Thursday, January 31, 2008

Answers and stats

A cut-and-paste job from Wikipedia's article on the Phoenix Open:
  • The tournament was originally the Arizona Open, but was known for most of its history as the Phoenix Open until the investment bank, Friedman Billings Ramsey, became the title sponsor in October 2003.
  • The 4-day attendance of the tournament is usually around 500,000.
  • The most popular hole for spectators to watch is the 16th hole due to the "Amphitheatre" atmosphere of the hole, created by the stands erected every year before the tournament. The hole could be described as "one big party", with many students from the nearby Arizona State University.
  • Poor shots at the 16th hole receive boos, because the hole is very easy by the PGA's standards. Good shots, however, are cheered for loudly. Famous moments at the 16th include Tiger Woods' hole-in-one in 1997, which caused the gallery to erupt, throwing cups and other objects in celebration, and Justin Leonard giving the finger to the gallery after a poor shot.
  • This is the best attended golf tournament of every calendar year, and in 2006 the FBR Open set a PGA Tour single day attendance record with over 168,000 fans in attendance on Saturday, Feb. 4, as well as a tournament week attendance record of 536,367 fans.
I make no promises about the accuracy of these statistics, but just wanted to give you guys an idea of what's going on in this town.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Thank the Lord for the Night Time

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” I believe this. My latest adventure began last night. I was watching the latest episode of Nip/Tuck, when at 11:16 p.m. my BlackBerry buzzed. Turns out it was an accusatory and terrifying e-mail from one of the honchos at work. He wanted an explanation that I couldn’t give him until today, but if it wasn’t satisfactory, I would be in a world of shit. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep, my mind raced for most of the night, and I got out of bed at 5:30 this morning and was at work by 7:00 to figure out what I was going to do. I sent a detailed e-mail explaining myself and sat to wait. I was in a veritable state of panic until about 10:00, when I got a call from the honcho. Turns out the whole issue was a paper tiger. No problem. Situation normal. Sorry about that e-mail last night . . . . etc. I hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief, said a prayer of thanks, and wondered if it was too early to have a glass of whiskey.

My phone rang, and the caller ID indicated a 602 area code. It was my childhood friend Carlos, who lives in Phoenix. He’s working on his Ph.D. and I’m a research subject for his dissertation. I’ve been part of his research for the better part of a year, and he wanted to set a date when he could interview me for about three hours. I told him what had just happened and expressed my general frustration. Ever the old friend, he suggested that I hop on the next flight to Phoenix and come out for the weekend. The Phoenix Open AND the Super Bowl are both going on there this weekend, and as far as parties go, it’s the place to be right now. He has two guest rooms, and what better time to do the interview, catch up, and have good times? Well, I really couldn’t say no to that proposition, could I? A few clicks of my mouse later, I was booked on a late afternoon flight to the desert southwest.

Life is good, and I needed a vacation. Phoenix can be a good town, and the first chapter of the adventure has turned out to be great. The Phoenix Open (the “FBR” to the locals – I have no idea what the letters stand for) is essentially a gigantic party with a golf tournament built into it. I got in too late to see any golf, but not too late to make it to the “Bird’s Nest” – the party tent that is the real centerpiece of the event. Tonight, they were featuring the Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond.

Now Neil Diamond is about as square a performer as ever walked this Earth. My mom liked him in like 1983, for God’s sake. Neil Diamond and Anne Murray were staples of my childhood soundtrack, and I wouldn’t be caught dead at an actual Neil Diamond concert. A Neil Diamond cover band, on the other hand, is a whole other story. From a postmodern kitsch standpoint, it is hard to beat. This was my first Super Diamond concert, but they’re pretty much the World Series of Neil Diamond cover bands. Going to one of these concerts is like going to a thousand-person simultaneous karaoke bar. Given the sheer volume of alcohol consumed at the FBR, the crowd had shed all singing inhibitions. Like all these sorts of things, there was price gouging on the drinks. I was trying to save my ducats, so I asked for a Smirnoff – the cheapest vodka on the menu at $6.00 – and soda. In my opinion, Smirnoff is the best of the “cheap” vodkas. Skyy tastes like rubbing alcohol, and Absolut is little more than Skyy with a catchy marketing campaign. For some reason, the only Smirnoff they had was flavored – raspberry and blueberry. I opted for blueberry vodka and soda, and stuck with that through the night.

I just realized tonight that the reason that Neil is such a popular sing-along artist may be because the bastard has a three-note range. Pretty much anybody can sing along to Neil Diamond and feel like they can sing. He’s not like Axl Rose or Brian Johnson . . . everyone my age loves songs by Guns n’ Roses and AC/DC, but there are few things more awful than some jackass trying to sing Sweet Child of Mine.

Also, I just realized tonight that Neil has a pretty good repertoire of boozer songs. Red Red Wine and Cracklin’ Rose make being a wino seem almost noble. And I found myself actually reflecting on the lyrics of Solitary Man:

Don’t know that I will
But until I can find me
A girl who’ll stay
And won’t play games behind me
I’ll be what I am
A solitary man
Solitary man
A woman in front of me threw her 40 DD brazier onto the stage and flashed a dude who took a picture with his cell phone. A guy tried to rush the stage and was taken down by security immediately and severely. It was, in short, a pretty good PG-13 rated spectacle. Because it was a “school night” for Carlos, after the band went off the stage and last call was announced at 11:00, we headed to the shuttle back to the parking lot. It was a pretty good end to a day that started off so poorly. I don’t know how many adventures may come from this boondoggle, but I’ll keep you updated. Jack Gordon, live from Phoenix, signing out.

Also, I may need to buy myself some black velvet pants.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't hide behind me when TSHTF . . .


I'm not feeling horribly inspired at the moment, so I fall back on the crutch of bloggers everywhere in times like this . . . the internet quiz! The beauty of the results of this one is that scoring low is actually a GOOD thing.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Head to Head

I’m about as excited about the candidates in the 2008 presidential race as I would be about the prospect of watching one wrestler. I’ve never picked a winner in the primaries (Wes Clark in 2004, baby . . . and I think I can say with statistical certainty that Ron Paul isn’t getting the nomination in 2008), and I’ve never voted for a winner in the general presidential election (Nader, Gore, Kerry). Regardless, what’s turning out to be entertaining is the Hillary/Obama smack-down that’s going on right now. I feel really bad for Obama in this fight, since he’s outnumbered and outgunned against the Clintons. For an interesting take on it, check out this commentary from Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Here’s an apocryphal story that parallels the Clinton strategy against Obama: In 1948, Lyndon B. Johnson was running for the U.S. Senate against former Texas governor Coke Stevenson, and it was a very tight race. Johnson was conferring with his people, and he said: “I know, we’ll say ‘Coke Stevenson fucks his sow.’” One of Johnson’s advisers said, “Lyndon, we can’t call Coke Stevenson a pig fucker, you know that’s not true.” Johnson replied, “I know, but we’ll let him deny it!”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Theirs not to reason why . . .

Today in history: In 1879 one hundred and thirty-nine British soldiers successfully defended their garrison against an intense assault by four to five thousand Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift. The overwhelming Zulu attack came a damned close to defeating the tiny British garrison. The successful defence of the outpost is held as one of history's finest defenses, and makes the Texans at the Alamo look like a bunch of rank amateurs. I hold all kinds of historical grudges against the British, but that doesn't mean I don't respect them.

Dancing with myself.

I've had a little writer's block lately. It's one of those periods when not all that much is going on. The world is going to shit all around us, but my life is, upon reflection, pretty good. I have good friends and I eat well, and that, really, is what it's all about. I was talking with my dad this morning, and I quoted the first line of A Tale of Two Cities to him. Then I looked it up when I got to work, and it pretty much summarized the world and my life right now:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
It took me a long time to warm to Dickens, but I finally did in my early twenties, and there's some real gold in his works. He is a little verbose, though. As I read the passage above, I was further reminded of the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." Perhaps I'll bask in the boredom of my situation for a spell.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Weird e-mail of the week (and it's only Tuesday)

You're only young once, but you can be immature forever. Opening line of the latest missive from my buddy Jason:
It's a question we all face at some point in our lives: do I know enough people who are willing to dress up in Velcro shoes, striped tube socks and headbands to field a dodgeball team?
Sam and I already volunteered.

51 First Dates

Got another e-mail from the Fulbright scholar yesterday. Despite my feelings about her, I have to give credit where credit is due: she sets shit up, and I look forward to it.

It's time for another great gathering featuring good people and DRINK. For completely non-interesting reasons, I have to skip the hosting honors this month but let's get together and enjoy a drink at The Jefferson (4440 W. Twelfth St.) this Wednesday at 7:30 ish.

Thanks to all those that brought new faces to the mix last month--keep them and others coming!!


I have to say, her distribution list always includes a very promising girl-to-guy ratio.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

One Night in Bangkok

I’ve been to more than my fair share of party cities (such as Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Ibiza); and to a decent number of “special” parties in cities not really known for their partying for the rest of the year (ranging from Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to the San Fermines in Pamplona, Spain). Volumes have been written on any of these destinations. What I want to discuss today are the five best non-party-party cities that I’ve stumbled across in my adventures. By that, I mean, none of the following cities is a “destination” and I would never suggest that anybody go out of their way to visit any of them. In fact, a couple of them are downright uncool. But all five of the following cities exceeded any expectation that I may have had about enjoying them, and I had an exceedingly good time in each one of them (some more than once), and some I enjoyed far more that cities that I have visited with higher sense of expectation – for instance, on each of the three times that I have been in Baltimore, I have had a much better time than I have ever had in the half-dozen or so times that I have been to Washington, D.C., although D.C. is the “destination city” and I’ve never met anyone that actually wanted to visit Baltimore.

In chronological order:
  1. Chihuahua, Mexico. Granted, I was 18 years old, couldn’t legally drink in the States, and it was my first real trip out of the country, but I partied like a rock star in Chihuahua when I found myself there in the Spring of 1995. Despite the sound of it, the city was pretty cosmopolitan and the nightclubs were better than anything I’d ever seen. The girls were pretty, the beer was cheap, and the nights never seemed to end.

  2. Setúbal, Portugal. There’s nothing quite like finding yourself in a strange city in a foreign country after everything’s closed when you realize that you have no money in the proper currency, no knowledge of the local language, and no real plan. I faced that reality along with four friends during a failed attempt to get to Lisbon for a three-day weekend in the summer of 1997. The Setúbal locals proved to be collective guardian angels and their city proved quite the playground. We never made it to Lisbon, opting instead to spend the weekend hitting the beautiful local beaches by day and enjoying the Portuguese generosity as they showered us with fish based foods and round after round of wine and beer by night. I may never return, but I definitely salute the Setubalese for their commitment to the good times.

  3. Baltimore, Maryland. My college roommate lived in D.C. after we graduated, and I had never been there when I visited him in 1999. Imagine my disappointment when he told me that one evening we were going to meet up with some of his friends in Baltimore. I didn’t fly to our nation’s capital to live some sort of knock-off of Diner. When I woke up on a strange couch covered by a strange afghan in somebody’s apartment with no real memory of how I got there and only patches of memory involving shots at bars both on the inner harbor and not on the inner harbor, I realized that the town had potential. I’ve found myself there two more times since, and the locals are just as awesome as they were that first time. I can taste the Old Bay and the cold beer as I type this.

  4. Salt Lake City, Utah. I felt like I had been punished when my boss told me that I had to spend a week in Orem, Utah in October of 2003. The bosom of the Mormon religion is not exactly where you’d expect to find a good party, and the state of Utah makes getting one’s drink on a challenge, but the non-Mormons in SLC are more than up to it. My favorite memory of Utah from that trip was the overwhelming smell of marijuana permeating the (non-smoking) bar/private club that I found myself in as I enjoyed the live music of Michael Franti and Spearhead.

  5. Tucson, Arizona. I’ve partied in Tucson twice – once in 2001 and once in May of 2007 when I was out there for a wedding, and hit the town with Laz and Frankie the night before the ceremony. Back in 2001, I woke up fully clothed in my hotel room on a Saturday morning with no memory of what had transpired the night before, but a pocket full of credit card receipts attesting to the good times that I’d had and the rounds of shots that I had bought. The consummate experience from the last time I was there was the out-of-body experience I had at a bar called the Meet Rack where a guy named “God,” who appears to be the owner, happily brands willing patrons with an image of HIS FACE. That pretty much summarizes what drinking in Tucson has been for me, and why it has to make the top five of my non-party-party cities.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

21st Century Drunken Snafus

So Frankie and I went to Tahoe with four women: Missy, Sam, and two of Missy’s friends – Veronica (“Ronnie”) and Therese (“Teri”). I’m telling you, it was like having backstage passes to chickapalooza. I didn’t realize that women in their thirties were just as neurotic as they were in their twenties (or their teens). I wish I could say that I learned more about women from the experience, but I don’t think I did.

Here’s a classic “woman” moment from our first night there. Sam got a text message from some dude that she’s sort of dating. We call him “Meat Head” since his claim to fame is that he’s a cage fighter. Not my nickname, and I’ve never met him, but if the shoe fits and all . . . anyway, the text message read: “do you miss me?” And all four women in our group spent what must have been half an hour discussing what that meant and what Sam should text back. As all four were seriously soused when they were doing this, it was extremely comical. I didn’t read the final product, but I swear, they ruminated over including the word “the” for a good three minutes. The Declaration of Independence was written in less time than this response text.

A few days later, Sam and I were laughing about how funny it must have looked to us when they did this. And I tried to explain to her that guys don’t really think that much about what they text, and that while it took a full half hour and input from four females for her to respond to it, Meat Head had probably sent the initial message as part of a mass text. I was a little drunk myself during this conversation, so to prove my point, I told her I would demonstrate. The first female in my phone’s contacts list is Allie Roth. So I texted Allie: “do you miss me?” No response.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bone Fever

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my dad had a much more interesting life than I did in his youth. Among other things, before he got drafted into the Army, he got a degree in forestry and worked for the U.S. Forest Service. For many years, he and my uncle were seasonal forest fire fighters. Members of a fire crew, they would get called up to go fight forest fires wherever the need arose. My uncle was on a Helitack crew, which I still think sounds impressive to this day. I was too young to remember any of that, but they did it until I was about three or four.

I can’t say that my dad’s ever been particularly good with small children – I really haven’t seen him interact with many. Even in my childhood, I think he treated me more like a little man than like a boy. He was, however, my hero, and I soaked up what he told me or taught me as if it were the word of God. I remembered my dad when I was at the casinos in Tahoe last week. When I was in fourth grade, he taught me how to play craps. One thing that the fire crews used to do to pass the time at camp, he told me, was gamble. Pickup craps was one of the most popular games. For some reason that I can’t recall, he decided to teach it to me. Using my toy-box as a back-stop, my dad taught me the basics of a craps game – on a come out roll: 7 or 11 you win; 2, 3 or 12 you lose, but you remain the shooter, etc. In my house, we had a plastic Slush Puppie cup commemorating the 1984 Olympics that we would throw our loose change into and we would divide the money in it into equal piles before we’d start to play. I never won or lost much more than a couple of dollars, but our games would last for a half hour or so. We played craps off and on until I was in about middle school, and then my folks taught me poker, my mom got in on the fun, and we passed the time playing poker, along with any uncle, cousin, or friend who happened to come by the house.

Perhaps most memorable were the craps rhymes that I picked up from my dad, which he had picked up from God knows whom. To this day, I can’t play craps in a casino without reverting to those rhymes. They get a strange turn of the head at the craps tables –usually from my friends – and I’ve never heard anyone else use any of them in a casino. And when I tell folks that I learned the rhymes as a 10 year old kid from my dad in our dining room, they just can’t believe it. Of course “eight, skate, and donate” and “nine, skline, the money’s mine,” are pretty benign and catchy cants. But when your point’s a five and you say: “fever in the whorehouse, run girls, run!” or on a ten point: “looking for a big dick daddy from Cincinnati,” it definitely raises some eyebrows.

A touch of self-loathing

Der schlechte Affe haßt seinen eigenen Geruch.

I’ve been around long enough to understand that often people are most offended by the moral failings that mirror their own. This is, for example, why there’s a delicious irony in the Larry Craig airport bathroom fiasco, given, for example, his push for severe punishment of Barney Frank for his involvement in a gay prostitution scandal back in 1990.

Anyways, when I was talking with Keri (the ex) the other night, and she was telling me about her doctor boyfriend, I couldn’t help but think about what a sucker the guy was, dropping so much ducat on her and expending himself emotionally, when she clearly didn’t feel about him the way he apparently feels about her. And even though I’ve never met him, I viscerally hated him, not necessarily because he’s with Keri now, but more because of the fact that he is now her beast of burden, as I was for so long, and I hated myself when I was in that situation. And on Wednesday, even though I had never suspected anything of the sort, I couldn’t help but wonder if she had similarly cuckolded me in the past, when I was the boyfriend taking her to fun and exotic locales and trying to make things work with her. And for some reason that made me hate him even more for being the cuckold, rather than her for cuckolding him.

And I wasn't even drunk last night.

I woke up at 4:00 this morning in my guest bed. I have no recollection of the thought process that led me here. I fear that I may be going senile.

Friday, January 4, 2008

True Magi . . .

I think I’ve mentioned that I have a goddaughter before. She’s great. Her folks called me and told me that I had a couple of presents under their Christmas tree that I had to pick up, so I stopped by their place on December 28th. Indeed, there were two gifts for “nino Jack.” I opened the first one, and it was a very pretty cut-glass decanter – very pretty. Every house needs a decanter and I didn’t have one and didn’t really plan on buying one, so it was a great gift. The second gift, however, made me giddy as a school boy, and I just couldn’t shut up about how great a gift it was: a beef and cheese gift box, with two sausages, two bricks of cheese, and a cheese ball in the middle. It was definitely among the best, most thoughtful gifts anybody gave me this Christmas. I must have mentioned that at least three times. I saw Ray and his wife stifling a laugh. I asked what was so funny? Turns out they re-gifted the gift box to me. A great-aunt had given it to them for Christmas and they didn’t want it, and due to my bachelor godfather status, they figured I might like it. What they could never have anticipated is how much I liked it, or that I’d like it more than my “real” gift.

The more things change . . .

I had to give Frankie a ride home from the airport when we got back from Reno around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday. After I dropped him off, I checked my phone to see who I had to call to wish a happy 2008. Turns out the ex had left me a message wishing me the best. I figured it was a new year, and a time for new beginnings, so I should put aside any resentment and bitterness and call her to return the wishes. After all, I’d just gone to Tahoe with a whole new group of friends, and I’ve been getting out there, and I’m pretty sure I’ve moved on after a whole year and some months have passed.

So I called her as I was driving home, and it turned out that she was reading at a Starbucks that was literally on my way home. I told her I’d drop by – I hadn’t seen her in a while. I got to the Starbucks, and it was pretty full of the usual Starbucks bar-fly types. I saw the ex, and gave her a hug. We sat down, and she asked what I had done for New Year’s Eve, and I had a good response to that (as opposed to last year). I had my digital camera in my jacket pocket, and I showed her the photos. She had spent New Year’s Eve with her family, and it sounded like she’d had a good time of it as well.

I was starving and asked her if she’d already eaten. She hadn’t, so I suggested we go across the street to Houston’s for dinner. Houston’s has never been one of “our” places. In fact, prior to that evening, I can’t recall ever having gone there with her. We sat at the bar, rather than a booth or table. The bartender, Tom, knows me because I’ve been there a few times for work happy hours, so he greeted me and asked what we were drinking. I opted for a greyhound, and Keri (the ex) asked for a Sapphire and tonic. We split an entrée that consisted of barbecue ribs, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash. We had another drink with dinner, and a postprandial cocktail as well. She’s still seeing the doctor that she’s been seeing for a while now, and he’s taking her to Paris later this month. I’m not going to lie, that hurt a little to hear. We talked some more, reminisced, and one thing led to another. She asked if she could come over to my place and I acquiesced.

She awoke and left my place at around 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, and I couldn’t help but think back to this post, and I said to myself: “She’s someone else’s problem now. . . .”

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A New Year's Prologue

I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but my 2007 New Year’s Eve was the worst I’ve ever had. I had broken up with the ex in October, and most of my friends were out of town doing their own thing. I ended up going to a house party with a bunch of couples and that depressed me more than if I had just stayed home and gotten drunk by myself instead. Needless to say, I was hoping for a better one this year.

In early December, I got a text message from Missy: “SLT NYE.” I responded: “WTF?” Turns out the suggestion was South Lake Tahoe, New Year’s Eve, and Samantha and Frankie got the same message.

Making it GR8 in 2008

I'm back folks. Stay tuned . . . it's great to be alive this year, isn't it?

About as good an inaugural New Year's post as any is a response to Andi's tag daring me to list 5 random and/or weird things about myself. The Rules:
  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
  2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
  3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Well, I can do the first two, but I leave an open-ended 3. and 4. for my readers, and without further ado . . . .

  1. I am an only child, and always wanted a little sister. Accordingly, I hope that if I ever have children my firstborn will be a girl.
  2. At my high-school graduation, I received a plaque in recognition of my twelve years of perfect attendance.
  3. For the better part of a week back in 1996 I practiced my penmanship obsessively and compulsively so that I could write a pretty love letter to a girl that I had a crush on. Consequently, I still have pretty good handwriting. The girl, however, broke my heart.
  4. I plagiarized the core of that letter from a passage I had read in Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude, and I have never admitted that to anyone until right this moment.
  5. I've always had a knack for remembering small details and especially dates, and as a result people often think that I'm smarter than I actually am. Also, folks confuse that ability with me actually caring. For instance, when I e-mail old acquaintances from college to wish them a happy birthday.

Anyway, I don't know if that shed any further light on Jack Gordon, but I do tip my hat to Andi for thinking of me on the meme.