Monday, April 30, 2012

An Audience with the God of Poker;
an Allegory for What Happened to Me Last Night

Like Gregor Samsa in that long-ago tale*, I recently awoke from uneasy dreams. Unlike Samsa, instead of finding that I'd been transformed to a giant beetle, I awoke to find myself in an anteroom with which I was completely unfamiliar. The walls were covered by rich dark wood paneling, and were stuck here and there with wall sconces out of which a gentle yet strong light emanated. At the front of the room sat a stately mahogany desk and behind it sat a slender, blond gentleman, with an officious demeanor, who was speaking on the phone with someone.  It did not seem to be going well.

" can raise your voice all you like but that doesn't mean you're going to be connected.  That's just not how it! I do not have to take abuse from anyone, let alone some random caller looking for an audience...I am hanging up the phone now.  Please don't call back."

He exhaled deeply in exasperation, shook his head as if to shake off the bad vibes of the phone call, and turned his head toward me. "Yes, sir.  How can I help you?"

For a panic-stricken second I had no idea what to say.  Then, as if it was planned all along, I knew why I was there and who I was there to see.

"I'd like to speak to the God of Poker.  I have an appointment."

"Your name, please?" he asked, his tone indicating doubt.

"It's probably under Crafty Southpaw."

"Hmmm, let's see, Southpaw, Southpaw...ah.  Oh, I see." A microsecond pause. "My apologies, sir.  You can go right in."

I walked through the anteroom, heels clicking smartly on the marble floor. A pair of gigantic double doors opened without a sound, and without any visible mechanism, to let me through into the office of the God of Poker.

It was less than imposing.

As I walked through the door, I noticed a threadbare poker table, with a dealer chained to his seat.  I noticed his toke box was welded closed. The God of Poker was not playing; he was at his desk, with his back to me, staring at a window.

"Which of these raindrops will hit the windowsill first?" He asked, to no one in particular.  I'll bet you twenty million bucks it's this one."

"Me?" I said, a little bit confused.

"Yeah, you," he said.  "Who are you?"

"It doesn't matter.  Listen, I need something from you."

"You and everybody else," he said, and I thought for a moment I detected a little sadness in his voice. "What do you need?"

"I'm tired of treading water at poker," I started.  "It's not like I'm throwing my fortune away, but I'm not making huge coin, either.  I need to get some words of wisdom from you."

"You need me to tell you something magical to make you better at poker?  Is that it?"

"Well- yeah, that's about it," I stammered.

"Sixty-three bucks," he said, with the slightest edge to his voice.


"Sixty-three bucks.  Hand it over."

I reached into my pocket and sure enough, I had $63, to the penny. I handed it over and he folded the bills, thumbed through the wad to count it, and stuck it in his shirt pocket. He took a deep breath and looked me right in the eye.

"You ready?" he asked. "You want to take notes or something?"

"Do I need to?"

"Probably not.  Well, here it is: Don't ever limp into a pot pre-flop. If it's worth one blind, it's worth three.  And if it's not worth three it isn't really worth one.  Raise the blind, call a raise in front of you, or fold. Got it? Don't limp into a pot pre-flop."

I waited a long second to make sure he wasn't just pausing for dramatic emphasis.

"That's it?" I asked, trying not to sound incredulous. "Don't limp into an unraised pot?"

"Yup. You're welcome, by the way."

"No, yeah, thank you," I found myself saying, almost mechanically.  I made a mental note how ingrained it is to automatically thank someone who made it known he was expecting it, like when you're four years old and an adult hands you something and asks you what the magic word was. "But, um, I actually already knew that. Known it for a while actually."

"But do you do it? I mean, all the time?"

"Well, no, not all the time.  There's a time and a place for a pre-flop limp, especially if the table is right for it."

"Then you don't do it," said the God of Poker. "What I said was, don't EVER limp into an unraised pot. Sometimes you do.  And sure there are a lot of definitions of 'sometimes,' but it's more or less agreed that 'sometimes' DOES NOT mean the same thing that 'never' does."

I bristled a bit at his patronizing tone, but I must admit that it felt a tiny bit gratifying to see him becoming more engaged in the conversation.  Indeed I could see an occasional flash of emotion around the edges.

"Do you understand me?" he asked, and met my gaze.

"Yes," I replied.

"Do you?" he asked, still looking hard at me.

"Never means never," I told him, and his expression softened at once.

"Good," he said.  "Anything else?"

"No thanks, but I really appreciate this, Poker God."

"Call me Mitch.  And OK, but you know I could have made you into a poker genius if you'd asked me."

"Oh. Could I..."

"Too late," said Mitch. "Thanks for coming."

Damn.  Well, at least I learned something valuable, even though it cost me two greens, two redbirds, and three whites.
*Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

What is Beauty in Music?

Most of you know I'm a huge Beatles fan.  But those of you who inexplicably hate the Beatles can nonetheless relax; this post isn't about them.  It's about one song from one artist: Picture in a Frame, by the incomparable Tom Waits.

Tom can be a challenging listen; he's not for everybody.  But he has very few casual fans. Those who like his work, love it. I won't bother describing him, because if you don't know his stuff I can only describe it in terms of other music that you also don't know: picture Captain Beefheart on a three-day bender, and you're close to the mark. See?  I'm sure that brings nothing to the table.

Suffice it to say that he challenges people's opinions about what beauty is; what that special quality is in music that connects people to their souls so directly. Like I said, I'm a gigantic Beatles sound.  Their music has given me thousands of hours of pleasure - but it's never made me cry.  Tom can make me cry, even still if I'm in the right mood.  Even in the middle of the most abstract song, almost a tone poem with words just as unconventional, he can sometimes hit you from left field and leave you with a lump in your throat.  Witness these lyrics to "A Little Rain:"
Well the ice man's mule is parked outside the barn
Where a man with missing fingers plays a strange guitar
And a German dwarf dances with the Butcher's son
And tonight a little rain never hurt no-one
The song gives two verses and a bridge of that sort of weird, almost nightmare imagery, until the last verse slaps you into a stunning change of emotion that will absolutely crush you, even if you're ready for it:

She was fifteen years old, and she'd never seen the ocean
She climbed into a van with a vagabond
And the last thing she said was "I love you, Mom"
And a little rain never hurt no one

Powerful stuff - and a reading of lyrics doesn't really do it justice. You can listen to it here if you want:

But really, that's not the song I wanted to talk about today.  That honor belongs, as I said earlier, to Picture in a Frame, about the closest thing Tom ever comes to a straightforward love song.

The lyrics are simple to the point that one could be forgiven for calling them juvenile, if one didn't see the frightening depth therein. The melody and the changes, too, are deceptively straightforward.

The whole point is that this song, such a small song, such a simple song, conveys a depth of emotion about a man's relationship with the woman he loves that the simplicity is forgiven, and indeed forgotten, and you are left with an idea of the earth-shaking love he has for that woman by a simple series of proclamations:

The sun come up, it was blue and gold
The sun come up, it was blue and gold
The sun come up, it was blue and gold
Ever since I put your picture in a frame

I come calling in my Sunday best
I come calling in my Sunday best
I come calling in my Sunday best
Ever since I put your picture in a frame

I'm gonna love you 'till the wheels come off
Oh, yeah

I love you baby, and I always will
I love you baby, and I always will
I love you baby, and I always will
Ever since I put your picture in a frame
I love you baby, and I always will
Ever since I put your picture in a frame
Ever since I put your picture in a frame

Please listen.  Enjoy. And let the music show you what real beauty is.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ashamed to Be a Bruins Fan Today

...and it's not why you think.

Sure, the B's kind of spit the bit a little; losing in the first round is never acceptable for a defending Stanley Cup Champion.  As a fan I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.

I'm a season ticket holder, and unlike baseball and football, that means that you're guaranteed your seats throughout the playoffs and the Championship.  Last year, the tickets I sold to the Stanley Cup Championship games alone - to say nothing of the playoff rounds - made me almost $5,000. So as a season ticket holder, I'm deprived of a prime money-making opportunity and I'm upset and disappointed, but not ashamed.

After the Bruins lost, there were a number of angry Tweets aimed at the Capitals and the dude who scored the overtime game-winner, Joel Ward.  That would normally make me grimly happy, but not ashamed.

I'm ashamed because rather than call Ward lucky, or a hack, or a no-talent bum, or a flopper, or any one of a dozen things you can say about a hockey player when you don't like him, a good many of these tweets called him a nigger.

And that makes me ashamed.  Because it reinforces every negative stereotype about Bostonians, about the complexion of hockey fans, and the ignorance of the world around us.

This guy, Joel Ward, he'll never be confused with one of hockey's bright lights.  He spent 10 years between major junior and the AHL before breaking in to the bigs five years ago.  Never scored more than 20 goals - scored 6 goals all regular season.  Just one of hockey's grinders on a third or fourth line - if he's on your team you like him OK and if he's not he's just a random piece of shit enemy sweater.  And that's all good; hockey is a game where it's ok to hate your opponent, in fact it makes for better hockey when you do.  And of course fans follow suit, and that's OK too. And yes, he's one of the few black hockey players in the league.

But to call him a nigger is just embarrassing to the game. To take what has to be thus far his career highlight - literally the highest point he's attained in a lifetime of hockey - and cheapen and degrade it by calling him a nigger is just the lowest thing you can do.  And it's not like these tweets just shout the word at him and call it a day.  Here are some examples (and I'm including the name of the sender in hopes that someone out there flames him but good):

Joel ward you fucking nigger you suck 6 goals all season you fucking plug nigger bitch

stupid nigger go play basketball hockey is a white sport zvanasse30

It sucks that the nigger scored the goal. colinalexanderr

Do I need to go on? Jesus Christ! It's 2012!  I don't mean to sound naive but I'm kind of surprised that this level of hatred still exists. 

As a kid growing up in suburban Boston, a period when the B's made the Stanley Cup Finals three times in six years (70, 72, 74) and won twice, my childhood was Bruins-heavy.  We had a Bobby Orr jigsaw puzzle.  Every family had ceramic Orr and Espo figurines in their house.  And even though I didn't become a ravenous hockey fan until some time later (think Bourque - Neely - Janney, about 25 years ago), the Bruins were kind of the birthright of every Bostonian my age.  And until now it was something I could take pride in.

But these idiots and their ignorant rants against this guy - I just can't believe it.  It stuns me.  

Listen, say what you want about the guy:  he's got limited talent, he got supremely lucky being in the right place at the right time for the juiciest rebound known to mankind, whatever. That's actually true (even though the least talented NHL player still has more talent in his pinky than 20 amateur players). But to call him a nigger in a rant is classless and low, and those who do it denigrate the sport and the team that they purport to love.

One of the very first things I ever wrote was an observation that we as a society give words more power than they deserve, and I still believe that.  I yearn for the day where the word nigger transitions in meaning to "dude" or "guy" and has all racial connotation stripped from it - in other words to rob the word of its negative power - but that day has not yet come. This whole episode is just sad. 

I think this is what the people of Vancouver felt when they looked up from their tv's having lost the finals last year to find their city in flames: embarrassed for their city and tarred and feathered by the brush of public opinion, even though they themselves did nothing.

The hockey world - indeed the world at large - has a darker view of Bostonians today because of these people and their ignorance, and I have a difficult time saying that the world is wrong.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 1 in the Can, I'm Nobody's Biggest Fan, Are You Sure You're a Man?

So it's just after midnight, Tootsie is snoring softly and contentedly in a comfy chair, and I'm back from a session at the tables that provided decidedly mixed results.  I'm a little tired so I'll leave the snark behind and just go over a few key hands.

Key Hand 1: Second hand overall. AhKh. Raised PF, called by seat 2.  Seat 2 checks flop blind.  I bet out maybe 2/3 pot.  Snaps. Turn a fourth high card.  I bet around 35, get snapped again. River brings a 10 that gives me Broadway. Seat 2 checks dark again, I bet huge, he calls, I win.  I haven't sat down for five minutes and I'm up $133.

KH2: KK. It was raised to me to 12, I re-raise to 35. Two callers.  Ace comes up on flop, bet and raise in front of me. I weep a little for the hardness of the world and fold.

KH3: A7s00ted, raised in front of me. Called enthusiastically. Whiff the flop, cbet, take it anyway.

KH4: 1010. Raise pre.  Flop KKA.  Someone bets in front of me. Foldyroo.

KH5: KK. Raised to 6. I re-raise to 25. Two callers.  K on flop. I bet big with shaky hand and I swear to god I think my penis came out of my pants.  Everyone folds.  I curse myself.

KH6: KK yet again.  I raise big. Seat 10, whom I honestly do not know is male or female, calls with J8.  Turns a straight. I hate s/him.  This one lost me a lot of money.

KH7: J10.  Raise, 1 caller. J on flop.  Bet, call.  Turn, bet, call.  Starting to get spooked.  River is check check.  He has me outpipped with JQ. Lost a lot of money on this one too.

KH8: AQh. raise, 1 caller.  Flop comes AQ7.  bet, raise, shove, call.  He has a set of 7's.  I rant a little bit, not at him but at the world in general. At this point I'm down to about $90.

KH9: AA UTG. Raise to 6. Folded around to seat 2 (a different guy from hand 1). He raises to 15. Shove, call.  AA holds up and the Kid is BACK BABY!!

There were a few small wins after that, but I realized that it was almost 1:00 AM and I was turning Tootsie into a poker widow.  I colored up my white chips, toked the dealer and tipped my cap.  Final Day 1 tally: up $26.  Not the best day but it beats a sharp stick to the eye.

One downer, on my AA hand, as it was running, he turns over his KK and with a knowing look, says to me, "aces?" I nod with what I hoped was sympathy and said, "sorry.  Well, not really, but you know what I mean." And I realized that that was a pretty shitty thing to say.  And for some reason rather than immediately apologizing and saying that I didn't intend to sound like a jackass, I just said nothing - so he's the guy who's not my biggest fan I mentioned in the title to this post.

Will keep y'all posted about Day 2 when it's done.  Meantime, stay cool mah brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bringing the Funny, Fifth Grade Style

Well Blogger has "upgraded" me to the new interface, so now I get to see what all the kerfuffle is about and perhaps encounter the same paragraph rendering issue that Auntie Jo did.  So as a test I thought I'd tell a funny story about one time when we were at the Garden, taking in a Bruins game.

(per duggle, making a small edit and re-testing)

(note to Boston sports team haters: at very least until tomorrow, my Boston Bruins are the defending Stanley Cup champions, and even if they lose tomorrow to Ovechkin and the Caps, they still bring the pain in a big way and are every inch the squad that team president Cam Neely wanted to build: a tough, scrappy, grinding-in-the-corners team that will outwork you and be a difficult team to play, win lose or draw.  So haters: suck it.)

So anyway one thing that Josie and I have in common is that neither one of us particularly likes the standard stadium food offerings.  An overcooked sausage that's been sitting in its own grease for three hours on a soggy bun? No thank you.  If I'm there and hungry I usually make a beeline for the deli kiosk, who will sell you a real sandwich - like corned beef with mustard on a roll, just like real food purveyors - and it's as delicious as a $9 sandwich ought to be.

This particular day I got the afore-mentioned corned beef, made in front of me, beef right off the slicer, piled high and lovingly on a bun and bedecked with mustard from a squeeze bottle that made a farty noise just like it should.  Jos got some other sandwich that had been pre-made and was disappointed with it, I seem to recall. So ostensibly to make her feel better I started laying a little foundation of "eh, you know, this sandwich isn't really that great," etc.  I picked up my pickle wedge - half-sour, my very favoritest kind of pickle in all of pickledom - and made a face like it smelled bad.  I handed it to her and said "smell this and tell me if you think it's right."  She leaned in and gave it a smell - and I in my big booming baritone yelled "PICKLE SNIFFER!!" It was so funny that even she laughed.

Comedy gold, my friends.  Comedy gold.  Yes, you can take it and use it for yourself, and I'll tell you in advance: you're welcome.

OK, here we go, let's see if I have paragraphs.

Monday, April 23, 2012

In Which I Give "Ouch" a Concrete Definition

Those of you who know me, really know me, will understand the thundering impact of this statement: Today I went to the doctor.

For those of you who don't know me:  I fucking hate doctors.  Hate them hate them hate them. I hate doctors and I hate hospitals even worse.

Why?  Doctors will only tell you bad news. Period.  Your blood pressure is high.  Your blood sugar is high.  You're eleventy billion pounds overweight. Your dad was dead by the time he got here. It never ends with these people.

They're cold and detached and yes, I know that to an extent they have to be, because if they let themselves feel emotion about death they'd cease to be effective, but I don't have to fucking like it, and I don't.

Anyway I promised Tootsie that if by Monday I was still in pain from the fall I took, that I would head up to the urgent care facility. I was, so I did. And they took X-rays and poked me and prodded me.  Someone purporting to be a doctor stuck two fingers in my ass.  I did not let the fact that he was not wearing gloves, nor the fact that under his lab coat he was wearing a UPS uniform, stop me from enjoying myself.

Bottom line, I am the proud owner of two broken ribs, whom I've named Mary Kate and Ashley, both for their similarity to the alledgedly anorexic twins and to each other.  I was given a four-day course of pain killers and told that I could expect pain of this nature for three weeks.  I was not given ample time to ponder the wisdom of that sufficiently, else I would have pointed out the seeming disparity there.

Now I would like to send out a message to certain people, they know who they are, who suggested I get looked at by a doctor:  There.  You happy now?  I saw a god damned doctor.  In response to my question regarding treatment options for broken ribs, she actually used the expression "We don't do anything."  So I almost killed myself getting out of a wet shower, endured pain getting into and out of my car to the tune of getting kicked in the ribs six fucking times, and disrobed in front of four total strangers (five, if you include the UPS guy, but really by that point, Spencer and I were not exactly strangers), only to be given a short supply of some limp-wristed painkillers and sent on my way.  I'm never listening to you ever again!

Finally, one very profitable poker hand to share with you.  It fucking kills me to say it, but I owe this one at least partially to Josie:  I called a standard PF raise with J10 suited despite being in bad position, like UTG +2 I think.  But the flop - oh, that magical flop - came A J 10 rainbow. I bet decent sized and quickly, to hopefully give the impression that I was just c-betting and that someone had an A.  Two folds and an insta-call and I was heads-up.  Turn blanks. Another quick bet, about 2/3 pot or close to it, and another quick call.  River blanks and I'm only vulnerable to KQ, a few sets, or a freak aces up. Same old: quick bet, now around $30 or $40, and a snap call.  And just this once, the poker gods saw fit to run this one exactly to plan, all praise and glory to the poker gods, ommmmmmm, and my two pair held up.  And yet another player who put too much faith in top pair learns a sharp lesson. Or doesn't. And I'm like $80 up.

So there you go:  Mary Kate, Ashley and I are going to relax on the couch.  I'll try and update mid-trip.

A Trip Back to Where it All Began

Tomorrow, Toots and I are heading to Uncasville to spend a couple of days basking in the gratis glory of the Mohegan Sun Casino.  She was the recipient of a gesture of largesse from her boss, who told her to get out of here, you crazy kids, and have a good time.

So I will be spending most of my time in the poker room, hoping the list for the $1/$2NL game isn't that long, and hoping for all the world that I don't duplicate the results of the last time I played poker there - which was actually the very first time I ever sat down at the felt and compared my skill to that of others.

It did not go well.

It was around 2002 or 2003.  It was right around Moneymaker time - but I had caught the bug the previous year, with Robert Varkonyi.  Does anyone remember him?  He was this nebbish little dude who never played a big tournament and who won the 2002 WSOP and 2 million squeeds. By the way, no flash in the pan, he; thus far he's cashed in three WSOP main events, finishing 177th out of over 6,000 in 2007 for over 50 grand, and cashing small in 2011, around 500th place or so.  Anyway, for me, it was Varkonyi who captured my imagination, so I perceived myself as having a one-year head start over everyone else.  So brimming with completely unfounded confidence I walked into the poker room, found a 2-4 limit table with an empty seat, and sat down.

It was then that I learned that one doesn't just sit down at a poker table, that there is a desk at which one must register, and that I should hie myself there and get out of that seat right the hell away.

You know how it goes from there, right?  We all probably remember our first time with a wince and a cringe.  I tried checking pre-flop, I stuck money in with hands I had zero business being in, and generally wore a big sign that said "N00b fishcake" in big letters, that lit up when it was dark.

I remember nobody at the table saying a word, but I caught a few sideways glances which spoke volumes.  Let me tell you guys something: the old saw that says "look around the table - if you can't spot the fish, it's you" was 100% accurate for me.

I lost my stake in perhaps 45 hard-charging minutes, and I vowed that I wouldn't sit down at a casino poker table again unless and until I got a lot better. It was an expensive education.  It took me a while to figure out, for example, that I preferred NL to FL; longer still to realize that I'm shit in tournaments but reasonably successful in cash games. In fact, a propos of nothing, I sat down last night at BCP for a $.50/$1NL game and was up by almost a full buy-in before I started falling asleep and giving some of it back. God help me, I just love winning at poker.

Of course every bit of knowledge or insight I gained came at a cost; when FullTilt (ptooey! I spit on their grave) was around I would bust out regularly and have to refill my account.  But eventually I got the requisite 100,000 hands under my belt and learned the thousand or so things you need to know about the odds, one's opponent, and oneself to make a go at being a successful poker player.

At this point the biggest hole in my game is my reaction to a losing session.  Logically, intellectually, I know that I will have a losing session here and there; but they really spook me, so much so that no matter how much success I've been having, a losing session will prevent me from driving to Foxwoods and playing cards for months.  I have to learn to handle that better; to realize that it's part of the game, and that hitting one's stop-loss means get up from the table, head over to the buffet (after first making sure that it's prime rib at the carving station), drown my sorrows in sweet meat drippins, and drive home.

I have had enough success at 1/2NL that I'm ahead at that game, so logic would dictate that I should keep playing, which will have the added side benefit of me getting better.  I should, I ought to, I'd better - hollow phrases all, that shrink next to a phrase like I will. Overcoming that is the next mountain to climb, and if I make that, there actually might be some real money coming my way.

I really ought to try.  In any event, that's where I'll be this week. I'll let you know how I do.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wow. Just Wow.

So it's the dreaded second day after having fallen down several stone steps, and as predicted I'm in way more pain today than yesterday.  I feel like I've spent some time in an industrial clothes dryer. Maybe this is what it feels like to get your ass righteously kicked, an experience I've thankfully been able to avoid, despite going through school as a fat kid with a smart mouth.

Either way, I'm not moving unless I have to, because moving the right side of my body produces a moment when the good Lord sees fit to rear back and kick me a good one in the ribs, as hard as He can. This happens with any movement, be that movement of my body or my bowels.

It hurts like hell to laugh, but then again this sort of thing reduces by orders of magnitude any desire to laugh - indeed to take any pleasure in anything - so I guess I really lucked out there.

I'd like to extend a special thank you to those of you who saw fit to ridicule me throughout this little ordeal of mine - "those of you" in this case being synonymous with "all of you fuckers," including Tootsie, who took her shots, and perhaps most humblingly, Ursa Sucrosum, who despite being 30 years my junior has bestowed the nickname "Stair Master" upon me.  This will reflect poorly in any mention of him in my will.

So here shall I sit this weekend, watching shit like the World's Strongest Man competition because it hurts to get the remote, underfed and underwatered, with only an almost inexhaustible supply of decent herb to keep me company and to give me incentive to remain as motionless as possible.

Take pity on my wicked soul.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ouch, Explained


First, an update:  Notwithstanding the fact that I winced myself awake every time I moved, I nonetheless managed a decent night's sleep. The human body, and the mind that drives it, are both wonderfully adaptive:  I've learned the trick of sitting down and standing up mostly without pain, which is accomplished by putting as much weight as I can on my left leg and having that side of my body do the heavy lifting.  Also lifting my right arm is a little easier today. If I forget and, for example, scratch my eye with my right hand, instead of experiencing pain like I've been kicked in the ribs it's now a lesser, somewhat duller pain.  Put it another way: instead of it being a symphony of pain, it's, say, a three-person kazoo band of pain.

Also I've included some pictures to show you the theater of war, as it were:

An overview of the journey.  I opened the door...

Fell down these stairs...

 somehow twisted my body leftward, while my momentum took me right...

...and down these stairs, head first and on my back.
***UPDATE: I suspect I've got the trajectory of the fall wrong.  I remember now that at one point I came in contact with grass - remember I had no shirt on so that's something I'd feel - so I think the way it happened was more like this:

...making it all the more incredible that I didn't konk myself on the head.  I definitely remember sort of flying through the air for a tiny second, which this would explain too.  Oh, you should know that the cans aren't where they were, they got scattered pretty good by a half-naked fat man falling all over them.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


***2:00AM SATURDAY: UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF PAGE***After dinner, while taking the trash out, I lost my footing, fell down two cement steps (I was shirtless at the time), collided with the garbage cans, somehow took a right angle and fell down four more cement steps.  I was reduced to literally yelling "help! help!" so that Tootsie could come and get me, which she finally did. Only by wedging her body behind mine was I able to pivot my legs to the side to begin the process of standing up, which I did none too steadily.

I can't take a deep breath without a stabbing pain in my right ribcage; can't bend down or twist in that direction.  I think I've broken a rib or two.  My upper body is covered in strawberries of bright red. I suspect that when the shock wears off I am going to be in a symphony of pain.

I think I actually might need to go to the hospital this time.  Tomorrow should tell the full tale.

***UPDATE: It looks like I'll survive.  I've had six ibuprofen and my last two percocets, so maybe it's the meds talking but being in one spot is pain-free.  Moving is still problematic, but hell: moving is for the ambitious. I can take a deep breath without pain so I am optimistic about getting some sleep tonight.  Drowsiness overtaking me; have made and erased many mistakes. Even more reason to be hopeful about sleeping.  Proper update tomorrow.

Hey Waffles - is that all you got?

So Waffles, expert practitioner of the masturbatory arts and Josie stalker extraordinaire, told a tale of the "craziest thing [he's] ever done" on his blog today. Well, Eggo Boy, at the risk of string-raising your ass, I'll see your spank-cam, and raise you - well, I'm guessing this story will raise you, and let's leave it at that.

I don't remember exactly when it was but it goes without saying that it was many, many moons ago, when the world was younger and so was I. I was knocking about with a girl who really dug me and whom I really dug.  Yes, she was whip-smart, and funny in a witty way, but also she had no gag reflex and she could unhinge her jaw. One evening she had the house to herself and she and I concocted a little role-playing scenario. Here's how it went down:

I entered her house without knocking, she having left the back door unlocked.  Without a word I walked right up to her and started removing her clothes.  Within a few minutes we were going at it hot and heavy, still not having spoken a word to each other.  She took me in her mouth (to this day, the top 20 best blowjobs I've ever gotten have all come from her) until I was just about ready.  I came in her hair, all to the right of the part, and wiped my dick clean with the hair on the other side of her head. I have to say, it was fucking awesome. The scenario we concocted then had me zipping up, wiping the sweat off my upper lip, and leaving without a word, as silently as I came in - but I couldn't resist telling her "call me!" like a little pussy-boy as I left the house.  What can I say?  Role playing is one thing, but I loved
this girl.

Another time, where once again we were together and alone, she ended things by taking the, er, results of our lovemaking in her mouth, taking my hand, putting it palm-up, depositing said results into my hand, and looking me right in the eye, licking it back up into her mouth and swallowing it. I almost shot one onto her leg right then.

So there you go: two of the craziest things we'd ever done.

But listen, this is important: The girl who did this, did this not out of any sense of obligation, or because she was some insatiable satyress who just couldn't get enough.  We had unbelievable chemistry; we couldn't keep our eyes or hands off each other.  And we loved each other, but it just didn't work out.

I would have married that girl, were it not for the slight complication that she had no desire to go the distance with me. She wanted to keep it lighter than I did, and rather than just rolling with that and enjoying each other I proposed to her every day for a summer. I did not let her constant denials  (usually by saying things like "don't be ridiculous") stop me. It was a miscalculation that cost me the relationship.

But for a time - a short but magical time - I had it really, really good, both emotionally and nookie-wise.  I have to say: as long ago as it was, it seems even longer ago.  It seems like a million years ago, though thankfully the memories remain evergreen.

I miss her, and I miss what we had.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Best of the Crafty Southpaw: 20 Reasons Poker is Like Life

I got nothing.  But here's something I wrote back when I had six readers, and one of them is no longer around.  I miss you, DB Cooper, you plane-jumping Canuck...  Anyway, Enjoy!

20 Reasons why Poker is Like Life
  • You can do everything right and still lose.
  • You can do everything wrong and still win.
  • Sometimes the bastards win.
  • Sometimes the idiots win.
  • When the chips are down, you usually lose; but when you win under those circumstances it's incredibly sweet (and memorable).
  • Every so often you don't deserve what you get but you get it anyway.
  • There is no substitute for hard work.
  • You can be cruising along, thinking you have the world by the balls, and something will come out of nowhere to bruise and bloody you.
  • It's not what you deserve; it's what you take.
  • You will get the feeling that your friends, life, and God Almighty Himself are conspiring against you. Sometimes you will be right.
  • Coming in second place can win you acclaim, notoriety, and money - but it's a pale shadow to winning.
  • Having friends is more fulfilling than being a lone wolf. Defeats are softened, and victory sweetened, when shared with friends.
  • If you don't learn from your mistakes, you are bound to repeat them, over and over again.
  • Know thy enemy as you know thyself.
  • Chance favors the prepared.
  • Boorish, brash, uneducated behavior wins you little but the silent contempt of your peers, bearing in mind rule 4.
  • In a perfect world, you either win with honor or lose with honor. Sometimes your adversary does not believe or practice this rule - but you should still, all the more because he does not.
  • If you don't love it, it's an excruciating way to make a living.
  • If you swim in waters too deep for you, it rarely ends well.
  • There is always someone smarter than you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

How to Take an Offhand Remark and Turn it into a Weekend-Long Mindfuck

Have I mentioned I'm crazy?

I'm not talking about crazy like exuberant, like someone who grabs life by whatever protrusions life has that you can easily grip and does something to it while thus grabbing. I'm talking about batshit crazy, b'dee b'dee b'dee That's All Folks cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs crazy pants crazy.

Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Late last week, Carmel wrote a post in which she explained that reading TBC with regularity was becoming more of a downer than she was comfortable with, and has stopped reading him. She also mentioned, in a previous post, that she once let Grrouchie shoot a batch of baby batter into her hair, but that doesn't factor into this post other than to say, that's freakin' awesome.

Anyway, in discussing the TBC matter she rattled off a number of posts she reads and why she reads them.  Like the other posts she mentioned, she heaped great praise upon my little corner of the Inter-Tubes, but something she said stuck out: she said that some of the stuff I'd written recently "...really touched [her] heart."

And I know this is stupid, but for some reason, I'm struck by the weight of that statement.  It's almost like I don't want to just 23-skiddoo my way through a post, belching out the literary equivalent of empty calories, if people are reading me and getting a good feeling from what I write. Like doing that would somehow let people down.  I really have no way to defend this vainglorious stupidity other than to remind you, I'm fucking cuckoo-pants.

I've started three different posts this weekend, trying to strike a balance between humor and emotion and information and I'm paying so much attention to the tone I'm trying to strike that each post has been worse than the next, just absolute shit that would be turned down by vanity publishers.

I figure, the next thing I'm gonna write about is going to be something about which I feel strongly, and hopefully that will break this little spell.  Then I just might tell the tale of the time a girl let me shoot one in her hair.  Spoiler: That wasn't the most awesome part of the night.

Anyway, I wanted to say in front of everyone, thank you Carmel, you said some incredibly nice things about my blog and about me, and I won't forget it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When is a Trip Report not a Trip Report?

When I don't end up going to the god damned casino, that's when.

I was looking forward to going to Foxywoody, especially insofar as the Cranky one was going to be there to provide me with companionship and good humor - and since, as I seem to recall, it's her turn to buy lunch. Sure, she's not a fan of the buffet, but I could have convinced her.  I could have.

I sold a couple of pairs of Bruins tickets so I was flush without having to dig into the bank account.  Hell, I even stole a little notebook from Tootsie, with a matching little pen, so I could take down important hands and share them with you:

So what happened?  The fucking dog happened, that's what.  I suppose it was partially my fault, but the fucking dog wouldn't let me fucking sleep.  She was a model of good behavior to me - she didn't jump on me, run from me, disobey me, or anything like that.  But when I lay my head down to sleep she would wake me up about every 90 minutes by french-kissing my face.  At first I thought it was her telling me she needed to go out, so I grabbed her leash, clipped it on, and took her out - till I realized she was just fucking with me. Bitches, huh?  HA! Get it?  Bitches?  'Cause she's a dog, a female dog?  No? Well, anyway...

And sure, I suppose I could have put her in her crate, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that.  It seemed so selfish, to imprison a puppy so she wouldn't be exuberant and happy and want my company, so I could sleep.

When M and T got home, I was pretty well exhausted, but I was facing a 2-hour drive home, so I did the only thing I could do: I stopped at the nearest Dunkie's and bought the biggest vat of caffeine they offered. Which, of course, worked - it got me home a treat - but it also meant I didn't drop off to sleep until the wee smalls of the next morning.

Bottom line, I didn't wake up until a half-hour after I was supposed to be in Foxwoods.  I texted Cranky the situation, who bless her took it in stride.  I still wanted to see if I could make it there, so I jumped in the shower, got dressed, and promptly fell back asleep.  It was now almost 2:30 in the afternoon, so I made the final decision to bag the day.  Having made that decision by the way I promptly went back to sleep and woke up around 4:00 or so - and as I sit here now at 1:11 in the morning I could probably lie down right now and sleep for another 4 to 6 hours without tossing, turning, or needing to pee.

So now I've got $200 that Tootsie doesn't know about burning a hole in my pocket, the theft of a notebook for which I need to construct a cover-up, and a friend whom I've egregiously stood up.

Tomorrow's gonna be better.  Hell, it's got to be.  I'll be on normal sleep, I won't smell like dog, and I'll have access to cable TV.  Oh, did I mention?  No cable.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Listen, if there's anything I can do..."

Let's face the facts, ok?  By and large we are a society of insincere liars.  We say things we don't mean all the time.  We lie to make people feel better, to make ourselves feel better, to avoid an uncomfortable situation.  There are way more reasons to lie than to tell the truth.

But if you have a friend or loved one who has experienced a death in their family, and you tell them that you are there for them if they need anything, then by god and sonny jesus you'd better come through.

Frankly I don't exactly know why people are so reticent about keeping their word and coming through for someone; the feeling you get from knowing you really helped out a situation so far outlasts any temporary inconvenience that you may feel.

When Josie's father passed in October 2008, I was fresh off my own father's passing, having taken place that previous May.  So I knew exactly what they needed, even if they themselves didn't:  I took a cue from my uncle Alan and brought them something to eat.

Because when you lose a family member, even a family of lard-asses like mine just forget to eat.  My uncle brought over some salami and a jar of mustard, and even though I'm not particularly fond of salami I remember being touched by the gesture, to the point of tears.  Remembering that, and bearing in mind that the family is Sicilian, I brought over some good cold cuts - some of this, some of that, all Italian and all delicious. And of course they accepted gratefully because judging by the way they tucked in, it appeared that none of them had indeed eaten for some time.

But what really needed to happen, in that horrible day after, is a hard-charging day of planning and phone calls and logistics, and I offered to take U. Sucrosum off the family's hands for the day.  I was surprised - pleasantly -  to hear my offer gratefully accepted, so I scraped the first few layers of crud off my car and off we went to the New England Aquarium. And on the way there, it was my high honor to introduce him to the first real aspect of manhood: I told him, with parental permission, his first dirty joke:
Q: What's the last thing that goes through a fly's mind as it hits your windshield?
A: Its asshole.
It's a good one, yes? He was I think nine at the time, so he tried to be cool, but the more he thought about it, the more he just couldn't stop himself from laughing and finally admitted, "that was pretty funny."

I bring all this up because it informs what I'm doing now.  My pal M, who lives up in New Hampshire, and who has an exuberant 16-week-old Rottweiler puppy, needed to go to a family funeral today (very sad, the details - but out of respect I can't share them here) and nobody would put them up with the dog.  So when I asked him if there was anything I could do, he said, well, yes, could you come up here and watch my dog?

So here I sit, exhausted from being worked over by a 4-month-old puppy who is almost 40 pounds already, who enjoys all manner of physical activity, and who really wants to show you who the alpha of the family is.  Right now she is sleeping at my feet so I have a respite of about an hour, but after that I'm going to need to take her outside and run her around like a crazy person until she gets tired again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

But god dammit, there is something rewarding on a deep fundamental level about helping out someone in need.  And I find that the closer I am to the person being helped, the better I feel about doing the helping. It never quite occurs to me that way when I make the offer, or when I'm doing the helpy thing in question, but afterwards I'm able to tally up the karma points and I realize that I did ok in the exchange.

So don't be afraid of offering your assistance in situations like that.  Maybe the luckiest thing that can happen is that they consider you close enough to take you up on the offer.

That's all from me.  But this from Eva: woof woof.  Woof!! Ow ow awooooooooooo......

Thursday, April 5, 2012


What are your three worst personality traits?

It's an interesting exercise.  It forces you to face the worst of you.  Because, as they say, self-knowledge is the most important prerequisite to self-improvement.  Hey, if nobody's said that before, I should copyright that - that's friggin catchy.

I can tell you three of my worst right off the top of my head:  First and foremost, I'm intellectually arrogant.  I'm convinced I'm the smartest person in the room. I have to force myself to not correct people's grammar. I ridicule people who don't know words that I should think everyone should know - "quorum" comes immediately to mind, ha ha ha (inside joke). I make assumptions about people's intelligence based on their ability to manipulate the written word.  It really is my single worst trait.

For another, I'm a quitter.  I've never really finished anything big I've started, either because I'm too lazy to put in the work or I'm afraid that I might actually succeed at something, and THEN where would I be?

And the third thing, the reason for this post, is this: I cannot handle loss.  And that is a gigantic flaw, one that has dragged me down to dark places that I wish I'd never gone.  One that threatens ever to drag me down further still; down, down, down.

It eats at me. It gnaws at my free will. It destroys my desire to expand my life beyond these four walls.

Here's a couple of examples, one of which you know well:  a month from today it will have been four years since my dad's passing, this after an eight-year illness. I still cannot discuss my father for any length of time without choking up.  I pay lip-service to the concept of time healing wounds, but it hasn't, at least not yet, not for me.  I have learned the trick of forgetting, for a little while, a little while. But it's closer to the surface than it has any right to be four years after the fact. Because I just cannot handle loss.

Here's another example: I have this friend, who for many reasons I call "Other Dave."  Other Dave worked with me for years.  We were 2/3 of a running crew, along with the coolest chick I ever knew, Shmisty B.

Dave and I were tight. We were like Turk and J. D. from Scrubs. Like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen in The 40 Year Old Virgin. I was his wingman for the girl that he'd eventually marry.  I woke up early to drive him to the airport, for fuck's sake.

I was having dinner with him when my mother called to tell me that Dad had died. The next day he had to drive to Portland, ME, for some company function.  When he found out when the funeral was, he arranged for someone to take his place, drove from Portland to Sharon, MA, no small drive, just to stand up next to me - then he drove all the way back.

But Dave and I don't see each other any more.  He's got a family now, two beautiful children one of which I've never even seen. Life progressed.  That should be ok, but it's not.  It bothers me.  It hurts me.  Not because I feel any horrendous sense of betrayal, but just because I can't stand loss.

I fucking hate it.  I know that rational, thinking human beings can overcome loss; eventually of course we lose everything we have or are. But somehow I was just made without that particular trait, and until the old man passed especially, I had no idea to what extent that would rule my life.

Right now, today, it's even bigger than it's been lately. Today it's a fucking Giant. And I swear to god it's just eating me up.

Not a good day for the Kid.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cat Chronicles - Aftermath

Well it's been three weeks, more or less, since Pearl shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to meet her maker, rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.  And as I predicted, there has been a seismic shift in the feline dynamic of the house.

For starters, I have a new best kitty buddy. Everybody, this is Rusty:

The green cloth is my shirt; he's sitting on my right leg

Rusty, a sort of Creamsicle Persian, never - and I mean never - sat on my lap before. But now that Pearl is gone, I guess he feels free to do what he wanted to.  And within a week of her being gone, Rusty latched on to me and as yet hasn't let go. He follows me into the bathroom. He climbs onto the bed when I sleep.  And he sits on me or near me when I'm down here on the couch. In short, he is my shadow.

He doesn't like being held, though; that's a big difference between him and Pearl.  And he looks like a big froo-froo ball of fur but underneath that fur is a big, strong he-cat that won't be anywhere he doesn't want to be.  I often thought that all he had to do was kick Pearl's ass one time and life would get a lot easier for him; thus always to bullies, to paraphrase John Wilkes Booth. But Rusty's too mellow to use his powers for evil, as it were.

When he and Pearl were the new cats in the house, we still had Sarsaparilla and Bailey, who taken together we referred to as 'the rats.'  Rusty formed an instant friendship with Sarsaparilla, but she was really old and couldn't play like he wanted to.  I remember once he reared up and just pancaked her, just gave her an open-field tackle, trying to engage her in play.  Sarsaparilla was dazed for ten solid seconds, then walked away a little unsteadily.  Rusty got the hint and never played rough with her again, for the couple of months or so that she was still with us.  He's reasonably friendly with Maya, who in addition to being our newest cat is also Wolfie's daughter (hey Wolf! Show yourself! You're freaking me out with your silence!), though not best buds like I'd have liked.  But at least there's nobody darting out of the way when a bully like Pearl comes stomping around upstairs looking to cause mischief.

So, as regards the felinity of the house, things are good, with ever the prospect of things getting better.  Sure, I miss Pearl, sometimes a lot - you know that unconditional love thing, it's so rare and when it happens it's really cool - but Rusty is doing what he can to fill the gap, and just the fact that he wants to makes me happy.

Well that's the cat update.  And for the guys (and selected girls), here's another picture of a pussy.

Make a Wish, indeed...

Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Things About the Birthday Boy

I was just over chez Waffles making a comment about, well, arson and my dad's reaction to it, and it naturally made me think of the old man, because as I mentioned recently to my boy Lightning, today marks what would have been my dad's 79th birthday. And rather than drag you (and myself) through yet another emotionally-charged remembrance that will only lead to tears - mostly yours, and mostly of boredom -  I've decided to go a different direction utterly.  I'm going to tell you 10 things about my dad, what made him him, the things that made him laugh, the things that scared him, his greatest triumphs and a few failures too. Why 10 and not 25?  I don't have that kind of time, but if you guys clamor for it, which I doubt, I'll whomp up another batch.

1.  Dad just loved a pie in the face.  The Three Stooges made him laugh time after time. For being a man of surprising sophistication, his sense of humor was decidedly juvenile.

2.  He was a mechanic - the only Jewish mechanic I've ever heard of - and he could fix anything he touched, given enough time and a schematic. He saved our family tens of thousands of dollars over the years by fixing things around the house that mere mortals would have to replace.

3.  He had several professional certifications; he was a licensed Steam Fireman, Steam Engineer, Master Pipefitter, Oil Burner Technician, and more that I'm sure I've forgotten.  When he hurt his back in the '70s and feared that he would no longer be able to work with his hands, he studied and studied and became a licensed real estate broker.  That was the kind of guy he was.

4. One night on an unlit road near where he lived, he hit a pedestrian with his car.  He visited the girl in the hospital a few times until her family made it quite clear that he was less than welcome in their lives. It was a remorse and a disappointment that he bore, like everything else he bore, stoically.

5.  His mother died at sixty. He was afraid that he would suffer the same fate, and the day he turned 61 it was like a Volkswagen was lifted off his chest.

6.  From 1969 through 1980, he worked for TWA.  As a result we were able to fly often and inexpensively.  More than once we'd fly from Boston to San Francisco for dinner.  It was a good flight for us to take because, as non-revenue passengers, we needed empty seats, and the return trip, TWA flight 11, SFO to BOS, was late enough for us to have a good time and would almost always be nearly empty as it crossed the country back to Boston.

7.  Dad was an atheist but his shelf was full of religious books, arcane treatises on the finer points of Judaism, Talmudic commentary and lore, and explanations of ritual and ceremony. It's almost like he needed to KNOW that it was all a bunch of bullshit.

8.  When he was in his mid '50s, he took a hard look at his retirement plan and realized that he needed to do a better job providing for the family after he retired, so he quit his job and got the first job he could find working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  It was for the Mass. Water Resources Authority - the guys that ran the sewers.  For three years he raked shit through a screen until a job that used his skills came up.  He did this so that his wife and children could be better provided for.

9.  Dad could be generous in the most unusual moments.  He and I were driving in our hometown when a teenager ran a stop sign and hit us mildly.  He got out and made sure the kid was ok, who said "what the hell happened?" Dad pointed and said "you ran a stop sign.  But for chrissakes, when the cops come, keep your mouth shut about it or you'll get nailed to the wall. You don't know what happened, and neither did I. Trust me."  And he did, and he drove away with his license still intact.

10.  My mom, one fine day, took it upon herself to make a batch of home-made Kahlua. It was an odd choice; no member of our family drank, and we had bottles of it in our house for 20 years. I was regaling some co-workers about it and wanted to get some details from her.  I called the house but she wasn't home, so dad picked up the phone.  I asked him if Mom was home, he said no, what did I need?  I told him "I just wanted some details on 'the Great Kahlua Incident of 1977.'" He burst out laughing, a real belly-laugh, and we said goodbye with laughter still on our lips.  It was thus that in the last conversation we had, the last sound I ever heard from him was his raucous laughter. It wasn't exactly the good-bye I wanted, but I suppose I could have done a lot worse.

Jesus Christ, I still miss my dad so much.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Might Get to Try My Own Advice After All

I usually couch my news in flowery prose for a paragraph or two before I spill it, but I just don't have the heart today.

Toots has requested I leave the house, and has told me that she has engaged a lawyer and wants a divorce.

She's given me 24 hours to pack my things and go.  There's a couple of hotels around here that are pretty cheap and that have Internet access; I'll look for an apartment later in the week.

I'm stunned.  She was so calm about it.  She said that she'd been a fool to keep the marriage together all this time, that she should have done this a long tome ago.

When she gave me the news, the blood rushed to me ears and I could hardly hear her.  That kind of news is just staggering, you know?  For a minute I didn't know who I was or even what day it was. I was just completely shocked by her actions.  Even now I don't know if I'm angry or sad or even relieved.

Well, I supppose I should get packing.  I'll try and update later today.