Monday, December 29, 2008

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 006: A Call To Flog

Backs to the wall now. Only six short days until the seismic, unconventional, unbelievable, boisterous, completely impractical Bad Bankroll Management Tourny. It's going to be hott, or maybe even hottt. You gotta be there, dahling. Everybody who is anybody will be there, and also you. And you. And you there, hiding in the corner behind the ferns, you too. No wallflowers, now. Get out on the dance floor with the literally fives of other people who are sure to be there.

Each week since announcing this thing with all the pomp and ceremony of a new royal baby, I've been dropping another fantastic reason to play in this thing. Let's recap:

1) Superstacks means you'll be up too late on a work night!

2) Because I will run it only quarterly, the pain and disgust will disapate enough that you may get suckered in again!

3) Absolutely no overlay!

4) Noted poker pro Layne Flack will not be playing!

5) Buddy Dank Radio not scheduled to broadcast!

6) Somebody will win (maybe you (but no)!)!

7) A shameless call to pointless bravery!

8) Custom BBMT Donkavatar (pictured) to the champion!


This week's reason to play? Is it the reverse leaderboard, showing those who have lost the most at the top? Is it the fact that I will be liveblogging and thus playing (even more) like a total Muggle? Is it the fact that I will make every attempt to write each of you that play your own completely slanderous bio for the liveblog? No.

This week's reason to play is simple: It's a bloggament, stupid! YOU CAN'T HELP YOURSELVES! MWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

(However, if you sign up early, you are more likely to get a slanderous bio. Just saying.)

It's password "busto." Sweet Neddy Dingo, time is almost out! Get the word out! Climb the bell tower and warn the townfolk? Grab that image up there! Put it on your blog! It's good for a post!

Bad Bankroll Management Tournament
Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
$50 + $5
Superstacks
Full Tilt Poker
password: busto

Monday, December 22, 2008

Heroes 011: Narrative Ponzi

About a week ago, I watched the finale of the third Heroes volume, "Villains." Now, finally, I'm ready to let the healing begin. The scars are deep and painful, and may never go away, but I'm ready to take a deep swim in Lake Me.

First, acceptance. Once, long ago, Heroes was a good show, or at least it seemed like a good show. Fast-paced, dynamic, with diverse and interesting characters who seemed to have consistent motivation, there was a sense of mystery unfolding that drew me in. Most of all, though, I was impressed by the show's willingness to shake up their formula, change allegiances in intriguing ways, and really move the plot forward.

Also? Cool super-power stuff.

However, as the giddy pleasures of Season 1 morphed into the nervous laughter of Season 2 and the outright scorn of Season 3 so far, it has become clear that what once seemed like a fast-moving, character-driven, sequential drama is in fact the greatest narrative Ponzi scheme in television history.

You all know about Ponzi schemes by now, of course (how could you not, given how many of our increasingly-rare dollars got sucked up by one), but if you need a refresher then I need to turn to Wikipedia, because I never paid attention, either.

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors out of the money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit. It is named after Ponzi McGillicuitty Fontenot [1]. The term "Ponzi scheme" is used primarily in the United States, while other English-speaking countries do not distinguish colloquially between this scheme and other pyramid schemes.[2]

The Ponzi scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The perpetuation of the high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going.

The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments.

[1] Not really.

[2] A pyramid scheme is a scheme to drop a pyramid on a guy by means of a thousand helicopers, and is pretty bad-ass, though frankly I'm not sure why I brought it up.


Thanks, Wikipedia!

You got that? Basically, the idea is that you (1) take all this beautiful money from people to invest in this great thing that doesn't really exist, then (2) instead of investing, you buy yourself some great stuff so you can make it rain all day and attract more clients, who give you even MORE filthy lucre, which you then (3) use to buy more stuff for yourself and pay the intial investors, who then give you even MORE money because WHOO HOO 15% IN ONE MONTH, and so it goes until finally The Law starts asking questions and people start asking for their investment back, at which point (4) they realize that there is no money and that (5) you are in a warm country with no extradition treaties, (6) with your 300 foot yacht, (7) ha ha ha.

This is the perfect metaphor for what Heroes has done. They mortgaged their future with a bunch of cool-looking stuff, but they utterly neglected the narrative foundation, hoping that if they moved quick enough, and presented us with enough cool-looking superpower stuff, we wouldn't notice that they were expecting us to forget the stuff they had already established, sometimes even within the very episode we were watching. If we tried to puzzle it all together, we realized that the whole thing was founded on nothing.

So, there's acceptance for you. Heroes is total crap. Total crap. It's not a fun commentary on the tropes of comic books, it's not a nifty mythology that we just haven't puzzled out. It's Chernobyl. It's a Ponzi scheme.



Next, understanding. In order to back up the claim immediately preceding this sentence, I'll try to take you through the whole story, as quickly as I can, slowing down a bit to rubberneck at the carnage that is the so-called backstory, and this, the first half of Season 3.

OK, strap in. This IS the story, people. I'm making up none of this, or very little of it.

Ready?

There is a cabal of super-secret super-powered people that have been around since around the sixties, though at least one of them has been around since the age of feudal Japan, because he lives for hundreds of years and can't be hurt. Their intent was to use their powers to save the world, but some or most or all of them have gone astray at some point.

They control a Company. It's called The Company, maybe because they let a three-year old name it. It has as its front a Paper Company called Primatech. Also, it is controlled the guy in charge of the Mafia, whose name is Linderman. Also, it is funded and controlled by the U.S. Government. Also, it is funded and controlled by a private business. Also it is funded and controlled by a wealthy, politically connected New York family named Patreli.

The leader of this group is nominally Linderman, who had the power to heal, but in fact was Arthur Patreli, Linderman's lawyer, who has the power to take other people's powers, and who for some reason decided to create an intricate conspiracy to cause his youngest son, Peter (who was also a power sponge like the old man), to set off a thermonuclear detonation in New York City, killing millions, and to make his oldest son Nathan, a New York DA, President of the United States. When Nathan decided to oppose some of Linderman's actions toward this end, Arthur decided to have Nathan killed. Who Arthur now wanted to be president for him upon that eventuality, I'm not sure. As far as I can tell, Arthur was pretty stupid. For example, he could make people do whatever he wanted. He had that power. So why he would kill Nathan instead of just making him do what he, Arthur wanted, is unclear.

Anyway, Linderman and Arthur's wife, Angela, whose powers is probably dreaming the future or being super bitchy or something, it's not really clear . . . they opposed Arthur, realizing he'd gone mad with power. Angela poisoned him, thinking him dead but leaving him conscious but paralyzed. After disposing of Arthur, Angela and Linderman began taking steps to make sure that Arthur's plan to set off an H-bomb in downtown New York was carried through to completion. I suppose this means that they were against killing Nathan, but for blowing up New York. Maybe they realized that Nathan couldn't be president if he were dead, though Lord knows that Bob Dole tried.

Also, the leader of this group was not Arthur, but instead was that very white guy I mentioned from feudal Japan who never ages, whose name was Adam. Everybody was TOTALLY FRIGHTENED OF HIM. Oh my God, he was so dangerous and scary, you couldn't believe. His power was being very non threatening in a kind of a fraternity guy sort of way, and also not dying. The Company thwarted his plan, which was to kill the whole world using a virus, because his girlfriend dumped him 400 years ago. Yes, really. Anyway, they thwarted him, and again it cannot be stressed HOW INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS AND SCARY HE WAS, by . . . well, you know, locking him in a room.

Also, the leader of this group was not Adam, but was actually Arthur, and he actually was the one everybody was scared of. Arthur's plan wasn't to blow up New York, it seems, except that it was, but ALSO it was actually to give everybody in the world superpowers, using a secret formula and a secret catalyst, because . . . you know what? I guess just because. Anyway, he lay in his paralysis, he began plotting how to bring that to fruition. The main thing in his way was one of his partners in the group, Kaito Nakumura, a Japanese business tycoon with the superpower of appearing in tons of episodes even after his death. Kaito had the formula (which existed on paper) and the catalyst (which had his wife, another healer, as a human host). Kaito wanted nothing more than to make sure than nobody ever ever ever EVER used them to give everybody super powers. He was so committed to this, that when his wife died, he made sure that the catalyst was passed on, so that it would still be in the world and able to be used, and to keep the formula very safe and easy to read. He even laminated it. Have I mentioned that if either of these things were lost, then the other could never never ever be used?

Anyway, some of the other people in this group were: a guy played by Shaft, whose power was dying with quiet dignity and (I think) seeing time-travelers; a mind-controller/creepy guy who was loyal to Adam or to Arthur, depending on what season it is; a geneticist or a chemist, I'm not sure, she allegedly had lots of answers but got killed immediately upon her introduction. That happens all the time.

Also, there were no superpowers during any of this time period that I'm describing. All the superpowers suddenly appeared during an eclipse in 2006.

Also, there actually were superpowers before the eclipse, including a lot that had been bio-genetically engineered by the company, perhaps by using the secret formula and the secret catalyst [Note: that actually does make some sense. Huh, nice.]. The long long long pre-eclipse history of super powered beings was chronicled by a Dr. Suresh, who was discredited as a hack for his theories. Also, The Company, or at least the part of it that was working with the U.S. Government and not with organized crime or private enterprise, had been gathering up and performing tests on super-powered beings for decades.

Also, there were some other superpowers before the eclipse that were NOT bio-genetic, like a psycho named Sylar. Sylar was a twisted soul, with an urge to do anything to prove to himself that he was special, better than others, especially his parents. Sylar was a watchmaker, his power is also to sponge powers, but he can only do that by cutting open people's brains, which he seems to enjoy, being a psycho and all.

Also, Sylar wasn't a psycho, he was a sensitive soul with serious issues of insecurity and a desire to be loved by his mommy. He sponged powers by using empathy.

Also, Sylar was a total remorseless killing machine, driven only by a hunger within himself to kill and kill and kill.

Also, Sylar was so tortured by what he had done that he tried to kill himself, but The Company had intervened, sending a non-powered operative named Noah Bennett and his assistant, Elle, an electrical conduit who wasn't going to be let outside of The Company's facilities for another two years after this (I don't know, that's the story). These two created an artificial situation for Sylar, forcing him to kill again so that they could study him in his natural habitat instead of capturing him and taking him back to their prison/lab, just like they NEVER did. Then they just set him free to kill and kill and kill, so they could keep dangerous supers off the streets. They were so driven to do that, in fact, that if you were found helping ANY super stay out of the Company's clutches, no matter how benign they seemed, you would be instantly terminated. Bennett himself killed a good friend who had broken this rule. Anyway, he let Sylar go.

Later, Bennett was sent to capture Sylar with his new team. He was worried, because it seemed as though Sylar had targeted his adoptive daughter, Claire, who was indestructible. If only he knew something about who this killer was!! If only he could guess at his powers and his motives, at his psychology! Oh me oh my! If only he could use Molly, the little girl who can find anybody that they use.

Anyway, that's what was going on at the time of the eclipse.

After the eclipse, a bunch of people (Peter and Nathan, Claire, Isaac the time-painter, Matt the mind-reader, DL the walker through walls, Micah the computer talker, Mohinder the total idiot and son of the aforementioned Dr. Suresh, Hiro the teleporter and time stopper/traveler, and Nikki/Jessica the super strong porn assassin split personality mirror thing who didn't ever make sense), most of who turned out to be related in some way to this group we've been talking about, came together, united by their strange newish powers.

Hiro and Ando travelled into the future and saw that it was a hellish authoritarian place, where supers were captured and caged, just like, you know, in the present. But New York was blown up. That was worse.

Mohinder was manipulated by Sylar and The Company, respectively. That was literally his only effect beyond voiceovers that everybody fast-forwards through.

Peter was manipulated into nearly blowing up New York. Also his girlfriend was senselessly killed and then never mentioned again.

Hiro started as feckless and adolescent, but learned to be a true hero.

Noah sacrificed himself to save his daughter from The Company, who wanted to abduct Claire and perform horrible experiments on her. Also, they wanted to make sure that they kept the catalyst safe in her. Also, they wanted to make sure she stayed safe from the Company, who they also were. Also, they wanted to tell her that she was a Patreli.

Anyway, they thwarted Linderman's or Arthur's or Angela's plan to blow up New York, and stopped Sylar from killing people. It was pretty cool. Except for Mohinder.

After that, a major character died off camera. Yep. So long, DL.

The next season, the gang uncovered a scheme to unleash the virus that Adam had wanted to set free back when he was OH MY GOD SO SCARY YOU HAVE TO KILL HIM RIGHT AWAY. This virus was so deadly that when it had infected Mohinder's sister back when they were both kids, she died slowly and lingeringly and then nobody else caught it. The virus also apparently took away powers.

Peter went into the future and saw the virus had killed everybody.

Sylar is in South America for some reason. He doesn't have his powers, but he also doesn't seem to have the virus. OK, then. He meets Inky Sue and her brother, whose power is to waste our time and make us hate like we have never hated before, or maybe to kill people with magic ink-eye poison when she's upset. Sylar kills the brother and eventually Inky Sue winds up meeting Mohinder, creating a vortex of uselessness.

Mohinder had fallen in love with Matt and they'd moved together into the ratbag apartment where Mohinder's father was murdered by Sylar. They adopted Molly, that "see anyone" little girl, because apparently that's no sweat with Child Protective Services. The important thing is that Mohinder was manipulated by Noah and the Company. First, he found the power-draining Haitian, who had the virus, and cured him. Then, he researched to find a cure. Then he found a cure to the virus using his sister's blood or something, but there was still tension that the virus would be unleashed. Apparently, having the cure was not relevant.

Peter was manipulated into releasing Adam and then lost his memory. Also his girfriend was killed and then never mentioned again.

Hiro started as feckless and adolescent, but learned to be a true hero. He also went into feudal Japan for about seven episodes. Let's not talk about it. It means nothing.

Noah sacrificed himself to save his daughter from The Company, who wanted to abduct Claire and perform horrible experiments on her. They'd forgotten that she was a Patrelli this time, I think. Anyway, first Noah was killed by Mohinder, who was working with him, because Mohinder can't do anything right. Then he was brought back to life by Claire's blood, because just getting Claire's blood gives you Claire's power temporarily. Finally, Noah could never ever ever see his family again and would have to work for The Company again. This was never mentioned again, ever, and Noah goes on seeing his family whenever he likes.

Claire's blood saves Inky Sue, making everybody hate Claire's blood.

Nikki died to save Monica. Who? And who? Right. Moving on . . .

Mohinder's cure gives Sylar his powers back. That's really the only function Mohinder's cure ever serves. Thanks again, Mohinder! You truly are the black hole of competence!

Anyway, Matt the Mindreader and Hiro and Nathan and Peter thwarted Adam's plan, and found themselves in the Company's vault, filled with all their evil secrets and plans. So they just left that place unexplored, and went to call attention to themselves in a news conference where Nathan was shot . . .

. . . and Season 3 starts . . .

. . . by Future Peter. He'd come from a future where supers are hunted like animals and Claire is mean and Sylar is a househusband and so is Matt and Nathan is president again and Mohinder is a spider who is not dead or dying at all.

Future Peter shoots Nathan to prevent this future from occurring.

He also shoots him to prevent a future in which everybody has powers.

Then Future Peter stashes Matt with YES YET ANOTHER guy who can paint the future and abducts his present self by putting him into a bad guy's body in The Company's prison. Which is a thing, I guess. Then Future Peter poses as Present Peter. Then he does nothing. Then he goes back and gets Present Peter out of the bad guy he's in and takes him to the Future to see how bad the Future is. You may be noticing some inefficiency here. The Future looks AWESOME, with everybody flying around, but Peter somehow sees it as BAD. And sure enough, a Hiro jaunt to the future confirms that if that future comes to pass, Ando will kill him and the world will blow up. Not sure either Peter ever knew that, though. Future Peter is killed by Future Claire in a way that we've already seen would never kill Peter, leaving Present Peter to do the job that his more informed, more powerful self was unable to do.

Thus? Peter is finally manipulated by himself. Neat.

Arthur comes back by killing Adam (who is VERY SCARY, remember) while he is completely paralyzed and taking his power. Then Arthur kills some henchmen with very little cause to show how tough he is. Then he gathers a bunch of guys together to work for him in his scheme to give everybody superpowers.

Arthur takes all of Peter's superpowers. He now can do anything and everything you can imagine. He does nothing. He sits. He sends other people with powers he no longer really needs to do things he could do in a heartbeat. He rarely emotes.

Mohinder uses Matt's absence to sell Molly into slavery or something. Anyway, he's very glad that the show has given him close proximity to a hot woman who is also brown, because that means he can have SEX with her! He gives himself powers using . . . the formula? The catalyst? No. Just Inky Sue's blood. Man! Blood can do anything! It goes wrong though, and turns him into a spider freak. The spider thing, it is clear, will kill him in a couple of weeks. Did I mention he's alive three years in the future? I did? Cool. So the serum turns him into a monster and he kills people and puts them into cocoons. Until he doesn't anymore. But his skin is pretty lousy the whole way through.

Then Mohinder is manipulated by Aurthur, and probably the Company for old time sake and if there is any difference between the two. Arthur takes Inky Sue's powers. He never uses them again, ever. But at least she leaves pretty much for good. That is seriously the best thing that happened in all 12 episodes.

Matt, in Africa, has a spirit walk into the future where he discovers himself a to be a househusband much like Future Sylar, with kids, living with Molly but not Mohinder, and in love with a speedster named I forget, let's say Lulu. Matt comes back from this with a turtle, representing the speed of his thoughts, and a total infatuation for Lulu, who is working for Arthur and is also about nineteen. He shows no curiosity or interest in a) Mohinder, and his whereabouts, b) Molly, his beloved adoptive daughter, and HER whereabouts, or c) why there are spider webs and dead people in cocoons everywhere.

Nathan is healed by Linderman. But it's not Linderman, just a mental projection from Mindcontroller Matt's dad, also a Mindcontroller. So it's never explained who or what healed him, or why a healing power, if available wouldn't be used for Arthur in a coma. Nathan gets God in a big way, believing that he was saved by Jesus, which makes a holy roller politician, who can apparently just appoint Senators willy-nilly, appoint Nathan as a Senator. Then Nathan stops talking about God entirely. Then Linderman stops appearing to him. He never wonders about any of this. He also doesn't go to Washington DC for the rest of the story arc. Vice President Biblebelt Q. Plotdevice is never seen again.

Nikki is dead but comes back as a completely different character, a lobbyist working for and sleeping with "unidentified politician who can just appoint whatever senator he wants". She discovers just now (and not during an eclipse) that she has super freezing, when she kills a journalist by accident. She's hugely siezed with remorse and discovers that she is only one of many "Nikki/Jessica/Traceys" who have been cloned to have different powers. She's so consumed with guilt that she attempts suicide and is saved by Nathan. Also, she has no guilt about anything and immediately becomes an evil double-crosser who kills using her ice powers with no qualms. She forgets all about her cloning story.

Sylar becomes a different person on an hourly basis. Angela sacrifices an innocent girl to feed him and told him that he was her son. Then Arthur confirmed this, even though he had Angela weren't sharing notes. But it was a lie. Or was it? Yes. Unless no? Yes. Or no. Perhaps. Anyway, Angela is sort of with the good guys I suppose.

Hiro starts having learned to be a true hero, but quickly acts like a ten year old. Then he's actually made into a ten year old by Arthur. There is literally no change in the character. Anyway, he immediately loses the formula that could have just been destroyed. Then he goes to work for Arthur. Forgot about that, right? So did Arthur. Hiro refuses to alter the past in order to change the present. Hiro then alters the past to change the present, taking the catalyst that was meant to be given safely to Claire and gets it himself, and promptly loses it to Arthur. Why it wasn't safe with Claire is not explained, but apparently it wasn't, nor is it clear why he couldn't have used those same time/space powers to go get Claire when SHE had the catalyst instead of sending lackeys, since he knew the catalyst was with her. I'm losing my mind here. This all does mean that Arthur has the catalyst and the formula, and so he whups up the serum. He really wants everybody to have powers, because he is a paranoid psychopath who jealously guards his own power base. Wait, huh?

There is another eclipse that is supposed to change everything. It changes nothing. Everybody loses their powers, because now the powers are caused by the sun, maybe. But not.

Nathan hates his father for faking his own death and trying to kill him and blow up New York and trying to kill everybody and paralyzing his wife and generally being evil. Then Nathan goes on a mission to stop Arthur, and is taken hostage by a Haitian warlord (brother of The Haitian) to whom Nathan was betrayed by Arthur. For some reason this makes Nathan decide to help Arthur. It also makes him retroactively have always hated Peter for some reason.

Peter goes to kill Arthur along with the Haitian, where he's opposed by Nathan, and assisted by Sylar, who kills Arthur in a way that it is already established would not kill Arthur, and leaves. He's chased by the Haitian, but then he's suddenly in Texas (can he teleport? No), having clearly watched the Saw movies. He's tormenting Claire and Noah and Meredith (oh never mind) and Angela by setting up deadly moral quandaries for them. Finally, Claire kills Sylar, or actually incapacitates him, because we already know that he has Claire's invulnerability, and so NOTHING KILLS HIM EXCEPT DECAPITATION OR MAYBE TOTAL DISINTIGRATIONS. Naturally, they just leave him there, because of course. Then they leave him in the collapsing Primatech, where surely that will be the end of him, right? Meredith, who is immune to fire, dies in a fire rather than letting Claire, who is immune to EVERYTHING, risk absolutely nothing to save her.

Powerless Peter then destroys the serum with the help of the guys who were helping Arthur give everybody super powers, on account of they suddenly realized that giving everybody super powers would mean that everybody had super powers.

Peter uses the serum to get his sponge powers back, or at least the power to fly. We'll see. Nathan expresses his sentiment that he'd love to kill Peter.

Mohinder is cured by the serum, and is no longer a spider who is either doomed to die in a few hours or to be alive in three years, who either has freakish strength and uncontrollable rage, or else is meek and can be beat up by just about anybody.

Hiro decides to destroy the formula way back in the past where he is now stuck (Arthur stole his powers). He has to ask his ten year old self to help him find his father's safe. Think about that one. I'm waiting. Got it? So then Ando uses the serum to make himself a superpower supercharger (kind of cool), and then Ando and Speedy go back in time to rescue Hiro by taking a long stinky dump over the theory of relativity. Hiro and Matt and Speedy and Ando then celebrate by watching Hiro destroy the formula. Oh wait, no. Not destroy it. Just tear it up into about eight pieces. But it doesn't matter, because it is useless without the catalyst. That's established. So the entire Hiro sequence is effectively pointless. Also, Tracey and Nathan intended to start the program all over again, using just the formula. Did they know about the catalyst? Yes.

Nathan, who believed until a few minutes ago that the answer to the world's powers was to give everybody superpowers, decides to sell all the supers out to the President, convincing him to hunt and capture super heroes, which is certainly not something that we KNOW the U.S. government has been doing through The Company for decades now. But everybody isn't going to have powers. So the planet won't explode, I think. Also, no idea why Future Ando would have to kill Future Hiro.

And that's where we are.

Seriously. Feast your eyes on that carnage.


Finally, forgiveness. I forgive you Heroes. But I am done thinking this much about you. Or, probably, watching you. You suck so hard it is silly.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 005

And then there were two. Weeks left, that is, until the BBmT launches its bankroll-shedding self upon the waters of online pokery.

And, in keeping with a promotion of a totally silly tournament, I present you with yet another totally silly reason to toss fifty smackers into the shredder.

This week's reason to play? Your own custom BBMT champion Donkavatar. This can be all yours is you win:

A poorly-imaged ripoff of the FTOPS jersey, visible to you and the literally fives of people who download and view avatars through the BayneGoat production Donkavatar?

That's right, Peggy Sue. Imagine (if you dare) the bragging rights this baby will fetch you in blogger tournies.

It's password "busto", and OMG!!!! THERE ARE ONLY ABOUT 384 HOURS LEFT TO SIGN IN! IS THAT EVEN ENOUGH TIME TO TYPE IN THE PASSWORD?

Get going already!

Bad Bankroll Management Tournament
Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
$50 + $5
Superstacks
Full Tilt Poker
password: busto

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rail Chat: One Word

One of the more interesting (that is to say useless) tools in any poker player's aresenal is the chatbox. Many successful players avoid it entirely as a useless distraction or a pointless leak in the information pipeline; however, it cannot be underestimated as a conduit for that most efficacious lubricant of profitability: tilt. Get the villain sputtering mad and he'll break his neck to get his chips in bad.

I hope to unpack some secrets that I've picked up along the way that I think will help you become effective, or at least I would assume so if I were a skillful player. Anyway, they are fun.

One fine chatbox tilt technique, deployed whenever you have somebody who is spouting off at you for calling his preflop min-raise from the button with JT and cracking his Aces, is the use of a single word. Not just any word, but a particular one. This is the magic word. It's the auto-tilter.

Nonsense.

Whatever they say, just answer with "nonsense."

Just try it (and for crying out loud, have the discipline to use just this word) for a while. I promise good results or you can write me for a full refund.


* * * * *

Julius_Goat shows a straight, 7 to J and wins 7,855

Malarkybuns23: donk
Malarkybuns23: u call and win??
Malarkybuns23: donk
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: I had you cruhsed
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: lol whatever man, most hands ahead of JT
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: u just keep calling skill beats luck
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: idiot
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: I had AA u had JT
Julius_Goat: nonsense, nonsense
Malarkybuns23: Check hand history
Julius_Goat: nonsense
Malarkybuns23: your an idiot!!!!!!!!!

* * * * *


Nonsense.

Little. Infuriating. Different.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Breaking News: TARP to Bailout Donkeys

WASHINGTON DC (Reuters) – A new bailout for online poker donks has been initiated today by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. President Bush is expected to approve the $11 billion package by noon today.

The $11 billion will be distributed to millions of poker players who have been identified as being total fish tourist badonkadonks. It is not clear at this time which measure has been used to determine the fishy status of the players. Sharkscope is rumored to be a favored Paulson metric, but neither Treasury nor Sharkscope have made comment.

"All I will say is that top priority will be given to individuals possessing web logs, or 'blogs' dedicated to playing online poker," Paulson said in a brief press conference this morning.

Libertarian groups and fiscal conservatives rushed to decry the latest in a long string of government bailouts. "This is how we spend our TARP money?" moaned one prominant Manhattan attorney. "These players chose to chase inside straight draws and went to the felt with fifth pair, and they just get HANDED this money? Recockulous! A lot of them are Euros anyway!"

The measure has been greeted with jubilation among online pros, however. "Ever since UIGEA, it's been harder for bad players to reload," said pro Pearljammed, who estimates his ROI to be down 38% this year. "We need to keep these horrible players in the game, for the sake of everybody else. I know that it doesn't seem exactly fair, but we have to look at the bigger picture. The fact of the matter is that these players are just too bad to be allowed to fail."

The money will be shipped over the next three months via Stars and Full Tilt. There will be no oversight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 004

The Bad Bankroll-Management Tournament is only three weeks away. I know, it's hard to believe that we're that close, isn't it? When I first announced this thing back in the spring of 1994, it seemed like the day would never come. Now, it's breathing down our necks: the only blogger tournament that is almost certainly a bad bankroll decision, with no overlay, no prizes, no BDR scheduled, really no reason at all to play.

How can you resist?

This week's reason to play? Honor. Bravery. That's right, think of all the stories that inspire you. Are they about characters that make the sensible decision and grind away every day at safe levels? No! They're about blue-faced crazy people who attack thousands of trained soldiers with a knife in their teeth and the skinned fur of a rabbit on their head. Sure, they wind up with their intestines yanked out and wrapped around a maypole, but at least they went for the gusto, baby.

Because your opponents can take your bankroll . . . but they can never take . . . YOUR DONKEYNESS!!!!!!

So sign up now! Before it's too late! There are only about 552 hours left to make a really bad decision for your online roll.

Now watch this clip to get a full dose of total inspiration, and then use password "busto" to lock in your seat. You know you wanna.



Bad Bankroll Management Tournament
Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
$50 + $5
Superstacks
Full Tilt Poker
password: busto

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Heroes 010: Let Them Eat Cake

OK, let me just get it out of the way right now: I liked this episode of Heroes. By which I mean to say, it didn't suck out loud. It was all right; almost reminiscent of the sort of thing they used to do back when they were kind of good.

I should also say that I have no expectation that this will continue. I've been burned before.

But I'm feeling charitable, so I'll just mention my quibbles in passing. Haitian and Peter getting back from their stranding in what seems like 3 hours, the relative pointlessness of the Parkman/Ando/Speedylou segment, the Cal Ripkin-esque streak of unabated idiocy from Mohinder, and especially Sylar's lack of interest in harvesting Pa-treli's powers. OK.

Now to the more problematic question of why this episode worked when so many other failed.

1) Sylar's a psycho again. Sylar can -- maybe even should -- be given greater depth, but it needs to spring from what we know of him. And let's face it, what we know of him is that he likes to saw people's heads off and poke around in there. What is the point, really, of putting him in an apron and having him find some kind of sudden cheapened redemption, when clearly what that character was meant to do was brain-pokey? Was it just me, or did Zachary Quinto seem to relish being let off the leash? Also, I see he's stolen a muppet's eyebrows. Good for him.

2) Humor. I mean real humor, not embarrassing stuff like Hiro doing a pee-pee dance. Most of this sprang this episode from Sylar. Quinto really was having fun. Cake!

3) Death matters again. Elle actually was killed. Now, you could argue the wisdom of this in the larger picture, since we were just starting to get to know the character, and now what on earth was the point of all that time we spent in ham-fisted development of Elle? It's the cherry on the "we wasted the last four episodes" sundae. But at least we were shown a major character's death that actually resulted in death. None of this Claire's blood transfusion nonsense. And Pa-trelli appears to actually have taken the dirt-nap, though of course he has regeneration so that makes very little sense once the Hatian leaves.

4) Emotional resonance. This really is the big one. We've seen the funeral of Hiro's mother, and seen his character react to that loss, so when his mother unexpectedly appears, it means something based on what we know of the character. And, even though Claire changing her own diaper is odd (at least), we got an insightful look at a younger, more career driven, and much more wary Bennett. And -- dare I say it -- an actual understated moment when Bennett realized that he was looking at his adoptive daughter all grown up. They didn't beat us over the head with it. They just showed it. It added depth to the relationship in a way that another seven in the endless iteration of I LOVE YOU CLAIRE BEAR / I NEED TO LEAVE NOW TO TAKE CARE OF SOME BUSINESS CLAIRE BEAR just doesn't. Well played, Heroes. Now don't get cocky. Another 17 or so of these in a row, and I'll forgive you for crapping over one of the better starts in serialized TV drama history.


Here's the thing. My issue with this show is not that I can't believe it. Time travel? Fine. Flying guy? Cool. Super heroes? Great. Suspension of disbelief is par for the course in any fictional story, and you'll never hear me whingeing that people can't REALLY shoot fire out of their hands.

My problem is with a story that doesn't believe in itself, which is exactly what's happening here. See, if the story bothers to spend time setting up a plot point and a situation, and then either abandons it or flatly contradicts it -- if a character is given an arc and development, and then that development is ignored in favor of moving plot item A from point D to point Q (or, even better, if character simply behave very, very, very transparently stupidly in order to move that plot item), then what you have is a story foul. It mocks the audience for having suspended it's belief in the first place. "Ho ho ho! None of this really matters! Silly you for having allowed yourself to be invested in these people and what happens to them."

See, either Hiro has turned into a hero worthy of his father's trust, or he's a spoiled prat who can't accept real responsibility for even a second. If he's both, it's fine, but then there has to be tension to dramatize the disonance. It can't just happen, and then Hiro goes on being a great hero who has saved the world. He just can't. Otherwise, it is a story foul.

Either the Company is a shadow government operation (as it appears to be when Bennett is involved) or it is a front for organized crime (as it appears to be when Linderman is running the show), or it is a private concern (as it seemed to be when Ned Ryerson was in charge), or it is a completely abandoned prison/warehouse with only Bennett and the Hatian working there (as seems to be the case this season). In any case, if it is all those things or neither, some sense has to be made of it, or it becomes clear that it's all nonsense. It's a story foul.

Either the powers are given by an eclipse (as we were recently told), or they weren't (they weren't if you have a longer memory than a lab rat, or Matt Parkman).

Either Sylar is on the path to redemption or he's not. If he's in conflict about that, that's fine, but you need to see the conflict. You don't do this by having one episode where he is good and another where he is a psychopath again. It's bad chess. It's not sporting.

I could go on. The point is this. You as audience member can suspend your disbelief in the material -- any material, whether it is a JLA comic or Moby Dick -- only to the extent to which the artist involved has suspended their own disbelief and committed themselves to their own material. When nothing adds up to anything but contrivance, then you can either notice or start making up your own convoluted reasons why such-and-so might make sense if this and this and this and this were the case, and happened off screen somewhere. This is know as "fan-wanking."

If Moby Dick has set up a story that is all about the clash of two forces of nature (the hatred and lust for revenge of Ahab vs. the horrific majesty of the white whale), and then suddenly Ahab says, "You know what? I hate the sea. Let's all start a vegan farm in Norway", and they all go do that, and then Queequeg turns out to be a ballet impressario and they all put on a universally lauded version of Swan Lake, then Herman Melville is a hack, and the story has lost all meaning, and pointing it out does not mean that the critic is incapable of enjoying densely written 19th century seafaring novels, but rather that the critic is incapable of enjoying poorly-told stories. Poorly told, not because there is no such thing as a white whale the size of a mountain, and one is incapable of suspending belief in one, but because that suspension of belief has been made, and then betrayed. Ahab is not what we've been told he was, and thus Moby doesn't mean Dick.

So, in summation, Mohinder is an idiot. And so are the Heroes writers. But they've somehow managed to turn their ship, however briefly, away from the Norwegian vegans. Here's hoping they can hold that course. I'd enjoy enjoying the show again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hockey Content Within

OK, I'll take a break from TV screeds and poker content to make a sad confession:

I belong to a fantasy NHL league.

I know, I know. I'm getting help. I have excuses, too, but you don't want to hear my excuses. You want to hear . . . my hockey bad beat stories. That's right: Fantasy hockey bad beat stories. I know I have you hooked now.

Now, this isn't so much a tale of woe as it is an open request for a moral ruling. I did something, that I'm not so much proud of as I am VERY proud of.

It breaks down like this. The league is a goalie stats league, one which basically sets half of the categories to goalie stats such as saves, shutouts, win percentage, etc. All the rest of the team carries the other half of the stats. Obviously, it goes without saying that the goalie is disproportionately important in this endeavor. This means that 1) if you have a great starting goalie, you're really hard to beat, 2) if you have a terrible goalie situation, you pretty much can't win, and 3) starting goalies are pretty much impossible to pick up in a trade situation unless you are offering a TON.

I got to pick first in the draft -- whoo hoo me -- and I picked Martin Brodeur, the longtime stud between the pipes for the New Jersey Devils. The guy is a total machine.

Unfortunately, machines sometimes break. So it was with Brodeur. Out for most of the season, perhaps the whole season. Bad luck me. I don't really care at all, but my team was essentially not going to win.

In situations like this, I decide what to do based on the following criteria:

1) What would be funny?


So, with those principles firmly in mind, I decided to bench my team. My WHOLE team. Well . . . not everybody. I kept a single player, a defenseman for the Oilers named Lubamir Visnovsky. I renamed my team "Lubomir" and then started using the "talk smack" text field to write various messages from a suddenly lonely and confused Lubomir. Basically, this was my commentary on a team that was totally screwed. It was basically like a Twitter feed from a Russian who was having to take on entire fantasy squads solo. I was getting DESTROYED, and I was having fun with it. Why wallow, you know?

So today the commish locked me out of the league, with a really shirty comment about how I was ruining the league and trying to screw things up. I can't even post messages on the common board. I'm out. No soup for me.

The kicker is that the guy, in the interest of fairness, reinstated all of my starters. So now basically, instead of EVERYBODY getting a free ride on the Lubomir bus, only a few will. Smart.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I was planning on picking just one week to bring the whole squad back, just as a kind of prank. April 1 week came to mind as a good candidate. So then, maybe he'd have a case. As it stands, he just created an unfair situation in his reaction to what he claims is me creating an unfair situation.

So here's the moral dilema: What kind of animal poo should I mail to this guy? (You know, hypothetically. I don't actually condone the mailing of poo. Kind of gorss.) I mean, I don't know his name or his address, but this shouldn't be hard, right? Go ahead and weigh in in the comments. Your vote counts.

* * * *

By the way, I read in Card Player magazine about Sky Poker, who are offering a cool 600 bonus this month. You might want to check that out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 003

Wow, I almost forgot to do this. Once again, I'm hosting a $50 + 5 tournament on the first Sunday of the year. If all goes well, this will be a quarterly event, and thus the first of many, many chances to make a really stupid bankroll decision. I mean, seriously, unless you are rolled over a thousand dollars, why are you even thinking about this? It's just hard-earned profit flushed down the john, really, when you could make a much more +EV decision to grind 10 five-dollar SNG. Think of how much more fun THAT would be. Take your time thinking about it.

I'll wait.

OK, done?

Here's the next un-reason to play:

Somebody has to win. Maybe it will be you.

That's right, there is a 100% chance of somebody winning. Who knows? It might be you (Note: It won't be you, but it might be (it won't - but MAYBE (no))) that takes down the big money.

So sign on up and take your chances! For maximum bad bankroll management, sign up NOW and tie that money up for no good reason. Good? Good.


Bad Bankroll Management Tournament
Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009
$50 + $5
Superstacks
Full Tilt Poker
password: busto

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let's Light This Candle

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This PokerStars tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold’em event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 999974

It's Going To Be OK

A couple thoughts:

1) Perhaps your job isn't that bad.

2) Anything is possible.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heroes 009: You Must Remember This, Eclipse Is Just Eclipse

"I hate Heroes."
-Sylar

Right on, Sylar. Me too.

Remember when the police DID factor in to the storyline? Remember when Parkman was a cop? Remember when he did cop things with his man-faced cop partner? Remember when he wanted to be a detective instead of (face it) a teenaged girl with cerebral palsey's stalker?

Remember when Hiro was actually on a mission to do something instead of just bumbling around the world? Remember when the powers were caused by genetics (remember Papa Suresh's book)? Remember when they'd been around before the eclipse? Remember when eclipses only lasted 5 minutes instead of seven hours? Remember when eclipses could just be predicted by almanacs instead of precogs? Remember when this show sort of seemed to take place in something resembling the real world?

Remember when Sylar was conflicted, yet consistent in his motivation for longer than seven minutes? That guy has the attention span of a border collie whose owner put Red Bull in his dish. In this season alone, he has gone from psycho killer redux, to Ma-trelli's lapdog, to Pa-Trelli's lapdog, to Elle's lapdog, back to psycho killer again. Remember when he already had Elle's powers, so he wouldn't need to steal them again this week?

(The reasoning for this Sylar-back-and-forth was alway vague, and in story terms it accomplished . . . hmmmmmm. Actually, what the hell has been accomplished in story terms? Big zero. Seriously. What's the overall arc? There's a formula that will give everybody powers and that will blow up the world. Remember that? That's the premise. If you forgot that, you are forgiven, because it hasn't really had any forward motion at all in the past six or seven episodes. We've been watching Sylar do the motivational shuffle, and listening to boring conversations about scarecrows.)

Remember when Nathan thought God healed him and was speaking in tongues? Does he still believe in God, or was it the most half-assed conversion ever? Do you think we'll find out who healed him? Do you think he misses Linderman's ghost, or even briefly wonders where Linderman's ghost went? Do you think he'll ever actually go to Washington to be confirmed as a Senator? Do you think that the other Senators are going to give him a hard time for never even showing up to work, which is perhaps understandable if you've been hired as a dishwasher in a Waffle House fifty miles outside of Topeka, but less so if you are one of only 100 citizens who is responsible from legislating from the United States Senate? Has he even been sworn in yet? Has he been impeached for no-call-no-show? What about that shady guy who appointed him, the guy with the Southern accent, who, since he had the power to appoint a Senator from New York, must be first Southern governor of New York -- what about him? Is he wondering where his new Senator and his consultant with benefits Tracy have gotten to? DO YOU SEE HOW LAZY THIS IS?

Remember when Bennett was smart enough not to hide his daughter from Sylar by taking her back to the abandoned house that is one of the few places that all three of them (Noah, Claire, Sylar) had recently all been together? Remember when he was smart enough to not get the bad guys in his sniper crosshairs, and then let them make out, have sex, cuddle, and notice his unneccessary aiming laser, before taking the shot?

Remember when Inky Sue left town? SHE LEFT TOWN DAMMIT!!!! DO NOT!!!! BRING HER!!!! BACK!!!!

Remember when a character could die on the operating table (how does cracking the chest solve systemic infection?) and another could get their throat cut, and there would be maybe a little bit of tension?

Remember when Mohinder wasn't a total idiot? OK, I made that one up.


It is official. Season three is even worse than season two, by the same factor that season two was worse than season one.

Oh, the Haitian resolved the long-standing issues with his brother. Cool. We just heard about those a week ago. Powerful moment, Heroes. Oh, Bennett is a morally conflicted psuedo government spook again. Oh, Claire hates her dad she loves her dad she hates her dad she loves her dad she hates her dad she loves her dad she hates her dad YAWN.

It's like they just reach into the Character cookie jar, and then the Motivation cookie jar, and then the Plot Point cookie jar, and that's it for each episode.

Here, I found the Heroes writers Mad Libs plot form for the next two episodes and have scanned it in. Click to make big.

Allow me to paint the future for you . . .



I really can't take much more of this. It's a really, really, really bad show. It isn't even funny anymore. I feel like I am making fun of a retarded kid now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Get In Here For Some Of The Real Thing

You know how it is. You're playing a long tournament, and your mind is wandering. You have the latest South Park open (hilarious). Every so often, the poker cliet screen flickers to the front and you make a quick decision, based on increasingly limited information. Fold. Fold. Call, fold. Cartman. Do you know who is agressive at your table? Who is tight? What does it matter? You've been here before. If you get a nice size stack, you'll pay attention. But for some reason, you just haven't been getting that big stack lately . . .

That's right. You've lost focus.

I've been trying something lately. It's been helping. The results have been good, but results in MTT are deceptive. No, it's been helping my mindset. Perhaps it will help yours, as well. One can only hope, and, after all, I'm here to help.

I have the recipe for you now. Here's what you do.

[The rest of this post can be read at Poker From The Rail on Full Tilt Poker]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 002

I'm a man of my word. A new week, a new non-reason to play the Bad Bankroll-Management Tourney on 9:00 PM EST, Sunday, January 4.

This week's reason that signing up for this tournament (password: busto) on Full Tilt would be a -EV decision, and one you'll almost surely regret:

As far as I know, Buddy Dank Radio will not be broadcasting.

That's right. The most enjoyable reason to sling chips around with our virtual crew? Not a factor. So come on down! It may be a bad decision, but at least it will probably be dull!

In other news, Pauly has been kind enough to invite me to guest post from time to time over at the Coventry Music & Phish blog. I'm a true Phish poseur, but I know a good offer when I hear one, and I am honored and happy to be on board. If Phish ain't your thing, well, I am a just and merciful ruler, and I forgive you. But it's some of your favorite writers over there, it's about music, it's fun, so join the party! Bring glow-sticks.

Also, there's plenty of other musical writings over there. Heck, I just laid down my first musical writings ever, on the subject of Frank Zappa's seminal album,
We're Only In It For The Money

This platter dropped in 1968, at the height of the hippy drippy love-in that was radiating out (so the story goes) from the porches of Haight Ashbury and spreading peace throughout the country, Frank Zappa went ahead and put out this album, a poison plum chucked at the collective heads, and Heads, of the sixties. The target was all that was fatuous and empty and dark in society, on all sides. It's shock-and-awe satire, tough love minus the love . . .


Go to the Coventry Blog to read more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heroes 008: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Dumb

This is so much easier now that I don't care anymore.

Let's recap in screeplay format, shall we?

SCENE 1

Enter MOHINDER and INKY SUE

Mohinder: I have a serum that gives powers! I'll use it on myself! Nothing will go wrong!
Inky Sue: You've got powers!
Mohinder: And a boner!
Inky Sue: You're a monster!
Mohinder: YES ARRGLY ARRGLY you are now in a cocoon!
Inky Sue: Let me go!
Mohinder: OK, but only if you leave the show forever.

Exit INKY SUE. Enter PA-TRELLI.

Pa-Trelli: My power is to never have inflection.
Mohinder: Now is the part of the season mein schprockets when I work for the bad guys in a lab coat.
Pa-Trelli: Work for me.
Mohinder: OK, I guess I'm no longer a bug? Just a guy with skin tags glued onto his neck and a man-beehive hairdo?
Pa-Trelli: Sure, whatever. Perform an experiment on this guy.
Mohinder: What? With the serum that turned me into a monster?
Pa-Trelli: Yeah.
Mohinder: That sounds like it would have very predictable and undesirable results. A very stupid idea. I'll do it!

[Mohinder DOES THIS. The guy very predictably turns into a MONSTER, albiet one with no powers.]

Mohinder: "I. Am. So. Sorry.

Guy: BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGH!!!!


SCENE 2

HIRO and ANDO are in Africa. They just ARE, okay? The TOKEN BLACK GUY gets BEHEADED by PA-TRELLI

Token Black Guy: Whatever.
Pa-Trelli: Hiro, you screwed up this job. Which was to bring the precog to me. Because ostensibly I needed him. Even though I just beheaded him. So I guess I should have sent you to kill him. Or I could have just done it myself. I am kind of hoping nobody remembers that you're here because I sent you.
Hiro: I LIKE CHEESE!
Pa-Treli: OK. Well, you represent easily the biggest threat to me and my plans. So, instead of killing you or taking your powers, both of which I am easily capable of doing, I think I'll just do something needlessly convoluted.

[He reverts HIRO'S mind to the age of TEN. This makes ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE.]

Hiro: I LIKE CHEESE!
Ando: Oh no! Now, having done the needlessly convoluted thing, it appears that Pa-Trelli is really going to kill us! Hiro, teleport!
Hiro: WAFFLES!
Ando: No, just teleport! Here, I'll make you scrunch up your face.

[This ACTUALLY WORKS]

Me: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Ando: Wow, you teleported just because I made your face move?
Hiro: FART!
Ando: Do you stop time every time you take a dump?
Hiro: COMIC BOOK!
Ando: Huh, this comic book is still being drawn, even though the artist got his head sawed off two years back.
Hiro: SANDWICH!

[Hiro prances around like a drugged elf.]


SCENE 3

LAW-TRELLI and NIKKI 3 enter PA-TRELLI's sanctum. It is really easy to do.

Law-Trelli: Dad, you're still alive.
Pa-Trelli: Son, you're a senator.
Law-Trelli: Is that still part of the plot?
Pa-Trelli: You are the key to my plan. You're meant to be president.
Law-Trelli: So . . . that's why you tried to kill me?
Pa-Trelli: You know what? Let's just cut away from this scene.


SCENE 4

PA-TRELLI and SYLAR are walking along.

Pa-Trelli: Son, you can take powers without sawing off heads.
Sylar: What?
Pa-Trelli: Just tap into your empathy.
Sylar: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Wow, that really is funny how you pretended to make it the lamest and most trite thing possible.
Pa-Trelli: . . .
Sylar: No, seriously. How do I do it?
Pa-Trelli: Here, go into this room.
Sylar: OK.
Elle: I HATE YOU YOU KILLED MY FATHER I HATE YOU DIE!!!
Sylar: Ow, my skin!
Elle: YOU ARE A MONSTER I HATE YOU DIE!!!!
Sylar: Ow my whole head chest neck and shirt!
Elle: I WILL KILL YOU!!!
Sylar: I forgive you. Please forgive yourself.
Elle: OMG OMG
Sylar: It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault. It's not your fault.
Good Will Hunting: I'm healed!
Elle: BE MY BOYFRIEND, DADDY KILLER!

[They MAKE OUT, while PA-TRELLI watches on closed-circuit.]



SCENE 5

PARKMAN and SPEEDY walk into the WORLD'S MOST DESERTED HOSPITAL and find MA-TRELLI

Parkman: I'm going to go in there.
Speedy: Gross! She's sleeping!
Parkman: No, I mean into her brain. Ew.
Speedy: OK, I'll go get a nurse or something. I'm not going to totally betray you.

She TOTALLY BETRAYS HIM. Meanwhile, PARKMAN enters a David Lynch dream and is STABBED by SPEEDY, representing his SENSE OF OBVIOUSNESS. SPEEDY returns and notices that PARKMAN is bleeding, because YOUR MIND CAN GIVE YOU OPEN WOUNDS. She then enters PARKMAN'S mind by touching his hand. I guess that is how that WORKS.

Parkman: Oooowwwie!!
Speedy: Now I loves you! I loves you with all my heart!
Parkman: I love you too!
Pa-Trelli: You can't love dese hos. She'll betray you! My wife tried to kill me and paralyzed me!
Ma-Trelli: Let me go.
Pa-Trelli: For no reason? Why not?

They ALL WAKE UP

Parkman: Was that you in my brain, Speedy?
Speedy: Yes, and now I still suddenly love you.
Parkman: I love you!
Speedy: Should we kiss?
Parkman: Hey! Where did my TURTLE go?


SCENE 6

CLAIRE and PETER un from THING 1 and THING 2

Pete: Blah blah blah blah innocent
Claire: Yadda yadda yadda, run away.
Pete: NO! Oh, Okay.

PETER runs. CLAIRE prepares for a standoff.

Claire: I'm the defensive player of the year!
Thing 1 and Thing 2: What does that even mean?

CLAIRE throws herself out a WINDOW, and right past Peter. This has the effect of LEADING THE BAD GUYS RIGHT TO PETER.

Thing 1 and Thing 2: That's defense? We could have easily thrown you out of a window. In fact, that was kind of our plan.

PETER does something with a gas main that is ALMOST SORT OF INTELLIGENT.

Peter: Now keep in mind that, since being stripped of my powers, I do not have appeared to have absorbed any powers from Claire, Elle, Thing 1 or Thing 2. This would indicated that my power-absorbing power has been removed as well. I am sure that this show will be consistant about that.

EVERYBODY remains politely SILENT.

Claire: So, how long has it been since you abandoned your Irish girlfriend in a hellish future-that-no-longer-is without any comment or qualm?
Peter: Eighty-three whole days!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Going To Be OK

Shake everything you got.


The Month Of December Has Been Brought To You By:

Sky Poker.

Flogging My Silly Bloggament 001

OK, I'm going to do a weekly post about the Bad Bankroll-Management Tournament, a quarterly tournament I'm running with a buy-in that is simply irresponsible relative to the bankrolls of many of us (Example: Me). This is what is known in the "business" of "blogging" as "pimping the tournament", or "annyoing use of quotation marks."

Nothing can stop me. Once a week, I'll be posting an un-reason to play.

This week's reason: Noted poker pro Layne Flack will NOT, as far as I know, be playing. So come on out for absolutely no chance to pick up a pro bounty!

Two further notes:

1) Last week the tournament was advertised as being on January 3. That was a mistake. It is on January 4. Please update your PDAs and personal calendars immediately.

2) I don't know why Pauly's blog has become so popular. Honestly. So much about poker media is about glamorizing the lifestyle, promoting easy money, mind-reading cardsharps, the lights, the glitz, the Milwaukee's Best TV hand. And here's Pauly, giving us the bracing and unflinching reality. Never mind. I guess I see why Pauly's blog is so popular.

You've probably noticed it, but Pauly's been hitting it out of the park with some really pretty writing about some really ugly scenes. It's a merciless look at the luring lie that Vegas is, or really that any promise of something for nothing is. It's a nice reminder to me to keep poker a game and a mental exercise, never a lifestyle.

Take a look. Pauly takes a quarter and rubs the shiny silver off the ticket. There's nothing underneath.

Emissaries from the Land of Indulgence

Existentialist Conversations with Hookers

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heroes 007: No No No No No

Sorry, I promised a Heroes post last week and just didn't get to it. It's pain aversion. I just don't know how much longer I can take this. I have so much hatred in me now. To their credit, the show runners seem to have realized with this nearly hour-long flashback that we've set up so many different threads, we'll need to go back a bit to try to unravel them. Sadly, they completely botched it. Last week's episode was an intriguing, generally well-acted little story about completely different people with the same names, and played by the same actors.

Unless the title card "Villains" (which replaced "Heroes") indicates that we are in an alternate universe having no impact upon the show we've been watching, and in which everybody is slightly different, then we have lost whatever tenuous grasp on chronology and consistency we once had. And, if we are in an alternate dimenison, then it is equally meaningless. Frankly, I'd welcome life in a dimension in which Heroes ended after Season 1. Maybe next week the title will be "Idiots." That would be fun. And accurate.


Just a few of the many, many reasons that I am losing my strength when it comes to this show.


* Eighteen months ago, Bennett was working with Elle. How interesting! Cool pairing! Too bad we already know that Elle wasn't let out of the Company's fortress until she went looking for Pete-reli in Ireland last season. And that Bennett was working with the Haitian. Other than that, though, tight plotting.

* Eighteen months ago, Bennett was monitoring Sylar and basically turning him into a serial killer by encouraging him to give into "his hunger" (TM 3 weeks ago). What a reveal! It would be SO compelling . . . except that we have memories. In Season 1, Bennett didn't know who Sylar was, or what he looked like, or what motivated him. We also know that Bennett's view of the Company's policy was to keep tabs on ALL paranormals and to imprison them as soon as they manifested. I will say it's nice that they remembered that Bennett used to be a ruthless company man. Too bad they forgot . . . oh, everything else.

* Eighteen months ago, Elle was very conflicted about what they were doing to Sylar. Except that we know that in Season 2 she was a totally unhinged psychopath who was pretty likely to burn you to death and enjoy it. When did she get all Sarah McLachlan? Where have all the psychopaths gone?

* Dummy McBlueHands: "An invisible guy tackled me." You mean the invisible guy who started helping paranormals escape the Company? Who got caught? Whom Bennett shot and went into hiding and therefore was not working for the Company? That invisible man? ARRRRGH.

* Eighteen months ago, Bennett got into a cab that Mohinder was driving. But we already know that Mohinder doesn't have a brain but rather a complex ganglion of nerve endings in his lower back, and therefore lacks the requisite motor skills to wipe spittle off his chin, much less drive in Manhattan. Oh, actually that sounds like a Manhattan cab driver. Never mind.

* Eighteen months ago, Peter had bangs in his face. Now I want to drown myself whenever I watch this show.


It's not over, I suppose. When we leave off, Pa-trelli is killing Hiro in the African desert, and that's a step in the right direction. Pete-treli is a much more interesting character now that he has limitations besides plot-demanded stupidity. And LOST has shown us that flashbacks can be employed to mind-bending effect. But a flashback should tell us something new, shouldn't it? Couldn't we have gotten something compelling about Pa-trelli's motivations? All we learned is Ma-trelli put Pa-trelli into that coma, that Firebug worked for the Company for about a minute, and also she's the sister of that other guy with the blueflame hands, because everybody in this universe needs to be related. We also learned things we already knew: that Bennett used to be an unquestioning foot soldier, that Linderman worked for Pa-trelli, that Pa-trelli is evil and willing (almost eager) to kill his own sons, that Sylar becomes a demon because of "the hunger", and that it's funny watching a slack-jawed goth guy get thrown into some furniture. Everything else we are shown flatly contradicts key plot and character points. Why am I even surprised by this?

I guess the next flashback will show us that Mohinder is a scientist, Parkman is the long-lost brother of his turtle, Sylar was Claire's violin teacher for a spell, Hiro can teleport and is childlike in his love of comic books, and Ando rarely blinks.

(Oh and for future reference, it's Pa-trelli, Ma-trelli, Pete-trelli, and Law-trelli for Nathan. Long lost Sylar will be referenced as Faux-trelli whenever his connection to the clan is being made explicit. Good? Good.)

Right. And also, "finger gun" is the dumbest power ever. It even beats "paint the future." It would have been better if Sylar had killed him and then just left his power alone, like the crowd at baseball games throwing back an opponent's home run ball. "Finger gun? Um . . . yeah, that's great. No, no . . that's OK. I've, um . . . I've absorbed all the powers I can."

Oh and while I am whining like a mule, are Arthur's only powers the mind control thing? Why is that, if he can steal powers? If he is as power-hungry and evil as he's shown, wouldn't it make sense that he's having the Company gather up super-people to steal their powers? Wouldn't he have snagged a heal power, or an invulnerable power, or a poison-power at some point? It wouldn't have helped as long as the Haitian was around so he'd have still gotten poisoned, but at least then he wouldn't have been bed-ridden for so long. And since I'm here, if Linderman and Ma-trelli had such a problem with Arthur, why are they moving forward with the plot to blow up New York? In a normal show I'd assume these questions would be answered. In a normal show.

I guess the only thing to do is to sign off with the only thing on video that is now dumber than Heroes. May I present SpeedFit, the moving treadmill? This thing is real, y'all:



Invest now!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drive on the sidewalk until I feel better about all this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heroes Post Coming

I haven't written the Heroes recap yet, I know. It just hurts so much.

Tomorrow, for sure. In the meantime, here's some super heroes who make a bit more sense.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FTW

Take a look at this and decide if it isn't the funniest poker blog since Poker Champ made his last bloviating proclaimation.

Behold. Poker Blaaargh!

I for one welcome our alien tentacled insectile, chthonic Lovcraftian horror overlord.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Going To Be OK

You've seen this. Unless you haven't.

If you haven't seen this, or if you have, enjoy.

One world, y'all.



Here for much better video quality (yay!) but embedding disallowed (boo!).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Introducing the BB(m)T

"I'll never buy into a cash game or a Sit & Go with more than 5 percent of my total bankroll."
-Chris Ferguson, Full Tilt Poker

I've always wanted to host a blogger tourney, but I was never sure what niche to fill. Now I know. My way is clear, now. Given my clear and total lack of understanding of the fundamentals (I am, after all, the author of Stupid/System), it is my duty and my destiny to bring you a really stupid tournament.

Some of you are very good about your bankrolls. You observe strict limits and never play above your level. Good for you. Now stop being such babies and sign up already. Geez.

Some of you are big winners, and have no concern about putting down the buyin. Good news! The rest of us will be VERY scared money. Sign up!

The rest of you are like me. You just play what it occurs to you to play and muddle along. On the way, you make some really stupid poker decisions. This is your tournament, right here.

Behold. The Bad Bankroll-Management Tourney. (I am thinking we could call it BBT for short.)

A few points of note on some decisions I have made to make this as stupid as possible:

1) I've make this thing Superstacks so there's plenty of play. This means it will take TWO brutal one-outer beats to send you to the rail. Also, you'll be up until 2:00 AM.

2) Because I am deeply lazy, I'm only going to run it on the first Saturday or Sunday of every quarter, so all the losers have time to grind back at the $2.20 SNGs. (That is, I'll run it quarterly if the first one goes well. By "goes well", I mean at least three people show up.)

3) As an added incentive to make it even stupider, there is absolutely no money added to the pool! That's right, you heard right: Full Tilt is not putting up ANY prizes or additional cash.

So come on out, and make a really bad bankroll decision! You'll be out fifty-five smackers if you lose, but hey! You might just win! (You won't. You'll lose.) So hit those wonderful satellites that run around the clock on Full Tilt, or just buy straight in!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The November 9: Regurgitated Corporate Fever-Dreams

I have to say, I am disappointed in the media bias.

No, not politics. I'm talking about the November Nine. In case you've forgotten (and let's face it, you totally have), I was amazed this summer to discover I knew each of the men who made the final table personally. I went through hell and back to secure the right to post what I knew.

It was a hair-raising experience, and not one I entered into lightly. Could America take the truth? But no, I finally decided, it didn't matter if we were ready as a culture, the truth must come out. I pulled the pin on the grenade and chucked it out into the Internet, then hunkered in my bunker, waiting for the cleansing cultural fires of tactical response.

The response? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Instead, my RSS reader is clogged with this bunko corporate nonsense passing as "biography" of the November Nine. Even Pauly has drunk the kool-aide of mendacity, posting a well-written breakdown of each of these individuals that is, for all its clarity of prose, nothing but the regurgitated corporate fever-dreams of Howard Lederer, Chris Moneymaker, and Norman Chad. Lies, lies, and damned lies. Shame on you, Pauly. I expect this crap from CardPlayer, but not from you.

Fine. Here we go again. Before the cards hit the air, I present you with the REAL November Nine.

Dennis Phillips
Craig Marquis
Ylon Schwartz
Scott Montgomery
Darus Suharto
"David" Chino "Rheem"
Ivan Demidov
Kelly Kim
Peter Eastgate

Again, and please believe me as if the future of civilization hung in the balance (for all we know, it does): All of this is completely true.*


*Not completely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

It Don't Mean A Thing

Even though this clip is only 8 seconds long, you may lose hours of your life. Why? Because it doesn't get less funny with repetition. At all.

Behold: Charles Barkley's golf swing.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heroes 006: Defenestration Nation

And now, a reading from The Book Of Patreli, Chapter 1, verses 1-8

1 And so it came to pass that the man Sylar didst have serious mommy issues, which verily didst cause him to changeth his piorities and motiviations, and, yea, even his very character at the droppeth of a hat, thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times in an episode. 2 And then Sylar, being mighty in power, did find favor with his brother, but even so when his father did entreat him he did switch, and with his might didst smite his brother Peter and cause him to be thrown from a high place. 3 But lo! Though Peter didst fall, yet he did not die, for his brother Sylar did still love him in secret, though verily not in a gay way (though, letteth us face it, there wast truly an uncomforable amount of hugging and breathing heavily with longing glances far too close and lingering for the comfort of most). 4 And then didst Peter find favor with the LORD and escape with his brother's daughter Claire, who could not feel pain and neither could she act. And then Sylar's father was wroth, and did gnash his teeth, and rent his robe, and smiteth he his right hand man, who causeth nightmares, for very little reason.

5 So the audience was filled with great loathing, and they cursed the writers and swore an oath to them. "May your tongue cleave to the roof of your mouth, which will make ordering at French restaurants very difficult, and may your contact lenses be very hard to get out at night! You are like unto a goat without a goatherd! Unto the tenth generation I curse you, for truly we say to you the Nightmare Man was interesting to us! So mucheth now for the subplot in which ghost-Lindermaneth was appearing to Senator Patreli, and whateth the helleth was that all abouteth, anyway? 6 Eth you!"

7At that time there were many signs and miracles, and Parkman did getteth played like a punk, and Hiro did eateth of the paste of hyena dung, because he is totally getting hazed by the African seer, and Ando did laugh to himself, and Inky Sue did depart, and there was much rejoicing. 8 Also, verily Mohinder was a stupid prat in the eyes of G-d and man. Amen.


Hey! It's Heroes! It's kind of fun again even though it doesn't make much sense unless you don't think very much about it, which keeps it from being fun. Let's try to keep up here.

Claire and Electro-Loo. I can't quite understand aiport security. I can't bring on bottled water, but a girl who is actually shooting off visible electricity just gets to sit in business class, no problem? Also, superheroes taking a plane? WHERE IS YOUR DUMB FLYING BOYFRIEND WEST? Also, am I the only person who really hoped they would crash on LOST island?

Noah. He's working with Meredith now. I guess the Haitian is busy. That's fine. What's Noah even doing now? He was on Level 5, then there was a jailbreak, and I guess that meant he wasn't dangerous to the company anymore, because they want him to catch the bad guys, because I guess he's their only human operative? Isn't this a big Company with a lot of government funding? Is Noah their only spook? Wasn't the big scene between him and Claire at the end of Season 2 all about how he had rejoined the Company to keep the Company off Claire's back, but he now can never see her again? But now he's back to the house all the time. I'm lying down now.

Meredith. Hey, the show remembered that she and Nathan were a thing once. Good going, show! Way to remember stuff!

Nathan. Man, he's gotten boring. What the dilly-o? He was all full of God for about a minute. Now he's full of cotton swabbing. That said, I hope next week shows him flying in an airplaine to visit his dad. That would be funny.

Hiro and Ando. Hiro is back to not wanting to change the past. Again. Yawn. Somebody hit this guy with a shovel a third time, quick.

Daddy Powersuck. I like him, I'm rooting for him. I don't really know what else to say. He's got something going on beneath the surface. It's probably just that Robert Forster can act and he hasn't been around enough to become a totally different person seven times.

Nightmare Man. Snap, crackle, buh-bye.

Mohinder. There's something I've noticed about the lines that are written for him. They take the maximum amount of words to convey the most simple ideas. They are repetitive, they are redundant phrases, they are on some kind of recursive loop, they say the same thing over and over but each iteration in one of his interminable sentences is more abstract and more pointless and melodramatic, it's almost as if he just wants a drink of water, but they don't have him say, "Water please," but rather they have him say, "I am seeking water, something wet and moist that I can drink, the very giver of life that seeps from the earth and covers us and in fact makes up every part of us, that very essential element which is one of the four that poets have long sung of and which flows even in our very blood, and I'm a spider sometimes EEEAAAAAUUUGHA BOOGLE VOICEOVER!!!!" Essentially, he is what Seinfeld said about Newman. "No, there's not more to him than meets the eye. There's less."

My point is, I think that he thinks that he's narrating all the time. I'd like to see more of this. I'd like to see him eating a slice of pizza, intoning, ". . .the pizza of life is mysterious, some of us prefer the peperoni of certainty, other enjoy the pinapple of confusion . . . " and so on.


For next week's episode, I want to see Hiro get drunk and try to seduce Parkman's turtle. But then . . . he kills the turtle!!!!! Comercial break!!!! We're back aaaaaaand . . . it wasn't the turtle at all, it was just a pillow and Hiro was dreaming. Then Matt shoots him, shoots him dead!!! Comercial break!!!!

It's Going To Be OK

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Education of Julius Goat

A brief warning: Unless you are actually interested in my writing process, this is going to be as dull as fifty bad beat stories. Razz bad beat stories. Feel free to seek distraction elsewhere.

If you're still with me, then thanks for your interest. I will be your best friend as this whole world, as my older daughters would say.

I've been at this novel thing for about four months solid now, and at the beginning of this month, I actually started writing it. I think I've already mentioned in this space that there was so much inventory to take, and so many choices about what to keep in, what to leave out, what new directions to discover, and all the difficult work of actually crafting a story, that it took me through the better part of three months. It was fun and excruciating. It made all my hair fall out and then grow back in again. My eyebrows still have not returned, and were last seen on safari somewhere west of Nairobi.

Pretty much twice a weekend, I sit down at my desk, call up a jazz/classical playlist, pour a fine beer, and try to fall into that old groove. If I do a good job, I look over three or four hours later and the beer is only half drunk. If I'm procrastinating, I open a second beer.

There have been more two beer nights than half beer nights, sad to say. I am easily distracted. But I'm getting better, and closer, as I clear the debris out of my writin' groove and write fiction regularly for the first time in eight years.

Here's what I'm learning.


The Internets are a writer's greatest friend. The other day I found myself unexpectedly having to know more than I currently do about bowling balls. For example, what are they made of? In the past, this would have required work, and, let's face it, work is for total losers. Now? The answer is at my fingertips. I am probably the poker blogger who knows the most about how bowling balls are made.

The Internets are a writer's worst enemy. You do realize that, instead of writing, I can play poker, right? Like, whenever I want? Or I can read blogs, as many blogs as I want. Or I can fire up the IM and see who's around for a chat. Or I can play one of the 100,000 free Flash Games that are available. I mean, sure, one could write what one hopes is an engaging and meaningful novel . . . but how far can you make the Yeti smack the penguin this time? Put it this way: While I was writing this very paragraph, I checked my bloglines.


Have a framework and stick to it. Whenever I write a blog post or a short story, or pretty much anything, I just start with a general idea and then let it rip. After a quick read-through and polish, it's done. That's worked OK for me, but what became clear from my first abortive attempt at Subject to Infinite Change was that this method just wasn't going to hack it. I'd make things up as I went along, but when I went back to read it again, I found that either characters were acting on motivations that hadn't been properly explained (or even hastily sketched out), and that plot points were just popping out of nowhere in highly contrived fashion. Why, I could have written for Heroes! To have cut out the parts of the story that aren't story, and made firm decisions about what parts are, and how they are supposed to roll out, is freeing beyond words. Long fiction demands this kind of scrutiny; you just can't fake it. Or, at least, I can't.

Do not stick to the framework. Having said that, I've discovered that the freeway to dull, pedantic writing is to just take the plot and write it, or just take the themes and put them in your character's mouth. You have to start around the edges, make the reader see something very vividly, move them into the moment, before you can get the action going. If your narrative is nothing more than Character did Thing and then Thing and then Thing, you may as well be posting hand histories. Good writing comes in through the side door.


Writing is like poker. Once you have the framework, it's just a case of keeping your eye right in front of you. You aren't writing yesterday's pages, or tomorrow's. You aren't done, and you never will be unless you make the next sentence an interesting and useful sentence. And then the next. And then the next. Word by word, sentence by sentence, your choices need to be good and unpredictable.

Writing is nothing at all like poker. No cards. Duh.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Setting The Record Straight

Enough with the innuendo and heresay. A few Obama rumors debunked. Just doing my part.


Obama Facts: Truth or Smear? -- powered by Cracked.com