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

About Rapid Eye Reality
Poker Papers
Up For Poker Blog
Up For Sports Blog
PokerStars Blog

Currently reading:

2007 Reading List

Barack Obama
Devon Epps
Mt. Otis
Mental Massage
Tiffany Souers
TV News

Blogroll RER

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from OT!S. Make your own badge here.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Wrinkled in Europe

I was sitting outside an Irish pub in Monte Carlo. The bouncer had made me poor my Guinness from the nice pint glass into a plastic cup. There was a chill in the air and I was in shortsleeves, having offered my sport jacket to a lady in the group who had been ill-prepared for the early morning air. Inside, a band was rocking, singing English tunes with a slight French accent. I'd been in and out of the bar a few times, but an acute case of claustrophobia had relegated me to the cheap plastic chairs outside.

"You know," I said to the assembled group of Londoners, "you European folk are odd."

"It's the Americans that are odd," a lady shot back.

"No," I said. "Take this, for instance. I've now been in four European hotels. Some of the nicest hotels in Europe. Not one of them has had an iron it."

A co-worker looked me up and down. I was wearing a pair of unwashed blue jeans and a shirt that reeked of three wearings and two cardrooms.

"What exactly do you intend on pressing?" he asked with a half-smile.

"Touche," I said, "but that's not the point. If I wanted to press something, I couldn't I've been in hotels all over America. Some very nice hotels. I'd say 98% of American hotel rooms have an iron in them."

"Ninety-eight percent?" He seemed incredulous.

"Ninety-eight percent," I said definitively.

Now, I picked that number out of thin air. In fact, I'd been in a five-star hotel on Miami's South Beach just three weeks before and it didn't have an iron it. But I wasn't telling the Londoner that.

The lady spoke up again. "Complete with an ironing board?" She said it if an ironing board in a hotel room was quite gauche.

"Yes, complete with an ironing board." I wasn't backing down. Sure, after having spent several weeks in Europe, I do get occasionally embarassed about some American things. For instance, a well-known American personality attended a nice cocktail reception wearing a fairly nice pair of slacks and sport coat. He also wore a pair of open-toed sandals over his white socks. He was not the fist American I'd seen do this in the past month. Still, I'm proud to be an American, despite the sandals and all.

"Yes, complete with an ironing board."

"Well, maybe they want you to use the hotel's dry cleaning service," the lady offered. She could tell I was legitmately perplexed and not a little bit put off by the lack of ironing capabilities.

To wit: In Demark, I spent twenty minutes trying to turn on the lights in the hotel room. Eventually I discovered I had to shove my room key in a slot by the door. Suffice it to say, I peed in the dark once before figuring it out. Once I got the lights on, I went in search of an iron to press my shirt beefore going to the casino. All I culd find was some Medievel device labeled "Trouser Press." The hinged device purported to press slacks, which did me no good, because I needed to iron a dress shirt. I attempted to make it work for my needs but ended up putting more wrinkles in my chemise than it originally had. Trouser press, my ass.

It's odd, I say. These hotels go out of their way to make you exceedingly comfortable, but they won't give you a way to iron your clothes. In Monte Carlo, the housekeeper nearly had a fit every day when she came to my room and discovered I hadn't turned off the "Do Not Disturb" light. By early afternoon--every day--she would call to make sure I was okay and to ask when she could make up the room. Then she would come back to the room and slip a form under the door apologizing for not making up my bed.

While it was all very nice--a little too nice, if you ask me--my clothes were still wrinkled.

Frankly, it almost seems like entrapment. To get into the finer areas of restaurants and casinos, one is often required to wear a jacket and tie. And, yet, no iron.

A co-worker said he endulged--for no small fee--in the hotel's dry cleaning service and was quite impressed with the outcome. Me, however, I just can't justify--even at my employer's expense--spending dozens of euros to let some underpaid worker do what I could do in ten minutes, standing in my underwear in front of a full-length mirror (ugly image, ain't it?).

Now, I'm in Nice, France at the Cote D'Azure airport, sitting in another uncomfortable chair. It was suggested I get ot the airport early. The Delta agents didn't arrive until 45 minutes after I got here. Now I'm through security and waiting for the passport control booths to open so i cann go to the gate.

My bags are stuffed with wrinkled, smelly clothes. I'm wearing the same jeans I was wearing that night in the bar and the same shirt I was wearing when my son was born. There's some sort of grease stain on the chest that I think came from some odd birthing juice. I've developed a runny nose and cough in the past three days that I'm pretty sure is SARS.

In just about an hour, I'll board my flight bound for JFK where I'll catch my connection to Atlanta and then home to GreenVegas.

And you know what I'm going to do when I get there?

Well, I'll tell you this: I'm not going to iron a damned thing.

Blame it on Europe.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Perspective and perspectives from Vienna

Lufthansas' planes don't have little TV screens in the seatbacks. I didn't mind so much. The movie was "Finding Neverland" and, though I didn't know it at the time, I'd have a startling dream starring Johnny Depp in a few days. So, I drifted in and out of sleep. I was one of the lucky ones on this trip, I'd eventually find. Between bad weather and a Paris air controllers strike, some of the people trying to make the same trip were stuck in various international airports with no hope of making to Vienna in time for the poker tournament.

Landing in Frankfurt, Germany, I privately laid 3:1 odds against my luggage arriving in Vienna. I think my handicapping was a little generous. I should've known by this time that my bags don't like Europe and ony come when they are duped into thinking they are going to Vegas...or even Boise.

As the cab driver wound through the streets of this old city (where I still sit waiting for a flight to Zurich that will eventually take me to Nice for a helicopter ride to Monte Carlo), I stared out at the falling snow and realized that while it has snowed in my hometown this winter, I've only seen the falling white in foreign countries this year. The thought made me a little homseick.

My bags would eventually arrive and I'd spend another several days in a foreign cardroom watching angry and elated poker players playing for a lot more cah than I made last year. Unlike other trips, I was pleased to see a lot of familiar faces. John, a friend from home, was in the country on business and joined me for a night of fun. I also saw a number people I've seen on other trips. One in particular was a dealer who always greets me in the same way. Though I hadn't seen her in two months, she didn't disappoint. The first words out of her mouth were, in fact, "How's your ass?" She had been witness to a particularly low point in my life in which in an unbelievably inebriated state, I climbed a large fake rock and promptly fell off. Apparently, she tells the story all over Europe. She was kind enough to stand and talk with me for a while which made the city feel a lot less lonely.

I feel as though I'd be doing all my readers a disservice if I didn't mention one of the most obvious things about this city. To the more worldly, it likely seems no big deal. I'll let you be the judge.

I set up my workstation in the tournament area against a locked door. As I started to work I couldn't help but notice the sound of female voices through the door. Later in the night, I heard lots of music and more voices. Later, I went outside and took a look at the adjoining building. It all made sense when I looked at the sign on the giant building. Even a midwestern boy like myself knows that a sauna in a building that big is not, in fact, one giant steam bath.

Later, a European player who tends to chat me up a bit suggested that I looked worn out.

"Lotta long nights," I said.

"You should go next door," he suggested with an elbow in my ribs. Apparently, he was speaking from experience.

I patted him on the back and didn't say out loud what I was thinking. "Number one...I need to stay married. Number two...coming home with the crabs would be a very bad idea."

It's hard to sum up these weeks in Europe. Most of the interesting stories involve poker, a subject about which only a few of my readers here care (I think). However, there are a few things I can offer future European travelers...just so you know.

1) European computer keyboards are incredibly hard to use. I've typed this entire post on one and I'm about to lose my mind. For instance, the "y" and "z" are switched. The @ symbol is on the "q" button. The apostrophe is where it normally is, but requires hitting shift. If you miss the shift button, you end up with a #. The the quoatino marks are above the 2. And that's just a few things. I'm still not sure what to do with the € or $ or ß or ä or µ symbols. Oh, and I still can't find the backslash.

2) I spent the first couple days here thinking everyone was calling me Peter. I'm still not entirely sure what they were saying. My best guess is that I was misunderstanding the German word for "please" which is "bitte." I may be wrong.

3) Bring a book because CNN International is about the only thing you'll find on TV in English.

4)I've not been in a European hotel yet that has an iron in it.

5) Every hotel I've been in has had fantastic pillows.

6) I could get used to the Euro (€). No bill smaller than a five, with 1 and 2 € coins. I find it much better than the Danish Kroner (although I really did like the Kroner with the hole in it)

7) Goulash gets old after a few days.

8) When you order toast in Vienna, they give you a dish of ketchup with it.

9) European drunks are just as annoying as American drunks.

10) Major airports in Europe really need to reconsider the material they use for their waiting chairs. Waiting in a metal seat for three hours is about as uncomfortable as it gets.

11) I still haven't gotten used to the time zone switch. I won't bore you with when I'm sleeping, but it just ain't right.

When I was trying to go to sleep this morning, I listened to a continuous loop of programming on CNN International. In a story about the Pope, I learned that Easter is a week from today (er...yesterday).

I've never been much of a religous person in the traditional sense and the Easter holiday has never meant much to me on a spirtual level. Still, I have very fond memories of Easter from my childhood. For many years it meant a great meal at my grandma's house, followed by an Easter egg hunt. Unlike a lot of the hunts I saw in my later years, my childhood searches involved a search for a real, personal, decorated, hard-boiled egg. Sure, we'd get candy-filled eggs, too, but the real find was finding your own egg with your name on it.

So, I got a little sad when I realized that I won't be with my kid on Easter. Sure, he won't know the damned difference. Still, it made me a little homesick.

Around five in the morning, I logged on to the Net and chatted with some friends in America. As I sat bitching about how I wanted to be home, one of them offered me a bit of perspective. She lost a good portion of one of her breasts during an unexpected surgery last week.

So, again, my life ain't so bad.

It's now a little after eight in the morning here in Vienna. I still have to kill a couple hours before I head to the airport.

Eventually, I figure, I'll get my head wrapped around this trip and the ones before it in a way that might make for some interesting reading. For now, though, I'll leave you with this drivel.

Next stop: Monte Carlo. Then home for a blissful two months. If I'm lucky.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Anyone remember the time...

...I drank a bottle of gin and ran screaming from the back door of 1931 Juniper Circle? As I recall, I made some incoherent declaration about the size of my man-part, then collapsed on my face near the foot of the Green Monster.

For some reason I thought of that when I saw this pictures from last night.

Somehow, in the span of six months, my life has slipped into a state of such wild sobriety that I actually spent my Sunday evening on a pair of roller skates.

I comforted myself by saying I look like I'm drunk in the picture.

How has this happened?

Well, a lot of it has to do with these two loves of my life.

I'm leaving them in about 12 hours. I'll be gone for two weeks in such locales as Vienna, Venice (for 29 minutes), and Monte Carlo.

Sobering, isn't it?

Friday, March 04, 2005

An afternoon in Miami

I love flat-rate cab rides. There's no worry that the cabbie is going to drive you around town, pick up his dry cleaning and bag of meth, then drop you at your destination for an additional $75.

So, when I pulled up in front of the Hotel Victor on Miami's South Beach and fumbled for my cash, I was in a decent mood. A valet in a sharp white suit opened my door before I had a chance to ask for a receipt form the cabbie. He waited while I counted out the bills, asked me my name, and grabbed my bag. What I didn't knw was a hidden microphone on his lapel had broadcasted my name to he front desk where another man in a sharp suit and well-coifed hair was running my name through the computer. In the lobby, a large aquarium filled with jellyfish drew my interest. After a brief problem with the reservation, another man in a white suit and even-better-coifed hair deposited me in my room. It's a room that for one night will cost more than twice my entire hotel bill from my last trip to Vegas.

The plasma TV is nice, although I've somehow left it on TNT and one of Clint Eastwood's worst-ever films. It drove me out into the streets, where heavy bass thumps in the street on an after-sundown Friday night. Joggers run along the beack walk, a young couple draws from a joint as they walk, and a tattoo shop seems all-too inviting. Why, at the age of 31, I find myself wanting to quietly slip into the slop and have myself painted, I don't know. Call it a midlife crisis. I thought about growing a beard, too.

I didn't do either.

After checking in with Mrs. Otis and marvelling at how palm trees always make me feel a little more relaxed (ski lodges, poker rooms, and the mountains of North Carolina all have the same effect)I made my way back to the hotel. The Bat-Light that zipped back and forth across the hotel's tower was as impossible to miss as the double-d breasts on the bartendress that served me lunch (she was six feet tall and I still thought she might tip-over qand drench her pigtails in the bar slop).

If this party was supposed to be a big secret, it's not anymore. The Bat-Light gives it away. The symbol is familiar. Superman wore it on his chest. But with Superman finaly giving way to Kryptonite, a new superhero of sorts has co-opted the symbol. It's not his only symbol. He also wears the number 32.

Today we celebrate #32 turning 33.

And, for some reason, I'm on the guest list.

It's still early by South Beach standards. I'd suspect the harder-core of the revelers are just down downing thier first Starbucks of the day. So, I wait, wishing Clint Eastwood hadn't made this movie and and convinced Angela Bassett, Jeff Daniels, and Angelica Houston to participate.

There's an episode of Seinfeld in which somebody asks Kramer how they look. With almost a frightened look on his face, he can only offer, "Odd..."

I keep mutterinig that word over and over again.

Advertisting inquiries to:
blackjack terminology
New canadian casino online poker web, which is owned by 888 casino announced launching before a few months. They are focusing only on Canadians and their specific needs (e.g. payment methods etc.),so you are able to play online games such as poker comfortably in your national background.

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
Current Posts
    Creative Commons License

Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license