Monday, March 30, 2009

Lessons Learned and Relearned

[Content Disclosure: The Book and therefore Poker; Publishing; New Ground & Old Lessons]

I don't know why but blue brains seem to be in pain or confusion. -- me

There are hundreds of classic interpersonal struggles inherent in the process of creation or perhaps better said production. Our post-modern, not yet post-industrial age gives us: manager versus worker and artist vs. producer or maybe commercial interface (the salesman). These conflicts give rise to those pithy sayings: "Those that cannot do teach, those that cannot teach manage, those that cannot manage own."

When we hear stories of such fracturous interactions we tend to either dismiss them because we really don't care about which hedge fund associate warned who about which mortgage backed security or we hear the beginning of the tale and instantly have the "been there, suffered that" reaction.

So if you are a published author or should you have engaged in any endeavor that allows you to use the term "editor" as a pejorative, you may want to skip this post. Sometime in the last few hours the Mike Matusow auto/biography was sent off to the printer. That means it is now in the form which hopefully large numbers of people will read. No more commas will change, no more sentences will be tweaked, no more discussions will be had over the direction, focus, message, intention or meaning.

I have heard war stories about authors and editors. Quite frankly, I (Amy & I) do not have a story worthy of "war." What we do have is our first major experience with being artists and having a major work bent to the will of the consumer world. Unfortunately, that consumptive mass of Visa card holders out there can only be interpreted by those "in the business." That means there are no fast rules and no absolutes. Our ongoing experience with having our articles and posts edited, did not prepare us for eighteen months of work coming under the microscope, the blue pencil and in particular the rewrite.

So we struggled over keeping the book in Mike's voice. We put in scenes, took them out and recast them. Grammar tried to win the day against the elements of truth in self told story. Chapters came and went and combined and got renamed. We even changed the title of the book at the eleventh hour. No one liked the old title, but equally no one had a new one. Does "The Damn Thing's Done" strike you as too self indulgent?

Sometime in April, I am going to lock and load on my next book length project. But right now I am wondering if a 8-5 cubicle does not have some inherent sanity protections not afforded to creations out of whole cloth.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sonoma Cats

[Content Disclosure: 100% Cats and nothing but Cats]

It has been pointed out to me that my promised exposures of the Cats of Sonoma is overdue. So here is installment #1.

That golden lovely up top is Tigr, one of Matthew's three domesticated kitties. Tigr is the oldest and pretty much runs the household.

This is Coco in one of her many roof perches. Coco is fond of trees, particularly at petting heights. She is the youngest of the clan, which includes Matisse, who has not stood for a photo yet and at least three semi-feral kittens who may yet be captured in a telephoto shot.

The roley poley pussy is JoJo who lives in the other cottage and is aware that just inside my cottage door is a bag of kitty treats. Two males come by often to serenade JoJo but as yet they have not allowed any pictures or pets.

This is the landlady's kitty, who only visits on weekends but always stops by for pets and treats which are technically not allowed. Below one more photo of the lovely Tigr.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Olde Friends

[Content Disclosure: Relationships, Love, Marriage, Life and General Human-like Goofiness]

I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

I have these two friends. I met them in 1971 when they were a new couple. They did typical 20 year old kid stuff, like arguing about nothing and fighting about air. He slept on my couch half a dozen times when he couldn't or wouldn't go home. I was at their wedding in 1975 but turned down any official position in the wedding party. I thought I might be needed to referee.

They moved. I moved. Diana visited me in Hermosa Beach in 1985, a couple of years after their divorce. She was older, wiser and still had no clue why she and Paul were either at each others throats or genitals with nothing in between. She had always been the stable one in those early years, at least that was my perspective, but then again, she never got booted to my divan.

I saw Paul several times in the 90s, he had a new wife and then he didn't. But in both cases he talked about Diana. I heard they made an abbreviated attempt at round two or round seven right around the millennium and apparently had a major shouting drama at a fund raiser for the Cleveland Art Museum, complete with thrown champagne.

My point?

I got an invitation to their re-marriage coming this June. Fortunately, I have other commitments that month and this year and for the next decade but I am considering a new sofa. I think it is only fair for aging friends to have a more comfortable place for olde love warriors to fall.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

View from the Back Seat

[Content Disclosure: Existential Angst 67%; Illness 9%]

The most compelling metaphor I have ever heard about illness was told to me by my best friend Tom. This was in his sixth or seventh month of being sick and tired every day. He told me that being around the rest of the family was like viewing the world from the back seat of a car. While we were all up in front having a life, enjoying the day or not. He was stuck in the back, unable to engage with the world without his "illness filter". He was already always the sick person. The world was up there and he was always in the back.

What struck him most profoundly about this view was not how others treated him. They were entitled to their own reactions and fears. No, what haunted him to the very core was that this was indeed this reality. His world was a world of illness and deprivation and that was not going to change. I remember just a week or so later, he told me that he would give anything to just have one more normal day. Twenty-four hours without pain, fatigue or side effects. He was willing to trade days, even weeks for that singularly normal day.

He never got it. Think about it the next time you have a couple of lousy days in a row. You know you have another plain, old every day just around the corner. At least I hope you do. I hope we all do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Funeral for a Friend

[Content Disclosure: Life, Death, Synchronicity]

She said, "There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might just as well've been closed

I was talking to a friend the other day and he mentioned plans for his funeral. After a period of empathy, I pointed out that telling me was not going to assure his minimalist last wishes were going to be followed. He either had to tell his executor, put it in writing or put me in his will to carry out that portion of his requests/bequests. He asked about my own "after" plans and while we have similar desires (a quick flash bake and the nearby friends get the kitchen stuff); he was surprised that I also had some olde plans that included music for any eventual gathering of friends.

Later that same evening, I was having a completely different conversation with another bestiest friend and somehow we drifted to that same fatal/final topic. We discovered we had the same primary request for music, which I offer you the opportunity to listen, ponder and enjoy.

I must add that I wouldn't be adverse to a second verse for after the florid speeches.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Year of Living Tediously

[Content Disclosure: Illness, Malaise, Tedium, Life and a wee bit of poker]

I should like to warn all readers that this post borders on complete self indulgence. Indeed, the only saving grace may be my own struggle with the level of personal disclosure I can tolerate on this blog and the admission that I may now have reached beyond my own capacity for public disclosure. Be thou duly warned. You may now surf away without any punitive karmic damage.

Twas one year ago that I first noticed the signs of what I thought was just a cold. My nephew was visiting in Vegas and carrying with him a spring break rhinovirus, which I thought had latched onto me as its new host. What followed was first three months of the flu, then the lingering symptoms of the malingering crud and still today diminished ear function, nasal irritation and overall energetic malaise. In the words of some great philosopher: This sucks!

I missed a huge portion of the '08 World Series of Poker because I literally couldn't hear in a room full of 2,000 players shuffling millions of clay chips. I was able to make it to both of Mike's final tables and railed him for all six days of his run in the main event due only to the advances in modern pharmaceutical science. In addition, I have had three courses of antibiotics and several rounds of steroids. My ENT physician and his staff all know me by name; I am the large guy who paces the hall rather than sit in the waiting room crawling with three year olds irritable from earaches.

While I am in Northern California, I am having acupuncture and therapeutic manipulation for these symptoms plus my more acutely discomforting back and spine issues. Ah to be healthy again or at least to find a Ronco back machine on late night television that will fix all my problems and bring me wealth, happiness, love, peace and ripe fruit.

All right! Enough wallowing. Chin Up. Carry On and all that stiff upper lip bullshit. What's next?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Coming Home to Mac

[Content Disclosure: Hardware 99%; Software 76%; Coming Home 100%: Matusow Biography 6%]

On "first release day" January 24th, 1984; I was at the Apple store in Torrance, California to pick up my Mac. I was a Mac person until 2000, when I moved back to Ann Arbor and discovered the local high speed internet connection only serviced Apple products if you lived on the UofM campus. Reluctantly I got myself a PC and have mourned ever since.

Until today....

The constant problems with my laptop and the spectre of dealing with Vista on any new PC clone, made the decision easy. The pome was ripe. Today I am the proud papa of a brand new Mac and I couldn't be happier. Except for the double whammy this weekend of getting caught up on all the changes in the Mac in the last nine years and the reality that the gallies of the Matusow book have just been dropped on Amy and me. Tis time to tweak and polish; the book goes to the printer at the end of the month.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


[Content Disclosure: 12.4% Social Commentary; 87% Societal Stupidity]

On the eve of the state Supreme Court hearing in San Francisco on Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage, advocates on both sides describe the issue in similar high-stakes rhetoric.

“On a broader scale, beyond the scope of the definition of marriage, this is about whether the social fabric will be torn by decimating the concept of the consent of the governed."
“I truly believe that the future of equality and the promise of justice for all hangs in the balance as the court considers Proposition 8."
Hard to tell sometimes who is fer and who is agin.
My position is obvious, I hope. I oppose anyone telling anyone else how to live their life; as long as that living does not materially affect aforementioned anyone's wallet, nose or jacuzzi. In other words, why do you care what those two folks down the street do with their life?
I thank my friend, Wil Wheaton for the graphic demonstration of what any sane person knows is the only rational position. This, of course, gives me pause when "liberal" California can vote completely opposite said rationality.

Monday, March 02, 2009


[Content Disclosure: Nostalgia 68%; Pondering 12%; Other 9%]

"Nostalgia from the Greek nostos, 'a return home,' and algos, 'pain.' Pain of the return home. A very accurate description; despite their blurs, words can sometimes be so exact." -- Kim Stanley Robinson

Emotional nostalgia is what is murmuring around in my soul these days. Not so a much a longing for a long ago place on the planet, but a return to a feeling of peace and joy. Music, of course, is a prime excavator of such times. As we all know "the good olde days" really weren't; but that doesn't prevent the warm sadness from percolating up to the surface when one of those melodies drifts by.

I am not really going anywhere specific with this post today. Just reflecting on how some memories are shared and others are not. A silly love song is just silly to some and so trenchant to others. Same for a movie, a book, any moment in time. For some it stands out like a beacon to all that was good and simple; hmm, that reeks of a Darth Vader quote from Field of Dreams. What surprises me is how even the most romantic people in my life will shy away from such a moment when it does not resonate from their experience. One wonders why falling into someone else's nostalgia is so difficult. Is it the lack of a shared anchor or is it perhaps the encounter with pain other than one's own?

. . . .

Addendum: A couple of regular readers pointed out that I seemed to be going somewhere with this topic and then sort of ran away from it. I confess, there are still times when my tolerance for self revelation gets in the way of just bloggin' along. I mean do I really want anyone to know that 'Moon River' actually tugged at some spot in my psyche? Sure classic rock but Andy Williams? Where are those blog lines of privacy?

Oh and for those who care (and I am shocked that you do), the photo is of Stetson Chapel on the quad at Kalamazoo College.