Classic Dishes...

Poker Lessons

Been watching a lot of Bravo lately, mainly because they show repeats of The West Wing, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite dramas on television, right up there with Boston Public on Fox. So as a result, even though I do the best I can with my Tivo, sometimes you see ads for other Bravo programming, and start to watch those shows as well. (Yeah, I watch Queer Eye. You wanna fight now?)

Anyhow, one of the nice things about this effect is that I’ve been able to catch Celebrity Poker Showdown from the very first match. I love poker, I watch it often on ESPN, and I think Rounders is a truly underrated movie.

One of the fallacies about poker is that it is a game of luck. Huh-uh. Poker, especially Texas Hold-Em (the way the Big Boys play it), is as much pure skill and pure acting as it is luck. And I believe you can learn a lot from watching and playing poker. So with that, I present:

What I Have Learned From Watching Celebrity Poker Showdown:

1) Life isn’t fair: I knew this going in, of course, but watching Willie Garson win hand after hand on the turn and the river really drove it home. EVERY time he needed to fill an inside straight, he did it. EVERY time he needed that third Jack to beat someone elses two pairs, he did it. People were going all-in on completely reasonable hands, and he would out-draw them EVERY SINGLE TIME.

2) Allison Janney can sit at my poker table anytime, as she is intelligent, delightful to look at, and a wholly mediocre poker player: I knew most of this going in, too. Knowing that she’s a bad poker player and that I could prolly take her for a few bucks is just icing on the cake.

3) A broken watch is still right twice a day: How Nicole Sullivan went from the short stack to the overall winner of her round still baffles me, as her cards were never really that good and she didn’t bluff all that well. But it happened.

4) Coolio is a pussy: I’ve long believed that the decline of Western Civilization started with seven words: “I’ll take Coolio to block, please, Tom.” Coolio should hunt down his booking agent and beat him with a hammer. I mean, how can you lose street cred FASTER than sitting in a flashing square for a week? Answer: by proving that you can’t play poker either. Wow. With five players at the table, you do NOT represent like you have something when you’re holding 4-6 unsuited, because there is a good chance that someone else either a) DOES have something, or b) is willing to pay to see if YOU do. At the rate he’s going, he could come across Young MC in a dark alley, and HE’D be the one to turn and flee screaming.

I probably learn a lot from Queer Eye, too, but if I were to analyze it I’d need therapy, and that’s good for nobody, so we’ll leave that be for now.


So I guess Washington beat WSU and won the Apple Cup this weekend. Being as I hate college football, I could really care less. But I thought football was supposed to be a manly sport.

“Apple Cup”? Could there BE a faggier name for a rivalry game? I come from a state where Stanford and Cal (and UCLA and USC, but screw ’em) play in the “Big Game”. Oregon takes a lot of shit for, well, being Oregon, but at least Oregon and OSU play in the “Civil War”. That sounds manly to me. “Apple Cup” sounds like something manufactured by a bunch of Oompa-Loompas.

The Hand That Feeds

One of those annoying vocal Apple advocates who was temping at Microsoft got shitcanned for making a smartass comment on his blog.

I don’t hate Apple, but it does my heart good to see one of these militant Macheads get their comeuppance. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Weaseled Out

Well, we’re into the thick of hockey season, now, and last Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town. I’ll explain why this is notable in a second, but first, a few words about Ed Belfour:

The Four Of You who read this page should know by now that I am a rampant San Jose Sharks fan. And the Sharks have seen some lean times in the eleven-plus years they have been in the NHL. Then, in 1997, the Sharks finally made The Move, we finally got our All-Star player, when we traded for goaltender Ed Belfour.

Now, Eds was in a contract year, so we knew we were running the risk of him leaving the team at the end of the season, leaving us completely empty handed in return for the players we had traded for him. But everyone was certain that Ed was going to re-sign, as Ed himself had repeatedly told the media how much he liked San Jose, how he thought the team was going places, and how he was looking forward to working out a contract so he could stay.

The season ends, and still no contract. Ed wants to see what he’s worth on the open market, but he’s still 99% sure that he’s going to re-sign with the Sharks. So the Sharks plan accordingly.

July 1 is the first day of free agency, the first day it’s even LEGAL for other teams to talk to players without contracts. And the sun had barely risen on the West Coast before we find out that Ed Belfour had signed a multi-year deal with the Dallas Stars for less than we were offering him. He obvioiusly never had any intention of staying, and had played the Sharks for fools.

Ed Belfour was, and continues to be for many Shark fans, the most hated player in the National Hockey League.

The following year, Ed managed to avoid both of Dallas’s trips into San Jose, and it turns out that the first time he had to face his former team (and the fans he had screwed) was Game Three of the first round of the playoffs. And the fans were not kind. We won that game :)

Over the years, Eds has come back to San Jose Arena, but not frequently…his ability to come up with an injury or illness the night of a game in San Jose against the Sharks has been uncanny. His fear of playing in this building is both obvious and laughable.

After his tenure in Dallas, he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team who had made a deal with the league that they wouldn’t have to go on West Coast road trips for several years in return for switching to the Eastern Conference. Which includes road games in San Jose. What a coincidence.

This brings us to Saturday night: after five years, the Leafs are finally playing in San Jose again. And the night before, in Los Angeles, Mikael Tellqvist was in net for Toronto. So there’s no excuse, we’re gonna get a shot at The Weasel.

Saturday comes, and it’s time for starting lineups. And who’s in goal for the Leafs? Mikael Tellqvist, again. Eddie supposively has the “flu”. Fans on hand have reported that he looked perfectly healthy to them during warmups. Unbelievable.

So, Ed Belfour, if you’re reading this: You’re a PUSSY. P-U-S-S-Y. A she-male. A man-gina. May you rot in hell.

Not Bad

Our good buddy replied just a little bit ago:

From: Michael Brown Subject: Re: My opinion–Game show related
To: Chris Lemon

Wow…You are a funny guy!! Maybe one day you’ll make it onto T.V.. Then I can shut you off.
I’ll do my best to see anything important that’s shipped to you, like blow-up dolls, or K-Y jellies get right out. I’d hate to see these delayed.

Enjoy your life,
Mike B and Melanie. Your kid is being shipped UPS overnight.

Hmm. Kinda a weak start, but it picked up steam and finished strong. I didn’t realize I’d left him the opening, and I admire a man who can take it and dish it right back. I told him as much, too.

Battle Of Witless

No response yet. My guess is he’s still looking up “bravado”.

I Get Letters

Little background on this one: I frequently post to a message board on the topic of game shows. It should surprise none of The Four Of You to learn that often my posts have created some controversy. In this case, some n00b posted a summary of an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, claiming that since it gave out money, it was a game show. I stated simply that he was incorrect. When my authority on such things was questioned, I agreed, and then suggested that most people of reasonable mind would agree with my initial assessment.

So, with that, let’s make Michael Brown of Kentucky famous:

From: Michael Brown Subject: My opinion–Game show related

Our maybe you’ll tell me it’s not GS related. I would regularly post to the old game show newsgroup, but after all the crap and changeover, I just lurk. Now, to my opinion of many of your comments. Sir, you are an asshole! I just finished the little “yer wrong” posting. Wouldn’t a little kindness be better than this. My God, we only have so long on this earth and I’m not going to waste my time being hateful or reading your hateful crap. Give the guy a break. You don’t have to read his posts. Ignore them and let it go. You can say what you want because your hiding behind a computer. I’d be willing to bet you wouldn’t act that way face to face. I can honestly say I’d personally kick your ass if we ever met. So here’s an invitation to the Bowling Green Kentucky UPS main terminal. If you’re ever in town, look up Mike Brown and I’ll open a can of whoop ass and we’ll see how funny your snide comments are after that.

Have a nice evening,
Mike Brown and family

Isn’t that great? This moron now extends the list of people who have threatened me with bodily harm over the Internet to three. AND SIGNS HIS FAMILY’S NAME TO IT AS WELL. I can’t write comedy like this. Never mind the irony of someone using a Yahoo email address accusing me of hiding behind a keyboard.

Anyhow, some would suggest that the better man would just ignore this and let this fellow have his opinion and let that be that. Well, nobody’s ever accused me of being the better man, so here’s the response I sent him:

—– Original Message —–
From: Michael Brown
> Sir, you are an asshole!

Thank you. I’m honored.

> I’d be willing to bet you wouldn’t act that way face to face.

I assure you, there is not a thing I say online that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

> I can honestly say I’d personally kick your ass if we ever met.

You know, I’d like to say that you’re the first guy to tell me that. You aren’t. And I’m still here, so forgive me while I laugh heartily at your idiotic bravado. :)

> So here’s an invitation to the Bowling Green Kentucky UPS main terminal.

UPS, huh? No wonder those morons can never get a package to me.

> If you’re ever in town, look up Mike Brown

Yeah, and if yer ever in Seattle, feel free to stop by, I’m not a hard man to find. I’ll buy the beer.

> Mike Brown and family

Give my best to your wife and my kid.

God, I hope he responds.

Let’s Get Rocked

Wayyyy back in 1987, my buddy Dave called me. He had an extra ticket to the Huey Lewis And The News concert at Laguna Seca, and did I wanna go?

Huey? HELL YES I wanted to go! But at 16, one must acquire the permission of one’s parental units before taking on such endeavors. Mom said she was fine with it, as long as Dad was. Well, okay.

Dad said “No.” Didn’t want me exposed to the type of people who go to rock concerts.

AT A FUCKIN’ HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS SHOW. Even today, I don’t think there is a more clean-cut band on the PLANET. Bill Gibson STILL wears a suit behind the drum kit, I think.

I haven’t forgiven him for that one. And the day of the show (yeah, it was a daytime show, too, to boot), Dad sees the footage from the show that gets aired on the local TV news and says “Ya know, I was wrong, I probably should have let you go.”

Thanks, Pops. ‘Preciate it.

So the next summer, I get the same call from my friend Derek. Def Leppard is playing the Shoreline Amphitheater. And let me tell you, at the time I was a Leppard FANATIC. I had received “Hysteria” for my birthday that year, and the tape was already well on its way to being worn out.

Well, seeing as Dad owed me one from the summer before, I didn’t ask this time, I told them I was going, and that was that. I received no argument. :) And it was an incredible show. To this day, Def Leppard is still my absolute favorite band, and “Hysteria” is still the best album in my collection.

And the reason I bring all of this up: Last night, fifteen years (FIFTEEN YEARS!) after that first concert of August 22, 1987, I saw Def Leppard for the fourth time.

And it was amazing. It’s been at least nine years since I last saw them live, and eleven since I last saw them live at an indoor venue. And they are MUCH better indoors. I think it has something to do with the reverb of the building or something. They played ’em all, simple as that, and they played arrangements I’d never heard live before, and it was just incredible. It wasn’t the best show of theirs I’d ever seen (it would be almost impossible to beat the show in Oakland in 1992, when they were in the round, at the top of their game, in all of their laserriffic glory, and I was 30 feet with direct line-of-sight to the stage, over everyone on the floor), but it was a close second.

The thing I most enjoyed, though, was the people who came. Face it, we’re all getting old. A lot of us who listened to Leppard when they owned the world in the late 80’s have kids now. And quite a few of them took their kids to this concert. There was a mom over in the arena bowl seats from me (I was on the floor), who was wearing the trademark Leppard Union Jack shirt, ‘cept it was sequined, and you could tell she’d had it for a while. (If you’ve seen the videos for “Photograph” or “Now”, you know the shirt I mean.) She brought two kids with her, the oldest of which could not have been conceived when “Pyromania” was originally released. And all three of them had a great time. I thought it was the greatest thing. Mom, if yer watching: rock on.

Assuming they make it (and there’s no indication that they won’t, if you can kill off a guitarist and rip the drummer’s arm off, and they still keep going, what would stop them?) to 2005, they will celebrate 25 years together as a band. The Beatles lasted, what, 12? Fifteen, tops?

Hell Thaws

I shoulda known.

Maybe the Internet side of Comcast is getting their shit together, but the cable side is as hopeless as always.

Today I went on a pilgrimage down to my local Comcast office, for a couple reasons: one, three years of frustration with attempting to order the NHL Center Ice hockey package has made it clear that over-the-phone is not the way to go to insure a successful transaction, and two, because of the nature of Tivo, I’m gonna need a second digital cable box if I’m to watch said hockey while the Tivo records whatever it is it’s gonna record while said hockey is on.

The first part became clear as soon as I got to see it from their point of view: All this time, I’ve received nothing but the telephone equivalent of a blank stare each fall when I call to order Center Ice. I know the reason why, now: nowhere in any of their subscriber software does it ACTUALLY CALL THE PACKAGE “CENTER ICE”, OR IN FACT INCLUDE THE WORD “HOCKEY”! I learned that the “Nhl Full Season” is in fact what I wanted, and we got that squared away without further incident. (Dollars to donuts Opening Night is gonna come and it won’t be working. Again.)

Got my new cable box, too. Got it home, hooked it up, appeared to be fine. Dandy. Figure I’ll put it in my bedroom for now, allow me the luxury of Game Show Network from my bed, and prolly move it out to the living room once the hockey season gets rolling.

Well, tonight, I get in bed, and realize that I hadn’t thought to dial up a digital channel yet. Damn. So I do. And I get the “One Moment Please” screen that three years worth of Comcast fuckin’ up has taught me that they need to fix my box.

So I call. She sends the magic signal to blow out the box. No change. Analog channels, no digital ones. So she tells me to unplug it, let it sit for five minutes, and plug it back in. Should do the trick.

I give it six, ‘cuz I’m a nice guy. Now I get NOTHING. Static even on the analog channels. Toddle out to the living room, check the other box, it’s fine in every respect, digital, analog, it’s all good. Unplug, give it ANOTHER six. Bupkus.

Call BACK Comcast. At this point I’m just trying to get a confirmation that the box is deceased and needs to be swapped out. Silly lady asks me a bunch of questions designed to imply that I don’t know how to hook up a cable box. I’m patient. Prolly ‘cuz it’s late. And ‘cuz I should have seen this coming. She can’t blow out the box ‘cuz the system goes down at this hour. Well, okay.

So I get to call back, ‘cuz they won’t declare the box dead yet. The BEST scenario at this point, I think, is that I get to go out of my way on Monday after work to exchange this box for a new one, which may or may not work. That’s OPTIMUM.

…and in fact, that’s what’s going to happen. Resulting in an errand to either run after work on Monday, or tell ’em I’m gonna be late and go in beforehand. I’m leaning in that direction, actually. Fuckin’ Comcast. I have LITERALLY never made a transaction with this company, either now or when it was AT&T, that has gone right the first time. Monopolies are amazing things.

How About Winning A Few Games Instead?

The 2003-2004 San Jose Sharks season tickets are out, or so I’m told. The marketing slogan for this season is:

“Sharks Hockey: It’ll Swallow You Whole”

Hmph. At any rate, this is a vast improvement on the slogan used when the season ticket renewal packets went out, which read “Somebody’s Gonna Pay For Last Year”.

After last season, what many people don’t know is that the two rejected slogans were:

“Sharks Hockey: It’ll Eat You Up Inside”


“Sharks Hockey: It’ll Suck
You Down In One Bite”

(Of course, some have suggested that if the Sharks are going to suck, then it’s good to know in advance that they swallow, too. :))