Friday, April 11, 2008

Phil Mickelson and Exxon

Phil Mickelson, I guess its not enough that your a great golfer, loved and respected by your fans for your honesty and how you have conducted yourself. Why did you attach yourself to the Exxon teat? I have seen commercial after commercial at The Master's touting how science and math teachers are going to benefit from your and Amy's involvement with Exxon.

They have ravaged the American people for billions in unexplainable and unconscionable profits during war time, and now you'll get your share as Exxon throws us a bone.

It makes me ill, and you should be ashamed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tennessee, Stanford, and my Dad

I'm watching the women's collegiate basketball championship tonight on TV, and thinking of my Dad, who died last year. My father was way ahead of the rest of the nation in his love for women's basketball. He liked the movement of the game, the give and go, and the hustle. He hated the men's game, the in-your-face attitude, slam dunks, and the worship of self that seemed to dominate the men's contests.

Let's hope that the women's game remains the beautiful show that so many around the country have come to love.

I have my doubts.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California

Shirley and I were looking for a one night getaway, so we decided to head for the Morongo Casino. I booked a Saturday night at an inexpensive motel in Banning, and we drove out there late Saturday morning.

Morongo Casino and Hotel is located in Cabazon, about 20 minutes west of Palm Springs. It stands just off Interstate 10, and the snow-capped summit of 10,804' Mt San Jacinto dominates the skyline to the southeast. The Hotel-Casino is a large, tall structure with the Casino at ground level, a hotel above, and a lounge and steakhouse above the hotel up on the 26th and 27th floors. We tried to get a room in the hotel, but a one night stay (especially on Saturday night only) was way too expensive. From Los Angeles it is about a 2 hour drive east on I-10. After finding the casino, we drove to Banning to locate our motel. Then we went back to Morongo and found easy parking in the casino parking garage. I noticed large parking lots extending out behind the parking structure, but they were empty.

We took the elevator down and it exited right into the casino. The first thing I noticed, especially in California, is that they allow smoking because it is on an Indian reservation. I still don't understand why they would subject their employees to that. Our first stop was the food court, 2 slices of average pizza and 2 small bottles of water came in at over sixteen dollars.

Shirley went to play slots, I went to the poker room. The poker room is non-smoking, but a lot of smoke comes in the front door. I played $1-$3 blind no-limit holdem, ($40 minimum buy-in, $100 maximum buy-in) , and it was a good game with plenty of action. I booked a small win after playing for 6 hours, and had a good time doing it. There are about 25 tables in the room, the room has its own bathrooms as well, which means you don't have to deal with crowds in the smoky casino when you need to make a pit-stop. They had a dozen or so tables going when I got there, and the place was in full gear when I left. They were sitting several levels of limit holdem, no-limit holdem, and Omaha. All and all, the poker room gets a high grade from me. Cocktails were expensive, even for players. A guy playing at my table had a few imported beers and they cost more than $4 each.

Shirley quickly lost her slot money. In Vegas, they seem to feed it back to you at a better rate than these Indian places, so you can play longer. I believe this, I don't care what anyone says. We talked to plenty of people and there were no stories of any decent paybacks.

We had dinner sitting at the sushi bar, and they had fun sushi chefs and great sushi. I had the usual before-dinner drink, a Bombay Sapphire Martini with a club soda back, and Shirley had an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc, and both were delicious. We met a great girl making sushi rolls at the bar, her name was Rachel, or Ray for short. She gave us a spicy tuna roll made for another customer who left before it was delivered, then we ordered a teriyaki shrimp roll. The spicy tuna was blazing hot, delicious! A spare rib appetizer followed, and it was wonderful (but small for two people). We ordered a crispy noodle pork dish to share, and it wasn't very good. We said so, and they took it away and returned with an orange beef and vegetable plate that, although small, was very tasty. I, too, had a Sauvignon Blanc with dinner. Ray sent us out a passion fruit creme brulee on the house to make amends for the bad experience at dinner, and I had to fight Shirley to get a spoon in. The bill, even with a free tuna roll and dessert, $82 with tip.

That's how gaming is these days, they want it all. Time was when the money going into the casino led to bargains in other areas, but not anymore.

They have two concert venues, and both had shows that night. There was a Mexican Diva in one, the old rock band Great White was in the other. I don't know if they had multiple shows on Saturday night or what, but the place was an absolute jammed madhouse when we left about 10:30pm, and the smoke was incredible. It was a relief to get out of the elevator in the parking garage. The once empty overflow parking lots in back were full.

It was a pleasure to get back to the room and get undressed and horizontal. Shirley slept and I watched TV while lying in bed enjoying an inexpensive nightcap. Ah, the simple pleasures.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Spring is here in Los Angeles, but I am thinking back to those years in New Hampshire when spring came late to the White Mountains. I'm haunted by the names still: the AMC, Crawford Notch, Franconia Notch, Franconia Ridge, Mt Bond, Mt Washington, New Hampshire, North Twin, South Twin, Pinkham Notch, Presidential Range, White Mountains, and all the other places I visited and the ghosts I traveled with. For eighteen years I plied the trails of New Hampshire, and I cherish the memories of it all.

The link below takes you to a story describing those years.

AMC White Mountain Guide

Laudizen King