If you like trivia, check out my other site, THE HARRIS CHALLENGE, and play every weekday!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Final Table #74: Gavin Griffin & Chino Rheem

This week at the Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I continued our coverage of the 2010 World Series Of Poker, where Dennis stepped away from the triple-chance event to do this show. Our guests:
  • Team PokerStars Pro Gavin Griffin, who remembered his first trip to the WSOP and a classic hand he played against Phil Hellmuth before becoming the then-youngest-ever bracelet winner in 2004. He also discussed teaching at the WSOP Academy, and revealed strategies for winning tournaments instead of just running deep in them.
  • Chino Rheem, who was with Dennis as part of the first-ever November Nine, the players that made the final table of the 2008 WSOP Main Event. He remembered the camaraderie that group had and the overwhelming media attention they had to deal with. Chino was also brutally honest about the mistakes he made in the year after making that final table and winning a WPT event at Bellagio, which led to big financial trouble.
Listen to this week's show, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three Strikes

In the midwest, we're used to thunderstorms and lightning as a regular part of every summer. Here's some video shot by Craig Shimala of the Chicago skyline during a storm, as lightning strikes three tall buildings simultaneously...

[thanks to Laura Corill for the link]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Linda Greenlaw, Swordboat Captain

In 1991, Linda Greenlaw was the captain of the Hannah Bowden, sister ship of the ill-fated Andrea Gail, the boat that went down with its entire crew in "The Perfect Storm." That incident was the basis for Sebastian Junger's book in 1997 and the George Clooney/Mark Wahlberg/Diane Lane movie in 2000 (with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio playing Greenlaw). She gave up that life for a decade, choosing to work closer to shore as a lobsterman and author, but she headed back out to sea a couple of years ago to resume her career as the only female captain of a swordfishing boat, which she writes about in her new book, "Seaworthy."

Today on KTRS, I talked with Greenlaw about what it was like to go back to that job after ten years away and, because I'm always fascinated with the process behind unusual jobs like hers, had her explain just what she and her crew did every day to catch those fish. We also discussed the day she almost lost a crewman to a storm at sea, why she was imprisoned in Canada for fishing in the wrong waters, and how she felt about her portrayal in the movie.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

An Avoidable Epidemic

Here's the Phil Plait piece I referred to on KTRS/St. Louis today about whooping cough -- a disease easily preventable through vaccination -- which has made a comeback in California to the point where that state's board of health just classified it as an "epidemic." Some of the blame for this has to be laid at the feet of anti-vaxxers like Andrew Wakefield (who incorrectly linked vaccines with autism in bogus research which has since been debunked, as I discussed with Dr. Art Caplan earlier this year) and Jenny McCarthy (the pseudo-actress Phil railed against with me last year).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bottom Line: It's Gonna Be Hot

Mike Roberts, the weather guy on KSDK-TV-5 is on the air right now, using one of those cool scrolling maps (a la Google Earth) to move from town to town, showing what the high temperature for today will be in each place:

It'll be 89 in Town & Country, but you go west on Manchester Road past Queeny Park and you'll find Manchester pretty much in the same situation. South on 141, does it make any difference for you in Valley Park? Nope. You're looking at a nice day, but a little on the warm side, 90 degrees. Crestwood, same story, you go east on 44 just a little bit and it'll be a little warmer than yesterday at 91 degrees.
These are all suburbs of St. Louis which are within a few miles of each other. The temperature difference is one or two degrees. Who cares? Everyone in Valley Park knows that if you tell them the weather in Manchester, theirs will be almost identical.

This is a classic example of using cool technology just because you have it, not because it provides anything valuable to the viewer. It's the weather forecast, fer chrissakes, not a guarantee, and we don't need it broken down by municipality, zip code, or neighborhood. Even when TV meteorologists go to their Big Map of the area, showing the entire viewing area, the temperature differences are never greater than 5 or 6 degrees.

Would anyone in any of those towns be upset if Mike told them their high today would be around 90 degrees? Would anyone file a complaint if it only got to 89, or broke through to 91? Actually, there probably is some loser who would call and complain, but that's the kind of person who's never happy about anything, so don't even try to please them. They're going to continue watching because it enables their caught-you fetish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hidden Beside Woody & Buzz

The Pixar animators always have fun hiding in-jokes and references to their other projects in plain sight in their movies.  Here are some of those easter eggs in "Toy Story 3."

And here's an op-ed by David Hanju, who sees a connection between the daycare center where the unwanted toys are sent and the retirement home where his octogenarian parents now live [thanks to Dennis Hartin for the link].

Final Table #73: Joe Sebok & Kara Scott

This week at the Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I continued our coverage of the World Series Of Poker and talked with Joe Sebok, the man behind Poker Road, about:
  • why he's asking all poker pros to wear green track suits on the first day of this year's WSOP Main Event;
  • how he defends Ultimate Bet after yet another scandal about that poker site's integrity;
  • how Chau Giang became his Vietnamese uncle;
  • a followup on that sick tattoo prop bet with Gavin Smith and Jeff Madsen that he lost this spring.
Then we welcomed back Kara Scott, hostess of "High Stakes Poker" and the only woman to cash in both the 2008 and 2009 WSOP Main Events. Among several topics, we discussed a TV poker show she hosted in England -- a 48-hour marathon game with a unique vote-a-player-off-the-table strategy.

Listen to this week's show, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Random Thoughts

On the Gen. Stanley McChrystal matter:

  • Every soldier has a right to complain, goes the old saying, and they always will. But there's a difference between whining in the barracks and going off on your higher-ups to a guy with a notepad.
  • This isn't a simple freedom of speech issue.  No one has that much freedom on the job.  What do you think would happen if you spoke on the record to a reporter about all the things you don't like about your boss?
  • I love the apologies that always come in instances like this. McChrystal's not sorry for what he said, he's only sorry they were published.
  • McChrystal called Biden last night to apologize. If there's anyone in the world who should know what it's like to say the wrong the thing at the wrong time and have it published, it's the VP.
  • At what time today will he be named a special correspondent for Fox News Channel?
  • I don't know whether McChrystal should be fired, but to those who hate Obama so much they rush to the defense of anyone who speaks out against him, where were you when Gen. John Abezaid and Gen. George Casey expressed their disagreements with Bush?
  • Would you feel the same way if this were a two-star general bitching to the media about McChrystal, or would you throttle the guy for violating the UCMJ?
  • The military publicist who set up the Rolling Stone interview with McChrystal was asked to resign. Why? It's not his fault that the general said what he said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pronounce It

After my post on "Toy Story 3," Jennifer Besser sent me a link to Nicole LaPorte's piece on The Daily Beast about the creative culture at Pixar, which "operates like an atelier, nurturing artists and keeping them in the fold."

I wasn't familiar with the word "atelier," so I punched up the Dictionary.com app on my iPhone and typed in the word. Instantly, the definition popped up: "a workshop or studio, esp. of an artist, artisan, or designer." I noticed a little speaker icon next to the phonetic spelling of the word. When I clicked it, a female voice pronounced "atelier" for me.

Now that's cool.

Then I started wondering whether this was some great new speech software that combines syllabic sounds to form entire words -- the kind Roger Ebert's been crowing about -- or did this voice talent have the sit in a studio and properly read thousands of words into a database? If so, she surely began with the simplest words, but how long before she got to words that only appear in the National Spelling Bee like, for example, "atelier"?

Anyone know?

Pixar Does It Again

My wife and daughter and I were among those Americans who contributed to the $109-million box office weekend posted by "Toy Story 3." We've been Pixar fans since I saw their first short and have seen all eleven of their big-screen creations, own most of them on DVD, and even owned stock in the company until it got swallowed by Disney.

"TS3" continues their perfect record. It's clever, beautiful, sentimental, and exciting -- four words rarely used to describe the same movie -- and it's remarkable to see how much better the animation is compared to 15 years ago. In the first "Toy Story," the humans looked plastic. Now, they look like people.

One complaint: we coughed up a few extra dollars per ticket ($10.25 each!) to see the movie in 3-D, and it wasn't worth it. I've never been a fan of 3-D, from the days of the plastic blue-and-red lenses in the paper frames to today's they-look-like-sunglasses. Frankly, I don't need any optical aids to see all the dimensions in my entertainment. I've seen thousands of movies and television shows and my brain is perfectly capable of interpolating depth in any well-made scene. Worse, 3-D movies always look gimmicky, with gratuitous stuff thrown into the foreground, or pointy things aimed at the screen, as if to say "oooh, it's coming right at you!!" The worst ever: "Jaws 3-D," a low point in the filmographies of Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, and Lou Gossett, Jr.

Pixar doesn't need to waste energy on cheap 3-D tricks. They already understand that story comes first and the technology follows, and should give my brain some credit for grasping perspective.

The "TS3" story hit home with us because it's about Andy leaving home and going away to college, a scenario we'll face with my daughter in two years. What happens to the toys and other playthings once a kid moves on? It just so happens that earlier this month, we were cleaning the basement and decided to finally get rid of some of the implements of my daughter's early childhood -- her high chair and tray table, a little car she padded about in, a couple of push toys, a portable crib, and other items stored way in the back which hadn't been used in over a decade. I took them all to Goodwill, which we hope will help them find a new home for some other kid to grow up with.

Doing so brought on a wave of nostalgia, and "TS3" only reinvigorated those feelings. My daughter was sorry to see those things go -- even insisting that we retain a bin of Legos and wooden trains -- even though she hasn't touched or seen them in so long and her world is full of modern toys instead. We wouldn't dare get rid of all the stuffed animals that still ring her room, some of which may make the trip to college in 2012, yet she (and we) paused awhile before severing the cord to those innocent baby days.

While we all have to grow up and move on, our memories don't. To me, they'll remain forever, and in at least three dimensions.


Tennis gets a lot of attention in my house because my wife loves the game. She records and watches all the coverage of every day of the four majors (Wimbledon, French Open, Australian Open, US Open).

Four years ago, we took our daughter to London and made a special side trip to see the All England Club in the suburb of Wimbledon. We were there about two weeks before the tournament was scheduled to begin, so the place was empty except for groundskeepers preparing the venue, but they offered a tour. We accepted and for my wife, it was like visiting a shrine.

We saw Centre Court in its last year before they began constructing the roof. We saw courts one and two and the outer 15 courts where so many untelevised matches take place. While we didn't indulge in strawberries and cream, we did walk up Henman Hill and through the Wimbledon museum, which turned out to be more high-tech and fascinating than I expected -- particularly due to a hologram of John McEnroe explaining Wimbledon history in a tricked-up locker room that included his 3-D image retrieving an actual tennis ball from a shelf.

There was also the sign you see me standing near in the photo above, at a facility they use for radio broadcasts of the Wimbledon festivities during the fortnight of the event. In addition to covering post-match press conferences and their own interviews, the station also carries some play-by-play of matches in progress -- because tennis is so much fun to just listen to.

Even in the heat of an English summer, it was all fairly cool, and all worth your while if you're a tennis fan and find yourself in London (the tours go year-round).

This morning was the beginning of Wimbledon 2010 and, as tradition demands, last year's reigning champion played the first match. That would be Roger Federer, as it has so often for the last half-dozen years. His opponent was the unranked Alejandro Falla, who must have been both excited and a little bit scared to go against the best tennis player in the world.

Surprisingly, Falla got off to a quick start, beating Federer in the first set. Then he beat him again in the second. That's when I started thinking about "Blazing Saddles."

There's a scene in that Mel Brooks classic where Cleavon Little's Sheriff Bart is informed that Mungo's in town and causing trouble. As he prepares to go handle things, Bart reaches for his gun, but Gene Wilder's Waco Kid stops him, saying, "Don't do that. You'll only make him angry."

That's what I think of every time I see an opponent get ahead early in a match against Roger Federer. Falla may have been up two sets to none, but that only made the Swiss champion angry, or at least more determined. Federer came back to win the third set and then the fourth in a tie-breaker.

At this point, you could see the dream draining out of Falla's body. He was playing the best tennis of his life, beating the best player in the world, but he couldn't close the deal. As they went to the fifth set, Federer was still in top form while Falla started looking worn. Sure enough, the champ swept through six straight games to send the challenger packing with nothing but a what-if story to tell.

In the movie, it takes an explosive candy-gram to subdue Mungo. On the tennis court, a Rafa-gram may be the only thing that slows Federer.

If he's smart, Falla will take a walk through the Wimbledon museum before going home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Joe Barton Would Like To Apologize

After Rep. Joe Barton's ridiculous apology to BP last week, Mat Honan uncovered other entities the congressman would like to apologize to, including John Hinkley, Mark David Chapman, The Confederacy, AT&T, King George III, Jeffrey Skilling, and that World Cup referee. Here's the site -- each time you refresh it, you get a new apology.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Missed Oil-purtunity

On her MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow delivered the speech that President Obama should have given the night before regarding the BP oil spill. She did it with a lot more passion and direct calls-to-action, too...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Final Table #72: Phil Laak

This week at the Final Table, Dennis Phillips and I continued our coverage of the World Series Of Poker and talked with Phil Laak, who did a marathon session of 115 hours in the $10/20 game at Bellagio last weekend to raise money for Camp Sunshine. He shared stories about how he did it and what his new world record says about human endurance.

We also discussed "The Big Game," a nightly high stakes cash game show that started airing Monday night on Fox stations around the country. Laak is featured in the first week's episodes with Doyle Brunson, Tony G, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth (all pros who had to put up their own money), and Ernest Wiggins, a Loose Cannon qualifier who was given a $100,000 stake by PokerStars and gets to keep any profits.

The other twist to "The Big Game" is that the pre-flop betting is pot-limit only, and then becomes no-limit post-flop. Laak explained why he loved this format so much that he'd like to see it played in casinos around the country and as a new event at the World Series Of Poker.

He also gave us his insider's perspective on a remarkable hand that involved Poker Brat Hellmuth and Loose Cannon Wiggins on a show that will air tonight. You can watch the unfinished video of that hand (there's no commentary) here first...

Then hear what Laak said about it on our show.

Where Are The Plastic Hooligans?

Stuart Snyder e-mails, "Is there nothing Legos can’t make fun?" Here are the plastic pieces recreating both highlights of last week's US vs. UK World Cup soccer game (by the folks at this site)...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Ends With No Center

Michael Smerconish, a radio host and newspaper columnist in Philadelphia, has an op-ed in the Washington Post today about how the political center doesn't have a voice in daily American media -- at least on the 24-hour TV news networks and talk radio.

It's a point I've been making for years, my 80/10/10 principle, in which we have 10% of the populace at one extreme shouting at the 10% of the populace at the other extreme, while the 80% in the middle are ignored. It has only gotten worse in recent years as those ten-per-centers have not only gotten louder but also more access to the cameras and microphones.

In Smerconish's piece, he talks of being contacted by producers from TV news shows who want a pundit who will take a pre-determined point-of-view on an issue so there can be a face-off with someone with the opposing view. Too often these issues are not real issues, but made-for-TV arguments that any high school debate coach would disqualify as irrelevant and trivial. Thus, rather than searching for people who can offer insight and solutions to today's problems, you get a day-long debate about the off-the-cuff comment Carly Fiorina made about Barbara Boxer's hair.

This forms the outline for what passes for news coverage all day long on CNN, FNC, and MSNBC. There's no interest in digging into the truth of a story, just in getting two people who disagree to shout at each other. It doesn't even matter if one of them doesn't know what they're talking about, as long as they're vocal in their opposition. Often, the hosts themselves aren't fluent enough with the story to call out anyone who lies or exaggerates -- there's no referee on the field. Truthiness, as Stephen Colbert calls it, rules the day, so facts and cogent analysis have no place on the air. On talk radio, it's less than that -- one person shouting into a microphone without even a phony propped-up opponent to voice the other side.

Yes, these shows get ratings, and those which report the news without the dripping bias of O'Reilly, Olbermann, Beck, Hannity, etc. don't do as well, which is why CNN is struggling in primetime. Still, that doesn't accurately indicate the desire of the American public for more of these shout-fests, because even at their peak, none of these shows gets as many viewers as the lowest rated sitcoms or dramas.

Why? Because most people don't care about those non-issues elevated to faux importance. They're too busy trying to pay the mortgage, get the kid to piano lessons, get the lawn mowed, fill the gas tank without going broke, and not get killed on the way to work.

Their days already have enough stress and shouting.

BP Spills Again

From the folks at Upright Citizens Brigade, more crisis management from the spill-happy folks at BP...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Column And More!

A new sandwich place opened near me recently, but I haven't been in, and probably won't anytime soon, for two reasons: 1) it's in the same strip mall as a Jimmie John's outlet, and I love their sandwiches; and 2) the shop's name, Sandwiches And More, brings back memories of a bad meeting I attended nearly a quarter-century ago.

I was doing the morning show at WYNY, which was then NBC's FM flagship in New York City (in the days when NBC was still in the radio business). The culture was incredibly corporate, and everyone had a title. The woman who hired me was Denise Oliver, the Program Director, but in our offices on the 2nd floor of 30 Rock we also had a Program Manager, a Program Administrator, and a Program Coordinator. I knew Denise was my boss, but I was always unclear as to what the job descriptions of the others were. And that didn't include Bob Mounty and the other corporate vice presidents of radio on the 6th floor, who Denise and our General Manager answered to. It was no wonder that the only place I felt comfortable in the building was away from all of that, in our studio on the 9th floor.

After I'd been there a few months, someone decided we needed to re-position the radio station. We were an "adult contemporary" radio station, which put us in the middle of the pop music spectrum between top 40 stations Z-100 and WPLJ and light rock stations WPIX and WLTW. We didn't seem to have a clear image in the radio marketplace, we were told, so the entire staff had to attend a meeting in which we'd forge our new marketing strategy.

When I say "the entire staff," I mean everyone, not just those of us on the air. The sales staff, all the people with "program" in their title, the engineers, the secretaries, the receptionist -- we were all told to be in the conference room at 3pm that day for a mandatory meeting.

As I said, I was doing mornings at the time, which meant my day started at 3am and I was on the air from 5:30 to 10:00am, followed by a couple of hours of production and planning for the next show. The only way I could live on that kind of schedule -- which I did for 15 straight years -- was to nap in the afternoon. Every day, around 2pm, I'd hit a wall and have to become horizontal for a few hours. Otherwise, I couldn't function. In the winter, this meant waking up twice a day in the dark, but I got used to it (and always being tired) because I had no choice.

You can imagine how happy I was to have to attend a meeting at three in the afternoon. Not only was I going to miss my nap, which would screw up my body for the next morning, but I'd also have to drive home afterward in the notoriously bad New York afternoon rush hour. Needless to say, I was not in a very accommodating mood when the meeting began.

It started with an announcement that no critical comments would be allowed. Everyone would be encouraged to contribute, regardless of their position at the station or their length of service (several members of the air staff had been there for many years, while the receptionist had been there approximately two weeks, but that didn't matter -- no one was to put down any suggestions that anyone made. This is a guarantee that bad ideas will have the same voice as good ideas -- even the ones so bad that everyone rejects them as soon as they're said out loud. A recipe for disaster.

Big pieces of paper were taped to the walls so we could list the positives and negatives of WYNY and the four competitors. I wanted to raise my hand and ask that those who didn't know this information already please leave the room as they were useless to us, but I held my tongue. The last thing I wanted to do was interrupt the proceedings and extend the meeting.

After 90 minutes of this (!), one of the people with program in their title said, "We're making good progress, but we still have work to do, so I'm going to order pizza for everyone." Since we couldn't possibly continue with one of the group missing for as long as it took to call the nearest Ray's Pizza, we took a break. I went to my office and put my head on my desk, silently hoping I wouldn't wake up until it was time for the next day's show. My partner on the show, Mike Wade, one of the easiest-going guys I'd ever known, looked like he wanted to kill someone.

When we came back, it was time to analyze all those strengths and weaknesses and come up with a new slogan for WYNY. It was to be something that concisely told our audience -- and those that didn't listen to us -- what they'd find when they turned their dials to 97.1 FM, and why they should listen both often and for a long time. Keep in mind that this station was not a failure by any measure. We had good ratings and plenty of sponsors. But someone had written a memo demanding an image update.

I don't remember all of the suggestions that went up on those wall easels, but at the end, there was a vote to see which one the crew liked best. The winner would be immediately embraced as the new catch phrase for the station, to be printed on our stationery and billboards and sung by Jon Wolfert's jingle geniuses at JAM Productions.

That winning slogan: "97 WYNY, Music And More!"

Music And More. Two things that distinctly set us apart from the competition. Two things you certainly couldn't get from WPLJ, Z100, WPIX, and WLTW. Two things that would grab people by the ears and make them listen!! The slogan was unique, because while some radio stations might give you music, and others might offer more, nowhere in the USA was anyone going to simultaneously deliver music and more. Yes, this was sure to be a game changer.

To put it mildly: Yuck.

To make a really long story short, I left WYNY a few months later. Less than a year after that, NBC got out of the radio business, selling many of its stations to Emmis. It's too bad, because if we'd stuck together, I'm sure we could have had several more constructive meetings and developed a Mission Statement to go along with our New Slogan.

At the very least, instead of pizza, we could have ordered sandwiches. And more.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Dead Zone

A few years ago, if you traveled away from home and used your cell phone, you had to pay roaming fees. Your call would go through cell towers of a company other than your provider, and you'd have to pay them for that privilege. Still, I never had a problem placing or receiving a call in those days.

So why do I have reception problems now? As an iPhone user, I don't pay roaming charges, I may be stuck with AT&T's network, but when I'm outside it, why doesn't my call go through another carrier's tower? I know that AT&T and Verizon are constantly fighting an advertising battle over whose network has the most coverage, but it's not like I'm placing these calls from the middle of nowhere. Why should I have a problem getting a call through from anywhere in a major metropolitan area?

Anyone know?

Reduced To A Podcast

I first encountered The Reduced Shakespeare Company -- in the person of Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin, and Matt Croke -- about 15 years ago when they played the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. I was doing mornings at DC101 at the time, and after seeing their second production, The Complete History of America (abridged), invited them to join me in the studio.

We had a great time, as they recreated scenes from their show and improvised a whole bunch of material for an hour or so. They had an extended run at the KenCen, then were nice enough to return to town to appear at one of my Comedy Concerts For Children's Hospital. Since then, the RSC has comedically abridged The Bible, Western Civilization, All The Great Books, and Completely Hollywood -- each of them original and funny and clever and now in production in various form around the US and other nations, too.

Their latest reduction is The Complete World Of Sports (abridged), which the RSC is workshopping this summer before its official launch this fall. I'm looking forward to seeing it, once they announce a schedule that will hopefully include St. Louis.

In the meantime, Austin continues to produce a weekly Reduced Shakespeare Company podcast and, on the latest show, called upon me to answer the question, "Is poker a sport or a game?" You can listen to that podcast here. And when any of the touring RSC companies is performing any of their shows anywhere near you, get some tickets, go have a good time, and thank me later.

Final Table #71: WSOP, LAPT, Vanessa Rousso

This week on my Final Table poker show, we continued our coverage of the 2010 World Series Of Poker and the Latin American Poker Tour, with me in St. Louis and Dennis Phillips in Lima, Peru. We talked about his adventures as captain of the America's Cup team, which had a big run to the finals, and the question of whether accused murderer Joran Van Der Sloot was supposed to play in the same LAPT tournament Dennis was in.

In WSOP news, we covered:
  • Tom Dwan making a final table in a $1500 buy-in no-limit hold'em event, which drew lots of attention because several high-stakes poker pros had big bets against him getting a bracelet;
  • Phil Laak's record-setting session of 115 consecutive hours in a $10/20 no-limit game at Bellagio as a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine;
  • My experience in the live-action cash games at the Rio all week; and more
Then we were joined by Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso, who announced her brand new iPhone App (Poker 1 On 1 With Vanessa Rousso), remembered her first experience at the WSOP (where she passed out and still made a deep run!), and offered some advice for playing sit-and-go qualifiers.

We had planned to include our interview with Chino Rheem in this show, but we ran short, so we'll have that for you on a future show.

Listen, then click here to subscribe to these podcasts via iTunes!

Monday, June 07, 2010


I missed this Rick Reilly piece a couple of weeks ago, so thanks to John Jobst for bringing it to my attention. It's about a high school softball game in which one team was so dominant, and the other so new to the game that it had 16 players who never played before and a coach who had never even seen a softball game. The game ended in a forfeit, but not by the inferior team. The superior team, which hadn't lost a game in two-and-a-half years, decided it would be better to spend the time teaching the other girls how to play the game.

I'd call this a story of true sportsmanship, but I've never heard of any team of men or boys doing anything like this. So call it sportswomanship. Remarkable.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Imperfect Game Response

Lots of people chimed in with opinions on the Armando Galarraga perfect game that was blown by a mistaken call by umpire Jim Joyce, who later apologized profusely. Any good talk radio host -- not just the ones on sports stations -- should have been discussing whether this is the straw that broke the camel's back when it comes to finally getting instant replay rulings in baseball. There are tons of opinions on both sides, as there are on why Bud Selig didn't use his power as commissioner to retroactively overrule Joyce's call and award Galarraga the perfect game for the record books.

There are so many valid points to discuss, but here's one thing that didn't need to be said, courtesy of Mark Haines, co-host with Erin Burnett of CNBC's "Squawk On The Street," who dropped a little misogyny into the controversy...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Putting The W in WSOP

One of the great things about playing at the World Series Of Poker is seeing how the popularity of the game has expanded globally. Americans still make up the vast majority of WSOP players, but Europeans and Asians now swarm to play in the events and cash games at The Rio. Two nights ago, I played against guys from China, Korea, Italy, France, and Lebanon. Last night, there were only three of us for whom English is our native language, and that includes the dealer.

I don't know if it's because their currency is doing so well against the dollar, or the European Poker Tour and other events have helped grow the game, or the credit goes to the online sites that are much easier to access in other nations, but it's fun to have this melting pot of cultures to play with and against.

Basic Cable Comedians Dance-Off

Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on TV" tour took him to Radio City Music Hall in New York the other night, where he was visited by a couple of other basic cable hosts for a dance off to decide, well, what does it matter, just watch this video taken via a shaky cellphone cam by a fan in the audience...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Bluff Detector

Can a great poker player bluff a lie detector? Here's Daniel Negreanu trying it on an episode of "Sport Science"...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Final Table #70: WSOP w/Barry Greenstein

Today on my Final Table poker show, Dennis Phillips and I were at the Rio in Las Vegas to begin our coverage of the 2010 World Series Of Poker.

After a recap of the opening weekend (especially the $1k event, which I played in), we had an extended conversation with poker legend Barry Greenstein. He shared his memories of the first time he played in the WSOP, where he cashed but still lost money, and explained how he handles the grind of playing tournaments every day for the six weeks of the series.

Then, during a conversation about big-money televised cash games, Barry made the startling revelation that he thinks he's at a disadvantage on those shows because -- in his words -- he's past his prime. Delving further, Barry detailed mistakes he still finds himself making, which poker players at every level will be able to relate to.

We were enthralled listening to one of the best minds in poker go into such thoughtful analysis of his own game, including which games in the 8-game-mix (that made up the $50,000 Players Championship this weekend) Barry considers his best and worst, and how he changes strategies for each one.

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