Friday, January 13, 2006

Welcome Back, kiddo.

My game is rusty, which is not news. Spend a few weeks not doing something skill-based and you’re bound to be lacking at least a bit in that something, whatever it is. It helps that the players at the low limits are typically are so bad they could be outplayed by a comatard (oh truly, I really might be going to hell for that term).

And so it was last night, but poker is very touchy. She doesn’t like her men (or women) to stray for very long, just as she doesn’t like to have company 24/7. I’ve stayed away for the last weeks in an effort to maintain discipline and not bleed away my roll by playing in a sub-optimal mindset. With all of the junk we’ve been dealing with here at HEAD-quarters (I kill me), I’m ripe for drop-of-the-hat tilt so I stayed away. I played a couple of cheap SnG’s last night while dealing with the insomnia monkey, and I didn’t cash in either one.

The first one was on Stars, where I went in worried about the rust. I should have been worried about that nasty fickle bitch that is poker herself, who proved yet again that holding a grudge is no problem. I played, quite literally, as perfect as I could. I even pored over the hand history post-tourney in an effort to find something wrong. Every hand I bet, I was ahead. Every bet I called, ahead. It mattered not. From chip leader to bubble out in three hands, all courtesy of one amoeba with a penchant for bluffing on the turn with three outs.

Cue 3 AM mini-tilt.

It’s a little known fact that when you’re awake at 3 AM, you’re actually smarter than you are during the day. Case in point, since poker was busy wiping junk blood off of her steel-toe boots at Stars, I decided to take the opportunity to head over to neighbor Full Tilt’s house while she wasn’t looking. The less said about that smart move, the better. Great poker was definitely not played. In fact, I don’t even think I can honestly say that a mediocre game was played. Bad, bad, bad.

Then I read BadBlood this morning. He’s not the first to post on the subject, but it was a good confirmation that I was doing the right thing by not playing for so long, even though it didn’t feel like it. I played simply because I thought I should, even though I knew it wasn’t yet the right time. I was putting completely unnecessary pressure on myself. Yet another case of what can (and likely will) happen when you ignore your instincts.

As I logged off, I swear I could hear poker around the corner, chuckling. I realized that it wasn’t the derisive laugh of someone who takes great pleasure in another’s pain. I noticed for once that it was the laugh of someone who actually does know it all, amused at the person who just thinks they do. Poker doesn’t hate me and it doesn’t hate you, its place is simply to remind and teach whether we think we need it or not. If poker was actually a living entity, it would probably be just as annoyed having to constantly remind us of our shortcoming as we are of being reminded of them.

“Good to see you again, kiddo.”

Whatever. I’m going to sleep.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Mon Ami Gabi Review

On Sunday, after a very rough all-nighter, we spruced up and decided that a nice lunch was in order. Paris was on the way to the Aladdin (where some serious shopping would be in order, my husbandly duty for the trip), and since it’s a casino we rarely spend much time in, we decided some dining exploration was in order. Enter Mon Ami Gabi. (geez, could I say "in order" just a few more times?)

Since the weather was nicer than anyone expected, the patio was packed and I questioned whether we would be able to get a spot. I also internally questioned whether or not I actually wanted one. The looks on most of the faces dining there said that these people thought they were seriously upper-crusty because they were out on the patio. The restaurant was obviously nice, but from the outside looking in, the vibe I got from the clientele seemed pretty unwarranted. However, the attitude of a few customers shouldn’t be a primary dissuading factor, so in we went.

Time for some cocktails! If I’m going to endure a shopping gauntlet, I’m damn sure going to have a drink or two in me. Looking at the cocktails made me a somewhat apprehensive as they seemed a bit expensive, more so than usual. $11 for the Gabi Martini, which was just a Grey Goose martini with bleu cheese stuffed olives. I figured that if nothing else it had the olives going for it. Per usual, I stressed very fucking dry, and the Mrs. decided on a Sidecar.

The Sidecar was very good; it wasn’t amazing, but still delicious nonetheless and properly made. I wish I could say the same of my martini. Starting off the litany of things wrong with it, it was very small. Was there a shortage of Grey Goose that I missed? Was there a sudden wild fluctuation in the vodka market that shot the price up to $75/bottle? I’ve been in many finer establishments where I received 50% more drink for about 15% less money, and thus begins the Mon Ami Gabi stock plummet and I haven’t even tasted anything yet. Let’s do that, shall we?

Well, that could have been better. Obviously, swearing during my order didn’t properly communicate how seriously I take the “dry” quality of the martini’s I order. Perhaps next time I’ll bring a sign and hold it as though I’m attending a sporting event, or I could have it painted on my torso and rip my shirt off in a Hulkamaniac rage when I order. Maybe then I can get the point across. I suppose I could have just told you that there was entirely too much vermouth, but this was a serious fuck up for such a pricey drink. Stock is plummeting, folks. I simply sighed and tried to enjoy my bleu cheese stuffed consolation prize.

Our wait to be seated having been surprisingly short, Mon Ami Gabi finally scored its first points, post martini debacle. The sun was such that, at our table, it was shining directly into my eyes. I know, that’s what sunglasses are for, but even so, it was annoying and I began looking for a way to remedy the situation. Like a true sign from above, the couple at the table directly behind us left and I quickly grabbed the server to see if we could hop tables. I expected at least a slightly annoyed look, as this request was going to be a bit of a pain in the ass. Without blinking, she informed us that it would be no problem and began transferring our bread and drinks. Nice.

Speaking of the bread, our baguette also helped Mon Ami Gabi make up a couple of lost points, at least to the point where I wasn’t raving pissed. It was better than average if one is considering the big picture of bread, but when the focus is narrowed to establishments that purport to be finer, it was only slightly above par. Pleased, but not excited would be the best way describe it, I suppose.

In odd contrast to the pricey cocktails, the food was reasonably priced. Craving meat, I decided on the Hamburger with Brie and Mushroom, while the Mrs. went with Croques Monsieur, a sandwich with ham, jarlsberg, gruyere, and béchamel (a white sauce, made by adding hot milk to a roux of butter and flour). My burger, much like my drink, was far south of where I thought it would be. The Croques Monsieur was quite good, and I tried to rest easy in the fact that at least one entrée lived up to the “fancy” factor that Mon Ami Gabi was obviously trying to give off. It was perfectly warm and soft, and the flavors of the sandwich melded together exactly as I had hoped.

Service during the meal was very good, and given the ease of the table changing situation earlier in the meal, we were very pleased with this aspect of the restaurant. In fact, I would say that it was the only thing that was consistently great. By this time, you surely must have noticed a theme running throughout this piece, and if not, I’ll take this opportunity to lay it out for you. Don’t worry, I was going to anyway.

Good, but not great. Worth the time, but lacking the power to encourage me to make a second trip unless it’s wildly convenient. Throughout this entire review I’ve been trying to think of something more summarily specific as to the “why”, and I think I’ve got it. I could have cooked this meal. Since I’m approximately a million miles away from being any kind of professional chef, I expect better from a place like this. If you’re looking for a number, I would give it a 6.5 out of 10, overall. Severely underwhelming.

If you’re looking for a really nice lunch, head over to Olives in the Bellagio instead.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

More Insomniatic Drivel

My mom’s cat died yesterday, and the world didn’t end. And I’m surprised. Not because I was so attached to the cat (in fact, I hated the thing), but because my mom was. Attached. Big Time.

The family got the cat, our first ever, when I was 13. It’s been around for over half of my life. I was always tempted to call it the Regis or Dick Clark of cats, in spite of the fact that it was a female. She never looked old, yet one would need carbon dating to ascertain her true age. She was approximately the world’s largest wimp of an animal, comparable only to my current dog, Stella. Once, when I was around 16, she got out and no one could find her. After four hours of my mother’s end of the world freak-out we finally found her. She was lost and almost frightened to death….hoooooooolllllld……waitforiiiiiiiiiit…….in our front flower bed. **slaps forehead** Ever since that day I have looked forward with dread to the day that my mom’s cat would finally give up the ghost.

Inexplicably, my mother is remaining on a shockingly even keel.

We spoke for a while today, and I felt bad for her. Having had pets of my own for a few years now, I completely understand and feel bad for her. I think I’m actually happier and more proud that she didn’t have a complete meltdown than I am sad about the death, though.

She mentioned that they were going to bury her in the backyard, and I asked why they didn’t just take her somewhere and have her cremated or have whoever those people are do whatever it is they do with animals that are no longer of this world. In my mind, it would avoid any potentially messy problems, but I tried to understand.

Then she commented, “I know that’s what you want done when you die, and I hope I’m already gone, because it would kill me to do that.”

Now certainly, humans and animals in general are very different, well, animals. But when I asked her why that would be so hard, she couldn’t come up with an actual reason no matter how hard I tried to coax one from her. She said it just didn’t feel right. She’s the type I’m always suspicious of, a person who bases most every decision on feeling alone (something I believe to be largely responsible for the current strange state of affairs in our society today, but of course that’s a completely different tangent for another time). From my end, feelings are all well and good, but they need to be tempered with reason and logic, and shouldn’t be used exclusively to make most decisions. I want to be cremated mostly because I simply think that cemeteries, by and large, are a waste of valuable space on this already crowded rock. When my time is up, don’t forget about me, but brush my physical presence aside to make some room for those behind me. After all, what are we really using to serve as a remembrance of the deceased but a piece of stone or a plaque? We mourn and remember the person or animal in question, and I can’t get how having a plot of space in the earth makes either of these experiences more quality than space in a mausoleum, an urn, or on the wind. Why is burial considered more “proper” than playing a song (or, insert your own thing here) every now and again to induce the sought after remembrance?

If anyone can advocate burial over cremation without citing only feelings or “my religion strictly dictates it”, I would enjoy hearing it. Seriously. The “feelings” argument is driving me a little batty. Who knows, one day I could be persuaded to come over from the “take what you need, then burn me” camp.

Sad as it may be, I still think she ought to be (and hope she comes around to being) happy that the cat had as long as she did. If I have even 2/3 of the equivalent lifespan the cat had, I’ll be overjoyed, and I hope that those who knew me will be, too.

Enough insomnia talk for now. Good night.