Thursday, April 28, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Awesome

Louis CK is arguably the greatest living stand up comedian right now. He's also a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on.

Hello, there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your Weekly Dose Of Crazy

I wish I could find anything I loved as much as this guy loves RISK.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Greatest Movie Character of 1990-1999: 01 - Introduction

Cross-posted at FilmChaw.

My wife tells me I have a rich internal life. That's her far-too-kind way of saying "why do you think about all this random nonsense when you're not even sure where you're going or why most days?"

For instance: Have you ever wondered to yourself, Hey, I wonder who the greatest movie character of the 90s is? I mean, you just went through the 90s year-by-year to figure out which movies were likely to enter the cannon of Great Cinema, or, failing that, Enduring Entertainment. But what about, you know, the characters? Could Hannibal Lector survive a match-up with Col. Nathan Jessup? Is Forrest Gump still a player?

Just me, huh? Oh well. Moving on . . .

We're going to do something about this, people. We're going to discover who the best of the best of the best. Here's what I plan to do.

We're going to do this March Madness style. I, along with three others, will hold a draft to choose 64 movie characters. First pick will be first seed, second pick will be second seed, and so forth. We'll then pit character against character, each of us writing an impassioned case for why our chosen character is the better movie character. Any criteria is fair game: enjoyability, iconic stature, importance to film culture, hair, whatever.

Then, all of you go vote at FilmChaw for the character you wish to see win. Winner advances. Loser hangs him or herself from the HOLLYWOOD sign.

So now you're probably asking yourself (if you haven't stopped reading already, that is) when will it happen? When will the draft take place? When will I do this?

Do it? Readers, I'm not a Republic Serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I've already done it.

Voting starts sometime this week.

Note: THIS DOES NOT WORK UNLESS YOU VOTE. PLEASE VOTE. LET OTHER PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT. ENCOURAGE THEM TO VOTE. TWEET ABOUT IT. BLOG ABOUT IT. WRITE ABOUT IT IN SPRAY PAINT ON HIGHWAY OVERPASSES. WRITE IT IN THE SKY IN GOSSAMER TEARDROPS. MAKE IT YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WHEN YOU WAKE AND YOUR LAST THOUGHT BEFORE DRIFTING OFF TO SLEEP.

Ahem. Anyway. We gonna do this like Brutus, cause we knew 'dis.

Obviously, I needed to find three other crazy people. This was not hard.

_________________

HDouble is a part of the poker-blogger bedrock. If poker bloggers were hockey teams, he'd be one of the original six. If poker bloggers were elements, he'd be Helium. If poker bloggers were pizza toppings, he would be cheese. This guy was around back when the Blogfather was only a Blogbrother. Not only that, but he wrote a series of film posts comparing poker to various movies that are must-reads.

TEAM HDOUBLE

1) Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption
2) Phil Connors, Groundhog Day
3) The Dude, The Big Lebowski
4) Morpheus, The Matrix
5) Ghost Dog, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
6) Mike McD, Rounders
7) Herman Blume, Rushmore
8) Dignan, Bottle Rocket
9) Barton Fink, Barton Fink
10) William Blake, Dead Man
11) Jesus Shuttleworth, He Got Game
12) Truman Burbank, The Truman Show
13) Marge Gunderson, Fargo
14) Bernie LaPlante, Hero
15) Neil McCauley, Heat
16) Raoul Duke, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas


_________________


Astin has become one of the prime FilmChaw contributors (though nobody can touch The Real Dawn Summers), and possesses one of the more refined film palates out there. Also, if you listen to some people, he is me, which makes this praise more than a little suspect.

TEAM ASTIN

1) Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction
2) Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects
3) Ash, Army of Darkness
4) Sarah Connor, Terminator 2
5) Austin Powers, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
6) Eric Draven, The Crow
7) Agent Smith, The Matrix
8) Cole Sear, The Sixth Sense
9) John McClane, Live Free or Die Hard
10) Mr. Blonde, Reservoir Dogs
11) Brodie Bruce, Mallrats
12) Jean Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg, The Fifth Element
13) John Malkovitch, Being John Malkovitch
14) Happy Gilmore, Schindler's List*
15) Jack Skellington, The Nightmare Before Christmas
16) Darth Maul, Star Wars Episode I: The Death of Hope

*Citation neeed

_________________


Riggstad is a closer, and is therefore allowed to drink some of the coffee. He can handle the truth. Come with him if you want to live. You're a daisy if you do.

TEAM RIGGSTAD

1) Tyler Durden, Fight Club
2) Col. Nathan R. Jessup, A Few Good Men
3) The Terminator, Terminator 2
4) William Wallace, Braveheart
5) Little Bill, Unforgiven
6) Forrest Gump, Boys On The Side
7) Mona Lisa Vito, My Cousin Vinnie
8) Cpt. John Miller, Saving Private Ryan
9) Doc Holiday, Tombstone
10) Malcolm X, Malcolm X
11) Micky Knox, Natural Born Killers
12) Ace Ventura, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
13) Nicky Santoro, Casino
14) Lt. Colonel Frank Slade, Scent of a Woman
15) Roy McElvoy, Tin Cup
16) Will Hunting, Good Will Hunting


________________


Julius_Goat is me. I'm pretty old, I guess. Estimates range as to how old. I reckon some day I'll get those carbon dating fellas out to my flypaper shack in the Ozarks to test me and then I'll know for sure. Then I'll shoot 'em because I hate trespassers and Nosey Nancies. I keep my teeth in my mouth, but I'm thinking about getting them into a Roth IRA or maybe a hedge fund. I am tall enough to ride all the rides at Seven Flags. I am omnifragrant, which means that I smell of everything, and, therefore, nothing. In my spare time, I catch eagles with my bare hands. You just need plenty of patience, and bare hands. And a gun. In seven years, I've caught 0 eagles. Someday I think I'll catch one, if I just stay positive. Today's the day!


TEAM JULIUS_GOAT


1) Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs
2) Blake, Glengary Glen Ross
3) Tommy DeVito, Goodfellas
4) Milton, Office Space
5) Dr. Evil, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
6) The Jesus, The Big Lebowski
7) Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story
8) Drexel, True Romance
9) Derek Vinyard, American History X
10) Annie Bates, Misery
11) Karl Childers, Sling Blade
12) "Double Down" Trent, Swingers
13) Dirk Diggler, Boogie Nights
14) Wooderson, Dazed and Confused
15) Donald "Sully" Sullivan, Nobody's Fool
16) Red, The Shawshank Redemption


________________


Keep watching this space -- Round 1 begins soon.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The End, And Everything After That

Pictured: New poker sites rushing to fill the Stars/Tilt void.
There's a sort of horror/action movie trope that has been gaining in popularity over the last decade or so; you've probably seen it once or twice. It's the new signifier of Ultimate Baddassery or of Damn You Just Got Pwned -- sometimes both.

It's known as the Cut/Slide.

It works like this:  The hapless victim finds him/herself in the line of fire of The Thin Sharp Impossibly Fast-Moving Thing, which may be a sword, or a grid, or a laser, or whatever.  It whips past them . . . they stare in frozen shock and fear . . . and, after long seconds pass, the victim slides away in little itty bits, or discrete chunks, or whatever sort of pieces the Thin Sharp Impossibly Fast-Moving Thing cut them into.  The idea is that they died so instantly, so perfectly, that we the audience have to wait to get the news.

(Do a YouTube search on Cut/Slide if you want some examples.  Just realize that it is in no way for the squeamish.)

Why do I bring this up? Because the UIGEA is the Thin Sharp Impossibly Fast-Moving Thing, perfectly honed not to be enforceable in itself, but to create an environment that made serious enforcement possible and necessary. We, the players, are the audience. And late 2006 through mid-2011?  That's the time it took for us to realize the facts.

Online Poker in the USA died about four years ago.  The chunks just hit the floor.

The three US-facing majors just dropped to the floor in discrete little bits. And so what if something else rushes in to fill the void? They'll face the same problems when it comes to the flow of money. Are they going to succeed where Stars and Tilt failed, or are they going to become even shadier shades of shady?

Poker is done.

Game over, man.
_________________


"The DOJ's stinking DA froze my assets, and thank you SO
much for bringing up such a painful topic. While you're at
it, why don't you deal me a nice 1-outer and then laugh in my
face? WE'RE CLOSED."
That's one way of looking at it, of course.  For the last week, there have been many bloggers out there bringing us excellent and realistic analysis of what it all means (special hat tip to Bill Rini, Grange, and CK).  They're pretty much spot on, I think.  The issue isn't really the legality of poker, it's the far more serious charges, levied against Stars and Tilt (and Cerus), of money laundering and bank fraud.  It doesn't really matter if poker is a skill game or if playing it isn't technically illegal, or the fact that it is total nonsense for our government to propagate a foolish prohibition on a card game, or any of a dozen other things that I agree with.  It's about meticulously detailed charges of bank fraud and money laundering. That's not good.

(They aren't guilty, by the way.  I say this not because I am a legal expert, or even knowledgeable about the case. I say this because the last time I checked people were guilty until proven innocent innocent until proven guilty (I am obviously stupid until proven smart, and should not write at 1:00 AM any more, TY Cardgrrl), and for all the pause the DOJ's obvious confidence in making a conviction may give us, we'd do well to remember that.  So, for now, let's remember that all parties are innocent until proven so otherwise.)

Poker is Dead®.

Or is it? I find it hard to believe that Cake and Bodog and the other skins aren't going to see enormous growth. Interestingly, this story has seen a lot of traction in the mainstream media, certainly more than I remember from the passage of UIGEA, and most of it is favorable to the poker player side of things. There actually seem to be movements toward regulation.

So, good. Poker is not dead, but only Mostly Dead. Mostly dead, as we know, is still partly alive.  But it's going to take a miracle to bring it back. Or maybe true love. Perhaps both.

In truth, we just have to wait for the third act of the movie.  The hero always comes back to life in the third act.

So we wait. Cool our heels. Months? One year? Two? Three? More?

I can't imagine the stress of my online buds who are working in poker media, or whose income depends in whole or in part on the US online poker market. I made a lot of jokes on Twitter last Friday, because that's what I do in pretty much all circumstances, but my heart bleeds for them.

For them, months or years doesn't matter. For us, it will be a total reset button. Many of us won't return.

Where do we go from here?

_________________

I don't know about all of you, but I'm cashing out (when I am able).  I'm using the money to take my lady-wife on a cruise, which is something she's always wanted to do.  I'm deliciously happy that my dumb little hobby and her indulgence of me in it are allowing us a week's enjoyment in the Caribbean (or somewhere thereabouts).

I am going to take all that poker time and I'm going to do something with it that I should have been doing for a while now. Blogging won't tail off entirely, but I suspect it will etiolate significantly, or at least I hope it will, and for the right reasons.

My main concern is that these few, these lucky few, this band of bloggers, already so dispersed by long familiarity with poker, with Twitter and Facebook and with other online distractions, will disperse and fade away like a mist in sunshine.  Five years ago, I signed onto my first tournament on Stars -- the 2nd ever Wheatie. Four years ago, I started this blog and started playing BBT tournies. In that time, I've formed real and valuable relationships online, a fact that isn't less true despite its obvious strangeness. It would be a shame to see that all evaporate without the shared communal experience.  So hey -- and I do mean this -- don't be strangers.  Stay on the RSS feed. Hit me up on the IM, or the comments, or wherever.

PokerStars and Full Tilt are gone, really gone. Whatever may come afterward, we'll probably not see their like again. It's hard to imagine HarrahsPoker.com having anything like the level of dedication and attention that we saw from those two. The idea that they suddenly aren't there is occasionally baffling to me. After all this time, they'd become part of the furniture. It's not quite a phantom limb, but it's something of that kind. Maybe its like having your head shaved. Though eventually you have hope it will grow back, you keep forgetting you don't have hair. You keep raising your hand to your scalp to find the stubble.

Someday, something will grow back.  I'll probably be around to check it out.

Be excellent to each other.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Eulogy

Oh Poker, beware thou the Ides of . . . April?

- - - - -

Friends, donkeys, congressmen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Poker, not to praise it.
The monster pots of men are oft forgotten;
The bad beats still we feel them in our bones.
So let it be with Poker.

The noble Bharara hath told you that poker was illegal.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Poker answered it.

Here, by leave of Bharara and the rest
(For Bharara is an honorable man,
So are they all, all honorable men)
Come I to speak at poker's funeral.
It was my friend, faithful and just (save razz).
But Bharara says poker was illegal,
And Bharara
is
an honorable man. . .


The game hath brought us many fish in full
Whose drawing did the general bankrolls fill
Did this in Poker seem illegal?
When the poor have cried, BBT has brought us freerolls.
A shark's game should be made of sterner stuff.
Yet Bharara says Poker was illegal,
And Bharara is an honorable man . . .
You all do know how we our brag posts blogged,
Which now will fallow lie -- was this illegal?
Yet Bharara says that Poker was illegal;
And sure, he is an

honorable

man.

I speak not to disprove what Bharara spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love It once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for It?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their home games…. Bear with me;
My heart is yet subpoena'd there with Poker,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Awesome

The one-man band has come a long way. Based on this video, I probably would pay to see this guy rocking his five loop-peddles and a microphone in concert.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Goat Suggests 004: WTF With Marc Maron

Do you like stand-up comedians?

Please note: I didn't ask if you like stand-up comedy. I asked if you like stand up comedians. Perhaps you believe that I'm engaging in hair-splitting, and you wouldn't be the first, but if you like stand-up comedy, you could like any number of things, both brilliant and hackneyed. Perhaps you're remembering a particular HBO special. Perhaps you're conjuring Eddie Murphy in a red leather suit. Howie Mandell with a rubber glove on his head. Steve Martin's banjo and fake arrow. I don't know. These are good enough things. You may also be thinking of some random person in front of some random brick wall, letting you know that LA and New York are different, or that this is how white folks be driving, or maybe Gallagher smashing fruit with a big mallet.

But if you are the kind of person who likes stand-up comedians? You're probably the sort who is looking for the distinctive voice. The new perspective. The paradigm shift. The almost relentless navel gaze.

Stand up comedians. They're an odd breed.

Marc Maron is one who has been around the block. He ran with Kinison in his youth, hung with David Cross and Patton Oswalt, and cut his teeth with the legendary Louis CK. Now he stands between that age and this, bridging the madmen of the mid 80s with the new breed. He's a fascinating creature, both in how disfunctional he is (he's oppressively jealous of his more successful show-business friends, who are legion) and in how open and jarringly honest he is about that disfunction.

His podcast is called WTF. In it, Maron interviews comedians for hours at a stretch. It's kind of awesome. It is quickly becoming the document of record for comedy.  The reason is simple: Because Maron has been around for such a long time, his interviews don't have any of the glib "so tell me about yourself" vibe that you'll usually get on talk radio or late night talk shows. It's just two buddies shooting the breeze, and one of the buddies happens to be Louis CK, or Conan O'Brien.


I think you should go listen to it now.

In fact, start with the Gallagher. It's pretty choice.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Your Weekly Dose of Crazy

Remember kids, Circletine isn't meth.

But it is MOSTLY meth. There's a little bit of sugar and arsenic added.