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.