Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
Now Available on Smashwords for Kindle and other ebook readers!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Growing up

Wil asked that if we linked to his essay about Christmas with his family that we also link to this story about the aftermath, so here you go.

Wil tells us how he screwed up and using his written word, hurt two of the people he cares about most in the world. And he tells it really well. Like Pauly-style tear your heart out well. Took big brass ones for Wil to come out in public and apologize like that, and he deserves a lot of respect for that. And he could probably use a hug right now, too. Go hook him up.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Please Mr. Principal, can I go to the Prom?

Photo by Linda.

So there's this tight-ass principal in East Buttfuck, Missouri, who says that this linebacker kid can't wear a kilt to a formal dance. What a putz. For the record, the kilt is a time-honored piece of garb worn in battle, formal occassions, and whenever we big fuckin' hairy scots mofros decide we want to.

So fuck off, Mr. I'm so Nervous that little Johhny's Little Willy is going to flop around at the dance that I have to ignore all the punch-spiking, ass-grabbing, dope-smoking, line-snorting and crazy goat-fucking that always goes on at high school Dances Principal Man. Let the bugger wear his kilt, and don't you fucking dare look up there to see if he's going regimental. Your monkey ass would be flogged pillory to post if you instituted underwear checks on the chicklets, so don't fuckin' sport the double standard, pusswah. As one of the greatest writers of modern times once said in a blog comment, Mr. Principal "put a fucking stitch in your gash."

I wear a kilt on occassion. Not just to attract attention (and to make sure that the folks I met remembered who I was rather than "that other overweight hairy hillbilly blogger") , and to show off my spectacular calves, but because it's fuckin' comfy. Men wearing pants and chicks wearing skirts has always made about as much sense to me as the nutbuster bar on a boy's bike. WTF!?!?!? The boys like to breathe, that's all there is to it. And for the record, I was not regimental at the WPBT Winter Classic (I didn't want to think about where those chairs had been). Just ask Grubby about sitting in unpleasant substances in casinos.

But even if the kid was wearing the kilt to draw attention to himself, SO FUCKING WHAT? Most of the things we all did in high school were designed to draw attention to ourselves, especially those of us who went through there in the 80s and early 90s. No, really, we never thought that wearing 5 watches and that much clashing neon actually looked good, but you fucking noticed, didn't you? High school and college (and for some of us, the rest of our lives - see pic) are all about exploring who we want to be, who we think we are, and who we don't want to be. So if little Nathan whateverthefuck wants to wear a kilt, fine. He's grabbed his 15 minutes at 17 years old, and we probably don't have to worry about him assassinating the president later in life just to get a little bit of fucking attention from an actress who swings the other fuckin' way anyhow.

So I am obviously in support of this kid's right to wear the kilt to the dance, graduation, the prom, his wedding, work, on the subway (careful of updrafts) and anywhere else he damn well please.

And don't get me started on why there's nothing wrong with man-purses, either. If I get on that rant, Donkeypuncher will start sending me hair gel and facial moisturizer samples and try to convert me to a metrosexual, and I'm way to fat and lazy for all that beauty regimen :).

Wow I swear a lot.

Fuck it. If you're a kid, you shouldn't read this shit anyway. Go find Daddy's new blog. Or hell, go read the porn that's taken over snailtrax.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back from the land of Glut

Man, if there were an Olympic event for gluttony, my family would be FloJo. There was so much friggin' food at my parents' house it blew right past "bordering on" and straight into slap-ass ridiculous.

So the Dear and Patient threw me out of the house on Christmas Eve so that she could go over to our next door neighbors' house, drag my gift out from their storage shed, and spend most of the day assembling my new poker table.

Now that's love. With her last paycheck from the musical she was running lights for (back in September), my Dear and Patient went to the Mart of Wal and bought me a poker table. I tried linking to a photo, but failed miserably. It's 6 1/2 feet long, oval, with 6 cupholders. Looks pretty nice for pressboard furniture, and has a dining tabletop that can go on it so we don't screw up the felt in our day to day lives. I was amazingly touched not so much by the gift, but that she went to so much trouble for this hobby of mine.

And that's what this really is - a hobby. I don't have any illusions of supporting myself playing poker. Those of you who've played with me and watched me eat know that there's no way my weak LAG-y play can support my grovery bill, but I don't need it to, so that's fine. I've gotten far more out of the writing and friendships than I've contributed to the internet economy in my losses, so that's cool.

I can be philosophical, I'm still in the black for the year, thanks to a decent tourney win on Stars back in March :).

And Amazon came through once again, my wife's Buffy the Vampire Slayer complete series DVD collection and Doris Day DVD collection sets both arrived on Friday, so there's been plenty of couch potato material for the last few days.

I'm slowing down my online play for a while, screwing around a little with low-limit Razz on Full Tilt and baby SNGs on Stars, and I'll play the Wil Wheaton tourneys, too (can't miss my weekly donation of cash to my favorite bloggers), but somebody PLEASE just tell me to autofold if Gracie is sitting on my left!

I'm Jhartness on those two sites, so if you see me, holla out.



Saturday, December 24, 2005

Real Life Update

Well - after 4 hours of waiting for the procedure to begin, my sister's surgery was a success. The doc says she should be back to normal in about 2 weeks, which is great news. I had cornered him before the operation began and asked him what the odds were, and he said that for this hip, he could only count it about a 50/50 shot of success. Now I like a good coin flip as much as the next degenerate gambooler, but I had prepared myself for the call that it hadn't gone well, her hipbone had collapsed, and they were going to have to do a full replacement.

Instead I got the opposite call and now the doc wants to go ahead and do the same procedure on the other leg before the atrophication (is that a word?) progresses any further. At this point he feels that he's got about a 90% chance of success on that leg. Soooo, I'm a happy boy.

I really can't even express how much this chick means to me. She's 17 years older than me, and got married when I was a year old. From the time I was born, she pampered me just like I was her own kid, and her traumas trying to carry a kid to term before her daughters were born did nothing to alleviate that. I spent as much time with her and Wayne (her husband, who died my senior year of college) when I was a kid as I did with my parents, and sometimes more. I used to tell all her friends that my name was "John Givens Hartness Alexander," appending her married name onto my name. She really was a second mom to me growing up, and I love her daughters fiercely and protectively. So there was a lot of fear in the room yesterday.

Jessica and Stephanie (my nieces) are both single young women now, and Bonnie is all they have. So I was the one least freaking out, and my level of nutso was starting to peak pretty high at 6PM when the surgery was supposed to have started at 1:30. But it's all okay now, she's gonna be fine, even though we still don't know what caused this condition, if it's hereditary in any way, or if it may recur. And even though she's going to have to do this again on the other leg in fairly short order, now we've gotten the big hurdle behind us and we can move on. IN other words, Christmas is back ON!

Which is the other reason I'm at my office blogging from my desk on Christmas Eve. My Dear and Loving woke me up this morning and threw me out of the house. Apparently my Christmas surprise is being delivered or set up as we speak (virtually speaking) and my being there was a monkey wrench in her long-established plans. So I played the dutiful husband and got the Hell outta dodge. I needed an oil change anyway. And apparently a fuel injector flush and four new tires. Merry Christmas to you guys, too. Thank god it's a company car, cause I'd be shitting biscuits if I'd had to drop $500 of my personal cash on car stuff today.

Oh, in somewhat poker-ish news, I got Phil Gordon's Little Green Book yesterday along with all the other Amazon gifts I bought. I've started it and it's pretty damn dense. Not Harrington dense, but full of quick hits and theories that I feel like I'm going to have to go back and mull over a few times to absorb. It strikes me as almost the perfect back of crapper poker book, because the subchapters are pretty short, but require some reinforcement to absorb, so if it's on the back of the can you can go back to trouble spots again and again.

Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hannukah and whatever else you celebrate! Oh, and Happy Solstice, even though I think I'm late. I'm not cool enough to know what all the holidays are, so just have a happy, and know that you all mean a lot to me, especially all of you who read yesterday and sent words or vibes of encouragement while I was having a big old freak-out fit.



Friday, December 23, 2005

Real life interlude

So two things in the real world have had me kinda spaced the past few days, which could certainly (along with my oft-proven donkey status) have contributed to my dismal poker results this week.

1) After some nervous moments with and UPS, Christmas is officially back on! My packages arrived at the office 30 min. ago, so now I can actually give my wife her Doris Day Collection DVD set and the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that I ordered for her. I was sweating this whole shipping thing pretty hard, since buying all those things over again locally would have put a crimp in the financials.

2) Well, the good news's not cancer. The bad news is, I'm going down to Rock Hill, SC (less than an hour from here, where I went to college) this afternoon to sit with two of my nieces while my sister has hip surgery. Apparently the ball portion of her femur has died. There is no blood flowing into that portion of the bone, so the doctors are going to drill through her femur in an attempt to reach good marrow and spur blood flow back into the dead portion of the bone. If it works, great! We get to do the same thing with the other leg next year. If it doesn't, then it's hip replacement surgery. Apparently this is a condition typically found in alcoholics (nope), long-term steroid abusers (nope) or people with bone cancer (no, thank Jebus, but we didn't kow that until Tuesday, so it's been a tense week). So we don't know how or why this happened to Bonnie, but hopefully it'll all get fixed this afternoon.
It's a surgery with a high success rate, and I'm sure it will all be fine, but this has dredged up plenty of unpleasant memories of her husband's death 10 years ago, so it's a little discomfiting to say the least. She's the sibling I'm closest to, despite the 17-year difference in our ages (she's 49), and the thought of anything going wrong just absolutely wrecks me. BUT, I'm going down to sit with her girls so that they don't get all hysterical (not that much keeps Jessica from getting hysterical), so I get to pour my fears out onto my imaginary internet friends (phrase copyright SheVerb) and otherwise bottle that shite up around the family. I'll post an update tomorrow or the next day.


A few ran(t)dom things

1) Go to and read Wil's new article on the REAL war on Christmas. I won't get too political here, because that's not what this blog is about, but O'Reilly and his mouthfuckin' thought police are way too outta hand and somebody needs to punch through this bullshit wall of fear mentality that Rove and his puppet presidency have thrown across our country. Rant over.

2) I'm having a home game in Charlotte next Friday, 12/30. $50 max buy-in cash game. Anybody who wants to ride up or down from wherever is welcome. Drop me an email if you're anywhere in the vicinity.

3) This is going to be a rant. Feel free to skip.

Rant Removed by cooler head later in the morning. Sorry for anyone who I upset by it. Was a little hypersensitive due to some non-poker personal life things going on.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

You all know where this is going, right?

Tonight at the $5 MTT on Stars

PokerStars Game #3408369607: Tournament #16685862, Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50) - 2005/12/22 - 20:52:18 (ET)
Table '16685862 29' Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: mobster80 (840 in chips)
Seat 2: Seacap1 (1315 in chips)
Seat 3: Rican2 (2255 in chips)
Seat 4: Jhartness (2530 in chips)
Seat 5: d1am0ndc (4488 in chips)
Seat 6: mama mia17 (3030 in chips)
Seat 7: X_Patsfan_X (882 in chips)
Seat 8: Scuffy19 (785 in chips)
Seat 9: d2609j (1620 in chips)
mobster80: posts small blind 25
Seacap1: posts big blind 50

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Jhartness [7c 2s]

Rican2: folds

Jhartness: raises 100 to 150

d1am0ndc: folds

mama mia17: calls 150

X_Patsfan_X: folds

Scuffy19: folds

d2609j: calls 150

mobster80: calls 125

Seacap1: folds

*** FLOP *** [7d Ts 2c]

mobster80: bets 690 and is all-in

Jhartness: raises 690 to 1380

mama mia17: folds

d2609j: folds

*** TURN *** [7d Ts 2c] [7h]

*** RIVER *** [7d Ts 2c 7h] [Kh]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

mobster80: shows [Th Ah] (two pair, Tens and Sevens)

Jhartness: shows [7c 2s] (a full house, Sevens full of Deuces)

Jhartness collected 2030 from pot

Dealer: mobster80 has two pair, Tens and Sevens

Dealer: Jhartness has a full house, Sevens full of Deuces

Dealer: Game #3408369607: Jhartness wins pot (2030) with a full house, Sevens full of Deuces

Dealer: mobster80 finished the tournament in 758th place

Rican2 said, "lol raised w/ a 7/2 and hit a boat"

Rican2: damn if that aint luck

Jhartness: always play the hammer, baby!

Jhartness: most powerful hand in poker

Rican2: i dont even think i can say nh to that one but it worked so nh

mobster80 [observer]: huh?

Rican2: lol

Y2J O5 - the track list

Here's a track listing for my end of year CD. I was able to get copies to some of you in Vegas, without covers because I'm a big slacker, and if I missed any of you (and I know I did, because I hung out with more than 15 way cool people, and I only took 15 CDs), just shoot me an email with your snail mail address and I'll get you disc out in the next week or so.

This is just my end of year mix CD, no big deal, but it turns oout usually to be a pretty good party background mix, with stuff I've spent the last year listening to. Mostly new releases, but this year's disc is chock with new live releases of older boogie that I love, including my favorite song of all time, Angel From Montgomery.


Jason Mraz - Wordplay

Ben Lee—Catch my Disease

Gwen Stefani—Hollaback Girl

Ashlee Simpson—LaLa

Young Dubliners—Real World

Jamie Cullum—Get your Way

The Duhks—Dance Hall Girls

The SubDudes—Known to Touch Me

Suzanne Vega—Gypsy

Phil Vassar—Dancing with Dreams

Jamie Cullum—Photograph

Everclear—Unemployed Boyfriend

Marc Broussard—Home

Trace Adkins—Songs About Me

Shooter Jennings—4th of July

Lucinda Williams—Real Live Bleeding Fingers & Broken Guitar Strings

Marc Cohn—Walking in Memphis

Bonnie Raitt—Angel from Montgomery

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Lessons learned - WPBT trip results - one week later.

Fuck I wish I was back in Vegas.

But I'm not, so here are a few things I learned from playing with (losing to) bloggers during my trip to the WPBT Winter Classic.

1) Get 'em talking and having a good time, and they will ship you chips. Shelly's got a great story about how I applied this at the IP for fun and profits for all the bloggers there, but I learned it from G-Rob in the side game at Bradoween. The more people are chuckling at/wondering at your crazy play or wacky comments, the less they take it personally when they sling a pot to you. That means they're not playing their top game, and you're gonna get paid.

2) Min-raises and flat-calls make the baby Jebus cry. It's taken a year to understand and begin to implement the "fold or raise" philosophy, but I credit time at the NLHE table with April and DoubleAs great post on pressure points to solidifying this idea for me.

3) The same cards that are auto-fold in early position are worth a raise in late position. Position, position, position. No really, position is more important than any of the books will ever tell you. It also doesn't become as readily apparent playing online, at least at the limits and levels I can afford to play. But it becomes so incredibly important when playing live and for money that matters.

4) Pay attention to table texture. I blew off about $100 in profits in the IP poker room because I realized three hands too late that the table texture had changed radically. When the rock-tight locals sit down to grind, the fun is gone and the easy money is gone with them. The ability to adjust to table shifts quickly is something I'm going to need more practice in casinos to master. Darn, guess I'll have to go back to Vegas.

5) Most people playing at the $1-2 NL tables or the small buy-in tourneys just aren't very good. I'm okay, I get buy and manage to usually scrape together a positive number at the end of each month, but I don't consider myself to be a fantastic player. That said, I can only come up with one time in the three tourneys I played that I felt like I got absolutely outplayed on a hand. And it was not a great loss, because I got pushed off a hand rather than playing it all the way through, and when the guy showed his semi-bluff and said "my kicker's no good," all I could think was well, we had the same hand, top pair 10 kicker, so it wasn't really BAD, either. So I laid down a split pot, not a huge deal. Now that's certainly not to say that I'm the next Bill Fillmaff, but I realized that I can play live with most folks who are gonna be slumming down at my levels.

So how have I applied what I've learned? Not terribly well, but I've recouped about $60 of the $600 I left in Vegas since coming back. A couple of SNG cashes and 7th in a $50 freezeout on Absolute for $115, before donking off $40 last night in $1/2 limit trying to work off a bonus. But still, one week, recouping 10% of my losses, I'll take it. We'll be just like all the other losers and call the expense of my trip "paying for my poker education." Or we could just call ita 5-day vacation for less than a grand total, which is a fuckton of entertainment value in my book.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not with a bang, but a...

So today we began the move out of the theatre we've been sharing with another small arts group. And it feels like losing. It doesn't feel like a new beginning, like a chance to have a fresh new start somewhere else. It just feels like losing. The money isn't there to run a theatre facility without some serious public support and fundraising, and I have a good job that pays me far too much money to give that up to try to raise the money to operate another venue.

So we're done.

Officially we're "on hiatus." I don't know how long a hiatus, or what we'll do when we come back, but it will be very different. We'll be renting a stage, rather than having our own space, which means less control over dates, rehearsals and all the other details. We'll be down to doing 2-3 shows a year, rather than the 8 or so we did at our busiest. And I don't know that I mind any of that. My priorities have shifted in the last 5 years, as have my wife's and all the other folks involved with the theatre. Maybe it's for the best that we stop trying to be a full-time producing organization, and just do a couple shows a year.

And maybe I'm just bitter because I feel like my city could give two shits about theatre and the arts and no amount of beating my head against the wall is changing that. My forehead is bleeding and the wall is still standing, unscathed.

I got into theatre to meet girls and save the world. Got half of it covered, since I met my wife in the theatre. That second half has been a lot tougher. I do think that we have, at times, created a positive impact on our society with the shows that we have produced. I also think that there have been a lot of times we've been screaming into the abyss and hearing nothing coming back but the echo of our own voices.

So now I'm a stage director without a stage. But like I said, my priorities have shifted. I'm also now a card player. Not always a good one, but I am a card player. And I'm a writer again. Ditto the first, not always a good one, but I am writing again. I'm becoming able to touch those places inside me that I walled off a dozen or so years ago that allowed me to write. And it feels good and painful all at the same time, like a hot shower after being very cold, the warm good pain of blood rushing into unused capillaries (sp?). Before too long I'll tell the story of why I stopped writing, but there's not enough blood back into those toes to write it yet.

I guess for me the inflection point of the week was when I was driving home from the airport Monday after landing. I'm heading into Charlotte, thinking about getting everything ready for this moveout and the last weekend of our show, and all I kept thinking was "I much prefer being part of the community of poker bloggers that I just left to being part of the Charlotte theatre community."

That's when I realized two things - 1) I need a break from producing theatre in a town that could care less about theatre for social change, and 2) I have a wonderful group of friends from all over the country that accepted me without batting an eye (even at the kilt!) and they are my friends whether I produce any shows, cast them in plays, or even paly another hand of cards again. And that's priceless.

Thank you for being part of my life. I miss you all.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Sometimes the Castle storms you...WPBT trip report volume 97

So let's go ahead and lay it out there that the WPT is not exactly beating down my door begging me to play on their TV show, nor are my skills even to the point where I can get drafted into Team GoldenPalace, much less Team Pokerstars. So it was with no illusions of huge profits that I went to Vegas to play donkey blogger poker.

Good f'n thing. While I didn't blow through the entire $900 bankroll I took with me, I did donate $600 to the worldwide poker economy. Fortunately for my mental health, most of my losses went to wonderful people whom I had just met. Then there was this fucker.

Let's start our tale at the IP poker room, where I have finally regained that elusive status - even for the trip. After catching Jacks full on one hand and beating AK with AA the next to felt Steve, and cracking Shelly's AA with 88 and a set on the flop (slowplaying Aces makes the Baby Jesus cry). I saw Drizz racking up about 19,000 grey chips, and he said "Storming the castle!"

I'm totally there! I'm focused, I'm playing well, I can hear the Chariots of Fire running on the beach song playing in the background as we all stride into the poker room at the Excalibur. I avoid the 2-6 spread limit donkey game like the plague, because I'm way too sober to think I can hang with these bloggers at a limit game. So I settle into my nice warm seat at the 1-3 NL table across the room. It's a scene right out of a nativity at the NL table. The stars are out, the cattle are lowing, and the donkeys are braying. Boy, are the donkeys braying. It only takes about 45 minutes for the hee-haws to suck out on F-Train for two buy-ins, so he takes a walk to cool down, leaving me the sole blogger at the table.

Not to last, as the scent of donkey attracts bloggers like the aroma of four-day old hippie funk draws narcs. Shortly we were joined by Drizz, the lovely April, the almost as lovely Joe Speaker, and my nemesis of the evening. I think between April, Jeff and Speaker, there had probably been about 14 bags packed for the blogger trip, and I would lay 2-1 that DonkeyPuncher and Joe had April dominated in the quantity of hair product race by at least a 3-1 margin. April is a beautiful woman, but those boys take their beauty regimen really seriously :).

So I've been donking off chips all night, only being profitable on wheel spin prop bets (never take yellow), when THE HAND happens. I've got about $75-90 in front of me (told you I've been donking all night), I look down at AQ off. Raise to $15, Donkeypuncher calls. Flop comes Q 6 6. TPTK. two pair out there. The only thing I could possibly believe that he would call an all-in with would be pocket 6s, KK or AA, since there's nothing else with a 6 that he would have called my preflop raise with. DP goes into the tank.

Thinking. Pleae call with AJ

Thinking. Please call with AK

Thinking. Please call, I gotta pee.

"Man, this is like the worst call I've made all weekend. "

DP flips up JJ and my heart soars. The heavens opens up and beam of light shines down on my AQ laying face up on the table. Chorus of angels sing the Hallelujah chorus. I feel the tide of my evening begin to turn around.

Jack on the turn. Fuck. I still have outs. Invoke the power of CJ. Be the luckbox. Be the luckbox.

I don't even have time to register the river card through my shock while I hear, over the din of the poker room, belted out from the seat right next to me, for all the world to hear, as my entire body sags, and I sit, head in hands,

"Dem's Quads, Beetches!"

I ship chips, but I get the story. And it's the story that matters, right? I couldn't even be mad at the poker gods, because now I realize that it's my lot in life to have someone catch runner runner quads on me at every blogger gathering from now til the end of my days. At least I know that my money went to a good place, since Puncher and his crew left about 45 minutes later to go to the strip clubs.

This lap dance brought to you by Falstaff. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pictures are worth a thousand words

So go here to see my flickr thing with the pictures I took this weekend. Not nearly enough photos for all the coolness, but this should give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

I still don't have words

What do you say when you're stuck back at your desk when you miss your imaginary internet friends (phrase copyright SheVerb) amazingly and can't wait 'til the next time you all get to hang out together?

So here's the thing. We took ownership of any part of Vegas we happened to be in last weekend. From the Castle to the IP to the MGM, you knew if the bloggers were in the hizzy. Hammers were flying, blinds were straddled and raised dark, wheels were spinning, Joe Speaker was king of prop bets, chips were shipping, and fun was definitely +EV.

But holy shit these people can play some cards. If ever I doubted that bloggers could throw cards with the best of them, all doubts were set aside when I watched April turn it up a notch after painting a bulls eye on this poor stoopid kid at our table Sunday night. This dumb bastard sat down and sucked out harsh on the Geek, then gloated a little about how he "had the cards."

Hey Doogie, bad move. And news flash: Q-10 off suit isn't strong enough to call a raise preflop in early position.

The lovely April went from jolly April to Chick On a Mission like the flip of a switch. And it was thing of beauty. I'm waiting for her to post all the gory details, since I had to leave and pack before she was done having her way with him, but I contributed to his tilt in my own, small way.

I'm in middle position with A4 off-suit. Bunch of limpers, so odds are almost right for me to play my crap. So I do. With a limp.

Flop - 2 3 Q

Checks around. That was one of the best flops I could have ever dreamed of, so I'll take off a free card.

Turn - 6

Doogie (or Red Shirt) in early position fires $10 into a $12 pot. I know he's got a Queen with some medium kicker. Folds around to me.

"So it's gonna cost me ten bucks to hit my gutshot?"

Stares at me.

Alan and April chuckle.

"Okay, call."

River - 5

Alan and April laugh out loud. Red shirt's whole body deflates. He bets $10

"Raise to $20"



Red Shirt goes to the bathroom for a minute.

That was nice. Still lost a shitload of money that night, but I think I gave it all to either Shelly or April, so it coulda been worse.

More to come, including important lessons on my game learned from playing with people who kicked my ass, and the inevitable bad beat story, which is only really a moderate beat, but still a good story. Oh yeah, and then there's the one about G-Rob collapsing to his knees in the Castle poker room...

Monday, December 12, 2005

This is just the beginning...

A few thoughts and events from night 1 of my WPBT Vegas trip...

1) 7:36 AM – Iggy gets the entire blogger contingent a verbal warning from the IP Poker Room for dropping the F-Bomb. Despite repeated efforts, we are unable to get thrown out for excessive profanity. Or stupidity.

Fuck these guys can play.

The 24-hour restaurant at IP closes at 10PM Wednesday nights. This is just wrong.

BigMike is the best sport in the free world, answering a Dial-A-Shot at 4AM his time from a bunch of crazy fuckers, getting out of bed to do the shot, and serenading Joanne with a rendition of “Joanada” That man is my hero.

I gotta get one of those little fucking notepads. This bitch is heavy.

Those were my notes after night 1, where Iggy, Maudie, Joanne, Bill (Mr. Joanne), Grubby and me hung out at Harrah's til Oh : Fuck:30 in the morning and then played 1-2 NL Hold Em until 8AM.

More to come, including a boatload of pictures and accounts of storming the castle, a new Mr. Brown Shirt mission from God with Austin April, getting civilians to play the Hammer at MGM, my life as bubble boy and more fun than I even imagined, and I went with high expectations.

I really have to give a shout out to all the folks I ended up hanging with, it was super-cool meeting all of you/seeing you again. To the folks I didn't get to spend enough time with, we'll have to catch up next time round.
For tonight, I'll close by echoing something Joe Speaker said to our blogger table at the Castle - "Will all you guys come move to my neighborhood?"

Even Donkeypuncher. Because boy, is there a bad beat story coming there. Hairy Hillbillies O, Metrosexuals 1.

Oh yeah, and we renamed Austin April JunkKicker. I don't remember why, but I'm pretty sure I got felted to gain her the nickname.



Tuesday, December 06, 2005

T-minus 23 hrs and counting!

This time tomorrow I will be on an airplane somewhere between Charlotte and Philly, where I then catch a plane to my first "official" WPBT event, otherwise known as National Degenerate Lampoon's Vegas Vacation! Woo-Hoo!

To say that workplace productivity all over the poker blogosphere has been limited would be an understatement on the level of "Teddy Kennedy drinks a little," or "G.W. isn't the most intelligent President we've ever had." There you go, equal opportunity politico-bashing.

But on the theatre front, it's kinda fucked up.

Less than a year after moving out of the warehouse where Off-Tryon was birthed to join Barebones Theatre Group in the Southend Perfoming Arts Center (translation: different warehouse on the other side of town), we've lost our lease and have to be out by the end of the year.


The landlord isn't interested in having another theatre in the building, even for more money, so we've got to load out all our shit. Again. And uproot our audience. Again. And reschedule our season to fit in the open spaces in our new temporary home. Again. Frustrated would be an understatement. Pissed to the nines would be an understatement. Feeling a little thrown under the bus is more like it.

So after 5 1/2 seasons, I have a theatre company whose future is now a little in limbo. We do have a company in town that will let us perform in their studio theatre for two shows this spring for a nominal fee, but now we have to worry about things like our audience finding us again, after we saw a big drop in audience from the last move. I'm not sure we have the critical mass to manage another move, and not sure that I have the energy to devote to recreating the company. Again.

So we're going to perform the last two weeks of our current show, pack all our shit up, and go regroup. Maybe we become a nomadic company for a couple of years, renting stages and getting our business-side ducks in a row. Maybe we vastly reduce the number of shows that we produce. Maybe we fold. I hope that last isn't the option we choose, but we'll see. I'm less than thrilled at the prospects of upfitting yet another warehouse just to be thrown out after a few years, so I think that whatever space we move into, we need to own, or at least have sometime of ironclad renewal policy.

And then there's the question of whether or not Charlotte even wants an independent theatre scene, which I can't answer. Our major professional theatre folded early this year when they couldn't make ends meet, and they weren't the first theatre to go under in recent years. It's interesting that we're a city that has spent almost $100 Million in the past few years on new theatre buildings for the University, Community College and Children's Theatre, but the companies themselves can't afford to inhabit those venues. Attendance sucks all over town, small companies and community theatres alike are struggling, and I don't know if I've got it in me to beat my head against that brick wall for another 5 years.

Any city out there want a kick-ass independent theatre company to move in and produce thought-provoking, issue-oriented theatre? Have light board, can travel.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sometimes the fat guy gets the girl

So there I was, walking down the hall like I owned the place. 21 years old, 6' 1", 175 lbs., sun-bleached streaks through my shoulder-length brown hair, ripped jeans, black cowboy boots, denim jacket, keys jingling on my belt, when I saw her.

Her ass, more specifically. Bent over the department secretary's desk, blue denim stretched tight across an unfamiliar ass. Hmmm, must be September, fresh meat coming to campus.

So I backed up a step, checked out the rest of the package. Blonde, not bad; short, that works, I dig short chicks; funky hat, wild glasses - this one could be fun.

Before the day was out I found out her name was Suzy, she was in three of my classes, she lived in Charlotte and had just transferred in as a junior. By the end of the week I found out she had started back to school after taking a year off to be with her dying mother, so when her mom died, she came to Winthrop for a new start. I found out she was crazy-wild, showing up to my apartment with a sports bottle full of screwdrivers and taking me to the bar where her dad worked to party for the night.

By the end of the month we were pretty serious and I had figured out that there was a lot going on with this chick, and she was gonna be worth hanging around because shit was always interesting when she was with me. By the end of the semester I had dropped the other two chicks I was seeing and was spending most of my nights at her place in Charlotte, preferring the 45-minute drive from campus to the 15-minute drive to my rented place with two other guys.

By the end of the next semester I knew I loved her, and had asked her to marry me when we finished school. And six months after I graduated, that's just what we did.

I was right, there is a lot going on with this chick, and shit is always interesting with her around. We fight like cats and dogs sometimes, snuggle like disgusting teenagers other times, and you don't want to read about the rest :). But ten years ago this weekend, I went into work and asked my boss for a long lunch so I could go downtown and get my marriage license. When the blue-haired Betty behind the counter said Honey, ya'll know you can go right across the street and get married anytime, right? we did just that.

Along the way we picked up Dawn & Darryl to be witnesses to our wedding, because they happened to be in the magistrate's office swearing out a complaint against Dawn's boyfriend (not Darryl) for beating her in the head with a telephone the night before, and we exchanged out vows into the microphone through the bulletproof glass at the Mecklenburg County courthouse. Dawn cried, Darryl beamed, and I think there might even have been a gleam in the judge's eye as he pronounced us husband and wife.

So this afternoon we're headed up to Asheville to take a candlelight tour of the Biltmore Estate, stay in a private cottage at a bed & breakfast, complete with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries (and a jacuzzi tub), and we're going to spend a couple of days away from the computer, away from the various theatres, and I'm going to thank my best friend in the world for sharing her life with me for the past ten years, and ask her very nicely to stick around for the next fifty or so.

You guys enjoy your weekend, and hug somebody you love.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Theatre Content for a change

I'm still good at that, while I suck at poker.

But anyway, this weekend was my annual foray into that realm that all theatre technicians loathe and FAR too many "normal" people love - The Nutcracker.

Find me anyone in stage blacks who claims to enjoy Nutcracker or who wouldn't happily travel back in time to SIDS that Tchaikovsky fucker with a pillow and smile in his crib and I'll show you a lying sack of sleepless December nights.

Fortunately, these days my Nutcrackers come in abridged versions, as part of the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra's Christmas Fantasy show. 8am lighting load-in into a 2100-seat sold out hall, 3 1/2 hours to focus, 3PM rehearsal, 8PM show, 10PM load out, and by 10:45 I was walking to my car. Not a bad day's work, which is televised in various cable markets on random PBS stations across the country. So if anybody tunes into background classical around Christmas and sees the Charlotte Philharmonic in some random place, drop me a note, it'd be neat to have my work seen other places.

This is my third year working with the Philharmonic, and I enjoy it. I do 3-4 shows a year with them, it gives me the chance to act like a "real" lighting designer. I go in, the union electricians do everything. If I feel particularly generous, I may help hand one or two lights. Usually not. We've pretty much gotten it down to a science now - I use the box booms to throw images of Christmas and snow onto the orchestra shell, I use three colors from the mezzanine rail straight onto the organ pipes for color, and have a little bit of high sidelight for breakup patterns and color splashies. And I don't write any cues, I just change colors and patterns as it feels good, so it goes back to the days of running live music, which was lots of fun. And my master electrician told me he thought it was the best looking show I've done with them, which was nice, since he's seen a few of them. It always feels good to get back to what made me want to play with lights in the first place - the immediate reaction of audience to what you're doing, and using lighting to enhance the mood that the performers are creating. It was a good day.

Still hate the fucking Nutcracker. I think I may need to bring Daddy down to visit next year and unleash him on the baby ballerinas. Heh-heh. Crush.