Thursday, May 31, 2007

Third Place

It was 104 degrees when I got into the car yesterday. It's going to be at least that over the next few weeks. Why can't the WSOP be in the winter months?

We drove over to the east side of town by UNLV for a four hour meeting with PokerNews. For the first time, the entire coverage team was assembled including the new interns and the rest of the veteran staff. We ate lunch at Marie Callender's which is like a dessert place that also serves food.

Schecky led the meeting and only told one bad joke. The meeting was not as boring as I anticipated. The best part about working freelance without an office is skipping meetings. I had the occasional conference call which lasted a few minutes at most. And usually, I was emailed instructions from the people I worked for. This is the first time I'm working in a corporate structure with over thirty or more employees.

My favorite pic of Jen Leo...
taken in 2005 at one of the WSOP parties

After the meeting Jen Leo invited me to her birthday celebration at Treasure Island which included drinks at a tequila bar called Ilsa followed up by playing in the tournament in the poker room. One of our staff members at Poker News, Jonno, is a guy I met in Australia. He's an Aussie and all Aussie love to drink. He wondered what beer I had ordered.

"Dos Equis. Or the two Xs." I said.

In OZ, there's a crap beer that's called XXXX. He approved of my choice.

After two hours of drinking, we were all riled up and headed en masse to the poker room. It was a $60 tournament with four tables. I was seated at the same table as Mean Gene and Nicky, who was to my right.

I played well during the first level and was among the chipleaders. I didn't care about cashing, I just wanted to outlast Schecky. We had a last longer bet. Spaceman and I kept an eye on the Stanley Cup finals as the game was a deadlocked 0-0 tie late in the 3rd period. I also watched the Spurs whoop the Jazz. I wanted to bet the Spurs (spread was -7) but I made a promise not to gamble on sports until NFL season started.

By the second level, I busted two players including a French tourist who tried to bluff me. I made a few semi-bluffs which are hands that are not made but I still had chances left to make the best hand. I guess I bullied around my table which aside from Mean Gene and Nicky, were all tourists. Oh and the lovely Jen Leo was moved to my table.

When there was two tables left, I was one of the chipleaders. I moved to Jonno's table along with Mean Gene and Nicky. I busted a couple of more players including Nicky who was wicked pissed that she went out. I raised all in with 6-4 and she called my bluff with K-Q. I made my hand on the river and she was eliminated.

"You're walking home or catching a cab," she barked which made all the spectators watching the tournament laugh.

At least she made the money in 5th place. I was the chipleader and $750 went to first place. Sadly, I busted out in 3rd and Jonno took down second place. I won like $350 and tipped $40 to the dealers. They were happy. I was happy. I actually cashed in a tournament and won the last longer bet with Schecky.

After the tournament, we headed out to the floor (or pit) to play Pai Gow. We taught Mean Gene how to play and drank. I ended up losing only $20 before we called it a night. Nicky crashed as soon as she got home and I stayed up to write for two hours before eventually passing out myself.

The apartment is quiet at night. The complex is a weird mix. There are some older people, some kids, and a lot of strange people walking around. They could be strippers or black jack dealers. Who knows? We do have two tennis courts and two pools. I don't think I'll be using either in the next two months. I officially start work on Friday. That means I have one last day to run errands and relax before two insane weeks of work and writing and sleeping for two hours every night.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Breaking Mirrors

There was no traffic leaving LA. It was unusual for 11am on a Tuesday. There was little resistance on the freeway getting out of the city and we made it to I-15 in record time. Driving from LA to Las Vegas takes roughly four hours. The first leg determines whether or not it is a four or five hour drive. The last time we drove to Vegas, it took six hours due to LA traffic and bad weather.

The total time to Vegas was under four hours. Yeah, we made amazing time. We stopped by the housing office near UNLV which was leasing me the apartment. I picked up a packet, dropped off my check, and was out in less than three minutes. We the car and settled into the place in less than an hour. It took less than six hours total to leave LA, drive to Las Vegas, move into the apartment, and make a run for the grocery store. That was the good news.

The bad news was the mirror that I broke in our furnished apartment at the Del Bocca Vista in Las Vegas. The decor is cheesy sort of 1970s swingers meets Ikea. I don't mind it too much. The AC works and the shower is better than average. The toilet does not clog like my toilet at The Redneck Riviera. We got a parking space and I discovered the washer and dryer. We have cable TV (minus the movie channels) along with a DVD player and a big ass jumbo TV.

I was in bad spirits after breaking the mirror. I managed to dent Nicky's car as I pulled out of the space to get dinner. I didn't notice a pole on the left side and I fucked up her front quarter panel. There's a dent and several scratches. Nicky insisted on driving after that point.

I freaked out because broken mirrors are omens for bad luck and I don't want to get into the cosmic significance of breaking a mirror in Las Vegas. I was spooked for sure and didn't say much on our drive to dinner or during dinner. We ate at the cafe at Red Rock where Nicky got her favorite BBQ chicken salad.

We played a little poker for a couple of hours. I ended up with a $19 profit before we headed home. I woke up early to write and realized that I'm going to be in the same place for the next two months. That was refreshing.

I have a four hour meeting to attend later today followed by drinks with birthday girl, Jen Leo. By the end of that meeting, I'm going to need a few cocktails.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Twelve Minutes on Tuesday

I'm trying a new thing this summer... the 12 minute post. Let's be honest about the ten minute posts. I either wrote them in four minutes or twenty minutes. It takes about eight minutes to post, edit, add links, and add photos. I can definitely find twenty minutes every morning to write up a few thoughts or post pics from the previous few days.

Like this one:

I concluded my last free weekend in Hollyweird doing a lot more of nothing. On Sunday, I played in a Darfur charity poker tournament that helped raise over 20K. I list a crapload of money this weekend playing online poker but I'm not going to play much over the next couple of weeks so I got my last binge in.

On Sunday night, Nicky and I went to The Palm for her birthday dinner. Since her birthday is in June during the middle of the WSOP, we might not have time to celebrate. Therefore, we headed out for a nice, quiet, and delicious dinner. I'm a huge fan of The Palm and have eaten at their restaurants in LA, Las Vegas, and in NYC. They never disappoint and they have amazing key lime pie.

I also watched a few more bad flicks such as Mission Impossible 3 and That Thing You Do. I also got to see Annie Hall which is always refreshing. Woody Allen's flick always makes me laugh and think at the same time. We also caught The Doors and I got a legit flashback during one of he concert scenes.

On Monday, I woke up early after a weird dream where I lost both my wallet and cellphone in the back seat of a car. I wrote for two hours and headed over to Nick's Coffee Shop for breakfast. They love me over there because I'm a generous tipper and always leave $5 on $17 checks. I got my standard breakfast sandwich (bacon, eggs, and cheese on wheat toast) but I asked for double bacon. Daddy would have been proud.

For dinner, we were invited to Nicky's parents house for a BBQ. Her sister Mandy was going away to Mexico for a six week shoot. That would be the last time both daughters were in town until the end of summer and they wanted to have a nice get together.

I had one of those awkward moments when I spilled a glob of mayo on the napkin rack. Since the napkins were arranged vertically, the glob ended up on at least 90% of the napkins. I tried wiping off the top but that made it worse. Not only did I taint the napkins, I also had an accident with a burger.

Nicky's father made his infamous thick and well spiced burgers. I've had them before and they are amazing One exception... they are super juicy and as soon as I took a bite, it splashed and shot juices out all over the place. The damage happened my shirt in three places and all over my jeans. I also ruined the table cloth on their picnic table in the backyard. It would have been embarrassing if Nicky's parents actually cared about those things. They just laughed it off and proceeded to make fun of Mandy's weird territorial behavior as a child.

After dinner, the Yankees game was on the boob tube. Nicky's mother is a die hard Yankees fan while her father bleeds Dodgers blue. I was happy to watch the Yankees, but Nicky's old man kept taunting her mother about how awful the Yankees were and how they were in last place and were getting beat up by the Toronto Blue Jays. It was brutal. He loudly clapped everytime the Blue Jays scored a run. When the Yanks were getting blanked 7-0, he demanded that they change the channel bit Nicky and her mother hid the remote control in the freezer.

On Monday, we finished up packing for two months in Las Vegas and all we had to do was get up, load the car, and drive out of town.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Belated 5th Birthday, Tao of Pauly!

I was so busy that I forgot that the Tao of Pauly turned 5 at the end of last week. Yes, it's been five years since Dave Simnaoff encouraged me to start my own blog and the rest has been history. It's been a fun ride and here are some month-by-month highlights of the last 10 months. I'm not going to highlight May 2007 or April 2007 in case you were wondering why I was only going to cover 10 months instead of 12.

June 2006

I started off the month visiting Spacman and his lovely wife in Ashland City, TN. Nicky flew out from Hollyweird and we sampled the quiet country life. I took a few pics along the way.

Then I joined forces with BTreotch, The Joker, and Molly as we took in the Bonnaroo music festival. The highlights were Beck, Radiohead, and My Morning Jacket's epic Midnight set.
Bonnaroo Part I: Thursday Arrival
Bonnaroo Part II: Fanfuckingtastic Friday
Bonnaroo Part III: Superlicious Saturday
Bonnaroo Part IV: Sunday Finale
I also went to Boulder for a long weekend and took in two Widespread Panic shows at Red Rocks. I took more pics and posted a few setlists.

And I posted a screen cap of my article that was on the front page of Fox Sports for a couple of hours.

July 2006

I caught two Widespread Panic shows at the Wiltern Theatre in Hollyweird with Nicky.

I was super busy with working the WSOP and the Tao was neglected during the summer months. I posted lots of pics in July of last year.

Like pics of food.

Like pics of my friends playing poker.

I actually played in a WSOP event and busted out early.

And then there was the night when Otis ate Keno crayons.

Nicky and I were invited to the BoDog party at Tao nightclub. We saw ninja midgets and I watched Amy Calistri get groped by Gavin Smith.

August 2006

I had a rare day off at the WSOP and drove out to Red Rock Canyon to think. Afterwards, I ate one of the Top 5 meals of my life courtesy of Ryan at Nob Hill.

I posted a pic of the Tilted Kilt waitresses where we drank every night at dinner break because the Hooker Bar was too crowded.

Can't Find My Way Home is a somber piece about being on the road too much for work and not having... a home. I wrote it during a haze of utter despair and depression after working too many hours at the WSOP.

Dan Micahlski tried to get us a free visit to a shooting range after he wrote an email to the "gun store people" in Las Vegas.

Nicky and I had a couples night out in Las Vegas after the WSOP ended with Michalski and Jen. That's when Michalski joked that "our lives are tax deductible."

One More Week in Hell
told the story of our quaint suburban lives outside of Las Vegas in Henderson, NV.

Nicky and I saw Snakes on a Plane!

I posted black and white photos from the WSOP.

Grubby finally moved out of Las Vegas. We said good-bye to the apartment. Grubby gave his furniture away to a Mexican family that lived downstairs.

Post of the Year? The Red Rock Canyon photo gallery featured some of my best photos and was is one of my favorite Tao of Pauly posts of all time. Bruce came out to visit and I drove him out there one afternoon.

After the WSOP ended, I flew out to Boulder and caught several Galactic shows. The Joker and I saw three; one up at Fort Collins and two in Boulder. Daddy joined us for the last show.

Before I left Boulder, I wrote Jon Benet Insomnia.

September 2006

I spent the beginning of the month in LA before I returned to NYC. I spent a lot of time at Zuma Beach in Malibu. I also love Zankou Chicken.

I had a contest: Which Bald Spot Am I?

I took pics in Colorado and Hollyweird.

I caught two Widespread Panic shows at Radio City Music Hall which featured new guitar player Jimmy Herring.

I turned 34.

I celebrated my birthday with my brother and friends and got shitfaced in NYC.

Then I drove down to Atlantic City and eventually to AlCantHang's Bash at the Boathouse. Hijinks ensued.

I ended the month struggling to re-write Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

October 2006

The Yankees were in the playoffs for an 11th consecutive year. Sadly, the Yanks were bounced from the playoffs and pitcher Cory Lidle died in a plane crash.

I posted some excerpts from recent voicemails that I got.

I went out to lunch with Senor and Girtz with their wives and kids in the West Village. That's when Ang told me that I looked fat. I agreed and dropped 20 pounds in a few weeks by dieting and exercise. I starting running and was up to 5 miles a day. I also posted pics of my jogging route.

I wrote a review of Trey Anastasio's new album Bar 17 and I also caught a show at Webster Hall with Bruce.

I got dropped by a few freelance clients in the wake of the UIGEA and had to take a paycut with two of my regular columns.

I was quoted in a Business Week article about the online gambling prohibition.

Four Conversations About Nothing
was about brief talks I had in one single night with The Rooster, Senor, Nicky, and The Joker.

Derek had a birthday.

I finished the second draft of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog and spent my last day in NYC before I hit the road.

I flew out to Hollyweird where Nicky and I saw Malcolm in the Middle driving his swanky car at The Grove.

I saw Galactic play at The House of Blues in West Hollywood.

We drove to Las Vegas for the Vegoose music festival and caught a great Trey Anastasio Band show to open up the crazy weekend.

I also posted setlists for Widespread Panic's Vegoose set and their Halloween show.

November 2006

I posted recaps of Vegoose... Day 1 and Day 2.

I also posted a hilarious video of the UPS Man at Vegoose.

Nicky and I went to Amsterdam. I posted several pics and photo dumps. I also posted two videos. I wrote about our misadventures such as Grey Haze and 12... where we went to 12 hash bars in 12 hours.

I stopped using Buzznet and went with Flickr as the place to host all of my photos.

I cross-posted 15 Minutes on both the Tao of Pauly and the Tao of Poker. Good piece.

I wore old clothes for the first time in a very long time during a two week stint in NYC.

I also read a ton of books.

Then there was Puppy Jerk. I love stories about chicks wanking off puppies.

Derek won the Pauly's Pub College Football pool.

December 2006

I went to see My Morning Jacket at Roseland Ballroom in NYC. Amazing show.

I had an 11 hour flight from hell on Jet Blue to Long Beach, CA.

Once in Hollyweird, I wrote about Alley Kittens and Los Potheads.

I headed to Las Vegas for a gathering of the bloggers and posted pics.

At the hooker bar in Vegas, Daddy offered up his services as a male prostitute.

Trey was busted for a DUI. Friggin' junkie.

I bumped into Rachel Bilson at The Grove.

I posted more LA pics.

I discovered that Hydrocodone was generic Vicodin.

The Rooster and I crashed Ethan Hawke's Christmas Party after a night of drinking with Derek and F Train.

I flew back to California and had to sit next to a crying baby.

I spliced together the 2006 Year in Review video.

January 2007

I started off the new year in San Francisco after Nicky and I saw My Morning Jacket's concert at the Fillmore on NYE.

I spent the entire month down under in Australia for two weeks of work and two weeks of traveling. My first 24 hours in OZ was fun.

Jules hosted a BBQ for me in Melbourne.

I went to the Aquarium. I also took a ton of pics of food.

I headed up to the Gold Coast with Brandon and Schecky.

Lucky for us... Schecky scored us back stage passes for Big Day Out! We saw Tool, Muse, John Butler Trio, Jet, and The Killers. Oh and Kate Hudson was backstage too.

I fell in love with Byron Bay. See the pics and decide for yourself.

Brandon and I stayed in a hostel in Sydney with hot French and German chicks.

I spent Australia Day with Ali at her house.

I also went to a BBQ at Nigel's flat in Glebe.

I posted a video for Shronk's Vegemite Prop Bet.

Then there was the infamous Syndey pic dump.

February 2007

I upgraded to Business Class for my flight from Sydney to LAX.

I posted more pics of Byron Bay.

I was happy to be Back in LA and Back in NYC.

Past discussed my stagnation as a writer.

I got snowed into NYC after a Valentine's Day blizzard that almost ruined JetBlue. I finally made it to LA a couple of days later.

Britney Spears had a mental breakdown and I wrote about 32 Steps to Lunacy.

I got strep. Again.

March 2007

Started the month in Hollweird and some of my favorite writings are about being in LA. Check out Rex, Blow, and Pink's and The Last Zankou.

I posted the second annual LA Truckin' issue and I finally got Wil to write for us!

I visited Jerry in Miami and went to Langerado music festival with The Joker, Nicky, Pablo, and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. Check out Day 1 and Day 2 ad Day 3.

Oh and don't forget about the Langerado Videos... Widespread Panic, Matisyahu, and Trey Anasastio Band and Galactic, MMW, and MMJ.

I hurt my shoulder.

The Flight of the Stripper happened on my flight to Las Vegas with Derek for March Madness with Senor.

Las Slacker captured our time at Red Rock casino for March Madness.

I flew from Las Vegas to NYC, then NYC to Madrid, and eventually Madrid to Nice. Of course I still wasn't in Monte Carlo which I had to be for a week long assignment.

I took pics of lovely Monte Carlo. I also stumbled upon Beverly Hills 90210 in French!

Lost in Translation had more pics of Monte Carlo.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lazy Sunday

On a three-day holiday weekend, Sundays become lazy Sundays since in reality it's more like a Saturday. For me I've been super lazy the last few days trying to clear my mind and relax before a hefty two-month writing assignment where I don't expect any days off from the grind while covering the 2007 World Series of Poker. It's my third WSOP and by now I know that I need to enjoy my last few days of freedom by doing things I want to do (in this case... getting jacked up on muscle relaxers, watching movies, lots of reading, and light writing).

Friday was a fun day because I finished a writing assignment in the morning before breakfast at O'Groats. Then we went to the beach during the day and headed to the Dodgers game at night. When we got back from the game, Nicky said, "Oh my God! I wanna try those muscle relaxers that you got from The Shrink."

I cracked a full one in half and gave her one piece. Five minutes later, Nicky was out cold after smoking tough and drinking at the Dodgers game. Me? I was up for a while before eventually falling asleep.

Saturday was mixed. I woke up early and would have slept more but I had intense pain in both of my ankles. They weren't sore and I couldn't explain why they bothered me. Nicky thought I had gout and I know there's a history of that in my family. It felt like old school arthritis. My ankle joins bothered me and probably my lack of weed consumption allowed a minor flare up to take place.

The pain eventually subsided and I wrote for a few hours. The Yankees-Angels game came on at 10am and I watched them get their ass kicked again. Nicky eventually woke up and made me breakfast. I'm lucky to have a cool chick that willingly wants to cook for me.

After breakfast I decided to play online poker at PokerStars. That was a costly decision. I lost $1K in about ninety minutes. It was not fun at all. I played the highest limits I ever played online. I won a few small hands but lost three big hands which cost me dearly. I had never lost that much gambling online. I've lost bigger sports betting or playing in WSOP events but as far as online gambling... that was the worst. I must admit I didn't feel too good when I logged off. I felt defeated because I walked away from a game I knew I could beat but I also have stop-loss amounts set to prevent me from losing more. Once I headed past the 1K losing mark, I had to stop playing. My mood soured.

We headed to Target in order for me to get my mind off of gambling. I picked up several items that I needed for the apartment in Las Vegas. I bought a storage bin, a pillow, and plenty of random items like Alka-Seltzer, a big ass bottle of Motrin, and bath towels. An hour of shopping among families of five and six got my mind off of gambling for sure.

Showcase was all giddy over the recent wave of celebrity gossip that quickly washed over Hollyweird. Just 12 hours earlier, Lindsy Lohan crashed her Mercedes on Sunset ten minutes away from Nicky's apartment. There were traces of cocaine in the car. Nice job, Lohan.

We grabbed an early dinner at Zankou Chicken. I wanted comfort food at a great price. And that's what Zankou is all about. Shortly after dinner Nicky started developing a headache. She took a nap on the couch while I watched movies. She then crashed in the bedroom for a little while longer. That's when I knew she was super ill. Her migraine eventually subsided but it meant I missed out on playing poker with Wil and The Geek.

Instead, I watched a slew of movies last night including The Family Stone (which was originally titled I Fuckin' Hate Her according to Nicky when she originally read the script several years ago), Magnum Force, Jarhead, and 11:14. I couldn't figure out why I kept watching The Family Stone which sucked, aside from the fact that Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams were both in it. I forgot that Sam Mendes directed Jarhead and I'm a fan of his work ever since I saw American Beauty for the first time. Too many ass shots of Jake. I'm always game for Clint Eastwood movies (although I prefer the spaghetti westerns to his Dirty Harry flicks). It was odd to see young actors Tim Matheson, Robert Ulrich, and David Soul play rookie cops circa 1973. 11:14 was a flick that I needed to pay more attention to. Patrick Swayze, with a beer gut, played Rachel Leigh Cook's father. There are some hysterical scenes like the severed penis or when Hillary Swank asked to get shot to save her job.

I also watched two remakes... I caught an hour of both The Omen and The Bad News Bears. The originals are still better then their 21st century remakes, but Billy Bob was kinda funny as the alkie coach Mr. Buttermaker. Oh and I watched a 50 Cent flick called Get Rich or Die Trying. That's a ton of movie viewing for me which I rarely get to do these days.

I uploaded a ton of pics to my Flickr account over the last week or so. Check out my Flickr gallery because it includes pics from the Dodgers game, the beach, and plenty of NYC pics.

I have a photo project called Pauly Food and it's coming along. That gallery has 104 photos. It's food porn and features pics of some of my favorite meals from Australia to Yankee Stadium.
Click here to see a Pauly Food slide show
Click here for the Pauly Food gallery
Click here to see Pauly's Flickr page
My other projects are slowly coming along. I'm part of a new start up company which I'll talk more about in the upcoming weeks. It is sports related and I get to work with cool guys like Joe Speaker and Blinders.

I have been updating the Las Vegas Blog including a Spearmint Rhino strip club review. I even posted something on our Nevada Business and Politics blog about a possible Greg 'Fossilman' Raymer Libertarian Party Vice President Candidate in 2008.

The Phish and music blog has been coming along despite the fact I often neglect it for days and weeks at a time. That's the one site that I let languish when I'm super busy with poker and other writing. There have been posts for eight straight days! Over the last few weeks we have posted about Phish and their band members solo projects for Fish, Trey, and Page. In addition, Nicky wrote something about the new American Idol winner along with posting a video montage of The Beatles medley that went down on the final show. We had posts about other bands such as Shiny Tony Guns, Toubab Krewe, O.A.R., Medeski Martin & Wood (with John Scofield), Widespread Panic, and Galactic.

I took a peek at my Top 5 Videos (according to views) over at You Tube. Here they are:

#1: 2006 Bonnaroo, Part I

#2: Otis Eats Keno Crayons

#3: 2006 Bonnaroo, Part II

#4: Top Gun and Body Shots

#5: Widespread Panic at Red Rocks

I still laugh my ass off during the Keno Crayons video when Wil tells me, "You're a dumb mother fucker." That was my favorite part of last year's WSOP. Click here to check out all 32 of the videos I uploaded to You Tube.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dodger Stadium & Pic Dump

Nicky and I had tickets to the Dodgers-Cubs game. I had not been to Dodger Stadium in over a decade and Nicky couldn't recall the last time she was there. Her old man had season tickets when she was a kid and used to go a lot.

The traffic was super light for 6pm on a Friday in LA. We got from Hollyweird to Dodger Stadium in less than thirty minutes. The game was scheduled to start at 7:40 and we had a good hour to walk around the stadium, find our seats, and get dinner and beer. The beer was $10 for a large MGD. That sucked but I didn't have a choice. I destroyed a super Dodger Dog, garlic fries, and a pizza. They had a California Pizza Kitchen stand and for the price, it might have been the best deal at the ballpark. I got a mini BBQ chicken pizza for $9.25.

There were a lot of Cubs fans at the game which was good because I was rooting for the Cubbies. The couple next to us were also rooting for them along with a family of four a couple of rows in front of us. Things got ugly when two drunks sat down. One guy was a portly drunk Mexican guy in a Nomar Garcciaparra jersey. He kept screaming, "Booooooooooooo! The Cubs suck! Boooooooooooo!" And he directed his shouting and taunting at the family of Cubs fans in front of him. A black cop who looked like Robert Townsend came over and asked him to quiet down.

"That's racial profiling!" he said after the cop left.

He and his buddy left a half of an inning later and moved over a section.

Nicky asked me a ton of stupid questions abut basbeall. I was patient and answered all of them to the best of my ability.

The Dodgers took a 5-0 lead after a HR from Jeff Kent as the Dodgers. In the 7th inning, the Cubs made a run and scored 7 runs to take an 8-5 lead. The Dodgers put up 4 in the 8th to win the game 9-8.

Here are some pics that I took (click on pics to see an enlarged view):

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NYC Exit

Wednesday was all about crossing off items on my To Do list. The day started just before dawn with a solid two hours of writing. I went for a walk to the Greek diner and bought a bacon, eeg, and cheese on a roll. It would be the last time there for at least two months. I went to the post office, browsed at a book store, got a haircut from Vinny the barber, and then did laundry. I uploaded some more pics to my Flickr page and read several newspapers. I arranged a cab pick up to take me to JFK early on Thursday morning and made two business calls.

I also packed all my stuff in less than ten minutes (a record for a two month trip). Compared to the last two summers, I'm taking less stuff and clothes with me. It's my new philiospy to travel and life... less and more. You move quicker when you have less baggage.

I made sure all my documents, money, and passport were in order. I went to the bank on Tuesday to get a certified check to pay my rent in Las Vegas since the company Nicky and I rented from does not take personal checks. I don't blame them especially in a town like Las Vegas which is crawling with crank infested dead beats.

I'll spend a few days in Hollyweird for Memorial Day weekend with Nicky before we drive out to Las Vegas for a two month assignment. We've both been hired by the same company. Last year, we worked for rival outlets. This year we'll be on the same team. The goal for this weekend is to relax and pick up random items for our apartment. I was invited to a poker game and also have tickets to see the Cubs play the Dodgers on Friday. I'm pumped for that.

The last two and a half weeks have been fun with the exception of getting sick for the last several days. It was fun to get a couple of days to myself and catch up on writing and I got some thinking done while I went running. I read a couple of books and worked on the upcoming birthday issue of Truckin'. I also pre-wrote a column and wrote pieces for my other blogs such as the music blog and the Las Vegas blog.

I was fortunate to take advantage of Nicky's Christmas present and go to the Yankees game with Derek. I watched a ton of shows on TiVo that Derek taped for me and got to watch The Sopranos and Entourage at their original air times which has been impossible recently. I also got to see the last few epsidoes of Heroes instead of watching them on my latop. I played plenty of online poker during down moments and won a few bucks including coming in 4th place out of 267 players in a tournament on Tuesday night. I also finally made it to Dawn & Karol's home game in Brooklyn.

Spending time with friends was a great treat since I'm always on the road these days. I got to see a couple of old friends that I used to play poker with like F Train, Ugarte, Ferrari, and Toni and got to hang out with several out-of-town vistiors such as BG, Bobby Bracelet, Spaceman, Mrs. Spaceman, and The Joker (not to mention Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot). I went to the Met twice, Central Park twice, and the Museum of Natural History once. I must have drank at well over a dozen bars and ate a spicy chicken sandwich at Cafe Habana. Of course there was plenty of random chill time with The Rooster which is always an adventure. He's the personification of the always be closing mantra.

I jammed a ton of fun into 2.5 weeks and still didn't get to do what I wanted. Now, I'm off to the airport in a few minutes and arrive in sunny Long Beach sometime past noon local time. It's going to be good to be in the same place for two months. I have not had that kind of stability since last summer. Let's hope for good flight karma and no crying babies...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hump Day Pic Dump

Here's some more pictures that I took last week in NYC:

Ceiling of the tunnel near Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

IPod billboard off Canal Street

Fish market in Chinatownm

Hanging with the Joker

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Imagine and NYC Video

Head over to the Tao of Poker to read a hilarious piece that I wrote called Imagine.

Here's a video montage of the last two weeks in NYC.

Click here to view my NYC video via an RSS feed or Bloglines.

Monday, May 21, 2007

ER Shithouse and the Retired Bong

I went to the ER this weekend after experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness, and serious breathing problems. It all started late on Monday when I felt like complete ass. At first I thought it was allergies. By mid-week the symptoms resembled a cold. By Thursday night, things had gotten worse. After drinking downtown with The Rooster, The Joker, Jeff, and PKPNF, I left the gang early to go home. Before I went to bed I noticed that my breathing was not right. There was heavy wheezing. I didn't think anyone of it and crashed.

When I woke up on Friday, the wheezing was worse. I went to the drug store about bought Vick's vapor rub hoping that would help me breathe better. It worked for about five minutes. Then I had one of those moments where I freaked out. My brother has one elevator in his apartment building and it's slow as shit. There was a moving truck in front and people were loading stuff from one of the floors to bring down to the lobby. I was forced to walk up seven flights of stairs. By the second story, I was out of breath. By the third, I was shaking and broke into a deep sweat. I had to rest for a few minutes on the fourth landing. By the time I got up to seven, I felt as though I ran a marathon. I was shaking, my vision was blurry, and I had difficulty breathing. I thought I was going to die and nearly collapsed upon entering Derek's apartment.

Smoking was impossible and when I went to bed on Friday night, I had a slight panic attack. I never get those, but I was freaked out because I couldn't breathe properly. With a stuffed nose, I was convinced that I was going to die in my sleep. I lathered globs of Vick's vapor rub all over my chest. All that did was make me smell like a gym and gave me an ugly rash. I barely slept on Friday. The same process repeated on Saturday. Of course, I couldn't sleep because I couldn't breathe. I aslo couldn't fall alseep because I couldn't smoke... and smoking pot late at night helps cure the insomnia.

I finally went to the ER which ended up being a terrible decision. I waited for several hours without getting any medical attention. So I walked out. At one point I was sixth on the list. When I checked an hour later, I was 12th. An old lady with a fracture wrist was being wheel in and I knew that made me 13th. Unlucky 13.

The hardest part was having to share a tiny exam room with three other people. All of them were older Hispanic women. One was in a bed near death. The second was in a wheel chair and complained about hemorrhoids. The third was in a walker and couldn't barely breathe. She had serious asthma and I thought she was going to collapse at any moment. Two of them women had at least four family members with them even though there was a strict rule about not having more than one person with you at a time.

As I waited and waited, the old lady with the hemorrhoids complained the entire time. Then it got ugly. I heard her fart for three seconds which was followed by a foul odor. That's when she busted ass all over herself. All over the wheel chair and all over the floor. Shit and diarrhea was spilling down her legs and onto the floor. It took a nurse five minutes to clean it up. At that point, I decided to leave.

I don't have health insurance and a trip to the ER would have cost me a pretty penny. Since I didn't get any treatment, I figured that I didn't have to pay for anything. After all, I never received any medical services. I just sat and wait. A triage nurse took my pulse and temperature but that was it.

I sucked it up and went home. My plan was to go to Derek's doctor on Monday morning. I called this morning at 8:15 and they took walk ins. I was there by 8:35 and sat in a crowded room. I read about 150 pages of Bigger Deal before a nurse took me in to an examination room. I didn't have to side step an old lady's shit to get there which made me feel better.

The nurse was very nice and chatty for a Monday morning. I made an Office Space joke about having the "Mondays" and she thought that was hysterical because that was one of her favorite flicks. My blood pressure was perfect (her words) and I was 183 pounds. Then the doctor finally saw me. She was about my age and a very good looking woman. She wasn't a Jewish doctor like Showcase suggested I see but at least she was American.

I explained to her what happened as she quickly typed stuff into a laptop. I imagined she was writing everything I said word for word, but in reality she could have been checking email or doing anything. I told her about all the travel both domestically and overseas and the fact I work in casinos which have lots of germs and old people. She said that I had bronchitis and she quizzed me about my copious drinking and smoking. I was honest with her about mostly everything even my drug use.

"You have to stop smoking. You have to stop smoking pot."

"Well, how else am I going to get high?"

She frowned and said that one of the reasons I caught bronchitis was due to my smoking. I didn't call her out and say, "I've been smoking almost daily for half of my life. You're full of shit."

I didn't argue and said I would turn over a new leaf. No more weed. No more hard liquor. Just good old fashioned clean living. I asked her if she could recommend a bible store and if she knew any cute Mormon girls. That made her laugh.

She gave me an inhaler and that gave me a slight buzz. She checked my breathing afterwards and my wheezing had disappeared. She prescribed me some Azithromycian and cleared me to fly to Hollywerid on Thursday. If the wheezing returned, I had to go see a doctor in LA or as soon as I got to Las Vegas. In fact she said I should see someone in a week regardless of where I was to make sure I'm fine.

Before we ended our session, I hit her up for pharmies.

"I have to work for seven weeks straight and stay up until 5 or 6 am writing deadlines. I have trouble focusing and need to stay awake. Can you give me something to keep me awake."

She smirked and said no. She couldn't help me.

I was hoping she'd whip out her pad and hook me up with adderral. Instead she told me to drink coffee but to avoid too many Red Bulls.

"Maybe if you stop smoking pot, you might be able to stay up longer?" she said.

Doctor's logic. She had no idea what kind of insanity runs rampant in Las Vegas at the dead hours between 2am and 6am. Alas, I gotta do what she says. Looks like I have to retire the bong for good, at least until after the WSOP ends in late July.

Without health insurance, the trip to Derek's doctor cost me $90. Add the antibiotics, that's another $50. So it cost me $140 to finally breathe properly and find out I can no longer engage in high altitude training.

Time to start huffing glue.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Schanzer's Articles

My buddy Jon Schanzer recently had a couple of articles published. Check them out:
Pretoria Unguarded: Terrorists take refuge in South Africa (The Weekly Standard)
Jerusalem of (Dore) Gold (The Jerusalem Post)
Hamas: Misrule in Gaza (NY Post)
Sunday Photo Dump

Here are 14 random pics from the last couple of days in NYC:

From the African Art section at the Met

Diablo chicken sandwich from Cafe Habana

A view from Jeff's roof
(with the Williamsburg Bridge in the background)

Chinatown door

Market in Chinatown

Jeff and The Joker get weird in Central Park

Old lady tries to flag down a taxi on 57th Street

Homage to Senor!


JoJo's puppy

Jeff's "Money Shot"

The Rooster's Sausage Parm Hero

Always Be Closing...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

5 Lists of 5: Google, Blogs, Subway Books, Writing Music, and Airports

It's been a while since I did 5 Lists of 5. So here we go...

Last 5 Hilarious Google Referrals...
1. Rachel Ray cumshot video
2. Milfs in Idaho to hang with
3. Woman fucks horse and her husband videotapes it
4. Greg Kinnear kick drugs crystal meth and coke
5. Kangaroo giving himself a blowjob

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading on the Subway...
1. The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
3. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
4. The Pact by Jodi Picoult
5. The Holy Bible

Last 5 Airports I've Checked E-mail in...
1. JFK
2. Long Beach
3. Schipol (Amsterdam)
4. Cote D'azur (Nice)
5. Barajas Airport (Madrid)

Recent Writing Music...
1. Rodrigo y Gabriela
2. New Monsoon
3. Widespread Panic
4. Sonny Rollins
5. James Brown

Last 5 Blogs that I Read...
1. Wil
2. The Fat Guy
3. StB's While Drinking
4. Jonny Vincent
5. Deadspin

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Photo Dump

Here are some photos that I took in the city over the last couple of days:

Spacepeople in front of Di Fara's

Garbage Day

Freaks in Coney Island

Crackhouse Prize Pool

Mac & Cheese from Chat & Chew

NWA on at McManus

Derek with the Spacepeople

Don't Walk


Egyptian Stuff at The Met