Friday, February 29, 2008

Pauly Videos: The Almost Hole in One

By Pauly
New York City

Last month, Nicky and I played several rounds of mini golf in Queenstown, New Zealand. Here's one of the holes where I nearly drilled a hole in one.

Click through to Tao of Pauly to view the video via RSS

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Copenhagen Photo Dump

By Pauly
New York City

I'm slowly uploading pics to my Flickr gallery. In the meantime, here's some random pics that I took in Copenhagen.

The Simpys in Danish

Late night at McD's

Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Mermaid

Poster on wall near Christiania

Mural inside Christiania

Entrance to Christiania

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tao of Five

By Pauly

It's been a while since I did a List of 5...

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading in Airports...
1. No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
2. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
3. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
4. The Innocent Man by John Grisham
5. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

Last 5 Airports I've Been in...
1. Schipol (Amsterdam)
2. JFK (twice)
3. Burbank
4. Long Beach
5. McCarran (Las Vegas)

Las 5 Coffeeshops I Visited...
1. Rokerij
2. Abraxis
3. Pink Floyd (Dampkring)
4. Grey Area
5. Barney's

Recent Music Overheard in Coffeeshops...
1. Barry White
2. Santana
3. The Beatles
4. Beyonce
5. The White Stripes

Last 5 Strains I Bought...
1. Big Buddha Cheese
2. Fruits of God
3. NYC Diesel
4. Laughing Buddha
5. Power Plant

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Last 5 Books I Saw People Reading in Airports...

By Pauly
New York City

I've been in four airports (LAS, LGB, BUR, JFK) in the last few days. Here's what I saw people reading...

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
3. Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales
4. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, February 15, 2008

Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That Photo Dump

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I'm flying to NYC and don't have much time to write. I realized that I didn't really post any New Zealand pics that were of the non-food variety.

So... here's some pictures that I took over the last few weeks including Las Vegas, New Zealand, and Byron Bay, Australia. Enjoy.


Bean touches the rocks....

Sky Tower in Auckland, NZ

Sign in Auckland

Sunset in Queenstown, NZ

Stone bridge in the Rose Gardens of Queenstown

Front seat for me in the plane that Nicky puked in

Lake Wakitupu, NZ

Luges in Queenstown

Mini golf in Queenstown

Flying from Oz to NZ

Byron Bay, Australia

Playing Chinese Poker at the Beach Hotel Bar in Byron Bay

I almost ordered the BBQ kangaroo from World in Melbourne

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

las vegas > long beach

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

My last 24 hours in Las Vegas involved a lot of writing, a bit of deep thinking, and a last binge of gambling. But most of the time, I was pecking away at the keyboard in my hotel room, eating the rest of my Cliff bars, while listened to a ton of music that I downloaded last week.

In November, I clocked in 30K words for the first part of the writing project. I managed to get 47K more over the last five or six days. I wrote well over 50K and will end up trimming about 30% of what I wrote. Trim it and make it stronger. That's my goal for the remainder of the month.

Michalski sent me an email saying how he could not understand how I wrote 5K a day. He liked the Hemingway approach... 500 words a day and mostly about the weather. But Michalski is getting sloshed at odd hours and going to clubs in Las Vegas with Mike Tyson. He better watch it or Tyson will chop his ear off.

I'd love to do that... 500 to 1K a day... but my schedule hardly permits such an task. Alas, I got two weeks in November, one week in February, maybe a week in March, and four weeks in April. I have no idea if I can finish this before I take off to the WSOP at the end of May.

I spent most of my last night in Las Vegas writing and re-writing and erasing and deleting and trying to worry less about quality and more about quantity. I just wanted to get all the words out. Eventually, I'll sit down and read it all and figure out what I missed. I also have several thousand words of orphaned sentences, lines, snippets, and scenes that I couldn't work into what I already wrote.

I played poker and bet on basketball. I ended the trip on the positive side. I could have paid for the trip with my winnings, but I did not have to... since it was already paid for.

I stayed up to 6am. I walked up the Strip from MGM to Harrahs, crossed the street to the Mirage, and walked back down the Strip. When I got back to the room, I crashed hard since the walk had tired me out. I slept for a couple of hours before I woke up, packed, and watched about thirty minutes of the Clemens testimony on ESPN. Everyone is guilty. I finally checked out of my room using express service. I charged a lot of meals to my room and order room service a couple of times.

There was no one waiting in the taxi line and arrived at the airport quick. I gave my cabbie a good tip and checked in. Before I left the hotel, I checked online and my flight was delayed 20 minutes. When I got to the airport, the status was updated... and delayed almost an hour. I was way early because of the light traffic and the delay meant I had over 2.5 hours to kill in the airport. I should have stayed in the casino and played poker for a bit.

Alas, I wandered over to my gate. I thumbed through a few books at Hudson News. I read a few pages of a book by Cormac McCarthy. I wandered into Brookstone and killed ten minutes sitting in the massage chair. I bought Nicky something practical... an iPod charger for the car that hooks up to the lighter.

I sat near my gate and played online poker while I sat out the delay. Eventually our plane arrived. Boarding went quick, but we were on the tarmac forever.

I watched a show on BBC America called Ramsay's Kitchen Disasters... about this cocky British chef who rescues restaurants in trouble. He berates the owners and talks shit to the head chefs and kitchen workers. I had caught bits of it before and thought the concept was intriguing.

The episode I watched involved an American woman living in England. She had a tiny American soul food joint and was struggling. Ramsay got her shit together and everyone lived happily ever after. It made me very hungry for fried chicken.

My plane didn't land in Long Beach until 4:40pm. It took us more than a half hour to get home. I left for the airport shortly before noon. If I drove from to Hollyweird instead of flying... I would have gotten home at least an earlier.

Wasting away in an airport again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adventures of Puke Girl and the Pittsburgh Fashionista

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

The title sounds like a Michael Chabon book. Rather, that was most of my weekend.

I originally booked a week in Vegas to write and do research. It happened to be the same weekend of a wedding that Nicky and her best friend Bean were invited to. Nicky wasn't interested in going, but Bean was in, particularly because the groom was her ex-boyfriend.

Since I already had a room booked, Nicky decided to go to Vegas, more to see her best friend since they life on opposite coasts and never get to see each other. More importantly, I have never met the illustrious Bean, whom I've heard so many stories about. I wanted to, and unlucky for me, it was right in the middle of my time away to write. Bad timing.

I was concerned whether I not I could write well in Las Vegas. And so far, I've proven to myself that I can be comfortable here for a short stint. There are some things about being in Vegas past the fourth or fifth day that most folks have a tough time adapting to. I know it's coming and get used to it.

I started out slow and rusty, but caught a good grove on my second day of writing. The third day was a short session, since Nicky drove in that afternoon. I managed to be way ahead of schedule with 17K words.

I finally met Bean on Saturday afternoon. She was exactly how Showcase and Nicky described her, as a neurotic Jewish hysterically funny fashionista from Pittsburgh. We met at a cafe and when the waitress asked what she wanted to drink, she quickly said, "Iced team with lotsa lemons."

Bean took a nap and I went to gamble. I won a few bucks playing poker in Excalibur then lost $150 at Pai Gow with Nicky. Kicked in the junk by a cold-heart humorless Asian dealer.

Bean woke up to get ready for LAX, the latest trendy nightclub in Las Vegas. I think it's kinda lame, even though I've never been. Any place with a line to get in is lame in my book. Paris Hilton is throwing a big party there on Feb. 15th if that's any indication to the off the charts numbers on your Hipster Geiger Counter. Anyway, Bean got on the list and she and Nicky went off clubbing, skipping past the unwashed masses in the long line that wraped all the way around into the lobby of the Luxor.

I managed to get out of that sillyness and played poker and Pai Gow at Mandalay Bay instead. I got Aces three times at Mandalay Bay within an hour. The odds of that happening are so high that the numbers are retarded.

I was up a bit when Nicky and Bean stumbled over to the poker room. They had enough of the meat market mentality of LAX and left to find me. Bean heard about the Hooker Bar and wanted to find hookers in Mandalay Bay, except they changed the bar that used to be crawling with hookers and made it a cheesy lounge with more lines, bottle service, and not a hooker in sight.

We settled on the bar at the sports book by the poker room for a cocktail. It's a great location to people watch, especially in a Friday night in Las Vegas at 3am. Bean wanted a Stoli-cranberry.

"Ask for lotsa lime," she said.

I did and the bartender gave me a funny look. I pointed over my shoulder to Bean and he nodded.

On Sunday morning I was up early catching up on email and figuring out my hoops picks. I liked Rhode Island, Denver, and Richmond. Went 1-2 and 1-1 in NBA games.

Nicky and Bean were going to go shopping, but Bean had blown her entire unemployment check on a "cute top at Barney's." Instead of shopping Nicky suggested Red Rock Canyon park. Bean was interested and we drove out there. Bean wanted to touch the rocks because I told her that we took Senor to Red Rock and that's what he did.

On the way back to the Strip, we stopped off at Red Rock so I could check the score of the Mavs game. We sat down at a $10 Pai Gow table and Nicky gave Bean a quick tutorial. When the session was over, Bean walked away the winner. She even got a straight flush. I wanted to die. I lost like $10.

Bean took another nap and said that her goal when she woke up was to find Elvis and/or go to Tiffany's. Nicky and I played poker while Bean slept. We both walked away up a few bucks and waited for Bean to awake. When she did, we drove to the Mirage because we figured Tiffany's would be closed by 10pm on a Sunday night.

Falstaff was at the Mirage playing Stud with people twice his age. He joined us for a drink at Revolution. There was a hot chick/stripper/go-go dancer in a pyschedelic dress shaking her ass in front of us.

Bean ordered a Stoli-cranberry with a splash of sprite.

"And lotsa limes," she emphasized to the bartender.

After a quick drink, it was off to find Elvis. But we didn't know where to look. The Elvis Museum was closed and these days, the suits that own the casinos are ignoring the gems of the old Las Vegas and making it Hipster Vegas. That's why you don't see Elvis impersonators running rampant down the Strip. Instead, you get parties with Paris Hilton.

Anyway, we went across the street to the Imperial Palace. They had dealertainers and erhaps Elvis was working. Sure enough, young Elvis was working. He didn't really look too much like Elvis and Bean was kinda disappointed.

Elvvis dealt black jack and there was an open seat. I told Nicky to take it. That'sw when Bean shrieked and pointed at the table.

"OhmyGod! Is that an Asian woman with a mullet?" Bean asked.

"OhmyGod, it is!" said Nicky.

On Monday morning, Bean flew back to Pittsburgh and Nicky drove back to Hollyweird in record time. I returned back to the grind. I spent the first couple of hours rewriting some of the stuff I wrote on Saturday. When I finally sat down to write new material, I struggled for a couple of hours. I had 4K forced words. I figured that I'd end up cutting out over 50% of those scenes anyway. But I just had to get them down on paper.

Schecky called to tell me he was dropping off some money that he owed me. I went out to the front lobby to meet him. We shot the shit for five minutes. It was a much needed break and it got me outside for a few minutes before I went back into my room and barricaded myself in the room from the sticky fingered maids.

I hunkered down and cranked out as much as I could. In about a twelve hour span, I ordered room service (Caesar's Salad and a blackened chicken sandwich), won two college hoops bets and two NBA bets, and cranked out 17K words.

From Thursday through Saturday, I completed 17K words. On Monday, I equaled that. Of course, I'd say maybe 1/3 is total shit and will get cut. But I managed to meet my goal of 25K words. I also passed the word count from my writing binge in November, where I managed to get 30K in about 2.5 weeks. The difference is the first batch is solid and I spent a lot of time on reworking a lot of that. I'm also thinking about cutting about 1/3 of the scenes in there too.

Anyway, I'm on pace to finish up exactly where I could get to... in the best case scenario. Once I can crank out 5-7K on Tuesday, I'll be in great shape and ready to sit down and rework the first part or Act I and trim 30-35% of it. I really cant wait to print it all up and spend time editing it in the coffeeshops in Amsterdam.

Anyway, after a long day of work, I went to play poker. I won a quick $110 at Mandalay bay against a crazy Asian guy. Then I went to the Excalibur where I won $200 from a woman who I swear to God looked like Lindsay Lohan's mom.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Last 5 Hilarious Referrals...

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Strangers type this shit into search engines and end up here...

1. Tom Petty to smoke blunt superbowl props bets
2. Rachael Ray nip shot
3. Moms with the hugest tits in world getting fuck by there own kids
4. Looking for a home movies the dogs fucked housewife
5. Masturbating single mommies squirting screaming orgasm videos of themselves

Saturday, February 09, 2008

long beach > las vegas

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I flew into Las Vegas on Wednesday. The flight from Long Beach was short. We were in the air less than 45 minutes. I traveled super light. Just my backpack with my laptop and a small bag with eight pairs of underwear, a couple of pairs of socks, one extra change of clothes, and a fleece hoodie. I wore a dress shirt, sports coat, shoes, and jeans on the plane. That would be my "going out and need to look nice outfit" while I also brought a comfortable outfit to "write and play poker" in.

Although I had a couple of meetings to attend, the primary reason for me going to Las Vegas was for a writer's retreat. I needed to do some research for my current writing project. I also needed some time away... from everything... and be able to just be alone, think, and create.

I picked Las Vegas instead of some quaint place in an outdoorsy or nature setting. Those serene places have their benefits and can definitely quick-start and inspire the creative juices. However, I needed to be in a place that catered to my insomnia and allowed me to write whenever I wanted. Las Vegas is a 24-hour city and the perfect place for me. I can eat food at any time. If I was super lazy, I could order room service. If I wanted to seek out food options, all I had to do was walk around the casino or a nearby casino to find what I want. And the 24-hour casino cafes in Las Vegas (more like their version of a diner) will serve you breakfast 24/7.

And the insomnia solution is solved, because if I can't sleep, I can wander around and walk the Strip or play poker. I had everything in place. All I needed to do was write.

I had a couple of meetings to get out of the way. On Wednesday afternoon, I met up with Friedman for about two hours. He pitched me a recent new idea that he had and wanted me to be an active participant. My involvement would entail less writing and more creative multi-media stuff. I was fortunate that he asked me to come aboard, but I told him I needed sometime to think before I made a decision.

For dinner, I met with Flipchip and the Poker Prof at The Palm. I had not seen them in almost two months and I was jonesin' for a decent meal. Since I returned from Oz and New Zealand, Nicky and I had been eating healthy foods. I stayed clear of bacon and red meat, along with cheese, breads, and potatoes. Pretty much your typical Hollyweird low carb and low fat diet that runs rampant through that town. Although I ate healthier and stopped drinking beer, I only lost two pounds since I had not been exercising much. And the foods I have been eating (like lots of salads) have been absent of taste. That's why the filet mignon at The Palm was just what I needed.

We discussed the short term goals of Las Vegas Vegas and briefly touched on the long term outlook of the site. I hoped that my time off the next few months will enable me to contribute more content.

Once I got those two meetings out of the way, I was able to concentrate on writing and gambling. The gambling took on two faces; poker and sportsbetting.

Head over to Tao of Poker and read something I wrote called Being James Madison. Essentially, I ignored betting on the massive UNC-Duke matchup and bet on a James Madison game instead. Lucky for me, that bet hit.

Since my arrival in Las Vegas, I have been betting a few games every night at the sports book. I'm 3-0 in college picks; James Madison -4.5 (over Townson St.), UCLA -2 (over Wazzu), and Yale -7 (over Harvard). Those have been my big bets so far and I've been fortunate that they all hit.

In the NBA, I started the week 2-1 in my picks, but I've been not-so-hot since I got to Vegas. The Lakers fucked me one night. I figured the addition of Pau Gasol would keep them on a roll. They didn't cover on Wednesday night. Last night, I went 0-2. The San Antonio Spurs looked like a lock -7 at Madison Square Garden and the lowly NY Knicks. At one point the Knicks opened up an 18 point lead. I knew that they'd blow it. They always do. The Spurs made a run in the 4th quarter and forced an overtime. Sadly, they only won by six points in overtime and I lost the game.

I also bet the KG-less Celtics at Minnesota. The spread was -5.5. Minnesota was up by 2 to 4 points for most of the first half. The Celtics made a run in the 4th quarter. They were up by four a couple of times but could not pull away. Minnesota made a comeback and it looked as though the game was headed into overtime, but the Celtics scored a bucket at the buzzer to win by two fuckin' points. Lucky for me, I bet small on the NBA. I'm 0-3 in NBA games and 3-0 in college hoops games. Maybe I should stick with college hoops for the rest of the time I'm here?

I have been playing poker late nights. My schedule has been to write during the mornings and early afternoons. Sometimes I play poker around dinner time, sometimes I don't and sit in the sports book to watch the games that I bet on. A few instances, I went back to my room to write or try to sleep. When insomnia struck, I walked into a local poker room, either at MGM or Mandalay Bay to play poker. Last night, I crashed at 11pm and woke up at 4am. I took a cab to Bellagio and played to 6am before I walked back to my hotel. I've had mixed results. So far I'm up $60 playing poker, and up a couple hundred at the sports book.

One night, I played poker with a Drunk Girl from Hollyweird. You know the type. She was a hot thirty-something Jewish chick originally from the East Coast. She had a thick accent and a fake tan. Her boobs might have been fake, but the only thing real was the rock on her finger that was the size of a Titleist golf ball. I sensed the inner emotional turmoil that drove her to drink. She was the your typical Las Vegas drunk girl as she slurped a frozen daiquiri from Ruby Tuesdays. She was the perfect example of someone you want at your poker table. Rich. Reckless. Drunk.

Drunk Girl was my mark. I wanted her money, or her husband's money. That would be even better because she wouldn't blink or think twice about gambling with money that was not hers. She kept trying to buy me a drink. I was only drank gingerale, since I've been trying to stay away from booze for a while. However, the soft drink made her question my manhood. I told her that I wasn't drinking because I was higher than Snoop Dog at 4:20. She almost fell out of her chair laughing. She inquired where she could score any weed. Our dealer, a grumpy old white guy without a sense of humor, must have thought our exchange was hilarious, because he let out a wry smile.

I finally had a chance to take Drunk Girl's money. I had a great hand and knew she had nothing. I raised her for all of her chips.

"I don't like you!" Drunk Girl screamed loud enough that everyone in Mandalay Bay could hear her. "I thought we were friends!"

"You're from L.A.," I said. "You're used to having fake friends who always stab you in the back or fuck you in the ass."

Drunk Girl said that line was one of the funniest things she had ever heard about Hollyweird. She repeated the line three times, just so she could remember it.

Anyway, I won the hand and won about $100 off of Drunk Girl.

It has been a long time since I was alone. I used to be a hermit who spent days and even weeks without much social interaction, as I delved deep into books, music, and writing. Those were the dark days post-9.11 when I had my studio and had nothing but free time on my hands. These days, it's tough to find a block of three or four hours of unfettered time. That's why a week alone was super enticing. I have been using the time wisely. I have listened to a ton of new music in the background while I wrote.

I have also cranked out close to 14K words in Las Vegas in just two days of serious writing. My goal was to get about 25K and I'm more than half-way there. At this pace, I can get 30K, which would equal the output that I did in November. It would be a miracle if I can get my project up to 70-75K words by early March. My goal is to have the first part done by the end of March. At this rate, that's humanly possible.

Nicky drives to Las Vegas later today. Her best friend, Bean, is in town and they have a wedding to attend. I have never met Bean, yet heard lots of crazy stories about the Pittsburgh Fashionista. Supposedly, the two girls will be spending all day Sunday shopping together. At any rate, I have smaller window of writing time while they two are in town.I actually can't wait until they both leave on Monday morning, so I can get a solid two days of writing under my belt.

Now I'm gonna figure out who I'm betting on today, and then it's time to get back to work and write.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Photo Galleries

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Have you seen my recent travel photos? I uploaded two new galleries: Australia III (192 photos) and New Zealand (150 photos).


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Home Cooking Food Pics

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I took a bunch of photos of Nicky's cooking. Here it goes...

Prep work

Curry chicken and chickpeas

Grilled cajun salmon with lentils

Egg white omelete with shrooms and tomatoes and veggie sausage

Garlic and rosemary chicken with grilled zucchini and tomatoes

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I spent the last couple of days in Los Angeles. The brain dead locals think it's cold, but it's maybe 55 degrees. That's heaven for me. Aside from one day of rain, it's been good weather. Bad weather affects my mood. I missed an entire month of winter once again by escaping to the southern hemisphere. Talk about being one step ahead of SAD.

SAD is Seasonal Affective Disorder. I saw that acronym in a book on insomnia. One chapter was dedicated to SAD. I was more interested in the author's opinion on sleeping pills. Supposedly more than one a week is bad for you. But there was a juicy chapter on old school sleeping pills, the ones that killed rock stars in the 1960s and 1970s when they mixed it with booze, coke, heroin, and whatever else they could ingest at the time.

I was killing time at Borders with Nicky. Most of the bookstores in Hollyweird are empty because nobody reads in that town. The music and DVD section are the post popular along with a few retirees bored shitless while thumbing through magazines at the cafe in the back.

I had a $50 gift certificate from my mother, but could not find any books that I was dying to buy. I almost bought Superbad on DVD, but skipped that impulse buy.

Nicky lingered in the travel section. She needed a Copenhagen guide book. We found one from Time Out and another from Lonely Planet. Nicky got a nice writing assignment in Denmark lasting almost a week. I'm on hiatus, so I was not offered the job. In fact I would have most likely been offered the gig if I was available. Alas... Nicky got the assignment and she's off to Denmark at the end of the month.

I checked out some of my favorite travel sites and found a super cheap flight... NYC to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Copenhagen, Copenhagen to NYC... for about the same price as NYC to LA. I decided to spend a week in Europe and split the time between Amsterdam and Copenhagen. That trip was unexpected and came out of the blue. Nicky was just offered the assignment. I originally planned to be in Las Vegas doing research that week, but figured a week in Europe might do me some good.

I'm off to Las Vegas tomorrow for a week of research and a couple of meetings. I expect to be holed up in my hotel room writing, but you never know.

The last couple of days have been scattered, yet somehow productive. I had over a thousand emails to sort through. I'm about 90% done with all of my January email. That piles up so fast...

I managed to upload almost two hundred pictures. I completed my Australia II gallery which included pics from Melbourne and Byron Bay. I will be uploading the New Zealand pics shortly.

Nicky posted a slew of cool New Zealand and Australia pics over at her Flickr gallery.

I returned to the States with several deadlines lingering around. I had very little time to adjust to being back and quickly cranked out three articles. I finished the first draft for a column, which is due on Wednesday. I also finished an article for an overseas magazine with circulation in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia.

I also wrote two pieces for a new client, about the Superbowl and the NBA, which are two topics I'd much rather bullshit about than poker. I also worked on the new issue of Truckin', which will also be out sooner than you think.

I have been spending a the majority of my morning hours plugging away at my laptop while sitting at Nicky's dining room table. I have not had the chance to run or exercise at all. I put on five pounds since I left for Australia. That's not too bad. I can shed those in a week or so if I watch what I eat... but I always go on a slight eating binge when I return for an extended stint overseas. I always crave my favorite foods when on the road, but when I'm not in America, I crave some basic staples and go absolutely nuts for them. I think it's all the addictive chemicals that's in the food I consume on American soil.

We ate a lot of Indian food in Melbourne. The best place in the food court at the casino was an Indian joint. Nicky ate it more frequently than me, since I was always up early and went for the Australian breakfast sandwiches. Anyway... I had been craving Indian food since we left Oz. On a trip to Trader Joe's, I found a yellow curry sauce and suggested some sort of chicken breast with curry sauce. Nicky added a chickpea masala to the side and I found garlic Nan to finish off the dish.

Nicky did a great job with cooking the dish, which ended up being spicy, but not too spicy that it destroyed the taste of the chicken. Most Indian joints give you shitty pieces of chicken, which is why everything is so spicy... to kill the bad taste of old chicken.

We ate out almost every night over the last month, so we relished the opportunity to cook our meals. Well, more like Nicky cooks and I eat. I like how that works. Anyway, one night she whipped up grilled salmon with a cajun rub.

I watched a couple of flicks on cable over the last couple of days including The Good German and The Pallbearer. Gwyneth looked so young in the Pallbearer and to think Ross from friends was more famous than her at that point. The Good German was a Steven Soderbergh flick set in Berlin in 1945. He shot in monochrome with stock footage of bombed out Berlin interspliced with his own material. The opening credits were circa similar 1940s war films. It had a packed casted with George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, and Cate Blanchett, who plays a German woman who turned tricks during the war (and at the time of the occupation by US/British/Russian troops) just to survive. Nicky passed out about twenty minutes into the flick. It's sorta film noir and it would be a good plane movie to watch. I would have been irked if I spent money at the theatre for that flick.

We went to the new Landmark theatres near Westwood to see The Savages. When you buy a ticket, you are buying a reserved seat and have to pick your seat from a floor plan. When we picked ours for a 4:20pm showing, only two other seats were taken. The Savages is a dark (very dark, borderline on morbid) comedy/drama with two adult siblings having to deal with their ailing father and putting him into a nursing home. Phillip Seymour Hoffman always shines. He played a broken-hearted college professor from Buffalo, while his sister (Laura Linney) is a neurotic pill-popping playwright from New York City.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Just When I Thought Eli Manning Was a Cracker...

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

The phone rang. The super bowl ended five minutes earlier. It was the Joker calling from a party in Beckenridge, CO.

"How much did you win?" he asked.

"Almost $800," I said. "I won the coin toss and the over/under of how long it will take Jordin Sparks to sing the National Anthem."

Senor told me he knew I had it locked up when she dragged out the end. He was also shocked that his Pats blew a perfect season by losing to Eli Manning and the NY football Giants.

I bet the Giants +6 for the first half, and I locked them in at +13 for the game. Both hit. I've been luck for the NFL playoffs. I went 7-3 over the last four weeks for a nice score. Of course, I'm only betting small amounts of $200 max. That's my limit and I'm sure if I was betting higher, I'd end up losing most of the bets. You play for the rush, but over the long term, booking small wins is far more profitable than taking the huge swings with bigger bets.

"You make more money betting on sports than writing," joked Nicky. "Maybe you should keep at it."

But the NFL is over so it's onto the NBA and college basketball. Hmmm....... I really like the Jazz and the Magic on Monday night.

Anyway, it's Midnight. I've eaten salads the last two nights. The Giants are the Super Bowl champions. Gisele has dumped Tom Brady by now and has given that cracker Eli Manning no less than three rim jobs. And Nicky is sitting on the couch with Showcase and they're watching American Idol on TiVo and laughing hysterically every six minutes. I hear an Aimee Mann song playing in the background and I'm expecting it to start raining frogs all over Hollyweird.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

auckland > hollyweird

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I went on mega taxi tilt. The guidebook I read said that cabs from Auckland airport to Auckland were $20-$25. I knew that the guidebook was at least one year old and the price was more like $35-$40. But I was speechless when our cab driver said the total was close to $70. For that much, Nicky and I could have hired a car, sorry, rented a car. Hire is what Aussies and Kiwis say instead of rent.

The price didn't bother me as much as me attempting to meet my goal of staying under budget for the New Zealand leg of the trip. In 2007, I went under budget for every single trip... which more than paid for my trip to Las Vegas at the end of the year. I didn't want to start out 2008 with a bad habit of going over budget on my travels since that would set an ugly trend and I'd be trying to catch up the rest of the year. That's why I tilted a bit when I saw the metered fare for the taxi. I was close to coming in exactly on budget and that expensive cab ride set me back by a few bucks. I know, what's going over budget $40? But for me, it's the principle.

Our hotel in Auckland (the CityLife) was located in the CBD of Auckland. I was able to book a one-bedroom suite for an amazing price. The entire room was more like an apartment. It was slightly bigger than our rented place in Las Vegas from the summer, and much much bigger than the apartment in Barcelona. It was so comfortable, that I didn't want to leave. It wasn't as nice as some of the previous hotels that I've stayed, but the set up was amazing with a couch and two big chairs to sit in, with a coffee table.

We also had a small kitchen with a dining room table. We didn't cook anything, but we stumbled upon a jackpot... there was a free washer and dryer in the room. I have never stayed in a hotel with that combination. That was a sweet score. I had already done laundry twice since we originally left America (the last time was before we left Byron Bay). I hate having to travel with dirty clothes in the same bag as my clean clothes, but it's one of the crappy things about living out of your suitcase. That's why I get excited when I know I'm staying in a hotel with a "coin operated" laundry room. You could imagine how more pumped I was to find a washer/dryer combo in my room. That ensured that I would be flying back to Hollyweird with a backpack filled with clean clothes.

Our hotel was only a couple of blocks away from Sky City Casino. Nicky suggested we take a peek. We had nothing specific planned and my mood was slightly sour since we left Queenstown. I had fallen in love with the sleepy little ski town also known as the adventure capital of the world. After toiling for two and a half weeks covering the Aussie Millions inside the Crown Casino in Melbourne, I relished the last two weeks outdoors basking in the sun and enjoying the Southern Hemisphere's summer in the hippie/surf beachy resort town of Byron Bay, Australia and the bucolic enclave of Queenstown, New Zealand.

There was a casino (also called the Sky City Casino) in Queenstown and although we were tempted to go inside and find the poker room, we avoided it and opted to play Chinese Poker instead while sitting outside in front of the local bars (my favorite was one called Red Rock). We also got our gambling fix by prop betting on miniature golf, which we played every day (and twice one day on two instances) in Queenstown.

We reluctantly left Queenstown and the luscious south island of New Zealand and headed to the north island and Auckland to finish up our holiday before we flew back home. When we discovered that our hotel was so close to the casino, we decided to investigate the scene.

The Sky City casino reminded me of the Star City Casino in Sydney. Heck, I've been to casinos all over the planet and no matter where you go, you'll always find a geriatric zombie glued to a slot machine, pissing away the last of her spare change while she awaits her turn to dive into the unknown depths of the afterlife. I ignored the pits an the -EV games. There was no Pai Gow, so we headed for the poker room.

The poker room was located at the second floor and we found it completely empty. The poker room was closed and did not open until 5:30pm. We decided to eat dinner instead and come back to play.

When we returned, I played in the biggest game they had running... a 2/5 NL game. I ended up doubling up on the first hand when my Jacks beat out an old Kiwi's pocket tens. I was up 2.5 buyins at one point. Sure it was in Kiwi dollars, but that was still a decent amount.

"Did you win enough to get off taxi tilt?" wondered Nicky when I told her about how well I was running at the tables. I did win enough to cover the taxi and the swanky hotel room. In fact, the entire leg of my New Zealand trip was covered by gambling wins. I won a nice amount betting on the NY Giants and the money line against the Jessica Simpson-jinxed Cowboys. Add that to the other bets I won gambling on the NFL playoffs, and I won enough money to pay for our entire trip to New Zealand.

Since I had been talking at the poker table during one of the hands, the rest of the table knew I was American. It appeared that everyone else at the table were locals and knew each other.

The guy next to me said a phrase that I cringe whenever I hear it..."You're not that blogger are you?"

As I raked in a pot, I sighed. There I was in a random casino in New Zealand, and a fan of the Tao of Poker was sitting to my left. I told him that I was who he thought I was.

"You guys better not play like a retard," he announced to the rest of the table. "Otherwise Dr. Pauly will write about how bad you play on his blog."

Luckily no one else was a reader (or at least they didn't admit that). A couple of hand slater I busted a crazy Asian gambler and an androgynous person, who was a dead ringer for Pat from Saturday Night Live... you know that infamous recurring sketch, "A lot of people say, what's that? It's Pat!"

I decided to book the win and stopped playing after two hours. I went to the bar and drank a beer and waited for Nicky. She quit within an hour and we both walked away winners.

"I have never had a losing session in the Southern Hemisphere," she remarked as we walked out of the casino and headed across the street to a liquor store. We decided to celebrate our nice run in New Zealand, as she bought a nice bottle of wine.

We drank in the room and watched Californication. I had never seen that program before.

I was up early and writing. I would take large gaps of time and gaze out the large window overlooking downtown Auckland.

I guess you can say that I was daydreaming. My thoughts drifted all over the spectrum... from my time in Australia and New Zealand to my time in other big cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Atlanta, Amsterdam, and San Francisco. I thought about all the work that I had piled up, waiting for me when I got back to Hollywierd. I counted all of my impending deadlines and all the little basic life things that get set aside when I'm on the road, like answering emails and phone calls or paying bills. I made a list of birthdays that I forgot in the previous month and I made of list of impending birthdays, including my mother's which I could not afford to miss.

That's when Rachel Ray magically appeared on the TV. Her talk show is syndicated in New Zealand. I screamed out Nicky's name and woke her up, even though the bedroom door was closed. She didn't get out of bed, but answered back.

"Dude, Rachel Ray is on TV. And she's got Jenna Bush on. They're making guacamole."

Nicky turned on the TV in the bedroom and watched along. The show was a few months old because Rachel Ray kept saying stuff about the upcoming Halloween holiday. I'm not much for Jenna Bush these days, but to think that all her partying back in the early days of the Bush Junta, was very tame compared to the recent Keith Moon-type binges of fucked up celebrity chicks like Spears, Lohan, and Winehouse. Say what you want about the younger Bush twin, bust she can hold her liquor unlike her counterparts.

We had to check out of the hotel at 10am, but had six hours to kill. I suggested a flick at the movie theatre down the street. We caught No Country for Old Men. It was better than expected. I forgot that the Coen brothers had directed it. There were random instances in the film, where in the back of my mind I thought, "Hmmm, they framed that like something you'd see in a Coen Brothers film." When the end credits rolled and the Coen Brothers name appeared, I had one of those "No duh!" moments.

We walked around Albert Park and sat for a bit, before I dragged Nicky to Wendy's. I told her that if Wendy's had a spicy chicken sandwich, then we were going to eat there. Sure enough, the Kiwi version had the spicy chicken sandwich... and it was also the #6. God bless globalization. Thomas Friedman would have been proud. That could be an entire NY Times Op-Ed piece for Friedman... how the #6 extra value meal at Wendy's will save the world economy and makes Jews, Arabs, and Christians finally live in harmony.

The last thing I had to do was change some money. I had almost $1,100 Kiwi bucks (including Nicky's remaining cash) and shopped around the CBD looking for the best exchange rate. One place offered no commission if I swapped more than $500 NZ, and I went with them. I got 78 cents on the dollar, which was much better than what I would have gotten from Travelex at the airport. They rape you there, because they can.

I arranged a car service to take us to the airport. And the cost was $35 and half the price of what I paid originally. Although we were in the middle of rush hour, our Samoan cab driver was entertaining. He loved talking about drinking Jack Daniels and Australian beers.

Check-in went smoothly. We were not seated together, but we both had aisle seats, which for a transoceanic flight is important since you don't want to get stuck riding bitch in the middle.

I got flagged by security. It was a secondary checkpoint, right at the gate. My row was called and I was picked out of the line. A chubby security guard searched my entire carry-on bag and asked me to turn on my laptop. He also asked me to empty all of my pockets. I pulled out a wad of US bills out of my pocket and that made me look even more suspicious. But after five minutes, all was safe and he let me go.

There was no one seated in my row. Nicky wandered over and I told her that we might get lucky and she can swap seats once we got airborne. And that's what happened.

The flight from Auckland to LAX is less than twelve hours. At this point, I can handle anything less than that with relative ease. I wrote for an hour (and worked on three outlines for my impending deadlines) and waited for the meal service. After dinner, I popped an Ambien and watched The Bourne Ultimatum. Again. I passed out during the Morocco rooftop chase scene and woke up five hours later.

I could not fall back asleep and I watched The Nanny Diaries with Scarlet Johansson. I did not get to see her tits once and was disappointed that I watched that entire flick. I should be shot.

Nicky woke up just as breakfast was being served. It was disgusting and I barely touched mine. I couldn't wait to get off the plane and get American food... like crisp bacon and proper iced tea.

Immigration and customs was a breeze. One of the agents said, "Welcome home."

Nicky's mother picked us up at the airport and we were back in the apartment in less than twenty minutes. We fired up the bong and then walked down the street for lunch at Nick's Coffeeshop. I ordered the 2/3 pound bacon Swiss cheeseburger (with hash browns instead of fries). Delicious. I missed that so much. I drank three glasses of tea and was in heaven.

We returned to the apartment and I opened up one of my email accounts. There were over 450 pieces of unread mail. I took a deep breath, fired up one of the infamous Justin85 Mega mixes that I downloaded from Phish blog, and started the tiring process of reading all of my email.

Two hours later, I had over 300 remaining...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Aussie Inside Jokes - The Video

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I worked for PokerNews for a little over a year. During that run, I had the pleasure with working with different people from all over the world (including Holland, the UK, Portugal, and New Zealand), but primarily in Australia since the company is based down under in Melbourne. Everyone is cool and has a great sense of humor. The video I'm posting exhibits that.

While away on assignment, I'm always around the multimedia team headed up by Shronk and now Tom. Basically someone from PokerNews like Schecky or Tiffany (and now Amanda) would interview a poker pro on the sidelines and PokerNews would video tape it. One day, some random person would walk through the shot in the background while talking on their cellphone. After a while, my fellow PokerNews employees would attempt the same feat and randomly walk through the background - without getting caught by the cameraman or interviewer. The inside joke caught on and we really had fun with it during the Aussie Millions.

Tom spliced together bits of our hijinks in a video titled PokerNews Team Wants to Be Famous. Check it out...

You have to click through to the Tao of Pauly to view the video vis RSS or Bloglines...

I'm in this video a couple of times. Can you find me? Anyway, I have watched this a dozen times already and it always makes me laugh. Thanks for Tom for splicin' it together. Enjoy!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Private Tournament - Saturdays with Dr. Pauly

By Pauly
Hollyweird, CA

I'm hosting a series of private poker tournaments every Saturday at 4:20pm on Poker Stars.

Everyone is invited. Hope to see you there...