* To whomever used this site to nuke Pigs & Buttercups: bud, you need help. Anger management has helped Milton Bradley, and it can help you. Funny gag, though.
* My New Republic post of the month: not tired of talk about fanboys yet? Elbert Ventura makes a good case for why Oldboy is not just a fanboy wankjob. Speaking of Ventura, TNR appears to be grooming him as a replacement for the venerable (read: 184-year-old) Stanley Kauffmann, a formerly esteemed critic who has now sadly faded into irrelevancy. The young, adventurous Ventura's a good choice to make TNR film coverage vital again. Not sure if these links work for nonsubsribers, but if you can, check out this ode to Wong Kar-wai and this nerdy attack on the National Society of Film Critics' parochialism for a sample of his work.
* I placed 15th at a 1,600 entry freeroll Party Poker tourney the other day, which netted me a cool $18.00. Freerolls are basically a big waste of time, but it was good experience for further adventures in big multi-table tourneys. (I had finished out of the money in the two other times I tried 500+ player tourneys.) One lesson learned: Even though I dig Daniel Negreanu's style, I'm gonna stick with the easiest way to play big tourneys, which is the T.J. Cloutier-tight style. Wait for a monster and build your stack against fish, which comprise of about 50% of these players (types who will re-raise all-in a big raise pre-flop with KQs or 66). Negreanu's approach requires consistently outplaying your opponents after the flop, which I'm not skilled enough to do just yet. Right now, my overlay at my stakes level comes from being able to make big folds and use selective aggression better than some others.
* One basic poker principle I have only recently picked up on. In late position, it is better to call with 76 suited with limpers in front than if you're holding QJo. You try to bust'em or fold with hands like this, not risk your stack by going for top pair marginal kicker.
* Speaking of Negreanu, I think this article is pretty right on. Asian poker players are getting dissed, though admittedly, most Asians who are poker fiends tend to fall on the FOBby or the quiet nerd side, making them far less marketable than your Daniel Negreanus and Chris Fergusons. Still, as in the case with demographically-unrealistic hospital dramas, it's pretty lame that Tilt, the ESPN poker drama, has no Asians. (Have the producers stepped into a cardroom lately?) A character like my brash young poker fiend cousin Eric would be nice, but they'll probably cast Devon Aoki as a silent-but-deadly type to fill the quota.
* Lastly, thanks to Josh Rothkopf for alerting me to the awesomeness of Jonathan Lethem's book of collected short essays, The Disappointment Artist, which limns the nexus between cultural obsession and autobiography. It's really about the pathology of being a geek, and few books have offered such satisfying (and mortifying) jolts of self-recognition. His description of what it's like to prematurely revere a film (in his case The Searchers) before he's ever even seen it, then having to endure all those who would mock the Western's dated Hollywood conventions, is perfect. And I loved how, in arbitrarily adopting 2001: A Space Odyssey as his new favorite movie, he tried to watch the Kubrick opus 22 times to overtake the number of times he watched Star Wars, only to finally realize that logging most viewings of a particular movie doesn't really mean that much, even in one's internal heirarchy. There's also some good stuff on Jack "King" Kirby. A fine read for cultural obsessives who've read all the Nick Hornbys twice over.