut of young pitchers from this season who provide either depth or trade bait. Of course, those last three have to recover first.

Because our team pitching stats aren't nearly as impressive as the hitting ones. Take out Halladay and they're downright dismal. It's tough to put together good numbers when you never know who's going to start the next game.

So, what happens next? Does Cito get another shot in the dugout? Who gets to determine the direction of this team with a new GM and President on the way? Will ownership still back the team now that Ted Rogers is gone? Can we get through a season without half the team being decimated by injuries? A healthy, happy Jays team is a decent one. Better than the Yankees or Red Sox? No, but there's a ton of potential in there that could at least be competitive.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Nuit Blah

The first weekend of October in Toronto has been the time of Nuit Blanche for the past 4 years. I've gone to the last two.

Last year the major complaint was how spread out the event was. Major exhibits were scattered throughout the three "zones", requiring a ton of walking to see anything, and the TTC's schedule not being over helpful for the influx of people.

So this year, the compressed the major commissioned works. This might not have been such a good idea.

My night started in Zone C - out of the way of the majority of the crowd. It wasn't packed, and had some decent exhibits around. I had no desire to stand in lines at this point, as you could easily blow through the night having only seen a few exhibits.

Sadly, I moved the Zones A and B, right in the main part of downtown. It was crammed full of drunk teenagers looking for excuse to be assholes. The exhibits were less than impressive, and frankly, the whole experience was annoying. To the point where getting in a line for a Tarot reading in the Sheraton hotel was an appealing option because it meant a rest without a bunch of alcohol-fueled tools all over the place.

A & B weren't a total bust, I got some decent shots, and saw a few exhibits I wanted to see. But my main problem is that I didn't do nearly enough research.

If I had, I'd have stayed largely away from the centre and stuck to the independent projects on the outskirts. Cabbagetown (an actual part of the city, not an art installation involving bowls of coleslaw) looked chill and cool. Food Jammers were at the University, and some much more interesting installations were scattered north of the fracas that was the Yonge-Dundas area.

So next year? Better planning is required on my part. I may skip the core entirely, or at least until 3 or 4 AM, when the crowds die down. Still, as I scan through my pics (yah, I'll get those up too), I can't say it was a waste of my time, it just could have been better spent.

Oh, and I'll also be sure to bring my flask next year.

Monday, October 05, 2009


As with any city of size, mine has its share of the homeless. As with any city of size where we experience Winter, these displaced individuals migrate to warmer locations as the temperature drops - shelters, coffee shops, malls, and the subway.

I was heading home from a rather uneventful birthday party on Friday, a couple stops away from my destination, when I saw him. As the homeless go, he wasn't in the worst shape. He was mostly upright, walking straight, and wasn't giving off a stench that would clear the car. But the front of his hoodie was covered in something. I just glanced, and assumed it was vomit. Then he approached me. I tensed, expecting a request for change, perhaps accompanied by an exhortation if his woe. But when I looked at him, I realized something was wrong. It wasn't vomit staining his blue top, but blood - lots of it. The gash across the right side of his face, the length of his cheek bone, was the obvious source. It would add yet another scar to his already worn face.

"Excuse me, but can you take me to the hospital and be a witness for me?"

How do you say no to someone covered in blood and bleeding from their face, especially when their request doesn't take you that far off your intended route?

So I agreed. This began a litany of despair and injustice. My new acquaintance had visited the hospital in question a number of times, and had been unjustly accused of various threats and acts of violence. His rights as a human had been trampled on. Security had manufactured a story of him threatening them with a knife, they'd denied him treatment, they'd sent him to jail for 5 days, they'd pushed him into a car, they'd spit on him in front of a doctor, laughed at his ailments, and they'd beaten him with extend-o-sticks. He felt less than human and was too proud to let them win.

Tonight he'd been kicked in the face, opening up stitches from earlier surgery to repair a broken cheek bone. That he was injured and needed medical help was not in question. So he was returning to the hospital that had treated him so unfairly. But this time he was prepared - he had me as a witness.

He told me of his past, the money and business and family and dog he'd lost on his way down. He related how he's been ignored by those whose job it is to help those in need. Through it all, I recognized that he was leaving out his own personal responsibility in these misfortunes. I know a sociopath when I hear one. What sense of guilt and pity I had originally felt was being replaced with a sense of adventure and curiosity in how the events of that night would play out. A new story could enter my rapidly tiring repertoire.

As we walked through the automatic doors to the emergency room, the reaction from the staff was instantaneous. This man was a known entity, and none too welcome. The fact he had some clean-cut white guy with him however, seemed to be cause for pause. Did I mention he was of Middle-eastern descent? Not an immigrant, but the skin tone was there. If this played a role or not with the Asian nurse and all-white security team, I don't know.

"What is it tonight?" asked the exasperated nurse. He related the meeting of foot-to-face that he had experienced, and then, immediately and unprovoked, launched into a higher-volume tirade against the security guards watching him. The potential for disaster was escalating.

I was asked who I was. My response of "just a guy who saw someone covered in blood" seemed enough to placate the staff. They confirmed I was just a passer-by and told me I could leave. I opted to stay. As much as I knew I wasn't getting the whole story from our victim, I also knew he wasn't lying. The frustration and dislike written on the faces of every employee there told me that if I left, this man would find himself, at the very least, untreated on the street. Besides, I'd promised I'd see this through for him.

The knife escapade was related by the staff to him - "You need to be searched given your history. You pulled a knife on us."

"That never happened! These guys made up the knife!"

"I was there."

"Did you see the knife?"

"No, but they did."

"They're liars!"

I got the feeling it was being related more for my benefit, to make me aware of the type of individual I had aligned myself with.

The arguments and accusation went back and forth, and security had created a perimeter around the guy. He was becoming increasingly agitated and accusatory, and the security team was rolling their eyes, communicating "here we go again" as clearly as if they sang it. Just as things looked to come to a head, which would have resulted in him being escorted outside, he FINALLY said what he should have said right away, "A nurse can search me."

The nurse behind the counter responded with "fine, I'll search you." And he put on some gloves and walked around the counter. Security tightened and the guy started to lose it again. Then the nurse took charge.

"TALK TO ME. I'm here to save your life. I don't care what your beef is with them, take that to the police if you want to complain. They're here to protect me from you. If you don't do anything threatening, we'll all be fine."

He proceeded to search him. Going through his sweaters and pockets and patting him down. When nothing of interest was found, he checked with the head security guard if everything was cool. It was agreed that all was fine. Patient registration could commence.

As he relayed his story, and security relaxed, one of the guards mumbled to nobody in particular while passing me, "he probably cut himself."

He was registered with minimal effort, and asked me to stay a bit longer. I sat across from him as he thanked me. "If you weren't here, I wouldn't have gotten in." I believe this. He told some of his stories with this security team again, raising his voice so they could hear. I suggested he stay calm and everything would be cool. He saw the wisdom in this and calmed down.

A few moments later, he was called beyond the double doors to the treatment areas. I asked if he was okay from here and he thanked me again. Not once did he ask for a handout among his tales of woe. All he wanted was to be treated the same as anyone else would when they walk into a hospital bleeding from their face. He just wanted to feel like he was still a human being.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Weekend Cometh

How do people with lives do it all the time?

Been a busy week. Maybe not, but has seemed that way due to some alcohol consumption and nontraditional sleeping habits.

Tonight is a friend's birthday party, which should be partially populated by other friends, which should lead to a few beverages being consumed and good times had. Which will have to be cut off at some point as I need to be up tomorrow in time to make it to the farmers' market to pick up sausage meat for Thanksgiving stuffing (that's next weekend up here in Canadia). Then I must return home and sleep more, for Nuit Blanche kicks off Saturday night at 6:55pm and runs until dawn Sunday. I plan to be wandering the city for many an hour, snapping photos as I go. There are a ton of incredibly cool installations to be seen, and I'll need to be well-rested.

Which of course leads to Sunday, where some shopping is planned on zero sleep. With luck, some sleep shall be had at some point, and a few hours will remain to kick back, creating the illusion of a weekend. For starting Monday, it's non-stop Thanksgiving prep as people will descend on my humble abode for dinner the following weekend, and there will be much to do.

Hell, the week after that is a bachelor party, and a wedding the weekend after that. Then it's Halloween. October... who knew it could be so busy?

But I hear Bodog has a new client... perhaps I'll give it a try before heading out tonight.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Small World

I was reading a Canadian personal finance blog over the Google Reader, and the RSS embedded ad that came up was this:

Yup. Checkraising the Devil and apparently a hell of a stock picker to boot!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Booked and Booked

YYZ -> LAS = $500, which is $100 less than it was last week for my dates
Bellagio for 4 nights = $400, which is split with a buddy, so $200 for moi.

Seriously, $90/night + taxes for the Bellagio? I guess it's the new IP... oh wait, the IP was being offered up for free.

Dear Harrah's, I'm now glad your moron phone reservation staff wouldn't budge on my buddy's price for the 2nd room at Paris. You lost $600 and 4 loyal Vegas customers(at least 2 of which try to make it out a couple times a year, and are likely adding Atlantic City to the routine, as well as living only a few hours from your sole Canadian location) to the competition across the road, where we were willing to pay $200 more just to NOT stay at your hotel. I know it's not big money for you, but now I'll happily point people to your competition, and I find the slots and craps tables pretty hard to resist as I walk past them on the way to/from my hotel room. Vegas is hurting, and you can't train your outsourced staff to say "why yes sir, I can knock a measly $70 off the price of your second room for 4 nights if it means you'll stay with us."

Enough of that, I'm happy with the change. I wish the flight was a bit cheaper, but I figured it was good enough.

Now the details need to be worked out. Dinner at Delmonico is now a tradition for Thursday night for me and my travelling companions. Eyeing Joël Robuchon as well - I've never eaten at a Michelin 3-star restaurant before. Hurtling over Bootleg Canyon will also happen again if anyone's interested in coming along. And my usual posse seems to want to see a show again, but there's so little that interests me that time of year that I may once again find myself at a poker table during their entertainment. Unless I can convince them that the ballet is a worthwhile arts pursuit... shouldn't be difficult.

And of course, there's the blogger scramble on Friday, the tourney at Caesar's on Saturday, drinking at the Geisha bar on whenever... craps, poker, poker, craps, slots, and the usual shenanigans.

You are going, right?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's My Birthday! Let's run down my NFL picks

Yah, I was squeezed out some 32 years ago today. My mother remembers it vividly. Me? not so much.

Yah, that's right, I'm still younger than you.

But what's 32? Nothing major. No milestones there. Still, a week's worth of activities await me. Dinner tonight, dinner with the people who lived with me for 20-some years (also called family) tomorrow, dinner Thursday, was out for dinner with friends last Saturday, and then another friend's birthday party is Friday, and then it's Nuit Blanche on Saturday, which isn't birthday-related, but still fun.

Slow down? Hah!

I called the MGM Player's Club membership line today to set up my online login, once I verified my birthday, Amber wished me a happy one without a missing a beat. I'd forgotten (for the 5th time today).

Anyhoo... let's review my brilliant NFL picks from last week, followed by the winner:

WAS @ DET - WAS - DET - WHA???
JAC @ HOU - HOU - JAC - sigh
GB @ STL - GB - GB - DING!
KC @ PHI - KC - PHI - sigh
NO @ BUF - BUF - NO - Buffalo hates me
PIT @ CIN - PIT - CIN - WHA???
MIA @ SD - SD - SD - DING!
IND @ ARI - ARI - IND - sigh
CAR @ DAL - CAR - DAL - sigh

8 right. An improvement over last week. The alphabet failed me a few times, and what the hell are the Lions and Bengals doing WINNING GAMES? I mean, the cats they're named after are awesome and all, but aren't they supposed to suck? Not that I know, I hate football.

Have a great birthday! Mine that is.