Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekend Smorgasbord of Awesomeness

Get ready, cats and kittens. This post is gonna knock your socks off - if, of course, you're wearing socks, which I always always do.

*  Got a lot of comments and a fair helping of flak for my last post. Yes: of course I spoke in generalities but it is absolutely true that many, many chicks like or want men to treat them relatively poorly.  Someone made the point that what they really like is confidence, and that's absolutely true. But I wonder if you can fake that; if you're not a confident cat, can you muster up enough of it to impress a lady?

But mostly what I gleaned from the post is that men agree with me, and women don't.  And I suppose I should have expected that.  Women are probably a little embarrassed at the raw truth of that statement but men have first-hand experience that it's true.  Sure, you can be nice, or pretend to do so, and still get it wet, but with all due respect to my women readers, all friggin three of them, one of whom likes girls exclusively, it's still true.  Chicks dig jerks.

* Lots of heat about the lottery this week.  I'm conflicted, and I'll tell you why:  the jackpot is what, 450 million?  And the odds of winning are 1 in 175 million,  so if you look at it like a poker player, buying a stake in it is the right odds play, even if there are two winners.

However the other side of that is, the odds of you winning are, out to nine significant digits, the exact same whether or not you play; that is, zero. So you could make the argument that even though it's an odds play, you're throwing your money down the toilet.

So I don't know what to do. Something inside me is telling me to buy a couple tickets; except 3/4 of my own brain would ridicule me mercilessly for doing so.

And btw: if I win, there might be a big party in Vegas in the future, but it won't happen right away.  If I win, the very first thing I do, and I mean the VERY FIRST THING I DO, is go underground.  Hire a lawyer and an accountant, swear them to secrecy, and have them handle things.  Me and Toots are hiding, going undercover.  Because as sure as shit stinks, there will be an endless parade of distant relations, phony well-wishers, and general moochers with their hands out, and I don't need any of that nonsense.

I would take the lump sum post-tax.  A good rule of thumb for figuring out what the lump sum number is, is take the dollar amount, take 60% of that, and then 70% of THAT.  So if the number is 475 million, the lump sum payout would be around 200 mill. AFTER TAXES.  With that money I would not buy a mansion high on a hill; I'd buy a reasonably-sized house, everywhere in the world.  A house on a canal in Amsterdam; penthouse apartments in Boston, New York, Vegas, and LA; and at least one of them would overlook an ocean. Probably not the one in Vegas.

I would live well but not extremely lavishly, and I would not grease family and friends that much.  I'd give members of my family enough money to pay off their mortgage, set up trust funds by which certain people would get checks every month, and that's about it. Fuck everyone else.

Most of my money would stay in the bank, being invested.  If I can get 4% on my money, that's annual revenue of about 8 million a year, so ideally the money would never run out.

*The Bruins start the playoffs soon; hosanna in the highest. Here's hoping we get another deep run; those goddamn tickets fetch big buxx on the market.

*My next post is either going to be about my experiences at umpire school, or about the first woman to ever break my heart because she was a lying, manipulative doucheface whore, who didn't mind it when I had four fingers inside her but wouldn't talk to me in school because of Breakfast Club class issues. I'll let you guys make the decision.

* Finally, tomorrow, instead of going to Foxwoods tomorrow and meeting up with the Cranky one, I have instead been roped into going to a Farmer's Market with Toots, for which I'll have to wake up early.  WTF, man.  A fucking Farmer's Market?  I'm seriously buying produce instead of chips?  Sometimes I hate being married.

Well, I guess that's about it for the Weekend post.  If I'm feeling frisky I might do a Beatles post Sunday or so, if I have the energy.

Until then, then.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

In Which I Trump Josie's Advice on How to Get Laid in Three Words

**NSFW** You want to get laid more?  I got the answer, Bunky. Three simple words.

This works especially well if you want to practice the three F's - Find 'em, Fuck 'em, Forget 'em - but with a little adjustment will also work if you want a relationship, in which case if you follow my simple advice you will wear the pants forever and always sit in the driver's seat.

The three words, words which all men should endeavor to remember forever, are these: CHICKS DIG JERKS.

It's true. They don't want you to seem vulnerable.  They don't want you to be gentle with them.  They want you to show dominance, aggression, and objectification.  They want you to be flawed but not so much that they can't believe they can fix you.  They want you to be a rebel, a James Dean for the modern era.  And if you aren't that, friend, you ain't got a chance.  If, for example, you're a CPA, your chances are pretty slim, unless you're the accountant to the Mob or something dangerous.

Most women don't want gentle lovemaking.  In my experience the last thing they want is hearts and flowers.  During sex they don't want to hear "I love you," they want to hear "I love your cunt." They want to be told that they give the best blowjobs ever, that their snapper is as tight and as small as an underripe peach, even if you have to tie a board across your ass to stop you from falling in.

Now this does not mean that you should actually treat them poorly.  I said chicks dig jerks, not scumbags. I should hope you'd know the difference.  The whole thing is a little dance, something that makes it seem like you are treating them poorly without really doing so, especially in bed. A lot of girls like to have their hair pulled a little bit, to show dominance and a little force.  But for chrissakes, no girl wants it to really hurt.

Something also for you guys: Here's a foolproof line for that awkward first kiss.  It's simple, and you can make it funny if you want.  The line is:  "So, I'm going to kiss you now."  You can add something like "...so, if you want to call the cops, now is probably the time.  If not..." and close the gap.

However Josie is right on one point, that of being funny:  make them laugh.  NOTHING IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN THAT.

As for vulnerability, that has to wait until the initial dance is over. They don't want you telling them a story about Fluffy, your Shih-Tzu dog growing up that died and you wept for days until you're actually in a relationship.

And speaking of relationship, if you want one with this girl, meaning that you love her or you really think you are going to fall in love, here's what you have to do:  IGNORE EVERYTHING I'VE WRITTEN HERE. This is a guide to get laid; love is a whole different thing. Be yourself; if love blooms it has to bloom with the real you.  And if she doesn't love you for yourself, you're in for two years of crying over her, wondering just where everything went wrong, and begging her to be a part of your life again. But after that, you know, things are gonna be fine.  Well, not fine, more like fucking miserable. But still.  That's love for you! It's wacky.

Cruising to Disaster, Part Two: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

When we left off our little tale, Part One ended with me having won a cruise, my mother snapping a little bit and begging - yes, begging - me to take me with her, and my father coming to my rescue and reigning my mother in.

The reason my mom went a little pooky on me was because she had always wanted to go on a cruise, always - and my dad?  Well, let's just say he wasn't the type.  Dad's only real interest outside the house was target shooting, and they discourage that on board a cruise ship these days (although I did get to shoot skeet off the stern of the ship back in '89: lead shot and everything.  Really responsible, Princess Cruises).

Also, you should remember that 20 years ago, cruising was a lot more upscale than it is now; it was actually more expensive than it is now, not even factoring in inflation, and though the old man could have afforded it, Dad was proud of his blue-collar life and disdained the trappings of wealth. He would always tell us to remember that we come from peasant stock, to never ever forget that.  It was a valuable lesson that allowed me to keep most of the money I made and not piss it away.

Most of you know the next part of the story:  Dad died May 5th, 2008. And that sort of blew the family apart. Don't get me wrong, we love our mother, but she is not the most pleasant person to spend time with on a day-to-day basis.  She can be manipulative, telling you the things she thinks you want to hear, changing the subject when she gets caught and you get angry, plotting in her way to make things go her way.

And this has made my visits to her more and more infrequent.  When Dad was alive I spent every single Wednesday there; my work knew I took off a little early on Wednesdays and looked the other way. Now, yes, poker night is not every week like it used to be, but even when it takes place I find myself not going over there to visit. Part of that is because I perceive my father's shadow in every room of the house and even four years on it's still a little jarring to be there without him.  But mostly it's because I grow tired of my mother, bitching about my weight when she herself is 140 pounds overweight, needling me about getting a job again and saying things like she's not judging my life, inviting me over and not telling me she invited half the friggin family so they could see me - the list goes on and on.

In fact - and this informs  a later element of this tale - one of the most annoying things my mother does is call me sixteen times a day if I don't answer the phone.  And the tone of the messages she leaves gets more and more belligerent with every phone call.  The two biggest arguments we've ever had - both of which had me screaming, literally screaming down the phone line - were because of this.  Sometimes I don't answer the phone, don't want to talk to anyone, just want to be left alone. She knows this because first I told her calmly, then angrily, then at the very top of my voice. I told her that if she didn't stop doing this I wouldn't take her calls at all: I'm her son, always will be, but I'm nobody's child. At 43 I think I've earned the right to decide when and with whom to speak on the phone, and her berating me over my answering machine is about as counterproductive as it gets.

So Mom is basically a lonely old woman, knocking about in a house several sizes too big for her. And yes, to an extent she lies in a bed of her own making, but that doesn't mean I'm unsympathetic to her state.

Now for the last few years, Tootsie and I have gone on the same cruise: a four-day affair up the New England coast, stopping at St. John, New Brunswick (which we couldn't care less about).  We like the cruise because it's almost all cruise: there's only that one port of call and it's over in about eight hours. It's short enough that we don't get on each other's nerves, and I usually do really well at the poker table there, especially insofar as they spread a 1/2NL cash table, my favorite game. The only suck about it is that it left via the New York cruise terminal, which was a 3+ hour drive and about a million mile walk on the way home.

Well this year we weren't going to go, to sort of preserve our cash, but a while back out of curiosity I took a look at the prices for this year's cruise and found that they were about $200 PER PERSON less than they were last year, and they moved from New York to Boston! Score on both counts.

So as I was making my booking, I mentioned to Ma that we were going again and said that if she had a friend, she could go too - inside cabins were going for under $300.  I thought this was a perfect scenario: she could cross something off her bucket list, her friend would keep her out of our hair, and I make big big son points.  Not only did she agree, but she and her friend Lois, who were best friends since they were 8, decided to take a balcony cabin and do it right.  I pitched it to Tootsie and she saw things the same way I did. All was on schedule to go smoothly.

While making the reservations, I took out trip insurance on us all, after having been given assurances that if Mom and Lois didn't want it, it would be immediately and courteously refunded.  So I tell Mom that I spent sixty bucks of her and Lois's money, told her on what, and told her that if either one of them didn't want it, that was fine, just let me know in the next couple of weeks and I'll have it removed from the itinerary.

And then, I get the call that still haunts my dreams and my waking.

Lois had pulled out.

I asked my mother, incredulously, what the hell happened.  And after three days of half-truths, omissions, and outright lies, I got what I believe to be the true story:  Mom called Lois, about the trip insurance thing, and she was away.

So Mom called back.

And called back again.

And called back again.

And she made such a pest of herself that Lois exploded, screaming at her that she wasn't her child (sound familiar?) and that she would call back when she was god damned good and ready. Mom, as usual, in her delusional way, denied having done anything wrong and didn't understand why Lois was so pissed.

Well, the bottom line is that not only did Lois pull out of the cruise, but pulled out of my Mom's life.  A sixty-year friendship was dashed to the rocks because of my mother's psychotic short fuse about picking up the phone.  She still, by the way, denies that she did anything to contribute to this; it's ALL LOIS'S FAULT.

Ye Gods, my family is fucked up.

So there it is: Tootsie and I are going on a cruise, with my mother, who is now going by herself.  And at first she promised that she'd give us plenty of space, and maybe we could take a few meals together, but mostly she'd sit on her balcony and watch the waves and the stars.

Then she asked how much time I spend in the casino, and wondered if we were going to do anything together.  And then she asked what Toots does with her day and if they could hang out.

All in all, I foresee my mother hanging around my neck like a millstone.  It wouldn't be so bad if she were better company, but she just isn't.

If you hear a story of a man overboard on a cruise up the Atlantic coast, keep a kind thought in your head for the Crafty Southpaw.  I'm in a better place.  A much, much better place.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cruising to Disaster - a Tragedy in Two Parts

Part One of this tale begins, as so many Part Ones do, a long long time ago.

I was a sprightly lad of 21, with a twinkle in my eye and a spring in my step, working a horrible desk-sales-clerk-type job for Radio Shack Franchise and Dealer International.  It paid on sales gain over the previous year, and the  downturning economy of the time spelled minimum wage for months at a time.  There were parts of it that were pretty freakin grim.

However it was not without its perks; for one, I was shagging the receptionist rotten. What a gal. She was 38, so she was damn near twice as old as me, and she didn't have a lot of time for dancing around the subject.  We had a lot of sex, and a lot of...well I guess sex was all we had.  But brother, we freakin had it. I'm convinced it was chemistry.  I think every so often you run across a member of the opposite sex, or should I say the sex that turns you on, and your pheromones and her pheromones just mix so explosively that you have incredible sexual chemistry. You know when it happens - it's only happened twice in my life - but yeah, I think it's mostly chemicals. Anyway, I had to break it off because she was a sloppy disgusting drunk and I decided she wasn't worth the nookie.

For another, and this is the important bit, we were eligible to take part in Radio Shack's annual dealer incentive trip, in which they'd buy every cabin on a cruise ship and send their top dealers and franchisees to exotic locales and keep them good and liquored up for a week.

Like I said, business was down, what with the economy being in the shitter (this was 1989 or 1990), but that actually boded well for me, because that meant there were fewer franchisees earning their berth by buying x amount more than they did last year.  So the company would open more cabins to employees who would one way or another earn their way aboard.

One month they held a contest to see who sold the most camcorders to their stores.  Funny, the things you remember; they sold for $799 and we sold them to the stores for $719.20.  We gave 'em 10 points on those shitty gigantic noisy rattly pieces of shit and shoved them down their throats to boot. But they kept buying them; I guess that means they sold.

Anyway, my team ended up selling more of them than anyone else in the country, thereby winning the trip (incidentally, I was not at work the day it was announced, so while everybody else celebrated with pizza and cake and frosty adult beverages, I, having called in "sick," was loitering around the Worcester Centrum, trying to wangle tickets to see Paul McCartney.  Which I did, at face value, for seats about 30 feet from his piano).

So the question now became, whom do I take with me? At that time I didn't have a girlfriend, at least not one I could take on the cruise with me. Remember also that I was 21, and the world still hadn't scarred me deeply enough yet; I still had an ounce of decency in me.  Ah, the good old days.  This time my decency showed itself by wanting to take by coworker and buddy Steve, who did what I did in the same office but for a different team.  My team and his finished in first and second place in the entire nation in this contest, and he came within a whisker of beating me.  So I put in an appeal all the way to the president of the company, explaining the circumstances and asking him for an exception to be made to the rule that employees can't take other employees with them unless they're married.

And like every good deed I've done since, this one was punished.  I was given the official negatory the very day I had to name my guest.  I had to find someone to cruise with for a whole week, in about three hours.  My initial plan, if they rejected my idea, was to find some woman who had sufficiently loose moral scruples but who could at worst keep her yapper shut or at best hold down her end of a conversation.  You wave a boarding pass to a cruise ship and it's easy to do.  Alas now I didn't have time. So I called up my buddy Craig and asked him if he was free for a week, and if he'd like to pal around in St. Maarten and other sun-drenched locales. He was thrilled - in fact he paid for all the excursions, just out of gratitude.

So bringing a dude on a cruise was not exactly high up on the cool-o-meter but, just to fast forward the tale a little bit, we ended up having a blast.  We hung out with the band, who took us back to the crew-only parts of the ship; we bought some green stuff in a plastic bag from a dude who was wearing a wooden hat; we bought a giant bottle of vodka and every night our cabin steward would see to it that we had a #3 tin can of orange juice and clean glasses. We really did have a good time, even though neither one of us got laid.

Anyway, we rewind back to me asking Craig to go along.  That night I was having dinner with my parents and I mentioned that they wouldn't let me take Steve.  Before I could tell them that I had my guest, my mother started begging me to take her along:  "Oh PLEASE take me, Gary," she intoned in a voice that is like...is like...well, picture Edith Bunker and Fran Drescher, both from New England, being electrocuted. "I'll stay on the deck and read a book and stay completely out of your way!  You could bring girls back to the room and I won't mind!"

I looked at her as if she'd absolutely lost her mind, which she had.  "Mom...no."

"Please, honey, I promise I'll stay out of your hair."  This last sounded like "Al stiyatta yuh hayyyah."

"Mom...NO!"

Finally my Dad dove in to the fray and rescued me.  "Come on, Susan," he growled. "Leave the boy alone.  Ought to be ashamed of yourself."

So the immediate danger had passed.  I was not fated to go on a cruise with my mother, although she bears Craig a grudge that exists to this day. And that ends Part One of this little tale.

Part Two will be up later in the day.  But I'll tease the main subject of it to pique your interest:  this June, I am going on a cruise with my mother.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gods Help Me, I Just Love a Theme

Well there's been a hooker theme, a stripper theme, and a self-description theme. It appears now that we have the beginnings of a table etiquette theme, what with Rob's exhortation to protect one's hand (and Grump's exhortation to check out Rob's exhortation), and now Mighty CrAAKKer, destroyer of Aces, slayer of kings and tilter of D-bags, lawyer, purveyor of thundering common sense and all-around smart guy, who very recently has contributed not one but two excellent posts, each dealing in their way with the unnecessarily labyrinthine rules of the showdown.

Well far be it from me to step on the throat of a newborn theme.  Let me give it my version of CPR and see if we can't keep it going by me ranting about what is, in my opinion, the worst thing you can do at the table and why.

Actually I'll tell you the why first:  because it is correctable; it is born of ignorance but your questions all have a simple answer.

Here's the scenario: you bluff at a pot, flop turn and river, and your opponent calls down every street, and you are just caught flatfooted and he wins with ace high or fifth pair. And you start in on him:  How could you stay in?  Are you that much of a calling station?  You had nothing! How could you have played that hand like that?

You, sir, are a douchebag. You are a douchebag first and foremost because you mouthed your opponent, that by itself makes you a douchebag second class.  But you got your first-class stripe because by truly being mystified as to what happened there, you are STILL misplaying your hand, even though it's over.  And you're certainly mis-reading things.

Open your eyes, douchebag.  It's simple and I'm even going to repeat myself so that you can actually make sure you got it down just right.  The reality is this:  He knew you were bluffing. His cards didn't matter.  He was playing you, and he got it right and you didn't, so you should just pay the last bet or muck your cards and shut the royal fuck up, because you got picked off and that's nuh-nuh-nuh-nobody's fault but yours (little Zep for the brethren out there).

OK? And by the way, if you knew this already, and were just mad that you lost and kinda got exposed as a 3-street bluffer to those who were paying attention so you were taking it out on the guy who got you, you can ignore the above advice but you're a douchebag first class too, because that's a horrible douchebag thing to do anyway.

So like I promised, you douchebag, I'm going to repeat myself:  He knew you were bluffing. Now for the love of god, go somewhere else.  I think you got some dust on your white track suit; better brush that off or it won't be quite so dazzlingly white.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Some Housekeeping, and the Winning Post subject

For those of you who ran with the 25 random things theme, thanks - I hope you found mine as witty and insightful as I find yours.

For some reason, several comments you made didn't trigger an email so I only recently found them:  so to grrouchie, Carmel, Josie, and Lightning, sorry for not publishing your comments timely.

Speaking of loyal readers, my followers have jumped from a somewhat meager 8,where it had been for months, up to 14 in a matter of days.  So new followers flasherman4559 and ~cw and TBC and StatMojo, as well as Piano Man and Duggle, thanks for signing on. If you haven't commented yet, please feel free - I'm really starting to dig the sense of community here.

And it's the community which has convinced me to tell the tale I've decided to tell - about my friend Wayne, and the truly sad story of the end of his life.

We met when I applied for a job at a gas station where he was the manager: The Texaco station that I just mentioned recently, the one near the Golden Banana. It was actually a second job for him.  For you Bostonians, do you remember Charles Lacquidara and WBCN's Big Mattress morning show?  Well he was "Wayne Healey, the almost always accu-104-caster," the dude that did the weather and from whom the station got the forecast, even when the on-air talent read it. I profited from his friendship in a tangible way; he got me a pair of the station's tickets for more or the really big concerts of the time - I saw the Who from the seventh row of the local enormo-dome, I think it was called Sullivan Stadium at the time.  Saw the Rolling Stones from the ninth row - saw the wrinkles in Keef's face from way close up.

But more than that, he was a friend.  He was smart and stupid at the same time; he delighted in playing stupid mind games just to demonstrate over and over that he was your intellectual better; he had a wonderful sense of humor that would often make me laugh uproariously, over and over again.

I rented a room in his apartment in 1986-7, and in truth it didn't go well.  It was my first experience being a roommate, and I was (and am) a slob besides; his fastidiousness and my slovenliness did not mix well. Plus he would continually ask me if I was going out for the evening, or if I was staying in.  Now this got on my nerves because I perceived that behavior like he didn't want me to even be in the apartment, just being in my room doing my own thing.  One day it came to a bit of a head, and I asked him why on earth he cared that I was home or not.

Well, as you might have already figured out based on how I described Wayne earlier, as it turns out, he was gay, and came out to me that day.  I told him completely truthfully that it didn't matter one iota to me if he was gay or not, "but...you, uh, you aren't gonna make a pass at me or anything, are you?" I asked with great sensitivity.

"No, Gary," he replied.  "You're unattractive to both genders."

Awesome.  Just awesome. It also made sense that when he overslept, Charles would start in on me about the importance of having the forecast into the station on time.  At the time I wondered why he should be lecturing me like I was an idiot - now I got it: he thought we shared more than an apartment.

His taking me into his confidence about his life wasn't easy for him - and it did add a dimension to our friendship, but it did not stop him from being a fastidious fusspot (though it DID explain it some), nor did it make me a better roommate.  And things were coming to a natural end, and I got the impression that he was waiting for the end of that month to tell me he wanted me out out OUT.  We didn't speak for a couple of days at a time, and neither one were heartbroken because of it.

But that conversation never took place, because my Dad had his second heart attack right around then, his first "massive" one. And I knew that as soon as he came home that I would be home too, to help Mom out while we took care of Dad. Wayne called me and asked me if I needed anything.  I said if he was heading down my way (we lived in Seabrook NH; Dad was in a hospital in Peabody, MA, maybe 40 miles away) that I could use a change of clothes and my little wooden box. Without another word he grabbed what he needed and met me at the hospital with it - what a lifesaver!

I did in fact move out a few days later and come back home, to help Dad with whatever heavy lifting etc. needed to be done.  But any emotion associated with me leaving was dissolved immediately; he didn't really dig having a straight roommate I guess but the day of my dad's heart attack he really stepped up, going so far out of his way to supply me with what I needed that it was like nothing happened to cast any shadow between us, and all was forgiven.

During this time I worked for Radio Shack, and after I left the apartment I would send about fourteen different catalogs to the apartment; make tiny little adjustments to the address and make him laugh at the names I'd use: Wayne Hegley, Manny Healer, even Wan-Hee Lee. He'd call me laughing, telling me he got another one this month and tell me which names made it through the Shack's duplicate detection.

But now let the clock run fast, and let the pages of the calendar fly off with increasing speed.   We kept in touch from time to time, but my 1991 he had moved to Florida and our correspondence was reduced to Christmas cards and the odd phone call to explain a weather phenomenon that was in the news.

In the ensuing years, Toots and I met, fell in love, went to Umpire School, moved to Ohio and got married.  For that year's Christmas card (1994) I dropped him a handwritten note that had our new address and phone number and a hope for a good new year.

A few days later, this was maybe 2 weeks before Christmas, I get a card in the mail that didn't have a change of address label on it.  It was from Wayne, but I could tell right away that something was wrong; the lettering on the envelope was shaky and weak.

Inside was indeed a Christmas card, and inside was more of that shaky script that was so unlike Wayne's normal firm penmanship. It was good to hear from me, he said; he had finally fulfilled a lifelong dream and found his birth mother.  But other than that, "...my social circle is a lot smaller these days, since I've been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS."

I dropped the note and immediately picked up the phone and called him. It was true; he really had caught AIDS.

He was a smoker; back then we all were I guess.  It was he who taught me to smoke Winston Lights; the ones I bummed off of him were better than my Marlboro reds. And that's how he came to find out that something was wrong. It seems that he was fine until he put that first cigarette in his mouth; his first puff created a coughing jag that would at first last 30 seconds; then a minute; then two.  Every day he waited for whatever was wrong with his lungs to get better and it never did.

That, plus the emergence of purple splotches on his skin really started to alarm him (remember, 1994 had no web images to speak of, no web search, no vast repositories of information) so he went to the doctor and he confirmed his darkest fear: He had a malady called pneumocystis pneumonia, which was a fungal infection of the lungs that was found mostly always in AIDS patients.  Also the dark patches on his skin were a type of tumor called Kaposi's Sarcoma, which was also almost universally found in AIDS patients.  So taken together the doctor diagnosed end-stage AIDS and suggested that Wayne didn't have a lot of time.  They put him on AZT, which was the only drug that worked even a little bit back then.  It didn't work at all.

"So what are you going to do?" I asked him.

"They want me to try something new.  A combination of three pills - they call it a cocktail so that should be right up my alley. We're gonna start that treatment right after the Christmas break."

You know how people say things that are so insightful or moving, or so poignant, that you remember them all your life? I asked him if he thought it was going to work and he said words that were seared into my memory:

"It has to, Gary. I have no choice."

At the time, remember, I had heard nothing of the retroviral drugs and their eventual success in controlling the symptoms of AIDS. I hoped it would work but as far as I knew it was just the next thing they were trying.

I wrote Wayne a letter every single day after that.  I figured he's probably bedridden and miserable, and if he could spend three minutes reading a letter from me that's three minutes he wasn't thinking about the lot in life he was given.

So a couple of days after Christmas I decide to call him again, to wish him luck in his upcoming treatment.

His partner answered the phone, and in the years I'd known him I'd never known him to pick up the phone. I said hello and asked for Wayne, and he said, "I'm so sorry to tell you this like this, but Wayne died Christmas night."

God dammit.  You know, that was so Wayne - he was a real sucker for Christmas.  He just loved everything about it - the decoration, the idea of gift-giving, the universal chill pill the world takes. Wayne just absolutely loved Christmas, and for him to have breathed his last on Christmas night was either perfect or god damned cynical.

He was so close.  He was set to start the treatment that actually worked, fewer than ten days after he died.  If he'd just hung on a little longer - smoked one less cigarette per day for a year or two - just something that would get those god damned pills in his hands before he died.  Or if President Reagan dragged his feet for a month less than he did.  It worked, for chrissake.  It would have fixed him; made him better. And his would have been a story of triumph - "hey, remember how sick I was?  I swear to god, I bet I was two weeks away from dying.  But those magic pills - they made me better!"

Instead it's a sad little tale about how I lost a friend to an unfeeling world because the timing wasn't exactly right.

The tale of my pal Wayne, who ever since he was a little kid wanted to be a meterologist, who died on Christmas night, 1994.

Anyway, that was Wayne.  One final quick story:  I was looking at his meteorological stuff and chanced on his hygrometer (the thing that measures barometric pressure).  I asked him where normal was and he pointed to about 30.  I pointed a little ways off the dial at 26 and said "what happens if it's here?"

He says, "Look for Jesus because the storms will be biblical."

Funny stuff, Wayne.  All of us at the Rock and Roll Texaco, we all miss you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Help Me Write My Next Post

Just so you know, it's not that I'm stuck for something to write about; in fact, quite the opposite has occurred and I have several topics rolling around in my head.  Some of them are poignant, some funny, some informative; but I can guarantee interested parties that there will be no Beatles content this weekend.

So without further ado, here are your choices:
  1. As per the Grrouchman, yet another 25 random things about me, spiced up a bit because Facebook is now not involved and they can be a little less vanilla;
  2. My friend Wayne, who might have been the last American with decent health insurance to have died of AIDS;
  3. My time at the Harry Wendlestedt School for Umpires (graduated with Honors, winner of the "Golden Mask" award for performance in the face of adversity, in my case two fucked-up knees)
  4. Removed from consideration
  5. The three most purely dirty sexual encounters of my lifetime 
  6. Ex-charter member of our poker table S.H., who stopped coming to our table when one of our number - guess who - asked a legitimate question about whether or not he was gay.
I'll take votes as long as I want to, then announce the winner either later today or tomorrow. Let the fun begin!

Friday, March 23, 2012

25 Random Things About Me

Here about three years ago a Facebook meme swept the land - a simple request for people to tell the world 25 random facts about them and keep it as a FB note.  It was so popular that by itself it doubled the amount of notes created over the entire network.  Powerful stuff indeed.  Well  I wrote my 25; some facts you already know, others (like #2) most of you do not know. I'm going to reprint them here unaltered (except to clarify a time reference), even though my views on Chinese food and PB&J sammiches have changed some. Enjoy.

(Date first printed: 9 February 2009)
1. The family member to whom I bear the closest physical resemblance is my mother.

2. I attended and graduated a school for professional baseball umpires.

3. I'm a cat person, and cats seem to know this pretty much universally.

4. I suffered an accident in which I [simultaneously] broke both my wrists.

5. Mushrooms give me the heebie jeebies.

6. I think one of my old bosses was in the mob.

7. I've been drunk perhaps five times in my entire life.

8. I play the guitar and the drums, neither particularly well but not horribly, either.

9. I get along with all my in-laws, from every corner of my family.

10. I am left-handed.

11. If I were ever told that all I could eat was Chinese food, my life would be short but quite happy.

12. The worst job I ever had was taking care of severely developmentally disabled teens - hard work and soul-sapping.

13. I lost my father [May 5, 2008]; it was the single hardest thing I've ever endured. I miss him every day.

14. Two of my favorite TV shows are The West Wing and Hogan's Heroes. One is the smartest show that TV ever produced; the other is the stupidest.

15. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread is one of nature's most perfect creations.

16. My favorite woman from a "physical type" perspective is a redhead with freckles and curves. I have never once gone out with a woman like this.

17. The highest compliment anyone ever paid me was when someone said I was a good son.

18. I love my cousins like they were my brother and sisters. I don't talk to them or hang out with them nearly enough.

19. I hate cringe comedy, like The Office. I find nothing funny in watching an uncomfortable situation.

20. I hold grudges longer than is probably healthy, but I can't help myself.

21. I find it difficult to take seriously anyone who says they don't like the Beatles.

22. My brother is a real honest-to-goodness genius. I'm both proud of that and jealous of it.

23. I wish I loved writing as much as I love having written.

24. I would trade every stitch of talent I possess in any creative endeavor in return for the ability to play piano.

25. I have three or four friends who would kill or die for me if it came down to it. In that respect I'm the luckiest sonofabitch on the planet.

So that's my list of 25 random things about me.  You guys want to make it a 25 things weekend, I'll read them all with enthusiasm, gusto, brio, and several other words that mean roughly the same thing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's Not a Garment - It's DESTINY

First of all, what I'm going to tell you, very few people in the world know.  Not because it's this huge ugly secret, but more because it's proof that I am in fact completely barking mad koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs. In fact if I remember right, only two people know.  One of them is the love of my life.  The other is Tootsie. Wokka wokka wokka! Ah, I love the classics.

Anyway, here's the deal: I am a fat man, despite Waffles' protestations to the contrary.  And Waffles, buddy, you've never seen me naked, so I forgive your misconception. And since in the past I have been thinner, I have an entire closet full of clothes that are either too small or too big for me.  I have shirts with neck sizes from 17 to 18.5 inches. I have pants from 36 to 46 inch waists. 

But here's the big bucketful of crazy:  when I'm losing weight, as I am now, I will take an article of clothing that doesn't fit and keep it out, and try it on every odd day or so until it fits me and I can then do a dance of triumph - which, ironically enough, is done in the complete absence of clothing. For the last few weeks, I've been trying on a size 50 sport coat, waiting first for the day that I could button it, then for the day that I could button it without me looking like Curly, then finally the day that I could truly lay claim to the jacket actually fitting.

For all that time, that was my Jacket of Destiny.

I have a Shirt of Destiny too; it's a men's 2x.  They're close to fitting; they pull a little bit when I sit down but they should fit in a couple of weeks. My current Pants of Destiny are 40's; they'll take a little longer to fit, maybe a month or more.  Past experience tells me that once I hit that size, all the low-hanging fruit will have all fallen off, as it were, and the job becomes more difficult.  But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

The best thing about Clothes of Destiny isn't the day that they finally fit; it's remembering just how far away from fitting they were when you tried them on the first time.  When I started this little health thing, I tried on a pair of 40 inch pants - not only was I unable to button them but there was a good four inches between button and buttonhole, a width that I couldn't overcome with a winch and six pulleys. Now, even though no rational soul would suggest that the pants actually fit me, I can in fact button them - however ridiculous they look currently - and that's quite an encouraging sign.  Destiny, in fact. My brother Ross's birthday is a month from today; I'll post a picture of me in my current Pants of Destiny then, no matter if they fit me or not.

Because, to paraphrase Shakespeare and Moe Berg, the progress is the thing. 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shoulda Stayed Home

Wish I had some glamorous story to tell about how I was sucked out on magnificently time after time, but I really wasn't sucked out on, even once.  I could tell you a bunch of stories about how the four semi-decent hands I had were beaten by two boats and two sets of quads, I suppose, but you've heard them all before.  I could tell you that I paid for a few looks at people's cards, because I'm on this 'trust your instinct and your first-impression reads' thing and the information was worth it, but that doesn't quite make for an engaging tale of eight frustrating hours at the tables.

No, if there's any tale to tell at all, it's the simple boring one: I was completely, 100% card dead.  I caught no pair above 3's.  I got AK three times, AQ perhaps three times, AJ and A10 twice apiece, won precisely none of those hands.  Didn't lose much, but it doesn't take much, as we all know. I hit my stop-loss and decided to not ignore it for a change; if there was one truth to this day it's that the quicker over, the better.

A couple of hands of note, and I'm only bringing them up because I have responsibilities. I have readers,  god damn it, and they need to know that there exist islands of joy amidst the steaming piles of dung that mostly make up my play. So it is for you, of course, that I perform these vain exercises in self-aggrandizement.

So let's set the scene:  I was in seat 4.  Seat 1 was chatty friendly "Mr. Funny Guy," and that kind of set my teeth on edge.  I can actually BE chatty friendly "Mr. Funny Guy" at a table, but when I'm not him, I don't like anyone else being him either.  Seat 8 was a dude of some kind of ethnicity that I couldn't quite pin down; sort of Thai or Lao or maybe part Filipino or native Peruvian or some combination of the above that screams "cool family back-story."  We'll call him "Chip." Just because.

Anyway, right when I sat down, like the first or second hand I observed, is that he played AJ really strong, even though he whiffed the flop, bluffing all the way down and, when he got called on the river, showed his bluff and mumbled an insincere "nice call."  And he bitched about it to the guy sitting next to him for the next ten minutes.  Didn't think much of it at the time, except I privately hoped he'd blow up a bit more so I'd have fodder for this little chucklefest.

So fast forward to a hand a few hours in.  I held A9. After pre-flop betting it was me, Chip, and the dude he was bitching to in seat 7.  9 comes up on the flop giving me second pair.  Dude bets out maybe $15. Seat 7 folds;  I call. Turn comes a King, so now my 9's are third pair.  He bets like $35 on the turn, I snap. Turn comes blank, he bets out yet again.  Inside my head I listened in on a heated argument between my hypothalamus and my cerebral cortex:

Hypothalamus:  Urrrgghh! Chip BLUFFING - Gary must call - make big chips!
Cerebral Cortex (fyi, my Cerebral Cortex has an English accent):  Now, now, hypothalamus.  This is a big bet.  We must go a little slowly, here, now.  This requires some serious thought.
Hypothalamus: RRRROOOOWWWRRR!!! CHIP MAKE BLUFF!!!!!
Cerebral Cortex: All right, all right, my good man.  As always, you make a persuasive argument.

So, having thus been convinced by my reptilian brain-stem, I called and as I suspected, he was bluffing with two high cards that didn't connect and my 9's were good.  And, as before, he wondered aloud how anyone could possibly make that call.  Unfortunately I was across the table from him so I didn't hear a lot of his juicy complaining but I did catch "and if he thought I was full of shit, why didn't he raise?" and some time later quite distinctly caught "calling station."

Of course, I said nothing  - I believe I've made my views on that sort of behavior pretty clear with a recent post - but Chip, if you're reading this, think about it a little while?  When you think someone is bluffing, what do you do?  You call every street and don't raise.  That's not particularly subtle strategy; that's Poker 101.  Something else I picked up on this guy too; if he has something, he'll c-bet the flop then check the turn, to try to reel his opponent in.  So a turn bet for him is a monster tell that he's bluffing.  God, I wish everyone were as crystal clear as this guy.  What a meatball.

Anyway, the second hand of note, and the only other decent pot I took down, was when I was holding J10c and flopped the nut straight.  Big pot but at the turn there were two spades and I wanted to protect my hand, so I overbet a little bit and took it down right there.  J10 wins the day again!  Wheeeee! (That's someone's favorite hand, if you weren't already aware).

So that's the story of my day.  I wasn't especially disappointed with my play; I could have saved some money here or there by tightening up my decision-making, but like I said I've really been trying to trust my reads,  and I guess that means I'll have to buy some looks at cards to help me correlate what I feel with what reality is. But being nebulously pleased with one's play, despite losing, soon ceases to soothe the sting of it.

But - we shake off the loss and we go back the next time knowing we will do better.  Right?  Or else we'd never go back. And it's a fact: Combine the way I played today with even average cards and I have a winning day. Sure.  And even Phil Ivey doesn't win every day. So watch out world - this tubby Hebrew is coming atcha! And when I do, you best get out of the way, because, well, I'm a little overweight, and I might, you know, bump into you and do some damage.  Yes, I know I'm talking to the world, and it's not like I can break the world's hip or anything, but you never know. That's all I'm saying.

Foxwoods Tomorrow - Really this Time.

Didn't go to Foxwoods today. I tried to change my sleep schedule such that I could get up at around 8AM after having slept, say, five to eight hours contiguously - but I couldn't quite get that done in the time allotted. So, no big deal, I go tomorrow, and I don't expect the Tuesday crowd is materially any different than Monday's.

Rob gets the comment of the day award for today, by suggesting that perhaps instead of 'table bully' that behavior should be termed 'asshole.' It is the rare comment that actually makes me laugh.  Also Rob brings up a point: there is such a thing as being a table bully, it's when you take advantage of a huge chip stack by buying pots (I always termed them 'chip bullies', but close enough, close enough).  It's maybe not the nicest thing to do but it's a perfectly valid strategy in both cash and tournament games. And of course I'm not talking about them. 

So I'm throwing it out there:  Either I am unfamiliar with what the poker world calls that guy, the asshole in my previous post, or there really isn't a name for it yet. So I propose that we, as a group, determine what the term is if it exists, and if it doesn't exist (hell, even if it does), we make one up. Drop me a comment with your favorite one - I'll start it off with the first comment to this post.

In other news, I rescued my bracket from certain destruction when Toots told me that Syracuse wasn't playing with a full squad because of eligibility issues.  I had just enough time to change my bracket, which had the Orange taking the whole damn thing, to give my pick to win it all to a deserving team.  I gave it to...

I gave it to...

*sigh*

Fuckin Duke.  OK?  That's right; out of the frying pan, into the fire. As of right now, I'm fourth out of 55 in the pool that my wife's work started - but let's just say I peaked a little early. I don't expect good things to happen there.  The sad tale of my bracket thus ends as it began - with nothing but a fool's hope of success to bear it through. 

On the weight loss front, I was struck today, and not for the first time, at how much better Toots's clothes are fitting her.  Her progress is now unmistakable but she'd still prefer not to really discuss it, lest she give it the jinkies. You know how it goes.

We're eating well, still avoiding the stuff we need to avoid.  About a week ago, I think it might have been the day after Pearl died, that we decided that we needed some comfort food.

"How about some homemade Hamburger Helper?" I asked, and it stopped us both dead in our tracks.

Because we could do this.  I went to the store and got some whole-wheat low GI pasta, we already had the extra-lean ground beef, and had plenty of cheese and enough cream to get the job done.

I would not call the resultant product completely healthy - but neither would I call it high-sodium pre-processed garbage, which is what you get in a box.  I figure we saved 1,000mg of sodium alone, in addition to saving our bodies the indignities of the mystery chemicals to be found in boxed food. And it was so much better than out of a box, I can't even tell you.  It was just what the doctor ordered and well within the boundaries of an acceptable indulgence.

Well, gonna wind down, gotta get to sleep reasonably early - and by that I mean before 6AM.  hopefully by this time tomorrow there'll be a trip report.  Wish me luck.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Foxwoods Tomorrow - And, Be Nice to Fish

Tomorrow I'm going to Foxwoods to take some dough off the Monday Morning denizens of the 1/2NL tables.  God help me, I really groove on the 1/2NL crowd at Foxwoods.  They're playing poker for real money - some people may not think so but my heart starts to race at the prospect of a $200 hand, goddamn right it does - and not only are they bad players, but they're bad in a predictable way: They'll check-call bets on the flop and the turn to try and catch; they have faith in second pairs; they believe that hitting an ace on the flop when holding A3 is like hitting the jackpot.  It's only a matter of time before their stack is yours.

I love those people. I can't believe they come to Foxwoods and play so, so poorly, but they do,  And that reminds me, I've been meaning to rail against some unfortunately all-too-common behavior: the table bully, the guy at the table who ridicules and berates the fishies.

You've played with him a thousand times, or ten thousand.  He has enough experience to no longer be considered a beginner, but has not yet encountered any steady success.  He thinks he is smarter than he really is, and he views the game in far more black-and-white terms than players with more experience.
He'll show a bluff and spend 45 seconds explaining why it worked on you.  He'll tell you that for the bet he put out, only an idiot would call and hope for the straight.  He'll tell you that he knew your exact two cards (usually he will make this proclamation after you've shown said cards). He'll go on and on, doing everything he can to prove the twin points that a) he is a genius, and b) you are an idiot.

Most poker players grow out of this behavior but here's a little tip for those of you who have yet to do so: if you view poker as a game the object of which is to take and keep your opponent's money (and you should), acting like the table bully in the way I've described is the single most damaging behavior you can possibly exhibit.  Period. It's the biggest hole in your game, it's costing you buy-in after buy-in, and if you don't stop, you'll go broke.

For one reason, if you're playing a guy and you spot something on him like a physical tell or a betting pattern, for the love of Buddha keep your trap shut about it! Why on earth would you tip off your opponent to weaknesses in his game?  You WANT him to act like a passive little calling station.  You WANT him chasing hands. At least I do.  If it's a friend of yours and you want to take pity on him, maybe you say something at the end of the night, maybe. But you are under zero obligation to do so.  Take his money! That's truly the name of the game.

For another, when a fish gets harangued for his play, berated every time he puts chips in the pot, and ridiculed in a very public way, he's going to take all his juicy chips, those lovely little ducats on which his grip is so tenuous, and sit down at another god damned table. A true fish is a rare and beautiful thing, and his chips are never closer to being yours as when he is made to feel comfortable.  Why do people not understand this basic rule of human behavior? Jumping Jesus! It can't be just me, can it?  Sometimes when someone tries to bluff me and it doesn't add up, like he's telling me a story I don't believe, I'll pretend to agonize over the decision and when I call and rake the chips in I'll compliment the effort, tell him it came this close to working, so hopefully he does it again.  Who does it benefit to stick it in his ear right then? "I knew you had nothing.  This is the adult's game, fishcake.  Kiddie game is down the hall." What does that do except clamp his ass down tighter than a bull's ass in fly season and make him request a seat change button? You've just cut your profit expectation for the next three hours in half.  Well done, douchebag.

Not only that, but good players know that a player who acts as the table bully generally plays poker a certain way; they tend to be mindlessly aggressive, bluff constantly, steal blinds on the button just about every orbit, and will call your shove on a draw (especially in the cash game arena). It's like a giant neon tell over your sideways-hat-wearing head. So this behavior alienates and tightens up the bad players, and telegraphs your entire approach to the game to the good players. Again: well done, douchebag.

The final reason for not behaving like the table bully is not necessarily poker-based:When it comes right down to it, it's just fucking impolite.  If you insult and berate people at the table for your perception of their play, you're just a jerk, a fundamentally unpleasant person to be around. A douchebag, as it were. Don't be that guy.  Be nice to fish.  It's good business and it's the right thing to do.

Well it's almost 4AM and I have a busy day berating all the fish tomorrow...I mean, playing respectful poker.  Anyone gonna be there?  Come up and say hi.  I'll be the one in the poker room.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fat Jew, Skinny Jew, and Lefty Elvis...Jew

Well, I got my scanner working again, except there's all kinds of gross shit in between the glass on the top of the scanner and the scanner itself - so it looks like the pictures have been used to do lines on top of.  So, sorry about that, but no lines were done on photographs, trust me.

So this one is a good indicator of me as fat boy Gary. This was taken maybe 1995 or so, outside the Boston Garden - it was really cold and REALLY windy.  Plus I was fat:

This one here was taken Thanksgiving 1998. I had lost perhaps sixty pounds at this point. My parents and my brother came to Cleveland to celebrate and eat a lot of turkey.  As always, my brother gave my Dad rabbit ears:

Love this pic

This one I like to call "Lefty Elvis."  I don't know exactly when it was taken, but I got that guitar in my hand Christmas 1997, so it had to be after that:


And, ladies and gentlemen, the jewel of the album, the most super-secret photo ever:  Actual physical proof that Tootsie exists.  This was taken at our friends Connie and Chuckie's wedding in Akron, OH.  We won the prize for the furthest away someone came to the wedding, at 530 miles.  And because it's a super-secret photo, it's black-and-white:


I like this shot; it really gives the impression that Tootsie likes me. And that's important.

So that's the trip through the Crafty Southpaw's photo album.  More to come in the future, unless I can't get my scanner cleaned up; all that schmutz is really distracting.

Coming Soon - Photographic Evidence

As soon as  I can get my scanner working again, pictures to follow, including an old incarnation of The Poker Gang, me as fat man and as skinny man, a bonus shot of my dad, and - never before seen here in the realm of the Crafty Southpaw - an actual Toots sighting.

Watch this space for further details.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Stripper Story; and, My Apology to Waffles

So apparently Waffles and I are fighting because I suggested that a picture of Very Josie's decolletage left too little to the imagination to publish.  He commented on Josie's site that "...I normally like Gary but boob censorship has got to stop! Down with Gary!"


Now usually I would just go to his house, knock on his door, and kick the everloving shit out of him. But I think he actually might vibe on that.  So instead I'm going to offer an olive branch, and give him what he and the rest of the readers of this little chucklefest seem to want:

All of a sudden I'm thirsty
There.  You happy now?  Take back the down with Gary stuff.  In fact, sing my praises.  Do it now! Or I swear to no god I'll never publish a picture of a set of tits ever again.

Without further ado, then, my two stripper stories, one about the first stripper I saw, the other about the day I decided that strippers suck.

I grew up in Peabody, MA.  US 1 runs through so there are a lot of highway-type businesses; you know, gas stations, diners, etc. And right on the highway, just after the gas station where I used to work (the Rock and Roll Texaco, now a Pump-n-Pantry) and the State Police barracks, there's a strip joint that's locally famous: DB's Golden Banana.  And like so many of my fellow idiot friends, I was taken to the Banana to celebrate my 21st birthday. I absolutely intend this pun: it was a seminal event in my life.

We got seats right up front near the glass and watched with enthusiasm as one pretty girl after another pranced her ass along the stage.  One girl, though, made quite an impression: dirty blonde, big-titted, curvaceous, and (at first) dressed neck to ankles in a white lace body stocking.  To this day, the song "Move It on Over" by George Thorogood brings a faint smile to my face. I lost my license that day; actually physically misplaced it, never to be found again. I didn't care. MMMmmmmm...God, she was pretty. And since I didn't yet understand that, like every female sex worker, she fucking hated men, I was still nestled in the warm and comfortable delusion that she enjoyed her work and her clientele.

I remember her fondly.  I would normally say something like "I wonder what she's doing these days," but I'm reasonably sure, since by now she's around 50 and way past her prime, that she's trolling some street corner offering $10 handies to cover her nut for crack.  Hey, I wonder if that's why they call it crack - because that's what they use to pay for it! Who knew?

Anyway, so that was my first stripper.  Now we fast-forward a few years to my first lap dance. It was - where else? Las Vegas, NV, at a joint called the Palomino, which is apparently a famous place there.  It was a night of firsts for me: I'd never been to a bar that didn't serve alcohol, for example. Also, I had never seen so much of a female body with an explicit understanding that there would be positively no touching.  But I get ahead of myself.

It was a work thing, the reason we were in Vegas.  We'd won some supposedly effort-inducing incentive trip and got a weekend in Vegas, in August.  Quite an incentive for a fat man.  130 degrees and bright, punishing sun.  Just the thing to turn me into Jew Jerky. Yeesh. Anyway, we were all there, bosses and underlings both, and one of my running crew sees a lady who I would like (redhead, curvaceous, dressed in sheer lingerie) and sends her over to me for a dance.

"Care to dance, handsome?" she says to me, so right away I know she's a drunk, a liar, or both.

"No thanks, sweetheart," I demur.

"It's actually all paid for," she says, and points to my boy Stevie, who leers evilly.

So, what the hell.  I let her lead me by the hand to some little side booth and the hustle begins. A waitress shows up. "Drink, sir?" she asks me.

"No thanks," I mutter.

"Maybe one for the lady?"

"Um...sure.  What are you drinking, Jade (or Tiffany, or Cinnamon, or whatever the fuck her fake name was)?"

"Sprite," she says to the waitress, and off she goes.

So Blaze, or Gumdrop, or whatever the fuck her name is, starts taking off her clothes and tells me the dance will start when the next song starts, so that I "get [my] money's worth." Uh-huh. The waitress comes back with a 6-ounce Sprite in a clear plastic cup and says to me, "That's ten dollars."

Ohhhh...I get it now.  That whole drink thing was a hustle from the very beginning.  I was in equal parts pissed off, ashamed for falling for it, and, however begrudgingly, impressed.

Of course, Labia takes one sip and puts it down, never to be gone back to.  Well, you live you learn.  And the bright side is, she is now utterly naked and standing in front of me.  With practiced efficiency she puts a foot on each side of the bench I'm sitting on and, in a show of extreme subtlety, sticks her god damned perfect tits in my face.

I must say, I was impressed.  It was quite an experience.  I knew enough about these things that there wasn't enough money in the world that would be sufficient to get her to let me touch, or be touched by, those magnificent ta-tas. But it was a little much for a 26-year old dude, who has been married for two years at that point, to handle.  To steady myself against the mammarian onslaught, I put my hands down on either side of the bench to steady myself. Unfortunately my hands both hit the tops of her feet, which as I have mentioned were on the bench at the time. In an instant the dynamic of the dance changed.  She leaned in really close to my ear and whispered the following words to me:

"Don't...fucking...touch...me."

I removed my hands as if her feet were carrying plague, the spell was broken, and she started dancing again.

For about 34 more seconds.  Because apparently they use some Euro dance version of songs that last a minute and 15 god damned seconds.  When the song changed she said "thanks, sweetie.  Would you like another one?"

"Another one what?" I wondered to myself, but told her, "no thanks.  Listen, that $10 Sprite, does that go to you or to the house?"

She told me it went to the house, so I tipped her a tenner and got the hell out of there, happy to only be down $20, and however much Steve paid for the goddamn thing in the first place.

When I got back to the hotel room, who do you think the first person I called to tell about it was?  Tootsie, who was at that point my wife of all of about 18 months.

I told her the happy tale, which got her laughing a little bit, and asked me, "so - you gonna do this again?"

"No," I said, and meant it.  I've never paid a woman to have sex with me; I'm sure as hell never again going to pay a woman NOT to have sex with me.

So that's my contribution to Stripper week.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Oh, and Waffles?  Tell the world I'm an awesome guy or I'll do some computer geek equivalent of kicking your ass.

What's the Big Deal? And Other Odds and Ends

So Josie sent me a picture with - sure, a little cleavage, but not a huge amount - and asked me if it was ok to print.  I honestly didn't know why she bothered; it's quite a nice little picture and I told her that I for one would be HONORED to have it as part of the public record:

Va Va Va Voom*
Kind of looks like Tom Waits, just a little bit, in that picture.  Anyway, to be serious, she sent me a picture, I gave my opinion, and now it's up to her.

In other news:


* Just to button up the cat situation for real this time, the other cats have finally realized that big bad Pearl is gone, and already the dynamic is changing.  Rusty, my orange Persian, has taken to sitting here on the couch, which would be just completely out of the question in a Pearl-run house. It should be an interesting month or so to see how everything shakes down.  And two people have asked me already so I'll bring it up here:  No, we're probably not going to replace her just yet.  We have two other cats and if they start getting along well now that "The Evil One," RIP, is gone, we'll leave it at two.

* I find myself wondering why I don't go down to Foxwoods more often and play more poker.  The last four trips have gone thusly (all $200 buy-ins):

     Up $250
     Up ~$320 (don't exactly remember, but it was def. over 300)
     Down $200
     Up $400

I don't know how sustainable that is, but truth to tell, I'm not impressed with the quality of poker player to be found at the 1/2NL tables during the week.  As I mentioned earlier, it's mostly old folks who have managed to tuck away a couple hundred from the wife and trundled down here to see how long they can hold on to it. I think there's real value to be had there and it's only an hour away.  So to sum up, the biggest casino in the world, wherein they spread a poker game that is softer than a sneaker full of shit, and at which I have a demonstrated record of success, is an hour away from my door.  Yet somehow I find myself going four times a year instead of three times a week, like I ought to.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I think I know why:  I'm a fucking idiot.

* Does anyone want good Red Sox tickets?  I am part of a season-ticket giveaway thingy and if you guys want in, just let me know and I'll up my buy.  They're pavillion box 12, row B - above third base.  The cost is $95/ticket, which is only $5 over face; the guy is really doing the right thing with these tickets.  Anyway, just email me at gpjacobs at cox dot net and we'll figure things out.


* The monstrosity of a painting above is a real canvas, Quintin Massys' Portrait of an Old Woman. In addition to probably not being the best-looking woman in the village to begin with, in 1513, when the portrait was taken, she was suffering from the effects of something called Paget's Disease, which apparently turned one as ugly as a bushel-basket full of doorknobs.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Well, Maybe a FEW Highlights from My Day With Jo and Cranky

Ok, sure, fine, I lost my best bud yesterday, but I have two other cats in the house who, let's just tell it like it is, are pleased as hell that Pearl is gone; she hated them, they hated her (and were scared of her in the bargain) so I expect the house dynamic to change pretty radically. And life goes on.  When it comes to me, a pet dying hurts just as much as a person dying, but for not nearly as long.  You grieve, you remember, and you get on with things.

And for me, getting on with things means that I need to tell you guys about my trip to Foxywoody and meeting up with Josie and Cranky, the latter of whom I would be meeting face to face for the first time.

Now before I get into that, let me just say that I'd never met any of you face to face before.  Jos I knew for years and years before she was a blogger, so she doesn't count (well, only to ten), but Cranky was the first blog-type person whom I'd meet.

Let me also say that the only reference I had to what she looked like was a small picture that was tight to her face so I had only the barest idea what she looked like.  Remember that for later in the story.

So I get to Foxwoods, find Auntie Jo with a decent set...of chips in front of her, and go register for a 1/2NL game with the desk.  They seat me in about eight seconds, which was awesome. They put me in table 11, which was located, if you're familiar with the layout of Foxwoods, roughly in upstate New York.  Jesus Tap Dancing Christ! I've never been tucked away in such a remote corner of the room before, but it was Saturday and the joint was jumping.

Anyway I get chips and sit down in seat 8 with two hundy in front of me.  Now usually I have a rule about sitting down at a cash game: I like for the very first hand I play to be a monster.  It's a little trick I use to force myself to observe the table for a while, to pigeonhole players into tight/loose - aggressive/passive - smart/stupid categories. However I didn't get that chance, as the first two cards I saw were AKs, and of course I was in the BB. Folds to seat 1, who pops in to $12 (6xBB?  Really, sir?). Two callers.  I re-pop to about 30. Seat 1 re-re-pops to $75.  I've seen all of three hands waiting to enter, so I don't really know anything about this guy, but I think, if he's the kind of idiot that raises to 6xBB, he's probably not the best player in the world, and even if I don't catch the flop I could outplay him post, so I call the 75.

Same sad story: whiff the flop, check, shove, fold.  My seat isn't even warm and my stack is already almost cut in half.

Thankfully though, I went completely card-dead for about an hour and was able to get a pretty good handle on the table.  Two good players, me, and seven fishcake calling station straight chasers who were begging to give away their chips.  Alas I couldn't take advantage of them, because my hands were so bad. I went a stretch of perhaps a dozen hands none of which could beat ten high.

However my luck changed shortly thereafter. I texted Yosie that there was an open seat and in about two minutes I saw her and her short little legs locomoting my way. She and her Jackie O sunglasses sat down at seat 5. About ten minutes after that I started getting hands that, if not great, at least I could work with. And before too much longer I'd climbed back to even. Yay me!

Then some weird shit started happening.  I got a call from Crankypants (I had texted her asking her where she was) saying she'd be there shortly.  Now somewhere in the proceedings I'd mentioned that I was Jewish - not like you couldn't tell just my looking at me - so right about the time I was expecting to see Cranky, this old woman toddles up to me with a Chai (not tea, the Hebrew symbol for life) in her hand, and croaked "I wanted to show you this - it's my good luck charm."

Now I know how old Cranky is - she told me when we were discussing the Beatles - and I knew that the woman that stood before me looked like she was maybe 75, which would put her at decades older than Cranky - but remember, I had a one inch square picture to go by, and there are plenty of people in the world that look WAY older than they really are.  But I wasn't sure, so I said something sort of halfway between stranger and friend.  I said something like "Oh, you're Jewish?"  She looked at me like I handed her a fresh turd for her inspection, spat "no, I'm not Jewish," and stalked away.  I thought to myself, "was...was that Cranky?  And why would anyone carry a Jewish symbol of good luck with them and be offended at the suggestion that they were Jewish?" I looked over to Jo with a "did that really happen?" look on my face but she was in a hand and didn't see any of it.

But - about 30 seconds later, I see someone walk up to me and faith and begorrah, it looked like Cranky! Whew! She's not a freakishly old-looking anti-Semite! And as there was no wait for a 1/2 table they let her sit right down in the 3 seat.  A few minutes after that the 2 seat opened up and I moved over, so I was able to chitchat with Cranky (who has a real name, and uses it in person btw) and Josie. And now the fun started.

Maybe it was because I started winning.  Maybe it was because I'd had more coffee in the previous two hours than in the last two years.  Maybe it was because I had a new person to show off in front of.  Either way, I went into the mode that I like to call "exhaustingly funny." The three of us started bantering back and forth, we were tooling on the other players (shout out to my boy Dan!) and the dealer, one of whom was brave enough to admit to being a Yankee fan.  Buddha bless her, Cranky laughed at everything I said.  Now, I've known Josie for about 12 years; she's WAY more familiar with my schtick than Cranky. So she gave off a little more like an eye-rolling, "if you laugh you only encourage him more" kind of vibe. More exhausting than funny for her, I guess you'd say.

We risked life and limb to get a picture taken at the table.  Wally, our dealer, said "no pictures," but Josie begged, and she got herself some decent begging skills (insert joke here). So when the coast was clear I handed my shitty ancient phone to the dude in seat 6 and Josie slipped between Cranky and me and we managed to get the picture taken, even as the brush was bearing down on us, threatening to call security - for a picture! nevermind that they have 62 cameras trained on me at all times, we couldn't take a shitty cell phone picture.  But fuck them - the dude took the picture anyway:

L-R: Me, Jo, Cranky.

As regards the actual poker. I won a few pots, lost a few, made some really good decisions, and one really really bad one.  And that's this one here: I looked down to find pocket 8's.  Position escapes me for the moment; my apologies. The pot had been raised, I re-raise to I think $25. Folded around to seat 1, the dude on my right, who four-bets it to $75.  I start thinking for a while and start counting out chips to see how much I have left - at that time it wasn't much, I was close to busting out. I think I had maybe $130 or so altogether.

So I'm cutting stacks of chips, looking at the impact of a call or a shove, and the dude says to me, "You have a white chip in that stack of redbirds." Now at that moment I thought to myself, "the dude has aces."  You just don't make a comment like that unless you're so comfortable with things that you can be chip custodian to your opponent.   That, plus the way he said it, just made me think that he had aces.

But perhaps my biggest weakness in this horrible, frustrating, glorious game of poker is that I don't have any faith in my reads.  I don't trust them.  I know it's a hole in my game.  I know that if I could just bring myself to trust that first flash of insight that goes through my head I could be a much better poker player, but I never give myself enough credit for my own reads.  And this was a textbook example of it.  Instead of tabling my 8's (face up - I'll explain that in another post maybe) and congratulating him on his aces, what I did instead was...shove.  Brilliant, right?  He insta-calls and turns over - you guessed it - aces. Well actually I guessed it; YOU didn't guess shit.

It so happened that I caught my miracle eight and picked up an extra $150, but that doesn't make the move any less stupid.  I have to learn to trust myself, and until I do I'm going to be felted way more than not.

But really, I can honestly say that besides a couple of minor hiccups, that was the only really bad hand I played.  Overall I was pretty pleased with my play.  In fact, by the time the picture above was taken I had madd staxx yo, and I earned (and ended up keeping) most of that. Total profit $400, pretty much to the nickel.

This post is already getting way too long but I did want to tell one more funny story, right at the end of the night, some dude from Chicopee, MA sat down in seat 1.  Josie, with her ebullient friendliness, more or less flashed him her tits.  Not enough to spend the night in the clink for exposure, but let's just say you could hide a paperback book in the cleavage she exposed to him.  And so naturally he got really friendly, really fast.

Long story short, before we left he mentioned that he was with his 84 year old mother.  So fast-forward to about an hour later: we're in that little bistro off the poker room having some dinner, when who should sit down next to us but Chicopee, and his 84 year old mother.  She was a doddering old woman right out of central casting:  wrinkled, white-haired, you could break her by throwing a Kleenex at her.  She starts telling some incoherent old-lady story to us and we're nodding politely - the whole bit.  And what does she have for dinner?  A gigantic meatball sub with onions and peppers!  I couldn't believe it.  I thought "careful granny...that sandwich might fade your battleship tattoo!"

Anyways, it was a great evening, whatever else could be said about what awaited me when I got home, but I meant what I said about my sides and cheeks hurting from laughing.  It's always good to see Josie; we're like peas and carrots.  And Cranky was amazingly good company. I don't say this lightly: I think I made a friend, a real friend, and that makes me happy.  We promised that we'd do this again soon, hopefully in a month or so, and I really hope we do.

I'm sure I missed so much good stuff, but I think Cranky might post about it, and I know that Josie will.  Expect pictures of a stranger's back.

The afore-mentioned madd staxx

Beware the Forces of Balance

...for they will have their way, despite your or anyone's best efforts.

Today I spent the day with Josie and Cranky playing poker and laughing my ass off.  I hadn't enjoyed myself this much in literally years.  My stomach hurts from laughing - my cheeks too.  And on top of that I turned $200 into $600 in seven hours, which is actually about what I made in a day at my high-stress phony baloney corporate joyboy job that almost gave me an ulcer before I finally quit. I drove Josie home and we spent yet another couple of hours laughing and recapping the evening's high and low points.  I drove home happy, tired, and with deep pockets.

And when I got home, I went downstairs to find that Pearl was lying in the exact same spot she was in when I left her, her breathing labored and shallow.  I picked her up and her head lolled back - she was apparently completely paralyzed.  Tootsie took her in her arms to comfort her, and whether she was just waiting for me to get home, or the act of picking her up loosed something like a clot, within two minutes she was gone.

The last day of her life, I was off whooping it up at Foxwoods, lollygagging over dinner, and taking a route that was two full hours out of my way, partly because Josie needed a ride but mostly because I really didn't want the day to end.  I was having a great time. And Pearl spent the day paralyzed, scared, and hungry, all day and night.

Most of you know that I don't believe in, well, anything, but it's difficult right now to think that the world doesn't somehow punish you if you dare to enjoy life too much.

Maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.  I certainly hope I do.  But right now I wish I didn't feel anything.

I'll leave Jo and Cranky to write up the day, if that's ok with you all.  It really was fun, but I'm having a tough time remembering that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Boinnnnnggggg!


Tempus is pretty damn Fugit

Spring Forward this weekend, friends and neighbors! This is how it's gonna shake down:

Sunday morning

1:59:57 AM
1:59:58
1:59:59
3:00:00

Boom! It's like magic.  They made an hour disappear, never to be recovered...until this coming Autumn, when it will be found in the glove compartment of a 1996 Nissan Altima owned by 17-year-old pizza delivery kid in St. Charles, MO, hidden by a box of rubbers and a Glock 9mm.

OK, I kinda got off track there.  Sorry.  As penance, this weekend will be trivia-free, cat-free, and maybe - just maybe - there'll be some poker content, finally.

Namaste, mah brothahs and sistahs. Oh, and one final piece of advice, especially if you're a salaried employee: come in to work an hour late Monday and blame the time change. Stick it to the man!

Thankfully, the last Pearl Post for a While, and God Fucking Sucks

Just wanted to dot a few I's and cross a few T's on l'affaire Pearl. She seems for all the world like she is on the road to recovery.  It's not certain how long that road is, or what "recovery" looks like in her case, but it appears she only burned through a couple of lives; she got five or six left, methinks, and here's hoping they're far between in the losing.

So unless anything changes with the old broad, this will be my last Pearl update, unless anything changes for better (hey! she's regained sight in her right eye - AND she knows what 'make me a sandwich' means!) or worse. You've all of you been very kind with your good wishes and thoughts, and - well, the phrase "you have no idea how much that means to me" is overused and cliché, but I've been thinking a for a while now and I don't have words to say it any differently: you truly have no idea how much that means to me.  Thank you all.

So here's the thing: Cranky, in a comment on my previous post, used the term "crossing the rainbow bridge," which is an argyle-sweater euphemism for when a pet dies. Now Cranklin, you know how fond of you I am, except when you kick my ass in WWF by sixty pig-fucking points, but I confess that that phrase just goes up my ass sideways like few others do.  Not only is it just so Reader's Digest gentle, whitebread, obnoxious and superfluous (kitty heaven is already a euphemism; do we need a euphemism for a euphemism?), but it also ties in to the rat's nest that is the sum of my feelings on the afterlife (warning! religious/philospohical content to follow).

How very seductive is the thought that one's loved ones are just waiting for you in paradise; that all one has to do is obey the tenets of his religion, be a decent fellow to his fellow man, practice charity and forbearance, and an eternity with Dad and Grampa awaits him (Grampa Maurice, not Grampa John; John was kind of a prick).

It's a dangerous thought, exactly because it's so seductive.  It's a porous life preserver thrown to a drowning man; it's false comfort, and it's fucking cynical, because it's so obviously not true.

"But," says my evil twin, let's call him Harry, "what of the almost universal tales of a feeling of going through a tunnel and seeing a bright light?  How can so many people tell the same story and you still sit there and deny the existence of heaven?"

Well, look: let me suggest something to you.  It could be that the sense of going through a tunnel, then seeing a bright light, is nothing more than the dying brain's replay of its very first experience, that of travelling through the birth canal and seeing the bright light of the operating room.

Do I believe this? Not really.  But here's my point, and it's important:  There isn't a single shred of evidence to support either theory.  The two explanations are with exact precision equally plausible. I choose to believe neither theory; I think they're both preposterous.  But I will NOT - I absolutely refuse with every (admittedly flabby) sinew in my body - to credit (or blame) a benevolent god in the sky every time a question pops up that I don't have an answer to.

I believe that science, and the scientific method, is the only way of getting to the truth about anything, however painstaking and glacial the process is.  But the beauty of science, the aspect of science that makes it pure and keeps it pure, is that "I don't know" is a completely valid answer. You put forward a hypothesis about something, then you endeavor to prove it.  If you do, you write it up and expose it to the community, and they'll run their tests independently of yours and if they get the same result, why, you've got an answer, by gum.  You know: SCIENCE.

I know this is a bit of a rant; it's probably not wise to blog at 2:30 in the morning.  But since the old man died I've come to understand just how seductive the idea of an afterlife is, and to what extent the whole thing is a bottle of snake oil. Step right up to Doctor God's Decompositional Nostrum, ladies and gennamen!  One swig and you'll think you'll see Aunt Agatha again!

This is rapidly turning into a polemic against religion, which was not my intent.  But since I'm already all in, what is with you Christians and proselytizing?  For the love of Benji, you people are relentless! I mean, it's just absurd.  If you want to be a Jew, you have to go to where the Jews are.  You want to be Hindu, you go find the Hindus.  But you want to be a Christian, just answer your door at 8:45 in the morning. Stop it already! You think I LIKE slamming the door in your face?  Well I FUCKING DO.  Now get off of my land because in precisely three seconds you'll be trespassing.

Lastly, most really religious people are old, and they smell funny.  Like vitamins and pee, as Eric Cartman observed.

This ends today's rant.  Now back to regular programming, which is already in progress.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pearl

Well, it looks like whenever Pearl decides to cash it in, it's not going to be today.  I can't say that it won't be next week, but all signs indeed point to a cat on the rebound.

It still remains to be seen whether or not she had a stroke or she has a legion on her brain, as our vet suspects.  Apparently the circling behavior she's exhibiting (which, by the way, is difficult to watch - it just breaks my heart) is a symptom of that. She also suspects that she's older than we think she is.  The shelter we got her from told us she was about four when we got her, which would make her eight today; but the vet, after examining her teeth, suspects she's older than that.

Parenthetically, this was information I had to sort of pull out of the vet: she mentioned that she might possibly be suffering from dementia, "...but it's unusual in a cat who's only eight."

"Well, based on her teeth, how old do you think she is?" I asked her.

"Her teeth are a mess [like cat, like owner, apparently].  I'd say she was 12 or 13."

So even if she recovers to one extent or another, our time together is likely far shorter than I thought it would be. So I got that working for me.

But the news isn't all bad, if not all good.  Yesterday I picked her up and she purred, really deep enthusiastic purring that gave me all the proof I needed that she remembered me, that she still loved me (she still won't purr for Toots - HA!) , and that whatever else is travelling through that brain of hers, and however fast or slow it's travelling, she's not in pain, or miserable, or (at the risk of anthropomorphising her) sad.

But she's a different cat, and it's unlikely that she'll change back to the feisty, territorial, take-no-shit-from-the-other-cats Pearl that she was. Maybe she's going to be content to sit quietly in a sunbeam and isolate herself from the world until the curtain falls.

The vet isn't enthusiastic that she'll change back.  She counselled that the fact that she's eating, drinking, sleeping and shitting is about the best one can expect.

"If this is victory, it is bitter to hold, and [my] hands are too small for it." - JRR Tolkien

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Something's Wrong with Pearl

Cat and Mouse


UPDATE: Please see the update at the bottom of the post.

Toots and I are heading to the vet here in a little while.  My beautiful cat, Pearl, about whom I've written (here) before, my constant companion, my best kitty bud, is very definitely sick.  She does nothing but walk around in tight circles; she bumps into things whereafter she loses her balance; she had shit on her fur, which is an indignity that she would never suffer if she were healthy.

I fear the worst.  I swear to god, if I have to say goodbye to her today I'm going to lose my shit. I'm already halfway down a pretty dark hole but if something bad happens, I honestly don't know what tomorrow will look like.

Wish her luck.

Sleeping contentedly on my leg. Love that checkerboard head...

UPDATE: They think Pearl had a stroke or has some kind of brain lesion.  Her right eye is fixed and dilated, and her left eye doesn't respond to light, although they think she has some vision in it.  She's home now and we're awaiting bloodwork to determine what exactly the issue is, and if we're going to make a hard decision or not.  I'll keep you all posted.