December 30, 2004
Now that I think about it, I didn't learn a frigging thing.
See you all in 2005, peoples.
December 29, 2004
- Modest Mouse: "Good News for People Who Love Bad News" and live at the Hammerstein Ballroom. My favorite band took a giant leap forward, creating the most stunning music I've heard in years, since "OK Computer," probably. I've heard it a few times a week for months and months and still am surprised each time.
- "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind." My life story, with better performances. I was completely freaked out by this movie, and don't know if I could see it again.
- My wildcard improv performance at the UCB 3x3 Cagematch contest. So much fun I couldn't wait to do it again. Then I did do it again and it wasn't that great, but still.
- "Deadwood." Best goddamned ensemble cast ever, but dear cocksucking lord, was anybody better than Ian McShane's Al Swearengen?
- [tie] Homestar Runner and Achewood. Countless hours of heelarious entertainment.
- My birthday at the Jersey Shore. Fried Oreos, tequila shots, and Skee-Ball. A bright spot in the middle of many months of blah.
- Ryan Lizza's campaign coverage for The New Republic.
- The first-ever Valentine's Day Black Hearts Party. The first time I think I really got it, and the high point before my mere-days-away laying off.
- "The Incredibles."
- Rutgers actually making it to the Finals of a tournament, taking down archrivals Iowa State in an overtime classic at the Garden.
December 28, 2004
#3: Do a Wardrobe Inventory Once in a While.
Seriously, I got a job after eight months of unemployment and it's like I forgot I owned any work clothes at all. I was getting something from the back of my closet last night and I found two perfectly good pairs of khakis, and this after I bought another pair last week. I did the same thing with shirts last month, buying three more, forgetting the four or five new shirts I never got around to using during my last spate of employment.
So in 2005 and beyond, periodic shirt/pant/sock counts.
December 27, 2004
#2: Gambling for a Living is Harder than It Looks or (as Hunter S. Thompson once wrote) Old Whores Don't Giggle.
That period of unemployment lasted a bit longer than I had planned, so to avoid any sort of honest employment I found myself playing poker four or five times a week for a couple of months. On one level it worked, as I focused on my play (my line was that being laid off really tightened up my game) and had a financially successful time of it, winning enough to take care of my basic expenses for the period.
On the other hand, obviously my actions had removed playing poker from the entertainment category and put it into the work category, with the result being that at times it was as unpleasant as any job. Playing tight can actually be pretty boring, and I found myself doing strange things to mix it up a little, like checking the bottom right corner of the card first (checking for the telltale border of a face card, or the blankness that meant either an ace or a 2/3) or checking flops without my glasses.
Also, I was spending way too much time sitting around a small table with a group of people who under normal circumstances I wouldn't want to share the same subway car with, listening to (and saying) the same dumb things and watching nothing but sports on TV. The hours can be pretty unconducive to being a part of normal society, and I was getting home at five in the morning, not waking up until past noon, cutting down on daytime job-seeking as well. I was offered and considered a job dealing at the club, which seems to pay pretty well, but I figured having to be there until 7 in the morning would completely cut me off from the rest of the world.
And I can't overlook the fact that my success was probably as much luck as anything else, and that I was only a couple of bad sessions away from wiping out everything I had made. Meaning that I would have spent all of those hours at the table for nothing, or quite possibly several hundred dollars less than nothing. So I think I'll stick with this work--a-day 9-to-5 life for the time being.
December 26, 2004
Even, or perhaps especially, in a year as brutally awful as 2004, we leave December a little smarter than we began January. In these remaining few days before this year mercifully ends, I'm going to try to figure out the lessons I learned.
#1: The De-Mythologizing of Manhattan.
I was born in Brooklyn, though my parents moved out to central New Jersey when I was about a year old. Still, my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, while most of the rest of my family lived in Queens. My Dad worked in Manhattan until he started his own company in Jersey City (coincidentally, across the street from where I type this). And, of course, throughout my life I would go into Manhattan for the museums, shows, or just hanging out.
So to me Manhattan has always been this incredibly huge force of energy that my world has revolved around, and while it was possible to visit or work there, actually living there was reserved for those with Wall Street salaries or some sweet fifth-generation $35-a-month rent-controlled apartment.
So one of the things I learned this year was that while Manhattan might still be the major part of the greatest city in the world, it is still just a city, without velvet ropes on the borders keeping the riff-raff out. This year I met a lot of new people living lives pretty much like mine, except that they live in various parts of Manhattan. In addition, now that I'm working and wandering around Midtown, I'm noticing dozens of crappy little hardware stores and the like, not that much different from Jersey City, or my hometown of Old Bridge, for that matter. I suppose that like a lot of things, now that I'm part of it, it no longer seems as special.
December 25, 2004
Even without trying one of the seemingly-so-easy cheating techniques described in the book, I did manage to leave AC a winner, unlike my four fellow family members, thanks to a few blackjack streaks (after managing to survive one brutal four-hand stretch when the dealer had three blackjacks and a 20) and a beautiful flush with dealer's qualifier on the only hand of Caribbean Stud Poker I played (odds: 1 in 510). Boy, that was sweet.
Decidedly unsweet was when some jerk at the $5/$10 table hit his three-outer on the river, his KJ crushing my AK, while at the exact same moment an acquaintance of mine from the central-NJ clubs was tapping me on the shoulder in order to borrow $100.
Update: Okay, there's a few more songs than those two, but I've decided they don't really count.
So happy birthday, Rickey Henderson, born 46 years ago today in Chicago.
(Well, whaddya expect from a baseball fan named Goldstein?)
December 24, 2004
December 19, 2004
That was the Pixies concert I always dreamed of seeing.
December 16, 2004
Maria the Model: Maria Sharapova's sponsorship obligations sometimes force her to spend days posing when she'd rather be playing.Photo caption from today's Metro newspaper.
December 13, 2004
December 12, 2004
Picture a clean-cut seven-year-old boy just standing frozen, staring straight ahead, wide-eyed, and screaming, "HOW CAN SANTA BE HERE IF HE IS OUTSIDE AND YOU SAID THAT HE WAS AT THE NORTH POLE MAKING TOYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS AND THEN HE CAN'T BE HERE BUT HE IS HERE AND YOU SAID" over and over and over. I mean, I'm Jewish and even I know the whole "Santa is very busy and has many helpers to find out what kids want" story, but all the parents were doing was looking around, justifiably embarrassed. I could just imagine that kid back at school on Monday, spreading the word to all his friends about how they've been bamboozled all these years.
Okay, I think I'm back now.
I know this site has been dormant for some time, but I've been spending almost all of my time either in Manhattan working six-day weeks or shuttling back and forth to/from Jersey City (and I'm gonna have to do something about that little geographic inconvenience at some point, methinks). And since I have no online access at work any time I do get in front of my computer is spent checking e-mail or catching up on Achewood and seeing if anybody else has flagged my Craigslist "Casual Encounters" personal. But after working a full day yesterday and with a closet-full of laundry and another jam-packed week approaching, I figured I better stay inside today, where this here computer just happens to be.
Anyway. As befits this double-boxcars date I feel like two sacks of crap (and I never bet the Don't Pass line). I mean, I probably don't feel as bad as any NY quarterback or the guy who handles (handled?) layout for Esquire, who this month decided the best spot for a four-page, heavy-stock insert ad for The Life and Death of Peter Sellers was directly across from an article about biopics calling the HBO movie a "noxious example of preening mimicry" -- synergy in action! -- but pretty blah nonetheless. I think my body was confused by my efforts to sleep late this morning (okay, afternoon), and I moved right past rested and into groggy, a problem that for some reason never happened during my long period of unemployment. I mean, during those months I could knock off 12, 14 hours at a clip with no ill effects, and I'm a bit embarrassed at how far I've fallen.
So as long as I'm stuck inside, lemme give you some highlights from the last month!
- A little more than one year after I watched her win the 2003 Thanksgiving Meal Invitational, I was in attendance in Atlantic City to watch Sonya Thomas take down the Tropicana World Meatball-Eating Championship, with a winning mark of nearly six pounds of meatballs (a beef, pork and veal mixture, I found out later) in 12 minutes. Personal favorite Eric "Badlands" Booker did manage to take third place.
But while that was all pretty exciting, the real action came later on that evening as Gerard, my sister and I attempted to use the $75-a-night food-and-drink credits that came with our respective rooms (and big thanks to former "Monkeys, Donkeys and Junkies" writer and current IFOCE executive Nancy for that hook-up). I was doing my part by downing several single-malts and buying tequila for a dancing fat guy who was making me laugh. And fellow metro-area commuters will certainly appreciate just how great it is to get stinking drunk and merely have to go up an elevator to pass out, rather than negotiate the subway/PATH system.
So after all that it was oh-so-delightful to be asked how I wanted to pay for my bar bill since, didn't I know, the Irish Pub in the new Trop section wasn't eligible for the free food/drink offer. Still, we had had such a delightful time and were planning on continuing the fun at the Borgata, so we just laughed it off to experience and continued our fun-filled weekend.
Oh, wait. That's not what we did at all. We actually went on a near-psychotic quest to find someplace, anyplace where we could use up our vouchers, ultimately ending up at the carryout pizza place in the back of the coffee shop, where we proceeded to buy eight pizzas, two of which are still sitting in my refrigerator. Only then did we go to the Borgata (pizzas stinking up my car) where I raised with 4-6 offsuit on the button, was three-bet by some older rock holding pocket aces, then beat her with the nut straight on the river. Now that was fun!
- I had a multi-visit root canal, during which I learned that several of my roots have a fairly unusual and difficult-to-reach twists towards the back. That was not fun.
- I stopped by the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art on Friday night, the first chance I've had to visit. It was pretty crowded for free Friday night (a pretty big deal at a place with a double-sawbuck admission fee) and I only had about an hour to walk around, but I saw enough to concur with the general consensus that it is one classy joint. Not particularly innovative or architecturally far-reaching, but just a great place to see an amazing collection, not to mention all the swanky art-dames. Highly recommended, and I look forward to being able to spend more time there.
- Had I been blogging at the time, I certainly would have joined the rest of the blogging world in linking to Mike Whybark's fascinating, poignant, thoroughly researched "Hopkin Explained." If you haven't already, go check it out.
December 06, 2004
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]