Fixin' To Fight

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Links to Stuff I Write

Rather than update this blog with a new link every time I write something somewhere else, I'll just make this post be a collection of links and I'll bump it whenever there is something new. During the NBA season I spent most of my time writing at Negative Dunkalectics.  Now it looks like I will spend most of my time contributing to McSweeney's.

Funny, Youre So Sad
Adventures in stand-up comedy and mental health therapy. For The New York Times.

What the mob can teach Chris Christie about gambling. For The Classical. 

I count cards at Foxwoods and talk to my sister about luck. 

$5 Chess Match, Best of Three, Zuccotti Park
I play chess at Occupy Wall Street and ruminate on what it means to win.

The second installment of my McSweeney's column has James Baldwin, a shotgun, a sucker punch, and much much more. 

Fading the Vig: A Gambler's Guide to Life
I was selected by McSweeney's as one of their new columnists. In my first installment I spend a day at the races and learn that money doesn't equal class.  These will appear sorta bi-weekly.

Looking at Ali's early career and how LeBron can learn from his mistakes. 

The Final 7:14 of Game Two, In and Of the World
I recap the final 7 minutes of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Looking at Ron Artest through the lens of Dostoyevsky, Freud, Arendt, and Aristotle.

I wrote this essay about the 1967 and 1968 Kentucky Derbies for The Awl

Sweat in the Game: A Gambler's Grind in the NBA
I talk to Haralabos Voulgaris, one of the best gamblers in the world, about his trying to become an NBA GM.

NBA Playoffs Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder
As part of Negative Dunkalectic's playoff previews (where we compared each team to a 90's emo record), I talk about the Thunder and Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come.

NBA Playoffs Preview: Los Angeles Lakers
In that same series, I look at the Lakers and Fugazi's Red Medicine.

The NBA Will Expose You: Tom Scharpling and the Lessons of Basketball
I catch a Nets game with Tom Scharpling and discuss his career as a basketball writer. 

Axiology and the Race for MVP
A look at how various philosophers and theorists might weigh in on the MVP race in the NBA. 

A Popular Front: A Call to Arms for NBA Fans
I imagine the NBA Board of Governor's meeting as the 1974 OPEC minister's meeting, then sort them out, Carlos the Jackal style. 

Melo-Madness and Ontology: A Knick Fan in Crisis
The Ship of Theseus as a guide for dealing with the Carmelo Anthony trade. 

What's Better for the Union: Lebron's Presence or Kobe's Absence? 
Analyzing the NBPA's tactics at the bargaining table. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

Another New Year, Another Resolution

Happy New Year, friends. This one wasn't bad, all things considered. It was confusing most of the time, but at times it was also exciting.

My resolutions for this year were a mixed bag. I failed on unplugging from technology once a week. I failed on running the marathon. I signed up but didn't get picked. I kept up the running all year, though, which surprised me. I think I ran around 250 miles this year. So I've kept in ok shape from 2010. I succeeded on writing something every week, though. I've had a lot of success this year with writing (and only a couple of real failures) and I expect some big things in this department in 2012.

My only resolution for the coming year is to spend more time with my family. That's going to be a tough one to make happen given everything going on with my job. But if it wasn't difficult it wouldn't be worth making a resolution out of it, right? I'm resolved to find a way to spend more time at home and less time out on the road this year. I hope I can figure out how to do that without having to do something dramatic like find a new job or career, but it is the most important change I want to make in my life right now. So I need to figure it out.

Here's to another year in the books, and looking forward to an even better one.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Halloween from The Charlies!

I wrote this sketch for my group The Charlies. I also do a little acting in it. Please share it and remember to click "funny" (not die).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Upper West Side WSOP Through the Years

A long long time ago I played in a weekly card game at Columbia University on the upper west side of Manhattan.  That weekly game eventually spawned into a yearly trek to Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker where we would compete in our own tournament: The Upper West Side World Series of Poker (UWSWSOP).

Back then I and others used to chronicle our adventures on the usenet group (RGP).  Here are some archived links to the trip reports I and others have posted through the years.

2001 : The innagural year.

2002 : The first ever UWSWSOP

2003: "Ten Days In The Desert"
Day One
Day Two (with an argument with Daniel Negreanu)
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five: The Matrix Has You
Day Six: Good Hand White Boy
Day Seven: Where the Sun Shines
Day Eight
Days Nine and Ten: Vegas is a Manhandler

2004 "This Time It's Personal"
Day One
Day Two: Walking Around Lucky
Day Three
Day Four: Advanced Strategy
Day Five: Without Lamps, There'd Be No Light
Day Six: Fitting Ending

2004 "The Jury Is Out" (By Josh)
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

2005 "Ante Up"
Day One
Day Two
Day Three and Four

2006 : The "Lost" Year. (No TR)

Day One: Coming of Age in Las Vegas
Day Two: It's All Over but the Crying
Day Three: Back on Top

There haven't been any trip reports since 2007, but the UWS gang still goes to Vegas every summer to meet up, eat, gamble, and compete for the coveted UWSWSOP trophy.  The members of the group are getting older, fatter, bearing children and becoming responsible members of society now.  So there is no telling how many more years this trip will last.

I post these links here to inspire myself and the other members of the group to take a stab at writing more trip reports this year and going forward.

Friday, April 01, 2011

This Is Happening

At the start of LCD Soundsystem's last show (well, one of their last shows), James Murphy tells the crowd that its ok to film the performance if they want, to upload it to youtube, whatever.  "But please consider," he adds, "to maybe not do it.  To maybe just 'be here.'  Be here in this moment."  Everyone applauds and cheers but many still decide to hold their phones and flip cameras aloft to capture the show for posterity.

I take James Murphy's words to heart.  I never had any intention of filming the performance.  I'm not that kind of a fan.  Sure, I like the band just fine.  And I was glad to catch one of their final performances seeing as how I had never seen them live before.  I also rarely get out to see live music anymore, so when a friend invited me along to this show I was probably more excited about getting to go out than about the prospect of seeing a potentially canonical band play for the final time.  So here I was, right in the middle of the crowd on the floor (I rejected the option of watching from one of the higher floors because I wanted the full effect) preparing to dance myself clean with a bunch of young white strangers.  I took his words to heart because despite not being a superfan like many of those standing around me, despite feeling no real overarching grief for the breakup of this band, I felt like there was something important about being here, being "in this moment" with this band and these people in this city on this night.

My son was born about 11 months ago here in New York City.  I waited for him for nine months.  During those nine months I waited my entire life changed in dramatic ways.  For one thing, my wife and I moved to New York to have him here.  We had been living a lonely life in Denver, Colorado for the past five years and saw this as just the right excuse to move back to the city where we met, where her family was from, and where most of our friends still lived.  During those nine months I also lost my job under weird and dramatic circumstances.  Most importantly my father died.  Which was really intensely sad because we had rushed to conceive in order to try to have a child before my father's cancer got the better of him, and we thought we had a real shot at it, too.

Since Gus has been born my life has changed in even more dramatic ways.  It sounds obvious, but life before and after kids really is completely different.  And there is no going back.  On one hand the changes you have to make to make room in your life for children are welcome changes.  There is nothing too sad about giving up going out late at night or making plans on the fly.  There is no reason to cry about having to give up going to the movies or sleeping in on the weekends.  But on the other hand the changes you make hammer home the temporal quality of what is happening to you.  You are getting old. You can never go back.

My friend who brought me to the LCD Soundsystem show shares with me the fact that when he last saw the band a year ago he was with a woman who he is no longer with.  He says he's glad I came with him because the whole scene just feels lonely.  We are sitting on these couches on the second floor of the venue and there are young hip white couples dancing all around us.  It seems like the kind of thing better shared with a loved one than just a pal.  The kind of thing that brings the lovey dovey out of everyone.  The overly-sentimental and sappy mood of many of their songs doesn't help.

I confess to him that I, too, feel lonely, and that before the birth of my son this is just the kind of thing my wife and I would do together.  And I miss that.  I miss her.  I fear that by the time I get her back we will both be too old for nights like this.  I think about the future, and it seems sad in that way.  Soon my friend's favorite song comes on and his wants to go back downstairs to hear it from the floor.  I follow him.  The lights are pulsing on the crowd.  The crowd is bouncing up and down in unison.  Three hours in to this show people are now sweaty, tired, wasted, and giddy with delerium.  I stare into the lights and feel young for a second.  Feel like a totally different person. Or maybe the same person in a different time and space.  I am here.  In this moment. I tap my friend on the shoulder and apologize but let him know that I need to go home.  He frowns but nods as if he understands.

The next day is Thursday and Thursday is my day at home with my son.  Its the day I look foward to all week long.  We hang out all day playing the usual battery of peek a boo and chase and stacking things and knocking them down.  I feed him bottles.  He naps on me.  At the end of the long day I give him a bath.  I'm playing LCD Soundsystem in the bathroom.  "I Can Change" comes on and he starts splashing water all over the place.  I take a washcloth and fill it with water, then hold it high above his head and squeeze it so that the water pours down right in front of him in a long cascade.  His eyes grow big as saucers.  He reaches out to grab the cascade and squeezes and opens his tiny little hands around the liquid rope over and over, trying to grab hold.  When the stream runs out he kicks and throws his arms, splashing more water, and he squawks for it to return.  I do it again and again and each time the same wonder sets in on his face.  I start to well up.  I am here.  In this moment.

On days like Thursdays I often imagine what my son will be like when he's older.  I wonder about our relationship, whether or not he's going to like me.  What I'll think of what he becomes.  I think about my own father and my relationship with him, and how much was left undone and unsaid when he passed away.  I think of the moments we shared that meant a lot to me, but that I'll forever wonder whether or not he even remembers them.  And I'll never again have the chance to ask him about the moments I may have provided him, whether as an infant in the bath or as an adult changing his clothes and feeding him on the last day that he was alive.

The trouble with touching moments like these, whether they are with my infant son or with total strangers, is that they won't remember them the way that I will.  They exist only in my head.  They have meaning and value to me that no one else involved can ever know or comprehend.  And while that is sad in some sense, it also gives me strange comfort.  These moments may not be shared, they may not be perfect, but most of the time they are all you get.  And in total, these small moments make up an entire life.  What's important is to not take them for granted.  What's important is to not miss them.  What's important is to keep having more of them. Memories are fine but moments never stop until the moment when we die. And after all, we can never go back.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I'm in this video 3 times...

...see if you can spot me.  the third one is tricky.

shoutout to the incredible tom scharpling for directing another solid W.

new post at negative dunks: nba, hip hop, dumbass teenagers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

philosophical musings on the melo trade

i'm up again this week at negative dunkalectics.  this week i'm talking about the same thing everyone else in the universe is talking about, the carmelo anthony trade.