Friday, April 27, 2007


WARNING: Here there be poker content.

Is there a sweeter feeling than flopping the nut full house with a straight and flush draw on the board - along with eight people in the pot?

Fortunately, no one seemed to notice my head exploding when I saw the flop.

This ends the poker content. Please return to your previous activities.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Taxing Back

I woke up with little desire to actually climb out of bed this morning. However, there was plenty to do, and so there but for the grace of God went I.

After a quick trip to the gym, I returned home to discover that one of my freelance clients is continuing his run of not paying me for services rendered. So after filing away my plan to ruin his Monday, we headed to Soulard's Farmer's Market. Loaded with produce, we headed to the grocery store. After that, we returned home.

For house projects, I had two simple tasks this afternoon:

  1. Plant grass in the bald spot in the center of the back yard
  2. Fix the clothesline I hung for Darcy
However, I stopped at 1 when my back gave out.

Sadly, this is the second time something like this has happened. The first was a few years ago, when I twinged my back playing in a softball double header. I spend the next day cooped up in a plane circling over the state of Florida waiting for the weather to clear. After landing, my brothers and I went to Dave and Buster's, where I wowed them with my McGuire-esque power on the batting simulator.

Let me tell you, people turn and look when you go from saying "THERE IT GOES! ANOTHER DINGER!" to "AIIIEEEEE!!!" and then fall over clutching your back. In a way, I was kind of like McGuire towards the end - except for the millions of dollars and the steroid probes. C'est la vie, I guess.

The next morning was worse - back spasms. While the rest of the family took a boat ride through the Everglades, I spent the afternoon passed out on the couch, unable to move. Apparently, I have little tolerance for muscle relaxants. Fortunately, my brother's 60-lb. Boxer, Allie, decided to keep me company - by climbing into my lap. I didn't even have the strength to ask her to move.

So today, after lugging bags of soil across the yard, I began feeling the first twinge, I figured I'd relax for a few minutes, and then go back and fix the clothesline. Nope. Pain shot down my back and into my legs as I stood in the back yard. Stiff breezes hurt. The sun hurt. Everything hurt. I (slowly) retreated back into the house.

One darvocet later, I can at least function. But this sucks. I can't move. All I can do is sit here and type. From a work productivity standpoint, it would be gold, but I have tickets to tonight's Son Volt concert, and I don't see any way I'm going to make it, at least without loading up on alcohol and pain medication.

Who knows? Maybe I'd enjoy the show more, propped up against the back wall with my head lolling into my chest and drool dripping down my chin, listening to Jay and the boys. But that drive home might be kind of rough. I kid! I kid! I wouldn't drive my car under the influence. Stealing one - perhaps, but my own? No.

Oh well. This should hopefully clear up by tomorrow. I probably will put myself on the DL for kickball, since I want to be healthy for the -ahem- playoff run. (At this point in the season, with our record, the odds of us making the playoffs are about as good as Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin appearing on the cover of Parenting magazine).

But that's alright. I have a computer, pain pills, a freelance assignment (different client), television, and a sympathetic fiance who rules. I should pull through this okay. And I'm sure the freelance client will enjoy what I come up with while on the darvocet. Good times, good times.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Double Bind

What do you say about a mystery novel that sets itself up as a successor to The Great Gatsby? The Double Bind, by Christopher Bohjalian, populates a world living in the shadows of the roaring twenties, where Jay Gatsby’s palatial home is now a country club, and Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s son, Bobbie Crocker, is a homeless drifter who left behind his legacy – a collection of photos – to the homeless shelter that got him off the street.

Laurel Estabrook, a worker at the shelter, looks through the photos and sees one that possibly contains an image of her on the eve of a brutal assault that left her nearly dead. Laurel begins a journey to learn more about this mysterious photographer, and to find out how one born to a life of unimaginable privilege can fall so low. This journey is one that changes Laurel forever.

I picked this book up with some trepidation. I don’t really like the idea of a novel picking up where Gatsby left off. Do we really need to know what happened to the Buchanans after Gatsby’s murder? But the strong reviews left me intrigued and I picked it up, and after a slow start, I found I had trouble putting the book down. And I nearly threw it across the room when I finished it.

Bohjalian does a fantastic job building suspense as Laurel learns more about Bobbie’s past and begins feeling the walls close in on her. As she withdraws into Crocker’s past more and more, her friends and family begin to worry about her.

However, the book runs right off the tracks when it gets to the “twist” ending. Some of it is foreshadowed nicely throughout the book, with subtle clues placed throughout. Unfortunately, Bohjalian tries taking it too far, and largely ruins what was building into a taut thriller.

I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the ending of the book, other than to say that it’s the interactions and point of view that hurt this book the most. Had it been written in the first person, it would have been a much stronger – and satisfying conclusion.