The slogan will include “bias” and “pious”

That liberal media is at it again. Or is it just that the conservative blogosphere has nothing better to do than obsess about how allegedly far out of touch Hollyweird Hollywood is? Either way, there’s a new target for the disdain of so many who believe that every word uttered by, for, on, or in the media is a rant against “real”, patriotic Americans. Today, that target is Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Behold the freedom-hating, indecency-loving, vile-hatred of innocuous dialogue, as recounted (with comments) here:

If you really want to be all-but guaranteed to pick up on a bit of leftist Bush bashing on television, there’s no better place to turn than to NBC’s “Law & Order” TV series. The season finale of the show featured a storyline on judicial security. Detectives think a white supremacist is involved in the shootings of a judge’s family. Here’s part of the dialogue from that show:

ADA RON CARVER: An African American judge, an appellate court judge, no less.

MAN: Chief of DS is setting up a task force. People are talking about multiple assassination teams.

DET. ALEX EAMES: Looks like the same shooters. CSU found the slug in a post, matched it to the one that killed Judge Barton. Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody in a Tom DeLay T-Shirt.

Ummm, ha ha? Really, it’s a stupid throwaway line, but that’s how people talk, stupid throwaway lines included. And I believe the point of scripted entertainment is to entertain. Do we really want dialogue to sound like this:

ADA RON CARVER: An American judge, an appellate court judge, no less.

MAN: Chief of DS is setting up a task force. People are talking about multiple assassination teams.

DET. ALEX EAMES: Looks like the same shooters. CSU found the slug in a post, matched it to the one that killed Judge Barton. Maybe we should put out an APB for somebody.

That works for me. “Somebody” doesn’t offend. It doesn’t describe either, but it doesn’t offend. And isn’t that the most important characteristic of entertainment? In business the maxim is “Cash is king.” I thought literature, a category in which screenwriting falls, the basic maxim is “Story is king.” Now I know better that the real literature maxim is “Non-offensiveness to any person’s politics, gender, sex, sexual orientation, education, ancestry, dietary considerations, disabilities, internet access, or humorlessness is king.” Really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

After a few incredulous comments, Mr. Boortz tries his hand at dialogue writing. Consider:

ADA RON CARVER: “She looks like she was alive when the car went off the bridge”

MAN: “Why didn’t she get out? The water is only four feet deep here.”

CARVER: “Dunno. Maybe she was dazed. The door might have been jammed. Anyway, she suffocated. Lack of air. Must have been a brutal death.

MAN: “Was she driving when the car went off the bridge?”

CARVER: “Doesn’t look like it. The seat is too far back for her to have been driving. Looks like someone taller .. a lot heavier.”

DET. ALEX EAMES: “Check the car to see if it has a Ted Kennedy bumper sticker.”

Guess what? I caught the meaning. You know, that the evidence doesn’t add up to the alleged facts. Isn’t that what good writing is supposed to convey? But somehow, I don’t understand how that conveys that the hypothetical suspect is a crazy, moonbat, left-leaning, liberal elitist. I just don’t make that connection. But, of course, when it comes from the so-called liberal media, there’s a clear intention behind the stupid, throwaway line. As Mr. Boortz concludes:

I ask you to imagine, if you can, the outrage that would come pouring forth from the nation’s liberal media if any of those punchy little vignettes actually appeared on a network television show. We would see stories damming NBC for using that dialogue and making those references to liberal icons. But in this case all NBC did was suggest that DeLay supporters kill federal judges. That’s not bias .. that’s entertainment.

NBC did not suggest that DeLay supporters kill judges. Here’s NBC’s official position:

“This isolated piece of gritty ‘cop talk’ was neither a political comment nor an accusation,” NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said. “It’s not unusual for L & O to mention real names in its fictional stories. We’re confident in our viewers’ ability to distinguish between the two.”

You mean viewers are smart enough to determine that the stupid, throwaway line implied that the killer might be a crazy person who took this statement as an immediate order to be carried out because Rep. DeLay stated “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,” after judges refused to reverse the decision to remove Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube? You mean writers may take the easy way out to express their thought in an “inartful” way, just like Rep. DeLay “meant that Congress should increase its oversight of the courts.” Huh? No, I don’t believe that. It’s the liberal media. It can’t be anything else, my ideological talking point interpretation tells me so, so don’t try to convince me.

Is it really that devious? Or is there an alternate possibility? Maybe, just maybe, “Tom DeLay T-shirt” is a stand-in as a current events reference, a reference which explains the point in 14 words rather than a 3-page dissertation about public figures irresponsibly bitching about so-called activist judges and how those judges will eventually be made “to answer for their behavior”. Again, I state, isn’t that the point of effective writing? Particularly in dialogue?

If it quacks like a duck, sometimes it’s actually a sound clip of a duck, played on a computer by someone who realizes that purchasing a duck to hear a duck quack is overkill.

(Hat tip: Instapundit and my friend Will)

P.S. Mr. Boortz uses a picture from the original Law & Order, even though that isn’t the correct Law & Order for this non-scandal. Isn’t putting a misleading picture with a story a conservative argument against the so-called liberal media? I’m just saying.

I hate this show. When is the next episode?

Behold:This post has a major plot spoiler for last night’s Alias season finale. If you’re a loser like my brother, you let TiVo watch Alias last night for you. You might watch it tonight, you might not. You’ll watch it eventually, when “wedding stuff” doesn’t get in the way, as if that’s more important. I don’t care that the wedding is in eight days. Ummm, it’s Alias. What kind of fan are you? I mean, really, you won’t even suffer the indignity of seeing two naked men so that you can watch Ron Rifkin perform for two hours and meet Ron Rifkin after the show. If you’re like that, you don’t want to read this yet. Warning delivered.

I love that Alias chose to remember that the first 50+ episodes happened, contrary to what ABC might hope, but holy hell, what was that ending last night? I mean, seriously folks, what. the. fuck? Vaughn is not Vaughn? And he might’ve been/probably was/definitely implied that he was a “bad guy”? And Sydney meeting him specifically wasn’t a coincidence? My brain computes that not. How can that be?

Here’s what I know from the past:

  1. Alias is a bigger-than-life comic book.
  2. The writers know what they’re doing.
  3. No detail is too small or too far in the past to be important.
  4. This story line will be like every Rambaldi story line: ridiculously unbelievable and preposterous.
  5. I will anticipate season five like no other season yet. That’s a lot of anticipating.
  6. I will watch every episode of season five, whenever it starts. (Damn you, Ben Affleck!)
  7. I will love every bit of it.
  8. I will evangelize the brilliance of Alias to everyone I meet.

I have so many more thoughts and comments, but I need to re-watch the ending. Until then I can’t write any more.

I need a stiff drink cold slushee.

Coffins offer stability, too

Work should be fulfilling. If it’s not, try something else. If something else isn’t practical, work the unfulfilling job while striving for that something else. That is a prescription for success, however long-term that result may take. Allow me to demonstrate with an example. Today, while riding in the elevator, I overheard the following conversation:

1st woman: This the last place I’m working at.

2nd woman: How many years do you have left?

1st woman: I got five years left.

If I ever get to the point where I treat my job that way, punch me in the nose until I bleed. Make the blood obstruct my speech.

The internets never let me down

On Tuesday I wrote the phrase “Neil Patrick Harris naked” because it fit the story, but I stacked those words together to encourage super fun Google searches. Based on the number of searches I’ve received from people looking for pictures of a specific part of Nick Lachey’s anatomy, I knew that someone would stumble upon that Neil Patrick Harris phrase eventually. (But really, Nick Lachey? At least those of you looking for those pictures of Jason Mraz have some taste in music.)

I didn’t realize that eventually would arrive sixteen hours later. That’s when I received my first search for “neil patrick harris” the paris letter naked. And in Google searches, the real estate adage of “location, location, location” is rarely so true. I’m #10. Yay, me!

You people never let me down. You’re awesome.

“Sloane’s a genius! I mean…an evil, horrible genius, but still…he’s a genius…”

I’d planned to write about this at the end of last week, but realized in time that I couldn’t write anything until after the fact. Danielle and I drove to New York City for the weekend to attend our friend Will’s “thirty-plus-two” birthday party. Or, rather, to attend his surprise “thirty-plus-two” birthday party. Will reads my blog, so writing about it ahead of time would’ve ruined the surprise, I think. Hunches… I have them. But that didn’t occur to me until I set myself before my computer to write about the then-pending, now-passed weekend. Sometimes I’m smart and dense at the same time, which explains why I paid for my flight to Vegas on United because I couldn’t use my USAirways miles even though I then entered my USAirways frequent flier number with my purchased ticket. Can you tell why I love movies and books and TV shows and all things with an ending that I block out until it arrives? I don’t suspend disbelief so much as I suspend comprehension. So I barely caught myself before I made the big mistake of broadcasting “Will’s having a surprise birthday party!” But now it’s done, the surprise having remained intact until the end, so I can write what I was going to write on Friday.

We hadn’t been to New York since November of 2003, so this was a chance to get back and enjoy the city. And with Danielle involved, any trip to New York requires Broadway. She prefers musicals to plays, while I prefer plays to musicals. Mostly, I think that’s because she’s loved Broadway forever, while I’ve only begun to appreciate theatre in the last five years or so. I enjoy it, but I need to work my way up to Les Miserables or something else like that. Give me a story told in prose and I’ll love the process more. There’s only one way I can enjoy “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and that’s (unfortunately) not on Broadway. So, mostly I prefer plays.

The last three times we’ve been to New York we’ve seen a show. We saw Rent because it’s well-reviewed and a less-traditional style of musical. Think more rock and less Jazz Hands. I even listen to the original cast recording now, appreciating the story more every time I listen. It doesn’t hurt that Danielle and I are BFFs (best friends forever) with one of the original cast members. And by BFF, I mean he’s Danielle’s friend’s husband’s best friend and we went to a baby shower at his apartment one time and talked to him for a few minutes. As you’ll soon discover, official BFF status is easy to achieve with Danielle and me.

After Rent, we saw The Violet Hour because I wanted to see a play instead of a musical. I’d seen Side Man at the Kennedy Center in D.C. before, so I knew I liked plays. When Danielle and I searched for suitable plays to enjoy, we settled on The Violet Hour for the same reason I chose to see Side Man: the star(s) of the play is (are) famous. The minimum is one, but the more the merrier.

In the case of Side Man, Andrew McCarthy and Michael XXXXXXXXX starred. I was born in 1973, so the core formative years for my movie appreciation occurred from 1982-1987. Those years meant the Brat Pack of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and the coup de grace, St. Elmo’s Fire. I was always partial to the characters Andrew McCarthy played because he was always the outsider of the Brat Pack, the one who fit in but only on the periphery. That would’ve been me if I’d tried harder to be popular. And, really, who doesn’t absolutely heart Mannequin? I thought so.

The play we chose for the next visit had to meet the same standard, of course, and The Violet Hour fit that. It starred Scott Foley, who played Noel Crane on Felicity. (I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m really just a 12-year-old girl. You thought I was kidding?) Plus, Scott Foley was married to Jennifer Garner. Really, need I say more? Any time I can be one degree of separation from Jennifer Garner with someone in the room, I’m gonna pass that up? Ummm, no. So we saw The Violet Hour and loved it, despite the tepid reaction it received from our BFF.

Knowing that we were coming to New York for the birthday party, Danielle and I knew we had to see a show. Spamalot and Avenue Q were our first choices because we’d decided on a musical-play-musical-play rotation, but tickets for those two were either sold-out or the available seats were bad. Then we remembered that The Paris Letter was headed to off-Broadway after it’s successful run in Los Angeles. We didn’t know anything about the show other than it’s stars, which is really all anyone needs to know, right. As I’ve written, it is for us.

And how does The Paris Letter rank on the star scale? Wow. Wow. The L.A. cast, which we hoped would be moving with the show to New York as we’d read, included Neil Patrick Harris, who played Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. More importantly, it starred Neil Patrick Harris getting naked. Even as a heterosexual male, anyone who tells me that, given the chance to see Neil Patrick Harris naked, they’d say no, I reply with this: liar. I don’t want to see it; I have to see it. That’s reality. It just is.

Of course, Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t the only star worth seeing who might be moving to the New York cast. Far bigger on the critical Fame Importance to Tony&#153 scale was Ron Rifkin, better known to the world as Arvin Sloane on Alias. Not only does Ron Rifkin offer that one degree of separation to Jennifer Garner criteria, he is an Alias cast member. AN ALIAS CAST MEMBER, PEOPLE! You know Alias, The Greatest Television Show E
ver&#153. I mean, duh. Talk about the easiest ticket purchase in the history of ticket purchases.

The moment we confirmed that the show would be playing in New York last weekend, we bought tickets. The cast hadn’t been confirmed, but we hoped. And our trip coincided with the show opening for previews. If Ron Rifkin or Neil Patrick Harris moved with the show to New York, little chance existed that we’d see an understudy. If we saw Neil Patrick Harris or Ron Rifkin’s understudy, Bitter Time&#153 would last until 2037. That would be bad. Very, very bad. But we were lucky smart because we bought tickets to preview weekend. Problem averted, if Neil Patrick Harris and/or Ron Rifkin followed the play to New York.

In April I saw this announcement:

Ron Rifkin of ABC’s “Alias” and a Tony winner for his role in the long-running Broadway revival of “Cabaret” will star in the New York premiere of “The Paris Letter,” Jon Robin Baitz’s play about friendship, family and secrets.

The play will open June 9 off-Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Laura Pels Theatre. Preview performances begin May 13.

Rifkin, 65, is a veteran of Baitz’s plays, having appeared off-Broadway in both “The Substance of Fire” (as well as in the film version) and “Three Hotels.”

In “The Paris Letter,” which will be directed by Doug Hughes, Rifkin portrays an investment counselor confronting his past actions. Also in the cast are John Glover, Daniel Eric Gold, Lee Pace and Michele Pawk.

Rifkin starred in the world premiere of “The Paris Letter,” which was done last December in a different production in California.

I admit I was a little bummed when I read that Neil Patrick Harris would not move with the show to New York, but the key actor, Ron Rifkin, remained. I was ecstatic at the prospect of seeing an actor from Alias on the stage. I mean, really, it’s Alias, The Greatest Television Show Ever&#153! The only task left was to learn what the play is about. Here’s the summary:

The Paris Letter is about sex, power and money. Wall Street powerhouse Sandy Sonenberg finds his personal and professional life threatened by the unraveling secrets of his past. A tragic game of financial and moral betrayal is played out over four decades and between two friends at the cost of family, friendship, love and marriage.

The story is much deeper than that simple description, but I won’t give it away. The play is exceptional. The writing is fantastic. The story moves along well, with details unravelling at just the right pace. All five actors delivered superb performances. There were a few minor blips in the process, but the play is in previews, so that makes sense. I actually appreciated that, because it gives the same feel as a concert. If I want perfection, I’ll listen to the cd. I recommend it.

As an unexpected bonus, our seats were on the left side of the theatre, so we had a specific viewpoint of the play. We could see the actors as they lined up on their mark before entering the scene. We could see the workers behind the doors whenever a new prop moved to the stage. Normally, I would’ve thought this would detract from the play, but it didn’t. I’ve never been in community theater or high school plays or anything like that. I don’t know the inner workings of how a play is staged. Seeing how it happens fascinated me. Short of “martian walks on stage”, it couldn’t have been cooler. And Ron Rifkin faced our direction for most of the play. It was the best of all possible scenarios.

When the show ended, we clapped with everyone else. Unlike everyone else, we knew our fun was only beginning. Being the theatre junkie that she is, Danielle knew to wait outside the stage door after the show for the chance to meet the cast Ron Rifkin. Rather than explain all of the details, I’ll send you here, where Danielle has written an excellent review of our waiting outside the theatre. (We also had a special bonus based on our seat location, which she also explains.) The short version is that Ron Rifkin was the third cast member to leave the theatre, about 45 minutes after the play ended. This is what happened when he left the theatre:

Danielle: “Mr. Rifkin? Would you mind signing an autograph?”

Ron Rifkin: “Of course not. I’d be happy to. Oh, please tell me you didn’t wait all this time for me. I feel like I’ve wasted your time!”

Danielle: “Oh, no you didn’t! We had to wait, because it’s YOU!”

Ron Rifkin: (taking my Alias dvd with Arvin Sloane on the label) “Which season is this?”

Me: “Season three.”

Ron Rifkin: “Which season is your favorite?”

Me: “Season two, probably.”

Ron Rifkin: “Why?”

Me: “Because of Lena Olin.”

Ron Rifkin: “Oh, so you have the hots for Lena Olin?”

Me: “I think she added an interesting dynamic to the show. Though, this season is great because it’s getting back to the series, with Rambaldi and cliff-hanger endings.”

Ron Rifkin: “This guy [points Jon Robin Baitz, who wrote The Paris Letter] wrote last week’s episode of Alias.”

Me: (Turning to face Mr. Baitz) “I loved last week’s episode. It was well-written.”

Jon Robin Baitz: “Thank you.”

Me: (Turning back to face Ron Rifkin) “I don’t understand why ABC thinks that viewers can’t handle the episodes that aren’t self-contained. And keep Rambaldi involved in the show!”

Ron Rifkin: “ABC despises Rambaldi.”

At this point, I’ve descended into Basement of the Science Building mode. I’m as geeked out as I can get. I am fucking chatting about Alias with Arvin Sloane Ron Rifkin! I can die now.

Me: “Why?”

Ron Rifkin: “They think it’s too weird.”

Me: “But the show is over-the-top. It’s supposed to be larger-than-life. It’s a big comic book!”

Ron Rifkin: “I know.”

Later, in a George Costanza “Jerk Store” moment, I would come up with this: Right, because a 500-year-old manuscript of advanced technology and prophecy is weird, but plane crash survivors stranded on a tropical island with polar bears and monsters is normal. We’re the fans and we decide if it’s too weird. Deal with it.

At this point, they have to leave, so we say our goodbyes, with the additional encounter mentioned by Danielle. We’re BFFs with Ron Rifkin now, of course. I suspect that Danielle and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner this year with the Rifkins. No doubt, it will be a festive time enjoyed by all.

That is why we decide on the play based on the star(s) involved.

Where the hell is the damn dam tour?

I’m back from Vegas, exhausted and poor, but happy. The weekend held so many experiences that it’d take hours to write each one in sufficient depth. Besides being too exhausted to commit that much energy, I have no doubt that most of it would only be exciting to me. Vegas stories fall into the classic “you had to be there” category because, at its core, every Vegas trip is really just an exaggerated road trip. I’m going to laugh hysterically at the memory of these stories for years, but I understand that because you weren’t there, I’ll laugh harder at them than you. So I’ll sell the punch line early for each vignette. Once sold, I’ll stop.

Here goes…


I know budget airlines are all the rage, but please, if an airline wants to try the budget route, they must have a think on it first. To get to Vegas, I flew a combination of United and Ted. I haven’t flown United in years because Southwest is usually the cheapest alternative to everywhere I travel, but United had the best combination of price and schedule. Every trip flight this weekend revealed that United changed since my last experience. I don’t remember them ever trying to be a budget airline/Southwest, so their new endeavor surprised me. I did give it chance, but I hate it.

United/Ted somehow believes that I want to be treated like a cow in a herd. I don’t. When I board the plane, I want logic and convenience. Airlines such as United used to offer that, but it’s gone. The boarding process felt like Southwest without any thought process. Southwest’s boarding process is tedious, but somehow it almost always works. No matter when I board the plane, there is always a seat in the front, middle, and back of the plane on the aisle. Wherever I feel like sitting for the flight, I have the choice. I’m sure there’s a theory for why it works, but I don’t know it. It’s probably the same personal motivation people have for sitting in the same seat in a classroom or meeting. Seat assignments aren’t necessary, as anyone who’s taken a class in college knows. The seating just works itself out. It’s the “private market” at its finest. Until United/Ted implemented it.

When the easy check-in machine printed my boarding pass, I read my seat number printed on the ticket, along with my Seating Group. It should’ve been simple. Instead I learned the torture of the Seating Group. Rather than group seating by row number, United/Ted uses some bizarre combination of check-in time, seat price, frequent flyer status, and astrological sign. There is no logical purpose to this beyond a cheap, stupid imitation of Southwest.

My journey’s most glaring proof of this idiocy occurred Sunday night as I caught the red-eye from LAX back to D.C. At 11:30 pm, I don’t want to stand around until it’s necessary for me to board. I want to sit in the terminal, not scrunched up with people. I don’t like people that much, so the normal procedure is good. But my seat was in the next-to-last row, which meant I needed to board first. Except United/Ted disagreed. I was in the next to last group to board, even though I’d checked in five hours earlier in Vegas. That meant that everyone in the front and middle of the plane boarded first, standing in the aisle, blocking the line on the walkway back to the terminal for those of us in the back. Brilliant strategy.

Unfortunately, in an effort to be witty and hip, like Southwest, the flight attendants also tell jokes. Upon landing in Vegas, the stewardess commented about the casinos on the right side of the plane as we taxied to our gate. She opined this:

If you look out the windows on the right, you’ll see the casinos where you lost your money the last time you were here. (pause) Now, if you look out the windows on the right, you’ll see the 3 or 4 casinos being built with the money you’re going to lose here this weekend.

That’s not funny. She thought she was being amusing, but all she did was wave her little have-shitty-luck fairy dust over everyone. I’m superstitious with a healthy bit of intellectual skepticism, but I attribute every bad beat of the weekend to her. I even questioned my decision to wear my 2005 Phillies spring training t-shirt on Saturday because the Phightin’s had lost every time I’ve worn it. I gambled on the Phillies Saturday, so I wanted to eliminate every disadvantage I could. I wore the t-shirt, which is where the skepticism came in, but the game was much tighter at the end than it should’ve been, which is where the losing ways of the t-shirt still lingered. I credit the gambling with breaking the curse of the t-shirt, but it took my effort and thought. There was no way to counter that stewardess’ waitress’ comment, though. My last 24 hours in Vegas proved that her torpedo hit its mark. After her comment, the only bet I’d win is the one that says my dollars will fly elsewhere in the future.


Cousin Eddie: I haven’t seen a beatin’ like that since somebody stuck a banana in my pants and turned a monkey loose.

During my first 24 hours in Vegas, I crushed the Blackjack tables. I lost my small bets and won my big bets. If I wagered $50 on the hand, the dealer would hit me a seven after dealing me a fourteen facing a face card. My streak was sick. I couldn’t lose. Every time I sat at a table, I doubled my initial stake within twenty minutes. It didn’t matter who sat at the table or how many people. I rocked. And then…

Clark Griswold: Twenty.
Marty: Twenty. It’s a push!
Clark Griswold: Hey, its a tie! I didn’t lose!
Marty: That’s it, Griswold! Now you’re freakin’ dead!

I played the $5 single-deck table, doubling my bet with every hand and returning to the minimum with every minimum. There’s nothing illegal about the strategy, and it won’t make anyone rich, but it’s a perfect strategy with a good bankroll to sustain it. Vegas casinos know this, so they set the table maximums at a sufficient level low enough to bust almost everyone on a bad streak. I hit that bad streak. I lost (a loss or a push) nine consecutive hands before busting my stake for the round. My actual loss wasn’t huge, but I’d built a 125% return on my stake before the streak hit. I could’ve left the table before the streak, but it came so suddenly that I missed the signs. When the sign hit, I tilted mentally. It’s a lesson I mastered the rest of the weekend, but I tilted at the sign.

What was the sign? I put my original table stake on a hand after a string of losses. The dealer flipped the cards around the table. (Casinos deal single-deck Blackjack face down to limit card counting.) I pulled Blackjack, with a payout of 6-to-5. Except the dealer pulled Blackjack, as well. With her Ten face up and her Ace face down, I couldn’t purchase insurance, which I would have done if the Ace came out as the up card. Instead of doubling my money, I pushed. When that happens, get. up. immediately. I didn’t and I lost the rest of the weekend.

I turned my luck into small gains with diligence, but then my own version of Vegas Vacation’s Marty showed up at the table to take it away. She pummelled me so badly that I sat down, ordered a bottle of water, and busted out before my water arrived. Tipping the waitress with the last dollar chip is not funny, not funny, not funny. Every gambler should learn that when his “Marty” shows up, he must leave the table. It’s not hard. Just stand up, push the chair back, and walk away. I wish I’d made the connection before; it would’ve saved
me from paying so much for a tiny bottle of water.


Craps Experiment 2005 was a bust. Unlike Mr. Papagiorgio, I threw three 7s on my first roll after the come out roll. After, not on, which means I lost. And lost. And lost. I’m convinced they made me play with loaded dice. I’ll play again, but sheesh, at least buy me dinner first.


I saw this Blackjack scenario, not once, not twice, but three times this weekend. I swear I wish I was making this up. That’s a lie, actually, because it was so awesome that I took actual glee in the bizarre reality of it. Consider:

Lois: I’m upset because you never listen to me. This is Atlantic City all over again.
[Lois and Peter at Blackjack table]
Dealer: You’ve got 20!
Peter: Hit me.
Lois: Peter, don’t.
Peter: Hit me.
Dealer: 21!
Peter: Hit me.
Lois: Peter.
Peter: Hit me.
Dealer: That’s 30.
Peter: Hit me.

I love quoting movies and TV shows during life’s random correlations, so I quoted that the rest of the weekend after the first time it happened. That I got to use it two more times made my head hurt in the same way it would if I’d finished a slushee in 30 seconds. Wow. Just wow. Vegas really is the land of dreams.

(For the record, the dealer didn’t give the next card once the players hit 21, but still… have you ever seen someone try to hit on 21? I didn’t think so.)


That was the weekend. I can’t wait to go back. I can’t afford to go back, but I still can’t wait.

Clark Griswold flies to Vegas tomorrow

When a business wants to encourage customers to buy its product(s), it usually offers a hook. Whether it’s an advertisement showing just how freakin’ amazing your life will be from using the company’s product, such as a commercial implying that you’ll have scantily-clad chicks hanging all over you if you drink lots of beer for breakfast, or a story explaining how much worse your life will be without the company’s product, such as a commercial showing a woman rejecting her boyfriend for being a cad without a condom, companies try to sell you on why you need what they offer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but they’re always trying.

It’s even better when they offer samples of a product. The primo example of this is Costco, because seriously, who would buy a fifty pound bag of fish sticks if they didn’t offer a sample? No one, so they offer samples. A “trial version”, if you will. It’s very effective and gets you hooked. Even if you don’t buy the fifty pounds of fish sticks, it’s always in your mind that, if you’re hungry on a Saturday afternoon and don’t feel like going to the grocery store, you can always go to Costco and eat for free. Yes, they give you $3 worth of free mini-hot dogs and shots of pasta, but you spend $130 on a lifetime supply of toothpaste and ketchup to get it. There is no logic behind the customer’s actions; it just works. So, yeah, trial versions are common. Especially in software.

Because I’m going to Vegas, I’ve been playing computerized casino games, as I’ve already written about. Aside from Blackjack and Texas Hold ‘Em, I want to play Craps. But I don’t know how to play Craps, so I’m playing on my laptop. Since my laptop is tedious on the Metro, I searched for a casino game for my pda to make it much easier to practice Craps while sitting with 200 of my closest strangers. I found All Mobile Casino.

I expect to pay for a full version of any game, but the trial version is my friend with software. Without trial versions, I’d buy few software programs, particularly games, because the risk of hating the game is too high. So trial versions enable me to verify a game’s merits before laying out my dollars credit card number. All Mobile Casino offers a trial version, so I installed it.

Riding to work this morning, I fired up my trusty Dell Axim so I could roll some 1s and 0s. I created my little miniature Tony, gave myself $1,300 in imaginary funds, and set off for the digital Craps table. Oh, my, the excitement.

I always start my bets small until I lose half my money and become bitter find the winning groove, so I dropped 25 fake American smackaroos on the Pass Line. I tapped the Roll button and two giant dice tumbled across the screen. The dice stopped on a five and a three, making the Point an 8. Excellent. I’m still learning, so I placed no additional bets before clicking Roll again. The dice shot across the screen and stopped on a four and a three, giving my roll a 7. That’s bad. Bye bye imaginary money, I hardly knew ye.

I can live with one loss, so I pushed another $25 to the Pass Line. You will not believe what happened next. Imagine this:

I tapped the Roll button and two giant dice tumbled across the screen. The dice stopped on a five and a three, making the Point an 8. Excellent. I’m still learning, so I placed no additional bets before clicking Roll again. The dice shot across the screen and stopped on a four and a three, giving my roll a 7. That’s bad. Bye bye imaginary money, I hardly knew ye.

Wait, what just happened? Did I roll an 8 and a 7 back-to-back in the same breakdown I did before? Very bizarre. So I bet again and tapped Roll. Same result. Are you kidding me? I ran the test one more time to verify that this is how the trial version is coded. It is.

I studied business in college, both undergraduate and graduate school. Never, not once, did I learn that it’s wise to make a potential customer a loser on the first shot. Would a drug dealer offer you the first hit of heroin for free, but with a disclaimer telling you how much your burgeoning addiction will destroy your life? No, he says “Try this, you’ll like it.” It’s the American way. Yet, Binary Fish expects me to give them my money so that I can practice being a loser? Ummm, no. If I want to know what it feels like to be a loser, I’ll watch the Phillies play. (I’m a bit disgruntled right now about this season. I haven’t given up hope, I’m just disgruntled. Ignore that comment because I’m not really that cynical.)

Can you imagine Las Vegas advertising with the slogan “Come to Vegas – We’ll keep your money and your dignity”? No, it’s never going to happen. Gambling sells illusions of riches and life betterment. That’s the product I’m buying. If you want me to buy your product, give me a trial version that allows me to roll nothing but sevens. That’s the product I want. I’d even give you the $17.95 you’re asking for it. Until then, I’ll just give that $17.95 to Las Vegas instead. They’ll at least offer me a smile when raking my money off the table.

I’m betting my life savings on Blackjack

Yesterday, I mentioned that I’m going to Las Vegas this weekend, but I didn’t mention that it’s the bachelor party in anticipation of my brother’s wedding. Besides being excited beyond any rational comprehension about Vegas, I’ve learned an important lesson: expect little when you leave the Vegas bachelor party plans to the vegan, non-drinking best man who thinks that watching Cops is a great way to spend a Saturday night.

I’m just saying.

Photo Phlogging – Phillies vs. Nationals

I had good seats for Wednesday’s Phillies-Nationals game so I took lots of pictures. Despite my claims to the contrary that isn’t going to become a sports blog, I’m going to post a representative group of them here. Ah, the power of editorial control…

I’m presenting two ways to view these pictures. First, click this link for a photo gallery layout. This is easier to follow because there is only one window. It will take a moment to load, though, because about 5 megabytes of pictures must load.

To follow the individual links, just follow along in this list.

  • Brett Myers throws an early pitch. The shadow played a large role in the game, holding the teams to a combined six hits through eight innings.
  • Chase Utley’s swing approaches the ball. It was an out, but contact is contact in a game with twenty-one strikeouts.
  • The shadow creeps further across the infield. I wonder if the shadow hindered Wilkerson’s return to first base when Myers picked him off in the first inning?
  • Charlie Manuel argues with the umpire about Myers’ balk. This was the second time Myers balked this season. I’d be happy to see that trend cease.
  • Mike Lieberthal swings and makes contact. Again, not a strikeout.
  • Bobby Abreu backs away from a called third strike. He was displeased.
  • A check swing by Jim Thome angers Nationals fans. Maybe instead of the lame Fans Code of Conduct card the Nationals handed out at the gates yesterday they could’ve offered a more helpful Rules of Baseball card that explains the concept of a check swing.
  • Chase Utley grounding out to second. Ditto on the contact.
  • Esteban Loaiza attempts to sacrifice Juan Guzman to second. Myers made a diving catch moments later, stranding Guzman at first.
  • Nationals fans seem to lack courtesy and baseball ettiquette. How do they not know that walking in front of people during the pitch is rude? It happened so often that this picture is one of many like it. If the game matters that little to you, sit in your office playing with your Blackberry. And considering how often it happened early in the game, here’s a little tip for Nationals fans. When the starting time is listed as 4:35 p.m., it’s not really a suggestion.
  • Chase Utley backs away from a called third strike. Half the strikeouts yesterday happened on called strike three. I don’t know if the shadow fooled the umpire more than it fooled the batters. It seems obvious when looking at this picture and the picture of Abreu. Utley was displeased, too.
  • Jason Michaels bloops the Phillies’ second hit of the day in the 8th inning. Michaels had the first hit, too.
  • Lieberthal walked, so we had an actual runner in scoring position for the first time! I took this picture in the 8th inning. Jose Offerman whiffed to end the inning.
  • Jimmy Rollins goes deep, driving Loaiza’s pitch into the Phillies’ bullpen. Billy Wagner raced to the bullpen mound to get ready for the bottom of the 9th. I didn’t see whether or not he snagged the homer and used the ball to warm up. I hope he did.
  • Thome grounds to first, which could’ve (should’ve?) been a double play. Instead of touching first, Brad Wilkerson looked Kenny Lofton back to third before rifling the ball to Vinny Castilla in time to tag the sliding Lofton. The inning lasted longer because of that mistake judgement call by Wilkerson. Thanks, Brad.
  • Jason Michaels smacks a screamer into centerfield for out number two. Bloops for hits and line d
    rives for outs, it was that kind of day.
  • Frank Robinson argues balls and strikes in the middle of the 9th. The umpire debated his calls with Robinson, but before Billy Wagner threw his next warm-up pitch, the umpire moved the conversation further up the third base line. Can you blame him with 95 m.p.h. of nastiness blowing from the mound? Yet, notice that Pratt’s out there with no gear. Tank is a Badass.
  • Wagner’s slider baffled the Nats in the 9th, leading to the easy save.

I love winning. It’s, like, better than losing.