Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of the Best: 2012 Year in Review

By Pauly
New York City

I didn't share much this year, but on the rare occasions I did post something on Tao of Pauly, I went for a less is more approach, so everything I posted was top notch...
Dope Sick DMV
The Accidental Coach
Roger in the Sky with Diamonds
Qomolangma
Time, Clocks, Existence, and Time Wave Zero

I only posted once on Tao of Poker in 2012 in something titled Dear Ndugu. I essentially took a hiatus from poker in 2012 with the exception of maintaining a monthly column at Bluff Magazine.

 You can say that Bluff is the only place where you can exclusively read my poker content. That's where I wrote profiles of three different poker pros (Sailor Roberts, Shirley Rosario, and Brandon Schaefer), while three columns were inspired by my time in San Francisco (The Degen Market, Super Bowl, and Ice Palace Home Game) and all three are a part of a larger gambling series about gambling in the Bay Area. I got a little political (Black Friday Reprise) and even went the pop culture route (Zombies, Hollywood, and Poker and Tao of Joey Knish) As per usual, I wrote a few stories about Las Vegas (Vegas 40 and Glass Tappers), and even shared a WSOP flashback (No Country for Old Men).

Here's my columns in Bluff Magazine during 2012...
The Degen Market
Zombies, Hollywood, and Poker
The Tao of Knish
Black Friday Reprise
The Super Bowl
Vegas 40
No Country for Old Men
Brandon Schaefer: Good Guys Wear Gold
The Queen of Machu Picchu
Ice Palace Home Game
Sailor Roberts: The Life of the Party
Vegas Glass Tappers

While I took some time away from writing about poker, I delved into music writing. The one thing that ruffled the most feathers was my cheap shot at Lana Del Rey with Lana Del Rey Shitshow. Over at Coventry, I wrote recaps/reviews of 20 out of the 25 or so Phish concerts that I caught this summer...
Atlantic City #1: Satan Standing on the Beach
Atlantic City #2: Manteca-Light Sand Funk Fiesta
Atlantic City #3: Mothership Extraction
Cincy: Can You Still Have Fun?
Burgettstown: Tweakpaug
Blossom: Tweeze Away
Deer Creek #1: Heat Wave Hijinks
Deer Creek #2: Master Blaster
Alpine Valley #1: Float With the Flock
Alpine Valley #2: Gotta Get Out of This Maze
Jones Beach #2: Head Held High
SPAC #1: Light Up the Sally Ghost
SPAC #2: Blistering Sabotage
Long Beach: Wednesday Night Bieber
San Francisco #1: Touch the Magic
San Francisco #2: Lost in Space
San Francisco #3: Sunday Scorcher
Atlanta: Return to Lakewood
Charlotte: The Church of Phish
St. Louis: Turn My Brain to Mush

Over the summer, Matchbook hired me to write about sports betting. You can read all of my Matchbook columns here. If you're not familiar with Matchbook, it is a British sports betting site and I'm their American correspondent focusing on American sports. I got to write about other sports too like the Euro 2012 soccer championships and the Summer Olympics.
Euro 2012: Ode to Keira Knightly
Dream Team (1992) vs. Team USA (2012)
12 Random Sporting Events That Should Be in the Olympics
Collapse of the Yankees
NBA: East Preview
NBA: West Preview

I wrote a weekly column covering a Monday Night Football betting preview during the NFL season (click here to read those). I also wrote a preview of the gold medal round for Olympic basketballNFL Season Preview, Stanley Cups Finals Preview, MLB Playoffs Preview, ALCS/NLCS Preview and World Series Betting Preview.

 I also turned my focus to a new project and launching a new site to showcase my sports writing. In 2013, I shall write more about the day-to-day grind of investing in sports betting. I expanded upon those topics over at Ocelot Sports.

Here's some of my favorite pieces from Ocelot Sports...
The Howl of a Saturday Night Duck
The Redskins Rule
Election 2012: Betting on Obama 2.0
Post-Election Mittens Blues
Bringing in the Wolf
Shaved Heads and the Non-Mush
Kobe Shoots Daggers Out of His Eyes
A Curious Case of Byron Leftwich
Fading the Bible Belt and Knicks 5-0
Hawaii Covers and the Knicks Finally Lose
The Streak, Cadillac Rainbows, and Lots of Spaghetti
Turkey Day and LOL-Jets
4th and 29 and Fireman Ed's Swan Song
The Unbearable Likeness of Joey Crawford
Over 88, Helicopter Ben, and Hillary's Ice Box
Vegas: The Feeling I Forgot
Story of the Ghost: Giovanni Carmazzi
Wastleand: The Burial of the Jets
 You can check out more stuff over at the website... Ocelot Sports. And don't forget to follow them on Twitter over at @OcelotSports.

That's it. Everything. Like a I said, I didn't write much in 2012. That should change in 2013. I'll continue to write every day about a multitude of topics. Who knows where I'll be on any given day. That's wy it's best you tune in here or follow me on Twitter at @TaoPauly. Thanks for reading.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Kindle User? Buy My Books!

By Pauly
New York City

Merry Day-After Christmas. Hope it wasn't too brutal and you survived the festivities.

If you were lucky enough to score a new Kindle Fire or an iPad or some other electronic device that let's you read e-books, then now is the time to load up on titles. The e-book version of Lost Vegas is only a few clicks away.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for Kindle and iPads.

Click here to buy Lost Vegas for the Nook
.

Click here to buy a print copy of Lost Vegas on Amazon.com.

* * * *


And if you're totally bored and looking for a trashy novel, then indulge yourself with an e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

I recorded a podcast with Nicky over 18 months ago. She asked me questions about the origins of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. If you haven't heard it yet, well, here it is via SoundCloud...

JTSMD - Episode 1: The 10-Day Novel by taopauly 
 
* * * *
 
And if you like opera music, then here's the trailer...


Thanks for all of your support, kindness, tolerance, patience, understanding, and gratitude over the year. Every book you buy indirectly supports my drug habit, which in turn fuels my passion to write dark, crazy smut like e-book Kindle version of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Keep supporting the arts and I'll keep churning out cheese-slathered tripe.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 and Auggie Wren's Christmas Story

By Pauly
New York City

One of my favorite NYC authors, Paul Auster, wrote something many moons ago titled "Auggie Wren's Christmas Story." I re-read it every Christmas. So should you. Luckily, I linked it up for your enjoyment.


Click here to read Auggie Wren's Christmas Story.

* * * *

You  survived the Mayan Apocalypse and you almost got through 2012 without a scratch. The good news is that 2013 is right around the corner.

Happy birthday, Jesus!




Circa 1973



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Flashback: 5 Random C64 Games

By Pauly
New York City

When I was in high school, I was rocking a Commodore 64. My friends and I traded copied games (via floppy disks). I used to hustle a few bucks selling popular games for $3!

My brother and I chatted about some of our favorites. YouTube is cluttered with nostalgic videos about games from my youth that spent endless hours wasting away playing game with horrible graphics. Well, I spent some more time looking up these games via YouTube.

Here's video of five of my favorite C64 games: Jumpman, Mission Impossible, Commando, Summer Games and Winter Games, and Dr. J vs. Larry Bird.

This is a high concept game... a simple figure named Jumpman that jumps and flies around ladders and girders trying to gobble up coin-like items...


The evil robots from Impossible Mission used to give me nightmares, but I loved the ability to do backflips and piece together puzzles...


Then there's Commando, which had a cool feature in which you could throw grenades at your enemies...


Summer Games (and Winter Games) was a popular because you could choose different nations (and listen to national anthems). Of course, we liked to play the villain and take the USSR. Platform diving was always my favorite and equestrian also tilted me....




Our favorite game? Dr J vs. Larry Bird. If you took Larry, you would never miss a three-pointer, but you could break the backboard with Dr. J and a guy with a broom would come out and sweep sway the shards of glass.


Man, I could go all night long reminiscing about some of these games, but I spent a few hours with my brother pulling up YouTube videos of some of our favorite C64 games. I'm going to have bizarre dreams that have cheesy 24-bit soundtracks. A few that just missed the cut... Bruce Lee, Ghostbusters, Aztec Challenge, Crystal Castles, Spy vs. Spy, Spyhunter and Raid Over Moscow.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Time, Clocks, Existence, and Time Wave Zero

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA



Time. It's one of the most invaluable resources known to mankind. I wish I had more of it. When things were going good in life, I wish time slowed down. When life was excruciating painful, I wished time sped up.

I never have enough time for work and play. I wish I had an extra few hours in each day to accomplish what I really want to do. My internal body clock is set for 30-32 hour days, which is why I have trouble sleeping whenever everyone else is supposed to sleep. I knew someone who was very depressed because they didn't have enough time to read all the books that they wanted to read. I thought that notion was petty and dismissed it... yet almost twenty years later... I'm starting to understand what they meant.

In my office, I'm taunted by a pile of books that I started reading but never finished. That pile is significant;y larger than my current "to read" pile. If I had more time to read, I would. Instead, if I can't get into a specific book for whatever reason, I get guilty because I'm a voracious reader and want to keep reading. So, I put the fledgling book aside and pick up a new book that I think I can read much faster because the topic seems more compelling.

Time is weird. When you're a kid you're always waiting for something big to happen while living a linear life. The older you get, the more haunted you are by memories and anxiety. You're anxious that you don't have enough time to accomplish whatever it is you're trying to accomplish. I always felt sorry for friends who were specific with their life plans because they were trying to squeeze in real-life into a linear time line. Instead of enjoying the moment, they have to stick to a rigid schedule. That might make goal-oriented people feel better about themselves, but they also do a disservice to the entire "experience" that makes life an amazing mystery.

I'm the type of person who likes to plan for almost anything, yet will throw all that out the window on a whim. It's sort of like a band creating a set list before they take the stage, then abandoning the entire game plan and playing songs based on the vibe of the crowd, or perhaps following a bit of intuition.

For most of my adult life I rarely wore a watch. This was possible because for many years I was lived the life as a beatnik on the fringe and had no need for time-keeping, but then technology swooped in and created cellphone which had its own clock synced up to the Mothership. In my 20s I never wanted to know the time, but in my 30s all I had to do was peek at my cellphone to be reminded about how little time I had... or how much time I wasted. In short, a clock/watch often ruined the zen-like moment of being in the monent.

When I lived in Seattle in the post-grunge era of the 90s, I had a friend who said he never wore a watch because you could ask anyone what time it was and they'd tell you (if they had a watch). I told him that some folks have slow watches, or A-type personalities set their watches ahead by a few minutes. I know that's what I used to do when I owned a watch... keep time five minutes faster.

When I left Wall Street the first time, I ditched my watch. It was one of those symbolic moves that represented my angst against the Establishment... because only the Man wanted you to adhere to time keeping in order to keep you down.

I bought a watch in 2000 before a trip to Japan. I lived in NYC at the time and went down to Canal Street in Chinatown, where I found a knock-off Swiss Army watch for $10. I only bought the watch because Senor and I were traveling to several cities in Japan and riding the bullet trains. Japan is a society that operates efficiently and on time. The subway and JR (train) stations broke down the arrival of the next train not by minutes, but by minutes and seconds. The watch was essential because we didn't want to miss a train, plus we didn't speak Japanese so we couldn't ask a local what time it was. During our time in Japan, we didn't miss a single train.

After that epic trip, I didn't use a watch ever again. I kept the knock-off watch with me until the battery died and then I ditched it.

When I worked on Wall Street a second time shortly after 9/11, I had a cellphone which told me what time it was. I always thought... "what would happen if the lights/satellites went out... then how would I tell the time?"

When I was a kid, there was a specific phone number that you called to get the exact time... at the beep. These days, you just have to go online and check out the atomic world clock.

I've read my fair share of "preppers" websites and other emergency preparedness that suggest you stash away an alternate wind-up watch because so many of us don't have watches anymore and rely on digital clocks, cable boxes, laptops, or cellphones to tell time.

I'm a denizen of the West Coast and you really have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I have an earthquake kit that also doubles as a bugout bag just in case the shit hits the fan. Ever since I was a little kid and saw the first Superman movie (with Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor living in a lair underneath Grand Central Station), I became cognizant about how the San Andreas fault could blow and California would sink into the ocean. Decades later, I'm an adult living in SoCal and flirting with potential disaster. Someday the big one will hit... but when?

That time bugger comes into play again. When will the big one hit? If it does, will I have the proper supplies to be able to tell time? And if I do survive a big quake, what good is a watch if civilization breaks down? It's not like I can trade a useless watch for food, water, or medical supplies.

I watched a few videos over the summer about Terrance McKenna's theory about Time Wave Zero. McKenna noticed a pattern in the I Ching and mapped a graph (covering all 4,000 years of record human history since the dawn of civilization) over a time line that had some mind-blowing correlations. He called it Time Wave Zero, which had accurately depicted major Earth events like the fall of the Roman Empire and both world wars. A lot of people are freaked out because McKenna's time line bottomed out and stopped in December 2012.

Here's a quick video explaining Time Wave Zero...


McKenna thinks that time and space is getting condensed... and will eventually disappear. Do your own research about McKenna's theory on Time Wave Zero because it's some pretty heavy shit.

I do not believe in a Mayan doomsday, but according to McKenna's Time Wave Zero, we're entering a new era. What that era will be? I have no fucking clue. But will my "time" woes be alleviated? Or will this just usher in a new wave of problems? Or perhaps lead us onto a new path of time and space?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Dayton, Funk City USA

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA



I'm not one to dwell too much about the past and everyone knows that one of my biggest faults is living too much in the moment. With that said, if I could go back in time... or rather, if I could have one of those "Ground Hog Day" experiences, it would be fucking sensational to wake up in Dayton, Ohio on December 7th, 1997.

Wait, why 1997? And why bumble-fuck Dayton? And hey, isn't 12.7.97  exactly fifteen years today?

Yeah, today marks the anniversary of what many Phisheads consider the best live performance in 30 years of Phish. That's a bold statement considering the band spanned three decades, but that assessment is something I first heard around the millennium. As time passes, the evening in Dayton's awesomeness grows bigger and bigger. The legend has become embolden so much so that it's no longer an opinion... the majority of the community accept it as fact... Dayton 97 was the best Phish show. Ever. In Grateful Dead terms, the funk-infused Dayton 97 show is similar to a crispy copy of Barton Hall 77 tape.

Four white dudes from Vermont rolled the dice and pushed the limits of their musicianship in 1997. The result was a tsunami of funk-driven grooves and jams aka the Year of the Funk.

This version of Tube from 12.7.97 is the perfect example of how the band's heavy funk influenced affected their playing. They love their Tubified-funk groove so much, that after the song ended, they paused for a few seconds and launched back into it, but truly pulling everyone else down the rabbit hole with them.


Was it the best show ever? Hard to say, but it's up there for sure. But if there's one live show you must have in your collection, it's Phish 12.7.97.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Rolling Stones: Some Girls and Crossfire Hurricane

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

 GMoney wrote an awesome guest post on Coventry Music. He watched the Rolling Stones documentary and wrote up his thoughts on the film and the Rolling Stones.

Check out... A Review of Crossfire Hurricane... and Hopefully Some Stuff You Might Not Know About "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band".

Since we're on a Stones kick, check out Some Girls recorded live in Austin, Texas in 1978. This is the full DVD that I found on YouTube. It has a disco-funk version of Miss You and a rocking rendition of Tumbling Dice, not to mention a bunch of other classic hits from the Stones.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Around the Web: Late November and Early December

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

A big hearty fuck you to the old fart-stain who thought he was clever by calling me a lazy drug addict for not writing about poker anymore. Yep, I devoted nearly everyday for eight fucking years to one subject... writing for free mind you... and it's still not enough for some malcontents.

Yes, fuck you old man. Even jacked up on enough pills to keep Lindsay Lohan cooking for a month, I still cranked out more content in a half-baked coma than he can ever dream of in a decade.

Here's a quick list of some non-freelance things I worked on (for free for the pure love of the subject matter) in the last week or so, and I wasn't even trying...
Coventry Music:
Lana Del Rey Shit Show
Turbo Review: Phil Lesh & Friends 11/30/12 
Turbo Review: Phil Lesh & Friends 12/1/12
Turbo Review: Phil Lesh & Friends 12/2/12
RIP Dave Brubeck
Tao of Fear:
Why Has NASA Never Returned to the Moon?
Stop the Revolution, Start the Evolution
Les Stroud (a.k.a. Survivor-man) on Joe Rogan

Ocelot Sports:
Over 88, Helicopter Ben, and Hillary's Ice Box
Muting the Talking Heads, Melo ISO, and Sanchez Benched
Not mentioned is the random shit I post on my Tumblr page like cartoon dogs eating magic mushrooms.

Anyway, I know the best way to get rid of a troll is to ignore them, but every once in a while, it feels good to kick them in the nutsack and tell them to piss off.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Sanchize: Same Shit, Different Day

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Guess what? Same old shit for the LOL-Jets. First pass play for Mark Sanchize?


Yes, poor Sanchize must be afflicted with color-blindness again. It's tough to distinguish red uniforms from green. It's going to be a very long day. Hey at least it wasn't an ass fumble, right?

Follow @OcelotSports for more in-game snark.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

30 Days of Depravity

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Thanks for my dear friend Katitude from the Great White North for encouraging me to get off my ass, shake off the rust, and returning to "everyday blogging" during the month of November. If she wasn't doing NaBloMo... then I would have blown off a web-based project that I always wanted to do, but never had the time to do it.

Yes, I puked up over 35,000 words in the last four weeks on Ocelot Sports and let everyone inside the twisted and half-baked mind of a sports gambler.

After taking almost a year off, November 2012 was really a crazy month. I was swamped with a couple of new work projects (poker and sports betting), then I got hired by a French company to build a website, and the usual freelance magazine work plus spending a couple of hours every day handicapping games in multiple sports. Oh, how could I forget the podcast with Jesse and then toss in the Turkey Day holidays and a quick trip to Seattle. All that jam packed into 30 days. Yeah, I barely had time to sleep.

Now that November is over... should I keep on blogging about sports (betting)? The bad news is... I probably won't post something every day. The good news is... that I'm going to keep up Ocelot Sports for at least the rest of the year and then make a decision about keeping it up in 2013. My gut is telling me to keep writing about sports and continue a blogging hiatus on poker. I have enough time to do one, but not both. After dedicating 8+ years to one genre on Tao of Poker, I've feeling more inclined to allocate time and energy into a new genre.


Anyway... in case you missed what I've been doing with myself in November, here's a link to the Ocelot Sports archives.

Here's a quick link to every single post over the last 30 days about football, basketball, winning streaks, losing streaks, backup QBs, fired head coaches, Tim Tebow, Kim Kardashian's hubby getting into a cat fight, show-off zebras, craptacular commissioners, how we made a shit-ton of cash betting on the Election, and more GIFs that will make your head spin...
Halloween: Tricks, Treats, and Fear the Beard
Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines
Top Billing for the Clippers
The Howl of a Saturday Night Duck 
The Redskins Rule
Post-Election Mittens Blues and Knicks 3-0
Bringing the Wolf
Shaved Heads and the Non-Mush
Kobe Shoots Daggers Out of His Eyes
Ugly Guts and Bama Busts
Seachickens, Bowling Alleys, and Pai Gow
A Curious Case of Byron Leftwich
Fading the Bible Belt and Knicks 5-0
The Bobkittens Nevermore
Eurotrash Dildos and Knicks 6-0
Hawaii Covers and the Knicks Finally Lose
Sometimes It Rains
The Streak, Cadillac Rainbows, and Lots of Spaghetti
Safety Dance
Melo Elbows
Eating the Bar and Stealing Patrick Ewing's TV
Turkey Day and LOL-Jets
Black-Hearted Friday
Turn a Deeper Blue
4th and 29 and Fireman Ed's Swan Song
Philly Brown Bags, the Winless Wiz, and Bobkittens Blowout
The Unbearable Likeness of Joey Crawford
Cat Scratch Fever: Rondo-Kardashian Claw Fight
Brees Grounded and Pop's Sleep Plan
Soggy Fields, the Orlando Tragic, and Aussie Soccer

Visit Ocelot Sports for more sublime degeneracy. It also has its own Twitter feed: @OcelotSports. That's where you'll find our daily plays.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tao of Hockey Fights: Kazakhstan's Pee Wee League

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

This is the best brawl I saw for kids 10 and under. It's from Kazakhstan. Seriously. Kokshetau Burabay vs. Kazakhstan Astana...


Thanks to StB for the tip.

Going through hockey withdrawal?  Yeah, me too. Here's Simmons's column on Grantland from two weeks ago: Just Go Away Gary.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Balls

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The ABA. When I was a little kid, the ABA was synonymous with two things.... 1) red, white, and blue basketball, and 2) ginormous afros.

Flashback to the early 1970s. The pros in the ABA had wild hair styles. The white guys looked like roadies from the Allman Brothers and sported porn mustaches, while their black teammates grew out craziest afros and sported fu-man-chu beards. If you see vintage photos of Dr. J during his ABA years, you'll understand what I'm talking about. The entire league looked like they were auditioning for Soul Train.


Artis Gilmore (left) defends Darnell Hillman (right)

It the aftermath of counter culture, the NBA represented the Establishment, while the ABA became a bastion for rebels, outcasts, misfits. My kind of people. The addition of a three-point line opened up the game, which bred a fast-paced environment with tons of high-octane offense. Free-flowing. Uppity jazz-like solos. Nothing like stifling and boring game in the NBA, which incorporated a very disciplined game plan... walk the ball up the court and work it inside to one of the big men. The ABA was all about offense and scoring and more scoring and more scoring. Fast. Fast. Fast. Up tempo. Let's get the ball and run and gun.

If you recall Knicks teams in the 90s and the final scores were always like 83-80. Defensive struggles. Ugly basketball. On a good night, the high-flying ABA teams would put up twice as many points. Final scores of 173-145 were not uncommon. I'd love to have been a pro bettor back then and find any bookies stupid enough to set a total. I'd bet the fucking over ever night.

The ABA had a couple superstars (Dr. J, Iceman, and Artis Gilmore) but it suffered because they lacked lucrative TV contracts. In the age before cable TV, aside from boxing it was difficult to get any sports on the airwaves, let alone an upstart basketball league that featured scary looking dudes that looked like dope-toking hippies and Black Panthers, which were not the type of fringe images the networks wanted to beam into the household across Wonderbread-eating, milquetoast middle America. With the except of a few cities (Denver and Indianapolis), most of the teams did not draw any fans. Some franchises struggled to get a couple hundred of fans every night. Tickets went for as low as a $1. You couldn't give them away. Which was sad, because the quality of basketball was on par with the NBA, but offered up a more entertaining product with soaring monster dunks and bombs raining out of the sky. Whenever they took a jump shot... the red, white, and blue ball made everyone feel like that had ingested a hit of liquid sunshine as swirling colors were sprinkled throughout the arenas.

I recently finished Loose Balls: The Short and Wild Life of the ABA. It's an oral history and a well-organized collection of remarks and stories from every aspect of the ABA. The multiple perspectives includes players, coaches, owners, broadcasters, and sportswriters, etc.

If you're a fan of the Lakers' girls, then thank the Miami Floridians for their innovation. Instead of ball boys, the Miami franchise used ball girls in bikinis to entice fans to come to the games. They danced during time outs and tried to distract opposing players when they shot free throws.


Miami's original "Ball Girls"

During Turkey Day dinner, I asked Nicky's father (who grew up in L.A.) if he recalled any ABA franchises in California. He spoke about the old Anaheim Amigos before they left the O.C. after one season and moved up the freeway to Los Angeles and switched names to the L.A. Stars. The one and only Pat Boone was a minority owner in an ABA franchise in Oakland called the Oaks. Rick Barry played on the Oaks for a year before Boone found out the other majority owners ran up a bunch of debts and swindled him out of a couple million. Word to the wise... don't go into business with shady friends. They will rip you off and then pretend you don't exist! Boone sold the Oaks and paid off the debts, while the new owners moved it to Washington, where it became the Washington Caps.

I vaguely recalled a HBO sports documentary about the ABA that I once watched with my brother. I found it after a ninety second search on YouTube and re-discovered Long Shots, which uses a funky intro from Billy Preston's Circles.


In case you were wondering, my brother and I had a red, white and blue basketball. It held up better in outdoor/playground conditions compared to the nice leather balls that were perfect indoors but got torn up on concrete. At one point, my bro got a Michael Jordan basketball, which was just black and red.

The ABA... gone but not forgotten. The league folded into the NBA after nine rough and tumble seasons. Four ABA franchises are currently pro teams in the NBA: Spurs, Nuggets, Nets, and Pacers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Day Reflections

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


I volunteered to work today, woke up at the crack of the ass, and tried to get breakfast at my local coffeeshop. It was closed. D'oh!!! I forgot it was Turkey Day. Rough. Very rough way to start the morning... but in the bigger picture, it really doesn't matter, because I'll be done with a deadline and assignment by mid-day and then I can join my lovely girlfriend and her cool family in West L.A. for some serious grub with football on in the background. By the way, here's a Turkey Day NFL betting preview that I wrote for MatchBook.

Last summer, I barely survived a car crash in Vegas and spent the rest of the year trying to rehab and heal, both physically and mentally. Last Thanksgiving, I flew from San Francisco to L.A. in order to have dinner with Nicky and her family. It was an emotional Turkey Day because I was extremely grateful to simply be alive. Nicky drove from San Francisco to LA. I flew. I was too afraid to be in a car. In fact, it's been 500 days since I drove a car and was behind the wheel. I'm still scared.

It's been an up and down 2012... but mostly on the upside so I can't complain at all. In fact I'm so damn lucky. The "down" parts involved having to move out of San Francisco (damn greedy landlords!) and relocating back to the Slums of Beverly Hills. Then there's the monkey on my back... and a constant day-to-day battle with an addiction to painkillers. Sometimes I'm miserable and self-medicate but most of the time the pain is excruciatingly legitimate. I'll probably need a hip replacement in a decade and my back is twisted and tangled like a bush league quarterback.

Life is day to day, but such is life.

The "up" parts of this year included one of the best summers I had in a very long time because I visited my brother and family in NYC, caught a ton of Phish shows (particularly with GMoney, Iggy & Mr. Fabulous in the Midwest). But most importantly, I found a little semblance of happiness by  alleviating the constant pressure of everyday poker writing and after eight years of the nonstop and relentless grind, I took a must-needed hiatus from Tao of Poker, which was also an integral part of an overall decision to skip the World Series of Poker. I didn't want to move to Las Vegas for two months again... in the middle of the summer.... because Vegas always turns me into a miserable fuck and Vegas was also ground zero for the car accident and although I had healed physically, I was not strong enough mentally to return to the WSOP grind. Covering the WSOP is like climbing a mountain and I didn't have the mental toughness to survive and I didn't see a point to doing it an eighth time... so I skipped it... but I drew a lot of guff for my decision.

Last year at this time, I was happy to simply be alive. Small simple pleasures... like breathing and walking without absorbing pain with every single step. This year on the morning of Turkey Day, I'm happy to still have a career... and have a job. I'm damn lucky to get paid to write because times are tough all around and this is not a good time to be a writer or creative person in America. It's no coincidence that three out of four of my biggest clients are non-U.S. based and located in Europe (London, Isle of Man, and Paris). Yeah, thank god for the French and the Brits. They have always been sincere supporters of the arts and I'll be eternally grateful to them and everyone else that still gives me a chance.

Life is day to day, but on this day of all days, it's a perfect time to look back and realize the good times far outweigh the bad times. Be grateful. I know I am.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jerry Garcia on Letterman in 1987

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In 1987, my family had just gotten a VCR and I used it to tape Letterman on (Mondays thru Thursdays) because it came on NBC at 12:30pm and I was in bed by the time reruns the Odd Couple on WPIX ended by 11:30pm. I'd wake up super early and watch Letterman's monologue and Top 10 list before I went to school.

Here is a rare glimpse of Jerry Garcia on late night TV. It was in the fall of 1987, while the Grateful Dead were in the middle of their "comeback" run at Madison Square Garden. Jerry was clean and sober after surviving a nasty diabetic coma. Sober is the key component here. That's the only reason you'd find him... 1) in a suit jacket, and 2) participating in the big machine of televised entertainment.

Check out this grainy video from Jerry's appearance on Letterman with Bob Weir. In the opening clip (I assumed it was the cold open), Jerry and Dave are playing Scrabble and hilarity ensues.

In the second part, Bob Weir and Jerry sit in with Paul Schaefer and the band to cover Bob Dylan's I Paint My Masterpiece.

In the last segment of the video, Jerry and Bobby get interviewed by Letterman. Letterman tries to talk about their new album (at the time In the Dark with the radio hit Touch of Grey was released). You could see Jerry get a little bored, a little pranksterish, a little snippy (directed at Dave) at times, and he's also brutally honest about the Dead's propensity of blowing their big gigs (e.g. Woodstock and the Pyramids). The funniest part featured Bob Weir attempting to do a "parlor trick" by picking up Jerry using only two fingers from Dave, Paul, and stagehand Biff Henderson.


And here's the Dead playing MSG the night before Jerry & Bobby taped Letterman. They opened up second set with Bertha...


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Streaks, Soul Train, and the Trenches

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Lakers' coach Mike D'Antoni playing pro ball in Italy circa 1987
I'm more than halfway through my goal on "writing about sports betting every day in November"  and I'm having fun with it, so much so I might go on until the end of the year. Ah, maybe I shouldn't get too ahead of myself. For now, it's an every day thing which is a good thing.

In case you haven't seen any of my latest project Ocelot Sports, here's what you missed over the last two weeks or so:

Post-Election Mittens Blues and Knicks 3-0 - The election is over and Karl Rove was stricken with the Mitt Romney Blues. I also explain how Jesse May talked me into betting the Election.

Bringing the Wolf - If you're gonna bet on the NBA, you need a reliable West Coast team to bail you out of trouble when your other bets shit the bed. In those instances, you gotta call in the Wolf!

Shaved Heads and the Non-Mush - Is Waffles a mush? I say no. Plus, don't fuck with guys on a mission who shave their heads in unison.

Kobe Shoots Daggers Out of His Eyes - Kobe gave head coach Mike Brown the death stare and he gets fired a day later. Coincidence?

Ugly Guts and Bama Busts - Sweet home Alabama! The #1 ranked team got upset and I got my ass kicked betting on college football.

Seachickens, Bowling Alleys, and Pai Gow - I took a quick trip to Seattle to visit old friends and go see the Jets/Seachickens game. Oh, and then when it got really late, Johnnie took me to a sketchy casino in the back of a bowling alley. Hilarity ensues.

A Curious Case of Byron Leftwich - How important is a backup quarterback? Big Ben went down during Monday Night Football and journeyman QB Byron Leftwich let the Steelers to... an ugly loss.

Fading the Bible Belt and Knicks 5-0 - ESPN hosted a 24-hour marathon of college basketball during their "Tip Off" bender. I could not resit betting a few games including Hawaii playing a game at 1am.

The Bobkittens Nevermore - Our plan was to fade the Charlotte Bobkittens every time they played. That hasn't worked out this year, so it's time to fade the Washington Wiz.

Eurotrash Dildos and Knicks 6-0 - A fucking Italian Rooster chucked up an airball and cost me a bet. Oh, and the Knicks continued to roll as the last undefeated team in the NBA.

Hawaii Covers and the Knicks Finally Lose - Just another boring Friday night? Guess again.

Sometimes It Rains - I was bogged down in a horrible college football losing streak but somehow managed to snap out of it. Along the way, I tweaked my NBA system and embarked on a 4-0 run and danced around my apartment like the line dancers on Soul Train.
The Streak, Cadillac Rainbows, and Lots of Spaghetti - Monstrous winning streaks are like once-in-a-lifetime comets. Inside of a 30 hour period, I went on one of the hottest streaks in over four years and won 12 consecutive bets on the NBA and NFL.

Here's a quick link to the Ocelot Sports archives. You can also follow @OcelotSports on Twitter, because that's where we post our daily plays and half-baked tweets about random live sporting events.

Also, here's last two episodes of the Everything Is Bettable podcast I recorded with Jesse May. I appear in the opening and closing segments (a.k.a. the first five and last five minutes):
Everything Is Bettable - Episode 8: Jesse inquires about a computer program, HAL420, that helps me with my handicapping and I explain my affinity for the Golden State Warriors as my bail out team (a.k.a. Bringing in the Wolf).

Everything Is Bettable - Episode 9: Jesse gives me a little guff about sweating a Monday Night Football game after Big Ben got hurt and left the game. I also tell a story about Kobe Bryant's dad, JellyBean Bryant, and his relationship with new Lakers' head coach Mike A'Antoni.

Speaking of podcasts, my new favorite podcast is The Trenches with former NFL lineman Ephraim Salaam and Grantland columnist Robert Mays. You can find it over at Grantland. The Trenches is a fascinating and truthful look at what it was like to be a pro and offensive lineman fighting for dear life in the trenches. Give it a listen.

Here's a clip from the most recent episode about pain management before, during, and after the games:

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election 2012: I Hate Politics Edition

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In the immortal words of Horace, "Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus."


Need an inside track on who to bet this election? Check out something I wrote... Election Betting Tips: Obama 2.0.

Need a witty and hysterical distraction from the election? Go watch a bunch of Bill Hicks videos.

Need a better, more melodious distraction? Go watch the Talking Heads live in Rome circa 1980.

Want to watch a documentary about professional athletes who made millions then lost it all? Go watch this 30 for 30 documentary... BROKE.

* * * *

Update.... 

If you want some live-blogging coverage of the election, you should go read Otis... Live from America's Couch.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Everyday Ocelot

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


 Kat mentioned she decided to write an old-school blog post every day in the month of November. She inspired me to do the same. Except... it will not be here... rather at a nifty corner of the web called Ocelot Sports.

Sports. Nonstop. For a full month. I'm writing about the games I sweat on the boob tube, on Nicky's iPad, and via my laptop. The games/events are across the spectrum... college football, NFL, NBA, college hoops, college hockey, and random women's college volleyball. If all goes well, I might continue the project indefinitely. Who knows, maybe I catch the blogging bug once again and feel compelled to  restart Tao of Poker or better yet... return to regularly scheduled programming here.

But why a new site? And why on Tumblr? Why not write here? Or how about Tao of Poker? That's more suited for gambling content, right? All five are damn good questions. I don't have answers. All I  have is a new URLs to add to my collection.

Visit Ocelot Sports for utter degeneracy. It also has Twitter feed: @OcelotSports.

Here's the irreversible damage I've accomplished thus far...
Halloween: Tricks, Treats, and Fear the Beard
Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines
Top Billing for the Clippers
The Howl of a Saturday Night Duck 
The Redskins Rule
Broke (30 for 30 - Full Documentary)
In just four or five days, I covered a slew of meaningless fodder like... the opening week of the NBA season, Lee Corso and bath salts, the weird rivalry between Bama/LSU that could determine the outcome of the Presidential election, oh, and how about actual betting on the Presidential Election? I squeezed that in Barry O, Mittens, Fear the Beard, not to mention trolling cokehead Lakers fans, fading the Charlotte Bobkittens, pulling the trigger on the largest bet I've ever made on college basketball, and suicidal James Taylor songs.

Check it out... Ocelot Sports.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NBA Begins and More Sports Writing and Podcasts

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I've been bogged down with a plethora of sports viewing and sports writing and sports-related projects the last couple weeks, including a weekly preview of Monday Night Football. The MLB season is done. The NHL season is in limbo. But the NBA season is finally upon us. I drew the fortunate assignment to write an NBA preview for British bookies. It's a good life. I can't complain and hope it can continue indefinitely.

It's been a while since I immersed myself deep into pro basketball, especially at the start of the season because the Knicks have been awful the last few years and I had been busy with poker, poker, and more poker. James Dolan is the worst team owner in all of professional sports. Since I live in California, I was considering the L.A. Clippers as a new hometown favorite. Maybe they should be my new team? I could never root for Kobe and the Lakers, so how about the other team in the City of Angels? Or do I abandon the Knicks in favor of the Brooklyn Nets? The Nets are owned are Jay-Z and the Russian mob. You know they'll be plenty of hijinks for any pro team that moves to Brooklyn.

Anyway, I sat down to write a NBA preview over the weekend and thought I was done... and then Oklahoma City went out and traded James Harden to Houston on Saturday night, so I had to start over. Anyway, the original preview ballooned to the size of a short Russian novel, and so I had to break out the butcher knife and trim it down. I also had to split up the preview into two parts.

Here's my NBA Preview for MatchBook:
NBA Preview Part 1: Miami Heat Dominates the East
NBA Preview Part 2: L.A. Lakers Team to Beat in the West

One of my favorite things I do every week is chatting with Jesse May about the gambling world. He records parts of our conversation for a podcast, so you can get a glimpse into what we're thinking and talking about. Here's the last three episodes of Everything Is Bettable podcast hosted by Jesse. I appear in the opening and closing segments:
Everything Is Bettable - Episode 3: Jesse caught me at the tail end of a bender during the baseball playoffs. I had watched four straight playoff games during a rare playoff quad-header.

Everything Is Bettable - Episode 4: Jesse and I discuss the A-Rod situation when he was benched during the series against the Tigers and how he was trying to pic up Australian models during the game.

Everything Is Bettable - Episode 5: Jesse wondered about my thoughts on the upcoming Presidential election. I told him it was rigged and to bet on Obama.

Also, usually during games, I have been live-tweeting snark and other random stuff about my degeneracy over at @OcelotSports. Follow them for sports betting-related stuff. I also created a second tumblr page which will be a temporary home for my sportsbetting tales, rants, bad beats, and existential musings. Check out Ocelot Sports on tumblr.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Sports Writing and Everything Is Bettable Podcast

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Six months ago, Jesse May offered me a juicy opportunity to join him in launching MatchBook Media, a brand new sportsbetting site based in the United Kingdom. Jesse hired me as MatchBook's correspondent "across the pond" specializing American-centric sports like the NBA, MLB, NHL, and the NFL.

Yes, it was like a dream come true... collaborating with Jesse and penning sportsbetting articles. All of my MatchBook columns can be found here. During the NFL season, I will be specifically covering Monday Night Football, which is often the most heavily bet game of the week.

Just the other day, I wrote a preview of the upcoming MLB playoffs. Last month, Jesse handed me the difficult assignment of writing about the N.Y. Yankees' collapse after they blew a 10-game lead.

Earlier in the summer, I got the chance to write about the London Olympics including a piece comparing the original Dream Team from 1992 with the 2012's Team USA. Probably my favorite article was something I whipped up about 12 weird sporting events that should be in the Olympics like competitive eating and the Running of the Bulls.

I even got to write about soccer, which the Brits hilariously refer to as 'football.' I had no idea what I was doing betting on the Euro 2012 championships, but I somehow luckboxed my way into winning a few hundred quid on Spain. I wrote about the Euro Cup in something titled Ode to Keira Knightly. Yes, I'm not embarrassed to say that everything I know about soccer I learned from movies like Victory and Bend It Like Beckham.


In addition to being editor, Jesse May also hosts a podcast for MatchBook called Everything Is Bettable. Talk about a kick-ass title! I'll be appearing on every podcast as Jesse's sidekick, or "betting compadre" as he refers to me. We recorded two episodes and we're still working out the kinks.

I appear in the opening segment and the closing segment in both episodes...
Everything Is Bettable - Episode 1: Jesse called me out after my girlfriend caught me betting on a totally random the Baylor/UL-Monroe game. Plus, we discussed Floyd Mayweather's betting degeneracy and the debacle on Monday Night Football (Seattle and Green Bay) that led to the removal of replacement refs. Listen here.

Everything Is Bettable - Episode 2: Jesse grilled me about the Jets' embarrassing 34-0 blowout against the Niners and why I'm on PMST aka Perpetual-Mark-Sanchez-Tilt. We also chatted about why I bet a blind tip when I found out the TCU's QB was arrested with a DWI. In the second segment, we discussed the upcoming baseball playoffs and why I think the Yankees are under-looked and why I'm digging the red-hot Oakland A's. Listen here.
By the way, MatchBook Media has their own Twitter feed -- @TeamMatchBook. You can find a complete index of my MatchBook Media columns here, and you can find an index of all of MatchBook Media's podcasts here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Qomolangma

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


There's a running joke that mountain climbers tell each other:
The three best attributes of a mountain climber are... 1) threshold to pain, 2) a bad memory, and 3) I forget the third one.
The medical community has been studying the brains of mountain climbers for several decades. They are curious to see how the lack of oxygen poses long-term affects for many of the fittest men and women in the world.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand this simple fact: the higher you go, the less oxygen there is to go around. Even lugging around oxygen tanks while trying to summit Mount Everest won't reverse the damage caused by oxygen deprivation. Sure, every individual body and chemical make-up is different. Genetics plays a huge role, which is why Nepalese men were bred to be sherpas. They can handle the thinner air better than their Western counterparts.

According to the NY Times article Mountain Climbing is Bad for the Brain:
On scans, the climbers showed a reduction in both white and gray matter in various parts of the brain. Overall, the researchers found that the cognitive abilities that were most likely to be affected were the climbers’ executive function and memory.
Mountain climbing is an extreme sport. People climb mountains because of the risk-reward ratio is magnificent. You risk your life to conquer nature. It's the only thing you can do, physically speaking, to get closer to God by ascending atop the highest peaks in the world. At the same time, mountaineering is a quest-oriented adventure. You test your own personal limitations, not just trying to see how much pain you can endure, but also it's an exhibition to determine how tough you are mentally. That's why people who are crazy enough to climb a dangerous mountain like Everest are very successful in life. When you shrug off the perils of death while unable to feel your frost-bitten digits while barely being able to breathe on the North face, you realize the simplicity of tasks in non-mountain environments.

Ed Viesturs, one of the most renown American mountaineers who climbed Everest seven times, explained: "Everything that seems hard, really isn't hard."

To put it in more glib terms, mountain climbers are cocky in day-to-day life because they cheated death and acquired a life experience that money can't buy. Sure there are wealthy people who fund exorbitant expedition to Everest, but the bottom line is this... they still have to climb the mountain. And more often than not... the mountain wins.

Weather in the Himalayas is fickle and dangerous. The locals believe the Qomolangma (Tibetan translation: Holy Mother) is alive and will swallow up human sacrifices unless you pay proper homage to the omnipotent power of nature. If you don't die on the way up, you'll probably die on the way down after you expend all your energy to get to the top and you let your guard down by not being extra careful on the descent.

Climbing Mount Everest is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But a few people got hooked on the adrenaline rush. Once you climb the biggest mountain in the world, what do you do next? Without something bigger to defeat, you have no choice but to return to Everest and tackle a second, third, or fourth summit.

That's when climbers gamble with their long-term brain function. The short-term risk is usually not worth the long-term consequences. Sure, you'll put your life on the line for the first shot at achieving greatness. But, what's the real assessment of the risk when climbers make a secondary and tertiary attempt at the summit?

And these brain issues don't just happen to climbers in the Himalayas. It happens in Europe in the Alps and in South American with climbers in the Andes.

Ed Viesturs is a freak of nature. He climbed the world's top peaks without oxygen tanks and he also survived the summit of Everest seven times. Only two other non-sherpas have ever successfully climbed Everest more than Viesturs. Every time he returned from the summit, Viesturs' brain took more and more of a pounding.

Every time someone makes an attempt to climb Everest, you return with slight brain damage. The more often you venture into high altitudes, your memory and cognitive functions suffer dearly.

So when assessing the risk of multiple summits at Everest, the medical evidence supports that continuing to climb high-altitudes has devastating long-term impact. Once or twice is enough, anything more than that is utterly foolish.

Unless you have a death wish, what's the point in conquering a mountain you've already conquered once, or seven times in Ed Viesturs' case?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Roger in the Sky with Diamonds

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


Handjobs. HoJos. Sugarcubes.

That was almost the title of this post. It refers to the most recent episode of Mad Men. If you have never seen the show, but know what LSD is, then you should keep reading. If you wandered over here by accident or got sent here via random google search for "Mormon Underwear" and you have a disdain for mind-altering drugs and Hollywood glorifying binge drinking and infidelity, then you should just get the fuck out of my office right now.

...

Great. Now, that the room has been cleared of zealots, gimps and interlopers, and the only ones remaining are supposed to be here: acid freaks, curious dilettantes, and hardcore fans of Mad Men.

I don't watch much television with the exception of sporting events, and even then, I'm watching more sports online than ever before. The few non-scripted shows in my diet are nothing more than junk food voyeurism -- rubbernecking (or dare I say, intellectually slumming) in the reality genre. I get sucked into programs focusing on people with serious mental disorders like Hoarders or Intervention. But, I don't watch very many scripted shows and the ones I do, I watch via DVR or find the episode online. In the glorious year of 2012, it's rare that I watch a show during its original airtime. Case in point: Mad Men. Heck, Nicky and I love it so much, we make an effort to watch the East Coast feed three hours earlier.

This season of Mad Men is only six episodes in and the creative team behind the show has already crossed several thresholds I didn't think would happen until next season, or at the least, toward the end of this season. The high-water mark for this season was set this past Sunday in "Far Away Places", and episode which includes the introduction of lysergic acid diethylamide... commonly known as LSD.

You can watch the scene here (hurry up, before the YouTube police take it down)...



* * *

The year in Mad Men's universe is 1966. LSD is still legal, although the government is on the verge of shutting down that portal. Anyone who braved a jump down the rabbit hole after 1967 was committing a crime. For a couple of decades, the government sent its own operatives down the proverbial rabbit hole including members of the military, government agents, and paid volunteers (like author Ken Kesey, who was a human guinea pig for all kinds of psychedelics that the CIA fed him). It's not what they saw that scared the government, rather, it's how people felt after they crawled back up through the rabbit hole and returned to Earth's normal atmosphere. Once you get a little taste of liquid sunshine, it's difficult to listen to all the lies, propaganda, and manipulation perpetrated by the mass media. The government and its overlords, Big Business, do not want an enlightened populous. It's easy to control the masses (and more importantly, to profit off of them) when they are fearful and somewhat dumb.

Roger Sterling becoming the first psychedelic warrior (from the show) has significant meaning. LSD is made illegal by paranoid elites whom fear the drug will weaken their power and prevent them from accumulating wealth. Madison Avenue and the advertising racket reached its pinnacle in the 1950s, led by a one-percenter like Roger, but as they lose control of the masses in the 1960s, they are haunted by fears that their entire old-world paradigm (the "Conform and buy stuff!" mentality of post-war Americana) is threatened by a mere existence of LSD. Just one tiny drop will cause ripples throughout the entire society. Once every teenager and confused twenty-something starts eating acid and succumbs to the empowering drug, they will immediately turn on their friends, and within a few months, an entire generation will wake up and question everything they've seen and experienced up until that point. The old guard wants to profit off of war, while the blossoming generation of flower power seeks to "make love, not war."

This is still 1966. The Summer of Love is less than a year away. Woodstock is less than three years away. LSD is not yet a household name. Only a handful of people know about it and even fewer know how to obtain it (or cook it up yourself).

Sure, there were people were experimenting with LSD on the West Coast, most notably Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters, who crisscrossed the nation offering to turn on whoever needed a spiritual boost. On the East Coast, LSD was still in the hands of intellectuals. The psychiatric community dabbled with LSD like they would any new wonder drug touted by medical journals. Some shrinks prescribed LSD to patients, especially those struggling with alcoholism. The academic scholars at northeastern universities were interested in LSD as a means to broaden their cosmic horizons. They often dropped LSD to engage in conversations, hoping that they could break on through to the other side of the human mind. That's the fundamental differences between the East Coast and West Coast mentality driving diverse experiments with the new-found drug. The East Coasters took LSD in rigid and academic environments as a way to move back the fences a bit, where as the West Coasters used LSD to blast through walls.

Kesey and the Merry Pranksters treated LSD as a spiritual gift from the gods. Taking LSD was a regarded as religious experience, as much as it was a free-form expression -- you surrendered to the flow and let LSD take you to far-away places, both in this physical realm and the field of collective consciousness, that many of us never knew existed before we take a leap of faith and jump down the rabbit hole.

Eating acid at an Upper East Side cocktail party is not my idea of a fun time. It's probably not the best place for Roger to have his first trip (like say a Rolling Stones concert), but that's how it happened. Who would've thought that Jane, the 20-something-year old the trophy wife of Roger, would lead him down the path toward enlightenment? She told him to clear his schedule so they could take LSD together, as advised by her therapist. Roger wanted to blow it off because it was torturous marriage counseling crap. He failed in an attempt to entice Don Draper to go on road/business trip to the original Howard Johnsons, so he had an excuse to blow off Jane and her snooty friends. Draper thinks the road trip is a great idea, but rejects Roger's offer to ride shotgun, instead taking his new bride with him instead of Roger.

Roger is stuck with his wife, whom he hates and vice versa. Roger is a solipsist and uses his wealth to accumulate whatever he wants including a nice office and a pretty, young bride. Jane, who is younger than Roger's daughter, is someone whom he has nothing in common with. Meanwhile, gold-digging Jane married him for his net worth, and not for his personality, and she's paying for her shallowness by getting stuck with a surly, misogynist drunkard.


During an uncomfortable elevator ride with his wife, she admits, "I should've worn something more comfortable."

She was adorned in gaudy jewelry. Her outfit was something more fit for the opera, not for someone who is about to get thrust out of a mental cannon.

"I don't want to take it alone," she admits. "This will be good for us."

She thinks it will save her marriage because her shrink has been professing the positive attributes of LSD. Roger is just along for the ride because he has nothing else to do aside from getting shitfaced and "yell at the television."

After the dinner party ends, only one other couple is brave enough to try LSD. Jane's shrink (played by the same actress who was the mother in My So-Called Life) also drops LSD with the guests. Her husband, who is also a shrink, acts as the sober guide for the evening. He explains to everyone there's nothing to be afraid about.

"Think of it as a boat trip," he assured Roger.

That explanation must have hit the spot with Roger, who is a sailor at heart, and spent most of his lost youth captaining his father's yacht around New England. During WWII, like all good men, Roger enlisted in the military and served in the navy during the Pacific theatre. To a man who has seen the horrors of war, a minor acid trip won't be very challenging -- unless he has an insane flashback.

Roger has always been the comedic relief of Mad Men. The show's writers fed Roger the best zingers and one-liners. When the LSD is distributed on sugar cubes, Roger shoves one into his mouth, and with the wit of a Catskills comedian, he turns to his wife and says: "You never say I don't take you anywhere."

Probably the most hysterical aspect of the "trip" involved the hand-written note that Roger carries around, just in case he gets lost, like your kid in the second grade on a field trip to the zoo...
My name is Roger Sterling
I have taken LSD
I live at 31 E 66th st #14A, NY, NY
PLEASE HELP ME.
I should get some of my friends on Phish tour to write similar notes. Heck, I should get all my friends to write notes like that when we go to Vegas.

Not one to get off on cerebral conversations, all Roger can muster up to the shrink is... "Well, Dr. Leary, I find your product boring."

He referred to LSD as a product. Ha, even tripping balls, Roger is still an ad man, something that he's unable to shake when he tries to kill time by thumbing through a copy of LIFE magazine while a Beach Boys song plays in the background. Roger is naturally drawn to the advertisements, because after all, that's his business. But it's in one of those ads, where he confronts one of his biggest fears -- aging. The ad has a guy with half-black and half-white hair. It's symbolic of the struggle between good and bad in the universe. The light and the dark. It also reminds Roger that he needs to embrace being an old, rich fart and to stop trying to be someone who is not him -- the younger, more virulent version of himself.


Roger glances into the mirror and sees an image that half his face and half of Don Draper's face. Draper represents everything Roger is not -- or represents something he once was. Even though Don is one of his best friends, he still has hang-ups over Don's talent as an ad man, Don's handsome looks, Don's drinking prowess, and Don's ability to bed hot chicks.

Just as Roger is about to freak out, the sober shrink gives him a piece of valuable advice.

"Don't look in the mirror."

Always wise, especially on a psychedelic drug with such a hard edge like LSD. Nothing is more horrifying then seeing what you look like when you're tripping balls. That's why LSD is really ideal for being in nature, or dancing all night at a dark concert.

But then again, that's what LSD really is... a way to look into your mental mirror without all the hang-ups of modern society including the bombardment of advertisements and constant reminders of inadequacy.

Roger turns to the bottle to help him adjust to his unusual surroundings. He unscrews a bottle of Stoli and he's greeted by a Russian orchestra. Booze is music for Roger. He's only normal when he's swimming in a symphony of liquor. I was hoping he'd open up other bottles and hear different types of music (like an Irish band for whiskey and a reggae band for rum). When Roger tries to smoke a cigarette, it instantly shrinks. Yes, he's tripping balls.

Although Roger is out of his mind, he's relatively cool with everything. For one, LSD is not meant for weak-minded people. If you have any sort of problems, it's going to be amplified by LSD. Roger had a few hang-ups about youth and finding a place in the world that he sees changing right before his eyes. Roger is a man of the 1940s, yet he tries to cling to those social mores of pre-war America, while refusing to adapt to the modern era of the 1960s. But despite all of his emotional baggage and the fact he's a bitter alcoholic, Roger is someone who is self-aware. He knows who Roger Sterling is and doesn't have to struggle trying to figure that tough part out. Maybe that's the primary reason Roger has a positive acid trip. He doesn't freak out when he sees the truth. It's just that he's used liquor over the last few years to stay drunk so he could cloud the truth.

Meanwhile, the other guests have become wasted cliches in what reminded me of a scene from a David Lynch film... one woman is crawling on all fours lamenting about death and Jane is clutching a yellow rose and crying hysterically yet proclaiming, "This place is so beautiful I don't want to leave."

Ah, this just came to me... I almost forgot about the scene where Roger pulls cash out of his wallet and tries to pay the cabbie, but he sees old Bert Cooper's ugly mug on his money instead of a dead President.


Once Roger and Jane return home, they retreat to the bathtub to ride out the rest of their trip. Jane is clearly still in that terrified stage when she's overwhelmed by... everything. She cowers in one corner of the tub, while Roger continues to just go with the flow. Roger is in the middle of a giggling fit, which is one of my favorite portions during the back-end of a psychedelic journey. Jane is an acid newbie and thinks Roger is laughing at her freaking out.

Nope. Just tripping balls.

Cut to the next scene: the two of them lying in robes on their living room floor and staring at the ceiling. Yep, they are definitely still buzzed, but re-entering Earth's orbit because Jane becomes a little more coherent and begins to ponder the universe.

"How can a few numbers contain all of time?" she says before she changes the subject. "I can feel your lips."

In vino veritas. That's a Latin phrase for "in wine, there is truth." Basically, it's hard to lie when you're drunk. But behind every funny quip, there's a semblance of truth. Roger is the one who often speaks the truth through his one-liners, probably because he's perpetually drunk in the office but it's the booze that allows the truth to bubble to the surface. Otherwise, his lines are useless and nothing more than drunken non sequiturs.

Roger and Jane break up as the truth of their unnatural pairing unravels in front of them. The CIA was originally interested in using LSD as a truth serum. They were convinced the KGB was using it on moles, marks and double agents. The LSD trip gave a Roger a chance to confront the glaring truths in his life that he was ignoring.

Next morning, Jane forgets about their truthful conversation. Jane was so wasted, Roger thought she was speaking German (it was Yiddish). She was out of her tits but totally forgot about that brief instant of common truth... when they agreed on an amicable split. When reality sets in, she realizes what a divorce really entails -- giving up the material comforts of being uber-wealthy. Roger, on the other hand, is completely relieved. He wants to live life without excess baggage. We shall see of his first acid trip has a profound effect on his life on future episodes.

Later that morning at the office, when Roger has a chance to tell everyone his marriage is over, he blurts out: "It's going to be a beautiful day!"

Ah, behold the powers of liquid sunshine.

* * *

Nicky and I had a conversation about LSD around the first episode of this season of Mad Men. She was convinced Peggy was going to be the first character to experiment with acid, but probably not until 1967, or the next season. The current season is set in 1966, at a time in America when marijuana is occurring more and more prevalent in the lives of the characters on the show -- joints are appearing more frequently at parties, back stage at a Rolling Stones concert, and even inside random movie theatres -- a locale where Peggy Olson got stoned to the gourd and then jacked off the guy who gave her the joint.

Grass is something synonymous with the 60s. Mad Men is synonymous with hardcore drinking... during work hours. As the nation becomes engulfed in counterculture toward the latter part of the decade, people unwind differently. It's not just booze and cigarettes anymore. The floodgates opened and people began to dabble, experiment, and numb themselves with street drugs and pharmaceutical drugs. A couple of episodes ago, one character, Henry Francis' overbearing mother Pauline (with shades of Tony Soprano's batshit crazy mother coupled with the menacing reptile-like vibe of Hillary Clinton) began pushing pills on both Betty and Sally.

When the once-desirable Betty Draper got re-married and sloth bogged her down, she blossomed into Fat Betty Francis -- a despondent housewife sitting on her ass, chomping down bonbons and eating ice cream sundaes. Her evil mother-in-law (the personification of the manipulative pharmaceutical industry) told her to see a doctor in order to get prescribed diet pills which will help her shed her excess blubber.

Then there's the now infamous scene when the evil step-Grandma Pauline gave a distressed Sally a Secanol so she could fall asleep. Shit, Seconal is some heavy stuff... especially for an 10-year old girl. Junkie jazz musicians regularly popped Seconals when they couldn't score heroin.

We knew LSD was coming. But how would it be introduced? Was Peggy going to be the first one to dose via her radical hippie boyfriend? Was Harry going to stumble upon an acid test during a business trip to Hollywood? Was Don going to get dragged to a Kool-aid party in the Village with Megan and her bohemian friends? Was Ken going to score some LSD through his nom-de-plume Dave Algonquin? Was someone going to dose Pete Campbell and he'd strip naked, and run down Madison Avenue crying about how he doesn't have any friends?

"Which one of you stinkin' hippies has a sugarcube?"

Peggy. She's represents the youthful exuberance of the 1960s. How could you not think Peggy was the favorite to trip first? That's why I was shocked when Roger Sterling of all people was the first character to take a plunge off the high dive into the psychedelic waters.

Anyway, after crunching some numbers, I devised odds who will be the next character to eat acid...
Odds for Next LSD Trip on Mad Men:
Peggy Olson 1/2
Roger Sterling EVEN
Megan Draper 2/1
Ken Cosgrove 9/2
Pete Campbell 5/1 **
Harry Crane 6/1
Stan Rizzo 7/1
Don Draper 10/1
Bert Cooper 15/1
Lane Pryce 25/1
Duck Philips 30/1
Fat Betty Francis 40/1
Ginsberg 50/1
Sally Draper 60/1
Evil Grandmother Pauline 80/1
Joan Holloway 100/1
Dawn 100/1
Bobby Draper 500/1
Old Man Ginsberg 750/1
Baby Gene 1000/1

** If/when Pete takes LSD, he will be dosed.