Saturday, February 27, 2010


My friend Ken died just before Thanksgiving in 2008. Ken was a kind soul who cared deeply about his friends. He was a great photographer who shared my fascination with urban minutiae. You can see some galleries of his work here. He was also a musician and a painter, and had one of the largest rubber duck collections I have ever seen!
I met Ken at the bar where my roommate worked in South Boston. He was enjoying a pint of Guinness, and we struck up a conversation about poker. I knew we were going to be good friends when I found out his band, Air and Space Museum was named after a Simpsons quote (NASA official: “There’s no air in space.” Homer: “But there’s an Air n’ Space Museum.”). His sense of humor was dry and sarcastic, but he was a loyal and sensitive person. He actually listened and remembered when you told him things. If you were in trouble, Ken was the kind of guy who would help you out, with no questions asked. He would be first to offer help with those tough favors like moving, or a ride to the airport.
Ken and I got to hang out 2-3 times a week for a few years. I’d see him at the bar, we’d hang out at mutual friends’ places, and we made many runs to Foxwoods. Every Thursday night we played poker at Redtree. Ken would pick me up right on time, and then, if parking was tough downtown by the finish line of the Boston Marathon where Redtree is located (and it usually was), he would offer to drop me at the door while he continued to look for a spot. That’s the kind of guy Ken was. He was also a funny, pessimistic poker player. If he had a flush, he assumed his opponent had a higher flush. If he had two pair, he assumed his opponent had a set. But the trademark of Ken’s poker style was his passionate, undying love of The Hammer. I know many poker veterans, loose cannons, and bloggers profess a love for The Hammer, but Ken took it to a whole new level. He probably lost more money playing that hand than any other home game player in America, but he also won some huge pots and very memorable hands with it. The joy of those moments far outweighed the losses, and that was representative of Ken’s life too.
On the long rides to Foxwoods or the monthly tournaments we used to go to in Framingham, I learned a lot about Ken, and he learned a lot about me. He was a deep and wonderfully honest person. Ken battled depression and insomnia. He worried about his photography career. He worried about his place in society and his relationship with his family. He didn’t want to disappoint anybody. He worried about finding the right woman. He worried about all the things that an intelligent, perceptive, creative artist would worry about. Through it all, he was a great human being who would always listen to his friend’s problems and offer them support, or give them a thoughtful and touching gift at just the right time. Ken rarely got a good night’s sleep, but he never missed work or an appointment. He always showed up.
Ken used to have barbeques in the backyard of his condo in Southie. The food was great, and he always made sure everybody was comfortable. At one of those barbeques, he introduced me to a wonderful woman who is still a good friend to this day. That’s how Ken was. Always looking out for people. He even gave me the recipe for his awesome cucumber salad (the secret is toasting the sesame seeds).
Ken died from a bad reaction of alcohol, sleeping pills, and anti-depressants. It was so sudden. He was just gone, and there were so many things that I should have said to him but will never get the chance. I could have been a better friend to Ken, and it hurts me beyond measure to admit that. I hope he knows how much he was loved, and how much he is missed. Sometimes I feel that I didn’t know how much Ken meant to me until he wasn’t there. Ken’s passing taught me to not take one second of one day for granted. We should all love without fear and tell the special people in our lives why they are so important to us. This realization was both a horrible and beautiful gift. Thank you for that, Ken.
February 28th is Ken’s birthday, so I’m thinking of him. Every time I see a pint of Guinness, I think of Ken. Every time I see a rubber ducky, I think of Ken. And every time I look down at a poker table and see that 7-2 peeking back at me, I think of Ken. And I play a ton of poker, so I think about him a lot. I know you are in a happy place, Ken. Playing cards, drinking a Guinness, and listening to Fugazi at top volume. You may be gone, but you will never be forgotten. I miss you buddy.
R.I.P. Ken Herbst 1975-2008.

Friday, February 26, 2010

C,eh? N,eh? D,eh?

What the hell is wrong with Canada these days?
First of all, they have the Olympics in the warmest city in their country. Geographically, it would be like the U.S. hosting the games in San Diego. Sure you can drive a couple hours to the mountains for skiing events, but it’s not really the ideal location for the WINTER games, now is it?
I’ve heard that Canada spent $110 million dollars on their “Own the Podium” campaign. That seems uber competitive, petty, and extremely un-Canadian. As they are quickly finding out, it takes a lot more than wishing for it to be so, and expensive ad campaigns, to win medals.
Now there’s been an incident where the crowd at a curling match shouted and jeered while the super hot Danish women’s team was curling (Tossing? Sliding? Pushing? What the hell do you call it?). Don’t tell me they didn’t know that was bad etiquette. They probably use infants as curling stones in a pinch. I think Canadians are born with one of those little Swiffer things in their hands. The only country where they actually even play that “sport” had to resort to cheating/angle shooting to win a match?? Pathetic. They should be sweeping up the competition without any help from the crowd. Pretty good pun, eh?
I live right on the border of the US and Canada, and so I’ve been watching quite a bit of the games on the Canadian CTV broadcast. It is embarrassing. They are so ridiculously, over the top, insanely biased. To hear their coverage, you’d think a Canadian was the favorite to win the gold in every event. Sometimes I don’t know what race they are watching. When Seth Wescott made an incredible recovery and came from 20 lengths behind to win gold in snowboard cross, all they could talk about was how impressive it was that the Canadian that he passed was going to medal. When one Canadian wiped out in a skiing event I literally thought they were going to cut to a commercial before the competition was over. They just stopped talking. Unbelievable.
And then not one, but two ice surfacing machines break during the speed skating competition causing delays and embarrassment. Maybe the Olympics aren’t the time to try out some upstart company’s “innovative” new machines. Maybe they should have hired the company that the fucking Zamboni machine was named after, duh!
By the way, Coca-Cola runs ads on Canuck TV that shows Canadian hockey fans drinking coke and ends with “Let’s show them who’s game they’re playing.” What?!? Is there anything more American than Coca-Cola? Treason! Two faced bastards! I’d boycott the stuff if I didn’t love it so much. Which made the USA Hockey Team’s victory over Canada that much sweeter. Somehow the US was the scrappy underdog beating the heavily favored home team. A victory 50 years in the making. It sure felt good.
Now, during the same Olympics that Scotty Lago was unfairly sent home for letting a woman kiss his medal, the Canadian women’s hockey team is drinking (some underage) and smoking on the ice??!?!? Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one who gives a shit about the rules?!? (sorry- just had to stick a Walter quote in there)
Maybe these games were just plain cursed. From the death of a luger, the malfunctioning Olympic cauldron, riots, an athlete’s mother dying of a heart attack, and most importantly losing a Boner, everything has been a bit off in Vancouver. The fog, rain, and icy courses may just be karmic retribution for Canada acting so un-Canadian. We're going to have to change the expression to "Ugly North Americans." What’s next? Are they going to repeal universal health care and start shooting each other? From William Shatner to gravy and cheese curds on fries, to Wayne Gretzky, to BC weed, they’ve given us a lot of good things. I’ve always said how great Canada is. Don’t make me a liar you Looney spendin’, LaBatts drinkin’, beaver lovin’ Canucks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"I can't quit you." -the gay guy in that one cowboy movie.

No sooner than I had decided to take some time away from poker, I got sucked into watching the NAPT Venetian live online and my hiatus was over. The webcast was great. It was entertaining and educational to see an event in real time without knowing the players’ hands. Everybody is a freakin’ strategy genius when you can see the hole cards! The commentators were accurate and amusing, and they had a constant stream of guest poker pros to offer color commentary. Most of the pros were insightful and well spoken with the exception of Gavin Griffin, who was an arrogant, spoiled, know it all, whiny douche bag. Shaun Deeb was outspoken, but honest, and his Hellmuth bashing was hilariously over the top.
The shootout/bounty format of the high roller event is a lot of fun. I love bounty (or knock out as my friends and I call them) tourneys. Whenever I’ve hosted tournaments, I’ve always included knock out bonuses. I also love the 7 handed shootout aspect of this tourney. Quicker pace, plus you get great practice playing a shorter handed table all the way down to heads up. I’m definitely going to look for some shootout tourneys on Pokerstars.
Speaking of Pokerstars, whenever I watch poker, I get the overwhelming and uncontrollable urge to play. Yesterday was no exception, so I threw a couple bucks in my account and played some tourneys and cash games while I watched the NAPT. I even played in the freeroll that Pokerstars ran in conjunction with the live tourney broadcast. 21,000 other people had the same bright idea. What a joke. The levels were 5 minutes and everybody was playing with house money. Over 14,000 people busted out in the first 30 minutes! Unfortunately, that statistic included me, so it was back to ring games. Playing on Pokerstars while watching a Pokerstars sponsored event. Pretty good vertical integration boys. Not a bad business plan indeed. To paraphrase Michael Corrleone, just when I was getting out, they sucked me back in.

I played smart and restrained after my brief time off, and actually won a couple bucks. Will I quit while I’m ahead? My magic eight ball says All Signs Point Towards No.
The funniest moment of the NAPT webcast came when John Duthie stopped by the booth. He had been involved earlier in an epic heads up battle with Hoyt Corkins in which Duthie fought back from a 3-1 chip deficit only to take a bad beat in the deciding hand. I think Corkins is an underrated player who always works really hard and makes smart plays to put himself in position to get lucky, if you know what I mean. Anyway, the hosts were taking email questions from viewers, and one person asked who the best female poker player was. Without missing a beat Duthie said Daniel Negraneau. There was a long pause while everybody tried to stifle their laughter. After all, Negreanu is the face of Pokerstars and a constant shill for all their products. He had just busted out early after playing like a maniac. He did get his money in good for his 3 all-ins, so you can’t fault him for that. The constant Negreanu ball licking was the one downside to the coverage, so Duthie’s comment was particularly hilarious. I like Daniel Negreanu, and his uncanny ability to read other people’s hands is amazing, bordering on creepy, but his constant chirpy commentary can wear a little thin.
I lasted a little over 48 hours away from poker. Pretty impressive. But I guess poker, like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Recent events have conspired to make some big changes around here.
First of all, I found out that there are already quite a few blogs out there called Felt Up (the best being a fun gossip site which you can check out here). This is something I maybe should have checked out before naming my blog, but I just couldn’t resist the clever poker pun of “felt” combined with the way life leaves me feeling most of the time: felt up.
Secondly, I have come to the conclusion that poker is bullshit. No, not really, but I did determine that I need to take some time away from it, and when I return I need to take a more casual and fun approach to it. There will still be poker related posts, but it will not be the main focus.
Thirdly, my interests have naturally swayed towards movies, TV, sports, society, and humor. These are the topics that captivate and amuse me on a daily basis, and therefore they are the things I want to write about.
The new title of the blog is Throwin’ Rocks. It is a reference to the great movie The Big Lebowski, in which Donny says “I’m really throwin’ rocks tonight!” referring to his good bowling. It is also a reference to the old saying “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks,” a concept that we all struggle with from time to time.
These are exciting, heady times at Throwin’ Rocks, and I hope you enjoy the new direction it is taking. And don’t worry, we are still under old management.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


“Good afternoon. I’d like to thank my friends, PGA leeches, hopeless suck ups, and the seven journalists who promised to write favorable things about me for coming today. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my fans and sponsors for my behavior, but most of all, I want to apologize to my family. I feel terrible that I got caught. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart I am so, so sorry that I got caught. I mean, I had a really good thing going, and I blew it. Everybody must have known what was going on. I’m the richest, most famous athlete in the world, so you had to know I was going to screw around. Those are the spoils of being rich and famous. Whether they admit it or not, every man in this room would have done the exact same thing if they were in my shoes. I do want to apologize for the caliber of some of the women I’ve been sleeping with. Did you see that reality show reject I hooked up with in L.A.? I don’t know what I was thinking. She looked so good in the Marriott lounge. They must have special lighting in there, or maybe I just had one too many John Dalys. That’s an Arnold Palmer with a ton of Jack Daniel’s added to it for those of you who’ve never had one. I’d also like to apologize to my top mistress Rachel Uchitel for cheating on her with all the other skanks. I betrayed her trust that I would only cheat on my wife with her, and for that I feel deep remorse. Plus, she hired Gloria Allred. That chick is like the Tiger Woods of lawyers! At least I don’t have to pay any blackmail money to hide my affairs. The cat’s kinda out of the bag on that one….
I’ve entered a sex rehab center to deal with my addiction, but that’s just a big joke anyway. You know once I get out I’m going to go right back to the groupie driving range, if you know what I mean. Rehab has helped me grow a lot though. I’m learning all kinds of great tricks from other patients for hiding my affairs. I’ll tell you one thing, cell phones are not your friend! No more texting and voicemails! I regret those the most of all. That was really dumb on my part. Talk about being truly sorry! Always use your buddy’s phone when calling for a hook up. What are entourages for, if not for that? I’m going to start using top class escort services too. They tend to be very discreet for obvious reasons. Thanks to my rehab buddy Elliot S. for that advice. At least something good came out of that stupid place. My PR guys insisted I go there to try and save some endorsements, but we all know I just have to win a tournament or two and it will be business as usual. It’s not like I need the money. My bar tab at the Four Seasons is more than most of you people will make in a lifetime.
My PR team also wanted me to make sure I apologized repeatedly to my wife Elin, and stress that we are trying to work things out, but screw that. She’s nuts, man! That bitch hit me with a golf club. That shit hurt like hell! I’m tellin’ ya, those Swedish nannies are psycho. Stay away! Maybe if she blew me every once and awhile, I wouldn’t be out trolling for cocktail waitresses. Yeah, that’s right, I said it. And another thing: the PGA can blow me too. I’m sick of hearing all these rich old white dudes crying about how much money I’m costing the tour. Oh, boo-hoo, attendance is down. Boo-hoo, ratings are down. That’s right bitches, because I’m the whole show. Numero uno star. The Big Meal Ticket, and don’t you forget it! Do you think I’ve forgotten about that “lynching” comment by a PGA analyst, or the Fuzzy Zoeller “fried chicken” remark? Well I haven’t. I played ball back then and said the right things to brush that shit under the carpet, but as soon as old Tiger gets caught putting his Willie Jefferson Clinton somewhere other than my wife, you’re all over me! Well, things are going to be a little different from now on. I run the show the way I want to! You can all suck it!
Now, I’m going to go win a golf tournament, bang a hooker, and then light a cigar with a thousand dollar bill. And for that I make no apologies!”

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I think I finally just got over the Vikings playoff loss yesterday. Well, to the extent that you ever get over a heartbreaking loss like that. Just add it to the pile of stunning and painful losses in a lifetime of bleeding Purple. It was a pleasure to have Favre as a Viking. He is a warrior and a champ, and he gave us a special year that I'll never forget. Now he should retire. There's no way he could recreate the magic of last year again.
Ahh, poker. Well, I've come to that realization that so many poker dreamers before me must have come to also. I'm never going to be a professional poker player. I always kind of knew it, but now I have to put all denial aside and say it out loud. "I'll never be a professional poker player." Like the compulsive gambler in the Intervention episode I watched last night, I kept thinking the big score is right around the corner. If I could only put together a run.....But it is a bittersweet moment. On one hand, I'm giving up the dream of doing something that I really love for a living, and on the other hand I can go back to playing poker the way I used to, back when it was fun. It will be great to play the game for itself, to revel in the nuances and live in the moment. Doyle Brunson once said that you'll never be a great poker player until the money doesn't matter. Now the pressure to steadily earn a profit is off, and at the micro stakes I play for, the money truly doesn't matter! I'm free. Liberated to go back to enjoying the game I fell in love with so many years ago....
Although, if my newfound laissez-faire attitude leads me to better results, and maybe I place high in a tourney or two, then...........Stop it!
Enjoy poker, everybody.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Am I the last person on the planet to finally see Jersey Shore? Normally, I’d be all over a show like that, but not having cable has really shielded me from some of my guiltiest pleasures. Jersey Shore is quite literally the Real World on steroids. Now I know why there are so many hypodermic needles on Jersey beaches.
How could I not love this train wreck of a show? I’ll tell you how. The show is so obscenely ridiculous that it’s already a parody of itself, a spoof of the genre, and a satire of America all rolled into one alcohol and bodily-fluid soaked rental house. Here I am, all ready to sit down and write a humorous piece, and there is nothing I can say that is more ridiculous, funny, or absurd than what has happened on the show already.
Usually, I take great delight when someone finally punches one of these “reality” stars, but Jersey Shore somehow took the fun out of that, too. How the hell could that guy hit poor Hooky? I mean, who doesn’t love a big chested oompa-loompa alcoholic with low self esteem wearing aviator shades and a trucker hat?!? Did anyone else find it ironical that after the incident, all the juiceheads in the house were thumping their chests ranting about wanting to kill the guy and “Never hitting a woman” etc., and in the next episode one of them shoves his girlfriend? Or how about the irony of these weirdo and weirdettes doing laundry everyday, constantly showering, and putting $30-$40 worth of hygiene products and hair gel on, and then hopping into that tepid, bubbling, frothy Petri dish, filth incubator of an STDcuzzi that they have on the roof? They probably had to take a few months off to send everyone to the clinic before they could start shooting the next season (look out Miami). That’s why my name for the show is Jersey Sore.
To amuse myself, I picture the show as a warped Sesame Street for aspiring blockheads. The Situation would be the Count, standing over his metal framed twin bed: “One…. bar slut passing through, Two ….skanks with issues, Three…. Mtv groupies clinging, Ah-Ha-ha-hah-ah.” Narcissistic diva Sammi would be Miss Piggy, making badgered but affable Ronnie, Kermit I guess. Snooki is definitely cookie monster, but it’s not cookies she’s gobbling up. I guess Pauly D would be Animal, simply because their hairdos are similar, etc, etc. “Today’s show has been brought to you by the letter P for penicillin and the number threesome.”
Since the show has already quite effectively mocked itself, I figured I would close by simply sharing a few poems for Valentine’s Day that were written by the cast:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Where the fuck is my blue Ed Hardy shirt?!!? I gotta be at the gym in ten minutes, and I’m getting’ really fuckin twisted here!! Seriously, WTF??
-Happy Valentine’s from Pauly D

Shall I compare thee to my abs?
Please believe I didn’t give you crabs,
Thou art not as cut as me, or ripped too,
I swear that wasn’t a roofy I slipped you.
-Be Mine? by The Situation

A rose by any other name would be just as pretty,
Without makeup though, I do look really shitty.
I’ll love you no matter what, through all the lows and highs,
Now I’m gonna go get drunk and make out with random guys.
-My Guy by J BowWow

I’m a little teapot, short and stout,
Buy me a jello shot or get the hell out!
The rest of the house seems to think I’m a suck up,
Please stick a pickle in my mouth so I’ll shut the fuck up!
-With love, from Snookers

Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day everybody!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


This year, for the first time ever, I will actually be watching the Super Bowl just for the ads. That's very similar to reading Playboy for the articles. I could care less about the game. I think I just started getting over the Vikings loss yesterday, in time for the Super Bowl to reopen all the wounds.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Marx was right. Television is the opiate of the people. What? No, John Marx. I used to work with him at the shop. I don’t know the other guy you’re talking about. Where was I? Oh yeah, John used to always say that TV was a series of flickering, pulsing lights and commercial propaganda that brainwashes and rots people’s minds. He also wore patchouli and didn’t eat meat, but I agree with him about the TV. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch my fair share of it. I mean, how can I resist a gripping episode of the Steve Wilkos Show (a Jerry Springer spin-off?? Is there anything TV can’t do?!?), Jerky Shore, or the granddaddy of them all, People’s Court? “Da-dunh-duh. Tss-ts-ts-tsk. Da-dunh-duh, What you are witnessing is real. The participants are not actors. They are actual litigants with a court case pending in a California municipal court. Da-dunh-duh. Tss-ts. Both parties have agreed to dismiss their cases and have their dispute settled here. Tss-ts. In our forum. Tss-ts. The People’s Court!” No I didn’t look that up, I’ve had it committed to memory since my friend Bucky and I would recite it to each other on the way to the cafeteria in college after watching a rousing episode. And yes, I’m talking about the original version with Judge Wapner, Rusty the Balliff, and Doug Lewellyn. Not that I have anything against Judge Marilyn Milian. There something so grating but irresistible about her….
One of my latest guilty pleasures is Modern Family. Not cutting edge, but the fat gay guy is hilarious, and I’ve always been a fan of Al Bundy. A fat gay guy! What will those wacky TV writers invent next? I tuned in to ABC a little early last Wednesday, and caught the end of the show that is on before Modern Family. It was also a family comedy, with a blue collar mother who rants and raves at her husband and kids to keep them in line. The mother is played by a veteran comic actress. The husband works at a mid level job, and struggles to make ends meet while keeping the peace at home. At times, he acts like one of the kids. Speaking of kids, this TV family has three. The oldest is not that bright, the middle child is socially awkward but smart, and the youngest is a goofy kid with odd looks and big ears who gets erasers stuck up his nose, etc. The episode I saw was about the kids being sick so the parents couldn’t get away together or some frightfully original plotline similar to that. Did you think I was watching a rerun of Malcolm in the Middle? I wasn’t, because if I was, I would have been laughing. Instead, I was watching ABC’s new comedy called The Middle. That’s right, the rip-off artists at ABC are so fucking lazy that they not only steal the concept of Malcolm in the Middle, but they can’t even be bothered to come up with a new title. They just removed the first two words. ______ __ the Middle. Amazing. The studio must have saved a lot of money by simply reworking old Malcolm scripts, and they could probably re-use promotional material simply by putting some duct tape over “Malcolm in.” If Cloris Leachman shows up as the Grandmother, the circle will be complete. I can’t wait for the new ABC shows …Met Your Mother, the classic …Dyke Show, and the retro …Of Hazard. Really, can they get any more apathetically lackadaisical?
I shouldn’t be watching that crap anyway, I could be spending that time finding out who the baby daddy is (or isn’t) on Maury. Wouldn’t it be funny if one episode it turned out “In the case of baby Cusinart, you are…….. not…. the MOTHER!” Now that would be worth tuning in for…..