Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Talking to the Enemy

[Content Disclosure: 0% Poker, 86% Politics, 34% Evil Empire, 3% Stem Cells, 4% Abortion, 5% Taxes, 6% Iraq and/or Afghanistan, 7% Economy, 19% etc.]

It seems the Republican Party is writing itself a platform and it also seems they have decided to take open comments from the public. I know they may not listen but what the heck it is really an amazing release to express yourself to the enemy. Now if the Democrats would only do the same I could be doubley satisfied. Anyways, you have to register and I am sure you will get some email solicitations from the RNC but what the heck you get those internet jokes from your relatives anyway, so why not get a laugh care of the Republicans.

You sign-up here. And after they send you a password, they also prompt you with all of the issues you really want to yell at them about, it's so handy that way. I got to tell them about stem cell research and abortion... Oh and gay marriage, the war, immigration and faith-based programs. It really was an interesting release, sorta like yelling into a cyclone. And some poor young staffer is going to have to read those and think the devil incarnate has internet access.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

100 Things About Me (2008)

[Content: poker 8%, me 100%]

As some but not all of my readers know, bloggers often "out" themselves with a list: "100 Things About Me". I recommend this exercise to everyone, even if you only share the results with your cat. This is actually my updated 100 things about me, revisited from just over a year ago. Further tweaking is in progress.

1. I do not have a tattoo or any piercings.

2. I was All-League in football in high school, so were all three of my brothers.

3. I was born in
Detroit but only lived there a year and a half.

4. I grew up in a rural village of 1200 in Michigan near Ann Arbor (Dexter for those who care).

5. I have lived with four women in my life; this total does not include lesbians, my mother or my sister.

6. Only one relationship ever got anywhere near the conversation that begins: “4½ yellow gold with….”

7. I got my undergraduate degree in political science from
Kalamazoo College in 1969.

8. I received a Ph.D. in East-West Psychology in 1999 from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

9. I have been quoted in Business Week.

10. I will be a published co-author before this time next year.

11. I was Jane Fonda’s bodyguard for a day.

12. I once grew my hair for two years, it never reached my collar.

13. My beard used to be dark red, now it would be dark red and white-grey.

14. The title of my novel in process is: “All My Friends are Nearly Normal.”

15. That has been the title for over twelve years.

16. I went to a Catholic grade school. The school, church, rectory and convent were all on the same block as our house.

17. I skipped from the 4th to the 5th grade in the middle of the year.

18. I rang the “Angelus Bells” at the church three times a day for five years, got paid $20 a month.

19. I don’t wear jewelry, cologne or chartreuse.

20. I volunteer at the SPCA shelter in the cat wing.

21. 99.4% of my clothes are cotton.

22. A google search for me will find a lot of papers presented to the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.

23. My academic friends think that same google search finds a lot of strange poker references.

24. The most important feature of a car is head room.

25. I taught real estate in LA in the late 70’s.

26. I once sat next to a perfect Madonna wannabe at a dance performance, this was during the underwear-on–the-outside phase; she had the costume down perfect. Later, I noticed the guy she was with was Sean Penn.

27. There were seventeen academic awards for boys given out my senior year in high school. I won them all.

28. I write under several pseudonyms.

29. I won $4800 in my first ever major poker tournament. That remains my second biggest win ever.

30. The first hand I was ever dealt in a live poker tournament was pocket Aces, the game was later busted by the Ohio State Police.

31. When working for a major Japanese corporation the president of the division laid off 25% of the employees one morning, called everyone else into a meeting and gave a 90 minute lecture on our new austerity plan. When he finished he said: “I will take questions now.” Then he looked at me and said: “If you ask a question, you’re fired.”

32. I once received a job evaluation that read: “I have no idea what Tim does; we prefer not to ask. Overall rating: Excellent, perhaps.”

33. I have run several political campaigns in the 70's, none of my candidates won but none of them ever served time in prison either.

I have voted in every presidential election I was eligible for. I have never voted for a winning presidential candidate and I won't in 2008.

35. I have only voted for one democrat and no republicans for president; McGovern of course.

36. In the 1972 election, I voted for ten different parties.

37. I have a lengthy rant/tirade on third party voting, which no one is required to hear more than once; on all future renditions you may leave the room or shout me down.

38. The last presidential speech I heard was Richard Nixon’s resignation. I enjoyed it way too much.

39. I don’t believe in the Cartesian mind/body split.

I got my first passport to study in Germany in 1968.

41. I used my second passport to go to Antarctica in 1980.

42. Third passport took me to Singapore & Bali in 1997.

43. I was using my fourth passport in Australia in January 2007, when I wrote the first draft of this list.

44. The have an deeply repressed attraction to redheads.

45. I have about six dozen favorite quotes. Among them: "An ass is but an ass, even though laden with gold."

46. I think that The Simpsons is a brilliant commentary on American culture.

47. When anyone says their family is dysfunctional, I ask if they have ever seen The Osbournes.

48. I have many qualities that resemble a hibernating bear.

49. I love my friends more than my family, except for one wonderful brother.

50. I have never been arrested. Once a young, eager officer considered it (1971 anti-war demonstration) until his more seasoned partner said: “…that guy outweighs you by fifty pounds and I'm not helping you if he resists.”

51. I have only three addictions: chocolate, oxygen and that other one.

52. Apocalypse Now is my favorite movie but not the director’s cut.

53. Catch-22 was once my favorite book.

54. Annie Lennox is my favorite female singer.

55. I really love cats and I am fond of manatees.

56. Microsoft Word is sheer brilliance; its creator is a chauvanistic ass.

57. Three of the most remarkable women I have ever met, all live in Texas.

58. The other three I met in San Francisco.

59. I have lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Germany, LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

60. I am the middle child of five; I am typical of a middle child.

61. I am an Aquarius, double Capricorn.

62. I read Tarot.

63. I have some limited shamanic abilities.

64. The best vacation of my life was in Bali.

65. The second best was Key West.

66. Favorite Band: Genesis before Peter Gabriel left.

67. Favorite Music: Nessa Dorma from Turandot.

68. Susan Sarandon, Steve Buschemi, Val Kilmer, William Hurt

69. I discovered I was buddhist in Singapore.

70. I write about poker better than I play poker.

71. The most important part of a movie is the dialogue.

72. After the writing comes the music, except Koyaanisquatsi.

73. I am fascinated by images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

74. I prefer Charlie Rose to Bill Moyers, most of the time.

75. “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” is empirically true.

76. I do not watch nor follow team sports.

77. I do watch the Super Bowl commercials.

78. I eat the M&Ms by color, dark to light.

79. I can’t skate or ski.

80. I don’t believe in sports where your legs often go in opposite directions.

81. I was employed for several years as a demi-god in several virtual reality worlds. It was type-casting.

82. No matter what some relatives say, I am paternally Italian.

83. My mother’s maiden name was Gillespie, which has got to make me part Irish.

84. Is my favorite number but not my lucky number.

85. Grey is my favorite color.

86. I have made love in hell.

87. Until I was 35 everyone thought I was older than I was.

88. After I was 35 everyone thinks I am younger than I am

89. I lived in Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach but I never, ever lay on the beach.

90. 1984 was the first book I ever stayed up all night to read.

91. I owned a mortgage company in Manhattan Beach, CA.

92. I lived with a woman named Faith.

93. I got hit by a car driven by a woman named Hope.

94. I was asked to have coffee with a hooker named Charity and she really did want to have coffee.

95. I do not eat fast food of any kind.

96. I will eat a hot dog, no matter how many snouts and lips are in it.

97. I will eat chocolate anything and will do most anything to acquire it.

98. I once camped for a weekend with 7 gay men, 6 lesbians, and 4 newborn kittens.

99. I have only one prejudice; I abhor voluntary stupidity.

100. I will listen to almost any thoughtful position, unless it violates the limits referenced in ninety-nine.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Rooting Interest

[Content Disclosure: 96% Poker; 17% Being a Fan; 15% The Book; 47% Life]

For the poker fans in the reading audience, I am going to be a lot more detailed, explanatory and even simplistic in this post because some of the readers of this blog are not hard core about our game, in fact, some of them can't tell a straight flush from a post oak bluff.

For the last six days I have been watching Mike Matusow play poker. This means standing at the rail (the rope that keeps the fans back) or grabbing a seat in the crowd when Mike was playing at the feature table or worming my way into back areas that my media badge did not exactly give me access to. Watching poker live means seeing only some of the hands, a few of the cards and less than a satisfying amount of the action and table talk. I assume everyone who comes anywhere near this blog knows that I am working on Mike's biography along with my Austin writing partner Amy Calistri. So you see my interest in what has played out the last two weeks.

To be fair "watching poker for the last six days" is actually a temporal anomaly. The Main Event of the World Series of Poker is playing over two weeks and for the uninitiated this is how it goes. There are four first days, the huge field (6,844 this year) is divided into four flights because there simply is not facility able to deal poker to more than about 2,000 players at a time. In fact, only the World Series has fields that go over 1,000; just consider the math of space, tables, dealers, chips, even playing cards and you have some idea of the scale of such an event. So I did see Mike play on his "day one" but there was really no need to watch him all the time or as it is called in the parlance: "sweating a player."

After the first flights the field was down to something under 3500 but still there were two Day Twos and as with the first day, I watched Mike on and off during the 12 hours of play each day and did some other work and yes, I went home to bed earlier than the players who begin play at noon and end around 1 AM. Finally, on Day Three all of the remaining players 1300+ players are all in one room playing at the same time. Still thirteen hundred players is a huge tournament, I got more time with Mike beginning on this day, I spent more time at this table getting updates and comments from him. Earlier in the tournament a single phone call or quick conversation before the following day's start was sufficient but now the details of the poker and Mike's mental and physical state are becoming more significant.

Beginning on Day Four (474 players), I was at the table all day every day with Mike. We took breaks together in the VIP players lounge and he would come over to the rail to discuss the other players at the table and his state of mind. By Day Five (189 players) the noise in the media was higher, Mike was still in. All of the name professionals, about 20, still in the field were getting a lot of notice. On Day Six, yesterday, with 79 players left in the field; the media attention was reaching a low roar. Again, for the non-poker readers, this is a special year at the World Series. The final table of nine players, that would in past years be played out later this week, has this year been moved to November. The reason, of course, is publicity. The World Series is attempting to break through into more of a mainstream "sports" interest to the general public and this November event is the current linchpin in that move. Everyone in the poker orbit was pulling for just one well known player to make the "November Nine". By late last night, Mike was the only surviving big name professional in the field.

Two really nasty bad beats (your opponent comes back from long odds to win the hand) ended Mike's run in 30th place. And while 30th out of 6,844 seems like one hell of a good run, even the non-sports drenched among us know what non-winning is all about. Of course, the pressure of the November media event was also a huge factor this year.

So for Mike and for me the 2008 World Series of Poker is over. A quorum of my poker buddies are in town this week, so I am going to hang out with them and actually play some poker and then I have a newly minted final chapter of a book to write. Amy and I will be back to the editing process in a few days and those who have been promised chapters to read will be sated soon.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

115 degrees

[Content Disclosure: 24% Poker; 37% Life; 45% Change; 3% Smother Brothers reference]

Its warm in Las Vegas, hmmmm... No! Its damn hot in Las Vegas and I am moving residences. Not the best timing but survivable. Bill and Kathy are finally actually retiring, well at least Bill is; so their retirement home where I have been living the past 20 months will soon be full. I have signed a seven month lease on a furnished condo a bit closer to the Las Vegas Strip. The Canal Walk house where I have been living is about 10 miles from the south end of the Strip here in Henderson, I am in the process of moving a couple of miles closer. For those who know the greater Las Vegas area, I am now on Silverado Ranch Blvd., which is the I-15 exit at South Point casino.

Fortunately, other than clothes and books, I don't own a lot anymore, so I just fill up the car each day when I go over to the condo to meet: the rental agent or the cable guy or the refrigerator repairman (My Old Man's a Refrigerator Repairman Whaddaya Think About That?) or the Maytag Repairman or ... well you get the idea. So by the time all the electronic gizmos work, I should be moved in and have strategically avoided heat stroke.

It really was 115 today, only 112 yesterday, and maybe 116 for the 4th of July, but of course its a dry heat.

Tomorrow is also Day 1A of the World Series of Poker Main Event, for the non-poker readers the Main Event has four Day Ones to accommodate all the players. So I will be at the Rio each of the next four days to catch up with some of the poker professionals I have missed over the last five weeks. There are a couple of writing projects I am working on and I need to have a bit of face-to-face time with some of the poker players I want to join me in those ventures.

That's it, stay cool and for those in the Midwest, stay dry!