Tuesday, November 30, 2010


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

"Are you sure the screenplay has to be about hookers?" said Nicky as she snapped back into her former development exec role. "If you use hookers, then the film will get an R-rating."

I stood my ground. I'm going to write my screenplay the way I want to write it. If a studio wants to buy it ( if we ever get to that phase), then shit, you bet your ass I will make whatever concessions that need to be made in order to cash a check.

Most not-creative people think that writing entails the physical act of writing. What they don't realize is that that is just the next-to-last-step (and the last step being editing what you write, which is something that NEVER HAPPENS HERE, which is why I love blogging, because I can be lazy and just turn on the mic, pollute the airwaves with my propaganda, and then exit stage left). Writing encapsulates many layers of pre-writing. This is what happens when I'm walking down the street, flipping through the channels, reading a book, or discussing a potential screenplay with my girlfriend. Most of the writing is done inside my head -- that is to say, only on thought out pieces because my afternoon writing (freelance stuff) is more calculated.

However, there are times like right now, when I just go for the stream of consciousness and open up a blank page in Blogger and begin typing, and that's what I think people think is writing, when that's more like dictating -- the pundit inside my head is preaching and I'm acting like a court reporter and just jotting down all that excessive verbage. I thoroughly enjoy that free-form for writing which I get to do most of the time in the early mornings. I can't think of a better way to start my days. I usually do my best writing after a free-write and a break when I can gather my thoughts into a more coherent structure before I sit back down to write a second session.

Even though I was not actually sitting down to write late last night, in just one thirty-minute conversation, I trashed two potential drafts as a screenplay and then decided to take the story in an entirely different direction. That's one of the benefits of living with someone who spent a decade in the entertainment industry, but then again, one of the downsides is that guidance can often hinder the creative side and all I start thinking about is commerce instead of art.

I had an idea to write a futuristic dystopian thriller about a zookeeper, but the humans are the animals so he's enslaving his own race, meanwhile a cross-bred race of human and reptilian-aliens are controlling the world. The zookeeper falls in love with a hooker seeking redemption -- one blow job at a time.

Of course, if I were trying to get a gig in Hollyweird, I'd be writing young adult screenplays about mopey vampires, or trying to write a spec script called Hangover 4: Puking in Prague, rife with plenty of homophobic jokes, S&M humor, and non-shaved nether regions on Eastern European women because most of the flick is filmed inside a Czech brothel.

These days in Hollywood, the bean counters only want to fund established brands, sequels, and whatever is trending. That's why everything kinda sucks or you see so many re-makes. I dunno how many times I've moaned, "For the price of this bomb, they could have funded ten indie flicks." And yeah, six or seven smaller indie films might be self-indulgent fodder, but I betcha you will find two or three compelling stories told in a unique and artistic way that doesn't involve any CGI or three-story high explosions in the sky.

And just so we're on the same page -- I love Michael Bay as much as Noah Baumbach. The thing about Bay is that he knows what he is doing is total bullshit, so he just decides to crank it up to the Nth degree. Instead of the Spinal Tap analogy of "11", Bay pushes it to 111. Meanwhile, Baumbach pushes the limits in his own nerdish-intellecutal New York mishmash. My point is this -- you can make three Baumbach films and five Jim Jarmusch films for the same price as a Michael Bay production -- but the bean counters in Hollywood don't want to gamble their money on spreading around the wealth. When they bet, they want to bet huge -- which is why so many sequels get a juiced-up budget compared to the original.

But I do like to see things blowing up -- mainly because I don't write about stuff blowing up. I don't think I can write a screenplay about that sort of stuff, which means I don't expect to find a job as a screenwriter in this town anytime soon. I know my screenplay concept is a derivative of "Blade Runner meets Pretty Woman meets Planet of the Apes", but that's not going to deter me from writing my "dystopian, Reptilian overlord, zookeeper falls in love with a hooker" tale.

Save a hooker, save the world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

SoCal Turkey

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Despite my proclivities to wander around aimlessly, I have spent every Thanksgiving in New York City aside from three instances. That's a surprising stat as I approach four decades on this planet.

In the late 1990s, I spent a Turkey Day in Seattle and another in Texas. When I lived in Seattle, I couldn't get the time off from work and when I was in Texas, I was too broke to fly back to New York, so I stayed put. My Seattle Turkey Day was strange indeed, which is what happens when you're friends with hippies and vegan hipsters. My friends had a vegetarian Thanksgiving, which meant zero meat products. I woke up that morning, went to the front of my house, fired up the BBQ, and got strange looks from my neighbors as I grilled up burgers on the morning of Thanksgiving before I headed to my first and only veggie Thanksgiving.

I spent the last five or six years on the road for poker, but I still managed to return to New York in November, even if it was just for a day or two. But sometimes, you have to alter tradition. For the first time in 10+ years, I skipped a NYC Thanksgiving.

I'm not going to bullshit you -- last year was a disaster in NY because my mother flipped out around 1pm (after she polished off 2/3rds of a bottle of Amaretto) and accused me of ruining Thanksgiving (even though it had only just begun) and the rest of the evening (and holiday weekend) was bloody awful. I ended up eating painkillers to dull the excruciating silence as my mother shunned me the rest of the day/night.

The worst part? I paid big bucks for that misery because airlines rape their customers during peak holidays, then toss in a couple of pricey cabs to/from JFK, and when I see that number flashing in my head, I get pissed because I could have used those funds to travel elsewhere or to fund Phish adventures. In addition to the hit in the wallet, I flew on the worst day of the year to fly -- the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'm an expert traveler but the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, brings out the worst in people. Airports are flooded with amateur travelers and cheapskates trying to buck the system and not pay for checked luggage and they lug oversized bags as their carry-ons. I kept telling myself that the money and arduous travel was a small price to pay to see my family -- more specifically -- my brother. But when I was absolutely shit on by my mother for no reason whatsoever, she brought me to an easy decision -- no more Thanksgivings.

2010 had the added stress of TSA cock checks and radiation scans. Luckily, I made my decision to remain in California before any of that stuff really blew up. But if I were traveling, it would just be another layer of bullshit that I'd have to endure just to see my family and be ridiculed by my mother.

At some point, you have to make a stand. If my family were paying my flight, then this would be a different story because I'm getting paid to get shit on. I have to do that with freelance work -- essentially I get paid to be abused by whoever my client happens to be at the time. Family misery is not a paid gig, unfortunately. I'm a whore for the buck and I understand that life is short, so I made the easy decision to skip Thanksgiving.

Here's the thing, my family is always crazy, but they get hyper crazy during the holidays. So, I knew that I was going back East to see Phish for Halloween, so I added a week or so in New York City to see my brother and watch a few Yankees playoff games. Derek is the only reason I head home for Thanksgiving, so I just moved up that time by a month. The rest of the family was not as stressed out, so they didn't give me too much guff when I was home in October. If anything -- the flights were cheaper and it was less stressful. Too bad we couldn't do Thanksgiving in October.

By the way, I put up with the bullshit for Christmas, mainly because you get gifts at Christmas and you get nothing but heartburn for Thanksgiving. Besides, nothing is quite like New York City during Christmas time. It sounds cheesy, but the song Silver Bells is somewhat accurate when describing NYC. And the more time I spend in Southern California, the more I can't wait to go back to NY in December to soak up the scent of pine needles and capitalism.

Here's what drives me crazy about LA at this time of year. It's sunny and 60+ degrees. It's only a few days after Thanksgiving, but the radio stations are cranking out Christmas music. If you go to the Grove, Beverly Center, or Century City -- all of those malls have been transformed into outdoor winter wonderlands -- except you're in Southern California so like so many things in Los Angeles, Christmas is plastic -- it looks nice, but just doesn't fit. Because the SoCal weather reminds you of the opposite of Christmas, vendors do everything possible to fabricate a cheery Christmas vibe, which is just utterly disgusting and disingenuous because no one wants to take a photo of their kid with a jaded and out-of-work-thespian in a Santa Claus outfit sporting sunglasses, a spray tan, and a guild card.

Fucking Hollywood, man.

Moving on...

I got way off topic. I wanted to write about the first ever California Turkey Day. It also marked the first holiday that I spent with Nicky. We've been going out for almost five years and we have always been apart during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Nicky was well aware of the problems that I had back in NYC, but she was also hoping that I'd join her with her family's Turkey Day festivities mainly because (these are her numerical bullet points)... 1) they "love me" more than her, and 2) they won't ask her as many annoying questions.

It's true -- her parents like me, especially her mom (who was also born in New Jersey and migrated to the left coast) because she's a lifelong Yankees fan. I instantly won her over when she found out that I was from the Bronx and also a diehard Yankees fan. Yes, that was enough to make Nicky's father distrust me since he bleeds Dodger's blue, but he's taken a liking to me as well, mostly attributed to the ability to make him laugh with all the off-color jokes and random stories I tell them. At least I hope so; her family is mostly German, and they've taken all the Gestapo jokes in stride.

I spent many meals with Nicky's family (BBQs at her parent's house in Westwood or at the local Italian joint around the corner) and they have always been fun and not as stressful as most in-law experiences and horror stories that my friends shared with me over the years. At heart, Nicky's parents are good people. Nicky thinks that all of her personal issues stem from the darkside of parent-children relationships -- and that might be true for all of us -- however, some of the more endearing qualities that she and her sister share have origins in the fact that her parents are good people.

Luckily, I was able to share Turkey Day with them, and I wasn't lying when I said it was the best that I had in years. I know my brother is cringing as he reads this now because he knows how crazy my mother gets during the holidays when you toss it all the booze, it's a recipe for disaster. I hoped that my brother's Turkey Day back in NYC was a lot less stressful this year because my mere precense is a volatile chemical that causes an explosion whenever I'm withing a hundred foot radius of my mother. Without me in the equation, you would think that things would have gone much smoother.

But it's not me, because Nicky's family didn't go crazy because I showed up. We had a pleasant meal and they were more than accommodating to have multiple TVs on so I could sweat my bets on the different football games. Man, talk about getting the red carpet treatment. For any degen gambler like myself who paces constantly, that's as good as you're gonna get -- multiple places to watch a game and understanding people who won't give you shit for wanting to watch sports during a holiday. Shit, betting on the NFL on Thanksgiving is more American than watching the Macy's Turkey Day parade. If they start booking bets on which balloons deflate first, then I'll pay more attention to the parade. Until then, I'm betting the Cowboys game every fucking Thanksgiving. It's tradition -- Turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie, and a c-note on the Cowboys.

I used to think that I was a shitty person because my family didn't like me, but it had more to do with my choices to escape the shackles of Wall Street and pursue a career as writer which they took as an insult and indictment on their philosophy of life. I don't give them shit for living the way they do, so why should they give me shit? Alas, that's what happened over the years until I finally made a stand and broke away from the herd mentality.

So it's not me that's evil. It's just my mother's reaction to me. Maybe she really hates me, or maybe she sees my father in me which happens to be her least favorite person in the world. If anything, she's projecting that negativity of her failed relationship and marriage onto me. That shit happens all the time. It's unfair, but it's never going to change. That's why I opted out of my family's holiday gathering. No cock check at the airport. No kick in the junk at Thanksgiving.

Sometimes people just don't get along, and that's why the holidays are extremely stressful because you are forcing people to mix together who normally wouldn't speak to each other if they didn't have the same last names or shared a significant amount of DNA. Hollywood makes movies about it all the time. Books are written on the topic. Blog posts, Facebook updates, and tweets fill up the twitterverse about the stresses of the holidays. I suspect that we're all addicted to food because that seems to be the only reason people put up with the hectic travel, annoying relatives, and heartburn. They love food more then their loved ones.

My Turkey Day 2010 kicked off with rolling out of bed at 9am because I stayed up super late (past 5am) listening to old school rap videos on You Tube and playing StarFall on the iPad. Football was on at 9:30am because games started at 12:30ET on Thanksgiving. I wasn't even up an hour and was already sweating my first betting action of the day. Nicky woke up and whipped up two side dishes for the meal. One of those involved a corn dish with bacon, so Nicky cooked up an entire pan of bacon bits. Her dish got ruined by all the veggies she added to Emeril's corn/bacon recipe. When the first game was over and the side dishes were ready, we made our way to the West Side. LA is amazingly empty during Thanksgiving weekend because LA is a city where most people are transplants and the ones that are born and bred have bled to the burbs. The city is empty and a trip that could sometimes take 30 minutes to drive took less than ten.

The turkey, stuffing, gravy -- all top notch -- but it was the pie that stood out as the highlight. Nicky's mom bought me a special pie -- chocolate satin -- and I got to take it home with me. I ate most of it within 24 hours including a slice for breakfast on Friday and two slices for dinner later that night.

I watched the Jets game because Nicky's parents have a dish with the NFL network, so I was able to watch a rare instance when the Jets played on Thanksgiving. Once the game ended, we returned to our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills to play online poker. I host a tournament every Thanksgiving and this year I actually hosted two. My brother played along with a lot of other friends seeking to wind down a long day with a little poker.

Who knows...maybe I can sneak my brother out to LA next year so he can experience a stress-free Turkey Day?

Thanksgiving is over. I survived. It's 60 degrees outside and sunny. Cue the puke-inducing Christmas music.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tao of Hockey Fights: Scott vs. Westgard

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The Tao of Hockey fights return with a doozy from last night's Kings/Blackhawks game. I considered going, but prices for decent seats were too high. I watched it on the boob tube instead.

Here's a little scuffle between Scott and Westgarth. One of them leaves bloodied up, but I won't spoil it for ya. As the announcer snarked while blood trickled down his face, "He's going off for repairs."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Battle of the Taos: Pauly Edges Out Poker

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's the results of the pool...
Tao of Pauly - 42%
Tao of Poker - 33%
Coventry Music - 16%
Tao of Bacon - 3%
Truckin' - 3%
Thanks for voting.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lost Vegas for 15% Off; Now On Amazon.com

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Great news. After months of waiting, Lost Vegas is now available on Amazon.com! If that's where you do the bulk of your Christmas shopping, then stop by my page and pick up a copy or two.

If you would like to save $3, you can buy copies of Lost Vegas for 15% off via Lulu.com. At checkout, you use coupon code STOCKING305.

The 15% off coupon is valid through December 15th. Don't worry... the discount comes out of the publisher's pocket and I get my full cut.

Just a reminder... Lost Vegas is cooked to order, which means it's Print-On-Demand (POD). Due to high volume of orders with my publisher, I encourage you to buy the book before December 5th to ensure a Christmas deliver.

The e-book version is $10. Right now, I only have PDF's available, but an ePub version will be released shortly.
Click here to buy an e-Book.

Click here
to buy a copy on Amazon.

Click here to buy a copy on Lulu. Don't forget to use code STOCKING305 for 15% off.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Brain Droppings: The Crystal Version

By Pauly
Compton, CA

For the second time in three nights, I found myself in Compton after Midnight. This is a neighborhood that's gotten a bad rap over the years for its propensity for gang violence. Most of that gore has subsided, but still, this is a part of LA that I usually don't hang out in after dark, let alone after the Midnight hour.

I ate McDonalds for the first time in I can't remember when. That's what happens when you're in a working class/poor neighborhood because fast food joints are usually the only available options for food. I do what I can to avoid McDs as much as possible and only eat it out of necessity -- usually when I'm traveling and there's limited options, or it's super late when I'm on the road and there's nothing else open.

I got something in the mail from my buddy Jonas. He asked me for my address the other day and it occurred to me that I omitted the apartment number. Luckily I noticed the package left out by our mail box (not in it, mind you). The postal worker never bothered to read the inside of our mailbox to figure out that's who the package belongs to. Luckily, no one stole a special shirt designed by JT, a friend of a friend, who created Dance Police t-shirts for different party people in Colorado.

I have five books that I want to read, but I've been too busy the last two weeks to pick them up and rip through 100+ pages a day. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks, because books are on the Top 5 things on my agenda for the remainder of the year.

I had to fill out like 12 custom forms at the post office to mail five books to a bookstore in London. Man, it's just the UK! What the hell was all that paper work for anyway? The post office is always an unpleasurable experience, but I'm prepped for a horrible time before I even set foot inside. So on the rare days the lines move fast, I'm incredibly elated. Low expectations usually lead to more pleasant experiences. Shit, the post office is actually a breeze compared to some of the hell I'm reading about regarding cock checks at domestic airports by the TSA.

I finally caught up with Empire Boardwalk. I was sick on Sunday and once football was over, I fired up the DVR and watched six episodes. Man...did I really do that? Maybe it was five? No, it was six. The pacing definitely picked up. I had a couple of episodes of Rubicon in my queue, but ever since I found out that that show got canceled, I lost any urge to watch those episodes collecting dust in the DVR's memory banks. When I left for Phish tour at the start of October, I all but stopped watching anything on TV, especially those hoarding shows that I got hooked on and couldn't stop watching. When I was in NYC, I caught up with the final two episodes of this season of Mad Men via online torrents.

I bought tickets for the Knicks-Clippers game at Staples Center for Saturday night. The seats were $60, but I got them for $23/each. All three were $69, or just $9 over face.Most of the time, my friends seeking Phish or Yankees playoff tickets are getting raped on Stub Hub. In this instance, I made out like a bandit on Stub Hub. Shit, I could have gotten tickets as low as $11. Sure, they were cheap seats, but that's insane. No one in LA wants to see the Clippers play, let alone play the anemic Knicks. Most locals rather watch the Clips on cable. it's much easier than paying good money for tickets to watch futility, not to mention the downside of dealing with traffic and paying $25 for parking. Shit, the more I think about it, maybe I should have just stayed home and watched the game on TV because I can't smoke weed inside the hoops arena!

I went to work on Thursday and as soon as I attempted to set up my laptop in the press area, I realized that I forgot my power chord. I was pissed on two accounts.... 1) I was heavily distracted with negotiating a potential work assignment, and 2) the last time I went to work and forgot my laptop's power chord -- Vegas in the summer of 2008 and I got into a car accident on the way back from the retrieval. Luckily for me, I was 100% safe. No accidents, despite having to navigate three freeways (each way) to get from Compton > Slums of Beverly Hills > Compton. The drive takes 25 minutes with no traffic and about 35 minutes during the late morning when we had been heading there. My journey home took over 75 minutes. Yes, it was light traffic too. On my way back to the casino, I had to abort the trip -- 20+ minutes in due to heavy congestion. It took ten minutes to get two blocks from my apartment, then took another ten just to get on the freeway. I got a call from Nicky who had been checking traffic.com and noticed that most of my journey had all red routes. Yes, red is bad. So, I turned around, headed back to the apartment, and wait until the rush hour commute was over. Kinda bummed out that was the case, but then again, I was glad I didn't get stuck in a bumper-to-bumper road-rage inducing jam.

That's it. I'm outta stuff to say. The little tap inside my head is getting turned off in 3...2...1...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

You Owe Me Big Time, LULU.com

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Lulu.com fucked up. Actually, someone named Zac royally fucked up.

I heard plenty of bad beat stories about Lulu.com, but I went ahead with them as the main publisher for Lost Vegas. Wil Wheaton and Martin Harris had decent experiences with them, so I trusted their judgement. From the onset, I realized that all the horror stories about Lulu's support were true. I had a few problems that went unanswered. Luckily I got in contact with someone named Arrie (I assume it's a female), who hooked me up. I've been blessed with having someone to help me out on the inside. She (or he) has been amazing in helping me out with bulk orders. Too bad that I can't deal with Arrie all the time.

almost two months ago, I paid Lulu to create an ePub version of Lost Vegas so it could be viewed on iPads and iPods and other Apple products. I paid $99 for this service. It kept getting delayed. I felt embarrassed the first time when I realized it would not be ready by 10-10-10, or the date that I intended to release the e-books (in both PDF and ePub versions). Only the PDF was ready because frankly, I created it myself. I should have taken Falstaff's advice and hired his buddy to create the file for me for half the price. He would have done it inside of a week and it would have been ready to go on 10-10-10. Alas, I decided to stick with Lulu. That was a mistake.

I also paid Lulu to have my book on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. They said it would take 6-8 weeks. I'm still waiting for that process to happen.

I finally got contacted by someone at Lulu named Zac S. They said that they created the project for me and that I had to review it and (get this) purchase a galley copy. I was confused at first because it should have been a simple ePub file. Maybe they were talking about the book for Amazon? If that was the case, then I was excited. Amazon distribution is huge, especially with the holidays coming up. So I asked them to mail me a copy. Instead, I got an email telling me to order/purchase a galley. I did so but was worried that my book went from 249 to 330 pages. I figured that the project was the conversion to an ePub file -- since the book layout looks different for e-readers. Fine, I thought. So I purchased the galley, even though I thought that was weird. If it's an ePub, shouldn't he be sending me the file?

I was suspicious, so I checked my page on Lulu. It said that Lost Vegas was 330 pages. This couldn't be right. I was miffed. I noticed that the entire file was different. Did he mistakenly upload the ePub to the print book instead? I decided to buy a copy of the e-book in PDF format to figure out what the fuck was going on. I was astonished when I discovered that Zac S. uploaded the wrong file. Instead of Lost Vegas, I got a book called "Nicotine: The Drug That Never Was" by Chris Holmes. No offense to Mr. Holmes, but when someone is going to buy Lost Vegas, I expect Lulu to send them Lost Vegas and not a book about Nicotine.

Obviously, I was livid when I discovered this major fuck up. If I was not in a public place, I might have put my fist through a wall -- that's how pissed off I was. Instead, I was at Crystal Casino covering a poker tournament and should have been working. Instead, I scrambled because the book that was being sold on Lulu was NOT MY BOOK. I quickly erased the new file that Zac S uploaded to my account. I re-installed my old files and re-did my cover in record speed. It usually takes a few hours to do this, but I managed to save face in about 60-90 minutes. I purchased another copy of the e-book -- and I was relieved when I saw the original manuscript.

Whew. I fixed Zac's fuck up faster than they could. I expected them to string me a long for a week or so with their horrible customer service, so I went ahead and took matters in my own hands and fixed it myself.

The sad thing is that I have no idea when exactly he switched over to the wrong manuscript -- could be as many as three or four days. I sold at least a dozen books and e-books in that time frame.

If by chance you purchased a copy of Lost Vegas since 11-14-10, please inspect your copy carefully. If you bought a copy of the e-book and it's not Lost Vegas, please contact both me and Lulu immediately. Demand a refund and demand that they give you Lost Vegas for free. Same thing goes for a hard copy. If you discover that they mailed you the wrong book (please check inside -- the cover might be Lost Vegas, but the innards might be a different text), I suggest you contact Lulu ASAP and demand a full refund and demand a free copy of Lost Vegas. Please contact me as well. If by chance you were one of the people who got shipped a wrong copy, I want to make this up to you. Send me an email and we can discuss a "I'm sorry that Lulu fucked up" care package.

Obviously, this experience is making me question if I want to use Lulu to publish future books. My goal is to crank out 1 book a year for the next five years, so suffice to say, Lulu is going to lose out big time. I generated them several thousand dollars in income already. Just imagine how much more money they can make off my future books and residual sales for Lost Vegas?

Man, Lulu really dropped the ball. I sent them a list of demands and I wonder if they will make things right. I also contacted my only friend on the inside, Arrie. Maybe Arrie can help rectify this situation.

Suffice to say, this is the worst bad beat I've taken with Lulu. This is just a warning to everyone else out there -- be careful with who you deal with. I want to continue a relationship with Lulu, and if they see the value in our partnership, they will go out of their way to fix this massive problem.

And yes, to date, even though I paid for the services almost two months ago -- I have yet to get my book on Amazon.com. I'm also waiting for my ePub file to be created.

If anyone at Lulu is reading this, can someone competent in your company assist me?

Oh, and don't worry -- you can purchase a copy of Lost Vegas right now and all should be fine. I fixed any problems.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Straight Out of LowCash

By Pauly
Compton, CA

I had never been to Compton before. It's not an area of Los Angeles where I hang out, then again there's plenty of places that I avoid in the greater Los Angeles area, mostly due to the fact that I rarely venture out of my little hood in the slums of Beverly Hills, which can be attributed to traffic complications and the fact I hate driving in LA.

Nicky despises the Valley (it's an LA-thing to hate on the Valley, much like dwellers in Manhattan poke fun at the bridge and tunnel crowd from Jersey), and the only thing that gets her to the Valley is a trip to a marijuana dispensary or an airport pickup when I happen to fly into Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. He little sister Mandy lives in the Valley and even her sister is not enough to get Nicky to go visit.

We stick to the slums of Beverly Hills and West LA. I'm sure if we went out to party in bars or visited more restaurants in LA, we'd hit up a lot more neighborhoods. Nicky cooks for us and we go local. We travel so much domestically and internationally that when we're in LA, we don't want to go anywhere and happy to be home. That's one of the reasons that I never head to parts East and South of Los Angeles, and the Valley to the North of us. Plus, most of the time I'm in LA, I'm there to work. In the last year or so, it was Lost Vegas that took up all my free time. And in the next few months, I'll be re-writing Jack Tripper Stole My Dog.

This week, I had the luxury of not traveling anywhere to cover a poker tournament with an stop on the North American Poker Tour scheduled in Los Angeles. Poker is legal in California, so there's plenty of random card rooms all over Southern California. The card rooms are also pseudo-casinos (no slots, but some tables games) and found a way to get around the laws with loopholes. Anyway, with a tournament scheduled for LA, Nicky and I were thrilled that we didn't have to pack luggage, get stuck in long ass security lines, get my junk grabbed by feisty TSA agents, and stay in a hotel room where maids barge in even though there's a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door -- in both English and Spanish. Yeah, we have the benefit of sleeping in our own beds, which is an amazing feeling.

But it kinda feels weird to have to commute to work. We purposely stay off the freeways during high traffic times, but we had no choice with this assignment. We had to fight the traffic like the rest of the proletariat.

The first casino I had to work in was called the Bicycle Casino. It was located in Bell Gardens, not the swankiest of neighborhoods, but the Bike offered up inexpensive and really good food. The hardest aspect of my job is being forced to pay inflated prices on casino food -- which is usually sub par. Not the Bike. I was initially skeptical about the breakfast burrito, but it was pretty damn tasty and cost less than $4.

Now, the location has moved to the Crystal Casino in Compton. Insert your own NWA joke here _____. We're here on a remote TV set because the next three days of poker will be recorded. Amazing that the production crew can set up shop in the tiniest or largest of spaces.

The only drawback was the simple fact that I got sick after a trip to Las Vegas. I always get sick after my November assignment, and this year was no different, except it festered a little longer and did not rear it's ugly head until Saturday. Once it hit, there was nothing to do except suck it up. I actually "called in" sick on Sunday. You might think sitting on a couch watching football is fun, but when you do it with a 104 fever it's not really enjoyable. I took some meds on Sunday which fucked up my stomach on Monday, so Monday I felt better with regard to the casino flu, but my stomach was in knots and I had to stay home another day. I wasn't 100% this morning, but I missed two important days of work, and had no choice.

I have to get through Thursday night, then I'm done with work (covering tournaments on the circuit) for the rest of the year. That's a huge bonus for me and I can stay at home and finish up the remainder of assignments for the year. If I'm truly productive and smart, I'll crank out the rest of my work for the year in the last week of November and that way I'll have the entire month of December solely for my own creative endeavors and fully enjoy a trip to Vegas (for play, not for work), the holidays and Phishy New Years in NYC.

I keep telling myself... three more days.

Three. More. Days.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodfellas at Moe's (a.k.a. the Shine Box Scene)

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The infamous "go get yer shine box" scene from Goodfellas juxtaposed with Moe's Tavern from The Simpsons...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Temper Paradox

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My old man was a pretty good basketball player for his time (the early 1950s) and the part of the genes that he passed on was a deadly jump shot. I got the long-range shooting genes, which helped me hold my own in pick-up games on gritty NYC playgrounds and earned me a spot on my varsity hoops team. On the bad end of the gene pool, I inherited my father's Irish temper.

Most of the time I have my temper under wraps. It flares up every once in a while, but I quickly seize control and don't let it fester because I've gotten better about shrugging off the small stuff, and shinning on the matters that I cannot control. However, my downfall is the big stuff is what gets me into trouble. Just ask the flimsy Ikea chair that used to be in my office. In a fit of unexpected rage, I hurled it against a wall. The wall is perfectly fine -- not a single dent or scratch, but the chair is a whole different matter. I could blame Ikea for constructing furniture made out of balsa wood, but it's easier to put blame onto a greedy corporation. In the end, I have to accept responsibility for for the destruction of my own property. Then again, if I acquired the chair from a furniture company that did not specialize in disposable items, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Yes, the chair is toast. The Swedes don't make chairs strong enough to with hold my temper. Next time, I have to buy a stronger chair, or buy two cheap ones -- just in case I get sent on mega-tilt again because I'll have a backup.

Friday, November 12, 2010

In Limbo, Sort Of

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm not dead. Neither is this blog. I'm in the middle of a two-week binge of poker-related work/writing that has my mind and creative energies pulled away from this space. Believe me, this is my favorite corner of the interwebs and it kills me that I don't update this space as much as I'd like. It's been tough -- I spent all of October on the road following Phish and barely wrote. Whatever content here was cross-posted recaps that I wrote on Phish tour and originated from Coventry. I spent last week in Las Vegas covering the final table of the WSOP Main Event, otherwise known as the November Nine. And this week, I'm covering a tournament in LA -- but I'm still bogged down with finishing up freelance pieces. Hopefully in a few days, I can return to regularly schedule programming. I have plenty to say, but not enough time to say it. Besides, I've been going through a bit of a rough patch work-wise and it's better that I keep my mouth shut and not vent too much in a public forum. As the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice -- say nothing at all. Right now, I got nothing to say. The list of people and companies who pissed me off over the last few weeks and months has grown immensely. Some days I consider just outing all the assholes and retards in my life and posting a list of fucktards, shitstains, and other small-penises liars out there -- but what good is that? I should just cut the passive-aggro bullshit, man up, and start kicking the shit out of those assholes instead of whining about them.

Anyway, I got one more week of crazy left before I can relax and jack off in this space. Then I'm done with work and poker for the rest of the year and can focus on reading books, writing fiction, and scribbling down half-baked posts in this space. If you haven't figured out by now, I'm at another one of those crossroads where I have no clue where to go, but I'm not thrilled with where I've been, who I've been fucked over by, and have no desire to return to the road I've been driving on the last few years. Shit, all I want to do is write, but sometimes doing what you love the most becomes utterly complicated. I hope to elaborate more in a future post, or twelve.

One thing is for sure -- I can't wait to sit down and re-work the final draft of Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. I'm gonna publish my first novel sometime in the next six months.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Truckin - November 2010, Vol. 9, Issue 11

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Almost forgot to plug Truckin'!

November 2010, Vol. 11, Issue 11

1. Hot August Night by Paul McGuire
I never particularly liked Neil Diamond. I always thought that he was fake cool and not tough, like if he and Van Morrison got into a fight, Van would kick the living shit out of him...More

2. The Fat Kid by Sigge S. Amdal
I was brought up in a Christian home, so when my mother decided that me and Tom would walk to school together, then her little rat spy Jesus would tell on me if I didn't. And so me and Tom walked to school together for the next decade or so...More

3. The Stain by Wolynski
The maid pulled back the bedspread, turned the blanket over and gasped. Everyone gasped and gathered round the bed not quite believing their eyes. Right in the middle of the bed was the biggest, ugliest brown stain you've ever seen - someone had taken a dump in the Presidential bed and housekeeping did not catch it... More

4. Getting High by Dan England
You run 8,000 feet up the mountain over almost 14 miles, and just when you're really getting tired, your oxygen gets cut in half. Oh, the pain is so sweet when you're on your fourth hour, and you can barely breathe, and cramps are knocking on your door. The endorphins are just sweeping through at that point... More

5. Dar es Salaam by Adam J. Weise
I went to buy two bottles of water and after the vendor overcharged me Billy loudly demanded an explanation in Swahili to which her reply was that she didn't have the correct change so she figured shortchanging me was a completely legitimate thing to do. For good reason white people are the target of beggars and street children and many a friendly conversation devolves into an outstretched hand and word "please" being repeated over and over while awkwardness ensues... More
Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Halloween Podcasts: The Wook Patrol in AC

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

When I was in Atlantic City this past weekend, I recorded three episodes of Wook Patrol, a Phish-themed podcast for Coventry Music. Benjo and I usually record a poker podcast (the Tao of Pokerati with Michalski) for work, but he joined me for these special Halloween-themed episodes.

Episode 23: Tough Ticket Saturday with Benjo - Pauly and Benjo hang out on the Boardwalk near the venue before the Saturday show, and they describe the festive scene especially the lack of available tickets floating around.

Episode 24: Whole Lotta Zeppelin with Benjo - Pauly and Benjo catch up at setbreak about the opening set of the Saturday's show. The Whole Lotta Love bustout is all that anyone could talk about. They wonder if the Zeppelin song is an indication to cross them off the list of musical costumes that Phish will perform on Halloween? Or is the Zep bustout a teaser of what is to come?

Episode 25: Bad Costumes with Benjo - Pauly and Benjo discuss the bad costumes that they've seen at Phish Halloween, along with a few of the notable ones around them.
Thanks for listening to Coventry's podcast. To listen to older episodes from Phish summer tour, then visit the Wook Patrol archives.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

My Halloween

By Pauly
Atlantic City, NJ

Here's what I did for Halloween. Chekc out a video that I spliced together (early this morning) featuring clips from Phish's Halloween show in Atlantic City...