Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Big Letdown

I have been wanting a personal media player for over a year now. I finally decided to buy one and I chose the 30GB 605 Wifi from Archos. It is a slick little device and I ordered it with the optional DVR kit. This is the main reason I bought an Archos, I wanted an easy way to get my video to be portable. I don't like messing around with download sites and converting or ripping crap and then move it to an iPod or Zune. I was willing to pay the extra hundred and have the device do the work for me.
Amazon had it on sale for about 10% off and the player and DVR arrived on Monday. I was like a kid at Christmas when he knew he was getting a Red Ryder BB gun. I was bummed that I couldn't set it up immediately because the battery needed to charge. It was supposed to be able to charge in the DVR, but it didn't seem to be working correctly. Instead, I charged it using the USB connection and it took almost 24 hours. Holy cow, that's a long time. Once it was charged, I got the new firmware for it and registered it on their website. I was impressed with the ease of use of the player and the picture / video quality of the samples was great.
Now I'm ready to start putting some video on it from my Tivo. Unfortunately, the DVR dock still didn't recognize my player, so my biggest reason for getting this is not working for me. I was also having a little difficulty synching the TV program guide to the unit I learned my lesson many years ago about electronics that are fussy when you first buy them. They rarely get better and by the time you've tried everything, they want to try to fix it under warranty. I didn't want to go that route so I have decided to send them both back to Amazon for a refund. Maybe somebody with better computer skills and patience will have more luck with their purchase.
I know I shouldn't put so much of my happiness in material things, but this was a big disappointment for me. I love gadgets and watching my videos so this was the perfect marriage. I am going back to my original plan of getting an inexpensive DVD burner and just playing the burned copies of my shows on my portable DVD player. On the bright side, even when I buy a new set of headphones and a spool of DVDs, this is still a cheaper option.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Outsmarted Myself

Have you ever put something away so you wouldn't lose it, but ultimately forget where you put it? A couple of weeks ago a vendor gave our company some tickets to the Falcon's home opener. I have never been to an NFL game so I asked for a pair of the tickets. I have no desire to pay for tickets to professional games, but if someone gives me some, I'll check out the experience.

Saturday night we started looking for the tickets and couldn't find them anywhere. We tore up the house looking for them. I was positive I brought them home, but I even drove back to the office just in case I left them in my desk. Nope, not there. We just assumed that they were accidentally thrown away with the normal junk mail that accumulates on the counter. We're not NFL fans so it wasn't a huge loss, but it still bothered me because I didn't want our vendor to feel like we didn't appreciate the gesture.

Sunday afternoon, Stacie turned the game on so we could have it in the background and I decided I wanted to make a milkshake. Since we were running low on ice cream, I put in on our grocery list. As I'm writing it down, Stacie notices 2 tickets stuck to the side of the refrigerator under a magnet next to the list. Oh yeahhhhh, I put them there last week so I wouldn't lose them. Helllllooooo dumbass! Even though we could still get to the game by half time, we didn't feel like heading down after missing the first 2 quarters.

On the poker front, I have limited my non blogger games to the $1 9, 18, or 45 SNGs. I am trying to conserve my limited bankroll and start making better decisions for the higher stake games. In my limited sampling of the 9 person games, I have been +EV. Sometimes you can lay the perfect trap based on your read, but the cards find a way to reward the prey. I hit my trips on the flop and knew that Lady-G had a K and was not going to let go of it. I put in a weak bet and she put me all in. Then it comes runner, runner Kings to give her quads. This was simply a case of right action, wrong result. I'm glad it was only a dolla'.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lucky You Movie Poster

I noticed the hand depicted on the movie poster for Lucky You is Jack King off? Is this one of those cases where an artistic designer slipped one in on the masses?

Softball Is Kicking My Butt

My neighbor invited me to join his co-ed softball team this season. I have never played on a regular team and I haven't swung a bat in over almost 10 years, but I instantly accepted his invitation. I used to play rec sandpit volleyball and I've always enjoyed team sports. We had our first game last night and after a rocky first inning, we pulled it together and got a win. I went 4 for 4 with a couple of RBIs. Not bad for my first time since Clinton was in office.

I've never been a muscular guy, but I consider myself to be athletic and coordinated. Flexibility however has always escaped me. This showed up on my first swing of the bat. I am the lead off hitter and got a sweet first pitch. I swung and hit a solid single to left center. By the time I got to first base, my left hand and right foot was killing me. At the time, I wondered if I broke a little bone in one of them. I was pretty sure I hadn't, but my next three hits were done a little more softly due to the pain in my hand. I probably just jammed something some how. My age is also starting to show because by the end of the game, I was a sore puppy all over. It is that kind of funny pain as your walking up the stairs after exerting yourself too much. It makes you hurt, but also laugh at yourself for looking like your 80. I could use some windsprints to help out with playing right field and running up to catch pop flies. I popped a couple of Aleve before going to bed and I woke up feeling much better than I had expected. My thighs are a little stiff and my soreness on my left hand has localized to just my thumb. I'm sure by next Thursday, I'll be ready for action again.

Stacie's mother is still in town, so date night will probably be postponed. If that is the case, I'll see some of you in Kat's rebuy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy Movie Watching Summer

I didn't realize how many movies I had seen this summer until I checked my Netflix return info. We've watched a wide variety a movies based on new releases, a friend's recommendations and some that HDNet was showing.

December - I watched this straight from the Netflix site. That is a cool feature that I don't use too much because they don't have many titles that I haven't seen yet. This is my latest viewing in the Wil Wheaton series. It reminded me of Toy Soldiers in it's private school setting and Wil's character being a bit rebellious for a preppy kid. It was a decent movie with interesting view points from high school seniors about to enlist in the military on the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. I wonder how many of the conversations these young men had in the movie were echoed in the days following 9/11.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle - Yeah, we're late to the party. Man this was funny! The 2 main actors have great chemistry and the supporting cast / cameos are a blast. The Neil Patrick Harris scenes were the best though. They would have been funnier to see before we found out he was gay because then it would make you wonder how many chicks he was really getting. The extras on the DVD were pretty funny, so check those out next time.

Little Children - I know this was a critics' favorite and Oscar nominated, but criminy, it was dark. It probably wouldn't have been so if it weren't for the Bad News Bears kid being so creepy and the ending scenes burning images in your brain. Not a pleasant movie to watch before going to bed. I think we would have enjoyed it much more if just his part of the ending was different. I found the rest of the story to be gritty, telling, and probably occurring quite frequently in real life. If you want to see Kate Winslet getting her freak on, and who doesn't really, then this is the movie for you. Obviously, there is more to the movie than that and it did a good job of telling the story of people who didn't quite feel like they were in the right place or relationship in their lives.

Amelie - Artsy Fartsy movie for the month. It was a fun French comedy. I can't say that I would recommend it nor would I discourage anyone from seeing it. If you want a quirky foreign movie that has some very funny moments in it, go for it.

Joe Kidd - It will take me years to catch up on all of the Clint Eastwood westerns that I never saw as a kid. This was a fun one with Robert Duvall playing a great bad guy. I loved the way he would say the name of his Mexican adversary. He just says it as Anglo / Texas as possible and doesn't even try to say it in the native tongue. It fits his character's contempt for this man and probably Mexicans in general. Clint plays his usual, not law abiding, but not too bad type of character that only kills when necessary.

Apocalypto - This would have been great on Discovery HD. It was like a well produced and beautiful documentary. It is a true to form brutal Mel Gibson directed movie that follows the main character's struggles to return to his family. This keeps the film from becoming more than just shooting beautiful scenery and Mel's ability to do great fighting scenes. It was very well made and I quickly got over the subtitles. It is full of wonderful sets, unknown actors and tons of extras that really made you believe you were with them during the final days of the Mayans.

Grand Prix - This was a great movie for car fans (I'm looking at you Hoff). It has great sound and was filmed on location before and during the real Grand Prix races during the 1966 series. James Gardner is a stud and really knows how to drive a racecar. I think these models of Formula 1 and 3 Ferraris are some of the coolest looking and best sounding race cars you will ever find. The story was OK, but the extras on the DVD are worth watching as much as the movie. The fact that Frankenheimer could even film and create this is impressive. You won't see movies with this much realism any more.

Breach - Chris Cooper was fantastic portraying a real life traitorous bastard. He did such a good job of making you want to understand the character and many times feel sorrow for him.

Cars - Not Pixar's best but still OK. I had already watched about half of it during my nephew's last visit, so I finished it recently. It did some some pretty funny moments in it. My favorites were the Miata twins flashing their "headlights", the "pinstriping", and the tractor tipping.

Spanglish - This was a good date movie and it introduced American audiences to Paz Vega.

The Good Shepherd - We saw this one before Breach and that's probably a good thing. It did drag on a bit, but I still enjoyed it. It was cool to see a fictionalized account of the transition from the OSS to the CIA and I had to Wiki the Skull and Bones after watching the movie.

Night at the Museum - I thought this was a clever and entertaining family movie, just resist the temptation for a sequel please.

Just Friends - We are both big Ryan Reynolds fans and this was a good fit for him. I thought the character of his little brother made for some of the funniest moments. I know JJOK has been recommending Waiting, but I just can't take the subject matter of the movie. I am happy being blissfully ignorant of the possibly gross actions of our restaurant industry.

On Any Sunday - This was filmed by Bruce "Endless Summer" Brown and financed by Steve McQueen. It was a great documentary that showed America that not all motorcycle riders were "gang" members looking for trouble. The main rider, Malcolm Smith, dominated in his field maybe more that Tiger Woods does in golf today. Malcom didn't just win, he would whip your ass by hours in a race. Imagine doing varying types of motorcycle and automobile racing while doing your own financing, transportation, and maintenance. It was cool to see Steve McQueen spending his weekends racing motorcycles just like any other guy in Southern California, and he was very good at it.

Shooter - We really like this one. It reminded me of the old Charles Bronson movies with a little bit of Rambo / Special Forces type of field medic scenes. The story was good, the action was great and Mark was believable in his character. The things that did bother me were Danny Glover's speech in the first half of the movie. Has he recently had a stroke? He sounded a bit slurry. The second was the newbie FBI character.

Firewall - I guess Harrison Ford had to start getting in shape for Indiana 4. It had good action and a convincing story. Don't expect too much and you'll enjoy.

Pieces of April - We were trying something different and I was expecting a comedy. It was a little heavy to be called a comedy. It wasn't a bad movie, but I wouldn't call it good either. If you want to see another dysfunctional family movie, then give it a shot.

The Money Pit - This is the first time I have ever seen this. It wasn't worth the 20 year wait. It didn't measure up to the other classic Tom Hanks movies I remember from high school.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - I know this is well liked by some people, but I had to stop watching it half way through it. Maybe it just wasn't the right day for me or something, because I didn't think it was funny at all. This was another case of 2 great comedy actors getting together and it just didn't pan out for me.

Wild Hogs - This was funnier than I expected. Of course, they are going to try and cash in and go for the sequel. I liked it, but not enough to see the continuing saga. It did make me wish I had more time off and I could take a motorcycle trip all the way to the west coast.

Escape From New York - I last saw this movie over 20 years ago, so it was all new again to me. The opening music is the first clue that this is an early 80's movie. It is heavy on the electronica sound that thankfully Vangelis improved the next year in Blade Runner. Other than some of the sound effects, I think it held up very well.

Slow Burn - This one was OK. It tried to get too smart with all of the twists and turns. Ultimately, by the end, you forget how the setup even occurred. And having a Vulcan play a black woman was a stroke of genius! Maybe I'm being too hard on them, I see what they were trying to do with the "trick of light" theme.

Seraphim Falls - I'm a sucker for westerns and this one was a little deeper than what I've seen lately. It is a good tale of redemption and the pain that is suffered on both sides of a war. It shows how things can go wrong in the fog of war and even though the war is technically "over" it will always remain with you.

The Ultimate Gift - This movie was a pleasant surprise. It could easily be shown on regular TV and the whole family could watch it (realize death is part of the subject matter).

Snatch - Stacie and I tried to watch this a few years ago, but just couldn't get in to it. I tried it again when she went out to dinner with friends. I must have been in a much different mood the second time around because I really enjoyed it. I thought the casting was great with Brad Pitt turning in a terrific showing. The story was very good and they did a nice job of pushing everything right to the edge without getting too complicated and losing the audience. it had a great pace and the comedic timing / writing made it fun to watch.

Sunset - I had never heard of this one before, but I came across it on HDnet. I liked the story concept and it was fun to see a younger Bruce Willis. It was rated R at the time, but it is hardly a PG-13 movie with today's standards. I have determined that I am becoming a bigger James Garner fan. It's not that I didn't like him earlier, I just have never seen much of his work. I was too young for the Maverick and Rockford Files days, but I can see how they would have been well received. I may have to put them in my queue.

Lucky You - I got what I wanted out of this movie. I wasn't expecting Rounders, The Sting, or The Cincinnati Kid. It was fun to see all of the pro players with their cameos. I noticed there wasn't too many speaking roles for them. I guess they weren't trying to hand out too many SAG cards or however that Hollywood union shit works. As much as I've seen Daniel N, that was the first time he looked uncomfortable to me. The story was fun and if you know the poker world enough, you know that some of the craziest prop bets are actually based on real ones. I wonder if those that don't follow poker would believe some of the stuff they were showing. It was hard to be sympathetic for the main character after the way he treats people, but lucky for him, he finds Drew Barrymore. I did enjoy watching him play 1/2 to try and grind enough money for bigger games. Maybe that was the bastard that took my money when I went to Vegas ealier this year. Nahhhh, I was just a dumbass.

Pan's Labyrinth - Very good adult fairy tale. Even though the main character is a young girl, it is very dark and not for the kiddies. It is subtitled, but since the film is more visual, you don't have to struggle keeping up with the story. I was very excited to see this movie and it was just a good as I was hoping it would be. I highly recommend this movie if you are not squeamish.

Thanks for enduring this long post. I will try to do these in smaller chunks in the future and maybe do a little better write-ups. I don't exactly want them to be reviews as much as maybe just thoughts with a slant towards recommendations.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Busy and Successful Poker Month So Far

I have had more than the normal opportunities to play in home games this month. So far I have fit in (5) 1 table games and (1) cash game in 3 different nights of playing and I’m up $138 for the week. To avoid poker overload and not take away too much time from Stacie, my online playing has been limited to only last night’s Mookie.

We started of the month with an impromptu 9 man game over at Kaj’s place on the Sunday before Labor Day (go congratulate him on his recent big win). We agreed to double the buy-in for the first game since we only had 1 table and would pay out 3 spots. I survived down to the final 3 and we were almost even in chips so we decided to chop and get to the second game. For the second, we went back to a normal buyin and I busted out in 5th. This put me up for the night and I cleared 3 normal buyins.

The Thursday following Labor Day was the next stop for our neighborhood league. We had a smaller than usual turnout, but still enough for a full table of 9. We mixed this one up a little and took $5 from each entry and made it a bounty on each person. I bubbled out of this one with my 4th place finish courtesy of Jeff’s second 4 of a kind for the night and wasn’t able to collect any bounties. I was able to make half of my buyin back at the short handed cash game that followed.

Kaj’s neighbor put together another last minute game on Saturday and I joined 6 other players for some short handed action. We were only paying top 2 since there were only 7 of us. When it got down to 3 of us, I offered a 60/40/40 chop and start up the next game. The other 2 guys agreed and this made the 2nd game a freeroll for me. I was able to knock out 2 players and take a huge chip lead in a hand where I made a questionable call. I found myself thinking about the advantage I would have if I hit any of my outs and that swayed me to hang around with the nut flush draw. I got one of my needed cards and that gave me enough to hang around for the final three with a huge chip lead. The 3rd place player joking offered a chop while he was holding about 3x the big blind and we politely declined. He was about 2 or 3 hands later and then we got to heads up. We were paying 100/40 so I offered a 90/50 deal and he took it. If it hadn’t been so late, I would have played it out until the end or stop he offered a chop later.

I made a deep run in the Mookie last night but was the first one knocked out at the final table. I think I was 8th out of 9 and pushed my pocket jacks preflop. MeanHappyGuy had already come in UTG and thought for a while and called the additional. He had 55 and I’m sure he just thought I was pushing with A,X and took the opportunity to knock me out since I was a shortie. Well being a 4 to 1 favorite wasn’t enough as he hit another 5 on the flop and I got the pleasure of staying up way past my bed time and go away with no money. It really didn’t bother me too much because I played a good game and I have gained some confidence this month. I even felt I would make it to the final table before the game started. I made it all the way to the final 9 without a knocking out a single player or needing a river save and I had AA only once.

I just can’t keep money in my pocket very long some times and my fun money is especially susceptible to impulse spending. I took $100 out of my home game winnings for the week and bought a used table off of Craig’s List. It is the full table style with a non-folding top, but folding legs. It wasn’t exactly as advertised, but he also threw in a new set of 500 chips and case. The table matches one of our existing neighborhood league tables, complete with a slight tear in the vinyl. Since I am not going to finish in my basement, I will probably see if someone else in the neighborhood wants it and I will stick with the oblong table topper style so I can host in my dining room on the existing table. I’m also going to try get rid of all of my existing chips and buy a big set with denominations already on them. I found a cool Las Vegas set of 1000 on Ebay that lets me pick a combination of denominations.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Story Time

During last winter’s WPBT gathering in Vegas, Love_Elf and I were talking about travel. I was offering destination suggestions for her honeymoon with Smokkee. One of my suggestions was Couples Ocho Rios Resort in Jamaica. About 4 or 5 years ago, we went with another couple and had a great time drinking, lounging, horseback riding, and hiking up Dunn’s River Falls. The beach at the resort was nice but small and the water was full of sea urchins when we went, so you couldn’t walk too far out. The grounds were beautiful and the food was excellent. This was important since you are basically at their mercy for anything to eat. We still crave their jerk chicken that we ate daily at the pool grill.

OK, enough of the intro, what does this have to do with a story? While we were talking, I told her about one of our experiences at the resort and I thought I would share it with the rest of the bloggers.

One of the amenities of this particular Couples resort is a private “naked island” that is a couple of hundred yards from the main beach. The staff is always encouraging people to go and relax. They try to make you feel comfortable and not to worry about being naked in front of a bunch of strangers. It is supposed to be very low key and people ignore each other. The staff will laugh tell you things like “you’ll never see these people again” or “don’t worry, even the bartender’s blind.”

We all decided that we would give it a go, just on different days. Friends don’t need to see friends naked. Stacie and I hopped in a little boat and headed over to the island for the afternoon. We put away our clothes and headed to the pool. Immediately, we were loudly greeted by a group of people already in the pool and we’re thinking “NO, NO, this is not how we were told it would be!” A petite woman with absolutely huge fake boobs comes bouncing up to us and asks us our names. Now I’m thinking “Oh shit! Now they want names! Why are you talking to me and inviting us in?” Normally, I’m good on my feet, but we were so shocked and embarrassed, we accidentally gave them our real names. Her husband came over and offered us each a “Super J” drink that he made up. We politely declined the drink and for some unknown reason, joined the group in the small pool / swim up bar.

Stacie and I migrated to a corner so we could maintain a proper distance from the other partying couples and make sure nothing sneaks up from the rear. We just stood there and watched in amazement as the big breasted group leader got on top of one of the concrete tables in the pool and wanted everyone to see some dude’s pierced johnson. So she’s standing there above us waiving her arms with her almost completely shaved down there self (she left the Hitler patch) trying to get everyone’s attention. Once she has it, she rolls this guy’s pecker over so we can see the piercing. Uh Oh, this is starting to go downhill. Then she asked if anyone objecting to a few of the couples doing body shots. We said we didn’t care to participate, but didn’t see anything wrong if the others wanted to do it. They’re body shots, no big deal right? Well, let me tell ya, they were doing them a little different than the old salt on the neck and hold the lime in your mouth thing I’m used to. Three of the women got halfway out of the pool and sat on the side while 3 men swam up to them. The women then leaned back and proceeded to pour beer down between their breasts, letting it run down their stomachs and the men feverishly started to lap it out from between their now open legs. WTF! Stacie turned to me and said “Oh my God, we’re in a porn movie!”

So now the ice has been broken because I don’t think all of the body shot fellas were drinking exclusively from the goodies of the one they came with. One of the other spectators in the pool wandered over to us and introduced himself. He indicated that he was not alone, nodded over to his wife and starting having a conversation with us. I looked over to see her and all I saw was a naked woman that was passed out with her ass and then some shining right at us. He was asking all of the usual touristy questions and then some warning signal questions about “having been to these kinds of events before.” This is when I looked down and realized that his dick was closer to Stacie than I was. When I looked over to see if his wife was looking by now, I noticed she had some tattoo that was also on some of the other partiers. We saw one other couple with equally wide eyes and no tattoos, and then it hit us. Oh Shit, we must have come on “swingers day”!

Now the exit has to be planned. We are on the opposite side of the pool from the steps and if we climb out the side, it will be extremely exposing of some private areas. We said forget it and followed the lead of the other couple and made our way out of the pool by climbing over the side. We went to other side of the island and just decided to lay out and get something normal from the experience.

We relaxed for about an hour and decided it was time to leave the island before we burned anything important that we might want to use later. We gathered our clothes and summoned our little boat to come pick us up and couldn’t wait to tell / warn our friends about the place. During dinner, we relayed the day’s events and thought we were discouraging them from going. Instead, my buddy was all jazzed to head over the next day. Funny thing is, when they went over, they were the only ones there and I think he was a little disappointed to have missed the craziness.

We discovered one of the drawbacks of enjoying naked island early in your stay. Despite the reassuring claims from the resort employees that you will “never see these people again” so enjoy yourself, they fail to mention, that you will be running in to them during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, FOR.YOUR.ENTIRE.STAY! Ahh, there’s nothing more ackward then standing in a breakfast buffet line and looking up to see the guy grabbing a piece of toast and realizing that you just saw his sausage, complete with a gold rod pierced through it. And that Ms. Crabapple, is how I spent my summer vacation. I hope you all enjoyed.

Friday, September 07, 2007


To all of the people that over paid for the “privilege” of having an iPhone when they first came out and now are upset at the price drop, SHUT UP AND QUIT YOUR BITCHING!!!!!!!!!!!!

You knew these things would get cheaper, better, smaller, and have more capacity in the future. It’s the same with electronics and cars, when the new models come out or things don’t sell as well, sometimes they slash the prices.

You thought it was worth the god-awful price you paid earlier. If you had been told that it will be at least $200 cheaper if you wait a few months, would you have waited? Probably not, because then you couldn’t show it off to your friends and make them finalllllllllly realize how cool you are. And to those that went out on ebay and paid more than the retail price, you really have no place to complain.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Well Said Jack

"Life's not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes playing a poor hand well."

- Jack London, died in his 41st year.