Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blogging with a side order of pimp juice

Let me dust off the counters and spray a little Windex on the musky windows for a sec.


All better.

When I started this blog back in the days when bloggers where no more than people who would trade hand histories while attempting to beat the quarter/half-dollar games at 888.Poker and PartyPoker, I never intended to spill out my live story here. Instead this became a place of solitude, a place to spill my burdens and a place to meet friends.

Those friends have done some amazing things lately and I was reminded quickly last night after putting the kids to bed and learning how to properly book a discounted notes receivable with a maturity date beyond one year. College student at 35?!? I had thought I was done years ago, set into my pigeon hole at the big bullseye, content with a marriage that wasn’t enjoyed but got the job done, and two kids that I was more concerned about versus getting to meet them and enjoy their presence.

I had stopped living.

But this little space and the people who still drop by despite Google’s iron curtain cloaking me from their massive search engine, saved me from putting my life in auto-drive and for that I thank YOU. As noted above my friends have pushed their lives forward and put a lot of their soul out for anyone to see in book form:

The Chosen by John Hartness

My original partner in crime at the PokerStarsBlog back in August 2008. We traded sanity and sleep to stay up late on Sunday nights/Monday mornings after Otis dropped in to offer us final table recaps of PokerStars’ biggest Sunday Major moving on to doing World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), Spring Championship of Online Poker, and Sunday Warm-up after Jen Newell thankfully came into the mix from the opposite coast to allow for some sleep before a ten-hour day of spreadsheets and databases. My hopes of the success of his book mirror his drive to get this work published (my long overdue purchase was made this morning, hopefully gets here before Labor Day).

Look back here for a review of the book in the next couple of weeks.  I may even find a proper kilt to wear while enjoying the book my cabin's deck.

Lost Vegas by Pauly McGuire

As I wrote on Lulu.com:

“As the people who wrote the forewords state, if you have never met Paul McGuire one would think his vivid stories from the World Series of Poker, Phish concerts, strip clubs and Las Vegas in general are fiction. Far from the truth. As the man who stepped away from a life chained to an Armani suit working on Wall Street and stable paycheck to becoming his own boss and in charge of his own destiny Lost Vegas gives a small glimpse of that life that many of us 9 to 5'ers would gladly trade in our mini-vans for. Mixing degeneracy and philosophical debates is not for the weak, and Pauly brings it every page with existentialist musings from chatting shop with his fellow overworked poker writers to the afternoon shift strippers who can't kick their adderall addictions. If you ever wanted a peak behind the Belliago fountains, Cirque du Soleil shows, and 5-star restaurants, here's your chance to see Vegas in a different light. You won't regret your purchase.”

Pauly is one-of-kind despite that New York Yankees cap on his head. I had never met someone who lives the moment more than him and inspired me to do the same after my two-wheeled epiphany of sorts. And if you want insight into how Pauly became one of the most respected writers (not just poker) came to be, along with his journey for the past five years grab a copy of the book and dig in. Honestly, I wanted some more Phish concert stories despite never hearing a single song simply from reading his personal site Tao of Pauly.

A true friend.  And whatever part of my readership here does not know about Doc’s ability to mix dead philosophers musings and Paris Hilton into a poem-like sentences should do themselves a favor and start reading both the book and the blogs (in that order).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Parenting: You're allowed to have fun too

It takes two people to create a child and a village to raise them, or just one father trying to juggle Maslow's self-actualization theory as it relates to business management while getting his daughter to finish her mini corn dogs in under 30 minutes.  Getting a blip of single parenting this weekend as the wife was whisked away with her girlfriends to a camp somewhere deep in cheesehead land.  Each time I can to slow down and enjoy watching our breeding efforts run up to the 15 foot tall giraffes at Como Zoo, or simply crack an egg ever so slightly against the new countertop its a lesson in learning to appreciate your kids.

Some parents brand their kid too often with the word "burden" across their foreheads in their younger years and end up trying to chase them down for a hug well after their legs and minds become too fast to catch.

Not me.

Extended weekends like these make me enjoy my two children for who they are and what they will become.  Despite not knowing the consequences of popping open a jar of peanut butter where the oils floated to the top and ended up spraying my work clothes like Peter North after a month long vacation, and being rushed to gather two kids and their respective sets of toys, clothes, and bodies for day care at five in the morning, I love it.

The feeling of being needed, or the third rung of Maslow's pyramid "Love and Belonging" was climbed this weekend, yes the Daddy voice made its appearance a few times over minor "she/he did it" moments but even more so the "thank you's" and hugs came in  regularly, unforced, and welcomed even at 6:00am following a night of online poker degeneracy which saw several deep runs in happy meal sized tournament that went for naught.

Seeing the pure smiles on their faces in the mini water park at Como Zoo as the temperature rose above 90 but my temper never did.  Instead of retreating to "you're wrong and I am right" tactics, instead I asked why did something that was conduct unbecoming my child.  No, I did not break into Staff Sargent Drizz like below:


Instead we enjoyed a day at the pool, the Zoo, the batting cages, and at the end of the weekend some quiet time laying out exhausted while watching Favre get a rude welcome back into the NFL and becoming more of a family than people I hand my paycheck and sanity over to.  Nothing stays double rainbows and orange desire scented Axe body spray, but with hopes there will be less quiet time in the corner and more pure embraces that make this old guy get out of bed with a purpose each day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Deep Fried Favre

You probably felt it after getting off the bus or out of your car while walking towards the building of your employer this morning.  It was darker out, the winds nip a little more as the oppressive humidity rolls somewhere behind the nearest Starbucks.  While the leaves have not changed colors, Fall is around the corner as noted by the annual state get-together known as the Minnesota State Fair commercials.  Minnesotans can always count on the major TV channels and StarTribune to send bright photos and images that seem to waif the smells of cheese curds and bacon on a stick thru their respective mediums.

Eight days until Snelling Ave. becomes a parking lot while waiting to slide, hopefully into a grassy parking lot or one jump across the road to the many residents who open up a side business for two weeks hoping to syphon a few bucks from parking or make-shift lutefisk stand before they enter the fairgrounds.  This fair go'er grew up marking the date on the calendar, getting up at the crack of dawn to sit in the parking lot before the fairground roared to life to have cake donuts and milk from a thermos off the back door of the station wagon with his brother and sister.  My further memories of the Fair are consciously lost from the head injury but something down deep wakes up my senses when it's time to visit the 4-H buildings and see the Princess Kay of the Milky Way carved in butter.

Photo Cred (Jannorris.com)

Even with the Twins making a late-season push towards not only a playoff spot, but a potential World Series berth with a powerful lineup and suspect starting pitching (nice job for the sweat Baker, you need to treat Thome to Manny's after blowing that four-run lead), the Fair is coming.

Even with Favre-gasm Dos exploding ESPN into FavreCenter yesterday and most of this morning.  This rabid fan of the Purple and Gold needed new Calvin Klines after the buildup on Twitter with three star players very noticably missing from the practice field on Tuesday morning.  Was the defense collapsing because Jared Allen drove his pickup thru a bar in Minnetonka at 3am?  Did Ryan Longwell mistake a block of cement for a pop can?  Did Steve Hutchinson finally decide to live like a Northern Minnesota native in the mists of Lake Vermillion catching smallmouth bass and drinking pitchers of Schmidt Light at the Kwazy Wabbit?  No, they were in Mississippi giving a Hellmuthian escort (but I doubt Hutch look that good in a bikini top and boy shorts) 

How to pissed off Mean Gene despite the presence of boobs

Yep, Brett Favre is back.  Today is a press conference where he'll ride in without his beloved John Deere and give Minnesotans one more year of excitement followed by heartache that we have come to terms with as sports fans in this state.  Wanted?  Definitely.  Needed?  Does T-Jack get your hopes of a ring up?  No.  And Tarvaris if I could, your quote yesterday said "I don't care if he's back", actually you should. if you want to be the starter next year or if some asshole like Sean Payton tells his players to purposely injure the AARP rep behind the center.  The PR correct answer was:  "It's great that I'll be learning from a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback with hopes of leading this team in the near future".  Say what you want through the grill of your facemask, but when faced with the media keep those comments to yourself, as now you'll get painted as a cancer to a potential playoff/Super Bowl contender.  Sad that you haven't learned the PR game or controlled that sawed-off shotgun of an arm spraying balls like pellets from its barrel.

For the next eight days the prize is on the Midway of the State Fair not the bat of Jim Thome saving the day, or talented media whore turning me unwillingly into a fanboi (damn you Favre!).  Nope, I'll be sitting in that patted down grass parking lot waiting for the box of donuts to passed to me.

After the all-you-can-drink milk and Sweet Martha's Cookies are gone all bets are off and the Helga Hat comes out of the closet :)   SKOL!!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Minneapolis Summit 2010

I'd like to thanks the folks who dropped by our humble little state this weekend and experienced just how quickly the weather can change here.

By numbers if your will...

Number of miles on my car:  234
Number of miles driven with prescription sunglasses on at night:  37
Number of miles that I should have stayed downtown:  13
Number of dollars won at PAI GOW at Canterbury Park:  350
Number of dollars my wife gets to see:  0
Number of Newcastles while golfing with Speaker and Edinburgh USA:  5
Number of Newcastles I should have had:  3
Number of strokes on the front nine:  47
Number of strokes on the back nine:  yeah about that many
Number of lost golf balls on Edinburgh USA's signature 17th:  4
Number of former volleyball teammates with third nipples I ran into downtown:  1
Number of hours of I was unaccounted for Friday night:  2
Number of slices of Pizza Luce's signature pizza I had:  9
Number of lesbians met:  5
Number of Sarah McLachlan songs Donkeypuncher sang with the lesbians:  2
Number of consecutive games of cornhole won:  11
Number of visits to Sexworld:  1
Number of visits to Sexword that I remember:  0
Number of longest drive on Saturday at Theo Wirth (in yards):  342
Number of times I flexed afterwards:  3
Number of final winning score at Theo Wirth:  94
Number of visits this year to downtown prior to Summit:  2
Number of trips downtown this weekend:  6
Number of chicken wings consumed from Runyon's on Wednesday night:  23
Number of mustache rides offered by women:  2
Number of dollars won by fading A's rookie Chris Carter:  5
Number of beers consumed on Friday:  dont ask
Number of Captain n' Cokes consumed on Friday:  *whistles*
Number of friends I'll miss until December rolls around:  too many

Come back soon folks, even if it's while here on business for a quick slice at Pizza Luce or a pint.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nailing Customer Service

Daddy Day Care has been in service for the past three days while the wife enjoys a city with more doctors per capita than lawyers, Target cashiers, and McDonald's drive-thru specialists combined while attending a conference for work.  Holding up the weather beaten home fort as been more a test of which side of Harvey Two-Face was going to come out of the kids the next minute.  Picking the kids up garnered whines of wanting the window down despite the humid Minnesota air being thick and hot enough to slow cook a 64oz. ribeye.

(photo cred: stuffwelike)
Heads:  We love you  Tails:  We'll just break your laptop and soul

Add in another chunk of tree missing my house but squarely falling in a neighbor's yard and the air conditioning deciding that 86 degree is an acceptable temperature while trying to figure out the differences between double-declining and straight-line depreciation methods and my patience remaining could have filled one of those four holes on a button.

Yesterday after a brief flash flood and just as quickly clearing up for swimming lessons, I placed each kid in the car ready for the dreadfully humid Brooklyn Center pool.  "Hmmmmmm"  I thought after getting the newly minted seven year old situated with his Pokemon guide book (yes I used exactly six "M's").  The back tire was a little low as in "yeah, that would blow out on I-694 if you don't get some air in it".  After having the transmission in the mini-van during the coldest day of the year, why not go for the mother nature yearly double and get stuck in the same place only this time sweat your balls off instead of fighting hypothermia.

The culprit bend nail was found quickly as my mechanically inclined father had an air compressor and was able to fill it up but not plug the hole.  The ride was smooth, and swimming lessons were enjoyable as my son looked like he finally mastered the doggy paddle well enough to move up a level, and the daughter did not drown the teacher so I'll call that a win.  At 6:15 my sister mentioned a tire place right on the way home which I would attempt to sneak in to take care of this nail since I'd need all four Firestones working in perfect harmony for this weekend's meeting of degenerates. 

First stop:  Discount Tire Co.  I could see an emptyish parking lot next to Home Depot and figured this quick fix would take no more than 20 minutes.  The garage bays were still open but as my flip-flopped kids walked towards the tires showroom the hours were from 8am - 6pm.  Really?  Do people's car problems only happen during business hours? 

Just unlucky I guessed and went towards an auto repair corner of Brooklyn Park that I remembered.

Second stop:  Firestone Complete Auto Care  Garage bay still open as seen after deftly moving thru all the possible auto care places and arriving 20 minutes before closing.  Might get gouged here but the thorn in my steed's hoof needed removal.  The chrome-domed "manager" had to unlock the door to tell me they 1) wouldn't take in the car  2) don't do plug/patches, only patches  3)  he was late for his Call of Duty pizza and beer night.  But, made a suggestion to hit up Tire Plus down the road.  Hulk not like, Hulk smash.

Third stop:  Tires Plus  My brother once worked for this fine company (for two weeks) and left due to its complete lack of professionalism such as hand tightening lug nuts and denying anything wrong when the wobbly car came back in.  But, I needed a quick fix and with only one car up on the lift and about four mechanics around, I figured there was plenty of time since they were open until eight.  Again, the kiddies strolled inside as the barely out of high school manager type who spent a little too much time inside the cheese curds deep fryer explained they do not do plug/patches and it would take over two hours.  Pointing out the glut of mechanics and lack of cars got me a blubbery spew of apologies but no advancement.  Hulk want hit something.

(photo cred: here)

Last stop:  Salvation.  After driving around the small town of Osseo (which is nearly inside of Maple Grove) and no mom and pop shops open, down County Road 30 I spied some small businesses tucked behind some pines.  Maple Grove Auto Service spelled out in bubble popping red letters had a business hours sign stating they were open until nine and like Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan:  They were my only hope.  Fearing for the worst and getting polite, complete service was unexpected to say the least.  $.50 cans of pop and a genuine smile went a long way since my kids decided that sitting quietly was not in their nature.  20 minutes later, plugged/patched, $17 invoice in hand and peace-of-mind driving ahead.

A lot can be said about large corporations forgetting the smallest business tenant of personal service trumping short-term profit margins.  True, Maple Grove Auto Service could have bent me over like Bree Olson in No Holes Barred #19 but instead they gained a positive customer, a positive review, and a little faith that my quaint suburb hasn't been completely engulfed in vapid pre-packaged franchises.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Drizz with hair!

At one time, or rather for all of my school years and getting rejected by the ladies there were hair products used and haircut done by a profession rather than a $9.99 set of clippers at Chez Drizz.

Fest your eyes on such creatures below:

Sorry for the crappy resolution but it's the best the free add-on scanner would do.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The first decade of friendship

I posed this question on Twitter, and its relevance is because I will be opening the box tonight for just the second time in ten years...

For those who are or were married:  you pair a lot of money (most likely but not universal) to have a professional photographer come to your wedding and snap photos, including of course the shot of all of the groomsmen trying to get the lace garter off the bride.  How often or how many times have you opened the box or photo album since those nupitals words were read?

Tomorrow, a flashback, and a look forward for two people who have been through a lot and will continue enjoying getting up at 4:30am each morning to see to happens the next day.

I love you Kari, and while I lose myself from time-to-time you are always there to point the way back to where I want to be.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Smells Like Favre Spirit

A little more than a year ago, the air musky with a hint of despiration smelling like Great Aunt Lovey's den.  Once the center of attention in year's past and as soon as that afternoon now contained a tired group of on-lookers and even more depleted group of players.  The raised poker table had six players left from the 2009 Binions Poker Classic Omaha Eight-or Better tournament as the clock turned into the single digits of the morning.  A far cry from the high rolling pros who called this casino home for the month long endurance series called the World Series of Poker for three decades, now forced to offer local grinders and discount tournament players a series at 1/10th the cost of the bracelet chasers and "famous" pros. 

A deranged woman who like someone just tossed her puppy into a microwave fidgeted back and forth with a sack of papers that became more and more of mess with every meth-addled step.  From my vantage point in the four seat, a group of scribes had rolled downtown from the Rio and decided to cheer on a half-deaf kid from Minnesota playing the one game he felt comfortable enough to sit with anyone.  Despite their tired faces, the smiles gave me a greater high than oxy, ecstasy, and Jesus ever could.  If you want to get into those writers shoes for a brief moment I highly suggest reading this post, then clicking here to buy Dr. Pauly's Lost Vegas

The blinds were at the point where no one had more than 10 big bets, and I was facing a raise in the big blind from the Hawaiian kid in the eight seat whom I chatted with a bit on the other tables.  A drink a hour was the pace but I was doing the Captain and Cokes more for the caffeine at this point and looked down at a ragged low hand.  Calling left me with three big bets and slighly more than his stack, and missing meant two more orbits as the prize money ramped up steeply (for me, remember I'm used to getting excited about final tables in chicken nugget buy-in online tourneys) from $1,000 to over $3K for fifth with $8,500 to the winner.  I made the call and as the dealer laid out a two low, all heart flop I checked my cards to see a lowly pair, a VERY weak low draw, and one heart but the Aica, HI native told me that he'd rarely played O8 and liked NLHE more.  So, immediately I cut out a bet and put on my face of granite.  A little sweat, a peek toward Otis, Mean Gene, the lovely CK (who finished 8th), Al Cant Hang, and F-Train and they all knew I was full of shit, but that didn't matter and would probably earn me a drink or two later.  For a few minutes my opponent hemmed and hawed, tried to half-muck his cards in order to get a reaction from me but once the pot got pushed I carefully slid those rags to the dealer and two hands later the Hawaiian was out and we were on break coming back to 50K/100K blinds and I'm holding just enough to squeak by an orbit without playing.

This isn't about that night which was probably one of my best gambling rolls I'd ever been on, and despite drinking for a solid 15 hours, three more 60-minute intervals of booze and Pai Gow would come because one does not refuse a drink (or four) from Al Cant Hang or the chance to watch an Otis  Degree All-In Moment at the Pai Gow tables with a greyhound resting in your hand. No, it's about the bluff I pulled which unfortunately is rare (because I suck playing poker sober) but the situation warranted it, unlike Mr. Brett Favre, my bluff did not cause the world's largest sport station to turn into a montage of my playing career.  One peep from "sources" and instead of Phil Mackey chatting on ESPN1500 about Vikings training camp and the resurgent Twins who looked strong against the Rays this week but fell short, he had to field questions about number four returning to the purple today instead of after week one of the preseason for the length of his noon to two spot.  Then at five p.m. with dinner at my parent's place, Sportcenter dribbled out Ed Worthless live from the Favre compound and another 25 minutes of filling up my favorite show with bloated "Favre is retiring" themes.

photo cred: here

You could have sucked up 100 days of oil spill with that vortex of hot air.  Good grief people, I about as rabid Minnesota Vikings fan as you can get and I'm sick of it.  After the news came out I fully ready to publish a Onion-like parody with Favre pulling off the biggest practical joke ever by screwing over the Vikes in last season's finale with the interception that erased a missed FG by Gary Anderson as the most painful Minnesota sporting memory, arm and arm with a laughing Ted Thompson behind the scenes shouting GREEN AND GOLD FOREVER from his trusty John Deere riding lawn mower in the middle of Lambeau.  But, the man gave me the most exciting year as a fan ever.  Even more than 1998.  For that he gets a little shred of respect and hope that the media circus pulls up its tent stakes quicker this year.

Just play or don't play Brett.  Either way, thank you.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wild Thing. You Walk Everything.

The second white spray painted line was drawn with a little hitch over a recently tar-patched crack.  I looked down to make sure my gazelle-like stride would not exceed the make shift foul line.  "Three balls for five dollars, throws must be made from behind the line" barked the carny with curly auburn hair and black metal rimmed glasses. 

County fairs are an off-shoot of major league baseball's minor league system.  Each major county in Minnesota has one as I'm sure the same could be told in other states, but only a few states could rival the grandness of the Minnesota State Fair (three weeks, reallly?!!?). These county fairs are usually run by the D-crew of the state fair, carnies traveling the US trying to catch on with a bigger company or make enough to move on to the next city/county celebration.  We dropped by the Anoka County Fair this weekend to watch my brother turn my grandmother-in-law's old chevy into a metallic wrecking ball for five minutes.  Demo derbies are a sight to see if just once in your life.  The fans in the stands are most likely those from "Fight Club", those who fix your cars, serve dinners, deliver your mail, people who some snootier sort wouldn't notice unless they took their asses out of their $2,000 personally plated iPhones for two seconds.

The cliches never miss:  the biker with the sweat-soaked red hanky on his head with a generous beer gut stretching that 99 cent wife-beater for every taiwanese made fiber with a heavy sleeve-less leather jacket over the top.  The very pregenant 16 year old holding a baby while alternating hands to take a drag on a Red.  Various assortments of breasticles popping out of multiple exposed bra straps and jean shorts tight enough to look painted on.  The wirey old leathered tanned guy that weighted 80 pounds before breakfast was in the pits offering his services for a fee or a bottle. 

The sparks fly as two cars race to the middle of the slicked, muddy track to smash the watermelon in the middle, good for $50 and basically your entry fee back.  One such race for the melon left its driver dazed enough to take down her fluorescent orange stick signaling she called it quits.  But, being knocked out first wasn't the end of the disappointment as race was stopped while seven firemen and women tried to extract the 300+ pound driver from the car.  No idea how she managed to get in, but getting out required the jaws of life, an exposed ass crack and mega sling-shot sized animal print thong that I will never be able to un-see, and perhaps a Daddy-size can of butter flavored Crisco.

After taking a crippling blow to the radiator, my brother finished 6th out of 13 cars, good for $25 and a deal at the cheese curd stand.  After being beaten down for two hour in the heat it was time to blow money on the midway before heading to friend's place for previously feathered animals on a grill.  As the story left off above my first three tosses were of the Ricky Vaughn pre-skull crosses glasses variety and almost managed to miss the entire giant inflatable batting cage-like structure.  "Four balls for $5 and you automatically win a small prize".  After dumping off my walk-around poker bankroll at home because having several hundred dollars bills in your pocket at a carnvial seems less than smart, I had three singles to my name.  My wife of 9 years 361 days (see what I did there?) offered the extra two bucks for male ego purposes. 

The length was a little beyond the 60' 6" and flat with a hole where the catcher's mitt should be, but I trying to reach back to 1993 and throw a low to middle 80 mph fast ball and get the auto-win as posted "Male:  Any pitch over 75 mph wins".  I found those days are WAAAAAAAAAY behind me after tossing three balls under 65, and my fourth was no better at 62 and hitting the outlined right handed batter in the helmet.  Fifth and sixth pitch had Harry Doyle going: Juuuuuuuust a bit outside ball six.  Wife with arms crosses and a father having to decide between which kid he wants to hear whine because the other one got the auto-prize, I toed the line one more time.  This time a kid in a blue Minnetonka jersey stood in the box with the only catcher brave enough to catch me wearing the black and orange of Osseo high school behind the plate as I dropped my arm and let the ball fly versus trying to do some John Daly twist before throwing....

"Double Winner!" the kid in the yellow polo shirt cried.  The dejected Minnetonka Skipper batter walked back to the dugout as I handed over two multi-colored inflatable hammers to happy kids after the perfect strike down the middle hit the hole with a thump and $10 wasted let an old man smile like the 120 pound kid with the jersey that barely fit and belt that required extra holes 17 years ago.  I don't know if the carny had a button for the speed gun to display a number of his choosing but it was enough to walk away with an empty wallet and a former athlete's pride intact.