Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Terry Tate, Willard Scott, and the Great Felcher Conspiracy

Some of RER's readers might have thought me a little odd. After all, what right-thinking journalist takes time out of his day to point out a sly sex reference in a Reebok Superbowl commercial?

Apparently, though it wasn't my plan, I was working toward giving people the information they wanted to know.

Since the Superbowl evening post (seen two slots below this post), Rapid Eye Reality's traffic has more than tripled. Gratified I am not. Vindicated? Not even close.

However, even as the Felcher and Sons ad continued to awe Americans (Matt Lauer and Willard Scott took a beating from Terry Tate Monday morning), there were readers among us who caught the same sly reference.

Felcher and Sons?

This will be the last of the Felcher posts. The last thing I need is the office linebacker standing over me screaming about cover sheets.

However, I reserve the right to post at length about Joe Millionaire's underwear ads and one of his contestant's roles in bondage and foot fetish films (true story).

Oh yeah...Reebok: I'm watching.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Steamship Earth

The world politic is a slow moving engine. It grinds against itself on intricate gears, threatens to overheat, and operates in a way few people understand. Most of its citizens couldn't draw one of the engine's pistons with a crayon, let alone diagram the entire thing on a drafting table. Simply put, we--and notice I include myself--don't know diddly about how this world works.

Like 99% of the people I know (the percentage is probably higher), I am painfully ignorant on the finer points of foreign policy. With that in mind, I don't feel at all comfortable taking a position on a war with Iraq.

America is made up of schoolyard bullies, peaceniks, and the generally confused. The bullies are war hawks. The peaceniks are blind. And the generally confused have no way of knowing what is right.

I count myself among the generally confused.

It was a lot easier for all of us when a loosely-defined but identifiable group of people used our own machines to destroy our own buildings. Even dogs who've been friendly all their life will bite if you try to hurt their puppies. Going to war against terror wasn't that hard...even for the peace-minded.

But going to war with a country--a country full of civilians--isn't quite as easy. We have a hard time understanding what they have done to merit a two-ton bomb blast in their backyard.

The war hawks and peaceniks do nothing to help us, the generally confused, get a grip on what is proper. You can scream 'fight for freedom.' You can scream 'fight for peace.' Unless you explain to me why I should do either, I have a hard time accepting your position.

Unfortunately, I don't see this situation improving. If you fight for peace, you're respected by the cultural elite. If you fight for freedom, you're a patriot.

And if you sit on the fence trying to look down on both sides and find great truths in the shadows of the Sean Penns and Donald Rumsfelds, you'll spend your short life staring into darkness.

I wish there was a solution. There are schools where one can go and learn about math, literature, and science. But there are few schools outside the United Nations where one can learn what is right in wrong in the engine of the world politic.

I have a hard time respecting things I don't understand. And right now, I don't understand much of anything anyone is saying.

I don't think I'm an idiot. I think I just realized that I'm like most regular people in this world.

This kind of ignorance is not bliss.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Felcher and Sons ... you've gotta be kidding me...

Okay...a useless catch near the end of the third quarter cost me $125 in Superbowl pool winnings, so I might be a little bitter right now. But, I've spent the last 20 minutes trying to figure out who was less prepared for Superbowl Sunday. At first I thought it was Rich Gannon. Now, I'm starting to believe it was Reebok shoes and the group that produces it's advertising. Somebody in the censorship office really dropped the ball tonight.

Click here to see what I'm talking about.

The ad, I admit, is quite clever. Nothing better than a linebacker in the middle of an office. But listen and look closely. The name of the company that hired Office Linebacker Terry Tate is "Felcher and Sons."

Rapid Eye Reality is not the place to define the term "felcher" but a quick poll among those at my mini-Superbowl party indicated about 60-70 % of people know the slang definition. It is a popular enough gutter phrase to have earned a sly reference in the South Park Movie. In that movie Felcher and Sons was a piano production company.

In Reebok's newest ad, Felcher and Sons is the company that hires Terry Tate to boost office productivity. The commercial doesn't give much of an indication exactly what the company produces, but I find myself chuckling at the thought.

A mock news release on the Reebok website reads like this:

"Terry Tate is, quite simply, the greatest office athlete in the game today — bar none," said Micky Pant, SVP of Reebok worldwide marketing. "We're thrilled to have Terry aboard. He represents everything Reebok stands for: hard work, honesty, and 100% heart."

So, one of three things happened:

1) The ad producers had no idea "felching" has been part of the ugly slang-world vernacular for years and years and named the company in the ad after a noted Harvard author who probably has lived her entire life wishing her last name was Smith...

2) Some clever little rat in the Arnell Group succeeded in sneaking one by the more conservative element of the Reebok Shoe company...

3) The Arnell Group and Reebok both were aware of the little nudge-nudge the commercial offered and thought...what better way to show we're an edgy, open-minded company than to use a little street slang in our seemingly innocuous commercial?

Make no mistake...I loathe censorship. I appreciate creative wink-wink ads. And I once knew and admired a guy nicknamed Felcher (long story for another time).

But I'd expect something a little less base from one of the biggest shoe producers in the world.

What's next...Snowball Wears Nikes?

Friday, January 24, 2003

Well, guess what?

Uh-huh. All penis jokes aside...my pipes exploded. In two places. I was going to shower at work today. On my way out the door I heard the river. After a mad scramble to find a crescent wrench (I would've preferred a Croissanwich) and then another mad scramble to identify the main shut-off valve (curiously, it looks nothing like a shut-off valve), the water was off.

Right now, a plumber is underneath my house, crawling in muck and making sure I pay dearly for it.

My sense of humor is just about gone. My patience disappeared several hours ago. About the only thing that is bringing me any joy right now is my puppy's new preference for a small ottoman the wife keeps in the office. It's like a perch for puppies.

In retrospect, there's not much I could've done differently. As one commenter put it, my pipes had probably cracked before I even started dealing with them last night. It was just a matter of time before the river started. And if I had called a plumber last night, the emergency "should've called me during the daylight, punk" hours prices would've raped me.

But, really, that's all just sick rationalization.

The truth is: I am without penis.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

My penis froze and fell off

I hate to be graphic. I really do. I would really prefer if RER were a place your children could learn to read. But this has been one long fucking day and it isn't over yet. As I write, my penis threatens to fall off from complete embarassment.

If the bad part of the day had ended with my penis shrinking a little after the events described in the post below, I could've dealt with it. Hell, my penis has been shrinking since puberty. It got a little smaller that day at Fastnight Pool when the cute girl by the diving board called me a pencil-dick. It got noticably smaller the day the butcher called me "ma'am." And it got smaller today when the good looking volunteer firefighter looked me with eyes that said, "Man, it's a damned shame your wife has to see you sitting here as helpless as a little girl who just lost her dolly."

If it had all ended there, I probably could've lived. Hell, it's not as if I'm trying to snare new women with a extra-long schlong or anything. My wife has watched my thing shrink several times in the last six or seven years. That time I couldn't fix the toilet and had to bring in a black market plumber comes to mind.

But it didn't end there. It only got worse. First I had to admit the single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills were really getting to me. I was really cold and as a result not a real Midwestern cold-fighting man. Turns out, I wasn't the only thing feeling a little chilly.

I always get nervous when my wife comes out of the bathroom and uses this phrase: "Honey...we have a problem." It can mean so many different things. I won't go into that now.

She proceeded to go to every sink in our home, turning on the faucets, and looking at me as if to say, "So whatta you figure we're going to do about this?"

This was a decided lack of water. With the exception of a small trickle from two downstairs spouts, every pipe at Mt. Willis was frozen. Oh yeah, then the trickle stopped.

I did what I always do when I encounter a home problem I can't fix. I called Dad. He gave me the best advice I've received all night: Call a plumber.

Of course, that would be failure. Recall: Hiring Ray the Plunger Sabatino to install the new toilet drew a look of worry from the wife.

She called the neighbor. He can fix just about anything. Ten minutes later he was standing at my door with something called Burn-Zo-Matic. In short, a blow torch. Against my better judgement, he and I heated up every pipe we could find, in around, and under the house.


I made a few phone calls. The guy at the water company said just to wait. Don't blow the cash on a plumber. Of course, there's a chance your pipes will explode. But then again...and here's the good part...there's a chance they won't.

So, there's a chance they won't. If they don't, I stand a chance of keeping my penis until the next major disaster.

But, you know, it may not matter anyway. As I write, my wife is watching a TV news magazine about the evils of the porn industry. I don't see me having much use for my man tool any time soon.

He'll take you where...you wanna go...

On a warm spring night, under a stacatto acoustic rhythm, a few slightly inebriated guys chanted that line over and over again. And when it came time for the song's climax, they hit the perfect rhyme...E-Mi-Li-O!

That's right. He'll take you where you wanna go...Emilio. My SUV. Or, in fact...My SDV. My Stripped-Down-Version of an SUV.

I love that fucking vehicle. In just the last 14 months he has accompanied me on some great adventures, and did so without complaint. Until today.

A southern winter storm iced the roads. Emilio being an SDV (a few bucks less on the monthly payment) doesn't have four-wheel drive.

The details of this morning's adventure are too humiliating to recount at length. The lowlights are as follows: Stuck on a hill in the middle of a major country thouroughfare, cars stacked up behind waiting for the giant vehicle to move, a man in a suit trying to make an SDV act like an SUV with no chance of success, and a 19 year-old hottie volunteer firefighter coming to the rescue while suit man's wife watches with muted amusement. And to make matters worse, when the SDV is traded for a Honda Civic, the hill is conquerable.

I still love that fucking vehicle. But he's got a new chorus to his song:

He'll take you where...you wanna go...unless there's snow.


Fuck me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

The Great Equalizer

Those who lament the fate of trailer parks during tornado season have more than likely never been in California during mudslide season, Charleston during hurricane season, or on Paris Mountain during a raging brush fire.

Disaster doesn't care about how much a house costs. It just likes to blow the houses down.

My hair smells like a campfire and I'm short on good words.

Until the right phrases come back to mind...I'm alseep.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Fire on the Mountain

Mt. Willis actually sits at the base of another much larger mountain...

That much larger mountain, Paris Mountain, is on fire. One homeowner has already lost their house.

At this point, the people of Mt. Willis have little reason to fear. But let's all just hope the winds stay light tonight.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Talk about Hazard County

On those perfect Springfield, Missouri evenings, those when the crickets started to chirp a little early despite the sun's insistance on hanging a little bit longer, the only thing that could drag me inside was an episode of the Dukes of Hazard.

My fascination with the fast-driving, law-breaking goodness of the Duke boys was just about in line with any youngster of the early 80s.

And yet, at age 29, I have a hard time (no future pun intended) trying to figure out why anyone with any shred of self-respect would enter the following phrase in a Google search engine: "Tom Wopat Penis."

What is even more disturbing...that search registered a hit on Rapid Eye Reality.

I don't care what team you play for, Luke Duke's tallywacker should not be a point of interest.

As far as I'm concerned, the Duke boys were a lot like Ken dolls. Anatomically incorrect and for a reason.

What kind of world am I living in?

Thursday, January 16, 2003


As the snow slips softly in and out of town, work slides slowly to the south, and warm times with friends seem far too far in the past... I found a little comfort in this picture from a frighteningly fun evening several months ago.

I'm back home...but just for about 14 hours. More later.

Maybe I'll actually write something then.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Leaving without a jet plane

The air is crack-frozen, but dryish. People forced to work outside have red noses and fissures in the tiny tissues of their hands. It's a pop-slap in the face of people who warmed themselves in an Indian Summer sun five days ago. Upstate South Carolina's climate is fickle.

Not much happens this time of year. Blossoms don't pop. Grass doesn't green. People don't smile much. It's a dead time that helps remind us why we love the living world. Without the dead time, we start to take rabbit-time and lawn-mowing-time for granted. However, nobody really realizes that right now. They mumble-grumble through the day, The Malcontents of Post-Holiday Doldrums.

However, it is this time of year that the spokey-cogs of America's democratic landscape begin again to turn. State legislatures reconvene for another year of high-dollar bartering and palm-greasing. Newly elected leaders raise their hands in an oath everyone says but few really plan to follow.

I will be in the middle of that machine for the next few days. If this site and the recently mediocre writing within seem a little quiet in the next few days, that's why.

Until circumstance or necessity brings me back home, be good to the people around you.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Fatigue and rolling Cluck-Mucker

Tuesday--2am...sleepless, frustrated, jacked up on nothing in particular. Finally find restless sleep in my own bed.

Wedneday--3:30am...beer didn't work, neither did a workday that rivaled some of the toughest I've had. I'm awake in a hotel bed wondering why my employer didn't shlell out more than $50 for a room. As I drift in and out of sleep, I find myself wondering the name of the last hooker who turned a trick in the bed and if she enjoyed the continental breakfast.

Thursday--1am...I'm in my own bed again but don't feel much like sleeping. My well-fed dog is breathing softly. My wife has drifted off to sleep. I am home, if ever so briefly. Sleep comes eventually. I don't remember dreaming...which is rare.

Friday--2:40pm...there hasn't been a lot of sleep, but the end of the work week looms. I find myself relaxed, but in need of a stiff drink. Stiff, baby.

Wonder if the hotel hooker could help me with that?

Thursday, January 09, 2003

"There's not much of the plane left."

Those words from NTSB board member, John Goglia...

For those who don't know...a plane bound for the airport nearest Mt. Willis crashed on takeoff yesterday morning. All 21 people on board, including three college students from around here, died in the crash and/or fire.

I've been on (near) the crash scene for the past 36 hours. I just walked back in my house.

I'm a little too tired to pontficate (yes, you may sigh in relief). Leave it at this...hug something you love tonight.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 08, 2003


My watch is sneaking toward morning like it wants to get out of the house without waking the girl it just slept with. I don't blame it. I'm an ugly bitch in the morning.

Here's the thing...you've been looking at the same damned road signs for more than a year now. I'm no designer (though I tried valiantly to rip off several other designs before failing miserably) so this site's structure is basically the same...just darker.

If you hate it, I'm sorry. I don't even know how I feel about it. I may switch it back to the more comfortable road warrior design soon. Frankly, I'm in one of those moods that forces me to start jumping off bridges to keep form burning them and this seemed like a good place for change.

Regardless if you like it or hate it, let me know.

Oh yeah...thanks for the photography, Timmy.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Oh, help me, Rhonda

The only thing good about second shift TV work is the freedom to sleep a little later in the day. I'm working second shift today for the first time in I don't know how long. And I was getting a little extra sleep. Then the phone rang with some of the scariest news I've heard in the last several months.

I was half asleep so I don't remember the exact words. But imagine the sound of a little girl who just found out she's getting the new Lingerie Barbie for her birthday combined with the sound a balloon makes when you squeeze the nipple and let the air out slowly.

It was my wife.

"Trading Spaces is coming to tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwnnnnn!!!!!!!"

And that comes from a guy who doesn't like to use exclamation points.

I heard correctly. The Learning Channel's hit show will be coming to Greenville, SC this spring. Turns out the new president of TLC is from this fine little hamlet and nudged his employees this way. House scouting begins in February. Applications are due in a week or so.

This means the next several days will be spent teaching my wife how to use our digital camera, posing for photos, and praying to Amy Wynn that I don't end up on the show. Why?

Well, I'll admit I like the show. I think it is a clever concept and I'm quite smitten with one of the designers (that blonde vixen...). However, I hate the ugly shirts the contestants have to wear. I hate the fake excitment/running the contestants are forced to do at the beginning of every show. And I'm a little afraid of what the theme of the show might be. You know...the producers cook up some cute little theme for Paige to talk about (time, basketball, wife-swapping) throughout the show. I can't imagine what they would cook up as our theme...drunken neighbors, the cul-de-sac feuds. It's enough to make a guy shiver.

Even worse...we're perfect for the show. We are both in TV, our neighbor's house is within spitting distance, and we live in a cul-de-sac that the show could take over for two days. Our houses are sort of cute and we have rooms that fit the bill.

The worst thing will be if we don't get picked. I'll have to tell my little girl that all the air has left her balloon and Lingerie Barbie just got knocked up by No Condom Ken.

Help me, Amy Wynn. Help me...

Monday, January 06, 2003


I'm not a big "go-read-this-guy" (I'm too egomaniacal for that), but...

At least I can feel like I'm in the right country.

Manic Monday

There's a guy out there somewhere (I can't remember his name) who wrote a book titled Don't Set Goals. I never read the book or read about the book. The most I remember is a spot his publisher ran on the radio. As I recall, the basic idea was to achieve success through a goal-free life.

I can hear this guy's voice on the radio. He sounded so earnest. So sure of himself. So successful. On this manic Monday, I find myself thinking this guy was so...full of shit.

Maybe he meant: Don't depend on your ideal world to become reality. Maybe he meant: You can't count on a goal to make you successful. But...don't set goals?

I'll stop there. Best not to criticize that which I don't understand.

Better yet, a plug for a better post. Head to the Edge of America to read about the search for home through houses and the discovery of Home through something else. I found it inspirational in an odd way.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Therapy for the bird winger

There is a poem from Spoon River Anthology (a fantastic work by the way, if you never read it) called "Bert Kessler." It begins...

I WINGED my bird,
Though he flew toward the setting sun;

I've always like that line despite the fact (or perhaps, because)a friend of mine used to crack me up by reading it in Elmer Fudd's voice ("I winged my buhhhd..."). "Kessler" begins with a story of triumph, a man hitting his target in the face of adversity. And just a few lines after getting sucked in to old Bert's success, you find out Bert actually gets bit by a rattle snake when he reaches down to pick up his quail. That spells death for our tiumphant hunter (sort of a running theme in Spoon River).

Today, I am Bert and spam is my quarry. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm hunting spam.
continued below

continued from above
Long ago, when I had no real use for my Bellsouth e-mail account, I used it for online registatrion forms. I had no reason to care if that e-mail box was full of processed, pressed, spiced meat. Now, I have Bellsouth DSL and I need the account. after months of simply deleting the e-mail, Bellsouth introduced (cue timpani beats) Mail Guard. It is supposed to be a spam filter, but as far as I can tell Mail Guard is no more than a button on a Fisher Price toy. It's fun to press and makes you feel like you're accomplishing something when you're really not. After a month of identifying messages like "Increase your Cup by Two Sizes!" as spam, I still get about 60 spam messages a day.

Yesterday I wrote Bellsouth and asked why they offered a service that provided no service. A service tech politley replied that I must be receiving non-standard spam (I'm guessing that means a non-Hormel product). He instructed me send all spam to a particular Bellsouth address to have it blocked. I know I'm being Billy Mumphrey, the idealist, but I'm doing it. I'm opening every piece of spam and giving it the double-whammy. I unsubscribe to the e-mail list (another Fisher Price toy button). and then I forward it to this-is-spam@ bellsouth.net. One message at a time, 60 messages a day, I am winging my bird though it is flying toward the setting sun.

Why? It's starting to feel like therapy. For several minutes a day, I stare blankly at a computer screen and do nothing but work through messages like "We need you to conatct us NOW regarding your 11 million dollar check!" It's like watching infomercials. A mindless task. Therapy for an idiot.

Eventually, though, I know it will be the end of me. Look at ol' Bert. Shortly after the rattler strikes, his poetic epitaph comes to an end:

I stood like a stone as he shrank and uncoiled
And started to crawl beneath the stump,
When I fell limp in the grass.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Otis Unplugged

The (Misplaced) Unrepentant Texan offered this piece of thought from the Washington Post. I took to thinking and you know where that leads.

The basic question: What pieces of technology could we do without?

I used to consider myself a Luddite. I really did. One of my favorite song lines ever is "Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move out to the country, build you a home. Have a lot of children. Eat a lot of peaches. Try to find Jesus on your own." Thank you Mr. Prine.

Anymore, though, I'm a slave to this age of cell phones and DirecTV. I can't wake up without an alarm clock or the promise of any early morning flight to Las Vegas. I don't like watching TV unless I can hit a button and learn everything about the show, from the year it was made to the name of its script. For instance, did you know that every episode of "Friends" begins with the words "The One?" For instance, last night's episode was called "The One With Monica's Boots." Every episode. Fascinating. Thing is, I stopped liking the show a long time ago (about the time Ross turned into an idiot). Regardless, I find the show titles quite exciting.

And yet, I long for a life less complicated. A long for a quiet book-reading afternoon on my back deck. I long for hikes around a wooded lake with my dog and wife. I long for a quiet world where the loudest noise is the waves crashing on a beach or a squirrel breaking a branch as he jumps from one tree to another.

This new year must bring with it something perfectly simple. Life need not be so complicated, nor need it be plugged in.

If the new year brings simplicity, I promise to return the favor by bringing a case of optimism and a bag of chips.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Hear from me last night?

If you didn't, it's only because I couldn't find your phone number. Somebody REALLY should invent the Breath-A-Phone.

Mt. Willis survived again. A little spilled champagne. A broken picture frame (one of my favorite pictures, actually). Several hours of cleaning. Otherwise, a great party.

My favorite moment was the 90 seconds before midnight. We had stuffed 30-40 people in my living room and it seemd everyone had some sort of noisemaker. Cacophony defined. I couldn't hear Dick Clark.

If you were here, I hope you enjoyed yourself. If you weren't and I didn't call you to wish you a Happy New Year...

Happy 2003.

Make it a safe, happy and peaceful one.

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Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
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