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Tiger's Eye

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ruminations on hiatus

Got this from my good buddy JT over at Ruminations...

"Ruminations" is on an indefinite hiatus. Because of several factors in my personal life, I felt it was in best interest to step away for the time being. When I bring "Ruminations" back (and I will), I'll make sure it is well known, and it will be for good. Until then...

JT


Wish you the best of luck at whatever's going on, and get back to posting real soon!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Friday Night Lights

I finally watched Friday Night Lights last night. Yes, I was one of the few that didn't get caught up in the hype of a movie being filmed about the local high school team from the city 20 miles away. All in all it was a good movie, aside from the inaccuracies (and there were numerous), but I understand why Peter Berg made some of the decisions he did. I wasn't even too terribly upset about the way they portrayed Midland in the movie, aside from the coin flip including Cooper instead of MHS, the way it really happened. However, wouldn't it make more sense, or at least show more of the impact of High School football in this area, to honestly say that it's a 10 hour drive to Houston, not 6? Driving 10 hours to a game, not only by the players but the fans that went as well, would put a lot more emphasis on the fanaticism the town had to support the team. Most people won't drive 10 hours for anything, much less to see a High School team play a football game. That particular line just made no sense to me.

The football scenes, especially the "state championship" game, were amazing. Some of the hits they had were just plain nasty, and made me wince watching them. I liked the way that, even knowing the outcome of the movie, I wasn't really sure if Permian was going to win or lose...it was a great piece of scriptwriting and directing to keep me on the edge of my seat, actually rooting for Permian to win, and feeling bad for them when they didn't.

So, as is custom for me after watching the movie, I went to the Special Features section of the DVD, and flipped to the "Deleted Scenes" part. Sometimes watching these, you understand why they were left off the movie. Other times, as is the case with FNL, you wonder why they ended up on the cutting room floor. There was one main scene that I think should have been kept in its entirety, and that was the extended scene of Don, Mike and Brian shooting rocks. Don's extended dialogue about the relationship with his father would have brought a lot more to the actual ending of the movie. Also, the doubt the boys talk about in regards to the game, then their play in the game itself would also have added to the tension and the boy's desire to win, even when feeling defeated.

I would give the movie a 3.5 out of 5, and am really surprised that Tim McGraw didn't get more recognition than he did. I thought he gave one of the best performances of the entire cast, and was totally believable in his role. Go rent the movie if you haven't seen it.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Man, it's amazing how slow and boring work can be when the people you associate with are out of the office for two days. We have 5 people in our office that buy notes, and 3 of us joke around, talk to each other, go down for smoke breaks together...we're kinda like the 3 Musketeers (the people, not the candy bar). However, the other two were out of the office yesterday and today, so I'm bored to tears.

I miss my buddies...*sniff*

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Poker Frustrations

It's amazing how many people are "playing" Texas Hold'em these days. Thanks to ESPN and The Travel Channel, Hold'em is now "played" by more people than ever before. Why am I putting that word in quotes? Because so many people out there have no real clue how to play poker, especially Texas Hold'em.

Sure, they know the rules, and they know the hand rankings (sometimes), and they even may know how to bet correctly and how the blinds work, but when it comes down to the game itself, and playing to win instead of just contribute cash to the same winners week in and week out, there is an amazing difference between the ones that know how to play, and those that play at poker.

I've been playing Hold'em for roughly 12 years now, way before the current fad even came into being. I have read many books on the game, studied it, learned the hands, the odds of winning each hand after the flop, turn, and river, can count my outs, worked on my reactions, and because of the years of study and practice, have become a pretty decent player. I even played in the WSOP in 2004 after winning a tournament on PokerStars, much like Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer did, to get my seat to the big dance. I love a good game of Hold'em, and I don't mind being outplayed on a hand. But there is a big difference between being outplayed and getting beat by someone who stays in because they think they have a good hand, and then luck into it at the turn or river.

Here's an example of what I mean from both sides that happened to me last night. I have a medium pocket pair (6's), and have one other player in the hand pre-flop. The flop comes and I hit my set, with a Q, 6, 3 rainbow flop. I get checked to, and bet, with a smooth call. Turn comes some rag, I get checked to, bet, and smooth called again. At this point I'm thinking the other player has something along the lines of A-Q in the hole and is trying to reel me in. River comes A, other player checks, I bet, they raise, I call, thinking I have the best hand. We turn the cards over and lo and behold they were holding pocket Q's. That is being outplayed, and no poker player in the world would be upset at losing that hand.

Now, the other side of the coin. I get J-10 heart suited and call the big blind. Flop comes 8d-9h-Js , so I'm sitting there with the top pair and open-ended straight draw...a good place to be. I make a big bet when it checks around to me to gauge to see if anyone else is in a similar situation, and I get one caller, the big blind. Turn comes 5s, he checks, so I bet again, and he calls. Due to his play earlier in the game, I put him on a low pair at best, as he would have bet instead of checked if he had a J or higher pair. River comes 2d. BB bets low, I raise big, he calls. I flip my pair of J's, expecting him to have a lower pair, and he tosses over 5-2 of clubs.

Now why would I be frustrated at that hand? Simple. First off, most good players won't see a raise with 5-2 suited (which the only reason he was playing was because he wasn't raised in the BB) with 3 over cards on the board, a possible straight showing, not pairing up, and no cards of their suit on the board. Even if I were bluffing, which I am known to do from time to time, just calling with that hand is suicide. If he were trying to bluff, he should have raised. This is the kind of play that makes no sense, and will lose 99 out of 100 times. Yeah, this was that 1 time, and it got me, but why put yourself in that situation if there is money on the line.

Of course the night didn't turn out a total waste. He continued to make questionable plays and was out soon, while I finished 2nd, with pocket A's going down to 2 pair on the river.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New Midland Blog

A new Midland blog has hit cyberspace...Sinking Feelings. Written by a good friend of mine, and one of the funniest people I know, this should be very interesting and good for quite a few laughs, as well as some insightful stuff from time to time.

Cowboy Hootie?

I hope I was dreaming, I wish I was dreaming, but unfortunately what I saw last night on TV wasn't a dream. I was just waking up from a nap after work, still trying to get back to 100% after being sick the last week, when I heard a familiar voice come across the airwaves. Looking up, to my surprise, I saw one of the scariest and saddest sights I have seen in a while. Staring at me, strumming a guitar, dressed up in what looked like the old Cowboy Bob outfit Lawrence Fishburne was forced to endure on Pee-Wee's Playhouse, was none other than Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish. Poor Darius was pushing the new Wendy's sandwich with a takeoff of "Big Rock Candy Mountain"

How low can you fall to have to accept a gig dressed as a cross between Woody from Toy Story and the Sheriff from Blazing Saddles, hocking chicken sandwiches? I remember when Hootie was one of the best sounding bands around, back in the mid 90's. I saw them in concert at Deep Ellum Live in '95, standing less than 6 feet from the stage, having a great time watching a band that was on their way up before they became jaded to the whole celebrity thing. They, along with Edwin McCain (who became an instant favorite that night), played with a passion and love of music that isn't seen much at live concerts anymore. Oh how the Hootie has fallen...

Monday, February 28, 2005

Be careful who's listening

If there is one trait I hope I can enstill in my sons as they grow and mature, it is that of humility. Maybe it is the fact that I am pushing 30 (107 more days), but it seems to me that many of the youth of today have no sense of the meaning of the word humility.

When I was a kid, I was taught to respect my elders, and if I was caught talking to them in any manner my father thought was disrespectful I paid for it by a spanking and grounding. Believe me, a couple of swats with the fence picket he used as a paddle made me very respectful of every adult I met, and quite humble in my approach to talking to them. Being involved at Midland Community Theatre, I come in contact with many young people that also are involved in productions there. Some of them are nice, polite, mature for their ages. However, there are some that like to "talk trash" to everyone they meet, even their elders. There is one kid in the current production that constantly tells everyone how good he is at everything. Early on in the production he made the mistake of telling me he was a great poker player and would "take me to school" in Hold'Em. Now, not wanting to feed his ego or bring myself down to his level, I brushed it aside, and let it pass, thinking that kids will be kids. Then one day he saw my World Series of Poker jacket, and it started up again. So I decided that at his cast party, where there would surely be a table set up, I would have to teach him a little lesson.

Poker is an interesting game. Many people think that it's a game of luck, and that there is no skill involved. However, people that have been playing for a long time know that is a fallacy. It's not always about the cards...it's about reading people, knowing what makes them tick, then going after those chinks in the armor when you have a good opportunity to do so. The cards are just half of the equation. So here we are this weekend, playing a game of Texas Hold'Em with about 10 people sitting around the table. Many of the people there had played little, if any, real poker, and those are the most dangerous people to play against. So I sat back, folding hand after hand while the hot-shot was winning (by luck mostly) quite a few hands. He had built his stack up to about 5 to 10 times more than the closest player, and was quite proud of himself for it. Heads were shaking all around the room as this 12 year old was beating players twice his age and older, and letting everyone know it. I played a few hands, letting him take me for a couple of small pots, just to build up his confidence. Once we were down to 4 people left, I decided to make my move.

I caught a good hand, and let him bet into me. Just calling the bets and stringing him along allowed me take him for a small chunk of his stack...not enough to cripple him, but enough to make him think. Then, the best part of the night happened. I caught a decent hand, and bet into him until the river, then put a large bet in. He thought for a minute, and folded. He asked what I had, and I responded, "the winning hand." I mucked my cards and raked my chips, while he was saying "Man, I had Ace high, I should have called" to which I replied, "Yep, would have beaten my King." I didn't tell him I really had pocket Q's, but the damage was done. From that hand forward, he thought I was bluffing every hand, and continued to try and press me out of pots that I clearly had the best hand. Not 15 minutes after that fateful hand, he was out of chips, hanging his head, and muttering to himself about how he should have beat me.

Now I didn't take any great pleasure out of beating a 12 year old at poker. However, in a fun game like this, being able to humble him to the point of rendering him speechless the next day at the show I hope at least will stick with him in some form. One thing my Grandfather taught me when I was a kid...there's always someone out there who is better than you at no matter what it is you do, so don't brag about it too loudly just in case that person is listening.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Totally Unscientific Oscar Predictions

Every year I try to make a concerted effort to see all the movies that are nominated for Best Picture so that when we have our annual Oscar party I can make informed predictions, or at least predictions based on what I feel should win. Due to so many things going on for me this year, I have only seen one of the Best Picture nominees, which was Ray. Due to my lack of movie attendance this year, I feel totally unqualified to make predicions on who will win the gold statue this year, but since that never seems to stop the real critics, here are my predictions for some of the bigger categories.

Best Picture - Million Dollar Baby - This movie has received so much buzz that I'm surprised I haven't heard the twist in the plot yet. Eastwood is a fine director, and all reports I have heard from people who have seen the movie have been calling it the best picture out this year.

Best Director - Martin Scorcese (The Aviator) - Scorcese has been ignored for his fantastic body of work for too long, so this is finally the year the Academy awards him for direction. I feel this is going to be one of those "Oops we ignored you before, so now you can have the award" situations. Much like when Russell Crowe won for Gladiator, when he really deserved it for The Insider, although with much more history behind it.

Best Actor - Jamie Foxx (Ray) - It would be a serious travesty if Foxx doesn't walk away with this award. Foxx was brilliant as Ray Charles, and I don't think any of the other lead actors could be near as believable in their respective roles. 4 of the 5 Best Actor nominations this year are for portraying real life personas, but Ray Charles is probably the only one (aside from maybe Howard Hughes) many voters knew in real life and can compare the performances to the real thing.

Best Actress - Hillary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) - Again, haven't seen any of the nominees here, but Swank was excellent in Boys Don't Cry, and is getting a lot of buzz for her role in Baby.

Best Animated Feature Film - Shrek 2 - Believe it or not, I've seen 2 out of 3 of these. Guess that's what happens when you have kids. Shark Tale was good, but not great. I didn't get to see The Incredibles, but I doubt it can compare to the originality or humor in Shrek 2. If I had my way, I would put Shrek 2 up there in the Best Picture category, as it was one of the best movies I did see last year.

Memo to self...take my wife to the movies more often.
 
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