Monday, January 31, 2011


Well, I'm back on the horse again.
No, not heroin. I've never been hooked on that, but sometimes it feels as if poker might be just as addictive, and even more damaging financially. I mean, you can only shoot so much heroin into your arm at a time, but you can lose every penny you have, and then some, in less than a day of gambling.
Pokerstars introduced their home games, and it is genius. I spent a week recruiting new customers for them, revitalizing old customers, and depositing money into my long dormant account. The club is going great, and even though we paid over $50 in rake for three hours of poker last Wednesday, that's a little under $20/hour for a table, a dealer, and a bank to deal with the money so friends from all over the country can get together and play. I think it's worth it. Of course, now I have the poker bug again and have been playing a lot of online poker.
Well played Pokerstars, well played.
I've been playing on .10/.25 no-limit, 20-50BB fast tables. I think the play is actually worse at this level than at the lower blind tables I usually play at. Unfortunately, I've noticed a trend. There are hundreds of players at this level who buy in for the minnimum ($5) and wait wait wait, then go all-in pre flop no matter what position they are in or who has bet in front of them. They usually just pick up the blinds, but every once and awhile somebody calls. The players who shove usually have premium hands, but I have seen A-x a couple times. If they double up, they immediately leave the table. It's annoying and frustrating to play against players who use this no-skill, dishonorable strategy. If you call them, you know you're going to be coin flipping for half your stack (because like all good-hearted intelligent players, you've bought in for the max), and there is no way to get any action out of them unless it's pre-flop all-in.
I began to notice that a huge majority of these players were from China. Specifically Hu Nan, and Quizongh Houang (there is a chance I might be mispelling that. A 100% chance actually). Was it just that this strategy was wildly popular online, and since there were so many Chinese players it just looked like they were doing it the most, or is there some academy in those specific provinces with an Asian version of a Tony Robbins/Phil Gordon hybrid preaching to massive seminars, telling the emerging Chinese middle class that they can win big with the "Power of Min Buy-In Shoving!" I can just picture it now. A packed conference room at the Hu Nan Ramada by the airport, with hundreds of starry eyed poker wannabes furiously taking notes, as the guy with the headset microphone repeats the one, lame, simplistic mantra: "Buy in for the min, go all-in for the win" over and over and over. They probably hand out cheap plastic folders of "study materials" with their mascot, a cartoon Shaolin monk named Min By-Yen. They undoubtedly sell books in the lobby, but I can't see how they'd be longer than one page to explain their pathetic technique.
Or maybe it's a Chinese government scheme to exert even more power over the global economy. Maybe there are huge rows of pokerbot computers in a secret bunker in Xiang-Xhoung (again, with the spelling) province, where the world's wealth is converted to Yens, 20BB at a time.
Either way, the plethora of Chinese shove monkeys (that's not a racial slur, it's a poker slur) have made playing at these tables predictable and unenjoyable. I'm not surprised that next week Pokerstars is eliminating the 20-50BB tables at this level. If people are going to use this bullshit strategy, then they're going to have to do it at a higher level, where Pokerstars gets a bigger rake each time.
Well played Pokerstars, well played.

Friday, January 28, 2011


If you are easily offended, do yourself a favor and stop reading now.
It's the 25th anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Here at Throwin' Rocks, we have the deepest sympathies for the victims of that tragedy, but we also believe in the credo of "anything for a joke," and our dedication to always keep laughing even when things are the darkest. So while everybody else does touching tributes, and "where were you when..." stories, we are going to go in a completely different direction.
The Challenger disaster provided joke writers across the country an opportunity to really test the boundaries of bad taste. As a kid, I was amazed at the speed at which these jokes began circulating. And that was pre-twitter and facebook. Topical joke tellers and gossip mongerers have it so damn easy these days.
With no further ado, here are the best (worst) jokes about the Challenger:

What does NASA stand for?
Need Another Seven Astronauts.

Did you know that there were two seating sections on the Challenger?
Smoking and unrecognizable.

How many NASA astronauts can fit in a VW bug?
Eleven. 4 in the seats and 7 in the ashtray.

Where do New Hampshire science teachers go on vacation?
All over Florida.

What color eyes did Christa McAuliffe have?
Blue. One blew this way, and one blew that way.

How did they know that Christa McAuliffe had dandruff?
They found her head and shoulders all over the beach.

What was the last thing to go through the Challenger astronauts mind?
20,000 gallons of flaming rocket fuel.

Don't worry, we won't be doing this for the 10th anniversary of 9/11......

Monday, January 24, 2011


It's time for another installment of S*** My Friend MK says. I met him at the theater, and his enthusiasm for life despite obvious problems has always inspired me.
His facebook posts are priceless. A few months ago, he signed up for 4square, or hopscotch, or whereintheworldami, or one of those ridiculous social media I'm-so-important-you-need-to-know-where-I-am-at-all-times GPS apps. The funny thing is that it always just says he's at his home address. Maybe he doesn't bring his phone on his trips to the mall or work. Wait, I know he brings it with him because he's always playing facebook Bejeweled Blitz on it (and crushing my scores by the way). I guess he only updates it when he's at home. Classic MK.
Here's a few of his latest status updates:

There are two things that people don't know about me: 1) I'm nuts and 2) I don't give a damn about it!

I got three things to do tomorrow: work, watch tv and then sleep not in that order :)

new songs ! "convoy" by C.W. McCall and "Jurassic Park" by the master movie mintro himself John Williams! yes I kick it like that!

I just want to say Merry Chirsmass to all and to all a good night, call me for a shift I'll punch out your light! to all my friends both great and not I hope you injoy what you have got! and people say I can't rap!

ok, I like to say frist and formost that I am fine, the tooth extrasion was a little bity naster than I or the dentice had thought, after TWO shot of novicain and a ues of a drill to slip the root in two to be pulled out, after I got home I was in bed and out cold. I'll be back to work tomarrow. on a light note I bumpped into Mark Wahlberg on Dorchester Ave. yesterday on the way to the Dot. Houes. see you all later.

[Insert epic voice] after month of waiting. after the going though blood, sweet and greenbacks, the Time is apon us. time to enjoy the sweetness, the awsomeness, the epic epic to end all epics, HALO: REACH! [/insert epic vioce] ok i'm done.

I'm just kicking back and watching Big Trouble in Little China on my Xbox, odd thing is that after all this time I did not know that the movie was a John Carrpiner movie? Or did I see from the beginning. Well night all

ok were's this big bad hurricane we were going to get? so far it only a heavy showers.

I think I'm haveing a heat induse brinstarm. I thought about Star Trek and Harry Potter the Harry, Hermione and Ron are almost like Kirk, Spock and Bones. now follow my resonning here Harry almost act like Kick fallowing his gut and headstrong. Hermione is the logical on of the three like Spcok is for the trek crew, Ron's the one that play everying out as it happens. I'll work on this more, night all

Don't ever change MK, don't ever change!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


One of the best things for me about 2010 was having three really short stories published in the online magazine Truckin', which is edited by Tenzin McGrupp. He has been publishing Truckin' for nine years, and it is a labor of love. There are no ads or annoying flashing banners. There are no log-in pages or spammy email lists. Just creative and innovative fiction every month. Sure, Truckin' doesn't pay anything for submissions, but it's an honor to be among such passionate and dedicated writers, who range from rank amateurs to seasoned pros. Truckin' provides an outlet for free thought and expression, and hell, every once in awhile you might stumble across a great story! And it doesn't cost a penny. Mr. McGrupp himself is a little bit of a hack writer, but hey, aren't we all?

Since the name of the magazine is Truckin', I thought it would be appropriate to submit a road trip story. I ended up doing a trilogy of autobiographical travelogues. They represent three decades, three points in life, and three geographical areas. I can assure you that every word is true, and none of the names have been changed to protect jack shit.


The Lone Horseman (the Midwest in the 80's)
NY, NY (the East Coast in the 90's)
Lost Angle Lease (the West Coast in the Ought's)

Thanks again to Tenzin for his tireless work on behalf of the written word, and he knows I'm kidding around with him. He's not even a little bit of a hack............he's a tremendous hack.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


My friend JJ commisioned a "sexy Marge" painting, and here it is:

Forbidden D'oh Nut [sold]

When you first look at the painting, you should be drawn to Marge's big, round, inviting eyes, then look over to the golden doughnut in her right hand, then to her breasts and on down her long leg. The crushed Duff beer can implies the presence of Homer. Are we looking from his point of view? Is he more turned on by Marge, or by the doughnuts? Marge's sly grin is contrasted with the snarl of the bear in the lower left corner. Is that because we are conflicted about sexually objectifying a beloved mother figure? Does the bear represent our subconscious, and do we secretly want Marge to sit on us? Or is the bear a guardian, protecting the virtue of a mythic animated goddess? Is Marge holding the forbidden doughnut, or is she the forbidden doughnut herself???

But perhaps I'm overanalyzing it.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I've started a home game club on

This is the greatest idea to hit online poker ever! I haven't been this excited since McDonald's announced the return of the Shamrock shake.

This is a chance for my friends from all over the country to sit down at a virtual table, play cards, talk shit in the chat box, and not worry about dealing or sorting out the bank! Kudos, Pokerstars. You've re-invented the wheel and injected a much needed shot of adrenaline into the poker world.

We will be playing for micro stakes, but it will be a blast to catch up with my poker buddies that I don't get to see that often. If you'd like to join, get a Pokerstars account and click on the home games tab under "join a club." My club name is Royal Sampler (or #43295 for you logophobes out there) and the invitation code is: redtree1.

Everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As you all know, I can't get enough bad "reality" TV. I'm particularily partial to shows or documentaries about drug use and psychological problems. Intervention is my favorite, but only the first half of the show, when they explain how the people got the way they are and show them behaving badly. When it gets to the weepy intervention part it's a real snoozer. Although, if Jeff Van Vonderen is running the intervention I watch the whole episode because he is hilarious (especially knowing that he's relapsed a few times himself since the show began). Intervention is like Full Metal Jacket: I absolutely love the first half and then turn it off.

One of my favorite writers, Paul McGuire, is partial to another A & E show, Hoarders. While I find the psychological metaphor of their cluttered houses/minds fascinating, at some point during the show I lose my patience with the hoarders as they freak out because someone threw away some useless junk without their permission. I just want to reach through the TV and slap the shit out of them and scream "It's fucking filthy garbage! It has cat piss all over it! Throw it out!!!" Of course I understand it's an addiction just like any other, maybe even worse because you're not only telling the junkie to stop using, but you're throwing out huge piles of their dope in front of them!

The animal hoarders are the most compelling (and disgusting). The past season ended with a bang, including a bratty man-child rabbit hoarder, an insane redneck chicken hoarder, the requisite crazy cat lady, and my favorite, the rat hoarder. I had a pet rat as a kid, and they are awesome. Affectionate, clever, and mischevious. Although, 2000 rats running free in a house may be a tad excessive.

Nothing however could top the lady from last season with a year's worth of her own feces stored in platic bags in a back room of her house. It's all downhill on the cuckoo shock factor mountain after that. Not surprisingly I started losing interest (and the stomach) for watching Hoarders after that.

I have noticed something peculiar about the show. Many of the doctors, workers, and subjects seemed oddly familiar to me. I have a crush bordering on obsession with Dr. Robin Sazio. She looks like she'd be really mean in bed. I don't know why that would turn me on, but she has a certain look that I couldn't quite put my finger on, and then one day to my horror I realized that she looks like a hot Tonya Harding! That's when I realized why so many people looked familiar on the show: there are an inordinate amount of celebrity look-a-likes on Hoarders.

Here are a few of my favorites:
Professional cleaner Matt Paxton vs. Mystic River author Dennis Lehane
Hot psychologist Dr. Sazio vs. the woman who made figure skating a contact sport
Professional organizer Geralin Thomas vs. Laura BushPsychologist Dr. Michael Tompkins vs. funnyman Fred Willard

Rat hoarder Glen vs. Rhodes Scholar/songwriter of Me and Bobby McGhee Kris Kristofferson

I'll keep you posted as more look-a-likes come to light.

Monday, January 3, 2011


A couple years ago, my good friend Van D told me about a great website called Garfield Minus Garfield. The premise is simple: remove Garfield from his own comic strip, and you're left with John's neurotic, anxiety riddled, existential ramblings. The effect is suprisingly insightful and sometimes hilarious.

When I moved to Maine last year, I began reading the Bangor Daily News (or the BDN to all the cool people). Since I always turn to the comics first, I noticed something funny right away. The BDN ran Dear Abbey in the middle of the comics right under Garfield:

However, when you folded the newspaper in half to read it at the breakfast table (like all good-hearted people do), the headline for the Dear Abbey column was directly under the Garfield cartoon like a caption:

Sometimes the combination of Dear Abbey's oddly bizarre and out of context headline, combined with Garfield's surreal half witicisms produced a mildly amusing juxtaposition. I thought I had discovered my ticket out of poverty! I would start a website called Garfield Plus Dear Abbey, and it would be the next internet meme! Alas, like everything I find that is unique and that I enjoy, it was taken away from me ( CremaCoat cough syrup, Kurt Cobain, Arrested Development). The BDN redesigned the comics page, and Garfield Plus Dear Abbey was no more.

Assuming that this treasure trove of morning comic gold would continue forever, I didn't save as many of these clippings as I should have, but here are a few of my favorites:

I just wish there had been a Dear Abbey headline about lasagne. That would have really made my life complete. I guess I'll just have to keep searching.....

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I just finished my annual New Year's Eve viewing of The Hudsucker Proxy. It's one of the most underrated movies of all time, and a great movie to watch on NYE.
Have a safe, prosperous, healthy, productive, kind, rewarding, happy, drama-free (unless you like going to plays), surprising, rad, heartwarming, festive, joyful, green, astonishing, funny, and super awesome 2011!