Monday, May 07, 2007

The Hills

I was never happier to be back in Hollyweird. Although I ended the Las Vegas trip out of the hole, anything over a week in Las Vegas is tough to stomach because that mawkish town drives everyone crazy after breathing too much pure oxygen. I spent two weeks in Las Vegas and was happy to bail out. It didn't hit me until Nicky turned the car onto her palm-tree lined block and I caught a glimpse of the Hollywood hills in the distance. I was happy to be in LA and not in Las Vegas, where it was 30 degrees cooler and I was not blitzed with slot machine noises. I was even happier knowing that I was a couple of days away from flying home to NYC for 2.5 weeks before I have to move back to Vegas for two months of grueling work.

* * * * *

One night in Las Vegas on our way out to Summerlin to Red Rock casino, Nicky yelled at a slow moving car on the highway.

"What the fuck is your problem? You slow fuck!" Nicky yelled at the top of her lungs.

She passed the car on the left and I noticed the handicapped symbol on the license plates.

"Way to go Nicky. You just yelled at a handicapped driver."

"He doesn't look like a cripple. He's probably faking it."

And then on the 10 on our way back from Las Vegas, Nicky and a woman got into a spat when she wouldn't let Nicky merge into her lane.

"You're a shithead," she screamed as Nicky properly merged into her lane.

"You're the shithead!" shot back Nicky as the two looked like they were ready to throw down.

Three minutes later Nicky flipped her the bird as we passed her driving in the HOV lane.

* * * * *

It felt good to pull bingers on the couch and watch taped programs on Nicky's TiVo. Over the weekend, I caught up on several shows like the last two episodes of Heroes, The Sopranos, and Entourage. I thought everything that I watched was top notch. The last episode of The Sopranos was one of the best of the year especially since I've been critical of the what I've seen so far. I felt Tony's searing pain after he went on that awful losing streak while gambling.

In the short time I was in Hollyweird... I pitched a reality TV show, watched the Rangers lose in the NHL playoffs, won money playing online poker, watched in utter agony as my horse came in next to last in the Kentucky Derby, and I also weighed myself. I put on five pounds in Las Vegas eating too many light night meals. Perfect time to go back on a diet and exercise in NYC. Back to running 5 miles a day and eating healthy to prep for a two-month assignment.

While in Hollyweird, I ate at Maggiano's, Swingers Diner, and Zankou Chicken. I fuckin' love Zankou chicken. For like $9 you get a whole chicken. That's the best deal in LA. I always have serious cravings for the garlic bread at Maggiano's. And I had a sudden impulse for the blue corn nachos at Swingers, so we went there on Saturday night so I could get a bacon cheeseburger.

On Saturday morning, I woke up early and wrote for a couple of hours before I worked on the latest issue of Truckin'. When Nicky eventually woke up she made Showcase and myself bacon and eggs. I played some online poker while I sorted (more like skimmed) everything in my bloglines folders. I ended up coming in 3rd place in one tournament which is big since I rarely play tournaments these days.

My email situation is as worse as it has ever been, but I'm taking a new approach to it. I spend exactly one hour twice a week answering every email in my satellite addresses. I answer my main email forty or fifty times a day. I'm going to cut back on that to three times a day. I read a story about how one CEO was so overwhelmed that he cuts his email down to one hour a week (to read and write) and the results have been outstanding.

I need to implement a better system for the WSOP this summer in Las Vegas. After a couple of weeks, the inboxes get all jammed packed and it takes me two or three weeks afterwards just to catch up.

* * * * *

My flight from Long Beach to NYC was on time and there was only one crying baby four rows behind me. That was my 15th flight in the first 17 weeks of the year. I read the latest issues of Entertainment Weekly (I'm giddy like a school girl for The Bourne Supremacy and The Simpsons movie) and Rolling Stone. I only got through the first few pages of RS's 40th anniversary issue before I stopped reading and watched the Roger Clemens circus show on the various ESPN channels. During my five hours in the air I flipped back and forth between poker on ESPN Classic, and hour of The Simpsons, and a special on the History Channel covering the history of science fiction. They had several slips from Superman and Star Trek. I thought I spotted Wil in one of the clips. Wesley Crusher is so dreamy.

I traveled super light on this trip and brought only a carry-on for a two week sojourn which is tough to do. I managed to pull it off and loved the new minimilst me. On my return trip, I left everything in LA minus my laptop and the clothes on my back, a fleece pullover (it was chilly in NYC upon my arrival at 12:20am), and a couple of pairs of underwear. With a light bag to carry, I rushed off the plane, which landed at 12:20 and I was in the cab line by 12:39 and that included a trip to the men's room to piss. Sadly, I waited twenty minutes for a cab since the line was super crowded.

I eventually got home and began the process of sorting my mail. I had several packages (all of which are unopened) and sifted through the magazines, alumni newsletters, and junk mail. I picked out the checks since those were the most important. I opened up only one and saved the rest for Monday morning. I wanted to start the day off with an ego boost. How bad could the start of the week be when one of the first things you do is open up a freelance pay check?

Moments after waking and baking and tearing open the check a few hours ago, I flipped on the radio to my favorite NYC radio station WFUV. The announcer said, "That was new music from Wilco. Now let's listen to Phish singing about Heavy Things."

And that's when they played Heavy Things. I never hear Phish on the radio so that was a treat. Sometimes you get to be in a place at a certain moment in your life when you desperately want to be there. That's how I feel about NYC right now and for the next couple of weeks.

Later tonight, I head to Yankee Stadium to watch the Yankees-Mariners game with my brother. It will be the first baseball game I've attended this year and the first Yankees game of 2007.

Recent Driving Music...
1. Widespread Panic
2. Rodrigo y Gabriela
3. My Morning Jacket
4. The Wood Brothers
5. Jerry Garica Band

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