Tuesday, December 30, 2008

News Flash: Chemistry Trumps Payroll

Clap your hands if you do not belong on the sidelines.

Shockingly, the Dallas Cowboys fell short once again, despite all of their recognizable names. And just like last year, the only guy who is oblivious to the reasons why just happens to run the team.

Jerry Jones, meet the Steinbrenners.

These guys really are something. The Higher-Ups all around them are winning titles by drafting well, trading well, and removing cancerous players from the locker room. Oblivious to this fact, Jones and the Steinbrenners spend so magnificently that it can only lead us to believe they're under the impression that throwing more cash around than the other guy leads to championships. That would be similar to me facing a brick wall, quickly contemplating how to navigate it, then deciding that bashing my head against it continuously is the best course of action. As I concuss myself, those behind me would simply walk around it.

Figure it out, idiots!

Hi, I'm Jerry Jones! I think it's a can't-miss winning formula to sign Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson and throw them on a team together! Pacman is a decent human being! What's that? You say he's responsible for the paralysis of a man in Las Vegas? Before that, he grabbed a stripper by the hair and slammed her head against the floor? ALLEGEDLY! What about Michael Vick? He hates dogs! That is far worse, my friend! And as for Tank, hey, the man likes guns! I like boating! A man can't help his hobbies! Sign them up! Eat my ass, P.T. Barnum!

pacman jones Pictures, Images and Photos

What? The Pacman signing backfired? I am SHOCKED!

My favorite part about this 2008 Dallas Cowboys circus is the fact that Jones didn't stop with Pacman. When Tony Romo went down with a boo boo on his pinkie, Jerral decided that his team needed another selfish, overhyped WR whose only professional experience had been in Detroit. Sounds like a winner! Hello, Roy Williams. Goodbye, four draft picks, including next year's 1st and 3rd rounders.

This is how Jones wants it. He thinks he has the know-how that's necessary to win titles, and the last decade of futility in Dallas should serve as proof. The early 90s dynasty that we remember was built by Jimmy Johnson. And there's a lesson in there somewhere that Jones has yet to discover: To win championships, you need a great coach. You don't need an owner that is convinced of his status as ringmaster. You need Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells. You don't need Barry Switzer or Wade Phillips.

Sadly, Jones will keep hiring yes-men like Switzer and Phillips because they allow him to act as he pleases. Phillips will wave happily to Jones as he intrudes on his sideline. He'll gladly grant him some locker room time before the game, after the game, or even at half. Where Johnson told Jones to get his ass off of his territory, Phillips will ask his owner if he needs a drink. So on and on the cycle will go. The Cowboys will stay America's Team because of their famous names and the drama that unfolds because of them. America loves its drama. And Jones will be left scratching his head as year after year goes by without another title. But hey, at least ticket prices will be higher than ever before!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Am I Supposed To Fold This Hand?

I mean, come on. A better mathematician than I needs to take a look at this and tell me what my odds to win this hand after the flop are. I know that they're better than 99%. Here's the scenario: It's early in a 10 person double-up tourney. What this means is that when it gets down to 5 people, the game ends and everyone doubles their buy in. It's a perfect format for me. Conservative play is key early on, and try to only risk all my chips if I have a monster in this initial setting. And my 4-3 offsuit was a monster.

I was in the freaking big blind. There's no way I even play this hand from any other position, even the small blind. It's way too weak. And then this flop comes, and I suddenly have the nut straight with very little possibility for a flush. Money. And then the button(who was slow-rolling his Aces like a Nemo, keeps raising on top of me. What would you do? In retrospect, I guess I should have folded! And I noticed that the river card is obscured by the mountain of chips that he pulled in. Don't worry, it's an Ace. He paired the board on the turn to keep himself alive and then rivered his rocket. MAN, do I love poker!

And I did the math. I'll win this hand after the flop roughly 99.5% of the time. 1 hand in 200, with this flop, will see 4-3 offsuit go down. Hooray. Since I am a combination of perplexed and pissed, I need to vent some more. Here are some people that have gotten on my nerves recently.

Chad Johnson: A better sports statistician than I needs to compare his numbers before and after he started the whole "OCHO CINCO" thing. My guess is that the nickname is cursed. We really need to get rid of it. Like, now. ESPN is not helping. Anchors refer to him as Chad Ocho Cinco now. I'm sure you've heard it; It's a near-daily occurrance. Did I miss something? Did he legally change his name? His name is Chad Johnson, not Chad Ocho Cinco. Fix your teleprompters, you east coast Ron Burgundys.

If we really want to get technical, "OCHO CINCO" is gramatically incorrect. Chad Johnson calls himself eighty-five. Right? He brilliantly subs this number in place of the thoroughly inefficient first-person singular pronoun we currently have in place. Here's the Spanish translation.

ochenta y cinco

ocho cinco

Ocho Cinco is really on to something. The English language could use a tune-up. Our pronouns need a complete overhaul to finally launch into the 21st century. I think it's a great idea.

For example, I've always been partial to the nickname "Assmaster." I'll use this word in place of the word "I." That seems much more efficient and straightforward. We can also replace the word "our" with "Gossip Girl" and the word "it" with "Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo." Here's how that previous paragraph would look with this new format.

Ocho Cinco is really on to something. The English language could use a tune-up. Gossip Girl pronouns need a complete overhaul to finally launch into the 21st century. Assmaster thinks Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo is a great idea.

Up yours, Ocho Cinco.

Brian Urlacher: If you feel like shedding a block or generating some lateral speed, call me before the play happens so I can record it and put it on YouTube.

All of North America, Except for Mexico: Ok, let's get off our high horses. Who here has honestly never uttered a comment like the one Sean Avery let loose in Calgary? I know I have. I don't understand this need for our athletes to be PC. They're not role models, folks! They cheat on spouses, snort coke, and smoke crack. Josh Howard is personally keeping Colombia afloat. And now Sean Avery might get booted from the NHL because he said "sloppy seconds?" Are we serious, North America? Are we serious? Give me a big, fat break and super size it with a Mr. Pibb.

Rick Reilly: I really used to enjoy his columns. I also used to enjoy Garfield comic strips and Excitebike. Ever since he joined ESPN, his persona has ballooned to an intolerable, Emmit Smith-esque level. During the home run derby, as Josh Hamilton was creating the last great memory in Yankee Stadium, Reilly was sitting up in left field yapping nonstop and lessening the moment. "HEY! DID YOU GUYS KNOW HAMILTON DID DRUGS? HE WAS KICKED OUT OF BASEBALL! WOW, I SURE HOPE HE'S NOT ON STEROIDS! THAT MIGHT RUIN THIS PERFORMANCE OF HIS!" I'm pretty sure that John Kruk looked over at Reilly at one point and wanted to eat him. Finally, one of Reilly's most recent columns filled the nation in on how exactly Michael Vick went bankrupt. Thanks for shedding light on this issue, Rick. The former QB probably hasn't gone through enough embarrassment and shame at this point. Let's twist the knife a little more. Jackass.

Bill Walton Haters: One of my Walton-hater friends recently informed me that he suddenly found the former center likeable. I've been preaching this for years. Bill Simmons had Walton on his podcast a while back. He said "How you doing, Bill?" and Walton proceeded to talk nonstop for an hour. I'm not kidding. I don't think he stopped to breathe. It was awesome.

And for the record, the conversation that caused my friend to hop the Walton fence occurred during ESPN's halftime show. Shaquille O'Neal was drolling on in his impossible-to-understand monotone, after which Walton said "That guy talks more than Obama." Jalen Rose, sitting immediately to Walton's right, flipped out. Fantastic television.

Oprah: Can you please stop?

Miley Cyrus: Can you please stop?

Nickelback: Wow. Please stop.

This concludes my venting session. I feel much better now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Very Own House M.D. Script

Open in a traditional suburban home on the east coast. A loving mother sends her children off to school. She walks into the kitchen and grabs a grapefruit. As she's cutting it open, the knife slips and cuts her finger. She gasps and curses, but her look of annoyance turns to one of shock when she realizes that her blood...is....GREEN!

House intro begins, complete with 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack. Good song.

Shot of Princeton-Plainsboro. Not a real hospital.

House, you're late.

How dare you! In case you haven't noticed, I walk with a limp. The fact that you expect me to have the punctuality of my able-bodied colleagues is insulting. You can avoid a future lawsuit by allowing me to stare at those sweater melons for a full 10 seconds.

Cuddy flashes a look of flattered anger. It's a complicated emotion. Ten seconds pass.

Well, what have you got for me?

You actually want to know? Are you feeling ok?

No and yes.

He walks away.

A woman is bleeding green.

Maybe she's an alien!

Cut to the room where the doctors brainstorm together and come up with nothing but incorrect diagnoses. House enters to find everyone else already there. Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, Dr. Chris Taub, and Dr. Eric Foreman(no relation to Eric Forman of That '70s Show. Way to be original, FOX) do not say hello to House. He does not respond well to small talk.

Sexy MILF...

Isn't sexy MILF a little redundant?

You're fired. Sexy MILF admitted with a cut on her hand.

Why would you waste our time with a case like this?

She's bleeding green.

The doctors exchange mandatory looks of shock. They are obviously in complete disbelief. I mean, patients are typically so normal at Princeton-Plainsboro.

It could be lupus. Does she have any joint pain?

It's never lupus. Taub's an idiot.

It's never lupus. Don't be an idiot. Could be toe cancer. Tumors on or near the left big toe have been known to cause blood discolorations.

Perfect. Foreman, break into her apartment to see if she's hiding something. You DO know how to properly B&E, right? Oh, that's right. You're black.

Foreman flashes an I-can't-believe-I-still-effing-work-here face.

Thirteen, Kutner, biopsy all of her toes. Taub, test for gangrene.

Gangrene? There's no way this woman could possibly...

It's a joke! Gan-GRENE? Get it? Green?

The 4 doctors stare in disbelief.

Ok, fine. Get a bone marrow biopsy.

Cut to House entering the office of Dr. James Wilson, House's BFF.

You're a robot devoid of emotion. I can't believe you enjoy the company of prostitutes.

I can't believe you DON'T enjoy the company of prostitutes!

Male bonding is complete. House exits.

House enters his patient's room.

I am your doctor, so let's assume two things. First, I am better than you. Second, you are lying.

Excuse me?

Note to self: Add 'hearing loss' to list of symptoms. How often to you use drugs?


You're lying.

House exits. He's a badass. Cut to the meeting room.

Biopsy was negative for toe cancer.

Ditto for bone marrow.


I found meth and ecstacy in her apartment. I, uh, don't have it on me though. Is anyone else noticing that Taub is much hotter than usual right now?

I haven't said anything in a while. Did you guys know that I'm a bisexual with a drug problem? Just like my character was in The O.C. Wow, FOX sure is original!

Your patient is crashing!

The doctors rush out. Cut to patient's room. Dr. Robert Chase is covered in green goo.

There's so much blood! This woman has no chance to survive! Wait! Can we go to commercial? Quick, go to commercial! Get a crash cart in here!

Cut to commercial. We return to Princeton-Plainsboro and the patient, as usual, is fully stable. Commercials cure all wounds, apparently. Very subtle message, FOX. Meanwhile, House is in Wilson's office once again.

Any luck with your patient?

Any luck finding a woman that won't leave you via divorce or death?

Wow. I cannot believe I continue to reach out to you. I don't know why I bother. It's like you're from another planet.

Epiphany music starts to build as House gets a glazed, faraway look in his eyes. FOX wants us to recognize this light bulb moment.

Yes...from another planet.

House exits swiftly. As swiftly as a cripple can exit, anyway. Wilson flashes a "that's my House!" look. Cut to patient's room.

Good news! You're going to be fine. Turns out you're an alien.

Patient sobs softly.

Your reaction tells me two things. First, you're a woman. Second, you knew this all along. This all would have been easier had you just told us the truth from the start. I told you I'm better than you. Thirteen, start her on vinegar and cherry limeade from Sonic. That will negate her alien properties.

Want to make out?

Are you talking to me or the patient?

Both of you!

Everyone in the room laughs and does a jumping high five. The end.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Not Another Poker Diary

Well folks, times are tough out there. For me. Your life is probably all roses and kittens and tiny little bunnies with big eyes and floppy ears. And from the bottom of my heart, let me just say, up yours. I may not be technically "employed" at the moment, but hey, that's just a word. Ask me if I have a steady income stream. Ask me!

Well, yes and no. I have an income stream, but it is anything but steady. Welcome to the wonderful world of online poker. And I know what you're thinking: I'm an absolute idiot. And I agree. For it is in this world that Unfairness and Swift Kicks to the Balls meet, forge offspring of pure evil such as 10 9 suited, and watch lovingly as their child proceeds to wreck my KK. I don't wish this infuriating life on anyone. Unless, of course, you place first in a 10 dollar rebuy tournament with $70K guaranteed. But that's not going to happen.

If it isn't clear, I just entered into that tournament, and I will be documenting my successes and failures, hopefully illuminating just how fantastic I am at this poker thing and just how much I get screwed.

3:07 pm: I have roughly 1,600 in chips and blinds are 10/20. I am in middle position in this hand with AK offsuit. First and second position just limped in, so there is now 70 in the pot. The action folds to me, and I push all in.

This is an insane overbet that basically screams I HAVE BIG SLICK! WHO WANTS TO TRY THEIR LUCK? I don't usually employ this technique but I find that in the rebuy period in small buy-in tournies such as these, I can snag an idiot and double up quickly. Lo and behold, the big blind calls and shows me KQ!

Lo and behold, the flop comes Q T T. I am screwed. Blanks fall on the turn and river, and I am forced into an early rebuy. Oh, the joy that this game can bring! Adding to my misery is the knowledge that the idiot who just sucked out on me is a redneck from Pinson, Alabama with a picture of his dog as his avatar. Hooray.

3:18 pm: Some numbers on this tournament: There are a little over 2,000 entrants, and the rebuy period lasts a solid 90 minutes as opposed to the typical 60. So having $70K guaranteed in the tournament means that the host is expecting 5,000 or more rebuys and add-ons. They've already gotten one from me!

3:21 pm: A lot of players show aggression at an online poker table that borders on idiocy. And when you have a tournament for 10 measley dollars PLUS the safety net of a rebuy period, you can rest assured that the donkeys will come out in full force. With a whopping 7 callers in on my big blind hand of pocket 8s, I chose to check instead of to raise. My intention here is to flop a third 8, and if I don't I can get out of the way. Any raise I put out preflop will only sweeten the pot for all of these callers. The flop came A 4 5, no good for me. I got out of there quickly.

3:24 pm: I am hit with AQ offsuit in the small blind. A couple people limp in, including my redneck friend, and the button(or the "dealer," who is currently one seat to my right) moves all in for about 1,400. After some deliberation, I choose to push my 1,500 chips into the mix as well. Everyone folds to the redneck from Alabama, who calls instantly. The initial raiser shows 58 of clubs(a typical hand at this stage, which is downright hilarious), and redneck shows AT of hearts. The flop comes K 2 T(of course) and redneck spikes a third ten on the turn. Now needing a Jack to give me a straight, I whiff as a harmless 3 falls on the river. 4,500 more chips to redneck, and I rebuy again.

3:30 pm: Even though I've been a favorite in my two big hands and lost them both, I'm really not too upset. Despite the fact that I had redneck dominated in both of our encounters, the fact is that all the money went in before the flop. He had 5 chances to better my hand, which he did. A much more economical option is to see the flop and adjust your play accordingly. Having 2 remaining cards instead of 5 makes a huge difference. But again, the rebuy period is a different animal. I will continue to stick to my "push and pray" technique when I think I have the best hand. Most of the time, that's exactly the case. Eventually the odds will work in my favor. I think.

3:42 pm: A woman from Valparaiso just informed the table that she and her now-deceased husband used to ride horses together. This is vital information, and I have recorded it on my player notes.

3:49 pm: The cards, as they say, are cold. For me, not for redneck. He has 12,300 in chips. Yay.

3:51: For those who don't know, I am now living with my lovely girlfriend in Chicago; Hyde Park, to be specific. For the most part, this hasn't been too big of a change in the lifestyle department, except for one area: television. With the miracle of DVR, I am familiar with lots of programming that I might not know existed otherwise. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.


Ugly Betty

Jon and Kate Plus 8

Samantha Who?

Ellen DeGeneres


Sex and the City

Gossip Girl

Oprah Winfrey

4:00 pm: We're an hour into the tournament, and I have some major work left to do before the break in 30 minutes. I have 3,195(I doubled up with AQ as I was writing about TV), but the average chip stack is 5,796. Still lots of time, but I need to do work.

4:04 pm: Pocket 8s again. Let's see if I can hit my set.....nope. Redneck had AA as well. I'm down to 2,300. Got worked over on that one.

4:15 pm: Ok, this is just getting ridiculous. I pushed my 2,200 in preflop with 99. Redneck, of course, calls. Below is an image of the hand.

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4:26 pm: I allowed myself one final rebuy, and I've worked my stack up to 2,600. Pitiful, but something. 4 minutes until the break.

4:30 pm: Break time! I have exactly 6,000 in chips, and I have an immense amount of work to do. There are about 1,200 players remaining, and around 300 or so will likely make the money. Now that the rebuy period is over, players will calm down slightly and tighten up. Play won't nearly be as loose from here on out. The first 90 minutes was loose as Madonna, and now it'll merely be loose as Jennifer Aniston. All in all, there were 2,106 players, 4,821 rebuys(87 by me), and 956 add-ons for a total pot of $78,830. The winner receives almost 13K. It's go time!

4:42 pm: My JJ yields a third Jack on the flop, and I take down a nice pot. We're up to 7,200.

4:43 pm: I'm watching PTI right now, and I've noticed something. As the weeks, months, and years have gone by, I've found myself liking Tony Kornheiser less and less. He's a grouchy old man. He still has his moments and I certainly don't hate him, but he irks me slighty more than Jay Mariotti and far less than Skip Bayless.

5:02 pm: Dustin Pedroia, your 2008 AL MVP! Rumor has it this race would have been different had Carlos Quentin not broken his hand by roiding out on a wall. Go White Sox!

5:05 pm: Ryan Dempster just got resigned. 4 years, $52M to pitch for the Cubs. Solid pitcher, great clubhouse presence, durable arm. I approve the signing. On a related note, it's pretty incredible just how much a foul tip can change the course of a postseason campaign. Bases loaded, full count, 2 outs James Loney batting in a 2-0 game. Dempster throws a sick splitter and Loney JUST catches a piece to stay alive. Then he blasts a grand slam to center, silences every bat, player, and fan in Wrigley Field and the Dodgers cruise to a sweep. After 162 games, the season is decided by a foul tip. Lunacy.

5:09 pm: Poker update: I have 6,000 and the blinds are really starting to jump. Something needs to happen soon.

5:12 pm: Pre-flop all in pays off! Sweet. See below.

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5:21 pm: Tourney update - 709 players left, 306 places paid. I have a little over 10,000 in chips, average stack is about 19,000. Do work, son!

5:42 pm: It just got interesting! Fantastic double up here with rockets. I'm up to 22,000. See below.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

5:44 pm: 2 minutes later, 2 hands later. I finally have enough chips to score my first KO of the tournament, with AK prevailing over AT. The money went in preflop. I now am up to over 30,000 in chips.

5:58 pm: And just like that, it's all over. I reraised a super aggressive player all in with AQ, and he showed JJ, which made me very scared. I completely missed the flop, turn, and river, and that does it. Nose Knows, out in 423rd place.

In retrospect, it's pretty inane to push everything in the pot preflop with AQ. My opponent raised an astronomical amount relative to the blinds, and when he did that previously, he showed QJ. I made a decision and it turned out to be the wrong one. So, good comeback all for naught. See you next time!

Monday, October 6, 2008

5 Perplexing College Nicknames

A great college nickname is something a student body can rally around. Some nicknames have become so ingrained in a school's history that the name of the institution itself is no longer necessary. Words like Huskers, Boilers, Irish, and Tide are information enough.

And then there are the other nicknames. I imagine the intentions were pure. Intending to put their obscure school on the map, administrators and students picked a nickname that would really help them stand out. The following schools on this list probably should have gone with Wildcats instead.

Columbia College Claim Jumpers
The above picture was virtually the only image related to this Hollywood, CA school that I could find on Google. The remaining photos shown to me when I typed in "Columbia Claim Jumpers" were of hippies eating at a Claim Jumper establishment. As for the actual definition of 'claim jumper,' Princeton College tells me that a claim jumper is "one who illegally occupies property to which another has a legal claim." America at its finest!

Rhode Island School of Design Nads

Here we have proof that stuffy art students can retain a sense of humor. RISD is known as the Harvard of art schools, which sounds like high praise to me. I find it far more interesting that the Nads(RISD's hockey squad) have fans that get to chant "Go Nads!" at the top of their lungs. The school recently formed a basketball team, the RISD Balls, complete with their own slogan: "When the heat is on, the Balls stick together." I could not possibly make this up.

Webster University Gorloks
This mascot appears to be a hip-looking take on a Wildcat or something, right? There's only one problem. What exactly is a gorlok? Well, according to the school's website, a gorlok is a "mythical creature" that was "designed by Webster staff and students" that is equipped with "the paws of a speeding cheetah, horns of a fierce buffalo, and the face of a dependable Saint Bernard."


Evergreen State Crocodile Penises
Kidding! Evergreen State's mascot is actually the geoduck(pronounced GOO-ee-duck), which is apparently a clam-like creature of the sea. Such an odd choice in a mascot must make for one interesting institution, so I read up a little bit on the Geoducks. If you don't want to read any more than you have to, I'll sum things up with a game of What Does Not Belong? One of these tidbits about Evergreen State is false. It's up to you to decide which one.
  • Evergreen State does not give grades to students, presumably because grades are evil creations of money-grubbing corporations.
  • Michael Richards is a proud alum of Evergreen State.
  • Evergreen State's level of academic challenge ranks in the top 10 percent of the nation.
  • Because marijuana is legal in Washington, students are encouraged to come to class in an "altered state" to encourage outside-the-box thinking.

Which one does not belong? I'll give you a hint by telling you that Michael Richards is indeed a former student at Evergreen State, which leads me to believe that the school is close to changing its nickname to the Evergreen State Psychopathic Racist Nutjobs.

Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils
Watch out! Here come the boll weevils! They feed on cotton and flowers and live for up to 3 weeks! Apparently the southern states have a fondness for the boll weevil that we here in the North have yet to find for the cicada. The town of Enterprise, Alabama built a monument in 1919 that still stands today that's dedicated to...any guesses? Equality? A balanced breakfast? Nope!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2008 NL Frontrunners!!

Game 2 of the Chicago Cubs vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and as a kid I faced daily ridicule because of my infatuation with sweatpants hiked up to my sternum. That look on Jim Edmonds's face was my expression from the 2nd inning onward. In fact, my visage was so consistently frozen in extreme pain that it actually stuck. I can't undo my pain face. I'm actually sitting in my Cubbie-blue boxers and sobbing like a neglected baby, if you can picture it. Simon and Garfunkel is playing in the background, and my immediate surroundings smell of lilacs and despair.

Ok, so I'm exaggerating a bit. But good lord, what HAPPENED last night? The team that I saw was not the team that went 55-26 at home. If we discount Carlos Zambrano, every member of the team looked either confused, petrified, or both. Kosuke Fukudome might as well have gone up to the plate with chopsticks. 4 errors were made, one by each infielder. Ummm...what? Yes, even though I saw it happen, I still can't believe it. The errors were committed by Mark DeRosa, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Ryan Theriot.

Let's imagine for a second that the league champion in the regular season is anyone other than the Cubs. The team lost Game 1 at home, and it desperately needs to salvage a split before it goes on the road. The crowd has worked itself into a pregame frenzy, desperate to do whatever they can to help their team win. On the mound is the team's emotional barometer and almost certainly the man that would take the ball in a 1-game, do-or-die situation. The top of the 1st concludes quickly and feverishly, with a swinging strikeout of the opposing team's best hitter. The crowd is rabid and smelling blood. The leadoff man ropes a single to left in the bottom of the 1st, and advances to 2nd on a wild pitch. Batting 2nd in the order is the team's best contact hitter.

There is no way that run doesn't score, right? The contact hitter finds a way to advance the leadoff man to 3rd, and the 3rd and 4th hitters in the lineup each get a shot at bringing the leadoff man that last 90 feet. The run scores, momentum shifts, and there is no way on God's green earth the lead will be relinquished.

But this is the Cubs. Theriot struck out, Lee and Ramirez squandered their at-bats, and Soriano was stranded on 2nd. On to the 2nd inning meltdown.

As an example of what SHOULD happen when the league's best team finds itself unexpectedly against the wall, watch what the Angels do tonight against the Red Sox. The BoSox have Dice-K and a 10 game postseason win streak against Anaheim on their side, but this is irrelevant. Ervin Santana will feed off of his crowd, his fielders' gloves will be true, and Anaheim will find a way to win Game 2. The best team on the field, shockingly, plays like the best team on the field when it really matters. Unless that team is the Chicago Cubs.

Last Night's LVPs:

1. Kosuke Fukudome - 0-for-4 with 3 K's and 4 men left on base. This guy currently looks more lost than Jack, Kate, and Sawyer combined. He'll give a nice breeze to any offspeed pitch that's low and out of the strike zone.
2. Mark DeRosa - I hate to do this because he had some fantastic late ABs, but you absolutely HAVE to turn that double play in the 2nd. Tailor-made is an understatement. That ball's destiny was to be gobbled up and turned into two. Had that actually taken place, the Cubs would have escaped from the inning unscathed with Mr. Momentum back in their pocket. But Wrigley Field is the devil, and something caused DeRosa, arguably the team's MVP, to botch it.
3. Dick Stockton - Ok Dick, I'm generally a good guy with a soft spot for geezers who really need to retire but won't because they think having a job wards off the Reaper, but if you don't learn how to pronounce the word "error"(lord knows you had to say it often enough last night), I am going to find you and rip your beloved Cialis out of your decomposing hands.
4. Lou Piniella - It's a manager's job, especially in the postseason, to put the best lineup on the field each night. Some Cubs are staples and will never be benched in a crucial game, regardless of past performance. These people are currently Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, Geovany Soto, and DeRosa. You'll notice that Kosuke Fukudome did not make that list. He looked just as bad in Game 1 as he did in Game 2, if not more so. I'm certain that Sweet Lou entertained the idea of benching Kosuke, throwing DeRosa in RF, and putting Mike "Pocket Rocket" Fontenot at 2B, especially after Fontenot's beautiful at-bat in Game 1. Well, instead of entertaining the idea, Lou really should have made that happen. Am I saying that Fontenot would have turned that double play in the 2nd? Not really. There's no way to predict how a different fielder might have handled that ball. All I'm saying is that most 12-year-olds in Williamsport will turn that grounder into two.

On a side note, this game really is a bonafide biatch. After a never-ending 162 game season, can you believe the Cubs are essentially cooked after 2 measley games? It's such a small sample size; playoff teams really need a good amount of luck to advance. For example, if James Loney doesn't catch that one little seam on the baseball to foul off a great pitch from Dempster and stay alive in Game 1, then he never hits that grand slam and the Cubs go on to win. If that double play in the 2nd is turned, the Cubs play the game differently and possibly go to LA up 2-0. Instead, they got smoked in both games. The combined score so far is LA 17, Chicago 5.

Last Night's MVP:

Carlos Zambrano - This one is a no-brainer. He was the only Cub out there who was unafraid and absolutely, 100% prepared to pitch 12 innings of lights-out baseball if necessary. His at-bats were about 87 million times more impressive than Fukudome's. He unbelievably kept his composure as the walls were caving in around him in the 2nd inning. He made one bad pitch all night, the heater to Manny which only resulted in a solo home run. The standing ovation he got when he was removed last night was completely appropriate, and a testament to the knowledge of Cubs fans. They knew they saw a great game from Z, even if the scoreboard didn't reflect it.

So now what? Well, the Cubs have work to do. It needs to happen one game at a time. Rich Harden is throwing against Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3, a matchup similiar to Jason McElwain vs. LeBron James in a 3-point shooting contest. In case it's unclear, this means that Harden has filthy stuff, Kuroda is garbage, and J-Mac would smoke LeBron.

I'm actually glad that the Cubs are thousands of miles from Wrigley Field for these next 2 games. I'll write more on this later, but a while back I decided that the Cubs' friendly confines are actually all that is evil in this world, and the stadium needs to be demolished, brick by treacherous brick. While I was met with criticism and death threats when I first wrote about it, somehow I feel that Cubs fans will be more receptive to the idea this time around. You just let that idea simmer, and I'll be back later to discuss it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


One swing of the bat ended the Cubs' season last night. At least according to the fans sitting in a cold Wrigley and one in his room in Des Moines.

A guy named Loney(Tunes) was able to summon the demons of Cubs past, goats and all, and crush the dreams of a fan collective only five innings into the postseason. Is it really over? No way. If good Carlos Zambrano fires a gem it will become a three game series, but that doesn't matter. The first game was the harbinger. Our ace was on the mound and ready to begin the end of a collective suffering. He won 14 games at home this year - the most since 1967 when some guy named Jenkins won 15 at Wrigley. But that's not how it played out. Bats were cold and our ace walked 7. A grand slam and a couple homers later and an entire stadium was rendered silent. (Including one home run that I still can't believe left the park, let alone make it 25 rows into dead-center....stupid Manny.)

This just goes to show the fragile state that is Cubs fandom. We are twitchy, superstitious, and depressive. We laugh at the 100 year jokes, but cry a little on the inside when we hear them. We embrace "lovable losers" and deride teams like the Yankees for winning - even though we secretly envy those in the Bronx.

Tonight is game two and I will be stationed in front of my television to watch the worst baseball broadcast ever. I'm not going to start that rant. Just read below; he nailed it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Night 1 of MLB's Postseason: National League Observations

I've said this before and I'll say it again: There is no reason to keep baseball's regular season as long as it is. Even the most hardcore fan finds himself (or herself-sources tell me women love a man in a baseball uniform) completely bored by the monotony in mid-August. The NFL, NHL, and NBA have yet to officially start up, so our only options are baseball and the WNBA regular season, which generally has as much excitement and tears as a good nosehair trimming. Not good times.

From a fan's standpoint, there are some arguments that are in favor of keeping the 162-game baseball season as interminable as it is, most of which are concerned with keeping baseball's tradition intact. It is our national pasttime, after all(which is a lie-the NFL took the pasttime title away in the mid-90s). Truthfully, of all the major sports, individual statistics are the most important in baseball. Numbers have turned Gehrig, Ruth, Cobb, Mantle, Williams, and Musial not into simply dead dudes, but mythical gods. Shortening the season makes statistics skewed, something Joe Baseballfan cannot stand. We want records broken and we want Barry Bonds and his cheating numbers surpassed, but with a shortened season, this is less likely to occur.

From the owners' standpoint(and this is the only argument that really matters), it's not rocket science. A shorter season means fewer home games, which means less money. Obviously, a shorter baseball season is not realistic.

So here we are, on the first day of October and well into Autumn, and playoff baseball is just beginning. It's a shame, really. In a 144-game format, the season would be shortened by about 3 weeks. I'm watching Game 1 of Cubs/Dodgers as I'm writing this, and I see fans bundled up with sweatshirts, coats, and blankets, and Ryan Dempster is sporting a playoff beard not as a good luck charm, but as frostbite prevention. When exactly did it become a good idea to end our joyful summer game in 40 degree weather and angry gusts of wind? This is not how baseball's crown should be determined. You think baseball, you think warm weather. Not shivers and stagnant offensive performances. Wow, thank the lord I waited this season out; now I get to watch Milwaukee and Philly combine for 8 hits. Oh, the joy.

As far as the owners are concerned, try to channel whatever's left of the creativity that netted you all that money in the first place. Bolster advertising revenue, or bring in more merchandising and concession sales. Hike the effing ticket prices! I don't care...I only see 2 or 3 games per year in person, anyway. You're only losing 9 home games in all. You still have 72 of them. Shut up and make the changes for the greater good. Baseball is not a cold weather affair, you penny-pinching geezers. Silenced bats and snowfall is bad for this beautiful game. Stop being d-bags and try being fans.

That's ends my rant. Time to cheer up.

Things I Already Hate About MLB on TBS:

On second thought, it looks as though I'm not going to cheer up tonight thanks to TBS's crack squad of marketing personnel. I already want to slice my ears off whenever I see Jon Bon Jovi and Frank Caliendo.

While I'll admit this year's campaign is slightly more tolerable than Dane Cook reminding me hourly that there's only one October, I still find it pretty incredible how quickly I tired of Bon Jovi telling me about his "love" for "this town." The silver lining here is the giggle that I enjoy upon seeing footage of both the Twins and the Mets, two non-playoff teams mysteriously included in TBS's playoff campaign. Enjoy seeing David Wright one last time this year, Mets fans. I hope you choke.

Frank TV has surpassed Lipstick Jungle and One Tree Hill as the TV show I hate most despite having never seen an episode. Will these ads ever end? Definitely not until October 21, when his sketch show finally premieres. It's going to be a great 3 weeks. If Frank keeps this up, his ads might surpass Olive Garden's for the title of "Ad Campaign That Is Intended To Be Funny But Instead Makes Me Grimace and Crumple In Pain As Though My Kidney Had Just Been Shanked."

Phillies 3
Brewers 1

Milwaukee made a great surge to take the NL Wild Card, but it's pretty obvious to me that Round 1 is as far as they're going to go this year. These are the facts:

1. Ben Sheets is done.
2. CC Sabathia has not yet learned to pitch on 0 days rest.
3. If those first 2 facts aren't clear, Milwaukee's starting rotation is screwed.
4. Philadelphia has arms galore and arguably the best 'pen in the playoffs.
5. Milwaukee needs offense to counter their overmatched pitching staff. 1 run on 4 hits is not a good sign for the future.

Of course, with C.C. on the hill in Game 2, anything can happen. With a win tomorrow, the Brewers can turn this into a series. But I don't think it's very likely. Sabathia will be gassed due to the work he's had to do in the past week, so Milwaukee's bullpen might actually be needed in this one. Philadelphia should get to C.C., win Game 2, and wrap the series up in Milwaukee.

Dodgers 7
Cubs 2

I am surprisingly unaffected by this result. It could be because I was watching the game by myself without any rabid fans around me. Or maybe my heart isn't really in this season. Either way, I've always considered myself to be a die-hard Cubs fan. I'm almost positive that I am. I just think I've become so desensitized from Cubs postseason disappointments that I can't get too high or too low anymore. Not sure if that's how every fan's feeling, but that's how it is for me.

Wrigley had an eerie vibe to it tonight; it was obvious even on television. Before DeRosa's home run(he really bombed that one), I could feel a nervousness in the crowd. We as a collective group of Chicago Cubs fans are in an unfamiliar and almost unbelievable position. Eddie Vedder's tune "All the Way" speaks of our beloved Northsiders as underdogs, but in reality, this team is built for a championship and nothing else. The Cubs are the favorites this year, they're the sexy pick and the sympathetic pick. The crowd at Wrigley knows this, and I think that's why they sat on their hands for most of the night. First it was nervousness, and after Loney's grand slam, it was embarrassment that kept them silent.

This 7-2 drubbing will hopefully be a wakeup call for the Cubs. They may be the best team, record-wise, in the NL, but they're certainly not the hottest. That title would likely go to the Dodgers, who are a new team with Manny aboard. And by the way, did you effing see that home run he hit? That was poor Sean Marshall's best curveball, and it even fooled Ramirez! But he kept his hands back despite being off-balance and somehow pulled a low and outside deuce 420 feet. Ridiculous. I hate to say it, but the Cubs appear overmatched. Let's compare the 3-hitters on each team. For LA we have Manny, batting at a .400 clip since he joined the Dodgers while infecting his teammates with some good, old-fashioned love of baseball. The Cubs have "DP" D-Lee, a genuinely good guy who is currently about 15 times more likely to ground into two than he is to go deep.

For the entire season, the Cubs and most of their fans have had a sense of entitlement that comes from knowing the team is talented while also thinking that it's a team of destiny. Because it's the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs' last title, it's only fitting that they win it all in 2008, right?

Tonight was a rude awakening and hopefully a reminder that, shockingly, opposing teams won't be willing to let the Cubs have this one. They need to take it for themselves. The team on the field tonight looked more nervous and scared than the fans in the seats. Dempster refused to challenge Manny and Ethier at any time, which led to Loney's grand slam. Soto, Ramirez, and Lee all passed up delicious 1st or 2nd pitch offerings from Derrick Lowe only to put a bad swing at a ball because they were behind in the count. Soriano went 0-for-5 with a couple K's and a couple unnecessary hops in the outfield. I could have played similar left field for the Cubs tonight.

We need the bats to step up, we need the Cubs to play mean, and we need a HUGE start from Big Z, that psycho nutjob. If we don't get it, we can enjoy being worked over by an NL West team in the opening series for the 2nd straight season. 101 straight years? We're on our way.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey! Seinfeld Freaks!

Let it go. The show's been dead for how long? A decade? More? Get over it. Let me ask you something. I'll even start my inquiry with the phrase "What's the deal?" to get you uber excited.

What's the deal with your hopeless devotion to all things Seinfeld? Are you really still throwing quotes at me from episodes that originally aired when Jordan's Bulls were destorying Barkley's Suns? Moops! Anti-Dentite! No Soup For You! Shut up!

No, I was unaware that the only episode title that does not start with the word "The" is "Good News, Bad News." Fascinating. No, I did not know that the Wikipedia article entitled "The Soup Nazi" is roughly 10 times longer than the page entitled "Larry Thomas." Yes, I imagine that it's tough for poor Larry to go anywhere without being politely asked for some jambalaya. Are you listening to yourself?

I'll do you a solid, because I'm that kind of guy. Here are some TV shows that you don't watch, but I do. I think you'll enjoy them. Let's let go of Seinfeld together. And by the way, if you are new to any of the shows below, you absolutely must rent/buy/steal an entire season of the show in order to fall into the tone of it. There's no other way.

#1: 30 Rock
As I recall, when this Emmy-winning show first aired, it was teamed with a similar, slightly more dramatic take on television studios, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I thought Studio 60 would last for years while 3o Rock would live for only a few episodes.


30 Rock completely surprised me. As great as Tina Fey(who plays Liz Lemon) and every member of the cast is, nobody shines brighter than Alec Baldwin, who plays the sharp, ultra-conservative NBC Executive, Jack Donaghy. What's so brilliant about Baldwin in this role is that he makes me completely forget the fact that I couldn't stand him before I saw him on 30 Rock. I'm not alone here. The Baldwins are not a well-liked family, and the fact that Alec has pulled this 180 is a testament to the writing on the show and to his comedic ability. You absolutely must watch 30 Rock.

Notable Quotes:

Jack: I want you to write this speech for me, Lemon. Those jokes you wrote for me for my Mitt Romney fundraiser were top-notch.
Liz: Those weren't jokes! That was an appeal for a return to common sense and decency!
Jack: ....Well, they got big laughs.

Liz: Why are you wearing a tux?

Jack: It's after 6. What am I, a farmer?

#2: It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Ok, here's what you do: go to sharetv.org and search for this show. Start watching it. If you have a tendency to be offended by issues such as abortion, sexism, parental negligence, cancer, racism, or religion, you might want to stick with Lipstick Jungle instead.

#3: American Dad

From what I've observed, you either love this show or you hate it. And most people hate it. And why not? It's not quite a Family Guy spinoff, but it's definitely the ugly stepbrother of the two. Again, go to sharetv.org and start watching. Give it a few episodes to sink in. You just may love it. All I know is that Roger(the effeminate, sassy alien) makes me laugh more than any character in the Griffin family.
So there you go. Let go of Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine and say hello to Jack, Liz, Mac, Dennis, Sweet Dee, Charlie, Stan, and Roger. You can do it. You are the master of your domain, the lord of the manor, the queen of the castle. Get it done.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Month at the Movies: August 08

Death Race 2 1/2 Stars
This 1975 remake is full of blood and guts, heroes and villains, high speed races and cheesy one liners. Is it going to win any Oscars? No. However all of these elements make for an entertaining watch.
Jason Stathem stars as Jasen Ames, a retired race car driver who, after being framed for his wife's murder, finds himself driving in the most popular sport in the world. The Death Race. Joan Allen plays the psychotic Warden and creator of the Death Race who will do anything for T.V. ratings. The movie is filled with C average acting and a terrible script, but if you enjoy the things I listed earlier then it's a good one to rent.
MVP: The races: The best parts of the movie are when not many people talk. There are some pretty sweet deaths.
LVP: "The Condemned 2": I saw this movie last year, but it was an island instead of a racetrack.

Elegy 3 Stars

Ben Kingsley strikes for the second month in a row, and once again he plays an old man who's wants to be young again. I think he's trying to tell us something.
Penelope Cruz stars opposite Kingsley in this romance between a college professor and his student. Kingsley, a man who has never been in love in his long and successful life finally fells something he has never felt before. With help from his friend (Dennis Hopper), Kingsley struggles with his feelings towards the beautiful and younger Cruz. Isabel Coixet does a wonderful job of direction, but it is not a movie I see myself watching more than once.
MVP: Ben Kingsley: I never knew that much about him, but this is the second performance in two months that he has blown me away.
LVP: Sloooooooooooow: It felt like this movie was 10 hours long.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor 1 Star

They should have called it "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Mummy." I found it ironic that the first Asian "Mummy" installment was the same one that EVERY CHARACTER LEARNED KUNG FU! The yetis are great by the way. That's right yetis.
This is the plot. Mummy is found. Mummy wakes up. Mummy gets pissed. Mummy dominates. Mummy gets killed... somehow. Everybody's happy until the next Mummy gets woken up by some idiot. " I've seen that movie twice before, and each time it gets worse. They tried to be super original by making it an Asian mummy. People are really running out of ideas in Hollywood.
MVP: Some of the action: Totally stupid, but I give them props for trying.
LVP: Maria Bello: I have nothing against her, and she did an alright job, but as soon as I found out that Rachel Weisz wasn't in it, I cried a little bit.

Pineapple Express 4 Stars

Watch the trailer. If you thought, "Guns? Stoners? Sounds like a winner," then you'll love it.
Seth Rogan plays Dale Denton, a pothead and underachiever, who gets mixed up with the wrong people after witnessing a murder. Denton and his drug dealer "friend" (James Franco) then proceed to do everything in action films that we tend to make fun of. But they do it stoned.
MVP: James Franco: He finally plays a stoner and he blows it away (no pun intended).
LVP: Rosie Perez: I hate her.

Tropic Thunder 4 1/2 Stars

Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. star in Tropic Thunder. And their characters... star in Tropic Thunder. It's the perfect blend of amazing humor, action scenes, and fantastic acting.
Stiller, Black, and Downey Jr. play three extremely different actors who are all joined together to make the spectacular motion picture, "Tropic Thunder." However, after a failed attempt to make their acting more realistic, they are left alone in the middle of the jungle to fend for themselves and survive the elements as well as the extremely violent citizens of the land. Oh, and they think they're still filming. This movie is filled with many laughs, but the acting itself surpasses the jokes. Tom Cruise gives the performance of his life.
MVP: Robert Downey Jr. black: Hilarious.
LVP: Robert Downey Jr. white: You miss the black one.
Movie of the Month:
Tombstone (1993) 4 1/2 Stars

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Information For All You Nerds

Do you love reading? So do I. Do you hate spending $8.99 on a novel that you'll read once at the most? Me, too. It seems that I've stumbled upon a solution, and it is at PaperBack Swap. Basically, you post 10 books that you have in your collection that you would be willing to mail to someone else. By doing so, you immediately earn 2 credits that you can use to get two books. I just created my account a half hour ago and I have a couple books headed to me already(One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Black Ice, in case you had an insatiable desire to know). Every time another member requests one of your books and you mail it over to them, that puts another credit into your account. So all you're paying is the postage necessary to mail one of your books. And it seems that books get requested pretty readily; 3 of my 10 posted books have already garnered interest(Lamb, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, and Bringing Down the House, in case you're a creepily curious curmudgeon).

Chances are, if you're a nerd, you already know about PaperBack Swap, but in case you don't, you're welcome. Join up and start reading! Help me take down Borders and slow the pace of Amazon's Kindle!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Videos That Are Quite Nerdy Indeed

Let's get this started. All of these videos relate to either sports, music, or video games. If you're looking for shoes, any book in the Twilight series, or Katie Holmes and her infatuation with her hubby's jeans, maximum efficiency would be achieved by moving on to a different page. For the rest of you, video 1 is below, and it is lights out.

I've been wanting to play a Madden-killer ever since the 2K series was obliterated, and while it's still in the early stages, it seems that Backbreaker could do some damage to EA's juggernaut. The most intriguing parts of the video are obviously the unbelievable variations and realism in the tackling animations. Indeed, the game is designed by NaturalMotion, and the physics engine that they developed is now in place for a football game. They claim that their engine yields a near-infinite amount of possible collisions in the game, and according to this post on ign.com, they could be correct. Watch the video again if you haven't already. Look at these hits! This is what collisions should look like when two incredibly powerful forces meet up. Even the slightest bits of contact are magnified because of how fast each man is running. Gorgeous. Here's hoping Backbreaker makes it past the development stage. Madden has run its course as far as I'm concerned.

I already wrote about Power Pros on The Lukeout, but this game is a blast. I don't care how kiddy the animation looks; it's deeper and more fun to play than pretty much every baseball game out there. Some things that I've seen in this game that I never see in others: Foul tips, broken bats, throwing and fielding errors, runners scoring from 2nd base on singles, larger hitting zones when a clutch batter is up with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, and a bullpen that you don't ever need to warm up. Plus, there is absolutely no motion tracking, which is saying something considering it's built for the Wii. That means you don't have to look like an idiot swinging a 5-inch "bat" in the depths of your basement. I finally have a solid sports game to play for the Wii, and I am giddy.

I absolutely love that we're starting to see some previews with a kick to them. Brad Pitt calling John Malkovich a dickwad is something that I will definitely pay to see. The Coen Brothers are making another comedy after rocking the Oscars a few months ago. From what the trailer revealed, this looks to be in the mold of The Big Lebowski rather than The Ladykillers. Good things.

Gov't Mule has been sitting atop my "Bands To See Live" list for about two years now. They just never seem to come to Chicago. But when they do, I'll be watching Warren Haynes rock out harder and better than any musician out there. How one man can play such sick lead guitar while at the same time cranking out vocals like that, I'll never figure out. This makes me realize that I am a big, fat waste of space when it comes to playing a guitar.

Just shut your mouth and watch this drummer. He's so good that he gets a rise out of "I've Seen It All and Also I Am Old As Balls" David Letterman. And also, take note that he creates that diverse sound with only two cymbals. Sick.

I miss Michael.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Moving To Europe

Don't you hate it when you have money somewhere that you just can't get your hands on? Maybe it's still in the hands of an expiring relative, or better yet, in the hands of an online poker server. The following conversation is 100% real, and it took place roughly 5 minutes ago. It stars me and my new buddy Nelson. And for those who don't know, I'm moving to Europe to fine poker playing peace.

General Info:
Chat start time Aug 21, 2008 4:57:45 PM EST
Chat end time Aug 21, 2008 5:25:48 PM EST
Duration (actual chatting time) 00:28:02
Operator Nelson Hendricks
Chat Transcriptinfo: Please wait for a site operator to respond. You are currently customer 1 in queue. Thank you for your patience.

Hello, my name is Nelson Hendricks. How may I help you today?

You: Hi Nelson

Nelson Hendricks: Please bear with me while I look up your account details.....

You: I've requested a cashout twice, and both times the money was sent back into my account. The first request was on Fathers Day, over 2 months ago.

Nelson Hendricks: Before we can process your withdrawals we require you to provide a valid copy of your photo ID (Drivers License or Passport) and a hardcopy of a utility bill showing your name and address. This documentation will be requested once only. We accept withdrawals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we do our best to get your funds to you within 3-5 weeks, although due to current processor limitations, it may take a little longer. You may request a maximum of two withdrawals in a 24 hour period. The minimum withdrawal amount is $50. At present we can offer a check via either regular mail or express courier. Your first check request per calendar month will be free of charge. Subsequent requests will be subject to standard check-cutting fee depending on the method of sending ($20 for a check via mail, $40 for a check via courier). Should the address on file be a P.O. Box all checks will be sent via regular mail by default.On any withdrawal, we will first attempt to credit back to your card any funds that you have recently charged to that card. The rest of your winnings will be sent using the method of your choice.Only the 'earned' portion of any bonus funds will be available for withdrawal. The Cashier will advise you at the time you make your withdrawal whether you have fully earned any bonus funds awarded. If you proceed with the withdrawal, some or all the unearned bonus funds will be removed from your remaining V-chip balance.Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is required before you can withdraw any funds from your account. It is a further step in securing that only you can access money in your account. This number was sent to you via email when you signed up.

You: Okay, a couple questions: first, I have cashed out before and did not need to disclose the ID and utility bill. Is this a new policy? And second, because I have requested 2 cashouts to no avail, have I been charged $40 two times over?

Nelson Hendricks: Yes it is a new policy imposed to us on July 22 by our new processors.
Nelson Hendricks: It is known as the KYC clause.

Nelson Hendricks: The new processors and their banks have to abide by the “KYC” international clause which requires that they show “proof” of an established relationship with our members.

Nelson Hendricks: The “KYC” or “Know your Customer” clause is a bank regulation that financial institutions and other regulated companies must perform to identify their clients and ascertain relevant information pertinent to doing financial business with them. Know your customer policies have becoming increasingly important globally to prevent identity theft fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing.

You: Okay. Fine. We definitely don't want to support the terrorists! But my first cashout request was in Mid-June, so I'm having a hard time believing it took over 5 weeks simply to process my request.

Nelson Hendricks: No, we had a lot of problem because of the US legislation against the financial institutions who help us to get the fund to our customers, we are working on getting new processor to get back to the same faster schedule we all prefer.

You: 10-4, good buddy. What about that $40 cashout request fee? Since I twice tried to cash out(and if memory serves, my past requests saw me get charged $40 immediately), have I been charged $80 to let my money wander aimlessly for over 2 months?

Nelson Hendricks: We will look further into that but right now we have to wait to get this funds to you as soon a possible then we will be able to talk to you about the compensation for you and those fees.

You: Sounds like a fantastic plan!

You: How do I go about sending my ID and utility bill? Will a fax suffice?

Nelson Hendricks: You can send a fax or an e-mail, let me give you the instructuions.

Nelson Hendricks: Please send the requested documents to 1800 201 4919 (++1-208-567-3627 if you are outside North America), or if it is more convenient you may scan your documents, attach them to an email, and send them to the following address:
documents@gamingsupport.net Please ensure that your customer ID number is prominent on the fax or subject line of the email. Please check the quality of your scan or fax to ensure that all information is fully legible. Once we have fully reviewed the documentation we will promptly email you with an update.

Nelson Hendricks: Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

You: I think that's gonna do it! Thanks for clearing things up, Nelson. You have been a solid, if gramatically ineffecient, help. Have a great rest of the week! USA! USA!

Nelson Hendricks: I appreciate that, I am sorry for the inconvenience.

And there we have it. What a complete joke of a policy. I have requested cashouts from this site in the past, and all have been successful. The players on the server are so laughably bad that I've been able to overlook the check request fees and awful software, but no longer. After I cash out, I am done with this particular poker site. Good God. Terrorist financing? Do they really have to type that in there? Who is using their measley $75 cashouts to fund terrorism?

It's been 2 months and counting since I first desired to bathe in my well-earned cash, and I still haven't caught a whiff of it. I can't think of anything else in this country that takes over 2 months to process. Can you? If so, please fill me in. I am completely baffled.

I'm moving to Sweden.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Horn Man

People are overly possessive about their music - I know I am.

Why is this? For most, it moves beyond just being music and becomes the soundtrack for life. The album that is playing the first time you're with a girl or driving to a concert becomes as important as the experience itself.

These moments are landmark, and the songs they are attached to are a tangible way to flashback and remember something simpler, something cherished. If you don't believe me, ask someone who's between 55-60 what "Sweet Caroline," "Bad Moon Rising," or "Crimson & Clover" means to them. I can guarantee they'll have a story for those songs. It just happens. Youth is sound-tracked by music.

For myself, and many others in my generation, the Dave Matthews Band is a gigantic part of my life. Last night a little of the luster was taken away, saxist and founding member LeRoi Moore passed away from complications to an earlier ATV accident.

I read it at 11:30pm, just after getting home from a movie. I went to a DMB forum I've been a member of for several years, and all I see is a picture of LeRoi. I knew what it meant and I felt my heart drop a little. I couldn't believe I was feeling bad about a person I've never met.

Panic quickly set in. Was that the end of the band - my band? Could it be the same again? Most casual fans don't know that it's LeRoi who takes Dave's guitar arrangements and turns them into the full-band arrangements we know. LeRoi is considered, by more than just DMB fans, to be one of the finest jazz saxists in the modern era. He was a part of the band I called my favorite and losing him actually hurt a little. Again, the possessiveness of music and bands...

Reading through the various DMB forums, it was obvious emotions were running a little hot. People talking about crying, asking where you were when "the music died" and not meaning Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. People saying that DMB is not DMB without LeRoi and they should hang it up tonight. Others contradicting and saying that the band must play on - it's what he would have wanted. Some are saying they'll never be the same band, now DMB v2.0. But, all these people have nothing to do with the band personally. It just happens to be their favorite band and the death of its members is enough to throw them for a loop. This is the power of music, especially when music becomes so very personal.

The point here is, while we can feel bad, this needs to be placed into perspective. A man who was a titan of his instrument and a cornerstone to a beloved band passed away. Respect must be paid. Wether the band decides to hang it up (unlikely) or go out and play better music than ever (very likely) it is not any of our decisions. All we can do is say, "we're here no matter what and we'll miss the man playing the horn in his sunglasses - even if none of us knew him."

I just hope I get another night on Alpine's hillside and from now on get to watch my favorite band perform like madmen for their lost friend who's now forever hanging out at stage-left.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Usain is Insane

The 2008 Summer Olympics have been everything I hoped they would be. The Opening Ceremonies were fantastic. The United States seems to be a contender in everything. I think every world record has been shattered. Michael Phelps surpassed Spitz. I didn't think there would be much more to the games.

However, Last night I witnessed the greatest domination in sports history. Ever. It didn't come from Phelps and his eighth gold, or the U.S.A. men's basketball. It even surpasses Tiger's performances on the golf course, and Jordan on the basketball court.

Usain "Lightning" Bolt (awesome name) won the men's 100 meter dash, running it in 9.69 seconds. Now, that is a world record, so that's an achievement in itself. But the way in which he did it blows my mind.

Richard Thompson is at the bottom of this image, and he won the silver medal, running it in 9.89 seconds (fast). But that means he lost by two-tenths of a second, which is basically an hour in 100 meter times. But that's not the end of his dominance.

From left to right it goes Walter Dix (Bronze), Richard Thompson (Silver), and Usain Bolt (Gold). This is a good twenty meters before the race is over. He is so far ahead that he feels the need to do some trash talking before crossing the finish line. If he tried the entire race, 9.59 would've been a more realistic time. Unbelievable.

I think this is the best picture that captures how amazing it was. Notice how even the back of the field is. Why are they so even? Oh yeah, they're the fastest men in the world! Usain is making them look like high school track athletes.

It was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my twenty years on this planet.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Congratulations! You're a Teammate of Michael Phelps!

And look how happy you are! I can't blame you, that's for sure. I know if I had the chance to ride on the same bus and dress in the same locker room as Michael Phelps, I'd react in much the same way that you did in this photo. Wait, that celebration was because you won a gold medal in the 200 meter backstroke? Who are you again? Ryan...what is it?

Lochte? Can you say that again? I'm not sure I'm pronouncing it correctly.

You know what? Forget it. I don't care that much. So you're telling me that this moment of joy you're experiencing is in no way because of the great Michael Phelps, but because you won a gold medal of your own?

Wow. You sure are selfish.

I mean, it's not like you've trained your whole life to come to Beijing and establish yourself as one of the world's best, right? There's no way you're that dense. This is 2008, son! The year of Phelps! All of us back in the states were under the impression that the other U.S. swimmers are content to race in the anonymity that the shadow of Michael Phelps provides. Why can't you be the same way, Lochte? Huh? Why can't you be a team player? You know who really gets it? NBC Sideline Reporter Andrea Kremer. She always knows the important, relevant questions to ask. Here's a sample:

Andrea Kremer: Ryan Lochte, you won a gold medal in the 200 meter backstroke mere hours after saving 7 Chinese children from a burning recreation center. Also, you pledged any future endorsement money to the Unwed Golden Retriever Mothers of America. So tell me, Ryan, what exactly was on Michael Phelps' iPod this morning?

Ryan Lochte: Excuse me?

Andrea: What was on his iPod, Ryan?

Ryan: I...I'm not sure. I'm sorry.

Andrea: Well, if you had to guess?

Ryan: I really don't know. Public Enemy, maybe. Or Guns 'N Roses.

Andrea: Excellent. There you have it, America!

And that's how it's done! Thank you, NBC, for constantly reminding us, the idiotic American public, that we are indeed witnesses to history. We were unsure. If it weren't for you, we'd probably forget that the Olympics were even on television. We'd all likely grunt in our chairs and bash our remotes against our foreheads if it weren't for your constant stream of information.

Also, thank you for devaluing the unbelivable accomplishments of the rest of the United States swimmers. Thank you for making them all talk about Michael Phelps before and after their respective races. Thank you for never, ever, EVER ceasing to remind us that Michael Phelps is an American treasure, a dynamite swimmer, and perhaps the greatest Olympian to ever live. Thank you for making the rest of the athletes, who have worked their entire lives for the chance to make the most of this cruelly short period of time, talk about Phelps instead of their personal journey. Thanks, NBC. You douchebags.