Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outside Lands/San Francisco Photos

I'm back in Los Angeles after five days in San Francisco, three of them spent at the Outside Lands Music Festival. It was one helluva trip.

A slew of new photos from the weekend are up on my Flickr page. Here are a few highlights:

Pauly & the Joker model their track suits. Mine was green with white stripes.

The Grateful Dead House

Buddha in Golden Gate Park

The Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

Hippie Bus parked at Ocean Beach

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If You're Going to San Francisco

The dog days of summer are upon us, and so is my last summer hurrah with Pauly, the joker, and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot. This morning we head north up I-5 to San Francisco for the Outside Lands Music Festival. I'm pumped to see some of my favorite bands like Radiohead, Widespread Panic, and Wilco right in the middle of Golden Gate Park.

For updates from the festival you can follow me on Twitter, or check in at Coventry Music Blog for reports from all of us.

There is no camping involved. Thank God.

One thing I will not be bringing with me to the muddy hippie fields is a certain birthday present I pre-ordered for myself several month ago. It finally arrived this week. Ladies (especially Michele Lewis), here's my stunnnnnning new Rebecca Minkoff bag, as worn by the attractive but vapid Lauren Conrad of MTV's The Hills. It even fits my laptop.

Enjoy your last days of summer. And don't forget about my banner contest! I'm still accepting entries!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pot Committed Banner Design Contest

As I wandered the aisles of the Amazon Room this summer at the WSOP, I started contemplating re-designing Pot Committed. It's been three years, people hate reading text on the black background, and moreover, I'm just kind of sick of it. However, before I can turn this template over to a certain awesome freelance web designer, I need a new banner for the top.

That's where you all come in.

As I am far better with words and letters than fonts and Photoshop, I'm calling on the collective creativity of my readership to help design a new logo/banner for Pot Committed. If I pick your design, I will send you $100, via a Full Tilt Poker transfer, or a good old fashioned snail-mail check.

In terms of design parameters, I'm thinking of something (obv) that incorporates both meanings of the phrase "pot committed." If you watch the television show Weeds, I love what they've been doing with their opening credit sequence this season, with the pot leaf quietly growing to life in a corner.

Have at it, creative geniuses. Submissions are due by Friday, August 22 at 5 p.m. PDT. My deepest thanks in advance for your efforts!

Any questions? Shoot me an email.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bleeding Dodger Blue

Life inside L.A. city limits so rapidly ages its inhabitants-- a rather ironic situation for the de facto capital of nips and tucks. The lines across my forehead deepen every time some jackass pulls blindly out into traffic, not noticing that I'm headed straight for his passenger side door. Or when I get two lanes of gridlocked cars to let me make that left turn, only some bimbo on a cell phone decides to plow her VW Jetta straight into the spot in the intersection that says "KEEP CLEAR" and stay there, as I sit, helplessly curved into opposing traffic while she texts the pretty boy hipster she met last night at Bar Marmont.

Millimeters at a time, those lines deepen. Today's three-mile roundtrip jaunt to the diner for lunch came complete with two near-death experiences. It's enough to make me long for the day when I make enough cheese to pack up this shitbox and move to a place where I don't have to drive. Like Manhattan. Or Amsterdam.

Of course, aside from the vehicular warfare in the streets there are many things to love about Los Angeles. Sun. Warmth. Beaches. Weekday matinee movies. Zankou Chicken. The Hollywood Bowl.

Dodger fans are not one of them.

Along with the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," the din of lawnmowers on summer mornings, and the putter of my mother's yellow VW bug, Vin Scully's voice was one of the iconic sounds of my childhood. My father would set a small black portable radio up on the wall in the backyard and listen to Scully call the action of guys like Fernando Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, and Mike Scoscia as he went about his weekend ritual of drinking a six-pack of domestic beer and watering the yard. I'd be doing my homework at the picnic table or inside at the kitchen bar and there was Scully's voice, omnipresent in the background as I learned long division, read Animal Farm, or made a papier-mache replica of Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Still, I've always hated the Dodgers, despite being a native of their city. My east coast-transplant mom bought me a Yankee doll during the 1981 World Series, and later, a Yankee Cabbage Patch Kid. That's really all it took to successfully brainwash me. My father was naturally horrified and proceeded to convert Mandy, all of two years old at the time, to his side where she remains to this day.

I love the Lakers, and if I followed hockey I'd like the Kings. I imagine if L.A. had a professional football franchise, I'd be a fan of them too. Just not the Dodgers. Never the Dodgers.

From 1986 on, my parents had season tickets to the Dodgers. I was dragged to many a game as a child, and nursed many a sunburn from roasting out in our field level seats. Sometimes I'd get so overheated my mom would buy those frozen chocolate malts and use them to cool of my face before we'd eat them. I was almost always on the verge of passing out by the seventh-inning stretch. Mom and I would wear Yankee hats and always root for the opposing team, much to the chagrin of my father and Mandy. Back then, there wasn't much cause to feel threatened.

Cut to: 2008. Monday night's game was a blowout for the Dodgers by the end of the sixth inning. Pauly, Derek and I were already talking about leaving. We'd had our fill of Dodger dogs and had enjoyed a few laughs with the four Phillies fans that sat in front of us.

"Conshohocken, PENNSYLVANIA!" shouted one of them repeatedly at a pair of Dodger fans behind us, referring to Tommy Lasorda's birthplace.

The pair responded by attempting to pelt the Phillies fans with peanuts. Then limes. Then beer cups. Only problem was, they were hitting us instead.

Derek stood up and told them to cut it out and stop throwing shit. Which only made them throw more shit. Half a beer hit me and I ducked as Pauly stood up. Words were exchanged. And then, out of nowhere, these two drunk cholos decided to leap across three rows of seats and lunge at Derek.

I didn't see the punch land, as I was busy ducking again. When I looked up, security was coming down the aisles and hauling one of the guys off. Then I saw the blood. Holy motherfucking shit.

As we climbed the stairs up the aisles, people actually started booing us. And throwing more shit. Real classy. I flipped off the crowd as blood gushed from Derek's chin.

Ten minutes later, we were in the security office waiting for the LAPD to arrive. The asshole who punched him was in custody under a citizen's arrest. Naturally, Derek wanted to press charges. After the paramedics put a stitch in his jaw, Derek and Pauly gave their statements to the cops while I waited. I watched a bumblebee slowly die on the carpet in front of me. Remarkably, as dozens of ticket-takers and ushers dropped off their equipment and clocked out after the game, not a single one stepped on the bee.

Here's L.A. justice for you. Drunk asshole punches you at baseball game with hundreds of witnesses. If you want to press charges against drunk asshole, you too must be arrested and deal with the ensuing red tape and the blemish on your record despite doing nothing wrong. That's a lot of explaining to do to prospective employers and/or creditors over one punch. Or, you can not press charges and everyone goes home. Those are the options offered to you by the Los Angeles Police Department. "We don't want to bother to figure everything out, so we'll just make it as difficult as possible for you to seek that justice you deserve, OK? Unless you're famous and this shit is going to be on Entertainment Tonight. Then we'll do everything we can and make sure to keep your publicist in the loop."

Derek's a tough guy. Pauly said he barely flinched when the punch landed. Though I'm not sure how soon he'll hurry back to L.A. after we put him on a plane home to New York with a sunburn, facial stitches, and a bag of antibiotics.

At least he enjoyed the weed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Don't Forget--Tao of Poker 5th B-Day Tournament Tonight!

Just a reminder that the Tao of Poker 5th Birthday Tournament is happening tonight at 18:00 PDT/21:00 EDT on Poker Stars. Winner gets a $5,000 seat in the Borgata Poker Open! I will be there, as will many of your favorite bloggers including Al Can't Hang, Joe Speaker, Derek, Gracie, Spaceman, grubette, LJ, and Sir Waffles.

Check out the Tao of Poker for more details.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Set Code to Away

My parents hardly ever go on vacation. They made a couple of jaunts to Hawaii a few years back when the economy was better and air travel was cheaper, but they've otherwise elected to spend their leisure time closer to home, on one of L.A. County's beaches. However, with the impending closure of Yankee Stadium for new digs next door, my Jersey-bred mother wanted to take in one last game before its gates were shuttered forever. My father bleeds Dodger Blue and loathes the boys in pinstripes (a running theme in their 32 years of marriage) but loves my mother more and they planned a week-long jaunt to the east coast. After hitting up Friday's Yankee game, they'd visit with my mom's family for a few days before heading south to Asheville, North Carolina. My dad fell in love with the area when he was there on business a few years back. Ever since, he's been talking about unloading our grossly over-valued West L.A. home for something three times the size and one-fifth the price in the mountain enclave so they could retire quietly and comfortably.

Usually, Mandy would take care of the house and their moody, 12-year old cat while they were away. This time, since my mom had diligently checked in on my apartment and forwarded me my mail in Las Vegas, it was all I could do to repay the favor.

Thursday night, Pauly and I made our first trip over to the house. It's shady backyard was a welcome reprieve from my small, poorly ventilated apartment. He fed the cat and I grilled up some filets topped with Roquefort cheese. Polenta cakes and fresh asparagus also went on the grill for me, and for the vegetable-loathing Pauly, I sauteed some shiitake mushrooms and sliced onions in olive oil. The cat roamed the yard and we drank beer, smoked bowls, listened to music and played online poker as dusk fell.

The next night we aborted our plans to grill and decided to pick up Zankou Chicken instead. Pauly had been suffering all day since Google/Blogger's retarded bots had frozen his blogs and was preparing to move his sites if need be. He popped some pharmies and I drove us across town.

I opened the door to my parents' house and hear the familiar warning beep of the alarm, meaning I had 60 seconds to turn it off before all hell broke loose. I set down my stuff and went for the keypad. I didn't notice Pauly bolt for the back door.

Before I could enter the code and disable the alarm. Pauly opened the back door. ("I just wanted to free the cat!" he'd claim later) The alarm kicked off its deafening wail. Well, fuck.

I punched at the keypad in vain, but the damage was done. I screamed for him to shut the door, but he couldn't hear me and I ran out there to do it myself. The door was shut, and his face had gone white. I tried the code again. No dice. I didn't want to do it, but I grabbed my phone and called my parents. Before I could get two sentences out, the house phone rang.

"That would be the police. I have to get that, hang on" I said to my father, who sighed heavily from 3,000 miles away.

It wasn't the police on the phone-- it was the alarm company.

"Yeah, hi-- I'm these guys' klutzy 31-year old daughter whose totally faded boyfriend opened the back door before I could punch in the code. How do we turn this thing off? Yeah, don't send the L.A.P.D., everything's fine."

What ensued in the next half an hour involved a screwdriver, unplugging red wires and black wires, the use of a flashlight and a trip to the basement.

"I feel like I'm in Die Hard or something" I quipped to the alarm rep.

The Zankou Chicken was cold by the time all was said and done. I ate it on the picnic table outside, drenched in sweat after the whole ordeal. I gave a nibble of chicken to the cat, who was completely traumatized. Pauly apologized and I told him I wasn't mad.

Pauly, victorious in grapefruit tossing

Yesterday, we returned and spent nearly the whole day there. We grabbed breakfast at Junior's and played Saturdays with Dr. Pauly from the back yard. He was almost Gigli when he ran into set-over-set, and I lasted through about half the field before getting it all in with a Broadway straight on the turn vs. AgSweep's set of aces, but she boated up on the river to take down the pot. GG me. While Derek battled his way to the top spot, I played five HU razz SNGs (what?) and won four of them. Congrats to Derek on his second SwDP win!

We fired up the grill for dinner. Well, actually I did the firing, and gave it a little too much gas. The flames exploded in my face and I heard the sizzle of burning hair.

Thankfully, no eyebrows or eyelashes were lost. It didn't even hurt. However, a small swatch or hair along my forehead was completely singed off. That's going to be an interesting one to explain to the hairdresser.

Pauly made cajun-rubbed burgers with pepper jack cheese and I grilled corn on the cob and topped it with garlic butter. Yummmmmmmmo. Totally exceeded all expectations.

Then... there was the lime-tossing debacle. Pauly had totally crushed me at grapefruit tossing two nights before, and decided to invent a version of his "Inside the Limes" game that he and Otis had pioneered at the WSOP. He selected a diamond-shaped swath of the back patio and decided that if you hit a certain area with your lime, you won a designated amount of money. There were four large $1 sections, four smaller $5 sections, four even smaller $10 sections, and the center two bricks in the diamond were the $20 grand prize. We got two tosses a round. I also got to "shoot from the ladies' tees," a four-pace handicap toward the diamond (which became quite controversial later in the game).

I quickly jumped out to a $24 lead, figuring a way to bounce the lime off the lip of the fireplace so it landed in the $5 spot. Soon the lead grew to $44, and Pauly started mounting a comeback. He tried a little trash-talking when he narrowed my lead back to $29, but I wasn't having any of it. I hit two $10s in a row and was back up to $49 when he took a bathroom break.

After that, as darkness fell, it was just a massacre. I was throwing anywhere from $6-$15 a round and Pauly kept hitting donut holes. He blamed the low-hanging tree branch for interrupting the arc of his lime. He blamed the quality of the lime itself. He claimed my handicap rigged the game too far in my favor. Maybe so, but he didn't quit me until I was up by $153.

Commence mega lime-tossing tilt. A slice of chocolate silk pie helped abate it only a little.

I didn't last much longer after we drove home. I popped a muscle relaxer, having tweaked my back while sneezing in the shower that morning. The feeling that ensued was an odd sensation of being active in mind but completely useless in body. I fell asleep halfway through the second set of the Phish Walnut Creek DVD Pauly just got in the mail.

Tonight's menu included BBQ chicken, baked potatoes slathered in garlic butter, grilled asparagus and garlic bread, washed down with Stella Artois. We've definitely been eating well since temporarily acquiring a grill and a back yard.

I don't think I'm a very good cat sitter, though. She seems utterly depressed in my father's absence.

(For food photos of the above referenced meals, check out Pauly's Flickr page .)

Friday, August 01, 2008

Free Pauly!

Seriously, what is Google smoking these days? It ain't the good shit, that's for sure.

Last month, a slew of bloggers get booted from the Google search engines. Now, (Google-owned) Blogger is freezing sites like the Tao of Poker, Coventry Music Blog, and Al Can't Hang for being, of ALL things... spam blogs. Sweet mother of God what did they do to incite the wrath? Seriously, these guys have been providing us with stellar content for nearly 5 years and they're rewarded with this sort of bot-perpetrated anal rape?

Pauly is now in exile at Tootie's Bong for the time being. He's not-so affectionately referring to it as "his FEMA trailer." What sucks even more is that his fifth anniversary tournament is rapidly approaching and he'd, you know, like to pimp it on his own site.

I'm merely a drop in the bucket, but I'll pimp it on mine and I hope those of you with interwebs real estate will do the same.

Honest to God, one of the coolest things ever offered up by a blogger, all for his readers. $5 on Poker Stars to win a $5,000 seat at the Borgata Poker Open. Winner gets the seat, as well as his or her share of the prizepool-- all other spots paid out like in a normal Stars tournament. No chops. Must play. No shenanigans. Lots o'fun. And if you win, you'll get to meet my beloved in person at the Borgata. He's a pretty cool guy ;)

To all you Deadheads out there-- Happy Jerry Day. He had some cool shit planned for today at Coventry, but that will have to wait as well. Still, he Twittered a couple of Jerry Day Mixes that I'll pass on right here:

Jerry Day Mix, Part I
Jerry Day Mix, Part II