Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fun in the snow

This time last weekend, we were in snowy Lake Tahoe for a weekend getaway that almost didn't let us get away (see what I did there?). We stayed at the Montbleu, one of the casinos built about 2" over the Nevada state line, and had a very nice time. It was a good trip; we had some spa time, some poker time, and some us time. All very needed, and all very fun.

My better half ruled the poker tables; she monied in a tournament, and then took down a couple locals at a cash game, netting us enough money to almost pay off the whole trip. The cash game was a step up for us; we played $1-$2 No Limit, a style of poker we play in the tournaments, but there is a HUGE difference between throwing tournament chips into the pot and throwing actual money in there. We played for a couple hours; she almost tripled her buy in, and I walked away with $14 more than I sat down with. Both wins, right? Right? By the way, we didn't play at the CalNeva; I took this pic in memory of any number of law school discussions about venue that always took place at the CalNeva. Nothing like a good venue joke.

The only stressful part was when, Saturday night, an "unexpected Spring storm" blew in, bringing a nice coat of snow with it (you can see it blowing in the pic if you look closely). When we woke up Sunday morning to leave, we were told by the front desk to just put our chains on, and we'd be fine getting home. When I mentioned that we don't own chains, the lady asked me, "Well, you have four wheel drive, right?" When I explained that our Mini Cooper has four tires, but not much more than that, we were told to "drive very slowly." Done and done. By the time we left, the chain controls were off, and we got home without incident, but covered with salt and sand. Worth it.

We'll be back, Tahoe...but next time, several months into summer.

Friday, April 20, 2007

King of Cliched Plot Twists

I really need to exercise my new-found freedom to stop reading books. For whatever reason, I made it to the final page of The King of Colored Town, by Darryl Wimberley. If this book is not made into a movie, shown on Hallmark, Lifetime, Oxygen, or some other sappy channel with a predominantly pink webpage, I will be shocked.

Wimberley, a screenwriter, takes the reader on an overwrought, treacly journey where every cliche from every other book about America's segregated past is visible forty pages before it arrives: the poor young Black girl who overcomes incredible odds, the troubled young Black man who loves her but shares a terrible secret with our heroine, the hard-working teachers who help her, the spoiled rich white kids who hate her, etc., etc. Even the inevitable rape scene, at the hands of malicious men who think she is "uppity," not only occurs exactly where you would expect it to happen, but it takes a physical toll on the main character that, in what I am sure the author meant to be irony, robs the main character of her ability to take advantage of the scholarship you knew she would be offered.

This is a lazy, predictable book that pushes well past the boundaries of reality in an attempt to tell a story that I am sure was meant to be heart-warming and/or life affirming, but just comes off to me as a desperate attempt to carve out some chick lit dollars, both in books and eventually on screen. Ugh. D-

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Big Book Roundup

Haven't talked about what I have been reading for a while, so here are some quicky reviews of the last few titles that have accompanied me on the train:

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Beautifully written, great characters, and an amazing historical backdrop. Recommended. Solid A

English, August, by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Billed as the Indian Catcher in the Rye, I liked this book for the laziness of the main character, but more for the way he grew up towards the end. A good read for your own shiftless summer. Solid B

Furies of Calderon, by Jim Butcher. Fun fantasy book set in a world where everybody can conjure spirits, and therefore using magic is the norm. I like the author from his Dresden series, and so far this doesn't disappoint. B+

Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris. Awesome! A fantastic read, insightful and intelligent...everything I wanted from the Dawkins book, without any of the smugness or arrogance. Has changed the way I think and talk about my faith and my feelings about organized religion. Highly recommended. A+

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Learn from me, gentle readers

Something we probably all know (and if you didn't before, now you do): you are entitled, once per year, to a free copy of your credit report.

Something I learned today, that you may already know, but if you did not, learn from my mistake: is a commercial site that will give you a "free" copy of your credit report, but only after you sign up for a yearly membership @ $12.95/month. (in all fairness, you do have the option of cancelling your yearly membership during the first month and you will pay nothing; however, in order to cancel your membership, you have to search diligently through the website's FAQ section for the 800 number [which is 1-877-481-6826, if you need it], call said 800 number, wait on hold, and then talk to a customer service rep who will read through some binder filled with information you already know in an attempt to talk you out of cancelling your membership. Ugh.)

However, is where you can get an actually free report, once per year, without buying anything (or, in my case, without nervously staring at a calendar).

Hope that helps someone.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

One Shining Moment

Some thoughts on last night's NCAA Championship game...

  • The game itself was fun and fast-paced, a welcome relief after last year's buzz killer of a snoozefest. Congrats to the Gators; I assume the starting five will all go pro, which is good, as I am tired of seeing skanky Joakim Noah on my television.
  • I also assume/hope that Greg Oden goes pro, as I cannot deal with the verbal masturbation of every announcer every time Oden steps on the floor. Enough, already!
  • Was sorry my Colonels didn't make the cut for the "One Shining Moment" montage at the end. Apparently the guys in the editing room had just come from a strip club, and so made sure to include plenty of the dance teams and that Oregon cheerleader's ass. Maybe EKU should have played in g-strings?
  • Was also sorry that, once again, I got owned in my bracket pool. I realize this sounds like a lie, but when I first put together my brackets, I had so many 1 and 2 seeds going deep that I said to myself, "That never happens," and went back in and picked a lot of upsets. Not to be.
  • On a somewhat unrelated topic, did everybody see the commercial for Transformers, coming out this summer? That looks like good, brain-dead fun; I'll go see it so you don't have to.

Good tournament, and once again, I go into my sports cocoon, only to reemerge next November when college basketball returns. Enjoy your stock cars and football, America!

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Ah, Spring...that time of the year here in The City when I can leave my windows open 24 hours a day...and hear the car alarms down the street. When it is still light out when I leave work...meaning I get a better view of exactly what is in (and coming out of) the smelly pseudohippie's hair as he shakes his head back and forth on the train. When baseball is just around the corner...which means more time at the train station, getting slowed down by idiots coming to see the Giants, and who have obviously never been on transit before, let alone experienced the magic of an escalator. It's not a f--king ride, morons...keep moving.

Bitterness is in the air...