Sunday, May 29, 2005

How to play poker with the best

Yeah, yeah. Don't laugh. This is going to be good. We had our monthly poker night last Thursday and it was time for me to pull rank and kick some ass. I have been getting pounded by my little brothers in poker and it's definitely not helping the ego. Last two times we played I came very close to winning, but as Michael Jackson would say, "Nothing is close unless you score."

I wanted to come out and set the tone. No more fooling around with these little bastards. It was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid time.
Knives or guns?
O.K. then it's bare hands.
I don't want to fight ya', but if we're going to fight we got lay down some rules.

My brothers wouldn't even know what hit them by the time the first round was over. I was going to up the ante and make everyone feel the wrath. The room was filled with so much tension and hostility. I could have choked on the sweat pouring off their brows. The cards must have looked foreign to them as the first bets went around. I stammered when it came to my bet, 50. They all peered into each others eyes to see if I was bluffing or really had something worth while. The both crumbled with fear. Rob, my brother's friend, decided to stay in. As the flop was turned over, I sighed some relief as I had a pair of queens smiling beautifully at me. Rob wouldn't back down. I decided to make it very interesting. All in!! On the first hand! That would make him cave. Still, no sign of wavering. Rob shrugged off the call and the last two cards were turned over. I knew that he had something, but it wouldn't be my pair of Queenies. There was nothing on the table worth a run at. This was it I was going to show all them not to mess with me. I turn over my two ladies, and then Rob smirks as he shows me his two ACES!!!! So, I sat around watching the other three play out their hands. Laughing at the small talk banter of poker. Watching my brothers win again. Finally a lesson worth learning. I'm jinxed. I am like the guy in the movie a Bronx Tale, that Chazz Palmaterri refuses to allow in on his dice game and makes him sit in the bathroom because he's bad luck. Not anymore. Next time around, I will bring the Oreos and K.G.B. their monkey ass'. No more sitting around waiting to see who collects the pot. It's my turn boys to show you guys there's nothing to this game.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Who turned up the heat?

The warm wind sweeps through my hair as the humidity wells upon my forehead. The salt stings as it drains into the crevice of my eye. The pavement pounds below with each step. Aris, Focis, Carrollton. Front porch swings sit empty as the lawns buzz to the sound of a sprinkler. Waiting for the next spot were I will land into some of that gorgeous thing we call shade down here in the south.

This is my weekly neighborhood run. I started running when I was a little boy. I found little pleasure running alone as a kid, but the fun came when I got to run with my grandpa. He would call my name on a hot afternoon to see if I would jog along side him as we watched the lake water crash along the rocky shore. I remember counting the telephone poles that stood out in the middle of the lake wondering how they were placed there and where did it ever end. My jogs with him became habitual. Nothing was better than a late afternoon jog with the sun casting a long shadow of you and a cool breeze hitting as each breathe is exhaled. Even better than an afternoon jog was to run under the stars. My grandpa would tell stories. Fictious stories that even Paul Bunyan would say they are exaggerated. Still, they contained me on the journey. I would gaze upon the stars with wishes and grandeur of the way I wish things were.

Today, I sometimes dread my afternoon jogs. Especially after the weather changes for the summer. The heat my God the heat. I know that it is much hotter in other places like Mohave Desert, Phoenix, anywhere in south of the Tropic of Capricorn. I can't explain the humidity, you have to experience it first hand. It's something you will never forget. Spend one week during June, July or August here in the great city of New Orleans and tell me you don't hate it. I was never raised in the North, but they have no idea. I have a great idea for a new weight loss program. Take a month vacation here in New Orleans. Wear winter clothing, walk everywhere, don't eat the food, and talk like Kevin Spacey from Midnight of Garden of Good and Evil.

I can say one thing for sure. The summer is here too stay and I am not looking for to the afternoon jogs. Early mornings may be a little cooler. Not much, but a little.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Look on the brigh side, the Red Sox won a World Series!

Fan 1: “What about last season?
Fan 2: What about it?
Fan 1: They were rubbish. They were fucking rubbish.
Fan 2: They weren't that bad.
Fan 1: They were fucking rubbish last year. And they were fucking rubbish the year before. And I don't care if they are top of the League, they'll be fucking rubbish this year, too. And next year. And the year after that. I'm not joking.
Fan 2: I don't know why you come, Frank. Honest I don't.
Fan 1: Well, you live in hope, don't you? ”

- Fever Pitch (1997) Colin Firth

It seems that if everything were right in the world we would have nothing to complain or talk about. I am not much for complaining, and as for the talking thing I do too much of it already and plan on cutting that out of my diet. You know how sometimes you have to get away from things in order to think. Well, I have been feeling like that for the past 6 months.
Old dudes have it great. The just take life as they get it. They know there isn't much they can change so they accept it and move on. For some reason, young people like myself feel think that they have to make a difference somehow and sometimes miss out on the fact that by just living you are making a difference. It's not the size of the accomplishment; it's the fact that you accomplished something.

To fully understand where I am coming from, you must understand that I have worked in the television and entertainment business for over nine years. Recently, I made a big change in my life by switching careers to find something more fulfilling. I didn't hate working in television, I just couldn't see myself doing what I was doing for the rest of my life. It was burning me out.

Having said all that, I am just about to finish my first year teaching. It's been a wild ride. I have never taken on such dramatic change in my life such as this one. Everyday is a challenge and a lesson for me to learn. The kids definitely push me to be a better teacher. Although at times, I feel that I have somewhat struggled to be a good teacher. There are times when I feel out of my element. There are also times when I feel that everything is clicking and I can do this. When you add up all those good times, it usually can squash out those bitterness feelings of resentment.
Success is measured by happiness. So when the question always reverts back to why did I leave the best job anyone could ask for? I just honestly reply, don't ever assume a job is great until you've worked it. I have lived the life and walked the path. Now all I have to do is find my next level of success.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Easy Money. Poker Night!

Monty Capuliate: [about his Mother-In-Law] She says I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble. I mean she's right, but what can I do? I got no... what's the word...
Nicky: Class. ----Easy Money with Rodney Dangerfield and Joe Pesci

Those words have never really meant much to me until I saw Kenny ‘fucking’ Rodgers himself reincarnated into my younger brothers.

It’s Poker Night at my house once a month. The only time I can generally relax with my brothers and friends slam back a few and try to win some cassssshhhh. It’s been a good experience for me, getting to hang out with my brothers after being away from home so long. The great thing about hanging out with the both of them, is that we could be tarring a road on a hot July day in rural Mississippi and we could make it a blast.

Trash talking in poker is like trash talking in sex. No one cares because in a matter of moments you luck could change drastically. Let me state one thing for the record, my house is not a casino, nor does it resemble anything out of the movie Rounders. What it is; is a place for me to live in. Now, hopefully someday I will have a bigger house with a round table. The kitchen table I have now looks like a wheel off a medieval wagon with legs under it. So, instead we play on a plastic fold up table that probably could be substituted for a dining table at a VFW hall.

My brother, Ross, took my money from me last time in a knock down dragged out slug fest that would make Rocky Marciano cringe. He won, fair and square. Tonight would be my revenge.

So when the first round of cards comes flying out, the cards don't come my way. I must be playing cards in Superman’s fortress of solitude. Everything is ice cold. I look around the table and Ross is holding on, Rob (brother Rhett’s friend) is holding on, Shawn (my friend) is out and Rhett couldn’t be happier. I decide to play Rhett a couple of times with pocket 10’s only to be trumped with Jacks. This would be fore telling. I should have called it quits then, but like Clark Griswold in Vegas Vacation I can't say stop. I continue with Rhett only to bow out losing out to him on 3 of kind trump (7’s over 6’s).

The Second round of the poker buys everyone back in. Here we go. Another chance. I look around the table. Some of us have that weary Friday night look, while others are staring deep into their cards for miracles. I play a few good hands and win some. It then ends up with Ross and myself going into another slug-fest. This time I would get faked on the ropa-dope. I see two 8’s and two 10’s one the community cards. I am sitting with an 8 and some junk. Ross and I bet back and forth. Trying to see who will fold first. When neither of us fold, we both realize the other is holding something special. That’s when I saw the fucking “Gambler” come out of the wood works. It was like something out of a movie. As the stakes got bigger, my heart started beating faster for the call. This wasn’t a Soprano’s poker game were the loser could end up with one less ball, this was brotherly competition at it’s best. All the times I took him to town on the basketball court, ran him over on the football field, beat him in a footrace, took him in Super TecmoBowl. It all was some pent up frustration turned into a weapon of mass destruction that I couldn’t locate. Ross turns over a full house 10’s over 8’s and my lowly 8’s over 10’s are standing there, ass’ out in the wind everyone looking and gasping. I felt like the kid at the restaurant who is crying and no one wants to stop him from crying. It was the biggest punch in the stomach since Rodney Dangerfield passed away. I did want any red- blooded older brother would do when he losses to a younger sibling. Whine, bitch and curse. I said things that would make Red Foxx turn in his grave. I didn’t mean to make a scene it just happened, and that’s what poker nights are for. I wouldn’t give up those moments for nothing. My brothers and I cherish that shit, especially when we can one up each other. Sometimes as the cards are being dealt and people motion for bets, that the money we lose is immeasurable to the experiences of playing cards, joking around, and being best of friends.