May 31, 2006

Four Nines at the Tropicana

I woke up a week an a half ago (Saturday) with a wicked head cold. Of course, that weekend was graduation, packing/cleaning the apartment, capped off by a 12 hour car trip back to Delaware on Monday. It was probably as sick as I had been throughout all four years of college. The first thing I did on Tuedsay morning was go to the doctor - I'm still taking anti-biotics (can you mix that with alchohol?).

Side Note: No more than two minutes out of my driveway I was almost killed by a careening old lady who opted to disregard the red light at the intersection which I was in the process of turning left across. The headlines flashed before my eyes, "Recent Graduate Killed by Old Person on Way to Doctor's Office." Funny concept for a South Park episode, not as funny when you're actually staring down a little tuft of white hair above the steering wheel coming right for you at 50 mph.

The next Saturday was the University of Delaware graduation. I was able to skip the ceremonies while cashing in on a couple of graduation parties (all the free booze, none of the work!). What better location is there for a little after-party graduation celebrating than...that's right: ATLANTIC CITY. About seven of us piled into two cars and hit the Atlantic City Expressway at about 9:00pm on Saturday night. I had been to AC once before (Spring Break, Sophomore year - very not 21) but that was in the middle of March. The whole town was hopping, and it was my first [legal] venture into the big casino town. We hit the Tropicana and ended up staying there the whole night (well, there were a few side excursions, yeah, that's it).

I played poker the whole time, about seven hours straight. The room was enormous, probably 50 tables at least, and I was able to get a seat at a $4/$8 game without any wait. The game was delicious, very passive, a lot of really easy players, and I was doing well for the first couple of hours. At one point I had juiced my $120 buy-in to over $250. I could say that the following hours of reversal were a result of all that free alchohol (that's what I'm talking about AC), but that, in all it's Hemmingwayesque romanticism, would simply not be true. The fact of the matter was that I simply stopped getting dealt cards. Even if I did play a hand for a flop, I was mucking before showdown. I went for over two hours straight without winning a single pot, and my $130 profit had dipped to as low as a $50 deficit at one point. By the time everyone else was ready to go I had built my chips back up to only -$20, so I wasn't too adamant about staying at the table.

Interestingly enough, the hand that broke my two-hour losing streak was doozy. I was in the small-blind and someone had already raised the pot with one caller. I checked my cards and saw two black nines (the hand Hellmuth won with in '89). I just called, as did the big-blind. I caught a glimpse of a nine peeling off when the dealer was mid-flop, and was more than a little surprised to see a second nine hit the board as well. I checked, the big blind bet, and the pre-flop raiser raised. The guy between then cold-called the raise! And here is where I made my big mistake: I just called instead of reraising. Whenever people flop a fire-breathing monster like that they feel compelled to "slow-play" it (not much concern about someone catching up in the hand). But in this situation (unless someone had JJ in the hole) I had the board locked up - no one else could have had a nine, and with so many callers even a hand like AA or KK would be likely to only check-call the rest of the way. Of course, this is what happened, although no one even called me all the way to the river (yeah, there were some pretty bad players). The fact that no one called me all the way also gave me the opportunity to casually toss the four nines into the muck without a word - something which takes an inordinate amount of self-control, I will add.

I guess the easiest way to play quads on the flop is when someone else moves all-in in front of you (QT) Q77 vs. (77) and all you have to do is say, "Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and call you."

May 17, 2006

When It's Over

I finished my last final exam about an hour ago. I've been looking (unsuccessfully) for a screen shot from An Officer and a Gentleman where Richard Gere whines, "I GOT NO PLACE ELSE TO GO!"

The rug is officially pulled and I'm open to suggestions.

P.S. - I have yet to indulge "School's Out" (forever) by Alice Cooper. I'm too scared to listen to it.

May 13, 2006

Chimes Spoof Causes Pre-Fab Campus Stir

For anyone who is unacquainted with the customs of Calvin College, allow me to give a bit of background. Periodically (every two years or so) the on-campus student-run newspaper "Chimes" produces a spoof publication. As many Calvin students are aware, these spoofs include The Bananer (ala CRC's Banner), Calvin for Dummies, and recently Shirley Hoogstra's Living (ala Martha Stewart's magazine - Shirley Hoogstra is the dean of resident life).

For all of these publications a large portion (I believe) of their overall value or cleverness is in the way they accurately reproduce the mode of publication which they are spoofing. Calvin for Dummies was bound and looked just like the Blank for Dummies books everyone recognizes. The Martha Stewart spoof was printed on magazine-glossy, you get the picture. Content - eh, whatever. As with so many other examples, I perceived the Chimes spoof to be mostly about IMAGE over CONTENT. Another meaningless pop-artifact toilessly produced by meaningless pop-people.

This year's target was another objectified icon of CRC-ness: the TODAY devotional booklet (my family read from it every night after dinner). Yet again, the joke of parodying the visually recognizable elements was a clever/amusing success. The only problem is they pushed too hard on infusing the content with actual satire. Needless to say, this created a big stir with the higher-ups (they don'd need to be forking over cash for a bunch of snotty irreverant little Chimes weasels to publish their big prank on the traditions from which they arose). When push came to shove, Shirley Hoogstra (still reeling from the personal jab of the last Chimes spoof) and her crack-squad of Spoof Reviewers put the kibosh on the whole project.

Here's the real story, though. This "clash" of students versus administration was ripe for some sort of over heralded, loudly proclaimed, hugely advertised student uprising (read: quasi-interested grumbling). Naturally, the only on-campus student-run publication made a big stink in the past few issues (Chimes has always been notably inwardly directed in its content), and I fear that some people may mistake this episode for something containing actual substance!

IT'S ALL PART OF THE GAME. The Man cracks down and the students rise up. Blah blah blah. In my time spent at Calvin I've monitored the texture of student life and it is abundantly clear the we are a sedated, under-motivated, self-involved bunch. There is no such thing as revolution, especially one coming from the battlefield of Calvin College. The show must go on, so why kid ourselves into thinking that the role we play is anything but just that - a role in the show.

P.S. - The cover image of the CLICHE booklet is linked to its online publication at I have perused a few of the daily entries and find some of them amusing. That being said, I do recognize how offensive it can be to assault something which is adhered to religiously by large group of people (just ask fatwah survivor Salmon Rushdie). To invoke Harry Truman, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Please don't read it if it makes you upset, it's just a thing produced by some smuglies at Calvin College. However, I think it's important to remember the words of Professor Crump, who cautions that the real threat to healthy Christian life may not be satire, but rather packaged doses of daily "Chicken Noodle Soup" which permit people to sever contact with actual study of the Scripture.

May 03, 2006

Pub Post

It occurs to me that it's been a while since I've done a bar update. Here's the down and dirty on a few of the places I've been spotted at recently.

One Trick Pony
Located just around the corner (touching) from The Cottage on Fulton Street, One Trick Pony is a decent spot. It's really more of a restaurant than a bar, but they do have live music and a "Guinness-y" kind of feel going on. My main problem with One Trick is that it's too refined/uppety to really hang out there (in linear relation, drink prices were also a bit uppety).

Elbow Room
On the northern side of town, Elbow Room is past Logans Alley just off of Lake Michigan. I'd say it's worth the extra drive; the atmosphere is vibrant and friendly, but in a down-home kind of way. Drinks are cheap as well- definitely a Jameson/Labbatt kind of joint.

Nite Cap
On the West Side of Fulton Street, Nite Cap would not have been a draw but for the fact that one of the bartenders is a friend (read: really cheap drinks). Nite Cap tends to suffer from "westside syndrome" a bit: mopey blue collar types. However, with the jukebox pumping out some Little Feat and a baseball game on the tube the atmosphere lightens a bit.

Kuzzins Lounge
Another West Side bar, Kuzzins is near the thick of things on Leonard Street - the main drag on the west side. Despite the unique lounge look (moulded recessed ceilings, leather booths, dance floor, ambient lighting), Kuzzins seems to be inhabited predominately by the sad-sud type, leaking dollars to Club Keno while comiserating over a few Budweiser bottles. Needless to say, it's pretty much the new place to be. While Tom Dick and Harry hang by the bar with the catty bartender, we'll grab a pitcher and head for the pooltables in the back. Drinks and food are very cheap (West Siiiiide!) and the pool is only $0.75/game except on Monday evenings, when it's free. The parking lot/back entrance communicate volumes about what Kuzzins is all about; I for one wouldn't have it any other way.

May 01, 2006

Rhizomorphic: Thousand Plateaus

"There's no 'rationalist methodology' in A THOUSAND PLATEAUS. Just an orgy of concepts. Concepts aren't part of logical train of thought in Deleuze and Guattari; they're more like riffs in a guitar piece. Make that a cut of a wild electronica remix!"

No, Deleuze and Guattari are not members of the band...not exactly. Here's a list of their contributions (to the band and the world) sans rationalist methodology:

idiosynchratic vocabulary pre-conventional world of the unconscious disjointed random multiplicitous Dali-Freud-Kantian parody quasiphilosophy disjointed impenetrable postmodern sentiments

Ok, any questions? All right, let's back it up - beeeep beeeep beeeeep! Over the course of human history (that's right, we're backing it all the way up) the study of philosophy has been an outlet for whiney self-involved weirdos to bitch and moan about the meaning of life, thusly excusing them from manual labor. However, following some hundreds of years of investigation and incremental amassing of knowledge and understanding something happened. We reached a point as humans where we had finally accumulated so much learning that we could draw one conclusion: we ain't got a clue. This is referred to by Charles Young as the crisis of meaning - a psychologically violent moment of thrashing the drawing board clear, leaving behind depths of nothingness. This is kind of a spooky place for the philosophy train to deliver us ("End of the line!") Was it worth it? Have the thousands of years of philosophical tail-chasing all been for naught?

Clearly not, good friends! If nothing else, the progress (or digress) of philosophy has rendered at least one brilliant nugget of shiny goodness - "A Thousand Plateaus." This time I am referring to the band, not the text (referenced at top) from which the band has gleaned its name. Yes, like the text their lyrics are densely idiosychratic and more than a little referrential.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss this issue with a member of the band, Doug (keyboards, pictured). I mentioned to him that I had done a little investigating into the source of the band's new name, discovering that the philosophy text of the same title was regarded with some controversy. To my amusement, most of the reviews of the book were derogatory and undermining, stating it to be, effectively, Mumbo Jumbo. Poppycock. Balderdash. Doug told me that such a reaction made sense coming from 'outsiders' to (as I recall) continental philosophy.

Idiosynchratic vocabulary (read: made-up words, grammar, etc.) and obscured blurry concepts are indeed potential turn-offs for outsiders to philosophy, but what about music? Do approachable lyrics detract from the comment that "A Thousand Plateaus" is trying to make? If so, what exactly is that comment?

Non-sensical jackassery is certainly not it.