I can't get into Christmas this year. It's just not happening. I feel like I've been inhaling Christmas commercials and decorations and other assorted holiday cheer since I came home from Australia almost six weeks ago. And now that the day is almost upon us, I'm just sick of it all. Perhaps it's end-of-the-year malaise. Perhaps is because I've been sick for the better part of the last two weeks. Perhaps it's anxiety over having to do things like spend time with my immediate family and be on good behavior and make my token yearly appearance at church so my father won't get mad. I mean, I didn't even get a tree this year. The only thing that got me remotely excited about the holidays was planning a menu for Christmas dinner. Because I'd much rather eat stuff that I cook than whatever my mother pulls out of the oven.
Good lord. I am Scrooge. I should be dragged out into the street and shot.
One upside of the holiday weekend is that Los Angeles is well on it's way toward emptying out. The few natives that dwell in these parts stick around while everyone else goes back to Ohio or New Jersey or Iowa or whatever place they left behind to chase their Hollywood dreams. The streets become suddenly driveable. Metered parking is no longer a pipe dream. Even the striking writers have picked up their picket signs for the holidays. Last night at rush hour I got from La Cienega to Sepulveda in less than 10 minutes. That's nothing short of miraculous.
Anyway, back to that menu. Here's what I'm cooking:
Chateaubriand with a Port Wine and Cherry Reduction
Truffle Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan Toast Points
Haricort Verts with Roasted Shallots and Pancetta
I've made port wine reductions dozens of times, but have never tried adding cherries. I'll have to be careful not to get it too sweet. It was my mom's suggestion-- she had it at some fancy-pants restaurant and thinks I can make it work. We'll see. The risotto is Mandy's all-time favorite thing that I cook. And the green bean thing is something I'm just making up on the fly. I'll be sure to post photos. Does pancetta qualify for the Tao of Bacon?
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I've played a fair amount of poker over the last week. Nothing crazy, just a couple of hours here and there, mostly in single-table and multi-table SNGs. I had a nice run playing live tournaments in Vegas but all that good fortune has turned on it's head and I'm on one of those streaks where it seems like I'm losing every 80/20 and 70/30 pre-flop all-in situation. And while I'm happy that I'm getting my money in that good that often...FUCK I have bubbled a fucking fuckload this week. J-J vs. Q3? He'll flop two pair... oh wait there it is. A-A vs. J-T? Yup, there it is he flopped the straight. A-T vs. A-7? 7 on the turn. I think the best poker I played all week was in Sunday's $33 deep-stack H.O.R.S.E. "Blogger Skill Game." Pauly staked me at the last minute and I ended up finishing a respectable 15th... right behind my love who came it 14th. Derek was the highest finisher in our merry band, coming in 11th.
After bubbling a Stars 180 two nights ago (A-A vs. J-6... he flopped two pair), I was on such tilt that I needed a dark movie theatre to cool down. I immediately drove to the Grove and saw "I Am Legend" mainly because it was the next flick starting. I remembered reading the script maybe 8 years ago when it was being developed for Arnold Schwarzenegger, long before he became the Governator. Will Smith's charisma held the flick together and I admired how Francis Lawrence visualized a desolate, post-apocalyptic New York City. Still, it left me a bit empty and unsatisfied. I'd give it a B/B-. I think I left the theatre more on tilt than when I arrived though, thanks to the two Hollywood douchebags sitting behind me who took a half a dozen phone calls throughout the screening.
Yesterday afternoon I got back on the horse and things turned around a little. I took 3rd in a 45-player SNG on Stars and made the final table of a LHE tournament on Full Tilt that I played entirely by mistake (guess who can't read and thought it was NL?) While Pauly watched me bust out in 8th place, he played 10 or so hands of $8-$16 LHE and made $16, exactly $3 more than I made for three and a half hours of tournament play. And so the grind goes.
While I was writing this, Showcase called me to see if there was anything on the local news about a manhunt in the Valley. He had been stopped by a cop on his way up Woodman Avenue in Sherman Oaks and had his car searched. The cop said they were looking for a Mexican. Showcase had no Mexicans in his car so he was allowed to go. I turned on the TV and sure enough, the lead story on the mid-morning local news was that a parolee had escaped from police custody and was thought to be hiding somewhere in the Sherman Oaks sewer system near where Showcase was driving. They just cut back in to report the search was over as footage of a Latino man in handcuffs being led out of a tunnel near the L.A. river rolled across the screen. The valley is safe again.
I should text him the news.