Sunday, December 31, 2006

The 2006 Esqys

Last year, I made a list of some of the highlights of the year, and thought I would continue the tradition. Like last year, I am favored to win every category, and I must remind everybody...please, no wagering.

Best trip (non-family) = the Mini Takes the States Road Rally. Fun trip, fun people, fun to not be at work for a whole week. Check out my archives for the full story.

Best trip (family) = Thanksgiving in Colorado with the Gilberts. Great to see everybody again, and need to do that more often.

Best book I read this year = The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Beautifully simple book about the love between a father and a son...told against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic nightmare. If my father were still alive, I would have shared this book with him.

Best new habit = getting more assertive at work. As I continue to learn the law and the various court procedures, I am trying to become a better advocate for my clients. I am getting better at believing in myself and standing my ground when I think I am right. More and more often, I am.

Best new habit, runner up = paying off debt. We have been free of credit card debt for a few years now, but earlier this year I was able to pay off my undergraduate student loans, we are a couple payments away from paying off the car, and should be able to pay off the wife's student loans in the coming year. My law school debt will be hanging around for quite a while (emphasis on "quite"), but with those others out of the way, I think we can seriously begin looking at buying our own home in the near future. Yay, us!

Best continuing habit = running, but I'm not going as often as I need to. Hopefully this will be a continuing winner in years to come.

Best purchase (big) = our new car, an '06 Mini Cooper. Made driving fun again, and made parking less of a chore. Also exciting? I've never owned a new car before. Honestly, made (makes) me a little nervous.

Best purchase (smaller) = TiVo. Has revolutionized how I watch television, and I am proud to say, has worked out how I hoped: I watch fewer overall hours of television, and can't remember the last commercial I saw. Fantastic!

Best videogame = Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. Playing video games in my 30s? Check. Playing a game where I get to re-live my favorite movies of all time? Check. Both of those, but doing it as lego characters? Check. All of the above, and the wife likes to play it with me? Come on...that's almost too many positives for one game!

2006 was a positive year for me, and I hope it was good for you as well. Good luck to all of us in the coming year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006


This morning, we woke up very early (esp. for a Saturday!) and drove to San Jose to take part in a Japanese new year custom called mochitsuki, which involves steaming rice, pounding into a paste, and then forming it into little disc-shaped rolls to be eaten on New Year's Day. It was a lot of fun to see everybody, share a traditional custom, and beat the hell out of some unsuspecting rice. Good times.

Here's me, showing some rice who's boss.

This one shows our friends pounding their mochi...and yes, in case you wondered, the double entendres were pretty much an all-day event.

We got to see our good friends, drank sake, took out some aggression on some rice, and went home with way too many mochi. What's not to love?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On the comeback trail...

If you are a regular reader (I'm speaking to both of you here), you know my sorrow at getting kicked off my favorite online poker site due to recent legislation which attempts to ban US players from making deposits to certain online gaming sites.

So I am trying to get back in the old-fashioned winning free money!

This morning (I'm embarrassed to admit how long I played), I monied in my second freeroll, making it to the final table and coming in 8th out of 1,800 players. I now have a mighty $5 of other people in my account, and am pleased that I am once again playing poker with free money.

WSOP, here I come!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Shootings and tigers and earthquakes...oh my!

Busy day in my neighborhood; came home to see on the news that a tiger "attacked" a volunteer at the zoo down the street. While I was watching that, at least six cop cars and three ambulances went screaming past us to a house one block up where a cop and suspect both died in a gun battle. While I was watching the local news to learn about the shooting, a small earthquake hit, shaking us up but causing no damage.

No locust swarms or frogs yet, but I'm keeping an umbrella handy just in case.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

One dozen and counting

The better half and I celebrated twelve years of being married this weekend with a fun "vacation" downtown. We relaxed, had a fantastic dinner, and then retired for the evening. We even had fun breakfast this morning, and did not order our eggs poached.

Happy anniversary to us!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Everybody Wang Chung...

Finished American Psycho, and as weird as it sounds, I enjoyed this book. It is harrowing, disgusting, pornographically violent, and all the same, it was fun to read. Watching as Patrick slowly spirals into his personal hell, which may or may not exist outside of his own mind, you get a real snapshot of the superficial 80s in all their New Wave glamour. The details of the narrative, especially about the clothing, are meticulous, and one of the main reasons this book works so effectively as satire. The concept that the characters have everything going for them on the surface, but are so utterly empty and alone, is driven home perfectly.

This book is not for the squeamish; I consider myself fairly desensitized by now, but a couple of the scenes made my stomach turn. Also a tricky book to read on the train; definitely one of those books that gets so graphic, you start to wonder if anyone is reading over your shoulder, and if so, what they must think of you. I give this book a solid A, and recommend it if you want to see how satire is done.

Now, in a rare double bill, I have to share that after finishing Psycho, I thought I would give Ellis's first book, Less Than Zero, a try. It is such a fast read, I didn't even have time to put it in the sidebar. Maybe it was because I had just finished Psycho, and was expecting bigger things, but I really didn't care for this book. The other maybe? I think Zero was the author's warm up to Psycho, and the latter is in my opinion the vastly superior book. There are several shared themes: too much money, too many drugs, too much sex, and so much of everything that none of it means anything to anyone. All of the characters in Zero were bored, and I got very bored reading about their "poor little rich kids" lives. I will say I liked the book better than the movie, but that is (a) pretty normal, and (b) still not saying much. D.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Envying the fictional

Every time I log on to Gmail, I see this picture, advertising their new phone-compatible email program.

This fictional person leads a very rich, full fictional life. Where is his spam promising low interest rates and cheap prescription drugs?

I hope he has fun at his fictional BBQ. I wouldn't mind getting invited to a fictional BBQ.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Out of this world!

[I tried to think of the cheesiest title possible for this post, the one that would make Ellis cringe the most, and I believe I picked a winner]

I finished Lunar Park, by Bret Easton Ellis, and I was impressed. This is the first Ellis book I have read, and based on the publicity I have heard about him, the mix of praise and disgust, I am not sure what I expected, but "tender" was not high on the list.

On the surface, this is a horror story, a pseudo-autobiographical account of events that the author claims happened in his life. If you choose to believe that these events actually happened, I am guessing you also loved that horrible Johnny Depp movie. If, like me, you choose to see the "events" of this book more as either drug/alcohol induced nightmares, and/or simple theatrical devices used by the author to show us his own inner deterioration as the rift between himself and his estranged father eats at him over the years, then I think this is an easier book to digest (pun somewhat intended), and is much more interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. There were stretches where I thought it could have been tighter (the first chapter was useful to me, but I can understand how critics would see it as self-indulgent), but overall, I was impressed that the author used the underlying horror story as a lesson about connecting with his own son in a way that he did not connect with his father. The final chapter is touching, and there is a genuine sadness there, even if it is hidden behind fictional characters and blood-soaked monsters. I want to read American Psycho so I understand some of the portions of this book that refer to the earlier work, and based on the author's writing style, I think I will enjoy reading it. I'll give this book a solid B.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Race

Here's another video from my trip, that for some reason I can't embed on the blog (?). Not sure what I like more: my mom's laughter when I make fun of my brother's bald head (which is in the middle of the screen in the back, wearing a cool headband/earmuff combo), or my uncle's attempt to hide behind my mom and not be on camera. Probably a tie.

The Slide

Same park, same niece, but different adult and apparatus. Notice the lack of injury this time. Lesson learned.

The Tire Swing

My niece, enjoying the tire swing at a local elementary school. What I didn't record was her dismount shortly after this, when we had played too long and she got very dizzy, which resulted in her losing her balance, falling, and hitting her head. Worst. Uncle. Ever.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day in Colorado

Just got back from a Thanksgiving visit to see the family in Colorado. Although it meant once again abandoning our normal Turkey Day ritual of staying home and in pajamas all day, I am really glad we went. The airport both ways was (amazingly) easy to navigate, in part because we went out on Tuesday and came back Friday night. Both ways, the airport was almost empty, and getting a rental car was simple (although I am so sick of the hard sell at the counter: just give me what I reserved, and stop trying to sell me expensive insurance and upgrades I don't want. Is that so much to ask for?).

The trip was hosted locally by my grandparents, and included seeing almost all of the (immediate) members of my mom's side of the family, including my mom, my brother and his family, and a surprise visit by special guest star Uncle Bob. My brother's three kids were the stars of the show; they are all adorable, well behaved, and a lot of fun to be around. Hard to believe they are related to me.

On Thanksgiving Day, we all went downtown in the freezing cold (it was below 30 degrees, so I am not exaggerating here) for the Thanksgiving Day Run, a four mile event that wound its way through the Fort. My brother actually ran, while my Mom, Uncle Bob, and I walked it. I felt a little better about eating several plates of food later that day...a little.

Speaking of food, no trip is complete without making sure that my dietary tourism is complete. We hit the two big spots on my itinerary, which are admittedly on opposite ends of the culinary spectrum, but both great stops for me: Bisetti's, a local favorite for decades and a must-visit on any trip to see the grandparents; and Fazoli's, that most-missed fast-food favorite of mine that hasn't quite expanded out to me, but is working its way West. Someday...[sigh]...

Great time, great trip, and wonderful to see the family again. Need to do that more often.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Daddy Dearest

I finished The King of Kings County, by Whitney Terrell. The story covers a span of several decades, and manages to stay true to the characters in a realistic manner as human beings, not two-dimensional characters. I hate it in a movie when we see the character as a child, and then twenty years later as an adult, and they are wearing the same glasses and clothing so we know who they are (I think of this as "The Big Change," although that might not be fair to said movie). Heavy-handed visual cues like that pander to the audience, making a paternalistic assumption that we are too dumb to otherwise follow a story. In this book, the characters didn't just get older, they grew up, and did so in a thoughtful and well-planned manner.

I liked this book; I doubt I would have picked it up unless it had been recommended to me, but having read it, I not only enjoyed the story itself, but I enjoyed the writing enough that I will probably take a look at Terrell's other works. I seem to be on a kick recently, reading books told in the first person by authors writing about themselves, talking about their difficult relationships with their respective fathers (see sidebar for my current book). You don't have to be Freud to figure out why I have been reading this type of book recently, but it also helps that they are well-written and, realistically, don't resolve neatly or cleanly. I'll give this book a solid B.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Xmas bonus

I went on a trip to the Central Valley today to visit four different clients; made for a long day, but glad I was able to see all of them in one big swing. At my third stop, my seven year-old client asked me where I worked; when I said Oakland, she said, "Wow, that's a long drive." She's right; probably 1.5 hours without traffic. When the visit was over, she excused herself while I talked to the foster mom, and when she came back, she gave me this apple "in case you get hungry."

I know I probably earn a fraction of the money the corporate law types make, but how many of them get apples? A nice ending to a long day.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Are you there, God? No, really...are you there?

I finished The Eternal Footman, by James Morrow, and by doing so, I also finished what the author refers to as The Godhead Trilogy, three related and yet separate novels which explore how the world would react if the dead body of God, all two miles of Him, fell from the sky and landed in the Atlantic Ocean. I would absolutely recommend these books (especially Towing Jehovah, the first book in the series) to anybody, whether or not you are religious or believe in God. The concept of God dying plays with everybody's beliefs: if you believe in God, but He died, would your belief change, strengthen, or weaken? If you did not believe in God, would His death change your mind? And maybe most importantly, would the concrete knowledge that there was a God, but He is now dead, change how we interact with each other?

These books are fantastic, as novels, as satire, and as explorations of the reader's beliefs through the actions of the characters. A+ for all three books, no question.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Goodbye, dear friend

With the passage of the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act, several internet poker sites are either suspending play for US players, or simply restricting new deposits. My favorite site, Hollywood Poker, stopped all real money play for US players last week, and gave us two days to cash out. So with the passage of this bill comes the close of something I probably spent too much time doing anyway. I am not sure whether to thank the Republicans, or hope they all get run out of office...oh, wait a minute...

Come on, Dems...bring back my hobby!

(ps. as to the post below; it turns out that a lot of people knew that they would be getting thrown off of the site, but rather than cashing out, were instead playing in real money games and sort of "burning off their money," i.e. playing really badly in the hopes of either hitting big or going out in a blaze of glory. I played several smaller tournaments right before the US players got cut out, and monied in several, adding close to $40 to the total cash out check I will get in the mail soon. Again, given that I never put a dollar into the site, getting a check for a few hundred bucks of other peoples' money should be something I am excited about, but I think I would rather keep playing...)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Roller Coaster

That's how I would describe my poker of late; up, down, and a lot of sideways. I won two freerolls in two weeks (beat out 389 players in the first one, 494 in the second, pictured above), but have been getting owned in the sit-and-go tournaments, which are single-table, ten players, winner take all. I think the problem is that I usually play very low-stakes games, and therefore people have little to lose, and luck is more of a factor than it should be: people don't respect a healthy bet, people chase hands till the end, and, quite frankly, people do absolutely idiotic things and occasionally get rewarded for it. Luck has to be part of the game, otherwise it wouldn't be fun, and I have certainly gotten lucky my fair share of times. However, as ironic as this sounds, I think I need to play in games where there is a little more at stake to cut down on the "luck" factor.

I'm sure my wife is thrilled to read that.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fortunate Son

I finished The Greatest Man In Cedar Hole, by Stephanie Doyon, last week. I liked this book a lot; I thought that the characters were interesting, the plot was a little predictable but still fun, and the author's writing style was light and easy to follow. Not the Greatest Book In My Library, but definitely enjoyable.

I particularly enjoyed the subplot about Spud's business; without giving too much away, I will share that he gets involved in a get-rich-quick scheme that actually gets him fairly rich, fairly quick. I thought the author handled this very well; it must be very tricky to allow the reader to see just enough of what is going on without giving too much away, and to do it in a way that seems plausible to the characters as well. Nicely done; I'll go B+ and recommend this book.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sweeping the clouds away

Had a great time last night; was on "the list" for an event put on by the JCCCNC, an organization in which a good friend of ours is very active. The event was called Asian Americans on Broadway: Opening Doors; the show consisted of half a dozen Broadway vets singing show tunes from shows they have performed in, as well as telling stories about the difficulties involved in getting roles. It was an entertaining evening; Michael K. Lee has a voice that could stop a truck (a good skill, since he mentioned leaving for Korea soon to do Miss Saigon...remember to duck and cover, Michael!), and Christine Toy Johnson's story of how the poster art for the show She Loves Me was changed from a blonde to a brunette when she starred in it was a crowd pleaser. When I met Christine in the lobby later, I told her I remembered her role on Oz; she seemed pleased and surprised, all at the same time. I loved Hazel Anne Raymundo's rendition of "The More You Ruv Someone" from Avenue Q, and I especially liked that the crowd enjoyed it as well.

But there is no question that, for me, the highlight of the evening was watching and later meeting Alan Muraoka, seen here with my beautiful wife. If you don't have kids (or, in the alternative, if you aren't a big geek like me), you may not know that Alan is a regular on Sesame Street; he is the current proprietor of the store that used to be run by Mr. Hooper. Alan was not only gracious enough to pose for a photo (I played the "my nephews and niece are big fans" card, allowing me not to embarrass myself further with the "I was sad when Mr. Hooper died, even though I'm a grown man" or "I have a Sesame Street tattoo, even though I'm a grown you want to see it?" cards. That would have been pretty pitiful), he is sending autographed cast photos to said nephews and niece, thus finally assuring I will not win the "Worst Uncle Ever" award again this year. I was running out of room on my metaphorical mantle.

A great evening...a "magic carpet ride," if you will...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Finished Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill, and have to say that while I enjoyed the author’s use of language and her writing style, I think I read this book incorrectly. The prose is beautiful, but the plot, characters, and story are forgettable; I take it this was intentional, as the story revolves around a young woman who becomes a model and is, herself, beautiful and forgettable. Because of this, I think this book would be great to read inside of an International Coffees commercial: on the couch, cup of (pseudo) coffee steaming next to you, rain smacking lightly on the windows, pausing occasionally and thinking about Jean Luc. You would have a chance to enjoy the language all at once, and then put the book away and let it drift quickly out of your memory, like literary cotton candy. Instead, I read this book in short bursts on the train, surrounded by loud, often smelly people, which didn’t allow me to get very involved in the language, and only heightened the shallowness of the story itself.

I’ll give this book a B-, but have a feeling it could have gone higher if I had read it differently.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Great Expectations

Wow, I really wanted to like this book. A thumbnail sketch of the plot of Winkie: a forgotten teddy bear decides to run away from home, only to be arrested by the FBI and put on trial as a domestic terrorist. What's not to love about that premise?

Granted, the book is more than that, and has a bedtime story feel worthy of its protagonist. Unfortunately, I once again allowed my expectations to get set too high, and so what is basically a sweet, funny little book was built up in my mind, and I just didn't think it was as wonderful as I am convinced it could have been. I think one of the main problems was the various reviews I read calling this book a "satire," which it is not, although the premise certainly lends itself to that genre. Note to self: stop reading reviews before you read the book.

Overall, I thought this book was...nice. I'll give it a C+, and mention that I did not regret the time spent with Winkie, especially the parts that made me remember childhood toys that I hope are not living in a shack in the woods mailing bombs to various people and organizations.

Monday, October 02, 2006


The day has finally arrived: after years of waiting and hoping, we are finally the proud owners of TiVo! I could not be more excited; I spent most of the weekend just playing with it, learning the features, setting up a Season Pass or three, and just generally geeking out. Fantastic.

As you may be aware, TiVo tracks what you record and how you rate suggestions, and then automatically records shows it "thinks" you may enjoy. After being plugged in for about 10 hours, TiVo apparently knew me well enough to record something called Sushi TV, a show that features clips from wacky Japanese game shows. It was spectacular.

I am not sure whether to be impressed...or a little frightened.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

This was no lawn mower accident!

Finished The Ruins this morning on the train; I will give it a B- in that it was entertaining, kept me interested, and was a solid light read. Something positive about both this book and Smith's previous book, A Simple Plan, is that the author does a great job of creating relatable, interesting characters, and additionally does a great job of making their interactions very believable. Like the previous book, the reader can see the characters moving towards the precipice, and can see the characters realize they are moving towards that precipice and can't seem to turn back, and the reader is forced to continually ask himself how he would react in a similar situation.

The reason I'm going with a B-, and the negative I have to mention (and I will try not to reveal too much in saying this) is that the set up and premise of this book are so implausible that, no matter how solid the characters and their interactions are, the fact is they are stuck in a wacky sci-fi/horror movie dilema just to the left of Little Shop of Horrors. Where his first book took an improbable, yet possible premise, and placed us smack in the middle, this book sets us down in what reads like a "please option me" screenplay for the new wave of graphic horror movies. Scott, you are better than that.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Do the (b)Right(ness) Thing

Watched Spike Lee's The Inside Man over the weekend; at the time, I was struck that Lee and the art director had made such an interesting choice to shoot the movie primarily in pinks and greens. The better half was convinced there was something wrong with the DVD player, but I created this whole scenario in my mind that Lee, in shooting a modern film noir, was making an artistic choice to shoot his movie in colors which would be the opposite of black and white.

Nope. Color balance was off on my DVD player, and didn't realize it until after we had watched the whole thing, after I spent time listening to the commentary on the DVD, waiting for comments about the color, and after I looked up pics from the movie this morning. Score (yet) another one for the wife.

By the way, entertaining movie.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Mini video of the MINIs

I posted a video I made with my cellphone on YouTube so you can enjoy the kickoff of the MINI Takes the States Rally like you were standing right next to me (how cool is that sentence?). What a world we live in.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

1,540 miles later...

We got back from our road trip last night; I wasn't able to update the blog along the way, so this afternoon I will post stories about each day of the drive, along with some pictures I took. I'll change the dates so the stories reflect the calendar a little more accurately. The short version: over the past week, we drove to Las Vegas and back again, and had some fun adventures along the way. Scroll down and enjoy watching my beard grow!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Day 6: Homeward Bound

We left Avila this morning and headed north to Hearst Castle, something that we've talked about seeing in the past, but is just far away enough that we've never gotten around to visiting. The tour was nice; I am not sure if I am in awe of the splendor, or disgusted by the excess, but either way, it's a hell of a house. I asked the tour guide if Hearst had ever screened Citizen Kane in his theater; she said no, but I doubt that is true. A lot of the tour seemed to gloss over and whitewash Hearst's past, so I took all of it with a grain of salt. Sand? Whatever it is you take a grain of. Regardless of whether you view Hearst as a Nazi sympathizer or great American capitalist, the idea that this man was spending $10,000 a month on ice for his polar bear at a time when most of the world was plunged in the depths of the Great Depression strikes me as obscene.

After the tour, we headed home, and wrapped up our trip across the western part of America. According to the odometer, we covered more than 1,500 miles. According to the temperature gauge, we went from the low 50s leaving SF to 114 in the Mojave Desert. We played some good (and not so good) poker, ate fantastic food, met interesting people, and didn't kill each other. A successful vacation, indeed.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 5: Las Vegas to Avila Beach

We actually planned on the fifth day of our trip being long, but I miscalculated a little, so it turned out LONG. We left Vegas around 11AM and headed west towards LA. We did manage to spot a Fazoli's for lunch, a rare treat for us since moving away from Kentucky.

The bad part was that we hit Los Angeles right around 4, just in time for rush hour. Ouch. We crawled up the coast towards Santa Barbara, and got to our hotel in Avila Beach about two hours later than we'd hoped. This didn't leave any daylight to explore the area as we'd wanted to, which was fine, since we weren't really in the mood to get back in the car. We had dinner at Fat Cat's Cafe, down on the pier at the beach; good food + low prices x silly pictures of cats on the walls = feeling better.

One of the amazing and infuriating parts of the drive was what I will call the Accordian Effect: that weird traffic anomaly whereby traffic comes to a complete standstill for absolutely no reason at all. My guess is that, like the proverbial butterfly in China, one guy taps his brakes (rather than just laying off the gas...I hate brakes on the highway about as much as I hate anything in life), which causes the guy behind him to tap his, causing the next guy to lay on his a little more, and so on, until traffic is coming to a complete stop back down the highway, and then will continue to speed up and slow down as people break free, speed up, and then have to slam on their brakes again. Annoying to say the least.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day 4: The Poker Gods smile on us

Tried the noon tournament at the Luxor again; stayed in longer this time, but it's a tough tournament if you want to play good poker. Allow me to explain: you start with $500 in play chips, but the blinds start at $25-$50, and go up every 15 minutes. That means from the very beginning, you are committing 10% of your stack in the big blind, and a standard raise in poker (3x the big blind) commits almost a third of your chips. Therefore, it is very difficult to hang around and wait for good cards, or you will get blinded out. The result is a lot of all-in bets early on, and you hope to get lucky. I did not get lucky. In fact, as I was about to get blinded out, I went all in with Ace, King...and got beat by a guy who went all in with King, Queen and hit the Queen on the turn. I had a couple more chips than him, so was forced to go all in on the very next hand. I look down at Ace, Queen...not a bad starting hand. The same guy calls me with King, Jack...and hits his Jack on the river. Ouch. One hand, okay...but two in a row? The Poker Gods were telling me it was not my time. Yet.

Since we had the car, we decided to drive out to the Red Rock Casino to take a look and see if we could meet Heather from Hell's Kitchen. The casino is nice, and the poker room is very large. Unfortunately, the games were a little out of our comfort zone, so we opted not to play. We did go to the restaurant that I was told Heather would be executive chef (scroll down a bit for my earlier post about this), but were told by the hostess that while portions of the show were taped there, in fact Heather had been offered the exec chef job at their Italian restaurant...and still hadn't accepted the job. So no pseudo-celebrity meet and greet for us. Back to the Strip.

We signed up for the 6PM tournament at Mandalay Bay, and went to play some low-limit at the Excalibur again. We both ended up down this time, so a wash from the previous day. On the way out, the host told us this long and very personal story about an experience in Big Sur that he felt was both spiritual and very emotional...why he chose to share this with us, I am not sure, but I have to admit it was a nice story.

Mom, if you are reading my blog, skip this next section...

[Interesting side story: Vegas is a constant destination for conventions, and while we were there, we kept seeing people with two different badges; one for something called Isagenix, and then a whole different kind of badge, with naked ladies on it. I found out that there was a convention for owners of "gentlemen's clubs" going on, which partly explained why we also kept seeing women with basketball-sized breasts walking around...aside from just being in Vegas, that is. Anyway, when we sat down to play at the Excalibur, we happened to sit down next to this woman. Huh...small world.]

The tournament was great; both the wife and I made it to the final table, and both of us made it into the money. The better half came in fifth, and I came in third. The money from that made up for our ealier buy-ins and then some; in total, we ended up leaving Las Vegas with all of the cash we brought plus about $50. How cool is that?

Also fun: there was a UFC fight coming up at the Luxor over the weekend, and so a bunch of fighters and trainers were in town, and several played in our tournament. One of the fighters, Thomas "WildMan" Denny sat at my table, and we had a very cool conversation about Ultimate Fighting and poker. He said that he gets more excited about going all in sometimes than he does at his fights; I pointed out that in poker, there is more luck involved since fat guys like me actually have a chance of knocking him out. He thought that was pretty funny.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 3: Viva Las Vegas!

The third day of our Odyssey was one of the best days I have ever had in Las Vegas, and I have had some great days in LV. Started with the noon poker tournament at the Luxor; not my best poker (went out on the first hand I played when I went all in with top pair, and guy called me with a draw...which he of course hit on the river...unreal), but I'm not at work, so things are magic. The better half almost made it to the final table, but also felt the wrath of the dreaded river. After poker, we headed to the spa for massages; very nice after a couple days in the car.

The poker was still calling to us, so we headed over to the Excalibur for some low-limit fun; played for about an hour and a half, and we both walked away up. Nice. After that, we headed back over to our hotel for a fantastic dinner at Diego (some of the best guacamole I've ever had), and then wrapped up the evening with a show at the Tropicana. The show was as cheesy as we expected, and topless showgirls do not automatically equal "sexy" (Baywatch was wrong; naked people should not run). Still, entertaining, and one of the last Las Vegas review shows around, so glad we saw it.

On the way back to the room, I finally spotted a celebrity (one of my long-standing issues is that I never see famous people; I guess they don't hang out at the 1-3 limit poker tables?): Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and a woman I assume is his girlfriend were heading into Tabu. I gave Shari the camera and got ready to do the gushing "I'm a big fan" speech, but it was clear that Chris and his lady friend were arguing about something, and given that he was on a date and not in the best of moods, I decided against asking for a picture. Part of me thinks I did the right thing, but then again, Chris was wearing his signature cowboy hat and a Full Tilt Poker bowling shirt, so it's not like he was going incognito or something. Oh well.

A great day!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 2: Santa Barbara to Las Vegas

The second day started well: free cinnamon rolls in the lobby, which was filled with a mixture of rude Europeans and families, headed by Angry Dads that made it clear they didn't like my t-shirt. So sorry.

We headed down the coast, skirting LA (didn't see the Hollywood sign?) and heading off into the desert towards Barstow, the site of a planned pit stop hosted by another group of MINI owners.

Had lunch at an In and Out Burger (I don't like their religious messages, but MTTS gave us gift certificates for a free lunch...I put my feelings aside for a free lunch), and met Jim McDowell, president of MINI USA. Nice guy.

Drove on to Nevada, where we stopped at Buffalo Bill's Casino for a free ride on The Desperado. I sat next to Jim, and I am still kicking myself for not taking a picture of me and the president on the coaster...that would have gotten me on the website for sure.

Finally made it to Vegas and our hotel; got the sweet upgrade to the bigger suite (why? Because I'm Brendon, dammit...that's why! Seriously, I think it had more to do with it being mid-week in August, and therefore not a lot of guests), and then headed over to the House of Blues for the MTTS event. Not that exciting, but we're in Vegas, and that's all that matters.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 1: Monterey to Santa Barbara

Today we began our road trip with other MINI owners as part of the MINI Takes the States Road Rally. We drove to the kick off in Monterey while it was still very dark; as usual, MapQuest screwed up a pretty important left vs. right, and it took us a while to find the gathering. Once we spotted the parking lot with about 200 MINI Coopers, we were pretty sure we were in the right place.

The beach party was nice: coffee, donuts, coffee, bottled water for the road, and did I mention coffee? We took our photo with the cutest sand castle ever.

The drive down the coast is very windy; we stopped at a vista or two just to get out of the car for a minute.

Also stopped in Pismo Beach for lunch and a look at what the beach looks like without fog and wearing a sweater. Who knew?

Eventually got to Santa Barbara and our hotel on State Street (think Union Street in San Francisco, only everyone is tan and in shorts). The hotel was "historic," which is code for "small elevators." Still, a fridge and a comfy bed...nice.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"It's raw fish, SLICED!"

Semi-enjoyed the season finale last night of Hell's Kitchen, a reality show on Fox that was (like a lot of reality tv) good, dumb fun. I say "semi-enjoyed" because I had been hopeful that Kevin "K-Grease" would pull out the win, but I also thought Heather was the clear favorite from the second week or so. Glad Virginia didn't smile her way into her own restaurant.

Here's a surprise: this is the restaurant where Heather is now the executive chef. How do I know this? Certainly not from the casino or show websites; not a single mention anywhere on either. Doesn't that seem odd? I guess if the Red Rock is trying for upscale, maybe they don't want to advertise that their exec chef is a reality contest winner, but still...I would think they would advertise this a little bit?

So how did I figure it out? I called the Red Rock Casino reservations line and asked; the woman who answered had no idea what I was talking about, nor had she ever heard of the television show, but put me on hold while she asked her supervisor. She came back on the line to tell me that it is the chop house, and then added, "But sir, you know that Hell's Kitchen isn't a real restaurant, right?" I appreciate that the Red Rock is concerned about my ability to differentiate between fiction and reality. I'll remember that when I go to their pool and can't figure out where all the half-naked models are, the ones I see cavorting (that's right, cavorting) on their commercials.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

If you don't know me very well, here is a small window into who I am. One, I love sushi. Two, I love robots.

So why does this disgust me so deeply? I guess I was hoping for something a lot cooler, like the one in Runaway that Tom Selleck orders from, the one that says (with a horribly un-PC accent), "You want sushi? HA HA HA!"

Now that would be cool.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Your chance to do the Hump

Silly. Juvenile. Wrong. And yet, funny. If you own a Hummer, check out this site to see if anyone has violated it recently.

And by the way, especially if you own a Hummer, go see An Inconvenient Truth. I saw it last weekend, and I thought it was very interesting. It is fascinating that there are still people out there who doubt global warming. Maybe the sand smells nice?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Not fun

Among the many things you don't want to hear from the train operator on the way home, when the train is stopped and the doors are closed:

"Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for the delay...the police should be here shortly."

iPod, take me away.

Good shake

Felt a good-sized shake last night when a 4.4 quake hit north of the City. We get little trembles now and then, most indistinguishable from the train or a big truck going by outside. However, this one was a little more than that. It started light, but then went up a notch so our bookcases started shaking for a couple seconds, and then got even heavier for a few more seconds, and then finally went away.

It was that second crescendo that got me nervous; a little shake now and then, okay. But when it lasts for a while (in retrospect, ten seconds isn't that long, but when you are in the middle of it, and you don't know if/when it is going to stop, and it is getting me, that ten seconds is l o n g ...), and is getting stronger, that's when I start noticing I'm not wearing shoes and I have only a vague idea of where and how to shut off the gas and water.

Not a good feeling.

And by the way: the cats? Completely useless. I thought they were supposed to feel things coming, but they both were completely normal until it started, and then their tails got all poofed out, they hid in the corner until it was done, and then slunk around all night, all freaked out. Useless.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Casino Express, take me away...

On certain mornings, I am walking to work right when the River Rock Casino Express bus pulls in to pick up loads of lucky people, off to the hills of Sonoma for a day of gambling fun.

On certain mornings, it takes a lot of willpower to keep walking to work.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hanging out with Barry

We went to another Giants game today; for two people who don't really care for baseball, we've gone to an awful lot of games this season. The picture I took of Barry at bat (with Mike Piazza playing catcher; if that means very little to you, join the club, but the real baseball fans around us seemed to get very excited about it) shows how good the seats were, which is why we go. That, and a good excuse to eat a hot dog. Nice.

One of the best parts is that I did not get sunburned this time, a rare feat for me when I am outdoors, let alone in direct sunlight. However, the sun did manage to bleach some of the hair in my beard white...yeah, that's it...the sun...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I'm drunk and phlegm free!

I had a kid tell me yesterday that it was no big deal that she had been drinking so much cough syrup, because she was "just sippin on sizzurp, you feel me, like Three 6?" I proved my level of hipness by recognizing that, although the words she spoke were in English, I had no idea what she was saying.

Thanks to Wikipedia and YouTube, I now know. I now "feel" her. (And by the way, that's "Academy Award winners Three 6" to you, thank you very much)

When I was in Basic, I remember guys buying cough syrup at the PX so they could get drunk. Those guys were known as "morons." Who knew they were so far ahead of their time?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Road trip...kind of

We needed to get out of the house on Sunday, so we took a drive to San Jose. You may be asking: why San Jose? I am not sure I can answer that, but it was good to get out of the house, and out of the land of fog and actually see the sun again. It is good to remember that "July" and "warm" go together for most of the country.

We did some shopping (specifically for shirts), some eating (we shared the lasagna, and were not impressed...but how much do I love the photo of that guy on their website?), and even got the baby cleaned (they even took out the mats and washed them...nice!).

Good day. Not an exciting day, but a good one.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Brendon to Breakers, part two

Here I am with my brother and uncle running the Bay to Breakers 12K. My smile was purely camera-driven, I can assure you.

I finally figured out how to scan photos with my printer. Like many other features on my Mac, it is so ridiculously simple that I was over-thinking it and didn't try the easiest solution first. Damn you, William of Ockham.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Damn you, Poindexter!

I enjoy Tim Busfield as an actor.

I did NOT enjoy losing to Tim's pocket Queens in poker.

The guys and the Mus aren't clapping along in my head anymore, Tim.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


If you're going to a barbecue during Pride Week, what else could you make? Had a fantastic visit at the house of good friends, with other good friends in attendance. Nothing bad about that.

This marks the beginning of photos on my blog, and I want to thank Jen for helping me realize how important it is to share the visual as well as the written.

I also need to thank Verizon, my new cell provider, and the people who sold me my fancy new phone with the built-in camera. Should be lots of fun.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Kyrie elison...

We went to the symphony last night for their production of Verdi's Requiem. I thought it was...okay. I read the notes ahead of time, and if I understand them correctly, this was intended as a "holy" mass, written for a dead poet, and written by an atheist. Huh. We went to the symphony a few times when we lived in Atlanta, and while this group seems technically more proficient, the music we listened to in the ATL was a lot more interesting. This looks like it would be more fun.

They played it all the way through without an intermission (we were almost late from dinner, and I had thought we'd maybe miss a movement and then get seated...glad we got there at the beginning, I guess), which was hard on the ol' glutes. Not the comfiest seats in town.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Game over, over...

This headline epitomizes how idiotic it is to think that you can fight a "war" on terror. Did someone in the Defense Department think that Iraq is a game of Stratego, and al-Zarqawi was the flag?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Number of the Beast...sort of...

Hey, if you go in for the apocalyptic, then today should be a fun one for you. Not only can you now see the remake of The Omen (which, based on ads I've seen, was made purely to use today's date in advertisements...well, that and to save money on a script), but according to this site, you should spend the day blowing out your eardrums, as well as the eardrums of those around you. Enjoy!

Monday, June 05, 2006


My wife gave me a wonderful surprise this weekend: a trip to San Francisco! It's a fun city; I highly recommend it.

What was great about playing tourist for the weekend was that the simple act of getting out of the house made all the difference in the world. We checked into a swanky hotel, did the tourist thing, relaxed, and then had a fantastic meal before calling it a night.

Very relaxing, very fun, and after the last few weeks (which have involved a car accident and our hot water heater going kaput), very appreciated!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


If you enjoyed the season finale of Lost as much as we did, and if you are equally as confused as we all are, the Lostpedia is a fantastic way to get sucked into the twists and turns of your favorite passengers of flight 815. If nothing else, it's a great way to catch up over the summer while we await season three. Also, the official website of the Hanso Foundation is a lot of fun, too. Namaste!

BTW, if you work at our Thai delivery place, and were wondering why we didn't call this past Wednesday, it's because the season is over. I promise, we're okay.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Brendon to Breakers

I ran 7.5 miles this last Sunday in the Bay To Breakers 12K race. Didn't break any world records, but I didn't break anything else AND I finished, and that's a record for me.

Yay, me!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Scrubs must die

After last night's sappy, thin season finale episodes, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is time to retire Scrubs. It has been a fun show, I have enjoyed the wacky antics, and I admit that I would probably pay money to see Doctor Acula if it came out in theaters. But this last season has fallen into a formulaic syndrome that I found both sad and annoying: ten minutes of wacky, then sad music halfway through as we set up whatever lesson we're going to learn, back to wacky, and then finish with the overused song montage/voice-over to wrap things up with said lesson. Lazy.

During the finale, when they crammed a new relationship for JD into about fifteen minutes, and spent the rest of the time making penis jokes, I knew that the shark had officially been jumped. Time to go out on the highest note possible.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I spent ten minutes this morning, looking all over our apartment for my belt. I got frustrated because I remembered where I had put it, remembered seeing it, and I just could not find it. I was convinced that my wife had moved it, and got a little more frustrated because of that.

Until she pointed out that I was wearing my belt.

I may need to start getting more sleep. And I probably owe her an apology.

Friday, May 12, 2006

New Google toy

By now, I imagine most people have had some fun playing with Google Maps (I got a kick out of the fact that, at some point, the owners of my former childhood home put in a many times, growing up, did I look out my back door and wish there was a pool?), so it is definitely time for a new toy.

Behold: Google Trends, for the hidden statistician (say that a few times fast) in all of us. If you need some explanation before diving right in (that smacks of reading directions, but I suppose some people enjoy such things), here is an article explaining how it works. If you are in need of a little geek-out time, you came to the right site. Enjoy.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dirty, filthy Diana

We went to see the ballet Sylvia yesterday (by the way, if you are keeping count, that's two ballets in the last three weeks...that, and I wear a suit to work every day...what happened to me?), and overall, I was impressed. Like the others, I cannot stand it when they break the story to have a dance recital; this one was even worse, because not only did the story come to a grinding, screeching halt so the leads could have their solo time, but after they danced, they bowed to the audience! Why not just hold up "Applause" cards, and let the other dancers on stage drink coffee? My better half assures me this is normal for ballet, so the lead dancers can assert their alpha dog dominance over the others, but for me (the admittedly uninformed viewer), it is just boring and painful.

The interesting thing with yesterday's performance was that it was the last of the season for this particular show, so they let someone from the company (she's at the top of the window) dance the lead role. I am not sure if that means she is getting promoted, or if they were just throwing her a bone on the last day; either way, she was okay, but the male lead and the principal in the role of Diana were definitely the showstoppers.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Close, but no steroid-laced cigar

We went to a Giants game on Sunday. If you know me, you know that I am such a die-hard baseball fan that it would take me a minute to remember who they played, but I can tell you that I did eat a hotdog, and I did manage to get an awkward sunburn on the top part of one of my arms, leaving the rest of me nice and pasty. Sweet.

What I did not get to see was Barry Bonds hit a homerun. Even if you think baseball is as boring as I do, you are probably aware that he is closing in on Babe Ruth's record (714), and with last night's shot, is now within two hits of tying the Babe. Barry did hit one out to the wall late in the game, which got everyone on their feet, but that's as close as he came while we were there.

By the way, there was something oddly fascinating about seeing thousands of people with cellphones in hand when Barry was at the plate; we have become the paparazzi.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Great Quake remembered

Not sure how much national press this is getting, but today the City is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake that devastated not only San Francisco, but towns up and down the coast. This site has some very interesting articles, photos, and videos about not only the earthquake, but also the resulting fires that destroyed the City, and the subsequent rebuilding efforts.

And, just to add the element of fear, here is an article that estimates the amount of damage a similar quake would have today, and here is a link to some new maps that show the liquefaction (when solid ground becomes sandy liquid due to the shaking of a large quake) risk when the next big one hits. Neat.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Celebrating the resurrection of Christ with hot man-on-man action

The subject line is one way of looking at my trip to the ballet on Easter Sunday to see the touring company of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. This version puts an new twist on the classic Tchaikovsky ballet, and while I admit that I have not seen the old version, after having read the synopsis, I am glad that I never did. The classic version sounds pretty stodgy, and while the new version certainly had its slow moments (the second act looked like a recital at a dance school, with various groups of swans running on stage to do their act, then running off, and the third act had a similar scene at a party where various groups of dancers had to get in their "solo" time), it had funny parts, sad parts, kept my interest, and even included what had to be the best dance combination ever: disco ballet!

Maybe if Antonio Banderas had taught that combination to sassy inner-city kids, his movie wouldn't have flopped.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Is it just me?

Any time I don't really enjoy something that seems universally praised, I have a bad habit of asking myself: did I just not get it? But then I also sometimes wonder: when art is so widely praised, is it because others have asked themselves that same question, and continue said praise so as to avoid looking like they didn't get it?

I call this the Thin Red Line syndrome.

I have shades of this syndrome after finishing The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss. I really liked Leo, one of the main characters, but have to admit to being tired of the lots-of-different-storylines-coming-together-at-the-end thing that seems to have plagued literature in recent years. I was not overly impressed by the book as a whole, and certainly never found myself "vertiginously excit[ed]," but again, maybe you have to be a critic to get that excited about a novel? Tough call.

For me, I'll give this book a C+; I finished it, and I enjoyed looking at the world through Leo's eyes, but overall, I feel this book is overhyped.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


What happened this year? There are always some fun upsets and buzzer beaters in the first round, but I don't remember a year of March Madness where the Final Four and championship games were all so god-awful boring. Twenty-point routs I expect in a 1-16 matchup, not in the Final Four.

But no worries, NCAA...we'll be back next year.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Just watched the season finale of The Shield (we taped it last week, and are just now getting around to it...I realize this makes me sound incredibly old, but I just can't stay up that late to watch it, and we don't have TiVo...damn it!), and I still believe that it is consistently the best drama on television. I realize that there is another show that some people may vote for in that category, but I don't have HBO, so my voting field is narrower.

Can't wait for next season.

George Who?

Yeah, I had never heard of them either, but they have certainly made all of us take notice. Here is their athletic site, here is their university's main page, and here is a historical information page where you can learn more about the man behind the name.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How to kill your office copier AND win your office pool this is how to win in March.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Three more down...

Finished the Dublin (California) St. Pat's Day 5K yesterday; the good news is that I (a) finished, (b) am not too sore this morning, and (c) got the cool t-shirt I can send to my brother. The not-as-good news is that I was not in top form: I mananged to run the first mile, as usual, but then was in some somewhat serious ankle/leg pain for the second and part of the third mile. I have been using the recent weather as a great excuse not to get out and run in the mornings for the past several weeks leading up to yesterday's race, and it showed.

Time to step it up if I'm going to be ready for May.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hey, Malkovich! You suck!

Is this real? If it was any other actor, I would automatically say yes, but Malkovich...?

p.s. if you are looking at this while at work, don't click on the t-shirt models...not something you want people to see over your shoulder.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Worst. Bracket. Ever.

"Eh." That was my general feeling yesterday when we watched the Brackets get announced, and realized that NONE of the teams in the dance that we would like to see are in our region. Is that looking a gift horse dead in his smelly mouth? Maybe. Am I still thrilled that next week I will be seeing some Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games live? You bet.

But do I wish that we were going to have a chance to see several other teams in person? Yeah.

Hell, I was even hoping to see the Scooby Doos.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Drink and Fight!

WAY too funny, and her willingness to do this is a large part of the reason I think Natalie is fantastic. WHAT?!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No Shining Moment

My Colonels, who won the OVC tournament last year and thus secured their first NCAA tournament bid in decades, got stomped in the opening round of the OVC tournament last night, thus ending their hopes for a return to the Big Dance.

Travis, why did you leave?

Monday, February 27, 2006

About time!

Finally, our pets will start earning their keep! They have been sleeping and eating for free long enough; it's about time they became contributing members of the household.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Not Chalmers

I had some free time this evening, and started trying to track down the answer to a question I had while watching Avenue Q last week at the Wynn: did the producers of this show have to pay Gary Coleman to keep him from suing them?

In the course of trying to track down that answer, I found this fascinating site that, for anyone who wants the purest distillation of a celebrity's Q Rating into dollars (and said celebrity's willingness to talk to you for said dollars), is truly fun to search through.

By the way, I haven't found my answer yet, but given that Gary's speaking fees don't even come in at the $5K level, my guess is the producers of the show probably gave Gary some sandwiches...and told him no, he could not play himself!

A Movie Slowly

About a year ago, I was excited to see a preview for a movie version of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, allegedly coming out last summer/fall. I really enjoyed the book, and was interested in seeing how they would use a combination of live-action and animation to differentiate between the split personalities of the lead character. I waited.

And waited.

Here we are, well into 2006, and still no movie. I found this article that explains some of the problems they were (and are still) having; even if you haven't heard of the book, it is an interesting look at the nexus that increasingly exists between film making as an art and as a technical process (as well as the studio process that funds both, and how their constraints affect the overall project). An interesting read.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How I love the Fertile Valleys!

That's what my Spanish dictionary says "Las Vegas" actually means. Huh.

We just got back from our latest Vegas escapade, and it was a great trip. We got upgraded to a suite at our hotel, which included both a whirlpool jacuzzi and fantastic view right down the Strip. We saw a hilarious show, which made me laugh out loud (as well as question my career path; I should have been a puppeteer!) for the whole shortened production. And of course, we ate way too much.

But best of all, we played a lot of poker. In the five tournaments we managed to play in, I made the final table three times, with one money finish (3rd). My better half made two final tables, with one money finish (also 3rd). But best of all, if you add up all of our buy-ins, and then balance that against our winnings, we lost a grand total of $13 dollars. Between the two of us. Over three days, or about 11 hours of total playing time.

That's a win in my book.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

So close...

Played in an online poker tournament last night, and did really well...but not well enough. Managed to make it to fourth place; good, right? The painful part? Prize money was only awarded to the top three.

I think I would have rather been put out in 256th place and gotten the extra sleep.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Same reason Seinfeld returned the blazer...

Last night's episode of Lost [WARNING: that link has spoilers, but also some cool side notes, esp. about the waitress!] reminded me of why I not only love this show, but the whole stranded-on-an-island motif ala Lord of the Flies: how much of our behavior is influenced/controlled by laws and society, and how much is influenced by our own moral code? More to the point: if the laws were not enforced, would you still obey them?

The show has done a wonderful job of filling in the backstories, but I am pleased to see that since we now know everyone a little better, we are moving forward. After all, by my count, these people have lived on this island for about two months now, and while I (somewhat) believe that the immediate shock of the plane crash and the instinct for survival may have allowed the island dwellers to work together for a while, the frayed edges are finally starting to poke out, and that is where I think this show is going to go to a whole new level of interesting.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Flying away on a wing and a prayer...

My brother has been awarded the highest honor in the Louisville Fire Department, and at least two local newspapers were on hand to report the story. Both articles include pictures, and even though the Louisville article is more about the fire department as a whole (as opposed to the local Bardstown article that is just about Brian), I won't hold it against them.

I am not sure what I am more proud of: my brother's actions in the line of duty, or his sweet new 'stache!

Louisville Courier-Journal: Firefighters honored for valiant work

The Kentucky Standard: Local man becomes Louisville fire hero

BTW, I'm more proud of his actions...but that 'stache comes in a close second!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

I celebrated Chinese New Year yesterday by completing the Chinatown YMCA Year of the Dog 5K, and I am pleased to say that it went as planned: ran the first mile, walked the second, and ran the third. I did this one about five minutes faster than the one back in November, which probably doesn't mean a whole lot (this one had a couple of downhill parts), but it made me feel good (esp. after the corresponding uphill parts).

What didn't make me feel as good was the large number of dogs with race numbers...who beat me. This particularly cheeky husky kept glancing back at me with this look that seemed to say, "Really? That's the best you've got? I've had five litters of puppies, for Christ's sake!" Bitch.

Friday, January 27, 2006

And we live on Av...Goodnight!

Earlier this week, I was reading this article in Newsweek about the failure of Broadway shows in Vegas, and how new and existing shows are "trimming down," meaning they are cutting out intermissions and even editing out some content to get the overall running time down to an all-American hour and half. I mentioned this to my wife, and we agreed that we sure hope things are okay for our trip in February, since we've already purchased tix to see Avenue Q.

Guess who called yesterday? A helpful operator from the Wynn, asking us which other performance we'd rather see, since they are canceling the one we reserved, cutting the number of shows they perform per week, and eliminating the intermission. The operator assured us that they are not losing content, but of course, I've never seen the show, so how the hell would I know, anyway?

Those puppets are going to get a piece of my mind. Excuse me...Felt Americans.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Strutting with Ron

Added some good 70s funk to my iPod this weekend. Groovy.

This morning, while I was coming up out of the BART and walking down the gray streets of Oakland, the random song that popped up was "Superfly," by Curtis Mayfield. Groovier.

Now, if you've seen the movie, you know that it (like Shaft before it) starts with Ron O'Neal strutting down the gray streets of New York. Super groovy.

Am I super fly? No. Am I even a little fly? Probably not. But did I strut just a little as I listened to the song, imagining myself in the lead role as the credits rolled by, and therefore, for one shining moment, was myself a little groovy? You bet.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dreamworld of magic

Saw The Chronicles of Narnia yesterday; going in, we all agreed that we had memories of having read the books as children, but to a person, we couldn't remember a single specific detail. The movie is good: entertaining, escapist fun. The Christian imagery is certainly there, but not so overpowering or annoying that it gets in the way if you aren't looking for it to get in the way. And the CGI is actually pretty good, given that the characters are actual animals, rather than poorly drawn racial stereotypes. George, I'm looking at you.

My only regret? We got to the theater too late to go to the concessions stand, where I would have made a "Mr. Pibb and Red Vines equal crazy delicious" comment. That would have been gold!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where's Meadowlark?

I am 98% sure I saw the Harlem Globetrotters this morning. Here is a list of my reasons why I think I saw the Harlem Globetrotters:

1) When I came up out of the subway, I saw three extremely tall men, all wearing Harlem Globetrotters warmups.

2) They were standing in front of a huge tour bus that was painted all over with the words "Harlem Globetrotters."

3) A young child walked up to the tall men and asked, "Are you the Harlem Globetrotters?" Two of the men said yes, and proceeded to give the kid their autographs on official Harlem Globetrotters team photos.

This is why I think I saw the Harlem Globetrotters this morning. Cool.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Roller Coaster Monday

Monday was a good day. I thought it was going to be just awful, but then things turned around, and partly due to my low expectations, it turned out great.

To start, I handled a trial that should not have been a trial: there were no real legal issues, but instead a parent wanted to take the stand and talk about what bad kid the minor was, and the minor wanted to take the stand and talk about what a bad person the parent was. I am not usually in the mood to allow families to waste court time and resources so they can act out their favorite scenes from The Jerry Springer Show, so I was dreading going in there and trying to settle it. I also ended up coming into the office on Sunday (a big government lawyer no-no) to prepare for Monday, doubling my displeasure. Not off to a good start.

But then things took a turn. I was able to talk the parent into settling, I got what the minor wanted/needed, and things only disintegrated into reality television in the hallway, not in the court room. Very nice.

Then, on the way back to the office, I spotted what looked like a dollar bill on the sidewalk. I looked around to see if anybody was walking by who may have dropped it, but I was alone. I bent down to pick it up, and that wasn't Washington looking at me, but Jackson giving me a little wink. Not wanting to offend the seventh president (he once killed a man for insulting his wife; the least I could do was spend him!), I offered him a my wallet.

When I got to the office, two lawyers I work with, but who work in another court (and therefore I don't know them as well as I'd like), asked me if I wanted to go to lunch. I had settled my case, had an extra 20 spot in my pocket, so absolutely! We had a nice chat, blew off some steam, and I was able to subsidize a large portion of our salads.

Like Ice Cube was a good day...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year to me!

How did I spend my New Year's day? Playing in an online poker tournament, of course...but this time, I actually "monied," coming in second place out of a field of 686. A very fun way to spend a rainy evening.

The tournament lasted about 3.5 hours, and for all of that, my share of the prize pool was...$6. That's not a typo: six bucks. It was a free tournament that only paid the top three places, and we split $20. So if you do the math, I earned approximately $1.72/hour yesterday. I think they pay better in prison.

The good part is that I had a lot of fun. The better part is that I won a couple bucks for free. But the best part is that now I can play a couple paid tournaments (emphasis on "couple") with their money. Game on!