I had dinner last night with the lovely and talented Jennifer Browning, late of the Pokerblog crew that formed at last summer's World Series of Poker. She had driven from Dallas to Los Angeles with two friends who were making the move out west... with their four cats. Now I've only driven with one cat once and that was only for like five miles so 2.5 days in a car with four felines is nothing less than saintly in my book. She had just hung up with Michalski when I picked her up. He was totally horrified that she had agreed to eat Mexican food in Los Angeles. Texans have a "thing" about their Mexican food being better than our Mexican food. But let's get real. With the sheer number of actual Mexicans that live here, how bad could it be?
"Hey, the restaurant is only like, a five minute walk from here" said Jen. "Are you kidding me? This is Los Angeles. We're driving. It's part of the cultural experience."
At Mexicali, I had the camarones burrito and a Corona while Jen went for the blue crab enchiladas. and a rocks Petron margarita. Her friend Kat joined us for a drink at the end of the meal...though she actually walked there and did not drive. We dished on everything from her trip to Haiti to the UIGEA throwing our livelihoods for a loop, to how frighteningly similar Michalski and Pauly's bald spots are. We concluded the evening with a couple of pints (each) of Stella at a pub on Ventura Blvd. called the Fox and Hound. They frequently show soccer on all the TVs and it's full of transplanted Brits and Europeans.
Jen fell a little bit in love with Los Angeles on her trip out there. I can't blame her. It's hard not to get sucked in when you spend the afternoon photographing Venice Beach and discover the impromptu drum circle that forms near the boardwalk nearly every afternoon. It started with four guys and grew to over a hundred strong as the sun set behind them.
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Showcase and I have discovered that there are hours and hours of fun to be had by searching YouTube for videos of Broadway shows. Of course, we're still on our "Dreamgirls" kick (and there is no end in sight), so naturally, this clip from the '82 Tony Awards would be our mutual favorite.
And you... and you... and you...
It is, of course American Idol season again. Every year Showcase and I tell each other that we're sick of it and we probably won't watch it again. But, like crack addicts in Lafayette Park, we go back again and again to suck down our fix. Personally I'm eager to move past the "please allow me to humiliate myself on national TV...but hey, at least I'm ON TV" audition rounds and get to the train wreck of Hollywood week where it's narrowed down to the 100 or so aspiring Idols who can actually carry a tune. Bring on disco theme week, Gloria Estefan week, Paula Abdul drooling into her red plastic cup of not Coca-Cola and Ryan Seacrest's $200 T-shirt of the week.
We've also somewhat shamefully been watching Grease: You're The One That I Want. It ranks below Deal or No Deal and Survivor as shameful television viewing and/or time suckage. We only tuned in because a friend of ours from our college theatre days had made it to "Grease Academy," but unfortunately, she was cut in the first round. She was... not Sandy. Booooo.
I'm spending this final week before Pauly comes back to L.A. from Oz working on my script, finishing all the errands on my "list" and playing online poker before all "zee American fishes" go busto ;) Hope I'm not one of them. Full Tilt shed over 25% of its players in the week since Neteller stopped processing U.S. transactions from online poker sites. Check out this (depressing) page on PokerSiteScout for more info on the trends since the UIGEA passed.
Time to watch the only President with an approval rating lower than Nixon's during Watergate deliver his State of the Union address. Showcase laid me 2-1 that he'd get booed at least once.
This post is sub-titled : Southern Californians! Help Change pick a new internet service provider!
Showcase and I have wasted over four hours of cell phone minutes between us on hold with Time Warner Cable for the last 3 days as we try to get an answer as to why our service craps out about half a dozen times per hour. The sequence of events usually happens like this:
1. I get disconnected from the internet after flopping two pair/a set/a straight in a SNG when it's three handed.
2. I lose the hand due to being timed out and I swear a lot.
3. One of us calls up Time Warner and gets a cubicle monkey on the phone who can't explain why our internet is crapping out so much. Cubicle monkey tells us to unplug the router and modem and plug them back in to reset.
4. We tell the cubicle monkey that we've been through this process over a dozen times and it's not going to fix anything.
5. Cubicle monkey puts us on hold. We remain on hold anywhere from 60-90 minutes before getting disconnected.
6. Repeat process.
In at least a dozen calls to Time Warner, we have yet to speak to a real life human being who has (a) told us what's wrong or (b) offered to fix the problem. Just when I thought Comcast was the worst a cable company could get, in waltzes Time Warner.
So we're done with them. D-O-N-E done. And we're open to suggestions as to which internet service provider we shoud switch to. If you'd be so kind to offer your recommendations and/or cautionary tales in the comments, we'd be oh so grateful.
We can't be too tilted though... American Idol is BACK!! Ooooh whoa oooooh whoa!!! I'm already rooting for the 16 year old black girl from Wisconsin who blew the doors off the place with...get ready... "I Am Telling You I Am Not Going."
Like I told Showcase... we're gonna hear that song a lot this season.
Showcase and I have been singing the damn song around the apartment... over the phone... over IM... since the first "Dreamgirls" TV spots started running. Most nights it's so gay in here the walls are about to catch on fire. What do you expect from two former musical theatre students.
Fortunately for all of us, Jake Gyllenhaal immortalized his rendition of "I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" on Saturday Night Live last night. Showcase and I are into double-digit viewings. And it only took 12 hours to show up on You Tube:
The plans for our first viewing of Dreamgirls were in the works for several weeks. Showcase and I decided that the best way for us to experience "Dreamgirls" was not amongst the hoi polloi at the AMC Century 15 or sandwiched between ballcap-wearing quasi-incognito B-list celebrities (see Rachel Bilson, Frankie Muniz) at The Grove. We would take in Dreamgirls at the Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15.
"I think it's a great idea" said Showcase. "Of course, we're GOING TO DIE, but sure, why not."
Then, another thought struck him.
"I"ll only go if I can drive."
"Brilliant, we can get your car stolen, too!"
"Only if you pay for cab fare on the way back."
Showcase has been walking out of malls and supermarkets for months now, just praying that someone had stolen his car. His Jeep is a malfunctioning money pit and his girlfriend and I have been getting the "it won't start"calls with increasing frequency over the last few months. I'm totally serious. I don't think he's locked it since the summer. Yet, it still greets him, unmolested, time after time, when statistics and L.A. common sense would tell you that someone should have picked the damn thing off by now. Leaving Showcase's SUV unlocked in an open-air lot on MLK Blvd. south of the 10 would increase the chance of theft ten-fold or more. We made sure we had at least $50 in cash between us for the cab and set off down La Brea for the theatre.
Seeing "Dreamgirls" at the Crenshaw 15 and seeing "Dreamgirls" in Beverly Hills is like the difference between going to a packed church on Sunday with a full-scale gospel choir and sitting through an 8 AM Latin mass presided by an octogenarian, visually impaired priest. The first hand went into the air only 2o minutes into the film. The first "go on, girl!" followed three minutes later as Jennifer Hudson launched into her first solo in "Move." And every male in the audience laughed long and hard at whatever came out of Eddie Murphy's mouth. Murphy certainly impressed me, turning in the only worthwhile performance of the last 6 years of his career which have included gems like "Daddy Day Care" and "The Haunted Mansion."
"Dreamgirls", though, was all about Jennifer Hudson. Anyone else in the frame simply ceased to exist while she was singing Beyonce faded into the background like an extra and her voice sounded thin and plain compared to Hudson's searing belt. Even the written-especially-for- Beyonce-11 o'clock number "Listen" couldn't take her voice anywhere near Hudson's level. "I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" was met with thundering applause from the audience. Get this girl an Oscar nomination... or at least give her a Golden Globe win tonight.
We exited the theatre into the 9 P.M. darkness and prop bet on whether or not the car was still there. With Showcase's luck, I knew we'd be driving that heap of junk home.
4 hours. On MLK Blvd. Unlocked. It was still there.
Parking is war. Ask anyone who lives in Los Angeles and they'll be all too eager to tell you their personal battle story. Hell, I've seen people in the Century City parking lot so desperate for a spot that they resorted to waving $20 bills out their Mercedes windows at holiday shoppers walking back to their cars, loaded down with shopping bags. "$20 if you lead me back to your space!" Sicko, right?
Pauly took Showcase, Tina and I out for a bon voyage dinner Wednesday night. The restaurant's outdoor parking lot was pretty crowded and I cruised the aisles knowing I'd have to get aggressive. See an opportunity and pounce on it. A silver Camry with it's backup lights on was just what I was waiting for. I counted my chips and got ready to make my move.
I had the advantage with a clear shot straight forward into the space. I threw my blinker on to further mark my territory. But the white Honda Accord had other ideas. He had just cruised past the space and was now backing up to try and cut me off. (Uh-uh. Too late! You had your chance!) And then there was the little VW Rabbit just behind him, who looked like he was going to take a shot as well.
Fuck it. Here's a diagram.
The Camry slowly backed out. He knew what was about to happen.
"You have position, you have position!" cried Pauly.
"Don't kill us!" whimpered Showcase.
"Kids, I've got the best hand and I'm going ALL-IN!" I squealed as I shifted into first gear.
The Camry took off. I gunned it straight for my target as the Accord slammed into reverse, heading straight for me. Hefinally came to his senses and slammed on his brakes as I cruised into the spot.
Pauly was the first to speak.
"OK, I guess I'll be the first one out of the car in case he wants to beat us up."
"OH MY GOD!" sqeualed the blonde girl in the white fur bolero jacket. "Are you LOVING IT?" It was still forty minutes to midnight and My Morning Jacket wasn't even halfway through their first set. Her eyes were saucers as Jim James slammed into the chorus of "Off the Record."
"OH MY GOD!" I squealed right back. "It's AMAZING!" The drugs had taken ahold of my senses in the best way possible and I wondered if I could ever stop dancing.
"Oh look! I have to go ride that pony!" Twenty feet away, a hobby horse bobbed up and down at the edge of the crowd and she took off in that general direction, never to be seen again that night, at least by me.
The freaks were out in San Francisco that night, and the regular folks had their annual excuse to get freaky. It was New Years fuckin' Eve, dammit.
Pauly and I drove up from L.A that afternoon and checked into the lovely Cartwright Hotel on Nob Hill. After cracking open a bottle of Moet courtesy of Showcase, we set out on a nearly two-mile walk down Geary Street to one of the great historic west coast music venues-- the Fillmore. Low lit. Wood-paneled. Those still-glittering chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The ghosts of Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and Jimi Hendrix haunting the place. Scrims softly painted with red-leaved trees hung along the walls and across the front of the stage. Between the forest landscapes, the snow machines that burst to life as the opening chords of "One Big Holiday" sounded, and the Fillmore's most excellent ventilation system, it almost felt like we were outside. Or... maybe I was just on drugs.
Raw. Intense. Thick. Dark. These were the words swirling through my head as MMJ tore through an energetic first set that included "What a Wonderful Man," "Gideon," "Lay Low," and "Golden." There was a whole "Oregon Trail" theme to the show, including an intro/outro where the band gathered around a campfire dressed in buckskins and cowboy hats, Indian headdresses and coonskin caps and enacted a bizzare scenario reminiscent of the Donner Party, which concluded in them collectively deciding to shoot the bassist, Two-Tone Tom (dressed in a bear suit) and eat him. Though most of the band shed their costumes after that little bit of theatre, Jim James would don his oversized red foam cowboy hat again and again throughout the night, ambling across the stage like a post-modern Yosemite Sam as he twirled a cap gun in one hand and gripped his mic in the other.
Make no mistake, I love MMJ's music. But please tell me, what the fuck are those lyrics coming out of Jim James' mouth? If I had to sing "Magheetah" for you, it would sound something like this:
"Sweee da leeeta deeeta.... all wrapped up in a bottlawhy... i been weddin dommy some-ee oh wa so lahhh..."
Actual lyrics: "sittin here with me and mine. all wrapped up in a bottle of wine little we can do... we gon see it thru somehow."
The band took a quick break at ten minutes to midnight before returning to the stage for the countdown. The opening band, Louisville's Wax Fang (who performed their set clad in cheerleader outfits and pigtails), joined MMJ onstage to sip champagne as hundreds of balloons floated down from the rafters. It was one of those magic New Year's moments-- perfect band, perfect place, time standing still in a soul-tingling midnight kiss.
I was hoping MMJ would bust out a few cover songs but was entirely unprepared and pleasantly surprised with what they turned out next. The Deerland Horns backed them up on Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" George Michael's "Careless Whisper" and Prince's "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man." Careless Whisper was insane-- it was 1991 all over again and I was back in my high school auditorium wearing a velvet Jessica McClintock dress swaying back and forth to that mournful sax solo as I wondered if Jeremy Van de Kamp really liked me. Highlights of the rest of the second set included "Phone Went West," sick versions of "Wordless Chorus" and "Dancefloors" and one final unexpected cover-- AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." Sickness.
The crowd had thinned out a bit as we headed toward the encores. A tripping hippie that looked like a cross between Al Can't Hang and Sweet Sweet Pablo danced wildly in front of us while a crunchy gentleman clutching a Budweiser nearly passed out while standing up as his eyes rolled back into his head. A very very drunk girl in a pink sweater hugged me for no apparent reason on her way out the door. "Anytime" and "Magheetah" closed the show at 1:30 A.M., over three hours after it started.
I made a bathroom run while Pauly grabbed our jackets from the coat check. When I came back out, I saw him talking to a random guy and what appeared to be his wife or girlfriend. I only had to hear the phrase "I read all your blogs, man" to realize that Pauly was in the throes of a fan encounter. At the Fillmore of all places. On New Years' Eve. Aaron was from Portland and he had seen us at the Nashville Airport with the Joker and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot waving the celebrity heads as we arrived for Bonnaroo last June. He and Pauly shot the shit for a moment before we parted ways and started the long walk back to the hotel. I, for one was grateful for it, as we were still buzzing from the drugs and had energy to burn.
As we walked back up Geary, every bar in San Francisco was closing. Yes, bars close at 2 A.M. in California, even on New Years' Eve. People were passing out in the streets. Walking into walls. One guy carried his unconscious girlfriend through an intersection while another puked between two parked cars. Barefoot girls in party dresses carried their high heels as they weaved their way home.
"Jesus, Pauly. For two people tripping their heads off, we really have our shit together."
I just returned home from a whirlwind New Years' trip to San Francisco where My Morning Jacket blew the doors off the Fillmore with one of the sickest live shows I've seen in my lifetime. Definitely the best concert I saw in 2006, and between Bonnaroo, Vegoose and random shows around L.A., I saw a shitload of live music this year. It was an epic evening to say the least, and you should stay tuned for the full trip report.
However, Pot Committed is about to undergo some sweeping changes as we kick off 2007.
I wrote this back in August of 2005:
I'm a 28 year old single woman in Los Angeles. By day I work in the entertainment industry, and by night I am a poker sponge-- playing, reading, watching, thinking, and absorbing all I can about the game. By that admission alone, you'd agree that I'm wired a little differently than my peers. The urban single women I know fill a good percentage of their time away from their careers with hip bars and online dating and shopping and movies and socializing with friends. With my time, I do all of that, but mostly I play poker.
Though I never set out to be a "poker blogger," poker is what got me blogging. I needed an outlet not only for the writer within me that had been lulled into hibernation by Hollywood's 14-hour days, but for my own struggles and triumphs in this game, this fucking card game that had taken ahold of me by the soul and refused to loosen its grip. My friends couldn't relate to my struggles and their eyes glazed over when I started a sentence with something like "so I had A-Q in middle position." Thank God the wonderful people of the WPBT welcomed me with open arms. My life has never been the same... on so many levels.
A few weeks ago, poker's own fairy blogmother contacted me and asked if I would join the "blog city" forming over at PokerWorks. Guys I respect and admire like cc and Iggy were already part of the family, and when I discovered the identities of some of my fellow "incomingfreshmen," I was incredibly flattered to be invited to write in such company.
I accepted Linda's invitation and as of today, I'm a proud mother of twins. While Pot Committed will live on as my personal blog, my poker musings have a new home. Adjust your bookmarks and RSS feeds, kids and get ready for Change100 at PokerWorks.
Happy New Year, everyone. My new digs still need some paint and furniture, but you're all still welcome to come over. Hope to see you there!