Friday, September 17, 2010

Your Weekly Dose Of Awesome

This is awesome both because it is well acted and funny, and because a year earlier, I wrote a freakishly similar story with basically the exact same premise.

"We are two peas in a pod! Just two peas in a pod!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

Crazy continues to bleed into awesome. I bet you've seen some of these before, but what is astonishing to me is that there is SO MUCH of this sort of thing on film. Even accounting for some of it being staged, after a while the sheer number of close calls starts to have a trancelike effect. By minute six, you'll probably at least half-believe in guardian angels.

Check it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The New Deal

All right, I'm putting my foot down. Enough is enough. I've taken all I can stands, and I can't stands no more. This far, no farther. The buck stops here. No more fooling around. You can't get fooled again. I've had it up to here.

I'm talking about the nicknames for poker hands. Aces are rockets or bullets, kings are cowboys, Queen three is the gay waiter, fives are presto. Enough. From the Bellagio to, from Pacific Poker to . . . I don't know, is there an Atlantic Poker? -- these are the names that are used.

I say no more. Let's change it up a bit.

AA - Ah, the best hand in Hold 'Em. Unfortunately, I and everybody I know thinks that this means we are entitled to win with them every time we get them, and thus the losses hurt not just from chips lost but from a sense of entitlement thwarted. Aces are like the spoiled trust fund kid with serious entitlement issues who is just begging to get punched in the face while the crowd cheers his pain. Let's call these Spencer Pratts, or just "Pratts" for short.

AK - I'm going to refer to this one as Chthulu, because it seems very powerful, and also it eats my soul. Remember, when you find AK in the void, the void finds AK into you.

AJ - I recommend we call this one The Leno. It's so much more inferior to any other hand that it will ever meet in a big showdown that you're just infuriated when it comes out on top over greater value.

JJ - Call them Doc Hollidays, and you're a daisy if you do. Good to have in a fight, but eventually they'll die hacking blood into a doily.

JT - This is a hand that a whole lot of players seem incapable of folding, usually (I suspect) because it is actually a playable hand, and once a certain type of player has decided to play with a hand, no action after that decision can change their decision, even though JT is really at the bottom of the playable hand stack. Let's use the initials then, and, as a public service announcement of sorts, start calling the hand Just Trash.

T4o - I say we name this hand The Greatest. I think it just needs some attention and a self-esteem boost. It's been folded like 600,782 times in a row.

72 - No, I'm kidding. This will always be The Hammer. Don't mess with the best.

23 - It's the hand you'll never see coming when it guts you on that 223 board. Impossible to imagine that somebody has it, but under the right circumstances it can destroy the mighty. Let's call deuce trey Frodo and Samwise.

More suggestions?

Implied Odds

As soon as it turned up on my screen I knew it was trouble. It was the type of flop to make a 50 year monk break his oath of poverty. It was the same kind of flop that convinced Julius Caesar to ignore the sleek headed men around him. It was the fifth shot of tequila. The tipping point.

The time was last Friday, late, and the scene was a typical one. Poker Stars was not so much a room I hadn't given up on as it was a room that had yet to give up on me, and 180-seaters were just anonymous enough. My hand was pocket Jacks, otherwise known as My Two Sons. The action, juicy. My sentences, choppy, terse as a chaw of jerky recently discovered under the car seat.

My name's Goat. I carry a badge. And a hammer. I look into the hand histories that nobody else will look at. What I find isn't always pretty to look at, but looking at it keeps the lights on. Except this time I was the monkey dancing on the hook.

I'm not much of one to expect things in this life. The only thing I can count on is what's between my ears. That, and the fact that a couple Old Fashioned will get you where you need to go most of the time, that the joints which are the best online casinos rarely have time for me, and that a snub nose in the small of the back makes a better bribe than a C-note slid under the desk. Those are my expectations, and I don't expect to add to the list any time soon, certainly not with some kind of wet-eared nonsense like "the best hand holds."

But now this flop had come and dropped a golden monkey wrench on the felt.

"Mr. Goat," she simpered. "I've just offered you top set and it's uncoordinated."

I smiled and tried not to eye her Jack of hearts. It was begging me to fall in love.

"That's very pretty," I said, maybe a little too quickly. "What's your business with me?"

The flop slinked around my desk and pushed back my hat. The sort of thing that if a man did it I'd be glad enough to show him his throat, but now I was just glad enough to let her do it.

"Slow play, Mr. Goat." she whispered. "You're four-handed, and you know that one of these monkeys will shove on you."

I didn't want to believe her, but it made decent sense, as far as these sorts of things go. "And what's your interest in this? You want a cut?"

She laughed. "Hardly, Mr. Goat. I simply want to prove to you that I can be trusted. After that . . . well. After that, I may need to ask something of you that will make me need to trust you."

Never listen to a flop with looks that make you want to stop listening, I thought, but I checked all the same. One of my opponents, ImTheBoss, pushed forward 10,000 even, about a third of his stack and about a quarter of mine. It folded to me.

"Just call," the flop said. She offered her cigarette in a cheroot for me to light. I obliged both requests.

The turn was a Queen that put a second heart on the board. I didn't like the look of that. Neither did ImTheBoss, it seemed. He checked.

"Check again," she said, with a toothy smile. "Draw him in."

"The hell I will, sister." I snarled, and then I saw her mask crack, just for a moment. She was good. Very good.

"But . . . "

"You just wanted to lead me down the primrose path, didn't you? But when the bell tolls, there's just one sap here it'll be tolling for. I'm contacting Stars support."

She threw herself at me. "No, Mr. Goat! No, I can't go back to --"


"Never mind."

"Yes. Never mind. That's good, 'never mind.' Never mind that he's sitting there with 21 outs. Just check and give him the goods, and never mind who's goods get ganked."

I shoved, and the flop smiled, letting me know I'd been guffed. ImTheBoss tabled his pocket ladies with a grin.

"Thank you, Mr. Goat. I don't think I'll have any further use of your services."

Never trust a flop.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

Perhaps this is your weekly dose of wrong. Or your weekly dose of Things That Should Not Be. Or maybe even your weekly dose of awesome.

This is my weekly dose of I Don't Even Know Anymore.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Worst Thing I've Ever Done 03 - Yute & the Peanut Butter YumYums

Everything fell apart immediately. Isn't that just like everything?

The first shoe to drop was the Mad Valdez, who decided that he just couldn't get out of work the next weekend for the shoot. This was most perplexing, as Valdez had been working for the same large independent book chain for the past five years, a stretch that was sure to give him some kind of seniority over the summer vacation college kids when it came to claiming schedule time. But this was Valdez for you. He could slide through logic like a minnow through a lobster cage.

"What do you mean, you can't get out of work? You still work weekends?"

"I'm sorry, Goat. I used up my last favor. I had to do some fancy footwork just to get away last weekend."

"You used your last favor on this trip last weekend?" I asked.


"So . . . you used your last possible day off to get away for a time when we didn't actually need you?"


"And did you know when you got the time off that you were calling in your last favor?"


"So, last weekend, which you knew we weren't going to need you, during which weekend we were making plans which included you, did you know at that time that you weren't going to be able to get the time off?"


"Makes sense to me. So there's nothing you can do, is that what you're telling me?"

"You have no idea how hard it is to get a break in this schedule, Goat."

I gave up. The guy was way too meek to throw around any advantage like seniority, possibly because he didn't even realize he had any advantage. In any event, the central character of the central skit was not going to be played by the guy for whom I'd written it. It was going to have to be Morgan, I decided. The guy could bring a crazy vibe to things. He was probably the only one of us who could pull it off, but he was probably going to be a little too normal no matter how broadly he carried it off. The whole thing would play darker and more uncomfortable than I had envisaged. So it goes.

So, Morgan was in as Tommy Falicki Girl Scout, . But that meant that he'd be playing the Tommy part in the governor skit too, which meant that he couldn't play the governor. Furthermore, he'd been cast in both the Stu and Jerry skit with me and the Old Farts Commemorative Coin skit with Valdez and Lee. (Three young guys sitting around in old age makeup doing Grandpa Simpson impressions -- what joy. I'd been happy to cast other members of our nascent troupe in the thing.) That meant that Morgan was going to have by far the most time on set -- which would be just fine, except that Morgan was also the guy who had expressed the least desire to do this thing. Not that he wasn't interested, he was, it's just that he was also equally not interested. Either way, really, was OK with him. Resting the entire enterprise on Morgan's rather ambivalent shoulders was foolhardy at best, and . . . well, also foolhardy at worst. It was foolhardy; that's my point.

Clearly, I needed another cast member to fill the gaps. The problem was that I knew of no other people who were both a) definitely capable of acting and b) contactable by me in these pre-Facebook days. I decided to throw a Haily Mary. The long bomb to end all long bombs.

I asked Yute.

Yute was the team leader in my department at work, a little guy with a Southern Indiana accent and an infectious gregarious nature. Almost ridiculously competent, full of energy, good hustle, could take initiative. He was clearly one of the best we had.

Here's the thing: The competent career guy was just Yute's alter ego. His Bruce Wayne, if you will. Off hours, Yute was the most amazing drunk you've ever met, the Batman of booze. By six o'clock PM on Wednesday he'd be as drunk as Winston Churchill, the center of the table of nine to fivers, ordering shots and slaying everybody with whatever popped into his skull, which was usually of the most inappropriate possible content and delivery. He was crazy, but I also knew that he was deeply, deeply funny, and probably game for something as odd as traveling a few hundred miles north to shoot comedy skits with his boss and a bunch of strangers. He had a certain spontaneous comic genius, if it could be harnessed.

This was a pretty big 'if'.

I have to tell you this, if you haven't ever asked somebody who works with you if they're interested in shooting comedy with you up in Ann Arbor for a weekend . . . well, there's not an un-awkward way of doing that, so just jump right in with an awkward way. The amazing thing is this: Yute said, "sure!" And that's how I found myself shooting up after close of business on Friday with my ultra competent office lieutenant, as well as a guy who I knew would likely be putting on the booze bat-suit and getting batshit hilarious soony. I'd already called Tiff, who as director needed to know that Valdez was out as Tommy and Old Dude #3, Morgan was in as Tommy, and out as Stu, the governor, and Old Dude #1, Yute was in as Old Dude #1 and Stu, and I was going to have to (sigh) take my place in the bald cap as Old Dude #3. Also, we needed a governor. Also, the stage blood looked terribly fake, so we'd need to shoot Sorry I Killed Your Mom in black and white, and cover Lee's shirt in chocolate syrup, which was going to require some consideration for the transition from that skit to Tommy. These are the sorts of things that you need to deal with in skit comedy, it seems.

I also wanted to talk with Tiff about something she'd said about location for the Old Dude Commemorative Coin skit. We had already secured locations for all the other shoots, but Coin had been written on the fly at the end of the planning session last week. I'd specifically written it so that we could just shoot on the back porch, but Tiff had other ideas.

"I called my grandmother's nursing home," she said. "The Director of the facility is really excited to have us come shoot there."

This seemed odd to me, but Tiff insisted that she had spoken to all authorities and it was cool. Besides, we had enough other things to discuss in our brief phone conversation, so I just let it slide for the time being.

When we arrived, the final pre-shoot issue presented itself. Lee had gone quietly insane.

"It was filling my room with cookie boxes that did it," Herring said, on his way out the door. Herring could smell disaster in the same way that koalas can smell chocolate cake frosting (according to Wikipedia). He was clearing out and crashing with his girlfriend for the weekend to avoid the oncoming madness. Also, his room was full of a seriously ridiculous number of faux girl scout cookie boxes.

This made it sort of hard to sleep in there. Or stand. Or breathe.

"Lee was up two nights running getting them all set up and the effort's pretty much left him a shell," Herring said. "A crazy shell. He's lost it. He's up on the roof now."

Thankfully, there was also good news. The cookie boxes looked amazing. Lee, though insane, was proud. When I poked my head out the window to thank him, he interrupted himself -- busy as he was smoking Dunhills and staring off into the middle distance -- to smile gratefully to me for my approbation. "I made three flavors," he confided. "Peanut Butter YumYums, Peppermintallions, and Doublestack Choco-splosions."

"Well done, soldier," I said, and left him to his work.

Also on the positive side of the ledger, Yute had made himself as drunk as Uncle Jessie within twenty minutes of our arrival -- and, I noticed with more than a little hope, was immediately cracking everybody up. It didn't appear that chemistry was going to be a problem. Even better, Tiff and Morgan had already gone out and shot some genuinely funny footage of Morgan lost in the woods for the governor skit. This could just work out, I allowed myself to think.

"GOAT!" Yute blared. "These friends of yours have got the BIGGEST GODDAM CANS OF BEANS I HAVE EVER SEEN! Look! Look!" He ran out and came back with a can the size of a pony keg under each arm. Both marked BEANS.

"I'm going crack one of these bad boys open and EAT 'em COLD in the skit tomorrow," he proclaimed, suddenly serious.

The thing I learned about Yoot is, when he becomes suddenly serious, he's going to do what he says he'll do.

In a quiet moment, I asked Tiff:

"Are you completely sure that the person running your grandma's nursing home WANTS us there?"

"Totally, Goat. Totally. Trust me on this, she's begging us. She is BEGGING us."

"Has she . . . has she read the script?"

"No, but she just really wants us there."

"We're going to get like our own area to shoot in, right?"

"But look, is it necessary? I mean, old people don't have to be in a nursing home, right? We could just use the porch . . ."

"No, we really can't. The lighting is terrible in there, it'll look washed out, awful. Plus this way we can get a lot of establishing shots."

We wouldn't need establishing shots if we weren't randomly putting these characters in a nursing home, I thought, but then remembered that I wanted to lend my support to her as director, that I wanted to be a team player, that I wanted to show that I could do this without having to have control over every little thing.

Of course, within 12 hours, the only thing I'd want would be a quick and merciful death.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pauly Hits Poker From The Rail

As you've probably noticed, I've been true to my words and started phasing out poker until something fresh and original comes to me. It's happened to better than me. I mean, sweet fancy Moses, people, Iggy hasn't posted in about three years. Now I know what Paul Simon meant when he mourned, "where have you gone, Joe DiIggyo? The nation turns its lonely eyes to uber." Or something like that.

So I'm busy confessing to horrible things I have done, rather than making poker videos in which I interview King Ten offsuit. I guess the world will go on. At least I'm still blogging. It's probably just my perspective, but I feel like there's me and 12 other writers looking up and down the street of our nice Detroit neighborhood, wondering where all the people have gone. Blog foreclosures as far as the eye can see. They're all out in the suburbs of Facebook and Twitter. Someday, gentrification will hit and I'll be forced to move into Dane Cook's abandoned MySpace page, where I'll sleep with a painter's mask on to avoid the lethal levels of Axe body spray in the air. Until then, I write. I was late to the party, so I think I'd better be late to leave.

Oh, the humanity. You guys remember that one, right?

There's this one guy, however, whose font of inspiration in all things poker seems unlikely to dry up -- Dr. Pauly doesn't just write in Tao of Poker, but lets it spill over into at least three other blogs, a book (Lost Vegas, my review forthcoming) and now over to my occasional stomping grounds, Poker From the Rail. You should probably check out Paul's inaugural post up there, about the Durrrrrrrrrr Challenge. It's a pretty big deal, this Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr challengeification. The two opponents are going to play between 10 and 400,000 hands, and at the end if Tom Dwan is behind to challenger jungleman12, he has to give the victor like a billion dollars and three of the 'r's from his name (reports that jungleman12 will use them to become jrunglermarn12 are unsubstantiated as of this writing, as are rumors that jungleman12 is Mary Kate Olson).

You can see why I'm not given plumb poker journalism assignment. Pauly checks his sources, I make mine up. Welcome to the Rail, doc! Here's hoping it's not a one-off.

Thursday, September 2, 2010