Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jennifer Tilly, Johnny Chan, Rosencrantz and other nonsense

Things to ponder -

1) How pissed is Phil Hellmuth that Johnny Chan got to 10 bracelets first?

2) Is Jennifer Tilly gonna rag Phil Laak that she won a WSOP bracelet before he did? I sure as fuck would.

3) What the fuck is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead about!?!?!?

I should probably work on figuring that one out in fairly short order, since we open NEXT FUCKING WEEK!!

OK. It's a play. It's the story of Hamlet told through the eyes of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern. You remember, the two silly fucks from college that Hamlet used to go drinking with? YEah, them. There was a movie. Gary Oldman's in it. Check it out.

Anyway, Tom Stoppard wrote this absurdist play in 1968 or so, and in an even more absurd move, I decided to direct it.

Stoppard is way fuckin' smarter than me. Way. Way.

Stoppard also doesn't have the balls to drop the hammer for a 4xBB preflop raise heads-up with $200 on the line, so fuck him.

Anyway - we open next week and I've got a fantastic cast. A couple of folks with a lot of experience and talent, who by no means should be working for free, but that's Theatre in North Carolina, so I'm the benefit of their generosity. A couple other folks with less experience but ood instincts and one incredibly brave actress who is going onstage in chaps, red underwear and fishnets, and a smile, against everything she's ever done before.

It's just that time of the rehearsal process when I panic. It'll be better next week. It might be better Saturday - I've got a noon tourney with a bunch of other actoids from around town. Should be some dead money. Course that's what I thought last time when I found myself dealing after getting busted out 9th! Fuckers.

Played a little .25-.50 NLHE Saturday night at the Torch Song cast party. Jewart still sucks, but every once in a while he'll hit one. He hit me for $6 when his pocket 10s held up against my pocket 9s, and caught a K on the turn and a J on the river to take me for another $4 when my A 10 with A on the flop didn't hold up. Then he was fixing a beer and I folded, so I played his cards against Myk. This got a little ugly.

Myk raises preflop $1. I look at Jewart's cards and see AA. I reraise another $1. Flop is nothing, rainbows, nothing close enough for straights so I bet out $1. Myk calls. Turn is a blank, I milk another $1. River is bullshit, so I bet Myk all in. He folds, I turn up the bullets and Jewart has just doubled up on my work. He needed it, he was stuck $25 in a quarter game at that point. We played for a little while longer with Em as the big winner at +13, me behind her at +5, and nobody really stuck more than 10 bucks. A really fun night or pokah for cheap. Until I had to get up in 3 hours to load in a set, then I was paying for it.



Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Just read Jason's blog. After hearing about the cool thing that Barry Greenstein did at the WSOP, and receiving from Max Pescatori an autographed copy of SuperSystem 2 signed by Max, Doyle & Todd Brunson, Steve Z and Jennifer Harmon, Charlie died yesterday.

I never met Charlie. Neither did most of the folks that have been touched by his story. That's not what matters. What matters is that a bunch of really cool people like Felicia, Pauly, Marcel Luske, Max Pescatori, John Juanda, Barry Greenstein, Nolan Dalla and a shitload of other folks made another person's last days good ones.

Be kind to one another. It's all we've got.


Barry Greenstein made me cry

Not that it takes much. If you haven't read this story by now, you're probably not a poker player. So maybe this will change your opinions of poker players. This is from Pauly's writeup from the WSOP, when Barry Greenstein - the Robin Hood of Poker - won the Pot Limit Omaha Event and dedicated to Charlie, a poker player and blogger with terminal cancer.

I wish I could say that I was paying attention to the hand that Barry beat Paul Vinci with. I was distracted because all I could think about was Charlie and Spaceman.

A few moments after he won, Barry spoke to the audience and officially dedicated his victory to Charlie."This one is for Charlie," Barry said as a round of applause filled the room.Barry couldn't say much more because he was also playing in another WSOP event, the Pot-Limit Hold'em tournament, in the far corner of the poker room. On the way to his table, he barely spoke about his win to the media because he was all choked up.

Barry is one of the best poker players in the world and he always has his feelings in check at the table. For a brief moment though, he was overwhelmed with emotion and exposed his vulnerable side. I think a lot of us involved were a little teary eyed. I had to excuse myself and go into the hallway because I was about to cry. At that moment, the events at the World Series of Poker seemed meaningless compared to the battle that Charlie was fighting.

Situations like this make you reassess what's really important in life. Las Vegas is a city built on greed. Poker is a game that often attracts some of the lowest forms of life. However, in the past two weeks, there have been a small group of professional poker players who have earned my respect and admiration. Amidst all the darkness and debauchery, I have caught a few glimpses of the bright side of humanity. The hearts of some of the biggest sharks in Las Vegas are filled with compassion.Tonight was a special night at the World Series of Poker and Barry Greenstien made sure that we would all never forget a guy named Charlie Tuttle.

It brought back a lot of memories for me of when Blair died. Blair is my directing mentor who died of a staph infection brought on by his lung cancer. Blair at least touched many lives of his 27-year career as a college professor and leaves his legacy that way. The thing about Charlie's deal that really pisses me off is that he's only about 26, which is just cosmically fucked. Cancer is a motherfucker and it drives me batshit that we can fight wars halfway across the globe on the whim of some dipshit jug-eared moron and we still have millions of people dying across the globe each year from cancer and AIDS. Pisses me off. Makes me sad, and the standard redneck response to things that make you sad is to be pissed. And I am from South Carolina, after all.

Thanks Barry. Thanks Pauly. Thanks Spaceman, you've got the hardest gig of all.


Theatre stuff

Still looking for a big bang-up show to close next season with. And a director for it. Asked Chris, TJ, Saucy and Joanna to email me ideas. Maybe something good will come out of it.

Rehearsal last night was ok. Wheels fell off about 2/3 of the way through with lines, and I realized that Tom Stoppard is an absolute motherfucker! There's a bit in R&G where Guildenstern is pretending to be Hamlet so that Rosencrantz can ask questions and discern what afflicts Hamlet. Well - all of the lines are written in such a way that the line prompt from the stage manager sounds like random chatter, or the beginnings of a prompt, not the actual line. This led to about 20 minutes of character confusion coupled with actor confusion, compoundd by SM confusion and all turning into a big wierd-ass time warp of absurdist motherfuckerness! We took 5 and tried to get it back together.

I'll be glad when the set is up, working on the 5' platform that is the Torch Song set is killing me. Now I know what I put Glenn through all the time with my monstrous sets that he has to rehearse on.



Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Theatre post for a change

Last night was the first blocking rehearsal for our production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. I hate blocking. I hate pre-blocking. I find it frequently an annoying exercise that somewhat disguises line rehearsals. Especially if your set isn't in place yet, which ours isn't, because our production of Torch Song Trilogy doesn't close until Saturday night.

For the non-theatre-geek, a blocking rehearsal is where the actors are told where to go and what to do when they get there. Usually not where to go and what to do with the horse they rode in on, but sometimes. Yes, all those brilliant moves across the stage and up and down staircases and platforms are planned, rehearsed, and someone has to come up with them. The Director. Me.

Except sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes, the Muses look fondly upon you and gift you actors with not only the ability to memorize phenomenal amounts of text, but incredible instincts for where to go and how to say those words as well.

This time, I got lucky. My three leads are doing great work at getting their lines memorized, and a lot of my blocking consists of letting them go places and staying out of the way while they explore the text. This is actually looking like a fun rehearsal process, and I went into it pretty amazingly panicked, as we have only 3 weeks of rehearsal before tech, which isn't really enough for a play this deep with only working 3 hours each night. But they're amazing. No really, they have such great instincts and comic timing that all I have to do is cut them loose, then fine-tune it. This might work out after all.

Now, I'm still concerned that the director of the other show in our rep series has told me that 5 gallons of stage blood may not get him through the 9-performance run...

Monday, June 20, 2005

WSOP updates!

Go somewhere else for that. I'm still in the NC. No pokah for you! Seriously, though, go to Pauly's WSOP blog to read about the latest Hellmuthian outburst from the king of the whine - Phil Hellmuth.

Getting rolling with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead rehearsals. This idea of a Punk Rock band for the Tragedians in the show is gonna be fun, but boy there's a fair bit of work to be done in the next couple weeks before we open.

Played a little pokah last night, and I'm starting to get my groove back after this hiatus. Played about 8 SNGs Saturday and Sunday, won 3 $5 SNGs, got 2nd in another one, and played really well in a $20 SNG until the wife came home and my thoughts shifted a little more toward spenging time with her than with the cyber-cards. Got on one incredible rush where I hit AQ,AK,AQ (all clubs)then rags, then AK o/s. I won that one, too. Hard not to win when the cards smack you in the face.

Been screwing around a little with micro-limit Stud 8 and Omaha Hi while I play SNGs, I find it keeps my Hold Em on autopilot (mostly autoFold) in the early stages which keeps me from trying to get cute. My current strategy is as follows - never limp unless I'm a blind, and if I'm coming into a pot, make a 3 or 4xBB raise to go in. Now there are a LOT more hands that I'm willing to make a raise with that there are hands I'm willing to call a raise with, if that makes sense. I guess what some of it is boiling down to for me is that this hand isn't my last hand, so in the long run it doesn't matter what happens in this one hand. All goes out the window once we're in the money and I raise preflop every single hand until I've either blown people up or I'm busted.

I don't recommend this as strategy per se, this is just how I'm playing right now. It also probably won't work against a lot of good players, so I wouldn't do it at much higher than a $5 - $10 SNG. I'll let you know how it works out.

I'm having a ball reading all the WSOP coverage, wish I was there. That's of course now my goal - to play the world series next year. I make no promises about the main event, but my goal is certainly to play in at least one event next year. It's good to have goals, they give you something to feel shitty about.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Uber-Post Ctach-Up Time

Okay, so it's been a while.

Okay, so it's been a month.

Sorry. I suck.

Not that anyone reads this thing anyway.

So I went to Asheville, had a great time at the Stoneleaf Theatre Festival, made a little cash for the theatre doing the Vagina Monologues (directing! I'm plumbed wrong to perform), and the festival was a success! We had an initial ticket sales goal of $75,000.00 for the entire festival and we came close to $100K before we were all done. So a booming success for a first-year event, and definitely enough of a success to warrant a return to the mountains next year.

BUT - taking ten days off from work was not the easiest thing in the world. So when I came back, I had about $200K worth of systems orders to finalize in 4 days. Now usually, I do a bit more than $100K in a MONTH, so double that in a week made for some hectic days. So I haven't posted. I'll do better. Maybe.

Go read Felicia's blog to hear about Charlie and his fight. And Pauly and Felicia's really cool scheme to get as many pros as possible during the WSOP to call him. It's cool. Email your favorite pros and tell them to call Charlie. I picked Josh Arieh, because he seems so much cooler from his blog than from the edits they ran of him on ESPN last year. It's the frickin' least they can do. After all, we're their fans, and they get paid to play cards for a living. They can take a few minutes out to call a sick blogger and make his day. Peace, Charlie. We're rooting for you.

Anyway - not much news on the poker front, been too busy or too broke to play. Won a $5 SNG on Stars last night, and I felt like I actually needed the win! It's been a bad run, combination of bad play and terrible cards, so even the $20 I pulled in from that felt good.

Uncle Phil took down the theatre tourney this month - congrats! Me and everybody else who was in the money last month busted out early, almost all of us in the first 4 people out.