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Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy Holidays Poker Friends

Well, Christmas has come and gone...and now we have the New Year to look forward to. Since I last posted, quite a bit has happened in my little corner of the universe. Not much of it related to poker, however.

Squirrel and I, along with my sister who was visiting from Milwaukee for Thanksgiving, traveled to Auburn to take in the Iron Bowl. In what has now become one of the most talked about Iron Bowl's in history...it left us feeling pretty deflated, and just shocked. It was, without a doubt, the quietest 281 mile road trip I've ever experienced coming home. I always have a bad feeling in my gut going into games against Auburn and LSU...but for some reason, I really wasn't fearing them this year. I really thought Bama would go into Auburn, and get the job done in convincing fashion. If anything, I had a bigger fear of what Missouri might have to offer.

We all know what happened. No need to rehash things. The next two weeks were spent dealing with all the media BS regarding whether or not Nick Saban would leave for Texas...who as of this moment, STILL doesn't have a new coach. Well, luckily, Nick is sticking around Tuscaloosa. My friend Barth, who's Dad works for the Sugar Bowl committee, was able to fulfill our order for 7 tickets for the Sugar Bowl...in great seats, all at face value...so a nice contingency of us will be heading to New Orleans next week for the game vs. Oklahoma, to see off AJ McCarron and several other guys headed to the NFL...and hopefully kick some ass and finish 13-1 and the #2 team in the nation. Bitter as it may be.

A couple weeks ago, I got a last minute call from Barth, wanting to know if I wanted to come to Sunday Night Football between the Saints and the Panthers. Hell yes! So I hot-footed it over there, and was surprised by the appearance of David Nicholson and Ashly Butler,  who are now living in Barth's sprawling estate in Metairie! It was a great game...and of course, we had great seats. The Saints won in convincing fashion...to the team they turned around and lost to this past week...and now they  need to win this  Sunday and get some help from the lowly Falcons to win the division, or they will be getting in as Wild Cards...not what they had in mind a month ago when there were sporting a 8-1 record.

We ended up leaving the game early to go play cash game at Harrah's. Yes,  that place that I am supposedly not allow to play. Hell, I don't know...maybe there is only a ban on me when it comes to WSOP events in venues owned in Caesar's-owned properties. Since I walked in and everyone was very friendly to me, including the poker room manager, who I chatted with for about ten minutes,  and who invited me to come over and play the Bayou Winter Classic last week.

Well, what was going to be a session of maybe 2 or 3 hours turned into a marathon session of 24 instead. Why? I have no idea. It just did. Part of me really missed playing poker. And I was having my way with the table. It was almost too easy. For about 6-7 hours my stack was sitting between $1900-$2200...I was avoiding those horrendous 'runs from hell' much to my surprise. I had a pretty good feeling that I could get to $3000 and then call it a day. But I was also getting to the point where Squirrel was getting increasingly annoyed that  I wasn't home yet. Understandable. Well...things were going great, until Troy Gibson showed up. Troy is a great guy...from Atlanta, and I've known him quite a long time. He's a big businessman up there...has a pretty good amount of scratch. And so when he sat down, hammered, at our 1-2 table that I'd been destroying...I knew the shit was about to hit the fan.

I was right. He announced that he was all in, in the dark...before he even got in his seat...and we learned from the chiprunner...that he was in for $849. Yeah. That was the number...as he was fumbling ones and fives from his pockets. So that is how things started. Great. The once predictable fabric that I had managed to weave into this table had been suddenly upended. Total chaos ensued. And as I sat eyeballing my stack of $2100...it dawned on me...this is what always happens in these situations. 'That Guy' whether he be a complete dickhead, or a friend of mine who is shit-faced and just 'wants to have some fun' shows up...and everything goes to hell in a hand basket. 

What to do. On one hand,  Troy is always entertaining...and I always like seeing him. So I kind of wanted to watch the show. On the other hand...I didn't want me and my stack to get caught up in the crossfire. And I didn't want to be a pussy....you know, folding hands 10-10 and/or better...but you and I both know, it takes very little to beat ANY hand..even aces...which, by  the way, he did...as well as KK...with garbage hands he hadn't even looked at. Oh, don't get me wrong....he wasn't winning them all. Him and his $849 quickly became $2500...before falling down to $340...he'd win some, lose some...then eventually have to reload. 

I finally got sick of folding good hands for $150 preflop...and moved to the only other table playing 1/2 at that hour. It was a pretty shitty table. Not much happened there for two hours, and finally I returned to the other one. I would, in fact, end up having my 'hour from hell' where I was losing hands in the most incredible fashion....good hands...up against, you know the drill, shitball hands...and was doing my damnedest to bite my tongue. But when I got down to $700 I was kind of coming apart at the seams. I put together a late rally about the time that Squirrel was DEMANDING I get my ass home and 'rejoin my family!' I go it back up to $1300...then cashed out. Went and had lunch...then drove home.

I was back in New Orleans last week...giving Barth a check for my Sugar Bowl tickets...and going to see a friend of his, who is a diamond broker. I figured it had been 3 or 4 years since Cheryl lost her engagement ring I bought her into the Gulf of Mexico...and I was tired of looking at my wife without a ring on her finger...so Carley and I took the drive over there...and we bought 'Mommy' a new ring for Christmas. It looked almost identical to the one she lost, only the quality was about 3 times better...since this one didn't come from Zales, who I've learned, sells a rather inferior product for what they charge. Never, ever, will I shop at Zales again!

Cheryl took charge of the whole Santa operation for Carley....after we drove 7 hours from Florence (North Alabama) on Christmas Eve, we arrived home at 3am...completely beat. But I took Carley to bed, and Cheryl did all the work, and when Carley woke up and walked into the living room, she squealed and came running into our bedroom all excited. It was pretty special. I got out the video camera and started recording. I tell you...before Carley came along, the holidays were all pretty much dead to me. I could really have cared less about them. But now, with Carley,  they are magical. I decorated our front of the house for Halloween, and for Christmas put up the best light display in the neighborhood, which required a lot of crawling around on our steep roof. Not easy stuff. But seeing Carley's face, when those lights went on...made it all worth it. 

So it's been like 3 months now since I played a live poker tourney. Part of me is itching to get out there and compete. But another part of me has really, really enjoyed being home, and just taking care of Carley, and being a good dad and husband. We have been able to do so much together...and my other businesses have been going really great this fall...so I haven't had any pressure to go out and play. Which is fantastic. I have sort of a desire to go and play Choctaw in January, and maybe the LA Poker Classic in Commerce and/or possible the Venetian Deepstacks out in Vegas in February. But I don't know...like yesterday, I simply went to run some errands, and Carley just freaked out that I was leaving. And I think, what will she do when I leave for 10 days to play poker?

The thing about having something at home that you love so much...is if you leave, you have GOT to be winning, otherwise, you are just ten times more miserable and depressed than you would be under the normal circumstances when you are playing and running bad. I mean, I won't miss her any less if I'm winning, but at least I can justify it by knowing that what I'm doing is going to benefit us in the mission to get us a house...which continues to be...and probably will until it happens, my primary goal from here on out. We have got to get out of this stupid rental situation. Meanwhile...my rental house in Pensacola is again vacant, as the Marine that was living there got 'his orders' and had to vacate in November. So once again....no rent coming in from there. Sucks. Hopefully, my leasing manager over there gets someone in there by the new year.

I've been keeping my eye on what's been going on in poker. I see who is winning. Some of the same people. I scan all the Facebook posts, and see all the close calls, and the bad beats...and the same old stuff that you always hear about when and where poker is concerned. I miss very little of that. I no longer consider myself a 'professional poker circuit grinder.' I would say what I am now...is a stay-at-home-dad...who occasionally will venture out to play some poker...and hope to get lucky! Some people think you need to be constantly playing to be successful. I even used to think that was the case. I have changed my way of thinking on that. Poker is NOT that complicated a game. Once you know all of the major fundamentals...it really becomes a lot more about patience, and plodding, and knowing your opponent...and there is no amount of time that I can take off that is going to make any of those skills diminish. In fact, if anything, the time away might actually make me a better player, in anything. I guess we'll find out when I decide what, if any, tournament, I decide to travel to and play.

I hope you all had a great Christmas...and that the Holiday season in general has been good to you and your families. Everyone stay safe this New Year's Eve...don't drink and drive! And good luck to you, whatever it is you do...in 2014!!!

MONKEY

Friday, November 22, 2013

Okay...A Blog.

Alright. I'm only doing this for two reasons: (a) because some of you keep badgering me to write a new blog. (b) I have a cause I would like to talk about. Mostly because of (b) because frankly, I feel almost out of place being on a site that talks about poker when I have played ZERO poker in over a month, almost two. Oh...I tried, one night...to go play poker. I did.

We had just finished watching Alabama beat LSU (again...yaawwwwwnn, just kidding, beating LSU never gets old!) and were at a club I didn't know existed in Ocean Springs, which if you aren't from Biloxi, I should tell you is just about 5 miles away. The club was a blast...with outdoor stages, and a big bonfire that people were gathered around. I hadn't drank in over a month...and I guess it showed. I was pretty well  lit by the time we left Oren's place...BIG O's, (also in Ocean Springs). At some point I decided I could pick up a flaming log from the pit and hold it in my hand like an idiot. My thumb is  still in recovery.

I had decided I was in the mood to play some live poker that night. So once most of the 'friend crew' had left...I made my way to a taxi...and headed for the Golden Nugget, previously called Isle of Capri. The switchover happened a few months ago...but none of the marvelous renovations have taken place yet. Supposedly, the poker room is or was supposed to be really kick ass once that was done. So....wanna guess when that is happening? Yeah. Now. I arrived, and learned that it was closed, due to...yep, renovations. Perfect. So I played blackjack for some damn reason. 

Oh I remember the reason. There were no cabs. Huh? Had to call for one. And there was a BJ table right inside the door...so to kill time I sat down and bought in for $100. 4 hours later...I cashed out with $650. Nice. Unfortunately, the wife was pretty pissed that I was out all night and hadn't called. Whooops. My bad. So I gave her half my winnings to try and ease my way out of the doghouse.

So yeah. No poker. Later in the week, I had a little free time, and decided I would try to get online and play on Lock. I log on. And in the lower right hand corner...I see...WHAT? You gotta be kidding me; a total of 274 players logged into the site. Worldwide! Huh!??? And predictably there was little to no action to play in anything.  Which got me thinking...."Hmm...maybe some of those guarantees are ripe for the raping!" So I looked at the tourneys. Nope. Lock has just lowered those to ridiculous number...like $75 Guarantee! Seriously? Well, I think it's official that Lock is seeing their already flickering flame about to be doused once and for all. 

I have a $500 withdrawal request in the pipeline, and another $500 still on the site...which I am assuming I can kiss goodbye. I just don't see it ending well. My check request was made 7 weeks ago. I sent them another email yesterday asking them for a status update of my check. The way I feel about that $1000 is about the same way I feel about the $1000 that this buddy (loose use of that word) owes me...for over 4 months now...the same guy who, when I was kicking ass at Venetian back in 2008 or 09 or whenever it was...who was my roommate that summer...had 10% of my action all summer, and never cashed once. Nope, I spent all summer forking him money...per our agreement. Yeah, it was slightly aggravating. But a deal is a deal. The roles could have easily been reversed, I've seen it a thousand times. Oh, but speaking of thousand...that's what he owes me...and for the past month won't even respond to me, my emails, text messages, phone calls. Lovely. Well, I guess the price of my friendship is only worth $1000 to him. 

Why haven't I played any circuit events? Easy. I  haven't felt like going anywhere. And there haven't been any events that I felt were 'GOTTA PLAY' events. Squirrel and I are thinking about ramping up our day care plan for Carley...from 2 days a week with our personal sitter...where she is often times the only kid...to a full daycare plan...where we have the option of taking her for 1 day a week, or the full 5. We visited several to see what we thought of them. They all have really positive things about them...and they are pretty affordable. The best thing, I'd say, is that it enables her to spend time with other kids...to grow from a social perspective. I mean, I  love being at home with her...we have become so close, and it's so amazing watching her grow, and learn...and sometimes I just don't want to be away from her. But I know that isn't probably the right thing to do. And walking into these places, and seeing all these adorable kids all laughing and interacting with each other...in an environment where they are taught things...well, it hit me, that was a no-brainer. She needs that. 

So I  think we are going to start her about the 2nd week of January. And coincidentally, that happens to be around the time that some poker events I might want to play start popping up on the calendar. I liked that place in Oklahoma enough to return there. See...I've been out of commission so long I already forgot the name! I think they have a big event there in January. (oh yeah, Choctaw) Then in February there are quite a few events, including the big event at Commerce Casino in LA. And funding for poker certainly isn't an issue...I just want to  pick and choose and give whoever decides to buy my package the most bang for their buck.

I see someone won the WSOP Main Event. Yippee. Didn't watch one minute of it. Could care less about any of it. I was surprised that JC Tran didn't win. He must have really run bad, because that guy was hands down the best player at the table and started with the most chips. Had to have run like shit.

I notice the Gold Strike in Tunica is closing their poker room. Wow. Now, I can only assume this also means they will no longer be hosting any poker events. It would be odd to host a big poker event and yet not HAVE a cash room. I can only wonder what the reasons are for this. Once upon a time, Gold Stike was a mecca for big poker events. Back in 2004, it was where I  made my first ever final table, during the WPT event there. It was exciting. I would have other runs there...like the one in 2008 when I final tabled 7 nightly tourneys in 10 days...winning 3 of them. It was one of the sickest runs of my career. Well, I heard they are doing major renovations at the Horseshoe...which would be more exciting to me if they weren't owned by Caesars. Yeah...that irritant with Caesars still exists. 

Read a funny article the other day. Not sure where. But in pretty clear language it was made painfully obvious that Caesar's Entertainment now is carrying more debt than any creditor will effectively loan to them because of. I'm not sure about all the fancy language, but basically, they are like a hobo walking in off the street wanting to buy a house. Poker is on the decline. We all know it. The signs are everywhere. And currently the brand WSOP is probably the one thing Caesar's owns that is worth anything. Which...to anyone with common sense, is why they will probably be selling it before too long. 

And yeah...I would maybe be more excited about that happening, if it didn't mean that all the Caesar's-owned hotels and casinos would be still be managed using the same infrastructure and the same people. So any bogus '86' that has been entered into the system against an individual, won't just disappear overnight. I have made no effort at all to try to have my 'situation' overturned. Despite having a very positive conversation with the person who was supposed to have been the reason it happened in the first place. (Yana, the female dealer at Horseshoe Hammond who I was supposed to have harassed) I mean...what path would I take? Who would I talk to? It has become more about one guy wanting to win his personal battle (for whatever stupid reason) with me than it is about what I did or didn't REALLY do. I mean...I'm pretty sure I could show up at the offices of Caesar's with this girl, and profess to anyone who would listen that nothing happened between us verbally that should have ever seen me get booted from not just the property but ALL Caesar's properties...and as long as THAT GUY has it in his head that he wants me out of all WSOP events? He will put a finger in each ear and start making that humming noise that little kids do when you tell them something they don't want to hear.

Combine that with me wanting to stay home more with Carley and Squirrel, and my growing disdain for poker in general...as well as my disgust at the growing, almost offensive amount of juice being charged at their tourneys...and frankly, it has become awfully easy to just go on about my way and not let the riff with THAT GUY and THAT COMPANY cause me any unrest. Simply put...I just don't care that much. If I want to go play poker...somewhere, there are plenty of places I can go to play. Plenty of places with large prize purses. I will reiterate, the ONLY tournament I regret not getting to play...is the WSOP MAIN EVENT. Because of the structure, the exposure, and the gigantic prize pool, that would enable a guy like me to make a massive score and just disappear...well, from the poker world anyway.

So...my cause? Here's the thing about causes. People who know me know that I have this blog. And that I get (or used to get, before I quit posting 5 or 6 times a month) quite a few readers checking in here. A lot of people know I have an email mailing list of 1800+ as well. And so, I have been asked a lot to help them out with certain causes. It's tough...mainly because I hate ever saying no to anyone. But in the case of my mailing list? I use that expressly for my various pools that I  run year-around. Those people get my e-mails willingly, but to me, they get them with the understanding that they are pool-related. So that keeps it from being SPAMmish in nature. 

Well, about the time I start bombarding them with 'other' emails...like numerous causes...well, human nature, especially in this generation, is to get annoyed. Even skeptical. And the last high-profile cause I got behind...raising money for the family of Casey Jones...who passed away two summers ago...and was a friend of mine for years, ended up leaving a very sour taste in my mouth. When I was ASKED...by a woman who knows I have a bit of a far-reaching influence in the poker community...to help the family, my immediate reaction was "Great! Love to! Tell me what you need me to do!" On that day...they had collected something like $600 if I recall. (don't quote me...lets just say it was a low number) I got behind it 100% posting the link to donate money on my blog site, touting it on my Facebook, blogging about it...and even put together a Last Longer bet at the Main Event in Bossier City last year, which was eventually shut down by their Head of Security after I'd already collected $2200 from 22 players, including myself. 

Incidentally, the winner of that...was a guy who I had no contact info for...and went bonkers trying to locate. At one point, Mike 'Carwash' Schneider had him at his table at a tourney in some other city...and my name came up. I told Carwash to give him my number...and have him call me so I could get him the $1100 I owed him. (half went to the family, half to the winner of the last longer). The guy never called. Well, finally this past summer at Venetian, he ends up at my table. "Are you Monkey?" Yeah...what's up? He announced himself to me. Whoa! Well come here, I have something for you. And he was cool enough to tell me I didn't have to give it to him right then. I mean...sometimes, that's all a person has on their person. But no! I wanted that money OUT OF MY POCKET! I do NOT like ever owing people money! So we squared up, and the book was closed on the Casey cause/ordeal.

Ordeal? How could raising over $20k become an ordeal you ask? Well, because I guess when you have haters out there...and they sure are easy to get when you play poker...you get the cynics, who want to run around speculating that you are doing it for 'another reason.' That somehow you are benefiting from it financially. Or that I was doing it to get attention. Yeah. Attention. For what? Raising money for a dead friend? Some people are just pricks. I used to think people who are pricks were usually born pricks...but lately, I've changed my mind. Because I see a lot of kids now...and there is no kid that is a prick. They are all so cute, and innocent, and sweet. And harmless. Certainly not little pricks. Nope, not yet. Something happens to them along the way...that turns them into pricks. And those are the people I deal with, it seems, too often. 

All I can do is try to ignore the pricks. Pricks who like to write things about me in their blog. When they have no idea what they are talking about. Or are trying to deflect their own shortcomings. Pricks who like to go around talking shit about me. When they know what they are saying is simply something he wants people to think about me. What those pricks don't realize...is that most people can identify a slimy little prick weasel, by the way he says things, by the way he carries himself...that anything that comes out of his prickish mouth carries almost no credibility whatsoever. In fact, the only ones who really buy in...who take the story and run with it...are his fellow pricks. It's kind of just one big Prick Community. I'm not positive, but if I had to guess...I would imagine they even carry membership cards identifying themselves as pricks.

And so...this experience with pricks, has 'caused' me to be a little nervous about getting involved in anything where I might have to run the risk of being seen as an opportunist in any way. The best kind of causes, are the ones where I can donate my time, or donate money anonymously. Anyway. I will get to the point.

You might see a charity link in the upper right hand corner of my blog right now. There is a gal who is a very dear friend of mine. Her name is Nikki Ivey Moore. Moore was just added to her name last year, when she married another friend of mine, Brandon. They both used to be dealers on the WSOP circuits for years, back when I just started playing. I got to know them really well. Nikki eventually worked her way out of the box and into a supervisor's role. For whatever reasons, Nikki and Brandon both stopped working for the WSOP. They worked some independent events, and even got out and played a little bit. I remember in the past year, they both won a satellite into the Main Event for some event in the Caribbean. I was excited for them.

Well, Nikki's father had a bout with cancer years ago. He underwent a very arduous battle with it before finally beating it. Which made it all the more difficult to deal with, both mentally and physically when the cancer returned...now more aggressively. It is the kind of cancer that insurance won't get involved with. The expense in treating it is astronomical. But through a ton of research, and following up with one reference after another, they were able to track down a clinic in Japan who has some ground-breaking form of treatment that has been showing amazing results. Well, they decided they HAD to get her father to this facility. They don't come to you...you have to go to them. So Nikki contacted me, asking me how we did the charity for Casey. 

I told her I wasn't the one who started it, but that it was run on this GiveForward site. I told her I wasn't a big fan of the site...mainly because they don't have a way to accept PayPal payments...which to me is a 'must have' these days in anything you want to take online payments for. I also wasn't really thrilled with the percentage of the funds they take for their 'administrative' fees. But the pros I guess outweighed the cons, and she decided to go ahead and use them to help promote her charity for her father. So I signed on to help, making a small contribution from our family and adding the link to my blog page, as well as posting it on my Facebook. I've been checking back on it to see if they are getting any closer to their goal of $30,000 and it's obvious they have a long way to go...and only about 30 days left to raise the money.

Look. I get it. Christmas is around the corner. We just had the Typhoon in the Philippines. We just had 70 tornadoes rip through Southern Illinois and killing people there. (now, if karma was working it's magic...there would have been a certain prick who lives in Southern Illinois scooped up into one of those funnel clouds and dumped in a sewage plant 30 miles from his home) There are a lot of people out on the sidewalks ringing their bell asking for a contribution. Certainly, there is never a shortage of places to make a heartfelt donation for a good cause. I'll be honest. I've never met Nikki's father. So I have no real connection with the man, or major reason to want to see him win his battle and go on to live a healthy life. But I do know Nikki...and I know what a sweet, wonderful person she is...and that alone, is my motivation to help her. I have a daughter now...and I know she loves me. And I would like to think that 20 or 30 years from now...if I was in the same boat...that she would do the same for me.  I watched my wife drive in the middle of the night 7 months ago...to be by her father's side in Birmingham for a life-threatening surgery...and sit there with him for four days...while I was home taking care of Carley. 

He would survive the surgery...and come to stay with us for 6 weeks, while he recovered from the incredibly dangerous procedue. We were happy to have him here, he got a chance to get to know his grand-daughter...and Cheryl got to spend time with her daddy. Then, out of nowhere...he was struck down by a heart-attack...right in our living room. Efforts to save him on the way to the hospital failed. Looking into the eyes of my wife was one of the hardest things I have EVER had to do. I didn't know what to do, what to say, how to act...other than be strong, and supportive. It was horrible. Cheryl has had moments over the months since his death, where she cries, missing her dad. The most recent, was during Cruising the Coast, an annual event here in Biloxi, that her daddy used to come down for every year in his old, restored pickup...and take her cruising with him. Sometimes Carley is laying in bed with us...and will start waving and saying 'Hi!' to the ceiling...and Cheryl has almost convinced herself, I think...that Carley is being visited by Granddaddy Sonny. 

Some people think babies/toddlers have the ability to see and communicate with the dead. Who am I to say it's not true? I  mean...it would make sense right?

The point is...little girls losing their daddy's is something I've had first-hand experience with...and it's terrible. And so I would like to help Nikki avoid losing hers. So I am asking you to help her out. Not for ME...but for her. That's it. That's my speech.

It's Friday. Carley is at the sitter. I have promised myself that I'm going to the gym today. Squirrel is out in the kitchen doing this thing that drives me crazy....going through ALL our food and throwing out everything that has an expiration date on it. EVERYTHING. And you may be saying...well, duh! But you would be shocked to go through your cupboard and see just HOW much is in there that is out of date. I just stay out of her way...otherwise, I end up battling for certain things I don't want her to throw out...and we get into a big fight. And no...she won't donate it to the needy. She considers that mean. Okay...I fold!

Alright. There's your blog folks. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. I wasn't born yet. But its amazing how much we've been taught about it since we've been alive. I wonder if we will EVER know the truth about what really happened on that fateful day? Movies have been made, books have been written, certain 'witnesses' who could have been useful in proving what happened have mysteriously vanished or died from unusual circumstances. It's truly one of the biggest tragedies and mysteries of the 20th century. RIP President Kennedy...your legacy is still felt, 50 years later.

MONKEY

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fun Times In Phoenix!

I now am the proud owner of TWO World Series' rings. One for poker, and one for baseball. Okay, okay, so it's not exactly the one that the Red Sox and Cardinals are currently vying for, but it still looks awesome...and is the result of an amazing run by our team out in Phoenix, that went unbeaten through the championship game...and then, trailing 15-9 in the final inning, scored 6 innings to tie it up, send it to extra innings, then win it in the bottom of the 10th! 

It was pretty amazing...and really topped off a great week, where I wreaked havoc on my 46 year old knees! I felt great while I was there, the anti-inflammatory the doctors gave me worked like a charm, along with the pain remedies that followed post game. Everything felt good all week, in fact, even my back. Then I got home. And it hit me the next day. Knees tightened up like a drum. Back pain returned. Oh boy.

In a full week of baseball I played in just about every game...the last two I caught 9 innings in both games. I got a lot of at bats, and actually hit pretty well the first few games...then I kind of slumped towards the end of the week. Not sure why...baseball, always frustrating! We had a great bunch of guys for this trip. Chad Brown wasn't able to make it, nor was Chris Bruno, my old roommate from my days living in NYC and struggling to be discovered in the acting business while pouring drinks and serving food for random strangers. 

One of the guys we had on the team was a guy named Sean Pamphilon. Name ring a bell? Probably not. Well, he is from New York, and now lives in my former hometown of Redmond, Washington where I went to middle school and High School. He was there to make a movie, called 'Never Was Been' about a guy who always wanted to play baseball but never did...and who got the chance to relive his childhood through our experience. It was pretty cool. He had cameras set up all over the field for all the games. I got to know him my first few days there and really got to like him....way before I  found out what his 'claim to fame' was. 

Remember 'Bounty Gate' with the Saints? Of course you do! Well Sean was the guy who was doing the story on Steve Gleason of the Saints...when he kind of stumbled into some sound bites regarding the business surrounding the scandal that eventually led to the numerous sanctions, fines and penalties that essentially destroyed the Saints season last year. In talking to him about it, it was clear that he hated the position that he was put into...but has no regrets about how he handled things on his end. I think any of you reading this who are diehard Saints fans are screaming at your screen right now....asking me what is wrong with me!!! But you know, every story has two sides to it...and to hear his story? It was really an eye-opener. But honestly, its 2013, the Saints are 6-1, with a nice two-game lead in their division,  and looking great. So why fixate on the past.

Another guy on our team...Brian Blakely, I  played with back in 2010 with this team.  Well, I  had no idea he was an anchorman on my local TV station back home in Seattle, KCPQ. Well, we just happened to be chatting in the dugout during one game, and this guy's name comes up. Bill Wixey! This guy Wixey, we went to Rose Hill Junior High together way back when. And now, he is the guy doing the sports at that station with Brian. Bill and I  have since caught up with each other on Facebook. Things like that make those kind of trips really special. I had a lot of great experiences like that all week, getting to know guys I would otherwise never have a chance to meet in life. One of the things I really, really miss about playing sports, baseball in particular,  is that great time you have in the dugout with the guys, talking about just ANYTHING...and all the good-natured laughing and ribbing of each other. It's like being a kid again. 

During the week, I had a visit from a buddy who lives out in Phoenix and deals at one of the casinos out there; Tony Dick. Tony is a good guy. I've known him for a number of years...and he even came out to watch us a couple years ago when I  was out there playing in the same tourney...the NABA over 45 World Series. Well, we had a night off, so Tony and I went out to eat, then went to a local casino to play some poker...The Walking Stick casino in Scottsdale. It was really nice. The poker room was massive. And the players were....well, they sucked. To my delight.

I sat in on a 3/5 game...and bought in for $200. They have some pretty goofy limits there but once you get used to it, it's no big deal. Well, it didn't take me long to run my $200 up to $600. Unfortunately, Tony was sitting in on a Omaha 8-or better table and couldn't win anything. After about 3 hours he'd had enough...and I told him I'd take a cab back  to my hotel and save him the hassle. Plus I was thinking,  the way things were going....I would very likely end up paying for my whole trip in one cash game session. Air fare, hotel and food for the week totaled about $1000 and I was about half way there already. 

Then...as it always does...it happened. It? You ask?  First came the guy with the European accent of some kind. And the dark glasses that sat on top of his head, until he raised...which was about 8 out of every 10 hands. Then he would pull them down. Then came the second guy. Covered in tattoos, most likely stoned, and dumb as a fucking post. I immediately got a bad vibe. For three hours, I had taken this table, and all the players, and molded them like a fine putty...and wrapped them around each of my fingers...taking one pot after another...not huge pots...but nice,  respectable, stack-building pots. 

The dynamic was perfect! As it has been in several other cash games I've been a part of, where  I  was running exceptionally well.

They destroyed it. Mostly with the ridiculous raises. Which always leads to all the players getting pissed off, they stop respecting (or fearing) the raises, and you get 7 or 8 way action for $21 or $35 (those were Euro dick's standard raise amounts) to the flop. Which is marvelous if you hit a flop and drag a couple of those pots. But as most of you know...these type situations in cash game almost always lead to unmitigated disaster. This would be no exception. Much to my dismay. But it was just like every damn thing  I ever seem to experience in poker, where it always seems destined to lead to disappointment and/or disgust.

On one particular hand...someone had straddled for $10 under the gun. Tattoo-stoner makes it $30...which gets called by about the whole table. I'm in the big blind and have 10-10. I make it $120 to go. Figure this might just take it down, or maybe thin the head to one. I am partially right. Tattoo boy calls, as does Euro Jerk. Great. The flop comes K-8-3. Fucking king. How does this guy not probably have AK?? I have $450 behind now...and any bet I  make, and he shoves all in, I can't really call. I decide to check and see what he does. He bets $125. Ugh. The other guy folds. I guess I  have to give him credit for the king, and I fold. I almost went over the top of him with an all in re-raise...and sure wish I had. But he'd just sat down like three orbits ago, and I really didn't have much to go on with him...so I decided I would just learn a little more first before doing anything crazy yet.

I fold my tens face up. And what does he do? He shows two sixes...then says "Ahhh I don't usually do that,  but I figured I had to rub this guys face in it." Huh? Did he really  just say that? I leaned forward and said to him..."You felt the need to rub my face in it? Why? Based on what? The last 6 minutes we played together? The only six minutes I've ever played with you in my life? And the first hand I've played with you heads up? That is what earned me the right to have my face rubbed in it with you showing the bluff? Okay...wow!"  And yeah...I have his picture. But I still haven't uploaded all those pictures from my phone and I don't really feel like doing it now. Maybe later.

So now I have one guy I want very badly to bust. But what was missing was the necessary angst. I  mean...I didn't even have history with this guy....of ANY kind...how am I supposed to allow myself to get 'worked up' enough to take him on? It was stupid.  He was stupid. So fuck it...I pulled my headphones back on and went back to watching NetFlix. 

Then came a monster hand that I should have stacked off the Euro jackwad with. I look  down at KK under the gun...and limp for $5. Someone two seats down makes it $15. Sweet. Maybe. I hope. Everyone calls. Euro-douche re-raises to $45...which was NOT uncommon for  him. He was a chronic re-stealer. Well, I was going to make it hurt this time. I raise to $150...leaving $200 behind...yeah, I  was down to $350 now. Everyone else folds but this jerkoff. He calls. The flop comes 10-8-3...rainbow. He goes all in. I remind him that I'm first to act. He pretends to be surprised. Idiot. 

I check. He goes all in. Fuck it...whatever...I call. Do I  even need to tell you what he had? Yeah...10-8 off suit. For $150 preflop. It holds. I wanted to puke. It went on this way for two more hours.  I would win every once in awhile, lose even more often. He continued to play like a stupid asshole...while his stack  would fluctuate between $100 and $1200. And I'm just sitting there asking myself...when I KNEW it was one of these GUYS...and it was about to become one of these situations, why...oh why...did I not get up,  rack up my chips...and move to another table of guppies that I could abuse for a couple more hours, cash out with 800-1000 probably, and leave with a good taste in my mouth? 

Instead, I lost the $200 I bought in with. Then discovered they didn't have actual 'cabs' out front...that I would have to take a 'town car' back to my hotel. Lovely.  $40! But in fairness, it was a nice car, the driver was nice...and there was zero traffic back to the hotel...which was about a half hour drive...so I guess $40 wasn't probably that bad. 

I haven't played poker since I've been home...which has been about three weeks now. What I have done, is buy Squirrel and I a new bed! And went ahead and financed a new couch and love seat...since I've been hating our furniture for years now. Rooms to Go...I  am now their bitch for the next two years! But I  am LOVING our new bed...and the couches are great! I've been spending a lot of time with Carley...and loving it. This week we put up some cool decorations for Halloween and I carved us a few pumpkins. I'm pretty excited to take her out trick-or-treating...although every time we try to  put her in her costume she freaks out...and wants no part of it! 

Seahawks, Saints and Alabama keep on winning...and that's been a lot of fun. Big game coming up next week vs. LSU...not as big as it MIGHT have been had LSU not lost at Ole Miss a couple weeks ago. And with that in mind, we are trying to decide which ONE game we want to go to this season....the LSU game, or the AUBURN game. Well, tickets for the Auburn game...AT Auburn, are a LOT cheaper than the LSU game in Tuscaloosa. We went to the LSU game in Baton Rouge last year...and Cheryl has never been to an Iron Bowl...so we are kind of leaning towards going to that game. If Auburn can get through the rest of their schedule, that game could be for the SEC East win and a berth in the SEC Championship Game. Damn, Auburn could come in 10-1...what an amazing turn around for them under first year coach Gus Malzahn. I mean, I'm a big 'Bama fan...but it's much nicer to see Auburn being good than sucking.

A long time blog reader of mine...and a guy who makes a comment once in a while on my Facebook, contacted me the other day about an opportunity coming up in February, the week of my birthday. It involves running a poker boot camp on a cruise ship. Basically, I  would be tasked with running the boot camp for 3 or 4 days probably during this 7-day cruise, and in return, I would get to bring my wife and Carley...for no charge! Neither of us have ever been on a cruise, and when I told Squirrel about it, she was very excited. So, I hope that ends up panning out. I think it would be a lot of fun, and a good experience. Frankly, I was extremely flattered to be asked, or even considered to do something of that nature.  Anyway, I'll keep y'all posted on the details of this...and if it happens, get you the information if you want to take part in the cruise, which will feature cash game tables all throughout the cruise,  and culminate with a big tourney near the end of the cruise.

That's probably enough for now....right?  Time to get some dinner, then take my nightly bath with my little buddy...who loves the baths almost as much as her daddy!

MONKEY


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Heighth of Pathetic

Sometimes, things happen that render you speechless. Literally, speechless. I mean, for a guy like me, who has little difficulty finding something to say about almost anything, to be left in a state of utter, dumbfounded silence is shocking to even myself.  Yeah, well..it happened last night.

I get a text message sometime around the 8th inning of the Red Sox game...after they had just hit an improbable grand slam...after being no-hit into the sixth inning for the 2nd night in a row...to tie the game at 5, a game they later won, thanks to Prince Fielder being a lousy infielder.

The text message read:  "It's pretty lame when Scotty wants to blast u in his blog and he has to go back in time and use some other asshole to try and do it."

Well, I hadn't read whatever 'God' had posted about me. See, I have other things I consider more important in my life than keeping tabs on what Scott Clark's up to in his 'ruining my life' mission of his. Things like...oh, breathing. Eating. And sleeping. But out of curiosity, I decided to take a look to see what depths his royal lowness had sunk to now.

I had kind of a feeling what I was about to read. Much to my surprise, I was totally wrong. I guess that the 'one' I was thinking of, he has decided to keep in his 'bag' to use at a later time. He actually threatened me with 'that one' a month or so ago. And when he did it, all I could do was laugh at what a joke he had turned his little self-created war against me into. 

There is a guy named Tim Vance. I guess he is from 'God's' (as he likes to refer to himself) neck of the woods...that being the St. Louis area. I don't have exact dates...but we will call it five years ago, I was in New Orleans...and was having a pretty good year in poker. It was May. It was late one night in SNG-land. This mouthy little guy was bragging about how great he was..and since I'd had a few cocktails, I fell into the trap of engaging him. At some point, I made a bet with him that would lead to a long, drawn out dispute with this guy. I bet him $5k that I would finish the year with more P.O.Y. points than him.  Later that night I discovered he had luck-boxed his way to a win in the Main Event in Copenhagen, Denmark...in an EPT event...which gave him a ton of points. But regardless, I elected not to back out of the bet...feeling confident enough about how my year was going. ( I think I was trailing him like 2400 to 1800 at that point)

With all the people running around out there who owe me money for side bets made with me...that for one reason or another, have decided to welch out on their obligation, I can honestly say I've never welched out on a bet in my life. I also don't owe anyone money. Granted, it's become a full time job trying to collect from those who owe ME money, for one thing or another. My little poker club closed down three months ago...and I am STILL trying to collect almost $1000 from various people who KNOW they owe me money. Some of these are people I THOUGHT were pretty good friends, who have just torched me with one lame excuse after another. There is something about someone owing you money...that after a certain time...I think they just assume you will either forget about it, or get tired of asking them for it. And also, once you get to about the 5th or 6th time of asking them for it...you almost start to feel guilty asking. At some point, you almost feel like YOU OWE THEM the money. I've become convinced there are some people who have mastered the fine art of not paying people back the money they owe them. 

If anyone has a secret to getting people to pay you money...that doesn't involve bodily harm or destruction of someone's reputation (to an extent), I'm all ears.

So back to this bet with Tim Vance. Like I said, I was fully on board with trying to win this bet with this guy. And then I get ambushed. Yeah this must have been 2008, because it was the year I won the All Around at Venetian that summer. I had just won an event there, and had all that bullshit happen at Caesar's, because of that schmuck from Austin, Texas...who went running like a little bitch for since-fired Jim Pedulla, when he stirred up shit with me then freaked out when I invited him to go 'off property' after we'd bagged up our chips for the night and I had one foot out the door to settle whatever 'issues' he had with me. A pre-existing 'situation' with Jim Pedulla, where he loathed me because of my bashing of his event (structures, scheduled time of events, etc) in my blog led to him using this as an excuse to disqualify me from the event with 18 players remaining and me 3rd in chips coming back. 

To make it worse, he called over to Jeffrey Pollack at WSOP and painted a picture of this raving maniac Will Souther, who needed to be banned from all WSOP events until further notice. They took the bait. And my summer of chasing big scores ended. That also cut me off from all circuit events after the summer as well. No need to rehash that nightmare. It's just another in the long line of horseshit I've experienced at the hands of those wonderful folks who never investigate both sides of anything.

I see Tim Vance somewhere in the future, can't for a second remember where it was. But he mentions the bet. And I just tell him, point blank. "Tim, I was booted from WSOP for some bullshit, and am 86'd from all their properties. I'm also not permitted to play at the Beau Rivage...so my available venues to compete and try to beat you in POY points has been reduced to nearly nothing. So, I'm not going to be able to continue with this bet. Sorry." This is where most people/players I know would react like I would.

"Monkey...that sucks man. What a bunch of pricks. Yeah...no big deal on the bet...I pretty much thought it was in good fun anyway. But even if you were totally serious about it...I can't possibly hold you to it now. Hope that shit gets cleared up...good luck."  And that would have been the end of it.

Oh no. It wasn't. He flips out. Then tells me I should pay him like $1000 to back out of the bet. What? I tell him he's being ridiculous. We argue some more about it. And finally I basically tell him to go fuck himself. 

He goes on to talk shit about me for I don't know how long. I get a call from a friend a year or two ago that there is some 'little fucker who looks like he could be the mascot for Notre Dame talking shit about' me at Borgata. He asks me the story. I tell him verbatim. And he goes back and tells Vance if he says another cross word about me at the table he's going to pull him off the table and beat the shit out of him. I guess he stopped. 

So when Scotty 'God' Clark opines several weeks ago that he was going to 'introduce Tim Vance to the club members' all I could do was chuckle. And when I got this text message from my friend last night, who had seen idiot's blog...I just assumed he had unleashed 'The Mighty Vance' on the world to further sully my pristine reputation. (yes I am saying this with dripping sarcasm, for those stupid enough to think I THINK I have a pristine reputation)

Shockingly, I was wrong. What I saw...instead, resulted in me being...as I mentioned at the start of this blog post...SPEECHLESS. You know that look you get on your face? Where you squint your eyes, the skin wrinkles a little on your forehead...your eyes dart back and forth a little bit...maybe you scratch your chin? That was me. 

This is where Scott dipped down to for his latest 'attack on Will Souther.' I don't have an exact date. Scotty obviously does, since he had to scroll back through all 700+ of my blog posts to find it...which in and of itself, I find pretty disturbing that ANYONE has that kind of time on their hands...but just to ball park it we will say this occurred 3 or 4 years ago. 

It all involved a guy named Gary Bolden. Gary and I really got off on the wrong foot. For a good while, I hated the guy. And I'm pretty sure he hated me. It was a mutual dislike we had for each other. I wrote a post about the guy. I actually said complimentary things about his poker game. But also suggested he was a racist. He's black. I was probably wrong. As I've gotten to know Gary, I've learned that he dated and had a child with a white waitress I know quite well at the Venetian. Something else occurred a couple years ago, at the height of my disdain for Gary. I was suffering from a kidney stone, and at one point, I had to get up from the table and find a place to lay down on the floor, writhing in pain. Gary came over to check on me. That said a lot about the guy. Later, we would have some of those moments that poker players can only understand...those non-verbal 'conversations' you have with each other at the table that usually result from there being something funny or stupid at the table that you both find amusing.

Bottom line? I wouldn't say Gary and I would ever go on a camping adventure together...but were push to come to shove, I think we would likely have each other's back. A lot of people I am friends with in the poker world, I started out thinking they were a piece of shit. That's just life. Sometimes, there are people who we are more alike then we would like to think we are.Gary is one of those guys.  So whatever...what Scott's purpose was/is for dredging this up, I can't even begin to comprehend. Scott does and says a lot of things that defy any semblance of logic. This would be one of those examples. 

My problems with Scott have for the most part been resolved. There are things that have transpired in the past two weeks that I am not at liberty to share or discuss with the public, but lets just say, anything Scott does to endanger me or my family, whether it be in writing, or in actual acts of aggression, will end badly for him, from a legal standpoint. Pretty much everything he is doing now is under observation. But knowing him like I've come to know him...and thinking he exists on a level that is WAY above the rest of us mortals...he will do or say something stupid, that will end up blowing up in his face. I sure hope so...I'm counting on it. Nothing would make me sleep better at night knowing that lunatic is sitting in an 8x6 cell eating three horrible meals a day while dodging a guy named Bubba's sexual advances.

More about the Phoenix trip in my next post. Me and Squirrel have decided we can't sleep another night on this horrible mattress. Sick and tired of waking up with an aching back. For a week in Arizona I woke up with NO back pain whatsoever...and as soon as I get home...BOOM! It's back again. And since its Columbus Day (I just found out!) maybe we will luck into a sale of some kind!

MONKEY

Monday, October 7, 2013

Oh the Joys of Flying Commercial!!!

What would a trip be without first being threatened with getting thrown off the plane? Pretty typical, I guess. I've just about HAD IT with these angry, old, bitter flight attendants and their attitudes. You would never know we actually PAID for our seats. I feel sometimes, more like a holocaust victim being loaded onto the cattle train to be shipped off to Auschwitz then I do a paying customer who paid an upgrade for extra leg room. (too much?)

So...I get to GPT a FULL hour early. I started out the trip by making the flight on time. An improvement over my last trip OUT of GPT...the worst, slowest airport on the planet. Got through TSA and their three-times-more-than-humanly-necessary screening process with no issues. Hmmm...two for two so far, hard part out of the way, I think. Board the flight. And oh boy...there she is. Oh we need a picture for this one, don't we? Bear with me. Yeah okay...here's the witch.




Let's discuss carry-on luggage. There are LARGE carry-ons, that WILL fit on most airplanes. However, there are times when, due to a large number of passengers, they will frequently order you to check it with the plane side valet, then give it to you once the plane lands. In my carry-on, I usually pack my laptop and a bunch of other things I need to have for my trips. The main reason I hate checking that bag...is three-fold. (1) I once had them LOSE my bag during that 'simple procedure.' (2) I once had someone take my bag instead of theirs on accident, leading to me missing my connecting flight. And (3) I've been the victim of missing my connecting flight on THREE separate occasions because I was stuck standing there in the jetway waiting on my carry on. So...understandably, or it SHOULD be...I'm very hesitant to use that method.

Then you have SMALL carry-ons. I own one of each of these. The small one is REALLY small...but sometimes, it is suitable. And if I know that I have a small window to make my connection, I don't want to risk it, so I take the little one. This is what occurred on this trip. So the last thing I'd have an issue with, was THAT. I was wrong. Witch Helga here...as soon as she sees my bag, barks at me that I have to check it because it's too big. We (for the record, for you aviation enthusiasts, are on a CRJ-200 Bombadier) are flying on a plane that is MORE than half empty....so storage space is NOT an issue. I look at her, tell her I have a short window to connect in Dallas, and really need to KEEP my bag with me...that my bag fits just fine, and that the plane is half empty or more.




Now she changes her story. Oh! Now it's a matter of weight...that the balance of the airplane is the big factor. You gotta be kidding me. I inform her that my carry-on only weighs 17lbs. (I weighed it when I was checking my baggage, in case I needed to move some stuff into it if I was over 50lbs on the other bag) She then got this evil look on her face...and asked me if I would like to take the next flight? Since I was at the front of the plane, and the cockpit door was open, I turned to my left and asked the pilots if this was really a legitimate case she was making for why I couldn't bring my carry on with me? One of them turned to me, and simply asked me to please check my bag. I wasn't winning against this bitch. Fuck it. I gave it up. And predictably, when we got to Dallas, it took forever to retrieve.

I take my seat. Actually, I don't, someone else is IN my seat. I had paid extra for an emergency exit row seat. More leg room. I told the guys not to worry about it...I didn't want to upset the bitch, and really just wanted to sit down. But him and the guy next to him realized they had sat one row back too far...so insisted they let me have my exit seat. Thanks guys. I moved. Oh...well she saw this and came racing back to see what all the 'shenanigans' were about. They told her they were in my seat. I ignored her. Then she asks to see my ticket. I showed it to her. While glaring at her. She seemed angrier...knowing I would be 'allowed' to fly to Dallas in relative comfort. 

A few moments later...a guy who was jammed into his seat with a large fat guy next to him, tried to move up to one of the (I counted them) 26 empty seats in front of row 10. TWENTY SIX empty seats! She ambushes him. Tells him he has to take his assigned seat! Claims that she will 'ask the captain if he can move after we take off.' He sits back in his seat looking like a 5th grader who'd just been sent to the principal's office. My whole section of the plane was now cracking jokes about her...calling her 'The Dictator' and other nice things.

She comes back to address us passengers in the exit rows....demanding we give her a verbal answer to each question. You know the drill. If the plane goes down in a fireball, will you stay here and be willing to open the exit door. Will you assist your fellow passengers who are missing body parts get off the plane? Will you take those who are on fire and roll them down the escape slide in hopes that their burning body stops, drops and rolls effectively? To each question I stared straight ahead and served up a very monotone, "YES." That pissed her off. I think waking up in the morning has to piss this lady off. "Fucking sun! Again!??? Arghhhh!!!!"

We get in the air. She comes back and tells the guy the captain declined his desire to move to a seat where he would actually be comfortable. More mumbo jumbo about the weight balancing of the plane. You'd have thought we were flying in a hang glider!

She gets on the microphone to start another one of her stupid in-flight speeches, this time about her fabulous beverage service that we have to look forward to. Then it hit me. Oh My God! This old hag is a frustrated wanna-be news caster. It was all she ever wanted to be in life...was an on-air newscaster. But her ugly, rotten apple face prevented any program manager from every scaring the American public and causing him/her to lose their own job when ratings fell through the floor. Every accent, every final word of each sentence, the proper inflexion of heightened pitch to her voice on the appropriate words. Oh...this was like Broadcast Journalism 101 class all over again! I was cringing every time she got on that damn thing. Lady! Please...no one is going to discover you working on this flight...or any other. Just talk into the mic like the miserable human you are, who hates her job. Oh, she thought it would be so awesome, and glamorous when she joined up with the airlines. She didn't care that the pay sucked...the travel, the glamour, the famous people she would meet...it would all be worth it...just watch!!!! AND...AND!!! She'd be discovered!!!

Ha! I lived with an apartment building FULL of American flight attendants when I first moved to NYC back in 1989. I had three as roommates. It was hilarious listening to these people every day. What they THOUGHT they were getting into, and what they ACTUALLY were getting into. They were some of the unhappiest people I've ever experienced. Always bitching. 

Here comes the beverage cart. I knew when she arrived in my neighborhood, I'd be the last one she waited on. That's fine. Didn't really care. My turn! I request a LARGE cup FULL of ice (they never give you enough, and the soda is always warm, so the ice always melts before you've finished- I recommend always asking for a FULL CUP of ICE!) and a full UNOPENED can of Coke. This is how you guarantee getting a whole can. Hey! I paid $450 for this ticket...I feel I'm within my rights as a paying customer to get a full can of coke instead of a half empty can of coke. Well, bitch from hell informs me she doesn't 'have anymore full cans of Coke, only two half empty ones)...which I'm 95% positive was a fucking lie. Coke is the most popular beverage on that cart. And she was only half way through her service...on a HALF EMPTY plane! Who is fooling who here? Fuck it. Since I'm looking at 6 full cans of Sprite, or Sierra Mist (whatever!) I ask instead for a Sprite. Besides, you've all seen the video of how horrible Coke is for you...so whenever I'm moved to choose something else, it's actually a bit of a victory. (WHY SODA IS BAD FOR YOU....click)



"We don't CARRY SPRITE!!!!" Yes, of course, then please give me a Sierra Mist. She got this look on her face like I had just defeated her in 'Battleship'...sinking the last ship in her fleet. Oh she was PISSSSSSED! Ha ha!  I sat back and enjoyed my Sprite (whatevvvvver), one delightful sip at a time...then started thinking to myself, "Hmmm...wonder what the chances are she will have cops waiting for me when we land in Dallas?" I could see it happening. I decided to put some odds on it. 14/86. 14% that I was going down. It didn't happen. I escaped the clutches of injustice.

Ironically, my next leg...from Dallas to Phoenix? Wonderful flight crew. Could not have been nicer. I told them, while waiting on the bathroom, about my previous experience with 'Debbie!' They both agreed that the women working on the American Eagle side of things tended to be a little grumpy. Understatement of the Year right there! I arrive in Phoenix to gorgeous 77 degree with a slight breeze blowing at 4pm. Five of my baseball teammates arrived moments later, and we shuttled it to our hotel. A hotel that is already on my nerves. The internet doesn't work worth a damn...the water faucets both deliver scalding hot water...which is great for brushing your teeth. My A/C didn't work. One of my teammates TV didn't work. They over-charged my credit card...then I had to go Accounting 101 with them to get it resolved. Sigh. But...it could be worse, I guess. (honestly, not sure how)

We had two games yesterday, one at noon, that we won 6-2 and one at 4pm that we won 10-0. All the batting practice I put in last week really paid off. I beat out an infield fielders choice in my first at-bat, with a sharp grounder to short..then hit a long double to left in my next at bat. In my 3rd at bat...I struck out...going after a pretty nice slider this guy threw me on a full count. He broke my bat on the previous pitch, an inside fastball that I fought off. On my fourth and final at bat of the day...again on a full count I hit a line drive to right that the guy managed to make a nice catch on...and I stranded a runner at 3rd. All in all, I felt great with how I swung the bat...the first game at bats I've had in two years, since I was here playing with the same team, and a lot of the same guys. I was really hoping Chad Brown was going to make it out here again...and he still might. He might just come and not play...which would be fine...just hanging out with him would make the trip worth it. My ex-roommate in NYC 20 years ago, Chris Bruno, who is a working actor in Hollywood, also played on our old 'National Network' team when we played in NYC over 20 years ago. He didn't make it here two years ago...and now it looks like he won't make it again. Sucks. Jim Davidson, also an actor, who starred on Pacific Blue a few years back, and lands a lot of other roles in things...and is just a really, really great guy...who when he was here two years ago, was fighting a serious health issue in his neck. Well, he beat it. And is back to the old 'Jimmy D' I always knew and looked up to. He is here..and played great yesterday. Like always. 

We have a great bunch of guys here again. I'm sure we will have a good shot at winning the whole thing. The winning teams get these really nice rings. I mean, they look like World Series rings. I guess that would be pretty cool! We are scheduled to play something between 14-16 games in 7 days! So playing time shouldn't be a problem. My knees....well, I went to see my doctor the day before I left, and he prescribed me a 6-day anti-inflammatory thing...take 3 pills on Day 1...then another 3 that day....2 and 2 the next day (today) then 1 and 1...then its done. My knees the past two days have felt GREAT! And my back isn't even bothering me too much (yet) right now...so maybe I'll get through this week unscathed!

Well, Squirrel and I are no longer undefeated on our rooting interest football side of things. Well, she is I suppose, more of a diehard Saints and Crimson Tide fan then a Seahawks and Husky fan. The Huskies and Seahawks both lost in the final minutes, to take their first loss. I was pretty bummed...but the Dawgs only fell one spot in the Top 20...which means they obviously won a lot of respect. But I'd have sure been a lot happier with the win...propelling us to about 8th probably, heading into a HUGE home game vs. Oregon this week. Seahawks should go to 5-1 at home against Tennessee. 

Has anyone watched the new show on NBC? 'Blacklist?' What do you think of it? Here is my take. It's a combination of the Hannibal Lecture trilogy and Homeland. You have the slightly troubled female agent...who the subject insists on working with...kind of like Hannibal did with Jodi Foster. The Reddington character, played by James Spader is at times entertaining...but I find him to be way smirky, and too much of a smart ass and know it all. I think anyone, in the real world, who carried his kind of personality, wouldn 't last three days in the convert ops world. And for him to have all this information about ALL these terrorists? Never happen. It's impossible. It's almost insulting to the intelligence. And perhaps its because I've read too many Tom Clancy (rest in peace Tom Clancy, he died last week) novels, and Vince Flynn, as well as Stephen Coonts and a few others. It's very amateurish to me and farfetched to really enjoy it. And Spader's character is just not one that I'm going to be able to tolerate for much more than two or three episodes before I have to cut it loose.

I would like to extend my congratulations to two very good friends of mine who became the proud parents of new babies this month. Jennifer Gay and Stephen Pique welcomed their baby boy, Carter to the world...and our webmaster and friend 'Wild Bill' Phillips and his wife Jessica also welcomed a little boy...who wasn't named upon arrival, but I think has taken on the moniker of Landon. I could be wrong...but I think that's right. The huge list of my friends that have been having a baby since Squirrel and I had Carley is astounding...or maybe you just pay attention to those things more once you have one of your own. Joe Cutler, Jason Young, Josh Brikis...whoa...all guys with names starting wtih a 'J'...and then Jenn Gay. Okay now its getting weird. Oh hell's bells...add another one, my Florida roomie, Joe Hebert...who also had a boy after we did. That's five J's. Who did I miss? Oh, I can break the string...my friend Weronika Starr had a baby boy this year too. Baby here, baby there...babies everywhere! And my 'little' Carley is approaching a year and a half...and she is in the top 99% of babies her age for height. She is going to be very tall. I hope not Amazon tall, though. She is getting so funny...she cracks me up every day. Leaving her was SO hard this time. And she is walking all over the house looking for me I'm told. We tried to Facetime yesterday, and she refused to look at me. She's mad at me. Cute I guess. Sort of.  :(

I have played NO POKER in over two weeks. And it feels awesome! I don't know what's going ON in the poker world, and I could care less. Sorry, to those who live, breathe, eat and sleep poker and only care about poker. Then again...most of those who are poker junkies don't read my blog anyway...so big whoop!

This little mess, this uh, character assassination that is uh, well that I touched upon in my last post? That I promised a 'mini-series' breaking it down and explaining 'my side' of the story? Well, I followed up as I mentioned I was going to do...contacting my local field office of the FBI, to see if there was anything I could do to protect myself and my family from this maniac. Never realized just HOW many offices they have. I had the choice of Mobile, New Orleans, or Jackson, MS. Or speak to the office in St Louis. (GO PIRATES...by the way!) 

Then I get out here to Phoenix, and find out one of my teammates, works for the FBI! How ironic is that? Well...it's been expressed to me that I not put the details of what's going on with this person who most of you know...on my blog. For a variety of reasons. Trust me...there is a side to me that REALLY wants to set the record straight, and turn the tables on this asshole. But there is always the argument that karma will catch up to him eventually. Karma or Federal charges...one or the other. I just don't want to defy their advice to release as little information about this as possible. So to those of you expecting to read about all this BS with this jerk...I'm sorry.

I will tell you this. He has a bit of a God Complex. He literally refers to himself in a recent blog of his...that just MIGHT appear on this site that I blog for (that just MIGHT be the third listed blog down on the left hand side) ...wherein he declares himself  "Like a God, I am the Grand Architect of it All, The Final Word!" When I think of this person...there is only really one word that consistently comes to mind.  R-E-P-U-G-N-A-N-T.




Okay...it is now 9:30am. We are leaving for our game at 11:30. And I want to get loose by swimming some laps in the pool that is right outside my room. Nice chatting with ya!

MONKEY