Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Falstaff Open weekend recap

The house is clean, the beer is cold

And I am absolutely friggin’ exhausted. Suzy slept for 3 hours Friday night and I slept for 5, not exactly a great recipe for success in a poker game. I now understand why the curse of the host is a very real thing. Between getting the house ready, getting chips sorted, getting snacks acquired, I had next to no time to do the things I typically do to prepare for a tourney, like rest, listen to my iPod, and get my head straight.

So I busted first. I didn’t even make the first blind change, much less the first break. Hee frickin’ Haw. Overplayed everything, including the Hammer. Note to self – playing the hammer hard on an A-high flop is good, unless you opponent is holding pocket Aces. Then it’s what we term “an advanced play.” TripJax was holding the TripRockets on that one, but it was only one in a mercifully short series of mistakes for me.

But the real point wasn’t to win money (yeah right!), it was to throw a big party and see if anyone showed up. And they did in droves. From Columbia, Greensboro, Charlotte, and of course, G-Vegas. There were more out-of-towners than locals, but Jim “Warbucks” Esposito represented the home team by chopping for first with BigPirate’s wheelman Scott. TeamScottSmith was the big winner of the night, taking down 3rd place and almost a full bottle of tequila en route. The biggest guns in poker flexed their way to 4th place, and G-Vegas continued to represent, with Shep Smith rounding out the money finishes in 5th. BigPirate was our unfortunate bubble boy.

Highlights were, of course, having everyone over to the house (and getting more shit to storage and Goodwill to make room) for the first time for most folks, playing Hold ‘Em with TripJax and watching his eyes light up when a J-high flop gives him his namesake hand. Yeah, that was a little bit of a tell (. Catching quad kings in Omaha Hi and having someone bet straight into me was nice, too, and realizing at the end of the cash game that I’d actually profited a little on that table didn’t hurt either.

Thanks to everyone for coming up, we’ll try to do it again in the fall. With more sleep.

So afterwards, what do I do on Sunday but bleed off a big chunk of my online bankroll catching 2nd-best hands and then stupidly moving UP in limits to chase my losses! That turned my $40 losing session into a nice $120 losing session. I <3 poker. Really. Rebounded a little yesterday with a 3rd-place finish in a Stars $5 5-table SNG, then grabbed about $60 on the $25NL 6-max tables to put me back in the black (barely) for the month. Thank god for FTP ads and bonuses!

Oh, I also played a little NL ring on Sunday with the blonde bombshell of blogger babes, who promptly cracked my aces with her turned flush, and kindly checked the river to save me further pain and humiliation. We both finished that table up a little.

Headed to Orlando tomorrow for the Southeastern Theatre Conference through Sunday. Anyone in that part of the world got a home game this weekend, drop me a comment or an email. I think I may cruise up to Daytona for dog track donkey poker on Saturday afternoon, unless there are better or closer options I don’t know about.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Catching up

Well, it’s official. There will now be more out-of-town players at my house tomorrow for the Falstaff Open than local players. A HUGE contingent from G-Vegas, and I don’t just mean G-Rob’s hair, are coming up, plus the Big Pirate and a couple of buddies from Columbia, not to mention TripJax coming down from G-Boro. It oughta be a blast. And with the addition of TheMark and Ms. AllIn, some Omahaha goodness is guaranteed. I’m starting to think one table of side games for hold ‘em and one table for a mixed game…

In other random news, I played a $5 MTT on Stars last night to warm up. I was cooking right along until level 8 when I ran my TPTK into an overpair. My read on the big stack was that she would raise with any sooted face card, so she was able to trap me nicely when my A 10 hit the 10-high flop. IGHN. Oh well, such is tournament pokah.

My shows went pretty well the last two weeks. The NC Dance Festival was all good, designing 20+ dance pieces in a week was pretty draining, then did 8AM – Midnight on Saturday with the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra. I wasn’t terribly pleased with the lighting on that one, but the client was, and that’s who I’m supposed to please on some gigs. Next season for them I get to light the remainder of the Lawrence Welk touring band. I soooo need a bubble machine for that gig. Loaded in 42nd St. for the local performing arts high school on Sunday, and was with that gig through Wednesday. I love that gig, because I get to work with kids who really give a shit about putting on a show, and teach them a thing or two while I’m at it. And it looked pretty good when I was done. I wanted a couple more rehearsals for the big finale dance number, but that’s always the case with musicals. I had about 20 light changes in the song and could have easily put another dozen in there if I had the rehearsal time. But that’s life.

More life – February is almost over. That’s the best news I’ve had in weeks. Between my uncle’s death, my dad’s emergency surgery, the death of a dear old family friend from home and some health issues with one of my nieces February was ridiculous. I’m glad it’s almost over and I’ll be drinking beer and slinging cards with some of my favorite folks tomorrow afternoon and evening. Thanks again for all the kind words and support this month, it’s helped a lot. Now go wish Joanada a happy birthday!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Marshmellow Peep Sex Satellite Goodness

So a big thanks to Easycure, Bobby Bracelet, Alan, Scott and the other degenerates who railbirded me on to my 2nd-place finish in my satellite tourney tonight. Thanks to the Marshmellow Peep Sex SNG, I just turned my $6.60 into a $535 entry into the 100-seat Guaranteed tourney on July 16th at the World’s Greatest Poker Site! This summer I’ll continue my quest to turn a $6 SNG into a seat in the WSOP Main Event! I think a 2000% ROI on the one tourney would make for a good year.

I managed to snag one of the three seats available in the 80-person MTT, marking my first internet final table in many a month! I even channeled the LuckBox at one point – typing “I have outs” in the chat on IRC when I pushed with my A3 into A 10 on a board of A 2 5. Running 4s gave me my straight and propelled me to my satellite, even with the loudmouth buttmonkey at my table catching quad queens twice in the span of 15 hands, once against me to destroy my chiplead.

So I’m excited about that, but also a little intimidated by the prospect of playing in a tourney with such a big buy-in. Guess it’s good practice for the WSOP event I plan to play in July, huh?  

I probably won’t have much more going on this week poker-wise, since I’m still huddled in a theatre for most of my waking moments. Finished with the NC Dance Festival and the Charlotte Philharmonic, but now I’m in tech for 42nd St. But hey – March is just around the corner, and with it, trips to Orlando for drinking, I mean, a conference, and Austin for drinking, and I mean drinking!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

9 short days

And counting to the first big tourney at the Casa de Falstaff. Looking like 25ish folks so far for Saturday 2/25 at 1PM. $50 buy in, but of course we wouldn't ever play for real money since it's against the law in my backasswards state. So far I've gotten confirmation from most of my home game regulars and a few very special guests, some with no hair and big guns, some with great hair and really no guns to speak of, plus a few G-Vegas serial commentors and one guy who claims to have a blog but hasn't updated it since the BBSOP last month.

Still got seats open, lemme know if anybody else wants to join in the festivities!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Today is a good day

No poker content, because with all the crises I haven’t had really any time to play when I was in the right frame of mind to sit at the tables. I spent some time Sunday playing, which was an expensive mistake. I blew through almost all my winnings for the month of February in one ill-spent afternoon. But I cleared most of my Full Tilt bonus, so I’m still in the black for the month. Really, if you don’t want to hear more than you’ve ever wanted to know about my family, my background, and my attitude on life, click some of the nice people on the blogroll NOW, cause we’re about to go off the deep end into some serious stream-of-consciousness rambling.

You were warned.

The wife is less than thrilled with me today, because yesterday was the big red heart day and I left her gift sitting on my desk at work. This did not play well. It was somewhat mitigated by the news that my dad was still in the hospital with an infection and low blood oxygen levels, so they were keeping ANOTHER night. But they released him this morning, so he’s on his way home and getting better. The 3 weeks of not being able to lift anything over 15 lbs. is gonna drive him batty, because he is a remarkably healthy 77-year-old man.

Let’s digress there for a minute, shall we? For some, this is old news, but for others, here’s the Falstaff family background. My folks, at the grand ages of 40 and 44, found themselves the proud parents of a bouncing baby blogger boy. My siblings, at the less grand ages of 20, 17 and16, were dismayed by this event, and our relationships have typically been a little less than the normal little brother relationships for most of my life. They were really more like most folks’ uncles and aunts, I suppose. I didn’t really have a close relationship with any of them until the past few years, when my sister and I have gotten incredibly close. I talk to Bonnie more often than anyone except my wife, and that has been a cool part of getting a little older, the development of that relationship. I have nieces older than some of my blogger brethren (btw Gamecock, one of them lives in Columbia), and my parents are pretty darn old by this point.

But my dad still works every day. And it’s not like he works at a desk, he’s a logger. Yes, my dad is a lumberjack, and he’s okay. But being from the wilds of SC, he doesn’t get the reference. He gets up before dawn and climbs into a truck to haul a chainsaw around a forest all day and chop shit up. So he’s in amazing physical condition for a man his age. But that’s the rub. His age. He is getting old, and that’s hard for all of us to really accept. My mom is another story, she fell last year and broke her hip and has been on a pretty significant downhill slide ever since. She has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, and if you’ve ever gone there, you know how much that sucks. We’re fast approaching the time that we have to have the “hand over the car keys” conversation, and it is not going to be pretty. My mother has always been fiercely independent, and a pillar of her community, but her deterioration is beginning to make her a hazard to herself and others.

But my dad is the rock. He is never sick, never takes a day of rest, is always “fine.” So this appendix thing rocked us all. I could see in my brother Tom’s eyes the terror of losing the old man, so soon after Ed’s death. I could see Bonnie barely holding her shit together as she came into the exam room in the emergency room. I was the one, oddly enough, who was fine with everything while we were dealing with it, only losing my temper slightly once and threatening to bring down a lawsuit that would make Johnny Cochran proud on their heads if they allowed that old man to lay in there for 5 hours without seeing a doctor and his appendix managed to burst and poison him. I was pretty pleased with the phrasing on that only moderately idle threat.

But he’s fine now, and everything is going to be okay. The unpleasantness looming as my mother continues her slide is just something to deal with tomorrow. Because today is a good day, and that’s all we’ve got. My tattoo loosely translates into “Seize the Day,” a cheesy philosophy I unabashedly adopted from a Robin Williams flick a long time ago, but if you wanna get more recently theatrical, go to Rent – “No day but today.” It’s the only way I know how to live, and today is a good day.  BG called the other day to officially pass the torch of “shittiest past four weeks” on to me, and I had to laugh. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, and I’ve got a ton of freelance design work cooking the next three so I’m not really sleeping until March, but I’m still standing. And today, it’s good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Back to Normal - Funeral Epilogue

Things are getting back to normal. The day of the funeral was hard, but cathartic. Nobody really gave a shit about holding back, or being strong for anyone else, or any of that other macho bullshit we spout off about when somebody dies. We all cried. A lot. Then the Methodist church fed the entire family. A lot.

I’ve been gone from that small town for my entire adult life (whenever that began, or if it has yet), but I will always have a sense of belonging there. It’s where, as we say down here, my people are from. After the funeral, where my uncle was laid to rest in a plot immediately beside my brother-in-law, I took Suzy on a walk through the cemetery and introduced her to some of my people.

My family has been a part of that community pretty much since it was a community, and a large portion of the front row of tombstones bear my name. I walked her over to Aunt Julia, who was the first person I ever knew that died, when I was 8. She spoiled me terribly, and when she died, her daughter Marian told me that I could pick out one thing from her house to remember her by. I have those porcelain figurines sitting in my house today, and I remember a sweet old lady when I look at them. I showed her Uncle Luther, who died before I was born and was Julia’s husband. I stood at my grandparents’ grave site and explained to Suzy that my middle name, Givens, was my grandmother’s middle name before she married. Both grandparents died before I was born, as well.

I showed her Uncle Erskine’s final rest, and told her the cool things I never learned about him until he was dead, like the fact that he was a hero at the Battle of the Bulge and that his entire unit was wiped out twice in the war, and he was one of less than ten survivors each time. I showed her the empty space in the front row where my parents would someday lie, and the small foot marker for Josh, my brother’s son who died on day 2 of his life with lungs that never worked right. I was only about 9 or 10 when that happened, but I remember my sister’s agony for her big brother, and her own pain at the trouble she was having carrying a child to term. I pointed out my rich Uncle Tom, who built the fellowship hall for the church along with campus buildings at Presbyterian College, Furman University and several others around the state. A rich and generous man in life, his grand tombstone and full grave marker doesn’t change the fact that he took out of this life exactly what he brought into it.

Then we gave one last look back at the green awning on the edge of the cemetery, wind gently blowing the tent flaps, and walked to the car.

It’s taken me more than a week to get back to a semblance of normal, as I suppose it always does when something happens to shake the foundations of your world. I hadn’t been close to Ed for several years, distance in geography and age doing what they do to relationships, but his unstated presence was a steadying force. Gone, I felt a void that I didn’t know he filled, and I’m trying to look at what other people I might be ignoring that are important to me in unstated, less-understood ways.

The folks that read here are actually some of the people I feel closest to, even though I’ve known none of you for more than a year, and most just since December. But through our words we share a lot, and I appreciate you stopping by, and emailing, and commenting, and using Bonus Code Falstaff at Full Tilt Poker (lol). So take a look at your life, and mention how much the people mean to you who make a difference in your life. And thanks again for everything this week. I owe you guys.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Can it be March yet?

Because February fucking sucks. And not just for me, either. Next time I see Change, April (CA), BG or Speaker, we're all doing shots together just for getting through this month. More on that later.

First things first, big thanks to Dugglebogey for my new banner, making me his latest stop on his crusade against ugly/boring blog pages. It was quick, it's cool, and he even helped my e-tarded ass out with getting the HTML poop done. He rocks. And his comics kick ass, too.

Secondly, go help StudioGlyphic's friend. Or if you aren't Filipino or know any Filipinos, register yourself anyway. It's the least we can do to help somebody.

So on to how much February fucking sucks - yet another phone call from the family on Saturday evening. When I saw my brother on the caller ID I thought "Great, he's finally coming to get that couch I've got in storage for him. I need the real estate."


"John, this is Tom. Daddy's in the hospital and they think they're gonna have to take his appendix out tonight. Call me as soon as you get this."

Fuck. Again?

Okay, let's preface this a little. My dad is roughly the same age as a lot of my friends' grandparents. Sunday was his 77th birthday, so as a present, he got a brand spanking new appendectomy scar! Woopee.

The part we really loved was the 4-hour wait before seeing a doctor, then the additional 5 hours before they decided to actually operate, making it a grand 2:30 AM when the doctor finally told us he was okay, the surgery was a success.

So I was out until after 3AM with my wife on the Saturday night before Valentine's Day for absolutely no enjoyable reason. But he's okay, in a bit of pain but fine, and he should get to go home today.

I'm afraid to wonder what next Saturday will bring, but if we continue in the slide of decreasing tragedy, maybe all I'll end up with is a hangnail.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Randomness for the end of the week

1) I suck at Stud.

2) I am strangely successful at Razz.

I'm not really sure how to reconcile this contradiction, but I've managed to book wins at razz almost every session, while losing at stud with the same frequency. I'm pretty sure I'm calling off too much cash chasing open-enders and flushes. Guess it's time to break down and read the stud section of Super System. Currently my strategy for stud is kinda like this - if I've got a pair, I'll play. If I've got 3 consecutive to a straight or three to a flush with a 10 or better for the high end of the flush (and there aren't more than three of my suit out there on other people's door cards), I'll play. Three paint and I'll play. Is that too loose? Really brutally ignorant as far as stud goes. Razz I'll call the bring in with 2-3 to a wheel, and I'll call a completed bring in with 2 to a wheel and a 3rd card lower than 8. Pretty simplistic, but it's making me a little money. And the players don't seem to change in skill level from 1/2 to 3/6, and frequently are the same people.

Random - I don't know how I lived this long without a car stereo that has a 1/8" input jack in the front for my iPod. Commercial radio sucks and now I can stop carrying around the 50+ CDs in my car. Best Buy is running a special right now that has free installation with any CD deck over $100, and there's a decent Sony for $129 with front aux input. It's a beautiful thing.

Is it March yet? I know I'm not the only blogger who really wants February to just be over. Like somebody said yesterday, thank goodness it's a short month.

Home game tonight, HOP (Hold 'Em, Omaha, Crazy Pineapple - all No Limit). Should be a blast.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Overheard at work today...

1) "It's like the old adage - never trust anything that bleeds for a week and lives." From a momentarily misogynistic co-worker.

2) "She's got a little bit of a John Wayne walk to 'er." Discussing the as yet undetermined sexual preference of a new acquaintance.

I am not funny enough to have said either of these things, I am just your humble recorder.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Today's a little better than yesterday

I wandered slowly into the back parlor, where I remembered massive Christmas trees of my youth. A room full of antique furnishings, with 11’ ceilings, and the tree always bent over just a little at the top because Ed always went for the biggest damn tree he could move. And at 6’3”, 230 lbs. he could move a lot of tree.

I saw Theresa first. Ed’s oldest daughter, now married with two kids. Haunted eyes, trembling jaw trying to hold fast, but her hands wee shaking with so many barely suppressed emotions. T had moved pretty quickly from shock and loss straight into anger, and was trying to hang onto that anger to keep her together. It wasn’t really working, but nobody was gonna tell her that today.

Aunt Hazel, sitting on my grandfather’s antique sofa, stood up to hug me when I walked up. “Your Uncle Ed’s gone, baby. Uncle Ed’s gone.”

There were no words. That’s what I said to Aunt Hazel as we hugged “I don’t have any words. There’s nothing I can say or do.”

“I know honey, nobody can do for me what I want. All I want is for somebody to bring him back to me and can’t nobody do that.”

And I sat down beside my cousin, the kid I grew up with like he was my little brother, and looked in the eyes of a suddenly old man. And I knew that same hollow, shell-shocked look he was wearing was mirrored on my own face.

I don’t remember much else from Saturday afternoon until I lost it in the parlor when my dad came in to give Aunt Hazel a goodbye hug. My dad is the rock, the gnarled sunbeaten taciturn man who at 77 still carries a chainsaw every day and drives a truck with 80,000 lbs. of timber behind his head. But when he hugged his sister, I saw his shoulders shake with pain, and I had to leave the room. I can handle my pain, I can understand the pain my cousins and aunt were feeling, but seeing my dad crack broke me right in two.

I wandered the back yard, trying to find someplace a little private to quietly lose my shit for a minute, but there were too many people around. The family had begun to gather in earnest, and the call had gone out to the community, so the caring neighbors started to arrive about 5:30 with food, drinks, paper plates, whatever you could imagine to sustain the body while the soul tries to begin the process of healing. By 6PM, less than 5 hours after my uncle’s death, there were already 6 2-liter sodas, 2 coolers full of ice, a deli tray and 2 buckets of fried chicken. I began to fear for the structural integrity of the countertops, and frankly the foundation of the house. Because I knew this was just the prelude, that Sunday would bring the casseroles.

Suzy and I decided to stay home on Sunday, rather than drive down and put ourselves through that. So I sat here, at this computer, playing Neverwinter Nights and continuing to feel like I’d been hit in the chest with a hammer. I read the comments and emails, and they all meant so much to me. My invisible internet friends were a real source of strength for me this week, and it means more to me than I can express. There’s more to say, but everything is still kinda jumbled up right now. I expect it will come trickling out here over the next week or so.

On other fronts – go visit Pauly and help us all Save BG! According to brother Big Junk, he’s doing pretty well, but throw a brother a bone or 20 and help cover the outrageous medical bills he’s gonna be stuck with. Even with insurance, it’s still a recurring junk-kick.

And I’m very honored to have been included in the latest issue of Truckin’ Pauly’s literary blogzine. Check it out, I’m in there with several of your favorite bloggers and mine.

Again, thanks to everybody who commented or emailed, or just sent me good mojo. It means a lot.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

and then that happened...

When you're the kid that moved away, even as little as 90 minutes away, the phone calls you dread are the ones that start out with "You'd better get home." These never lead to a surprise birthday party or a new Mercedes or even a Powerball win. When you get those calls, you go cold, your chest tightens up, and the face of everybody you love flashes before your eyes. You know it's gonna be bad.

Today, in the middle of the $5 HORSE MTT at Full Tilt, my cell rings, and my niece's number pops up. Interesting, since she NEVER calls me, I always call her to see if she's okay, how her mom is, etc. "Are you sitting down?"

huh? "Yeah."

"You need to get home."

Fuck, my mother/father/brother/somegoddambody has been killed in a car wreck. "What's up?"

"Uncle Ed just killed himself?"


"Uncle Ed shot and killed himself a little while ago. Mama and Grandpa are over there now, but you need to get home."

The conversation continued, but all I think I said was "What" and "Why" a bunch. My uncle, who lived across the street from my parents in the house my grandfather built, had shot himself in the head in his bed while his wife took a load of laundry out of the dryer. In the less than five minutes between her leaving him sitting on the couch, going to the laundry, folding the clothes and bringing them back into the bedroom, he had shot himself in the temple and killed himself.

I can write that, I can look back and read that, and I'm still a little numb. When my brother Wayne died, it was a body blow. I crumpled, collapsed and absolutely fell to pieces. This is different. Not the least of which reasons is the thirteen years since I've lived there and seen Ed every single day, but also because I don't know how to react. I have no frame of reference for this.

I understand death and dying. I hate it, lots, but I understand it. My parents were 40 and 44 when I was born, so death of grandparents, uncles and older relatives has been a fact of life since I was small and my great-aunt Julia who spoiled my terribly died when I was about 9. I was a volunteer firefighter when I was in high school, so I understand accidental deaths. I saw enough traffic accidents to understand that there are no reasons why some people walk away from horrific accidents and some people die in what looks like minor accidents. But I don't understand the taking of one's own life. I've never been here before. I've never been angry with the deceased just for dying before. And I am pissed. I loved Ed. A lot.

His youngest son, Morris, is just a couple of years younger than me, so we were inseparable growing up. Probably because I grew up out in the country and he was the only other kid anywhere close. We had to be inseparable, we were all there was within a 3-mile radius. So I spent countless afternoons and evenings at their house, or Morris at mine, when we were kids. We played in the barn, or in our peach shed. We played Nintendo, shot BB guns, all those kid things that you do. And we did them over the landscape of our two yards. So he wasn't a second father to me, but he was a very close uncle. My father never took me fishing, but Ed took me and Morris. He taught me how to clean a fish, helped me learn to shoot - you know, boy stuff like that. Carol Ann, Morris' sister, played ball with us, helped me learn (kinda) how to hit a ball, that kinda shit.

But now he's killed himself. Done. Over. Ship it. And I don't understand.

But that's a lie. I do understand. More than I want to admit. I've been where he was, I just never took the final step. Sometimes, that beast is tough. Some people fight that monster every single day for years. And sometimes they kill the beast. And sometimes the beast kills them. I fought my beast, and I killed him better than 10 years ago, but I still remember what it feels like to sit in the dark and cut yourself, not deep, just deep enough to bleed. And hurt. So that you can feel something outside when inside you are so dry and dark and empty that you think you might never feel anything again. I remember how you don't even think about what it will mean to anyone else, how all you can think about is maybe, just maybe, this will make it stop hurting so goddamn bad for a little while. Or maybe you can make it stop hurting forever. And all the while, that beast is sitting in the corner whispering to you, whispering that it can all go away, it can all go away right now if you just do it.

It goes away eventually anyway. If you can beat your beast. I beat mine midway through college. Don't even remember when. It wasn't like some great morning revalation of "I don't want to kill myself anymore," I just gradually got better. I stopped feeling empty inside, and haven't intentionally cut myself in more than a decade. Now all my scars have a different type of embarassing story, usually about getting distracted slicing lemons for a Corona or something. But I remember that beast, and I remember how strong that motherfucker can be.

Today, for just five minutes, the sonufabitch was stronger than my uncle. And I miss him, and I feel so bad for his family, and I am so sorry that none of us knew that he was even in this fight. Because look, there are so many people that have been there and suffered through depression and fights with so many different types of self-destructive behavior, I guaran-fucking-tee you that someone you know can help you if you're hurting. Just give them a chance.

So this may be the most disjointed post in my entire blog history, but I did preface some of this by saying that I'm in a bit of shock right now. Thanks for the folks on irc for the invisible internet hugs, and thanks to Daddy for playing out my stack in the MTT, 3 outta the money is better than I woulda managed for myself, so thanks. I'll try and put my thoughts in a more coherent form later, but honestly, this post wasn't really for anybody but me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Haute Cuisine

Expect nothing from a hand. Inspiration from Bill and Iggy. Duh, and of course, BG.

“You motherfuckin’ sonufabitch!” Slap! Her hand drew back for another shot, but quicker than a hiccup, I grabbed her wrist.

“I know the goodlordJesusChrist talked about turnin’ the other cheek, but I don’t think he meant just so’s you could slap it, too.”


Guess she’s got me pegged, huh? How you gonna talk your way outta this one, son?

My evening was quickly going downhill. The plan had been laid in place for weeks; a romantic dinner with real cloth napkins, one of those places where you sit down before you even order your food, and they bring it to you right there at the table, you don’t have to carry a tray or nothin’. Se we got there, I picked her up at the mobile home park right at quarter of seven like I promised, and I didn’t even honk the horn while I waited for her to drag her happy ass out the front door to go eat. I even rolled down the window to smoke as we cruised on to the restaurant.

We got there right on time, and the ol’ boy in the funny coat took my keys and looked a little confused when I told him “Now the clutch sticks a little bit, so just pump it once or twicet ‘fore you go jammin’ ‘er down in gear.” I hate it when folks can’t understand plain English. So we let the little fruity guy up front fart around for a few minutes pretending to have lost my reservation, when I figured out what he really wanted. So I crossed his palm with my good buddy, Abe Lincoln, and he found our table right damn quick enough.

Just like I had told that little poofy fella on the phone, they put us right there at their best and most private table, right besides the kitchen, so our food’d be sure to be good n’ hot when they brung it out to us.

“Here you go, honey.”

“What’s this, Earl?”

“It’s a flower, Lucille.”

“Well I know it’s a flower, Earl, but you ain’t never give me no flower before. What’s wrong? Is somebody dead? Did they cancel your parole? Did Earl Jr. get busted again?”

“No honey, nothin’s wrong. Ain’t nobody dead, Earl Jr. know enough not to get caught no more, and I finished up with my parole three weeks ago. This is our night, just you and me, to celebrate a new beginning.”

“A new beginning? What the hell are you talking about? Did you git fired? Are we moving? What you mean, a new beginning?”

“Now Lucille, ain’t nothin’ wrong, honey. I just thought we could have a nice dinner and I could tell you some shit I been thinkin’ about ever since my last meetin’ with that parole officer.” This was about to get good, I had her just about right where I wanted her.

“Well, go on then.”

“Alright. I wrote it down so’s I wouldn’t leave nothin’ out.” I took the paper outta my pocket.

“That’s a damn Kenny Rogers’ Chicken bag! What the hell are you doing pulling a Kenny Rogers’ bag outta your pocket in the middle of this fancy-ass restaurant?!?”

“Shut up, woman, and lemme read this to ya. It’s important, and if I don’t get it all out at once, I won’t never say this shit.”

“Alright, I’m listening.”

I commenced to reading. “Lucille, you know I ain’t never been what anybody could say was a good provider. I mean, I done okay there for a little while, but then the feds got wind and I got busted and sent upstate, and since I got back I ain’t been able to do nothing’ but be a grease monkey down at old man Regin’s garage. But even though I ain’t never been able to be rich, nor buy you nice things like I want to, you still stuck by me, through my first three years in the pen, through both parole hearings, and all through my hard times since I got out. And I do sure appreciate it.”

“You oughta.”

“You gone let me finish?”

“Go on.”

“Now I know I done some things I shouldn’t a done, like calling your mama a fat old busybody cuntrag.”

“GASP” It was that damn ol’ fruity waiter again.

“Just get me a PBR and her a sloe gin fizz and leave us alone for another coupla minutes.”

“Yes, um, sir.”

“Alright, where was I? Oh yeah, cuntrag. Okay. And I never shoulda sold your TV for a bag a weed, but I said I was sorry and I even got you a new one, color this time. And I just wanted this night to be perfect, and I just wanted to say, that even though I know it was wrong of me to bang your cousin Sheryl under the grease rack that night a month ago, butt it showed me…”




“Well, I was kinda hoping that you’d let me finish…”

“You just did! You motherfuckin’ sonufabitch!” Slap! Her hand drew back for another shot, but quicker than a hiccup, I grabbed her wrist.

“I know the goodlordJesusChrist talked about turnin’ the other cheek, but I don’t think he meant just so’s you could slap it, too.”

Guess she’s got me pegged, huh? How you gonna talk your way outta this one, son?

“Now Lucille, just let me finish…” but like she said, I was finished. I was talking’ to nothing’ but her empty chair while she ran out the front of that restaurant like a hound dog done stepped in a fire ant hill.

“but it showed me that you’re the only woman I’ve ever really loved, and I brung you here tonight to ask you to be my wife.” I finished, talking to the empty chair. I took the box from Will’s Jewelry outta my pocket, opened it up, looked at that big rock I just put the down payment on yesterday, closed it, set it down on that table in that poofy-ass little restaurant, and walked out. Alone.

“Then I come in here to drink a little whiskey, play some cards, and forget about all the bad shit that done happened to me today and that I done in my life. Then you, you sorry little Swayze-lookin’ midget. You had to go and draw a full fuckin’ house against me playin’ deuce-fuckin-seven and get me so riled up I hadda put a bullet right between your eyes.”

Now how the hell am I gonna explain that one to Lucille? And she thought banging her sister under the grease rack was bad, now I had to go and shoot myself a poker-playing midget. Heh. He never expected that from that hand.


Gonna be pop-oooo-oooo-laaarr

Sorry, Wicked on the iPod. Jeez, a 32-year-old heterosexual hillbilly playing show tunes at his desk in the middle of the work day. And I work, tangentially, in the construction business. They kill people for less in North Carolina. Thank God everybody else is out of the office for the afternoon.

But anyway, it's that crazy time of the year that actually only comes along every couple of years when I find my self very much in demand as a lighting designer. There aren't many lighting guys in Charlotte, and I'm one of them. I can go a couple years with only doing my work for the Philharmonic, and then all of a sudden the planets align, everybody else is booked, and suddenly I'm busy.

So this month in addition to the Philharmonic concert on the 18th (which I love because it's a one-day gig and they have a check waiting for me at the end of the night), I've managed to pick up Lighting Director duties for the NC Dance Festival at UNC-Charlotte because their lighting designer is on sabbatical this semester, and a production of 42nd Street for the local performing arts high school. Not a bad month, plus UNCC has added me on to their payroll as Master Electrician for two other shows this semester. Which essentially covers my trips to Austin in March and most of Vegas in July, so that's pretty cool.

It just gets to be a difficult balancing act with the whole real job thing. Especially since Westover Church is getting into high gear, and that's the single largest lighting project I've ever worked on. Yes, a church. 2800 seats, $750,000 worth of lighting equipment (in the sanctuary alone) in a church. The church has a stage lift that is large enough to move a 15-passenger van from underneath the building to onto the stage. And a full motorized rigging system. And the most technically advanced lighting console I've ever sold. And, and, and. It boggles the mind. But with that project taking up a bunch of time, I've got to be a little careful of taking on too many side projects.

So I'm in a little bit of a dilemma here. UNCC has asked me to design their spring dance concert. For a fee that would cover all the non-poker expenses of the Dear and Patient and I going to Vegas this summer and getting tickets to Avenue Q while we're there. But I don't know if I really have the time. And I don't know if I can pull it off. I've lit dance before, in an odd theatre with mediocre instrumentation and choreographers with limited expectations. But never in a really state-of-the-art facility with plenty of fixtures and real choreographers who are used to good lighting. On the one hand, it's kinda like stepping up in limits - dance is where lighting designers get to be real artists. There's no set, no dialogue, just the lighting and the movement and music to create art. That's really appealing. On the other hand, I don't even know how to cue a dance show that I'm not going to run, since I've never done it. Anything I've everlit dance-wise, I was the board op and I kinda made it up as I went along - rock n' roll style. That works when you're putting in half a week's work for a few hundred bucks, but when somebody's laying out $2k for your work they deserve a little more focus.

Then there's the real job bit. Barbizon has been really good about letting me off work for various & sundry side gigs and other engagements, but we're pretty damned busy right now, and it could screw up some things for me to take off the time this gig is going to require. I'm venting, but I'm welcoming advice too, so leave me a blurb in the comments if you've got an opinion one way or the other on what I should do.

Also looking for good Valentine's Day suggestions from any of my girl-type readers. Metrosexuals count, too.

Go read Pauly, he's busting ass at the Borgata Winter Open, and BG has decided to shift to fiction to deflect his mind from his upcoming medical issues. I just hope they amputate the correct leg, buddy:). These are two of my favorite writers, and to hit the hat trick, the third just came back from his hiatus! It's a good week for blogging! Stop reading my shit and go find these guys.

Oh, and sign up for Full Tilt using the big silly banner down the side. Can't play Razz with donkeys anywhere else!