Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Crafty Southpaw's Guide to Ladies' Tennis, and a relevant Best-of

Guilty. I love watching tennis. Famous people, no-names, grass, clay, hardcourt, it doesn't matter, I love watching tennis. And if it weren't for a gruesome accident which turned my wrists into rubber bands, I'd be a good tennis player. My ping-pong skills know no equal, and the concepts translate well to tennis, but require strong wrists, two of which I ain't got.

Anyway I wanted to share my guide to watching Ladies Tennis, which is what I'm doing right now. Call it a list of guidelines, some do's and don'ts, etc:

1. The player with the largest breasts may or may not be the more talented player, but she is the more fun to watch.

mmmm...breasts. How can you not like breasts? Guys, come on. They start off being breakfast, which is awesome enough, then when you hit puberty, they become... well...just awesome, don't they? And jiggling around in a tennis game, why, it adds a dimension to tennis that you just don't get when Nadal and Federer square off!

2. Staring at a player's ass, hoping for a glimpse underneath that little tennis dress, is almost always futile.

This is what I call "The Ladies' Tennis Paradox," and it runs something along these lines: The shorter the dress, the larger, less attractive, and most masculine tennis pants are worn underneath. Very frustrating. Above ground: a teddy. Below-decks: a pair of corduroys and a chastity belt.

3. The exceptions to rules one and two are almost invariably Russian.

Yes, if I see a gorgeous small-breasted tennis player, she is blond, and she is Russian, and underneath that skimpy little tennis dress are a pair of skimpy little tennis pants. I don't know what the program is over there in Russky-land, but das friggin vidanya, you know what I'm sayin'?

I could go on but I think you've got the picture now, yes? Good. Now for a best-of that describes the accident I mentioned earlier.


As I was casting about for another embarrassing story about myself, which apparently has become the raison d'etre of this little chucklefest, it occurred to me in a flash that there was a rich vein of comedy gold out there that has yet to be tapped.

For, my friends, I have flown through the air before.

March 5th, 1991. I'm standing outside my good friend The Corporal's house with his cousins Brian and Glenn, some ten and twelve years our junior, and a bunch of our friends. We were just about ready to head over to our regular hangout (Cpl's brother Steve's pad in Revere), there to wait for the midnight showing of The Doors movie.

Brian and Glenn were clowning around, throwing rocks at streetlights, generally doing kid stuff, nothing major. For the life of me I don't know how it happened but I chanced to get into a footrace with Brian, the older of the two.

It was then that I learned the first important lesson of the evening: overweight 23-year-olds tend not to run as fast as fit thirteen-year-olds. I was, to the surprise of precisely nobody, losing the race, and losing it ugly. So much so, in fact, that I started silently thanking the city planners that this street was straight and not oval, lest he lap me and start running backwards, taunting me as he fades into the distance for a second time.

So it was with these thoughts of impending humiliation with which my brain was preoccupied, when it was broken out of its reverie with a priority telegram from my left foot:


(for you youngsters who might not know what a telegram is: look it up)

Never let it be said that my left foot lied: After a majestic yet all too short sail through the air, down I went like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. I put my hands in front of me to break my fall - and brother, break they did.

My father took me to the ER when he got home from work the next morning (he was working nights then), and they put casts on both my hands. My right hand had a little mobility - it was a smaller cast with just a band across my palm. But my left hand - I'm a lefty - was casted such that the only flesh one could see was the very tips of my fingers and thumb.

For six gorgeous weeks I had casts on both hands.

I know what you're thinking right now, or something close. You are all thinking, "well how could he _(specific function here) ?" Let's get it all out on the table: I couldn't. Whatever you're thinking, I couldn't do it, and let's just leave it at that.

The list of miseries was long and fraught with sorrow. Driving, for instance: I drove a stick and until I learned to manipulate the shifter with the palm part of my cast I was a menace on the roads. Working was nearly impossible: I worked tech support and had to log every call's details on a computer. Ever tried to type without being able to bend your wrists? I had to position my hands above the keyboard like some lunatic puppeteer and divebomb each key with an unmoving hand, hoping I hit the right key, which I did maybe 30% of the time.

I had to put a plastic bag over my casts to shower. It's hard enough putting a bag over your arm when you're in a cast - now try putting one over your other arm with an arm that's in a cast in a goddamn bag already! And when that's done, try taking a shower. If you can get 60% clean, god bless you, bunky, 'cause you did better than me.

Eventually they were pleased enough with the progress of my right wrist that they took off one cast, so certain things could get back to normal: I didn't need my mother cutting my food, for one thing. And about six weeks after that, they took the left one off and life once again returned to normal. Or close to normal: My arms looked like those of a long-dead Pharaoh, all crusty and flaky - truly disgusting.

Also, to this day, anyone who shakes my hand feels, and hears, a click that is at best surprising and a touch disturbing, and at worst creepy and off-putting, depending on the weather. Which, by the way, the doctor who casted me promised I'd be able to forecast; no such luck. The wrists only hurt when the weather IS bad. All of the pain, none of the cool psychic weather guy act.

But I got through it, and I learned a valuable lesson in the whole ordeal: if you're going to break both your wrists, for the love of God, have a girlfriend.

Monday, June 7, 2010

This whole God affair

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The main body of this post started life as a comment but grew too large to fit there (much like its author).

I quit! I swear to God, I'm not posting.

JUST KIDDING! Coop, man, we still miss you. In a short time you've become a part of my blog


list, so really, give it a think!

And, lest ye think otherwise, no controversy connected with my previous post to speak of - lots of comments relative to a Sunday posting, some really good discussion, so it's all good.

On that subject, my pal Lightning and I swapped some ideas about one's belief systems. Lightning, man, I have to tell you this: you're a man of pretty deep faith, and despite our differing opinions I find the level and purity of your faith pretty damned touching.

In fact, let me say for your comfort that God will be back - at least within the narrow confines of this little chucklefest yer readin' here. In fact, I suspect the Groovy One, Blessed be He, will more or less frequent Blogger Gary and his downstairs shithole.

If there is a God, people must just suck up to that cat all the damn time, right? Gets His ass kissed a lot by the Great Unwashed, don't you think? I gotta figure that He liked getting his little dressing-down - thought it a bit refreshing. So sure, I think that when God has a bug up His Magnified and Sanctified ass, He'll knock on my screen door and have a cup of tea with ol' Gar. And just maybe when The Crafty Southpaw has a comment or concern, he'll put on the kettle and company will show up, as it always seems to when you start the water boiling.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My second conversation with God (no poker content)

I knew it was a bad idea the minute I hit "publish."

It was just a weekend thing, that's all. Just a way to pad a post for the weekend so I wouldn't have to worry about things until Monday at least. But I knew that I had drawn the attention of the Man Upstairs when, as soon as I hit "publish," they announced a tornado warning for all of Rhode Island.

Without a word I walked over to the screen door. And He was standing at the door as if He knew I was on my way. I opened the door and He looked around with a slight look of disdain. And unless I was mistaken, His manner was clipped and a little short, as if it were me that pissed Him off, instead of the other way around.

"This room is a sty," he said, "And you're looking at someone whose Son was born in a horsemanger."

"Cleaning people only do upstairs," I said, and motioned for Him to sit down.

"I'll stand," He said, and His tone was now unmistakably more hostile than in the past. "I don't know what I'd sit on in this shithole."

"You, um, You said "shit?" I asked, temporarily too off-put to stick to my agenda. "Would have never expected that."

"You humans give words power they don't deserve," God said. "It's stupid and it's unnecessary. Who is being hurt by the use of the word 'shit?' It describes excrement. You children have no idea how badly you've misused the gift of language. Like everything else I give you, I guess."

"You didn't come here, and threaten a million people with a tornado, to bitch at me about language. What do You want?"

"I should ask you the same question," He said. You've been sitting down here, ankle deep in squalor, poisoning your body, not even giving a moment's thought to anyone or anything around you, pushing away the people who are desperately trying to love you. Then in your insolence you reprint a story that was supposed to have been private. I can't have a story of my existence having been proven, by someone who.." - here he paused and looked at me with a combination of contempt and a certain ugly pity - "used to be a credible source."

"Have you given a moment's thought that this might be YOUR doing?" I asked, eyes flashing. "You haven't exactly handed me a decent hand lately. Remember two years ago? I was FINE before you took my father. And what for? Can you at least answer me that, you son of a BITCH?" I started yelling at Him and tears sprang to my eyes as I stood back up and advanced towards God. "What did he ever do besides make his way in the world, make a family, make a living, and mind his own business? No. And that's just one man. You took so many others. One guy you took, I bet You don't even know his name! Healthy as a horse all his life. You gave him liver cancer - gave him three weeks to say goodbye to his family. Does that make you feel powerful? Did we do something that somehow earned your punishment? Tell me something: Hace credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scico? Cruciatus in crucem! Eos in crucem!**   You want to know why I'm such a miserable excuse for humanity? It's because of YOU. YOU, you unfeeling, random, uncaring BASTARD!"

At this, God's demeanor softened, and the look in his eyes changed to kindly pity.

"I didn't take your father. I didn't take anybody. It was their time, My child. I know it hurts you very much. But blaming Me won't help you move on."

"The fuck it won't," I spat back. These are Your children, so this is Your society, right? You built this right in to the social construct. You PLANNED it so that the end product of love is pain. And don't give me any bullshit about that's how we treasure life. I treasured life just fine until You came along. And I don't treasure any damn thing now at all." I advanced nose to nose with God and started poking him in the chest. "Thanks to you."

"Your father was sick for many years, Child. Did you expect him to live forever? Would you even WANT that for him? Everybody dies. I gave him a good death, an honorable death. He died at home, where he wanted to die. He was active after his fashion to the end. How better to end an honorable life, even if his belief in Me was minimal?" He took a step away from me. "And yes, as you put it, the end product of love is indeed pain. I wish it weren't, but it is. Love is an incredibly powerful emotion - My greatest invention. Of course it's going to leave a void when it goes away."

"I don't care," I said, tears now streaming down my cheeks. "You have him, and I don't, so that makes you the bad guy here."

"My son, if you really believe that, I must leave here, and not come back."

I paused for a moment as I thought about how very important the next words out of my mouth would be.

"Get the fuck out of my house, and don't ever come back," I said, and turned my face away.


** Translation: Am I really to believe that these are the acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with Your punishments! To hell with You! From The West Wing episode "Two Cathedrals," written by Aaron Sorkin. No copyright infringement or disrespect intended. I've got my own tsores.

Some quick hits and a Best Of the Crafty Southpaw

A clearing out of the craniattic:

  • Josie spent six and a half hours earning $14 last night and this morning. An epic showing of poker. Strength when appropriate - blind stealing - quite a performance. A highlight was when, very early on, she sucked out KK vs 66 when she rivered a miracle straight. Her opponent, not one to mince words, suggested that she be raped for her transgression. I wanted to notify the Powers - I mean really, that's not necessary. Her one-word response? "Issues." I laughed. By the way, R, lighten the fuck up. An underpair beats you one time in 5. Fuck off.

    Waffles showed up at some point. I will tell you this: His enthusiasm in rooting Josie on was...er...enthusiastic. Waffles, you're a funny bastid, man. You certainly made railing someone for 6 hours fun.

  • My own poker success has been harder to come by. I've been completely snakebit all week. I've managed to manage my losses so that it's not catastrophic, but God Dammit, man, I could use at very least my share of luck. Three times yesterday I lost to a river flush when I was over 70% to win when I put it in. The worst one statistically: my AcAs vs. the villain's Ad10d (86/12). The worst financially: my AQo vs villain's 88d with an A on the flop. That one cost me fifty bucks that I could use right now.

Now, on to non-poker stuff that's been rattling around:

  • John Mayer is a genius. I just wish his music wasn't quite so wet-noodle. I like my rock and roll to rock, thanks. A side-effect of being a drummer (and my brother being a REAL drummer), I guess. Gotta tip the cap to the talent, but his stuff gives me little pleasure.

  • Red Sox are on a real nice run lately. Good pitching, good hitting, good defense. What else do you need? I'll tell you: Wake and Beckett need to come back. And Ellsbury, of course. And Cameron. Ahh shit, they suck.

  • Find BBC America on your cable system and start watching Dr. Who. My personal favorite Doctor, David Tenant, is still there in reruns. The new guy is ok, but Tenant brought a certain joie de vivre that the current doctor doesn't have, IMO. Watch the shows. You'll be hooked.

  • I'm not saying this is the case, but wouldn't it be AWESOME if that butt-weasel Bob from Bob's Furniture got arrested for diddling little boys or something? My GOD would I like to see him get what he deserves.

Now, for a best-of The Crafty Southpaw. This was originally posted 5 September, 2007. Enjoy!

My Conversation with God

Maybe it was a blob of mustard, an undigested bit of cheese. Maybe there was more of gravy than of grave with the Lord, but either way, He manifested Himself before me.

I will say this: He looked serene. He was dressed in a cotton oxford shirt, impeccably tailored, and a pair of blue jeans that were perfectly worn to the shape and contour of The Holy One, Blessed Be His legs without looking at all ratty. In His hand was might and power, and the keys to a BMW 7 series. On His brow was wisdom, and a pair of Ray-Bans that, it hardly need be said, fit him perfectly.

"Hello, my son," he said, and His very voice was musical, lyrical, and melodious. "We need to chat, you and I."

"Hey, can this wait?" I asked in my impertinence. "I have to, er, do a thing, see a guy about a thing about another thing..."

"Sorry, no," saith The Lord. "You're stuck with Me for the next little while."

"Well, ok," I said, agreeably enough. "What can I do for you?"

"You're a sinner, a horrible sinner, and I need to discuss your sins with you."

"That's a little harsh, isn't it? Sure, letter of the law and everything, I suppose I'm a sinner, but I'm not that bad. Like how many of the ten commandments have I broken?"


"Oh my...er...goodness," I sputtered. "Are you sure?"

"Shall we go down the list?"

"OK," I said. What are you gonna do, say no to God?

"All right," he said, winding up. "One. I am the Lord thy God."

"I'm an atheist."

"My son, I stand here before you."

"I'll deal with that later."

"Two," He said, moving forward. "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, nor make any idol."

"OK, well, I do like money, I gotta give you that one too."

"Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain."

"Guilty," I said, not even bothering to try to protest.

"Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

"A-ha!" I said. "I keep the Sabbath holy!"

"Son," He said with infinite patience, "Sitting on your hinder and refusing to clean out the litter box does not constitute keeping the Sabbath."

I was left precious little time to reflect on the fact that God used the word "hinder" when He continued.

"Five," the Lord plunged forward. "Honor thy Mother and Father." Before I could utter any word of protest or defense He looked down His graceful, aquiline nose at me. "All the time."

I sighed.

"Six," He said. "Thou shalt not Murder. This one, you're clean."

"Thank G..." I started, before remembering Commandment Three. "Thanks."

"Seven," smirked The Lord. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

"Listen, don't mean to contradict you here, but I haven't."

"Lust in your heart counts, My son," He intoned.

"Oh shit," I said. "Then I've broken that one tens of thousands of times, haven't I?"

"Two hundred forty three thousand, seven hundred nineteen," said God. "I compliment your imagination."

"Thanks - I mean, sorry," I said. I was starting to feel pretty miserable.

"Eight: Thou shalt not steal. Need I remind you of the Cinnamon Gum Incident of 1973?"

It was only too true. When I was four I took a pack of gum off the shelf, not realizing that my Mother would start to wonder where I was getting all this cinnamon gum. She hauled my ass back to the grocery store and made me apologize to the manager. Very humiliating.

The Lord took my silence as an invitation to continue.

"Nine - thou shalt not bear false witness."

"One time," I said. Sheesh. I was ready to testify that my very drunk buddy wasn't the one driving the car he got stopped in. That's what friends do, right? And anyway, I never actually had to do it; they threw the case out before it even came up.

"Ten," quoth the Lord. "This is a three parter. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house..."

"Clean," says I.

"...or thy neighbor's wife..."

"Wow," I said, stung. "So lust in your heart breaks TWO commandments and murder only breaks one??"

"...or thy neighbor's ass."

"Well, if you mean, thy neighbor's wife's ass, then sure."

He paused for a while, observing me with a slow yet deep look up and down.

"My Son," He said, "These are some serious transgressions. What have you got to say for yourself?"

Seemingly without anything else to say, I said the only thing I could say.


He smiled. Even for a non-believer like me that felt pretty good.

"Can't say fairer than that," He said. "My blessings go with you, even though you're an atheist."

"Well, you're probably just indigestion," I smiled. "But it was good talking to you."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

To Coop, since I can't comment on his blog any further

Please reconsider, Coop. Those vermin who make poker a miserable experience might eventually take over this glorious pastime but in the meantime we need sober, articulate, gentlemanly dialog.

There are people out there who appreciate civility, and who hate that petulant, sore loser, despicable behavior. Please consider still being an articulate spokesman for them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Poker-themed songs I like, volume 1...

...Comes to us from the Dave Matthews Band. This song is called "Angel."

I call you up - you pick up
you call my bluff on the cards of love
you hold too close your hands to your chest
I can't read your eyes but I confess

It's lonely far from you, even when you're right by me
It's only why I wait for you to take my hand

Why do I beg like a child for your candy?
Why do I come after you like I do? I love you!

Whatever you are I swear you'll be my angel - you.

I play my cards best I can
but I lose my luck when you're not here
my darling heart, won't you please give in?
I may be strong but I want you back again

When you're not here, it's hard to pretend it's all right again
when you're not here, love, it's hard to pretend it's all all right - still...

Why do I beg like a child for your candy?
Why do I run me after you like I do? I love you!

Whatever you are I swear you'll be my angel - you.

Watch the deck - count your cards
makes no sense that I'm always losing when you're gone

Why do I beg like a child for your candy?
Why do I come after you like I do? I love you!

Whatever you are I swear you'll be my angel - you.

When you're gone...