Saturday, August 29, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I had one of the most productive days in recent memory. I can't explain why aside from the fact that I was motivated and ready to return to work after a significant time basking in the sun and rotting my brain away with numerous chemical substances.

I was up before the dawn and writing with the windows and front door open to the apartment. I knew that would be the only time to get any semblance of fresh air because Los Angeles was about to get stifling hot with temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees. In addition, wild fires raged out of control in and around the Los Angeles area. Nicky and I spent a little time the night before checking out the glowing orange fires of doom that ripped through ultra dry Rancho Palos Verdes.

I turned on the jazz music and sat down at the living room table. It had been a while since I did that. I scribbled down a few things and updated the trio of blogs (Tao of Pauly, Tao of Poker, and Coventry). I answered a slew of emails and I'm almost caught up after falling behind all summer..

One email included a green light for a new series of assignments. The new editor of Poker News was my former editor at Bluff Magazine. Parvis loved the concept of me writing Sunday morning Op-Ed pieces for Poker News. They needed weekend content and I was looking to collaborate with Parvis once again.

Ever since I was a little kid (don't forget newspapers were titans in the media industry and still meant something then cicra the late 1970s. Newspapers were the major source of news in that era before the change shifted towards TV and eventually cable news in the late 1980s and early 1990s). I always held Sunday Op-Ed writers in the highest regard. They were often feature writers (who didn't write for that paper) sounding off on a hot topic. I welcomed the opportunity to tackle a slightly different aspect of poker in hopes that someday this column is a stepping stone to writing Op-Eds in different publications.

Before I even left the apartment for breakfast at the coffeeshop, I had a highly productive day. It's also refreshing to have some sort of stability in my freelance writing schedule for the rest of the year. Now I can concentrate on finishing up Lost Vegas without worrying about having to scramble for work at a time in the industry when the jobs are slowly drying up.

It was good to return to the cofeeshop and be missed by the crew there. I sat at the counter and realized that I was surrounded by crying babies. Three booths behind me were filled with them. Wow, talk about a sobering experience to start the day as I glanced at the TV behind the counter and watched a helicopter hover over a lake on a golf course and suck up a bunch of water to spray on the fires in the Angeles National Forrest.

I returned to the apartment and headed into my office. I prepped for a long and hot day, so I whipped up a batch of iced tea. That's when I made one of the most crucial decisions since I chose to write Lost Vegas. I had been toying around with changing the beginning of the book and finally had the balls to give it a shot. All the feedback that I got was that Chapter 1 was a little slow. Chapter 2 is much more "active" and starting it off with some of those scenes packed a powerful punch. I spliced parts and sections of Chapter 1 into Chapter 2. The result was astounding. Not only do I like the new beginning, it's smoother and really kicks the door off the hinges. That's what I wanted.

It took me three or four months to finally pull the trigger. I'm glad I did because it really set the tone for the rest of the editing session. My goal was five chapters and I would do no less than three. I breezed through the first five and did seven in total. I'm ahead of schedule and I finished before dinner time.

Nicky whipped up dinner even though it was so fuckin' hot in the kitchen. I joked that I was going to write a Truckin' story before she could cook our dinner and plate the food. I was shit talking of course, but didn't back down. I ripped a few bong hits, fired up a Bob Dylan mix, and pecked away at the keyboards. I cranked out 700 words just as the pasta was done. I finished the piece (about a trio of siblings in Colorado who were drug dealers, users, and smugglers) after dinner, but I was in one of those rare batches of creativity when I couldn't stop so I didn't.

By the way, Nicky cooked organic wheat pasta with truffle oil and garlic-rubbed chicken breast. It's way to healthy for my standards, but it tasted awesome. She has a knack for cooking delicious yet healthy meals.

Once I finished my contribution to Truckin', I worked on the rest of the upcoming issue even though I set aside time on Monday or Tuesday for those edits. It felt good to be ahead of schedule and I completed about 75% of the next issue in that dead time while I was digesting my dinner.

I also spent time in my office working on an old painting. This was the third pass at it. It was just a test canvas for me to use to get back into the swing of painting. I had to re-teach myself all the things I forgot. So the first canvas was nothing more than practice. Nicky liked the colors and patterns but I knew it was just a junk canvas. She was horrified when I painted over it the first time. I made some minor additions but I knew it was nowhere close to being finished.

Since I was on an artistic binge, I decided to seize the moment and see what flows off my fingers. I worked on the painting for about an hour. It needs more work, but it's looking more like a Pauly painting than an old piece of canvas.

And I almost forgot.... about midway through my writing day, I had a meeting via Skype with a colleague from Moscow. He's one of the top poker writers (and a decent player as well) in Russia and he wanted to bring me into the fold of a new project that he's spearheading. He even offered me a full time position with his project, which I had to respectfully decline due to time constraints. However, I was able to offer him some consulting advice and will help him out in that area as well as write up a couple of pieces for him.

As the night slowly wound down, I had a feeling of satisfaction that I have not felt in a very long time. I secured work on two new projects which will keep me busy the rest of the year and give me something to delve into once Lost Vegas is complete.

The last round of edits started and I made tremendous headway which will get me all fired up to finish Lost Vegas. I'm on the positive slope of the mountain where I think the book is awesome. Sometimes (well, most of the time) I'm caught on the other side of the mountain looking down at the steep decline and looking up to the peak which seems nowhere close.

I also got ahead of schedule and worked on the new issue of Truckin'. Before the day started, I had just one story from my Norwegian buddy. As of now, the new issue is set and needs a couple more hours of fine tuning and it will be ready to go.

And I painted on a whim. Yeah, Friday was a good day. If I could have one of those every week, it would make me a happy (and wealthy) man. I know that these runs happen in spurts so I need to ride the wave until it crashes onto shore.

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