Monday, January 31, 2011

Sticky Floors

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Drinking makes me sloppy. I'm a sloppy drunk. I usually have precise hands, something I prided myself as a someone who once worked behind the bar, but I broke two glasses in the last 2 days. I thought they were cheap Ikea glasses that cost $1.50. I discovered that Nicky had those specific collins cocktail glasses since her days at Northwestern. Fuck me, I destroyed two college-era heirlooms.

I feel like an ass.

A drunk ass. That's part of the downside to my experiment to spend as many waking hours drunk. I dunno how those fuckers from Mad Men managed to drink and actually do a job. I guess part of the reason they drink so much is to stay perpetually buzzed because nothing is worse than a hangover, and nothing cures a hangover better than another cocktail.

I wished that I had better results from this experiment. All I have to show for it is that I put on 7-10 pounds from all of the booze and high fructose corn syrup in the mixers that I used. I also owe Nicky two glasses. I thought that I'd smoke less weed, yet I smoked anywhere from 90-95% of my normal daily consumption -- I think most of that happened early in the day and I truly used bud for medicinal purposes to kill headaches, body aches, stomach aches, and nausea.

I only ate pharmies once during the stretch and it was on the one day that I got most crocked -- Saturday. I did a decent job holding out, but I had such a massive headache on Saturday morning that I didn't know what else to do but eat a sliver of oxy. Just a sliver, mind you. I barely noticed the buzz. If anything, it made me somewhat normal, at the least, made some of the hangover pains feel tolerable. It wasn't until the fifth cocktail of the day/night that I felt the cumulative effects of the rum mixing with the tail end of the painkillers. Once I had dulled all the pain and it went away, the pain killers made me a little more schwasted. That's when I had the first of two major accidents in the kitchen.

The first accident turned the floor into a pink lake and made it sticky afterward. The second accident made the floor turn red. And that fucker was twice as sticky.

The first accident happened as I was finishing the mixing/shaking process of a batch of Bahama Mamas. The top got stuck and I didn't know my own strength. The cocktails splashed all over my jeans and the ground. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Most of the floor was drenched in a pink liquid. I quickly cleaned it up, but it remained sticky for the rest of the night and all of Sunday.

Then on Sunday night, after a shitty night of betting on basketball, I made myself a "sore loser" cocktail. I was about to pour the rum into a glass when I knocked the glass over and it fell on the counter. The glass cracked. As I said, "Fuuuuuuck!" that's when the real accident happened...and I spilled an entire small bottle of Maraschino cherries onto the counter and on the floor. Splotches of thick red gooey syrup covered the floor. It looked like a crime scene and I quickly tried to clean it up. I was not as successful as Saturday's clean up. My half-assed job will be ridiculed by Nicky at some point because my cleaning skills were inept. To which my counter argument will be: "It's not my fault our maid got deported."

It's true. One day we called and she never picked up her phone. Had she been more up to date on her paper work, or if we had less stringent immigration policies in America, then I'd simply would have given her a call on Monday morning and requested her impeccable services. Alas, no mas maid.

That's why we have a sticky kitchen floor. I'm to lazy to clean it up. I blame the booze. It made me slothly. I used to jump out of bed and want to work, but now, all I do is slowly crawl out of bed with a hangover, and then count the minutes until my next drink as I do everything possible to cure the throbbing, pounding, searing headache.

Life on the hooch. It's not for everyone. Look at my kitchen for fuck's sake.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Here's a Cartoon to Explain to the Sheeple How They Got Fucked by the Bailouts

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's a nifty explanation of what really happened with the bank bailouts, or as my savvy friend on Wall Street explained, "Here's a fucking cartoon to explain to the sheeple that they got fucked by the bailouts."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Are Alcoholic, Yes?

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

For the last week, Nicky has been taunting me with a phrase... "You are alcoholic, yes?"

The phrase rolls off her tongue in a deep faux-Arabic accent. I smirk when she says it. Ever time. At first it started as an inside joke when I returned from the Bahamas a rum junkie, but now we're both starting to wonder if there's some hidden truth to the one-liner. At this point, we laugh out of terror.

That line originally appeared in a movie called Live from Baghdad, an HBO produced film about how CNN got their big break covering the first war in Iraq. Michael Keaton played a CNN producer and at the beginning of the film, he loaded up on booze in a duty free shop in Rome before trying to clear customs when he landed in Iraq. The customs agent was baffled with the multiple bottles and uttered in broken English, "You are alcoholic, yes?"

It's at the 6:55 mark here...

In a less than ironic way, the film came up in conversation on Friday. Nicky and I were watching Al Jazeera as a last ditch effort to get any up to date info on the Egyptian riots, meanwhile CNN was showing fluff about Charlie Sheen's coke-fueled bender and histrionic footage of the space shuttle Challenger explosion on its 25th anniversary. A lot has happened in 2 plus decades -- CNN used to be on the cutting edge of breaking news and now it's become the USA Today of the alphabet news networks. Oh have the mighty fallen. So much for the media being out Watchers.

Back to the booze...

I undertook an experiment and pretended that I was a retired writer not obsessing over book sales and freelance work. In short, I threw all concept of money and commerce out the window. I wrote when I felt like it (mostly on sports gambling, finance, and revolutions), I listened to a lot of music (new favorite band is Juno What?!), I read a couple of books, I drank like a fish, and I bet a shitload of money on basketball.

Man, the retired life felt... good. Almost too good.

The biggest downside? Well, the hangovers are am obvious bitch, but that's easy to manipulate by simply staying drunk. The heavy downside is the weight that I put on in only one week on the sauce. Then again, who's to say that my body didn't even out after losing over ten pounds after a rough bout with the wook flu. However, it's hard to deny the gallons of high fructose corn syrup, pineapple juice, and rum contributed to an expanding gut. It's no longer a pot belly or beer gut -- it's a rum gut.

Nicky also embraced our new-found hobby of drinking in the afternoons. She's been writing in late mornings and early afternoon, before she switches into online poker mode and she's glued to her laptop grinding out a modest income for a few hours. She welcomed the refreshing fruity cocktails and how I make hers to order. We have different tastes and versions of a Bahama Mama. Nicky prefers more of the Malibu (coconut based rum) than dark rum, while I like only a splash of Malibu and the harder dark spiced rum (although for the early morning eye openers and "shake off the hangover" cocktail, I'll go with more Malibu and less dark rum, but as the day progresses, I'm systematically reducing the amount of Malibu and increasing the volume of dark rum). Nicky is also particular about her mixer -- mostly pineapple juice with a splash of Hawaiian punch to give it a light pink color. I'm the opposite when it comes to mixers -- maybe it's the ghetto kid in me who likes mostly Hawaiian punch with a splash of pineapple juice or lemonade, or maybe it's because I can't bring myself to consume pink drinks and like the darker reds instead.

Talk about flashbacks while writing this post... because I haven't drank Hawaiian punch in almost twenty years it seems, but now, I have a few huge ass gallon jugs of it in my kitchen along with metal cans of Dole pineapple juice with two holes punched in the top: a smaller air hole and a larger pour hole.

I felt like I was walking on air when I was able to score a 1.75 ML bottle for $17. I saved $8 with my VONS card, which is under the name Page McConnell. For you non-Phishead readers, Page is the piano player from one of my favorite bands. And Page saved me $8 on the extra-large bottle of Malibu so I didn't have to worry about running out of rum supplies over the weekend. Now, I can hole up in the apartment and drink myself silly while betting on a slew of basketball games and procrastinating to write the only freelance assignment that I got in the last two weeks. I should be more enthusiastic about writing it consider it's the only bit of work I've been offered in this slumping economy (in addition to pricing myself out of the running because I won't accept anything less than my rate, which excludes me from writing from like 95% of all poker media outlets because they don't want to pay top dollar for content any more and rather hire monkeys to re-write press releases, but that's a rant for another time).

As is, I should be writing that assignment right now instead of this -- shit, the non-boozy me would have completed the assignment within 25 hours of getting it, but I'm on my own time, in my own rum-drenched world, and the lackadaisical "island time" that drove me nuts in the Bahamas has officially taken over my world. Much to the delight of my friends I might add because almost all of them are heavy boozers themselves, many of whom are admitted alcoholics. They've welcomed my rum phase with open arms, sort of like I just joined an exclusive country club.

Man, it's only 10:30am and I'm already itching for a drink. I have that dull headache that wraps around my head creating a line in the middle of my forehead that I have to rub to dull the pain, but I keep telling myself that I will wait until noon to start drinking and write as much as I can before noon and then I can sweat all of my bets and made snide comments as I watch Nicky play online poker.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Revolution Thursday

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up planning on editing the novel, but I had a gut feeling that something else was going to be brewing. I quickly scrapped all plans to lock myself in the office and I began the process of setting myself up to sweat two huge moments at prime time -- one was a basketball game and the other was the quiet before the storm in Egypt.

It's no secret that I've been diligently working on Tao of Fear more than Tao of Poker these days. The major factor is that I'm simply more interested in the topics (revolution and finance) than writing about the "genius of poker players." I know that poker is the hand that feeds me and pay my bills while allowing me the freedom to fund my art projects, but sometimes it's hard to get fired up to write about the absurdity of spoiled shit stains playing a card game, when there's a revolution in North Africa happening right under our noses. Call it regime chances, democracy, or revolutions -- the masses are finally standing up to the power elite.

We're witnessing a battle between the haves vs. the have nots. The ruling class knows that they are outnumbered (The top 1% own 95% of the wealth) but purposely divided the masses in order to have them in-fighting amongst themselves instead of turning against the plutocrats it charge. That's why we're saddled with race wars, religious wars, political wars -- mere distractions to get the sheeple biting themselves. It's easier to have Americans turn on each other with that cleverly-designed Red State or a Blue State mentality and have us bitching and moaning at each other living up to our neo-branding and liberal/conservative labels, when the entire time the bankers and corporations pulling the strings on our puppet politicians are exhaling sighs of relief that the American sheeple are more focused on Snooki, the Super Bowl, amassing Facebook friends, and getting into Twitter spats with political frenemies.

After seeing the events in Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, and Egypt -- why aren't we marching in the streets protesting the outrageous atrocities that our politicians have committed? Well, we're too apathetic and distracted. Meanwhile everyone stands on the side lines calling each other names, while the curious ones try to do what they can to find out their own information about the uprisings in Egypt. That's why the Tao of Fear is important. I never realized its significance (aside from a few chuckles at Wall Street inside jokes) until now.

So if you're looking for coverage about Egypt or other North African revolutions, then head over to Tao of Fear. I linked up a few websites that are writing stories and articles about it. I posted a couple of videos as well.

While all of the events in Egypt unfolded last night like cutting off the internet completely, I was trying to break a horrendous losing streak betting on sports. I did my homework and picked one team out of the dozens of games being played. St. Mary's was the one that I thought I had the best value.

"Where the fuck is St. Mary's from?" asked Nicky.

"California," I muttered.

I liked St. Mary's to beat Gonzaga outright even though the were a 2 point underdog. When I went to put my bet in, the line had moved to +2.5. I loved getting that half a point because in basketball those little things can make or break a wager. I also bet the money line at +135 because I had them to win -- so why would I not try to get more value? With an hour before game time, the St. Mary's line moved in my favor along with the ML figures -- to +3 and +145, which meant that bundles of money were being bet on Gonzaga. I wagered a small bet on the points and ML (hoping that the line would move again before tip off and I can get an even better price, but if it didn't move, I was gonna make another bet at the current line). In any rate, I was just waiting to see what happened to the number.

St. Mary's-Gonzaga was the last basketball game (NBA or NCAA) of the night on the schedule. I expected scores of down-and-out losing bettors to act desperate and put the rest of their money on the favorite, Gonzaga, in hopes that they could win back their loses. As I anticipated, with less than ten minutes before tip off, the line moved again in my favor to +4 and +155. I pounced on it, feeling groovy that all the late money on the other side (Gonzaga) was coming from the day's losers. Yep, I was fading the losers and betting on the dog, St. Mary's, who were now getting twice as many points when the line opened at +2.

St. Mary's played tough and kept the score close in first half. When I checked in on them, they even had a one possession lead, but I didn't watch the game, instead focusing on drinking rum cocktails with Nicky as she played online poker in the living room, and I watched the Knicks-Heat game. I didn't bet the Knicks or any NBA games -- I was simply a fan enjoying my team play against LeBron James. Good news for me that the Knicks prevailed. When the game ended, I switched channels and sweated the rest of St. Mary's-Gonzaga. Painful. Excruciating. I hate it when games are so close during crunch time. I kept a watchful, yet horrified eye on the clock, and it couldn't move fast enough. I was ahead by a point but there was plenty of time left on the clock.

I couldn't stomach the last minute of the game and paced back and forth. It felt like I got kicked in the ribs when Gonzaga seized the lead and tried to pull away, but I got a couple of lucky bounces including Gonzaga's unstoppable offensive weapon to foul out -- on an offensive charge of all calls. From that moment, the everything went St. Mary's way, but I was still wary. I figured that my bets with the spread were looking really good, but the moneyline bets were on the verge of collapsing. That was the difference between a small profit and a monster one.

With the score tied and ten seconds on the clock, St. Mary's marched down court and hit a clutch basket to win by two points as time expired. All of my bets hit. I waited ten minutes to check my sports book account and I almost doubled up my roll on one friggin' game. Sure, I had six total bets on St. Mary's but for the first time in over two weeks, I had something to be happy about. The losing streak was officially over and I could now rebuild my bankroll just in time for March Madness around the corner.

I shut the TV off and focused on two Twitter hashtags... #Egypt and #Jan25. From sweating a sports bet, I returned to sweating the revolution. I pieced together some info for a Friday morning post Egypt on Fire. At around the same time, Marissa sent me a Wall Street Journal article about a hedge fund manager that I knew through poker. That piece inspired a Tao of Poker post titled Dan Shak's Hedge Fund Nearly Blows Up the Gold Market.

The last thing I did last night was check up on Egypt. I hadn't slept much all week and desperately needed to crash, but I didn't want to miss the schedule protests on Friday in Egypt. I opted for rest and crashed for a few hours. Within moments of waking, I shrugged off my hangover with a morning breakfast eye-opening cocktail: rum and Hawaiian punch. I fired up my laptop and quickly caught up on the revolution. Since then, I've been glued to my laptop. I turned off my TV because the alphabet news networks are ignoring the story and anything they show will be watered down and censored. So I'm on the net and actually following along with Al Jazeera for their coverage of what they call the "Anger in Egypt."

As one political blogger noted about the lackluster coverage of the Egyptian revolution from American MSM, "Apparently, to get decent news these days I have to watch Al Jazeera. I wish I were joking."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Around the Horn: Gambling Ghosts, Muni Debt/Online Poker, Sacks of Shit, and Bad Phish Shows

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Take a peek at some of the other things I wrote in the last few days...

Eight Voices and a Sea of Troubles is a woe-is-me tale about sports betting, my theory about purgatory, and how I speak to Nicky's dead German grandmother. (Tao of Poker)

Looming Municipal Debt Crisis the Key to Online Poker Legalization? is a post that I worked on for a few days with tons of research into the widespread municipal debt crisis. States are broke and the online poker industry can push towards legalization if they can gain some leverage with desperate politicians trying to generate revenue. (Tao of Poker)

Bear Stearns' Emails Confirm Sale of Sack of Shit Loans is exactly what the title suggests. I love the fact that actual traders called referred to toxic loans as a "sack of shit." I feel bad for the poor fuckers who were dumb enough to actually buy some of those shit sacks. (Tao of Fear)

Bad Phish Shows? After reading a thorough article chronicling some of the low-lights in the history of Phish, I gave my two cents about why bad shows are important for any touring bad -- because the few bad shows that I caught this summer where immediately followed up by some of the hottest shows of the year. (Coventry)
That's it for now. I have some reading/editing on my plate. I'll be back shortly with rum-soaked tales and other whiny musings about writing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breakfast: Best of Times, Worst of Times

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

It was only a few minutes past 7 in the morning. 7:04 or 7:05 to be exact. That was the last digits I recall seeing as I glanced at the cable box before closing the front door.

The nippy weather outside surprised me, but I was glad that I wore my hoodie and zipped it up. I almost cursed the somewhat-chilly temperature when I realized that it was only in the mid-50s, considered frigid winter conditions by SoCal standards, but compared to the frozen Northeast I was living in sunny Paradise.

I carried a book with me, my breakfast reading, and slid on my sunglasses. I shook my head at the two planes in the stratosphere spraying chemtrails as a zig-zag pattern of who knows what hovered above the City of Angels.

I walked down my block and became aware of all of the alarm clocks going off simultaneously. At least three, maybe four, could be heard -- all of different alert sounds. I assumed that those people were sleeping through their alarms or too lazy to shut them off. Perhaps they were deep into an intense dream and unable to hear the alarm? That didn't matter because I heard the shrill sounds of awake alerts as I scampered down my near-empty street.

One female jogger whizzed by and an older gentleman with a Dalmation took a dump in front of a palm tree. Those were the only people I saw on the street as I continued to the corer and greeted by an army of single file cars stuck at the traffic light. Morning commuters shuffling off to work in their metal coffins. I didn't see another person until I opened the door to the coffeeshop.

I gotta say that the folks who own/work at the coffeeshop have seen me in all forms -- at my very best and my very worst. I frequent the eatery a lot when I'm actually in LA. I would probably hang out there more if it were open late, but since it's open at the crack of dawn, I'm often rolling in there after being up all night.

Sometimes, I'm floating on air riding the frenetic wave of the writer's high and in those instances, they are seeing me at my finest -- full of brio, confidence, and beaming with pride.

At least once a week, they'll catch me at the low-point of an insomniac's nightmare -- being up for two or three days and slowly moving like a sedated zombie. They've seen me on the verge of puking my brains out on the rare instances when I stumbled in hungover to all hell. They've caught me all unnerved after fights with Nicky or butting heads with nimrods in the poker industry. They've seen me stoned, faded, and jacked up. I've often wonder if they talk about me when I leave.

"Man, he reeks of weed this morning."

Or... "Wow, he looked faaaaaaaaaaaded. I wish I had what he had."

Or... "Someone is extra chipper today. I wonder what he's on?"

I only make those assumptions and jokes because Nicky has seen at least two of the coffeeshop's staff inside the local medicinal marijuana dispensary. In fact, many of the workers at that exact dispensary eat at the same coffeeshop. Nicky bumps into the budtenders all the time, and I'm used to seeing one big ass black guy (super-sized Michale Oher size) who is the security guard at the "weed store." One thing is for sure, you're not going to fuck with that guy in a physical test of strength.

If I had a local neighborhood bar and was an alkie, I assume that the regulars would be the ones who saw me at my best and worst. But since I can't find a decent dive bar within walking distance of our apartment in the slums of Beverly Hills, I'm resorted to drinking in the apartment and hanging out at the coffeeshop in the mornings.

Which makes me wonder... what do all of the cops think of me when I stumbled in crocked to the tits?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Take Over a Politically Unstable Country in Six Easy Steps

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My girlfriend was kind enough to detail my drunken demise on Sunday. During my rum-fueled stupor, she claimed that I pushed for the "invasion" of the Ivory Coast. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I was merely suggesting that we take advantage of the current power vacuum and shaky political climate and attempt to manipulate price swings in the cocoa market for our financial gain.

Over the weekend, I had read an article about the instability in the Ivory Coast after a heated election where Alassane Ouattara beat out incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, but Gbagbo refused to step down. Gbagbo controls the military, but Ouattara has the cocoa traders on his side. Ouattara ceased cocoa exports for one month in order to put a financial stranglehold on Gbagbo. Once the military realizes they are not going to get paid, they will turn on Gbagbo and support Ouattara. As a direct result of the ceased exports, the price of cocoa soared when futures markets opened on Monday.

With the Ivory Coast on my drunken mind, I blurted out what I thought would be a strategic move to corner the cocoa market with the cooperation of both the military and the traders. Nicky assumed that I was calling for a full out military invasion of the Ivory Coast. I was explaining that we didn't need to resort to violence to pull off a successful coup, rather we needed to use bribes and clever maneuvering in order to seize control of the country's cocoa (and coffee) production.

I never used to think this way until I visited Argentina in 2009. I did a lot of research before my trip and read about the implosion of their banking system which led to eventual the financial collapse of the country. While consuming Quilmes (the local beer) at a random bar in Mar del Plata, I had a discussion with Otis that would change my life forever. We essentially drew up the necessary plans to pull of a coup d'etat in any unstable Latin American country and parts of Africa.

As they say, it all started with a cop car...
How To Take Over a Country Rooted with Political Instablility and Severe Economic Strain in Six Easy Steps:

1. Military/Police Cooperation. In order to seize control in a power vacuum, you need to pay off the guys with the weapons and heavy artillery. On a sovereign scale that means controlling all facets of the military, and on municipal scale, it means controlling the police. It all starts with a cop car. If you can successfully buy a cop car and bribe one police official, then it's just a matter of time that you can get the police chief in your pocket. The same theory applies to the military. After bribing a few soldiers, you move up the chain of command, then acquire a tank and surface-to-air missiles, and pretty soon you have all the generals on your side.

2. Media/Mind Control. The second prong of the coup involves taking over a TV news station, either by force or buying it outright. Once you control one tentacle of the media, then you can branch out into other TV stations, newspapers, radio, and websites. It's necessary to fund the local film industry in exchange for creative new regime propaganda to help keep you in power. You can easily control the citizens through the media because everyone knows that TV is the opiate of the masses. And you'll also have to censor the internet and prevent your newly conquered citizens from accessing any material that might be harmful to your regime. Internet censorship and diligent social media monitoring will be your key to stomping out any and all dissenters. If you can keep the silent majority preoccupied with football and their equivalent of the Jersey Shore, then you won't have to worry about a mass uprising and/or quelling a civil war.

3. Religious Leaders Pray for Us. If you're going into a hot zone of religious fervor, it's imperative that you eliminate all potential opposition in the religious realm. If the religious leaders are weak, corruptible, and easily coerced, then you'll have no problems preventing an insurrection.

4. I Fought the Law and I Won. When you have the "order" side in check with the police/military at your disposal, and religious leaders singing our praises, and the media's cooperation at helping you control a sedated populous, it'll be rather easy to buy off the "law" and manipulate the courts. Once you control the judges, politicians, and lawmakers, the next step is constitutional reform with new laws favoring your actions, so they are not deemed illegal.

5. Everyone Needs At Least One Trading Account. Once you're in power, you can accumulate wealth and the accompanying kick backs from awarding fat government contracts to your friends and family. Once word gets out that you've seized control of all of the major industrial, mining, and agricultural sectors, the big swinging dicks on Wall Street will want to partner up with you. Yep, the big banks and brokerage houses will be lining up to manage your new-found wealth. Open up a trading account with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. Then establish a few off-shore bank accounts and hide your wealth in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and the Isle of Man.

6. It Takes Money to Make Money. Once you have the cooperation of Wall Street bankers, you can then borrow billions at low interest rates and use the majority of the money to buy gold, because everyone knows the U.S. Dollar is doomed. The rest of the borrowed money will be used to bulk up your military (expanding to a navy and air force, and creating a special secret intelligence outfit) so you can invade neighboring countries and acquire even more natural resources. If there's nothing within your region to conquer, then find another unstable country on the other side of the world and start from scratch... by buying a cop car.
There you go... six simple steps to inciting a revolution. I'm busy through the end of the summer, but in the fall of 2011 I'll have a free schedule. So if anyone wants to help me incite a revolution in South America or in Central Africa, please let me know...meanwhile, I'll be thinking of clever ways to manipulate the cocoa market and using the proceeds to hoard silver and other precious metals.

Monday, January 24, 2011


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm hungover. Throbbing head. Stomach ache. Empty bottle of rum. I can't recall ever embarking on a 48-hour liquor-infused bender in the City of Angels. Yet, that's what happened. I got super sloppy before the Jets game even started, as accurately depicted from Nicky. Chicago Bob came over to watch both of the games. His Bears got stomped in the first game and I was already schwilly before the Jets game kicked off. Man, what a fucking joke. The Jets crushed my hopes two years in a row. At least I won money betting against them.

I lost a prop bet with Steelers fan Mean Gene. We bet on a huge pig-out meal at In-N-Out payable this summer in Las Vegas. I lost and now on the hook for a 4x4 and chocolate shake for Geno. Good game, sir.

Green Bay and Pittsburgh are in the Super Bowl, and for once Sports Illustrated actually got a prediction right. I was hoping for a Chicago Bears/NY Jets Super Bowl. Bob and I joked that we'd road trip to Dallas to try to see the game. Alas, my football season is officially over. I can watch the Super Bowl in 13 days with a modest bet on it and not have panic attacks over the fate of my favorite team. I'll leave that up to Mean Gene.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Cromartie

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I created a new drink called The Cromartie. It has eight ingredients, but I only remember the name of six.

The Cromartie
3 parts Hawaiian Punch
2 parts Lemonade
1 part pineapple juice
2 shots of dark rum
1/2 shot of Cointreau
1/2 shot of Malibu rum
And... I forget the other two
Let's go JETS!

(And if you're not a Jets or pro football fan, here's the crux of the inside joke.)

Anatomy of a Drunken Saturday

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I went to bed angry, pissed off, and ready to punch holes in the wall. A lot of it had to do with finding out something the Nicky had been hiding from me -- someone owes her money and has yet to repay it back, and she was worried that I would bust some skulls if I discovered what happened. She's right. I was livid, but she was willing to write off the debt as "the price of doing business in poker." I told her it was bullshit and that I was going to take it upon myself to make that person pay with interest or pain -- whichever comes first. No wonder she kept it to herself.

I was also in the middle of figuring out who owes me what. I have a running tab of outstanding debts from friends and clients and had updated those for my records. It's sort of like the reverse Santa Claus and I made a list of who has been naughty and nice. For the most part, everyone has been naughty. In this day when times are tough, it's hard to pay back debts. And my problem is that I'm more than willing to let folks float past due payments for a bit. I'm trying to be reasonable and understanding and sympathetic to their cause, but I grew furious when a few folks take advantage me. Case in point a handful of clients who still owe me thousands of dollars in back pay. Maybe I should talk to Vinny the Barber back in the Bronx and ask him for his help in collecting debts. Sure, I'd only see a small percentage of what's really owed to me, but I'd get the satisfaction that shady figures would be sharing the bejesus out of those delinquent fuckers. Plus a bloody nose or two never hurt anyone.

So on Friday night, I was not in the best of head spaces when I wanted to crash. I had barely slept since I got back from the Bahamas and desperately trying to catch up on three weeks of work inside of three days. I pushed myself and was worn out, but still had a shit ton of work to do. If I didn't force myself to sleep, I would have pulled an all nighter in a foolish attempt to catch up. Alas, I turned to sleeping aids.

I usually take one blue Xanax pill to help me sleep. I usually don't have problems sleeping -- rather, I have issues with waking up in the middle of the night and unable to fall back asleep with a million thoughts and ideas racing through my head. Xanax helps in that department because I'll wake up groggy and roll over to fall back asleep. That's the difference between 2.5 hours of sleep and 5 hours of sleep.

When I need 6 or more hours of sleep, I take two of those blue pills. That locks me in for at least 6 hours and sometimes as much as 8 or 9. Because I was pretty amped up and pissed off, I had taken two and nothing happened. I was still wide awake. That's when I took a third. I passed out hard.

Mr. T would probably pass out on two. It would take three Xannies to knock out a professional football player (definitely four if it was an offensive or defensive lineman). It's not my weight that is an issue but my tolerance for downers. In the immortal words of Bill Clinton, "I am bulletproof."

Well, almost. Three hit me hard. I wonder if four would let me sleep for 12+ hours. It's scary because I have friends who can sleep for 12 hours fairly easily without any sleeping aids. I'm envious. Sometimes I don't get 12 hours of slumber in a single week, let alone one day.

When I woke up to take a leak on Saturday morning, Nicky was awake. That never happens. Usually I'm, up way before she is, but the triple dose knocked me on my ass and I slept late. She explained the hysterical scenario of me trying to get up under a thick Xannie-haze because I don't recall a thing about it and was essentially sleep walking.

"You woke up, stumbled to the bathroom and almost fell over a few times," she explained. "You crashed into the wall once and almost fell over while taking a piss. You wanted a tissue, but there were no more tissues in the empty box, so you tore it in half and threw it into your office before muttering something and walking into the kitchen. I asked if you wanted me to pour you a glass of water, but you mumbled something to the effect that you can do it yourself. That's when you grabbed the jug and drank straight out of it. Then you stumbled back through the living room, knocking into the wall a few times and went back to sleep."

I don't recall any of that, but, I gotta trust her. Luckily Nicky didn't film it and put it up on YouTube whereas I'd have my own version of an embarrassing video on par with the now infamous schwasted and shirtless David Hasslehoff trying to eat a sloppy Wendy's burger.

So when I finally awoke from my coma on Saturday, I was still super faded. Nicky was hungry and suggested we hit up the coffeeshop. It's always crowded with hungover hipsters at noon, but we luckily got a booth. I was still so faded that I was wearing my sunglasses through the entire meal. I also ordered something weird that I never get. Afterward, I told Nicky we needed to drive to the supermarket because I wanted booze.

I never drink at home. Maybe the occasional beer when we have company, but I'm not a home-drinker. However, I had this vision in my head of making a Bahama Mama from scratch. Nicky loved the rum based cocktail after trying it for the first time in the Bahamas. I checked my Crackberry for a few recipes and discovered a dozen, but they were all different. I decided to pick up ingredients that I saw the bartenders in the Bahamas using -- different fruit juices and two types of rum (dark and coconut based). I picked up pineapple juice, cherries, and also found a huge ass jug of Hawaiian Punch. Man that gave me flashbacks of my youth because that's what I drank as a little kid. I figured if I fucked up my homemade Bahama Mama recipe, then I could always resort to making Jungle Juice, or something I did when I was in high school that involved a garbage can, cutting up pieces of fruit, ten cans of Hawaiian punch, and two jugs of the cheapest rum we could find.

I got back home and went to work on mixing drinks. I kinda missed my days as a bartender because I was having fun. I nailed a Bahama Mama on the first try.

Simple recipe: 2 shots of Malibu rum, 1 shot of dark rum, pineapple juice with a splash of Hawaiian punch...mix well by shaking over ice... garnish with orange slice and cherry and serve with ice. Umbrella optional.

Nicky was impressed with the pinkish color and delicious taste. It was a success, which set the tone for the rest of Saturday. Heck, it wasn't even 2pm and I was still faded and now beginning to get drunk on pink rum cocktails.

I drank steadily through the afternoon and even wrote a bit, nothing of significance (and definitely nothing in the freelance department because I'm on strike until I get paid the money owed to me), but I felt like Hemingway crocked to the tits on rum on the few things I managed to scribble down. I re-watched Exit Through the Gift Shop because Nicky had not seen the confusing and thought-provoking documentary on street artist Banksy, and I watched it from a different perspective (dubious and treating it as a hoax). Alas, Banksy is a post for another time.

With the triple dose of Xannies still pumping through my veins, I was drunk and faded so I also took a nap, got laid twice, read four chapters in two different books, bet on 2 NBA games (I lost one of them) and 1 college hoops game (another loser), ate Mexican food for dinner, and then watched The Green Zone while whipping up at least six more cocktails.

For a day off, it was quite busy. I began to question why I even push myself as a writer? I should drink more, right? And enjoy life instead of writing bullshit fluff pieces about poker. (By the way... I write this while counting down the minutes before I whip up another batch of cocktails.)

By the time I crawled into bed around 2am -- I was hammered. I drank as much water as I could and prayed that I wouldn't have one of those Bahamian hangovers.

Well, now it's Sunday morning and I woke up early super excited for the football playoffs. The Jets made the "final four" and if they can win one more game, they are going to the Super Bowl for the first time in my lifetime. I had a mild hangover, went to the coffeeshop for breakfast, then drove back to the store to load up on snacks for the game and more pineapple juice and rum!

Looks like I'm gonna get sloshed again today for the football games because I get too anxious and have to eat pharmies. With the addition of an IV-drip of rum, I doubt I will write, but might drunkenly spew my faded-rum-drenched thoughts on Twitter (@taopauly).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Strike Time

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I wish that I was in a writer's union, not that I'm necessarily in favor of unions, but more so for 1) the health insurance, and 2) the ability to mobilize a large group of angry scribes to protest outrageous demands from our employers.

I considered starting a poker writer's union because I was sick and tired of seeing hard working people exploited for peanuts while the fat Berbers on the top of the pyramid reaped the majority of the income. But as Nicky pointed one would sign a contract with a poker writer's union because it would cut into their bottom line.

"Why do you think there is a writer's guild (WGA) in Hollywood?" she said. "Otherwise people would work for free. "

As someone who spent almost a decade in Hollywood, she's totally correct.

If a poker writers union existed, then many of my friends would not be out of work. But more importantly, if a union existed and we all went on strike demanding health insurance or timely paychecks, then I could legitimately call out some of my peers who crossed the lines as scabs and rats. You have no idea how ugly it's gotten in the last three years with some slimy fuckers lowballing veteran scribes. The reason that so many companies in poker can get away with paying McWages (a mere pennies over minimum wage) is that too many wanna-be reporters have beenbrainwashed into thinking that the poker industry is the coolest thing in the world since sliced fucking bread. With a large group of untrained workers (many of whom couldn't write their ways out of a paper bag) willing to take 1/3 of the salary, why wouldn't the powers to be hire three scabs for the price of one established scribe? Disposable workers. Welcome to McPoker Reporting. Do you want fries with that chip count?

Yep, poker, like many other industries, is a dirty and highly competitive business where a small percentage of the uber-wealthy people that get to reap the financial awards in this billion dollar industry. If you added up all of the salaries for poker media in the world it would come in at around a million, maybe two million dollars. In a billion dollar industry, where does the rest of the money go?

On an interesting side note, the majority of money earned by poker media ends up getting reinserted into the overall poker economy -- many of them are avid online poker players, buy into tournaments, play cash games, lose money in the gambling pits, and have to pay money out of pocket to eat/drink in casinos/hotels when they are on the road. Dare I say, most poker media are getting paid with their own money.

Another contributing reason why poker writers don't band together is because we're in direct competition with each other. Creative types are jealous, vindictive, and have very little loyalty to their peers, which is why plagiarism is rampant in our business. In the end, as much as a small group of us are a tight-knit family, the rest of my colleagues would cut our throats to get an assignment. And if they are selling their souls for a paltry paycheck, then what's their real motives for undercutting wages? Are they that fucking clueless and don't know how the poker industry really works? Are they total degen gamblers and horrible poker players themselves that desperate for any money to get back in the game? Are they fame whores? Do they want to get close to poker players because they have such low self-esteem that they need to have famous friends?

I often wonder what goes through their minds and it's ugly to think about what really makes some of those people tick. How do they sleep at night?

It's one thing to start from the bottom and work your way up -- and I have the utmost respect for anyone who is willing to take a paltry paycheck and shovel shit for a living in order to break into the business. That's how I started out and built up a career out of nothing. But as soon as I peeked behind the curtain and saw the wonderful Wizard of Oz, I realized how much of a scam the industry is and how poker media is less of a media business as it is a clever marketing ploy. I tried to warn everyone who wanted to work in the business, yet all of my warnings were ignored. Yep, I was just one of many of the nitwits at the bottom of the pyramid scheme. That's why I longed for the days when I was involved in Ponzi schemes on Wall Street -- I missed working for proper criminals.

But when veteran scribes start lowballing you, talking shit behind your back, and fabricating utter lies -- that's when I have a problem with their shadiness. It's got the worst aspects of high school combined with an Orwellian totalitarian state. The most outrageous crimes are committed by the ones hiring expendable sheep. I used to be mortified by the willingness of the magazines, websites, and news organizations to knowingly hire inferior workers just to shave a few pennies off their budgets. But these days it's par for the course. That's a practice that rampant in big business and the (real) media industry across the board and one of the main reason why the middle class is slowly becoming extinct.

Yeah, so trying to rally my peers together to demand health insurance, working wages, and better copyright protection of our work sounds like an amazing idea in theory. But in reality, it's never going to happen. As I stated earlier -- no one would hire us and deal with the headaches involved with a union writer. In addition, I doubt that the majority of middle managers and veteran scribes in my industry are courageous enough to stand up for writers' rights. Gone of the days of true gentlemen like John Caldwell who stood up for his troops against tyrants.

If you're reading this and are offended, well that's a good thing because you should be pissed off. But don't get angry at me, point the finger at yourself. I don't care about offending my peers because I'll tell it to their faces -- you are fucking spineless sheeple and should be embarrassed with yourselves because you are some of the most talented people I've come across and the equivalent of highly trained chefs who are taking min-wages to microwave frozen kangaroo burgers for a living. Continue to allow yourselves to be exploited, or stand up for your rights. Consider this a wake up call and a swift kick in the ass. It's only going to get worse, and by then it'll be too late.

So in the end, I'm up on a sopabox that's ready to crack while preaching to just a handful of my peers, many of who agree with me 100% but won't start a picket line with me. As per usual, I'm screaming into the void and have to take up injustices by myself. I'd prefer if I had a few folks watching my back, but if this is a war I got to fight by myself -- then I will. I'm not afraid because I reached a tipping point. I'm tired getting treated like shit and it's time for action.

If I lose three or four clients and future assignments over this -- then so be it. I'd rather die broke knowing I stood up for something I believe in, that getting pushed around and bullied, and forced to work in the McPoker industry.

Besides... transforming douchebags, bitches, and career criminals into rock stars has run its course. I'd rather write novels anyway.

With that said, I'm on strike until I get paid. In the immortal words of one of my favorite films Goodfellas... "Fuck you. Pay me."

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Drip

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I'm sick again. It might be allergies. Have no idea what happened but I can't stop sneezing. The nasal drip is awful. It's the one thing that prevents me from writing. Why? Gravity. It's impossible to write with nasal seepage as a small waterfall of snot falls onto my laptop and makes the keys stick.

With that said, this is more like a 30 second blog post than the usual "Ten Minutes" of turning on the mental tap and letting it run freely.

Until next time, I will be shoving tissues up my nose and trying to come up with a perfect pharmaceutical cocktail to kill the drip and give me a much-needed energy boost to catch up on a shitload of writing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It Took 19 Days

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Yesterday was a banner day for me. For the first time in 2011, I was able to put in a full day of writing.

I published in excess of 5K words on two different Tao blogs yesterday and my original output topped 8k before I trimmed the fat. That word count doesn't include work on two different freelance pieces. One was utterly horrible and I stopped working on it, hoping that some time away would improve the clusterfuck of words and incomplete thoughts. Meanwhile, the other one flowed smoothly and I just need a quick polish and it's good to go.

That's the good news...shit it's the best news I've had all year. The crappy piece will improve from a disaster to passable. That's the best thing about writing a bomb -- it can only get better. The difficulties occur when you can't transform a mediocre piece into a shiny gem. Here's the thing -- I don't get paid a lot of money for the crappy piece, which means that I will limit the amount of time that I actually work on it. I know that I could create a gem if I toiled on it every day this week for six hours a day, but my time is far more valuable than the paycheck I'll cash for that assignment.

By now you figured out how I work: the paycheck amount is directly proportional to the amount of time and energy that I put into a piece.

If that client wanted to pay me more, then I would certainly set aside more time to edit and polish it. As is, they get what they pay for, which means I'll do a quick re-write this morning, make necessary edits, and then that's it. Dunzo.

But damn, it feels good to be back in the swing of writing in my office with the music creating a nice background beat. I barely looked at my notes because I did not have to. I loved feeling the creative spark -- something that was absent at the onset of 2011. Amazing how my physical health affects my ability to create.

I had one evening of insomnia in the Bahamas and I must have cranked out a few thousand words while the sun came up. That was an important writing session because I was shaking off the rust after a few weeks of inaction. I knew that upon my return to California that I'd have to get my proverbial shit together and crank out a month's work of freelance in a mere four days. And that's what I set out to do on Wednesday and once I started, I couldn't stop. Even though I got back to the slums of Beverly Hills late Monday night, I fucked up my finger which made it difficult to write for long stretches of time on Tuesday. The painkillers dulled the pain but pharmies often hinders the writing process depending on which drug you ingest. In that instance, the pain killers created only a small window of opportunity to write before the haze took over and I sunk into the couch to catch up on the new episode of Animal Hoarders and last week's Top Chef.

When I initially returned to LA after the holidays in NYC, I got stricken with a nasty bout of the wook flu. It not only kicked my ass, but it forced me to do next to zero writing because it killed any energy I had, and what little I did have went to maintain the web empire, which has been stretched too thin. As a result, I did not write too many original pieces and I definitely failed to make a dent into my freelance assignments.

Alas, something happened in the health improved and my appetite came back. I'm still about nine pounds lighter than when I started 2011, but my appetite has fully returned. I really can't think about a single day this year when I actually ate three meals but that's what happened yesterday because I devoured a big breakfast, a late lunch, and dinner not to mention a late night chocolate shake before I settled in to watch the latest episode of Top Chef with Nicky.

I guess that my appetite returned when I was in the Bahamas, but food is so fucking expensive that I curtailed the eating process and instead spent most of my money consuming booze at an alarming rate. I used the word "alarming" for a reason because I don't drink as much as I used too.

Speaking on the Bahamas, the shysters at the Atlantis resort put me on tilt when I checked my credit card statement and they tried to sneak an extra $320 charge past me. Luckily I caught it as soon as it posted. It's completely shady and I informed American Express that the amount they charged me was not even close to the amount on my bill when I checked out. Of course, when I attempted to call the Bahamas to get to the bottom of the charge, no one there could explain to me what the extra charges were for. In fact, they were outright rude and unpleasant to deal with -- which was expected considering they were trying to rip me off, thinking that I was one of those lazy rich Americans who doesn't look at their bills. Let's be frank... American Express is a charge card and not a credit card. I pride myself with the fact that I am debt free and I don't use credit cards at all -- unless they are among a collection of retailers and restaurants that refuse to accept AMEX, which in that case I bust out the Master Card, which only gets used in those instances.

Luckily, American Express has their shit together and will fight the excessive charge for me. They already wiped out the overcharge and will be launching their own investigation. One of my colleagues, Alexis, mentioned that Atlantis is notorious for double and triple charging their customers. Is that because they have incompetent workers, or are they running a carefully crafted scam and hopped that no one would notice?

Everyone is trying to hustle you these days. It was bad enough that I was forced to pay a 15% gratuity on everything I purchased at Atlantis, but for them to try to fuck me over $320 is just classless and unprofessional. In short, I hope they eat a bag of hot dicks because I refuse to pay it.

So here's when I get on my soap box and tell all my friends who just returned from the Bahamas to inspect their credit card bills very carefully over the next 60 days. Be vigilant and if you see something that shouldn't be there, I encourage you yo contact your credit card company ASAP.

Oh well. Everyone is a fucking hustler.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ramblings of the Bahamas: Sweet T'ings

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The flavor of the Bahamas ran up my nose when I unpacked my bag and caught a whiff of my dirty clothes. If you ever want a quick and last memory of a vacation spot, just quickly inhale your clothes as soon as you unpack them. They will smell like the last place you were when you wore or packed them. In this case, my clothes smelled like the Atlantis resort, moreover a combination of the beach and whatever air freshner their maids sprayed in the room. The Atlantis aroma is unique unto itself. It came back the moment I stepped into the sprawling monstrosity of a complex.

The last time I visited the Bahamas, I was in the middle of a work assignment and didn't really have time to enjoy fun in the sun, spending most of my time in a room watching poker players and spending my nights binge drinking Kaliks, the local beer, at the lobby bar with other members of the media, an eclectic hodgepodge of Canadians, Brits, Americans, Germans, and one giddy Frenchman. Benjo was on that trip and that was one of the few times (outside of Budapest) when he was actually having a fun time.

I should say that I've worked in lots of strange locales following around the poker circuit, and the Bahamas were one of my most memorable. Sure, the food was super expensive and service was slow as shit, but that was the only time that I never felt pressured to crank out content. I wrote at the most relaxed pace than any other assignment that I got in six years. Island time seeped into the mindset and although the hours were long, the pressure to perform was almost nonexistent. I definitely don't look back at the 2009 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) as some of my best work. I'm citing blame on the hangovers and spreading myself thin (because I covered it for three websites, one newspaper, and two magazines). The overall content from yours truly was certainly mediocre at best with a few witty one liners, but I fondly look back at that trip as the most fun I ever had being a poker writer. I woke up everyday, hungover to shit, but thinking as I gazed out to the ocean: "I can't believe I'm in the Bahamas to get paid to write about a bunch of knuckleheads playing cards."

Last winter, I skipped the PCA to work on Lost Vegas. This summer, the plan was to skip it again to work on Jack Tripper. The PCA is a major hotspot on the poker circuit. Outside of the WSOP in Las Vegas, the PCA is considered one of the must do/see/play destinations on the international circuit along with the Aussie Millions in Melbourne, the WSOP-Europe in London, and the EPT Grand Finale in Monte Carlo. If that's considered an international Grand Slam, then I've covered all of them at least once. I really didn't want to return to the Bahamas because it's one of those epic adventures that you have to do once...but seems absurd the second time. I blame David Foster Wallace for waking me up to the gaudiness and high-cheese factor of vacation resorts after reading his epic essay about cruise ships. I expanded more on that topic at the Tao of Poker in a post titled Dispatches from the PCA: You Enjoy Myself.

Alas, at the last minute, Nicky won a free trip to the Bahamas and I instantly changed my mind. She won an online satellite to a Ladies only tournament at the PCA. On the night after Christmas, I helplessly sat on my brother's couch in NYC watching her play from our apartment in LA. She was on the cusp of winning and I got too anxious. I had to take a walk in the blizzard. That's how bad it was...that I was willingly walking outside to avoid watching the outcome of the tournament. When I returned, she was one spot away from winning a seat...and then it happened in a blink of an eye. She had won her online satellite and had a free ticket to the Bahamas. The Atlantis resort if pricey at almost $400 a night and much higher during peak times. Nicky's tournament fees, flight and room were covered. All I had to do was come up with airfare and I had a free trip to the Bahamas. I realized that I didn't want to go to the PCA to work (even though it was my favorite time, I just couldn't suck it up a second time and work in such a leisurely environment, the sun makes me too lazy and unfocused, and I need the harshness of the Vegas summers to get me into warface mode), but I happily embraced a trip to the islands for a vacation.

It had been a while since I took a trip, a true vacation from myself, that did not involve a family holiday, intense partying because of Phish, or a work assignment. Even the Phish journeys have some sort of work vibe attached to them -- either with the sheer size of juggling a dozen or more spun out friends in a caravan, or having to take diligent notes every night for an upcoming book -- those Phishy excursions are not fun vacation moments due to the high stress involved. So, for the first time in a while, I had an actual vacation where I didn't have to worry about writing or the websites (thanks to the Joker's Jam Cruise updates on Coventry and the Human Head's link dumps on Tao of Fear). Luckily, the internet is so shitty that it prevented me from spending any time on it, and I found out right away about the sickly insane retarded rip off roaming charges that Verizon slapped me with for using my wireless aircard in the islands. After racking up $200 in charges in less than 15 minutes, I pulled the plug.

That $200 kick in the balls would be the first of many beatings I'd take on the island. That's a good thing because I attracted all of the bad juju on the trip, which enable Nicky to attract all of the good vibes and become a beacon for hope and success. Afterall, she was there to play in a poker tournament and as veteran tournament reporters we knew that you needed a lot of precise decision-making and a sprinkling of luck to come out ahead. For a brief moment, two days to be exact, the poker gods shined thy love onto my lady. She seized the opportunity and the results were both astonishing and somewhat expected. We both knew she was good enough to make a run, because once you advance to a final table of a poker tournament -- anything can happen. Someone said that success is putting yourself into a position to be lucky. Well, that's what Nicky did. You can read about her victory in the PCA Ladies event. She posted Part 1 of Beyond the Fairy Tale over at Pot Committed. Fantastic recap.

* * * * *

My desk is cluttered with items that I acquired in the Bahamas; none of them are what you would consider souvenirs. I have a notebook with about twenty pages of scribbled notes mostly incoherent key words to trigger my memory, or drunkenly and hastily written quotes that friends might have uttered between the Midnight and 4am hours when we sat in the lobby and drank island-themed drinks. My poison switched from the local beer, Kalik, to the Bahama Mama. It was pink and fruity. The flavorful concoction of a mixture of juices and rum. The secret was that you couldn't taste any of the booze. The good barkeeps unleashed a heavy pour and you'd ingest at least three or four shots of spiced rum with every cocktail. Some drinks with skimpy rum shots were heavily diluted with punch, but those were few and far between. In fact, those were welcomed because a weak fruity cocktail would slow down the booze intake. It was like easing off the breaks without actually easing off the breaks. That's important for someone like me who doesn't drink as much as I used to. But some habits are hard to change, and a place like the Bahamas is conducive for volumes of liquor consumption.

The British scribes are my favorite to hang out with because they are usually very reserved and mellow, but they let it all hang out during these late night jamborees of rum and whiskey. My colleague Simon celebrated a victory of his favorite football team, Ipswich township, with a series of blue cocktails. I only vaguely recalled a Blue Hawaiian from my days as a bartender, and I think that I only made one during my brief time behind the bar (it was only one because I mixed it so badly!). I made a few Blue Kamikazes on occasions to impress female patrons, but blue drinks were something that people did not drink in NYC.

However, pink and blue cocktails were the rage in the Bahamas. No one frowned upon you if you consumed seven or seventeen. In fact, considering the amount of booze in them, the drinks were the cheapest item at the Atlantis. Food cost an abysmal amount of money considering they also slapped you with a mandatory 15% service fee charge, which means they already got paid for the lackadaisical island time service that makes European cafe waitresses look liked speed addicts. But for the overpriced food, the drinks were fair market price. Cocktails at trendyy lounges in LA, meat market clubs in Vegas, and hipster bars in NYC were priced more than what we consumed in the Bahamas. Booze was so freaking cheap to produce down there that even at their inflated rates, we still got a bargain.

And that's why rum is evil.

Well, one of the many reasons. But shit, those fruity cocktails with catchy names like Bahama Mama go down so smooth because you can't taste the rum. The next thing you realize, after talking gibberish for three hours, you black out and then wake up three hours later fully clothed with a pounding headache, cotton mouth, and a rum-induced sweat seeping through all of your clothes as your pores spew every sip of rum that you consumed in the previous twelve hours.

Then you get up and do it all over again.

I wish that I wrote more in the Bahamas. I didn't because I was so goddammed drunk and hungover the entire time that I really didn't feel well enough to sit in front of the keyboards and peck away. I wrote a little bit and took decent notes, but I have to piece together everything from my memory banks, drunken tweets, a few pictures, Nicky's blog, and whatever items that I have scattered on my desk including four flight stubs from two different airlines. This journey took Nicky and I through five different airports (LAX, MIA, NAS, FFL, LGB) in order to secure the cheapest price for a round trip to the Bahamas.

Also on my desk is the room key with Nicky's last name. The room keys, with photos of other vacationers enjoying themselves in different water-based activities at Atlantis, are dangerous because they also act as room credit cards. Atlantis wants you to have fun in the sun in a cashless society and they encourage you pay for everything on your room card from cocktails to meals. And that's what we did. When I covered the PCA, I was fortunate enough to get a $2,000 per deim for nine days of work. My friends working this year had their per diem reduced to $1,200 and most of those scribes drank their full per diem with three days left on their assignment. That's what happens when you binge drink and have the itch to gamble. They played a version of credit card roulette and tossed their room keys into the pot and the waiter fished out one by one, eliminating the lucky drinker from having to pay for that entire round. Once they waiter had one room key left, that unfortunate sot got stuck with the round -- which could have been anywhere from four to fourteen cocktails. No wonder they ran out of per diem more than half way through the trip.

Once Nicky won a little money, and we didn't care about our tab the rest of the trip. That's a dangerous decision that gets many gamblers with new-found wealth in trouble, but we really didn't want to worry about money after such a joyous occasion. We also picked up a few drinks for our writer friends who were now stuck paying for their own self-medicating rum cocktails. That's the least Nicky could do because she felt their pain about having to pay your own way during an assignment in a super pricey location.

There's also the room bill on my desk. Three pages of charges, mostly from the same place -- the Coral Lobby Bar. Based on the price, I can tell you how many Bahama Mamas and Kaliks we got per round. I should say that Starbucks was actually the cheapest thing on the Island. I guess they were able to set their own prices and keep them relatively low and away from the grapples of island inflation. Sure, the actually muffins and pastires were inflated, but the drinks were somewhat close to market price. Heck, the iced teas were a bargain at $2.60. I usually pay close to $4 in Las Vegas, which is why I tried to boycott them last summer.

The bill to our room was itemized so we could inspect each purchase. I can't believe that I paid $14.95 for shoddy internet connection that was a tinge faster than dial-up, but based on the costly roaming charges, it was necessary especially the deeper that Nicky went into the tournament because I was updating her progress via Twitter. Many of our friends were refreshing nonstop for updates because the Ladies event was one of four other tournaments running at the time, and those were bigger buy-in events. The majors got more coverage than the minor Ladies event, but when it got down to the final table of eight ladies, our friends in the media (and a few players) slowly gathered on the rail, popping in and out every few minutes to check up on her progress. It was cool that at any given moment, Nicky had a few of our friends nearby. I know she's usually nervous and doesn't want the attention, but at that point when it's do or die, you welcome all the support that you can get. It's sort of uplifting and inspiring. Little did she know about all of the well wishers on Twitter and everyone else at home anxiously following along. That's one of the coolest things about Twitter. I know I constantly go back and forth over its benefits and its intrinsically evil nature, but for once, Twitter came through in the clutch as an easy means to update the masses on something happening right now that they can't find information about.

I also spotted a losing sports bet on my desk. Fucking Butler failed to cover in their game on Sunday. It was the final nail in a coffin that I would like to officially bury all of that bad juju in the Bahamas and I hope it doesn't follow me back to the mainland. I went 1-9 on the island in a combination of awful bets online and at the sportsbook. The worst of it happened on Saturday. While Nicky was fighting her way to a championship, I was on the rail ignoring the action and focusing more on the Baltimore/Pittsburgh game. I had a couple of monster bets on Baltimore and that was about to blow up in my face. I would have probably went apeshit and threw chairs around the poker room if I had to see the final minute of the game. Alas, I saved myself embarrassment and imprisonment by rushing over to watch the final hands that Nicky played. She had won and I didn't get to see the end of that game.

I had lost a few grand at that point, but that didn't matter because Nicky marched to a victory.

She burst into tears the moment that she won. She had a rough 2010. Living with me is hell, especially watching me squirm with all of the turmoil I endured with finishing up Lost Vegas and dealing with all of the fuckups and obstacles with the final publishing process. She also unfairly lost her job, like many other veteran writers in poker and in other industries, squeezed out because she made too much money and wouldn't blindly follow poor decisions from the powers to be. She had a mentally challenging year compounded with worrying about her future as a freelancer and a writer. The end of the 2010 ended on a high note -- with a victory in the satellite. If anything, that gave her a glimmer of hope that maybe she could grind out a few dollars as a poker player in 2011 to help plug the massive hole leftover from losing her biggest freelance client. But neither of us expected a big score in the Bahamas. We were both simply happy to go and have a vacation where we unplugged and relaxed without worry about anything.

Well, the deeper that Nicky got into the tournament, the more serious things had gotten. When play ended late on Friday night as it spilled into Saturday, we went to bed knowing that she still had a lot of work ahead of her. We woke up on Saturday morning with a different vibe. It was certainly more serious and I snapped into gopher mode. I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed to play her best poker. I've been around tournament enough to know that she needed a right balance of food and drinks, not to mention a charged iPod. Sometimes music soothes you after a bad beat, but it also helps you kill the time. The food end was a nightmare after room service took over 2 hours to even show up. I tried to cancel and they wouldn't let me, so we just left and headed to Jamba Juice instead. I felt horrible because I wanted to surprise Nicky with breakfast in bed and have her get a firm base before she played poker for what could be ten to twelve more hours. That never panned out. Damn island time took over and we were sitting around in the room starving as the clock ticked closer to re-start time. We bailed and Nicky shrugged it off. That's when I knew she was ready to play -- she was in game mode -- and didn't let the fuckup knock her off path.

Shit, this post is now in excess of 3,000 words so I'm going to stop and come back some other time to write more about my thoughts of the Bahamas. Then again, maybe I won't because my clothes are currently in the laundry and won't smell like the Bahamas anymore. The aroma is inspiring. That's gone for now, unless Nicky hasn't unpacked yet and I can catch a scent of the islands from her suitcase...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the Road in 2010: Year End Video

By Pauly
Paradise Island, Bahamas

This video is almost two weeks late. I have no other excuse other than the wook flu really kicked my ass last week and I was unable to finish the editing on the project. Anyway, I finally had a moment to splice this video together. It definitely does not represent all of the places I traveled, but it gives you a glimpse into some of the places I visited in 2010. Enjoy...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ass Airlines

By Pauly
Miami, FL

I pushed the lavatory door to open it up. A bloody piece of toilet paper greeted me. I didn’t even think twice about it until I saw the elongated turd sitting in the middle of the bowl. Not only did someone forget to flush after dropping a deuce, they also had a bloody ass for the rest of the flight from Los Angeles to Miami.

I got selected for extra screening at the airport and got zapped with the full body scanner. I wanted to opt out and should have, but for whatever reason I didn’t say anything. I blame fatigue as the main factor why I did not resist and exercise my rights as a frequent traveler to opt out. I blame the cat upstairs which won’t stop running around in the middle of the night. Normally I don’t give a shit, but last night I went to bed early to try to catch a couple of hours of sleep before we had to wake up at 4:30am to get ready to head to the airport for a 7am flight. I crawled into bed with every intention of sleeping, but the cat was uncooperative. After two hours of muttering curses under my breath I gave up and shuffled out to the living room. I unfurled a sleeping bag and attempted to sleep a second time. Of course, the cat must have some sort of surveillance device that knows where I am at all times because the fucking cat went from using the space above my bedroom as a playground and promptly switched locales to the living room. The pitter patter back and forth sent me on uber-tilt. I tried to listen to BTreotch’s latest mix to help me sleep. The fresh jams helped drown out the noisy cat, but for some reason I couldn’t fall asleep. Insomnia struck me hard at the 2am hour. For the next two hours I struggled and debated whether I should stay up and write or try to squeeze in a nap.

I fell asleep right before 4am. My alarm woke me up at 4:25am. Yep, barely a half hour of sleep. That’s why I was a little groggy and slow to resist the TSA’s intrusive means of making the friendly skies safe. They zapped me and now there’s at least two images of my micro-penis on file.

Nicky is a frequent flier on American Airlines and has access to the Admiral’s Lounge. I honestly think those places are overrated with one exception – you don’t have to hang out with the unwashed masses while waiting for a delayed flight. What I dislike the most about those lounges are the douchebags of business travel. You know who I’m talking about – those loud, brash businessmen who won’t shut the fuck up as they yap on their cellphones thinking that they will impress everyone with their plans to take over the world. Nothing bores me than morons on a power trip, and frequent flier lounges are a bastion for those types of nebbish dickheads.

I sat in the back of the plane with all of the crying babies. Nicky was somewhere in the middle. When we were over Texas, I took a walk to see how she was doing and she was out cold. Sleeping. Made me super jealous. Not only did she get a decent night of sleep in our apartment (she fell asleep before the cat’s ruckus), but she also caught a nap on the plane. I just couldn’t catch a break.

We don’t care about sitting next to each other, unless it’s a small plane which really freaks Nicky out, so I make an effort to sit near her on those puddle-jumping sojourns in order to help calm her fear of small planes. Me? I don’t care about the size of the plane. Still doesn’t change the dream I once had about dying in a plane crash. I have more than accepted that will be my eventual fate, so I always have a moment of serenity whenever I step onto a plane because it really could be the last time I ever fly.

The worst part of the LAX > MIA leg had to be the hour that I had to endure with an old woman's ass in my face. She was seated directly in front of me but decided to chat up the lady sitting across from me and the person in the window seat. During this process, she leaned over so I had a full on ass in my face. That wasn't even the worst part of it. When I politely asked her to move, she pulled the old "I don't speaka English" trip. That's when I broke into Spanglish, "Senora por favor... NO ASS IN MY FACE!"

I had to call in a flight attendant to assist me with the removal of said ass from my personal space. What really sucked was everyone rumbling down the aisle in search of the bathroom. When given the choice between hipchecking the old lady or banging into my shoulder -- they opted for my shoulder. So not only did I have an ass in my face for an hour, the entire time I also got pummeled from other passengers trying to squeeze by.

Thank God my ass flight from hell is over. I'm killing time in Miami before I board a flight to the Bahamas. Then the vacation can begin. I hope to unplug as much as possible and read books on a beach for the next five days.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Michael Caine > Michael Caine

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

Here's another amazing meta video of Michael Caine doing his best impression of... Michael Caine.

You should take a peek at the original video that Homer sent me, This Is How Michael Caine Speaks, in which two young British actors both make arguments why they do the best Michael Caine impersonation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Breaths of Life Through a Filter

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

My colleagues agree that we are forced to deal with many undesirable people in our industry. It's a given. Even the best professionals get jilted every now and then, mainly because two or three bafoons have taken upon themselves to spread their misery and insecurities onto the majority of the biz. It's pretty obvious -- if they can't be happy, then they will make everyone else miserable.

As a result, our summer work environment is highly toxic. That's why I can't handle a full summer work session any more and welcome the respite of Phish summer tour. Shit, anything is better than the grim reality of dealing with some of these insolent tards. It's like you're stuck in a high school that's run by a Hitler youth program.

I imagine a day when a certain man-child grows up and starts treating his peers and especially his employees like actual people instead of shitting on them like indentured servants. I doubt that he has any cognitive ability anymore, blinded by his own greed and faux power that he scooped up inside a vacuum. Ironic that the very people that he's manipulated and exploited since day one are the sad cases who blindly hang on his every word, as if they wouldn't even have the air to breathe if he didn't exist. The most somber part of this equation is that the henchmen, who do all of the dirty work, think they are getting a piece of the pie, when in reality, they are worse off than the actual servants. The servants know their place, but those in charge of running the servants are so utterly clueless that they think they are the ones with the power. Nope. They are just holding the whip and facilitating the work of the grand master. It's been happening as far back as the Egyptians when the Pharaohs somehow convinced slave labor to build the pyramids. That is, if you don't believe that aliens helped construct them.

Part of the reason I wanted to be a writer is to be on my own. Live life by my own rules. I want to work for myself because I hate being told what to do by lesser intelligent people on a power trip. As a writer and operator of my own websites, I'm my own boss and don't have to pussyfoot around playing office politics and watch over my shoulder about what I tweet, or who I sit next to in the cafeteria. In the end, most of the blame lies upon the actual subjects are are foolish enough to get involved even though they know what is going to happen.... enslavement, manipulation, degradation, and exploitation. It makes me often question the purity of their intentions.

Are they that stupid? Are they that desperate? Are they that...suicidal?

I dread my summers because of the toxic fumes that stink up my two-month assignment. It used to be cool because we were all sharing a common goal, but now all everyone is concerned about is money, power, fame, and becoming the king of social media. What used to be a meeting place of like minds has transformed into pissing match among spoiled fat Berbers who sit around in diapers all days shitting themselves and waiting for their servants to wipe their asses and change them into pristine diapers, only to repeat the soiling process. God help us all if something goes wrong and then they start throwing shit at each other. And guess who gets to clean up the shit?

Well, not me. I'm not on their payroll. Thank God. I write snarky passive-aggressive blog posts about it, while holding my nose so I don't puke on my laptop as I peck away at the story. I wonder if any of my peers can update their resume with a job skill listed as "feces removal" because most of the time, that's what they are doing -- not actual work, but removing feces that their boss hurled around in a tantrum.

I imagine this is the same for a hundred other industries. Archtypes and fucktards are the same no matter if it's poker, the food industry, graphic design, or real estate. I'm sure a few of you are thinking, "How the hell does Pauly know my boss? He acts the same fucking way? I always have to clean shit off my cubicle walls."

I suppose the best thing for me to do is start manufacturing gas masks. I doubt this toxicity will ever subside unless a miracle happens and the peasant class starts a revolt and uprising. Unless the glorious revolution happens soon, I gotta suck it up and gut through the shit swamp. At least... for one for year.

Until then, looks like I'm going to have to breathe life through a charcoal filter.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Ave Maria

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I thought I was dying. I was hearing voices. I resorted to uttering the Hail Mary... in Latin. That's when Nicky got scared. She was about to call 9/11. I couldn't blame her. From her perspective... I went from spending less than 4 hours a day in bed to staying in bed 20+ hours a day, I dropped ten pounds in a half a day, I constantly sweat through dozens of outfits, I couldn't shake a fever, and all of a sudden, I'm speaking in tongues.

My friends have mentioned that's not the first time I've spoken weird things in my sleep. In one instance I was supposedly speaking Mayan (according to BTreotch at Bonnaroo one summer). I shrugged it off. Everyone knows that the grey aliens speak Mayan. I was simply communicating to them during my dreamstate.

As of Sunday, this is like day 6 of the flu. I'm the strongest I've felt in about two weeks. I thought I improved on Friday, but relapsed on Friday night when the wook flu took a turn for the worse. As I returned to my bottom point, Nicky got a phone call that everyone with a family pet dreads...her cat was dying.

Actually, Willie belonged to Nicky's sister Mandy. But when Mandy went to college in Colorado, the cat stayed behind in West LA. That's when Nicky's parents took care of the cat. Even after college, the cat remained with the parents, mainly because Willie had grown used to a nice backyard with plenty of critters to torture. Plus, Mandy worked on location for different reality TV shows and she spent months away at a time. Alas, she really didn't have a lifestyle that allowed a pet. In the meantime, her parents got attached to Willie. If you're a pet owner, you can only imagine the pain that the family went through.

Read Nicky's touching eulogy for Willie the Cat. You can also find one of the photos I took of Willie.

In the meantime, I've barely stepped outside aside to go get food. It's been lovely in SoCal with amazing weather, which is why people want to live here at this time of year. The wookflu meant that I had to cancel a surprise trip to Chicago to send off my buddy BG, who is moving to Australia. I wanted to get together to see some close friends this weekend, but the ailment (along with the frigid location of the gathering) made it impossible for me to pull the trigger.

At this point, I'm hoping my health can continue the fast track to improvement because I have a trip to the Bahamas scheduled with Nicky in a few days. I already gave up a fun weekend with one set of friends, I'd hate to lose another.

Oh, and the fucking Jets won. How about that?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Ill Communication

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

The wook flu floored me. I went down hard on Wednesday and most of Thursday. I woke up feeling much improved on Friday morning, but overall still feel as though I have a few more days to go before I can shake this nasty bug.

It all started on Monday when I discovered my brother and friends were feeling blah. Nicky flew from NYC to LA a day earlier than me. Upon her return, she said that she got hit hard with a sinus infection and suffering from wook flu symptoms. When Benjo got back home to France, he mentioned that he also had the wook flu. Irongirl said the same thing. At the time, I was fine, but attempted to boost my immune system. Alas, it was too late. By the time I landed in LA, the bug had taken control.

Ironically, while on my flight from JFK to LAX, I read all of Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, in which he chronicled an Ebola outbreak just outside of DC. Betcha didn't know that we were very close to a biological disaster almost twenty years ago? After reading the entire 300+ page book on my flight, I was convinced that I had Ebola. Of course, that was just a wave of paranoia. When it subsided, I ruled out Ebola and malaria. Thankfully, I didn't bleed out and shit out my bloody intestines. But whatever version of the wook flu I had acquired was severely kicking my ass. My fever soared to 103. I couldn't stop shaking from the chills. Cold shivers. Up and down my spine. My teeth wouldn't stop chattering. I buried myself underneath our bedspread and a 35 degree sleeping bag on top of it all. And that doesn't include all of the layers of clothing that I had worn to try to keep warm.

During my first two nights back to LA, I sweat through 2 sets of clothes during the first night and 3 sets on the second night. I'd wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and quickly change into a new set of clothes and dive back under the covers. Inside of a 48 hour period, I was bedridden for almost 30 hours. Man, I don't get that much bed time in ten days let alone two. That's how badly the wook flu kicked my ass.

Nicky didn't take any chances and slept in my office the last few nights. She quarantined me to our bedroom and I felt like patient zero from Outbreak.

I was unable to do anything. On Wednesday, I barely ate save for a bowl and a half of soup. I couldn't read books (not enough focus to retain information), and I definitely couldn't attempt to slash my way through a backlog of writing and other work. That just made the situation even more frustrating. I managed to watch a lot of stuff on the boob tube. I know this will be a shocker to some of you, but Nicky had never seen Trading Places. I couldn't believe it. The final scene was shot on location on the 8th floor of the old World Trade Center. Anyway, I found a used DVD for like $3 and we watched it my first night back. Vintage Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd, plus you get to see Jamie Lee Curtis' boobies.

On Wednesday, I caught up with this season of Hoarders, including the last episode which chronicled two animal hoarders. One was an old redneck lady who had imprisoned tons of ducks and chickens on her property. She had a pregnant and injured goat limping around her yard. She was sad case for sure. And the other segment included a guy with serious anger management issues who had a horde of bunnies that destroyed his house. They ate through the dry wall and shit everywhere. Totally disgusting. But I gotta say, those types of animal Hoarder episodes are way more fascinating that the "over-consumers" who buy too much shit.

Thursday, I felt a little better or so I thought. I guess I put in a bunch of small bets on games that I didn't recall making over the last 2 or so days in my haze. I must have checked the betting lines and went ahead with a few bets. Luckily, everything was small so even though I went like 2-4, I didn't lose too much money. I gotta make sure that I avoid making bets when I'm hallucinating due to the high fever dreams.

And yes, my dreams have been spooky. Lots of dead animals in my dreams. You can read about the real dead animals over at Tao of Fear. We posted a few blurbs about the potential cause of the dead birds. One thing for sure, it's fucking scary. Roger Ebert said it best, "We're in the first act of a disaster movie."

So Thursday had me propped up on the couch and I devoured three flicks. I watched Greenberg per Strawberry's recommendation. It was better than I expected. I'm a fan of director Noah Baumbach, but his last film lacked the punch of his Squid and the Whale opus. But Greenberg was right up my alley... displaced depressed artistic New Yorker is a fish outta water in LA. Sounds so familiar, eh? Just like Greenberg, I don't drive in LA and I write scathing letters to corporations.

Nicky and I also watched a documentary called CSA: The Confederate States of America, a mockumentary on what would have happened if the South won the Civil War, er, shall I say, the War of Northern Aggression. Blew me away for sure.

Of course, I delved into some UFO shit as well. I watched one documentary about UFOs in Norway called The Portal: Hessdalen Lights Phenomenon. Man, that almost made me want to go to Norway to see for myself.

So now it's Friday. My entire week was shot because of the wook flu and all I can help but think: "When will I be better enough to be able to start working/writing?"

If I don't write, I feel utterly useless and depression sinks in. Today is the first time in a few days when I've been able to have enough strength to sit up and write. Let's hope this continues. In the meantime, time to do some research on all of those dead birds that the MSM is covering up and getting ready for the Jets playoff game tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


By Pauly
JFK Airport

Time is my most precious commodity these days. Even though silver is around $30 (troy ounce) and gold is hitting record highs around $1,400, I'd still rather have a batch of unfettered time more than anything else.

If I had one wish right now -- I would free time for one year so I can catch up on all the stuff I want to write but don't have the necessary time to do it.

Time. In the last two years, my biggest expense (aside from Phishy travels) was shelling out money in order to give myself more free time. All of that adds up and in the end, I decided that my time was worth more than fiat money. For example, a cab ride to the airport cost $70 with tolls and tip but using local transportation means that the trip would take 2 hours longer (not to mention be with the huddled masses), but the difference is 10x the price. Is shelling out an extra $60 worth having 2 extra hours? In my mind, it is.

These days when I get offered freelance assignments, I judge the job on how much time it will take from my day. I used to only care about word length, but now I'm more concerned with how long it will take me to research, write, edit, re-write, then ship the words. So when someone spits out a compensation number, I instantly convert that into my own time currency formula. Simply put... the more I get paid, the more time I allot to a project.

I made a lot of tough decisions in the last few months. I know that the outcomes bothered, irked, and angered those involved on the shit end of those decisions. But when I stripped away all the bullshit, the bottom line was this -- time. My free time is exactly that. Mine.

I did what I could to shed the excess baggage and divert my attention, or shall I say, give up my time for people who truly appreciate what my time is worth. Those who don't? Well, they were the angry ones who were pissed when I didn't drop everything in my world and sacrifice my time just to entertain said people. That's one of the main reasons I didn't write a lengthy recap of the Phish shows at MSG including NYE. I've written some things about it, but int he past I felt this urge to get it up as soon as possible, and in that process, I often sacrificed valuable one-on-one time with friends who I only get to see at shows, or I'm sacrificing sleep/rest time to write up something that I don't necessarily want to do, but feel obligated to write.

In the end, I feel bad for a few friends (like Jonas and the Joker) who really want to read about the wild adventures at the shows, but for the first time in a while, it felt good to not be bound to my laptop. Phish is my hobby and writing is my passion. I don't want Phish to get spoiled like poker did for me a few years ago when I got utterly disgusted with everything related to poker. I have to set these boundaries with my writing and my hobbies, otherwise one of the few things that provides me with complete joy...will become something I loathe.

In the past week, I kept off my laptop more than I can ever recall. Sure, I didn't write everything I wanted to write, but I had a blast with Nicky, my brother and other friends. The downside is lack of content on the web, but that's really not my problem, right? That's your problem.