Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anecdotes By Apatow & Martin

On the Metro ride home from DC, I was reading a recent issue of Vanity Fair.  This particular one was being guest edited by Judd Apatow.  I like Apatow, but as I’m going through the issue, I realize I like him more as a producer than as a director.  He produced Superbad, which was great and he directed Funny People which was … okay.  He produced Bridesmaid which was incredible and he directed This Is 40, which was sort of a drama and sort of a comedy and it didn’t quite work as either (and all the best scenes were in the previews- but not in the movie!  Huh?)  So you see what I mean?  I’ve started to think that he’s a bit overrated, at least for his own movies.  Yeah, Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin were good but after those, meh. 

Kind of Like James L. Brooks.  Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets?  Awesome.  Then comes Spanglish.  Barf.  Brooks lost his touch, kind of kind Apatow seems to have done.  I was about to write off Judd Apatow  for good and then I came to this little story where he fawns over Steve Martin.  That’s when I knew that he was not hopeless.  Anyone who worships Steve Martin is okay in my book.  Even Martin had his share of flops and misses but after every Sgt. Bilko or Pink Panther, he got back on track eventually and produced some great work.  Apatow can do the same- he just needs to get back in touch with his inner Martin.  If you look below at “Death Of An Anecdote”, you’ll see the item I’m talking about.  It was a really sweet and amusing story and it showed why Steve Martin is worthy of emulation and how Apatow’s comic sensibility can redeem him if he puts his mind to it. 

Then on the next page of the magazine, I see something titled “Birth Of An Anecdote” by Steve Martin.  I almost fall out of my seat from laughing, just from the anticipation, from the idea of what is about to come.  Then I actually read Martin’s response and think “No wonder this guy is a master of Twitter and a genius at succinct, humorous essays.”  He can take the nine sentences below and compose a perfect response- one that is funny, subversive, understands context and elevates the gag to a higher level.  Then on top of that, there is the picture after the two anecdotes.  Perfection.  These two pages made my day.  Now that I’ve hyped it up so much, maybe you should quickly lower your expectations before reading the bits below so you can experience the same unexpected reading pleasure that I experienced on a subway car late at night.

Judd Apatow: The Death of an Anecdote
(By Judd Apatow, Guest Editor for Vanity Fair December 2012 Issue)

I have always loved comedy, and this portfolio and issue, filled with men and women I admire, are my attempt to show you what it means to me. Some of them have shaped my sensibility; others just make me laugh.  Anyway, I’m proud to have worked with many of the comic geniuses who appear in these pages, one of whom I have a fantastic anecdote about. I probably tell it too often. But here goes. One last time, for Vanity Fair, and then I’ll retire it forever.

When I was 12 years old, I went to visit my grandparents in Beverly Hills. I was, and am still, a massive Steve Martin fan. One day, in the car, my grandmother pointed out where he lived.  A few days later, as we drove by, I looked out the window and saw something mind-blowing. Steve Martin was standing in front of his house! I yelled at my grandmother to stop the car, grab­bed a pen and paper, and jumped out.

“Mr. Martin. Can I have your autograph?”
“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t sign autographs at my house.”


“I’m sorry, but if I do, then people will start coming over.”
“Well, will you sign it in the street?”

I thought that was pretty good for a 12-year-old. But he said no and apologized. I jumped back in the car in a rage. Back at my grandparents, I pulled out a notepad and started writing him a letter:

Dear Mr. Martin,
I think you are the funniest man on earth, but you treat your fans like crap. If I didn’t buy all your albums and go to all your movies you wouldn’t live in that house. If you don’t send me an apology I am going to send your address to “Homes of the Stars” and you will have tour buses passing by 24 hours a day.

I left it in his mailbox—for effect.

About six months later, back home, I received a package. Inside was the book Cruel Shoes, by Steve Martin, with the following inscription:

Dear Judd,
I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was speaking to the Judd Apatow!

Your friend,
Steve Martin 3/80

I knew that the only reason he responded was because my letter had made him laugh. If I could make Steve Martin laugh, then maybe one day I could enter this mysterious world of comedy. I tell this story a lot and feel bad if it ever sounds like he was not gracious. If someone walked up to my door and asked for my autograph, I’d be pissed, then move in a panic. Thanks, Steve!

The Birth Of An Anecdote
(By Steve Martin, Vanity Fair, December 2012)

 When I was 67, I knew I could make money by taking tourists by Judd Apatow’s house.  I had been a big fan ever since his first movie, Young Adults, Gotta Love ’Em.  One day I was driving the tour bus by Judd’s house, and I saw him making coffee in the kitchen.  I just knew my tourists would love to get his autograph, so I drove them up his driveway and a few of them rang his doorbell.  I suggested that others go around to the backyard. Judd finally came out and said, “What’s going on here?”  It was funny the way he said it, but I could picture Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill saying it and making it really funny.  Actually, I could see it becoming a movie, What’s Going On Here?  Anyway, he signed everyone’s autograph book and posed for pictures, and then he took me aside and said he was going to end my banjo career.  But now I have a great anecdote.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

This Is Presidential Foot Race Material?

The other day I was skimming through the paper and I saw the news that the Washington Nationals were going to add another president to their roster of mascots for the “racing Presidents” bit that happens every game.  That was kind of exciting.  It’s a way to take the onus off Teddy losing all the time.  With a new guy, now Teddy can win sometimes without jinxing the game, because the new guy will lose all the time.  At least, I think that’s what will happen.  The only question is what president will be the new mascot? 

I figure it has to be a president that served prior to at least Lyndon Johnson, otherwise politics might taint the enjoyment of the race.  You don’t want to hear comments from people saying things like “Carter won’t win the foot race- he runs away from everything.  Remember how the Iran hostage fiasco?”  Also, as much fun as it would be to hear what people would say during the race if George W. Bush or Bill Clinton were the new mascot, it isn’t going to happen, at least not for another 30 years.  Nor will it be Kennedy, because few things spoil the mood of a game like assassinations.  It won’t be Eisenhower or Truman either.  They are probably still too recent and their cloths look too modern- who wants to run a race wearing a boring old suit?  Nope, I figure it has to be someone much further back; someone who might wear britches or have a wig, or at least odd looking facial hair.
It will have to be someone distinctive in appearance so people can tell who it is from a distance.  That’s why it won’t be someone non-descript like Millard Fillmore, James K. Polk or Warren G. Harding.  Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams and Chester A. Arthur had some glorious muttonchops and would certainly make hilarious looking mascots.  You could definitely tell it was Van Buren standing next to Lincoln at the starting line.  Of course, funny looks isn’t enough cement a selection.  I would hope that accomplishment also plays a part in it.  You want someone that kids could respect if they decided to research their favorite racing president.  That would rule out Arthur and Van Buren, and Fillmore, Polk and Harding are once again ousted, to say nothing of “do-nothing” presidents like Buchanan and Tyler. 

My hope is that it turns out to be someone interesting looking, with a strong personality and record of accomplishments.  I would be thrilled if Andrew Jackson made it in.  He was a cool president- very dynamic and he had a lot of successes.  My only fear is that he looks a bit too much like Washington and Jefferson so management at the Nationals would pass him over in favor of someone slightly less deserving.  If that is the case, then consider Woodrow Wilson.  Yes, he is a suited president but it’s a pin-striped suit and he would have glasses.  That should count in his favor.  Barring that, my last two choices would be Grover Cleveland, because he is a real character and has a distinct look, or perhaps Ulysses Grant.  Imagine what fun it would be for the Nationals to have a bearded, besotted military man running around on the field?  Comedic gold!
I have not mentioned the most important remaining president as a contender though.  Franklin D. Roosevelt is certainly historically worthy and has a look that would convey well, like the Penguin from Batman comics, or Mr. Moneybags from Monopoly.  The problem is that he is wheelchair bound.  It would be a bit hard for a mascot to push a wheelchair on the grass of the ball field.  Yeah, it might be inspirational to show a handicapped person competing but logistically it would be hard to do.  Besides, this is supposed to be a foot race.  Aside from the obese William Howard Taft, FDR is the least likely president to be involved in a foot race.

Now I am relaxing here on a Sunday afternoon and reading the Sunday paper.  As I flip though the various sections I come to the sports section and see a giant head and white mustache and realize I’m looking at the new mascot.  I look at the caption and see that it is….  William F’ing Taft?  How am I supposed believe that this rotund, 300 plus pound President can walk around National park, much less run?  More importantly, Taft prevented Teddy from getting a third term as president.  Roosevelt had handpicked Taft as his successor and did not seek a third consecutive term so Taft easily got into office, based on Teddy’s endorsement.  When Roosevelt decided to run in the next election, Taft did not step aside for him in return.  Instead, they split the Republican vote and Taft got the nomination and forced Teddy to run as a third party candidate.   In the election, Roosevelt got 27% of the vote compared to Taft’s 25% while Woodrow Wilson won with just 41% of the vote.  Had Taft let TR get the nomination, Teddy would have won.  Man, I feel myself hating on Taft just from discussing this.  No way would I ever root for him during a ballgame.

So did Taft get selected mainly to be a foil to Teddy?  Jefferson and Washington didn’t have any beef with each other but Taft and TR did.  So now Teddy can win against his bitter rival?  Or is there additional considerations?  Maybe they will use Taft as a spoke-person against obesity?  (“Kids, if you don’t watch what you eat, you’ll be overweight like me and never win a foot race.”)  Based on the picture though, Taft is looking kinda trim- he doesn’t look portly at all.  In fact, he looks stern and dangerous.  Which is what I wanted to see in a mascot but I wanted it to be the look for Andrew Jackson.  Instead of “Old Hickory”, I get “Old Softy”?  I’ll see how it plays out during the races but just know now that I will always be rooting for either Teddy or Old Abe, never for the roly-poly back-stabbing Taft.  Let the races begin!  In…, um, three more months.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ken’s Poker Tournament Summaries

Ken’s Poker Tournament Summary

From: Ken
Sent: Tue, Jun 16, 2015 12:24 pm
Subject: Tourny results + Billy WSOP main event

Hey Guys,

Sorry for the late posting:  The Inaugural Basement Tourney was a huge success , with a record number of participants.  Thank you to everyone who brought food to share:  Maria with her famous chocolate covered strawberries,  Jeff for his 300 chicken wings, Ken G for his chicken salad, and I apologize but I didn't see who brought the prosciutto cheese wraps, Veggies & Dip, cookies and pretzels.  

The notable event of the tournament:  after finishing on the bubble for every tournament I've ever seen him in - Richard broke through and cashed in the money, chopping with legendary Fast Eddies Regular Pete, joining us for the first time.  Welcome to the in crowd, Peter!  

Shout out to Ms. S. - as it was her idea to renovate our dumpy basement to man-cave it, with poker tournaments in mind.   For anyone who would like to reply with a thank you, I'll forward to her (of course to butter her up to hold tournaments more often).

Also - if you didn't know, Billy is entering the WSOP main event - and he'll be updating his twitter account with his daily progress next month, and in November.  If you'd like to follow, his address is:


See you all soon,


From: Ken
Date: January 25, 2015 at 5:46:32 PM EST
Subject: 1/24/15 results and NoVa survey
For a last second game - we ended up with 2 tables and 14 people,  of which I think I gave a bad beat to at leasts 10.  Fireworks started early when in the first rotation, Ahmed was All-In on a board of AQ2QQ.  Everyone at the table knew he had the Q except for the moron who called, who of course was me.  That left me with 1,400 in chips and 1 bet left.  I survived my first race with 99 and doubled up again with JJ, which allowed me to stay in long enough for Joe Mike to have his AA cracked by Maria's trip Jacks.   Joe Mike won the booby prize:  a trial bottle of Gold Body body powder (which I had "won" last tournament thanks to Billy).

Ahmed survived the worst beat of the night - flopping the nut flush vs my bottom pair, only to see it go runner runner boat, to get his revenge by knocking me out and finishing 3rd.  That left The Great American AJ heads up vs KenG:  and TGAAJ could not catch 20 outs with QJ to crack Ken's pocket 3s.  Congrats to Ahmed, AJ, and KenG - who at one time were all severely short stacked and battled back to place in the money.

Will host again soon - and this time I'll give more advanced notice.  Also, I would greatly appreciate if any of you could vote for us in NoVa magazine's "Best of" issue:  http://www.northernvirginiamag.com/best-of-survey/

See you all soon!


From: Ken
Date: January 3, 2015 at 12:44:06 AM EST
Subject: The Night of A/J

The first poker night of the year at Ms. Sanchez's house was kicked off by me getting knocked out first.  Billy took over half my stack early when his AA murdered my AK on a K high flop.  Then to add insult to injury he got the rest when he called my all in bet - after running through the possibilities he decided I likely had Q/J suited and called with A/10.  He gave me too much credit, as I had Q/J off.  An A on the turn sealed the deal and I won my own stupid prize.  And James wasn't there to give out any hugs.

Meanwhile over at Table 2 - a massive pot developed when we had a 4 way All-In pre:  55 for Ted, 88 for Will, JJ for Sam and AJ for Jeff.  An A on the flop was all Jeff needed to take a huge chip lead. Sam made a nice comeback, but his All In QQ was no match for Robins AJ - with an A right out of the gate.  Billy had a chance to double with 88, but he had no chance vs Jeff's AJ.  AJ was the hand of the night.

Robin and Jeff ended up heads up, and after doubling on a miracle river 8 with A/8 vs Jeffs A/10 - she couldn't catch up on a straight draw vs Jeffs KK.  Congrats Jeff for winning the first tournament of the year.

Stay tuned for the next date - I'll try for February.

Later all,



From: Ken
To: Richard Goodman <foreman315@aol.com>
Sent: Sat, Nov 22, 2014 12:47 pm
Subject: RE: Next home game!
Ah, got mixed up - I thought you Double Bubble'd instead of your customary bubble.  My apologies.

Omaha is a lot of fun, so many more variables.   I'll always be game for playing either.  We'll stick with regular NLH unless it's unanimous to play Omaha.  I don't want to learn any more games, my brain can't handle it.

To: Ken
Subject: Re: Next home game!
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2014 12:43:48 -0500
I'll say yay.  (And I'm pretty sure I was the 4th place bubble because Joe Mike was already at the cash game when I left the tournament table.  In fact, I bubbled the whole night- 4th in tourney, didn't leave when I was up a little in the cash game, and continually playing catch up in my Omaha education.  Still, I had fun which is why I stuck around.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Ken
Sent: Sat, Nov 22, 2014 12:32 pm
Subject: Next home game!
If you believe it, Ms S. actually encouraged me to get another Tourney night on the calendar.  I smell a trap but still took the bait.  

Next game:  Friday, January 2nd - start time 6pm.  The usual:  $40 tournament with cash play afterwards.  As always, please Yay or Nay for a head count.

11/21 Recap:

Last night we welcomed Kevin (Fast Eddies Regular) to the crowd, and I promptly stuck him at the Monkey House Table (Will, Billy, Ian, Vic, myself and Corey).  Sorry about that Kevin, we're normally not that loud.  And when I say "we're", I mean Will, Billy, Ian, Vic and Corey.  Kevin didn't play his  best, but I think he was distracted by Billy's purse.

Ricky got flushed on the river and was knocked out first, winning the expired Zagnut.  Luckily for him, Corey had already eaten it.

Joe Mike was card dead, and it was reported that he never played a hand but still bubbled in 4th.  Chris and Will kept exchanging chips with each other until my AQ held up against Will's AJ - which put me heads up with the chip lead vs. Chris.  After losing 4 straight hands preflop, I gladly accepted The Quakers offer to chop.

Everyone have a happy holiday season, and hope to see you on the 2nd


From: Ken
Date: February 4, 2014 1:24:53 PM EST
To: "

Subject: RE: Poker is cancelled
The one thing I've learned is that the industry is just filled with miserable people, and once the league stops being fun it's time to step away.  Or at least take a break.

Unfortunately for me, the answer was A.    :(

To: Ken
Subject: Re: Poker is cancelled
From: Richard
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2014 19:55:26 -0500
Well that's a darn shame, again.  I'm am surprised at the number of regulars who dropped off once the move was made to the Red Zone (Jennifer, Julia, Dustin, Ricky, Omar/Amy, etc...) even though it was only 2-3 miles away (and may have even been closer for some people.)  Maybe they didn't like the new recruits who started playing lately, or the food, or something.

My answer for the question is a hedge- it probably was $15 although no should have given you credit for AA and they might have tried bluffing at the pot with a Q and ended up giving you $1,000.  I'm usually the only idiot who limps with AA and has the table's wild card decide to check/fold for the first time in two hours.
-----Original Message-----
From: Ken  
Sent: Mon, Feb 3, 2014 11:03 am
Subject: Poker is cancelled

Hello All,

James and I have decided to take a sabbatical from running our poker league, and we would like to thank all of our loyal participants - especially the band that we've been playing with for years. 

If a new opportunity arises, we'll let you know.  In the meantime, this will be my last email.  So for my last question:

Extra chips (whenever it may be) for anyone who can answer:

I'm playing deepstack cash game (2/5 NL) last Friday.  I'm under the gun with AA.  I limp for 5.  It folds around to the small blind who calls.  Big blind checks.  Flop comes AAQ.  How much money do I end up making?

A)  $15
B)  $250
C)  $1000
D)  I'm still stacking my chips.

Later all!



From: Ken
Date: July 14, 2013 1:09:59 AM EDT
Subject: Sneak in Tournament

With Big Mama out of town, it was time to sneak in a home tournament.  We had 17 participants, and it didn't take long for Ricky to be knocked out as the first casualty.  Lucky for him, I forgot to buy the "First Out Prize", which in the past has been expired Potted Meat, a Zagnut, or Sugar Dots.

With 5 left, we decided to give 4th and 5th their money back - then the standard 50/30/20 split.  Jack was poised to make a run, doubling up twice late - but finally ran out of steam and settled for 5th.  I was next out, my AK running into Sam's KK.  Robin played great in her first showing with us, and settled for 3rd.  Richard, who at one point had 2 big blinds left - roared back and would have been almost even with Sam while heads up, but an unfortunate turn card sealed the deal for a 2nd place finish.  Sam was the man of the hour, who not only won the tournament - but it seemed like he knocked out half the field.
Then it was on to the cash game - and all I can tell you was first Omar doubled up flopping a set vs my KK......then knocked me out turning a straight nullifying my top pair.  Bah Humbug.  All in all another fun night of poker, I'll check the summer schedule and try for an August game.

Later all,


Ken’s summary of his game on January 5th, 2013:

Welcome to the club to our new members: Aimee , Omar, Wes and welcome back Corey. I think you all learned the 2 basic rules to play with us:

1) have fun

2) trash talk with Vic
We had 2 tables packed, and placed the top 4. James wasn't available for a hug - so the prize for first person knocked out was a Zagnut candy bar. Wes got knocked out shortly after the announcement, and happily ate it while still sitting at the table.  The bubble prize was a package of those disgusting colored sugar dots.....and when we got down to 5, the game tightened up because nobody wanted to "win" it. Finally I had to push with A/Q and Omar called with 99. I flopped my Ace and avoided the insult of winning the candy that I had bought.

Once we got down to 4, it went very fast. Ahmed came in 4th, and I'm pretty sure he was just itching to get into the cash game Billy started up on table 2. Pat then knocked me out - and in doing so became the first person to knock both me and Billy out of the same tournament.....since the last time he played with us. That left Pat vs Chris, who was saved earlier by cracking Corey's AA with QQ all in pre and the mircle Q on the river. In a heads up war of attrition, I think it lasted 2 hands - with Chris winning with something beating something.

We ended up playing cash until about 2am, and I remember two things:

1) Stephen flopping Quad Aces that wasn't the nuts - he had to dodge Vic's straight flush draw
2) Aimee losing an all in pot with her 2 pair to Omar's straight - and at the conclusion of the hand she raked the chips as if she had won.  Omar calmly asked "Is this what it's like being married?" Pat and I answered in unison: "Yes!"

Good times.

Ken’s summary of his game on July 24, 2011:
Sent: Sun, Jul 24, 2011 1:01 am
Subject: 7/23 Tourny Night At Ken's House

16 participants tonight - separated by 2 tables: The Quiet Adult Serious Poker Players, and The Monkey House Kiddie Table.  Randy was FKOotN (First Knock out of the Night) - who hit a straight and ran into Billy's full house. 

Welcome to the club Richard and Will. Richard was on his way to the final table until his KK was cracked by my preflop all-in AK. Sorry about that Richard. Will fared a bit better, riding his success from the Monkey House table all the way to 4th - happily winning the Bubble Prize: a can of stale Coors Light that expired in 2008. He even took a swig (and turned green).

James finished 3rd when his QQ was cracked by Joe's JJ. About even in chips, Joe and Billy chopped first.  I would have played a lot better, but when the house hit 83 degrees - I got distracted by my BO.  Great fun tonight - thanks all.