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, October 30, 2006

Coming soon to a year near you

Jessica Simpson's sex tape had just sweated its way onto the Internet. Just two days had passed since Tom Cruise was shot outside the Los Angeles offices of the Church of Scientology. His martyrdom had led all nightly newscasts for the past 48 hours and the killer--not remarkably, a psychistrist who had been sued for providing anti-psychotic drugs to a schizophrenic patient with Scientologist parents--had "escaped" from custody. Had Simpson not recently adopted a baby from the Congo, her on-tape foot fetish and Burger King porn might not have made the news. However, as every member of the paparazzi had shot film of Simpson cradling her African child, the juxtaposition was too much for the news producers to pass up. The split screen showed Simpson feeding soy milk to her adopted son on the left, and on the right, Simpson using her toes to feed a Whopper to Kevin Federline. Britney didn't care. She was mourning Cruise.

It was January 18, 2008. In years past, the day had been celebrated for a lot of things. Twenty-five years earlier, it was the first time that Martin Luther King Jr. Day had been celebrated in every one of the United States. Two decades earlier, The Jefferson's had appeared for the first time on CBS. About 110 years earlier, Georgia decided it would join up with South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida in seceding from the United States. But on this day, Brian Williams--with no small amount of pain in his face--started his newscast in front of a chroma key wall featuring the smiling face of Jessica Ann Simpson.

"Today," Williams said in his nasal baritone, "America's sweetheart became America's latest fast food craze. Last night, Chris Matthews was the first to tell you that Jessica Simpson has once again become one Whopper of a story. Tonight, we know the identity of the man who made that now infamous sandwich."

Fifteen minutes of the newscast went by, during which viewers heard the tales of Simpson's epicurial exploits, the latest body count in Iraq, the latest petroleum industry ad campaign (50 Cent's latest diddy that declared, "What's another fiddy cents?!!"), and a self-effacing admission that news producers now spent as much time on "To Catch a Predator" segments as they did mining "The Daily Show" and The Drudge Report for news.

In the second half of the show, following a commercial touting a new pill that cured both scrotal wrinkling and premature ejaculation, the producers slipped in a VO (newsie speak for a voice-over, a 30-second bit of video with no soundbites and meant to subliminally convey the least amount of importance) from the Los Angeles bureau.

"Just south of San Diego today," Williams said quickly, "a division of the California Guard moved in to monitor a voting rights demonstration. Democratic activists have spent a reported $500,000 in the Chula Vista area in an attempt to educate Hispanic voters. Last week, the Bush administration directed the California Guard to keep tabs on the situation. The California Governor's office is said to oppose the move, but under federal law, the President can direct the state guard without the Governor's consent."

Thirty seconds passed and Williams moved on to the snow storm that was hitting Washington D.C. and mentioned it may have an effect on President Bush's travel schedule.

A little more than two years earlier, America yawned.

In 2006, a time that on January 18, 2008 seemed like a decade ago, Congress was in a hurry to get home for mid-term elections. It was a time that pundits said Democrats could take over Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994. In the months leading up to the election, eleventh hour riders had been attached to so many bills that even the lawmakers didn't know on what they were voting. They voted to increase the tax burden on American expatriates. They voted to outlaw online gambling. They voted to allow torture of suspected terrorists. And they voted to, in essence, override the Posse Comitatus Act.

Fortunately for the news producers and all of America, it was soon revealed that Jessica Simpson had leaked the Whopper Sex Tape on her own in an effort to distract attention from the Congo Baby Incident. Moreover, closer inspection revealed the sandwich in question was actually a Jumbo Jack and not a Whopper. Burger King's sales plummeted to the point that President Bush hinted at the possibility of a federal bail out. Simpson's Congo Baby became second-block news when it was revealed that Katie Holmes had never married Tom Cruise and her baby belonged to a man from Malaysia named Hoppy.

Ten months later, federal troops were stationed at 80% of American polling places and President George W. Bush was elected to a third term in office.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Time-biding with gourds

My new therapist

Nearly ten years ago I stood on a train platform in Europe with three of my best buddies. We had spent a couple of weeks going from London to Amsterdam to Paris to London to Inverness and back to London. During this time, we rode on a lot of trains (and one very tilty overnight ferry across the North Sea). Anyone who has lived or traveled outside of the United States knows that getting around isn't always as simple as hopping in your Civic and zipping down to the beach. Trains are on schedules and schedules are meant to fall apart.

During this time, we four travelers (and this was back in the day when we could afford to be travelers instead of tourists) spent a lot of time waiting on trains. Back then, I was fond of sitting back on the cold mental benches and declaring, "I like to wait."

My buddies protested over and over again, and would continue to protest as I re-affirmed my waiting tolerance for the next several years.

It would be several years before I realized that, in fact, I don't like to wait nearly as much as I thought I did. Right now, I'm stuck in a hamster-wheel of waiting that I have no power to control. I've done all I can do. Now, I can't do much but sit back and wait. While not entirely taxing physically, it's a strain on the noodle.

Yesterday, I found comfort in the tedious task of creating (with my family) my new waiting pal, Oh-no Jack.

Nope. Don't like to wait anymore.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Richie Havens and Radio Silence

A friend of mine e-mailed a few days back to question the deafening silence around my corner of the internet. In fact, a few of you have started posing questions and they are all really fair. I just can't answer them right now, because I'm stuck on a question that has to be answered really soon and I have no idea what the answer is going to be. I promise, when the time is right, I'll tell you all about it. For now, suffice it to say that I'm back from LEAF and it was a much-needed and wonderful experience.

My friend, T, took the picture below on one of the mornings we spent next to the lake. It's one of my favorites he's taken in years.

Before I drop into my decision box for a few days, I have to recount one moment from LEAF that is going to stick with me for a while.

We weren't sure if we really wanted to hike around the lake to see Richie Havens. If you'd asked me on Wednesday, I might have said Havens was part of another era, worn out, and likely could not speak to 2006 America. Woodstock was nearly 40 years ago you know?

Something, and I'm still not sure what, moved me off my ass. I grabbed the wife and followed a couple of friends around the lake to the main stage. The crowd was packed under the tent and forced us to stand on the periphery. My wife is non-tall and struggled to see what I could see on stage. Havens looked old, as I expected, but the sound was pure and verging on something spiritual. I realized immediately that I was enjoying myself. My thoughts drifted from my main source anxiety to nothing as I listened to Havens' jam. For a while, he was alone on stage. His voice was stronger than most 25 year-olds, despite the fact he'll turn 66 in a few months. John Lennon once said that Havens played, "a pretty funky guitar," and even in the cold, dusk air of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Havens fingers moved so effortlessly over the frets that I alternated between awe and envy.

When Havens slipped into a cover of CSN Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," none of us immiedately recognized it. It was slow in the beginning and it took most of us until this part to figure out what he was singing...

We are stardust,
we are golden
We are ten billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

By now, another guitarist and a cellist had joined Havens on stage and moved into a driving jam that needed no drums. Hell, it didn't even need electricity. By the middle of it, we were all so stunned by what we were hearing, we were on the verge of tears. When it was over, the crowd called Havens encore. It turned out to be a semi-acapella version of Pink Floyd's "On the Turning Away." This part hung in the air when he sang it:

On the wings of the night as the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite in a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange, mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change on the wings of the night

On the way back to camp, we all agreed that we had seen something sort of special. I admitted I didn't think Havens could speak to 2006 and admitted that he proved me wrong. Somehow, a man who was born before my father, who came to importance 40 years ago, who sang a Pink Floyd song that was actually on an album from 1987 (after Roger Waters left the band), touched an Appalachian crowd in 2006.

Around the campfire, I was curiously quiet for an hour or so before asking a few friends, "How long do you think it took America to realize that Woodstock was going to be a cultural phenomenon? Do you think it was immediate or took a while?"

My friend Beth spoke up. "I think they knew immediately."

Everybody nodded their heads and continued to nod when I off-handedly talked about how something like that couldn't be manufactured, that it just had to happen.

Richie Havens opened Woodstock with his song "Motherless Child," with the word "Freedom" repeated many times through the song's drive.

Everyone was still nodding about the inability to force cultural change through manufactured symbols. Everyone was still nodding when someone said, "They just have to happen.

And nobody stopped nodding when someone else said, "Maybe it's time."


Monday, October 16, 2006


The previous post was sort of an inside joke.

Seven years ago this month, life didn't require a great deal of responsibility. The little lady and I were not yet married. We'd not yet even considered having a kid. In fact, taking the dog to the kennel was about the only stressor that preceded us driving up into the North Carolia mountains to join some new-found friends for a weekend of autumn camping and music festival goodness.

It was already dark when we arrived and set up camp. The forecast called for rain, but the downpours hadn't started yet. In fact, that Friday night was as relaxing as anyone could want. By Saturday morning, though, the skies opened. The converted soccer fields turned to a post modern Woodstock homage and previously clean hippies got dirtier by the minute.

We weren't hippies in the historical or revisionist sense. We were outdoorsy types who lived music. We were the kind of folks who liked to sit, drink beer, and strum guitars. We didn't even mind a little rain. This day, though, the rain defined relentless. We woke to cookies that had soaked in the humidity and camping chairs that would be wet until they were thrown away. The engineer among us had quickly constructed a fine rain shelter, but even his sense for high-minded angles and water distribution channels was no match for what the North Carolina clouds had in mind for us that day.

One thing was clear, however. We weren't leaving. No sir, we were most certainly not. And so we sat under the shelter, laughed, ate soggy cookies, and waited for the rain to pass. What began as rain slowly turned into more. We were about halfway up a small mountain. Like the wind tunnel experiments you see on car commercials, the earth's broom slipped over the top of the mountain and did its best to destroy our shelter. As the rain pooled on the top of the tarps and the wind struck, it seemed certain we would soon be without sheleter. Every time a gust hit hard, those of us on the edge of the shelter would grab the poles and intone, "Hold. Holllllllld."

The flag that marks Tent City with our shelter in the background, circa 1999

Since then, our tactics have changed. We camp in a different place and have become quite skilled at protecting ourselves from the elements. Still, we we head up the mountain and it looks like rain, we build a shelter, and when it looks like it might blow down, we still intone, "Hoooollllllld."

The past two weeks have been, in a word, bad. Even if I have done my best not to express it to most people, I've been wrecked. Apart of from letting loose over beers with Uncle Ted on Friday night and nearly losing it with my wife on Saturday, I've been rather quiet about the whole thing, despite being more than a little fucked up. It's the kind of fucked up that's kept me from buying beer for the house because I'm afraid I'll develop a problem. It's the kind of problem that made me forget to call my friend Su (at left) back on Sunday (sorry, Su-choo). At the root of all the problems is professional concern that doesn't really involve anybody else. The problem is, even though it's a rather personal issue, it affects my relationships with other people. To wit: Friday night, after beers with Ted (I limited myself to two drinks for fear of dropping over a dark edge), I found myself in Emilio driving down a dark highway. I knew the wife was asleep. Ted was headed off to do some other stuff. My other friends were busy with family or otherwise unavailable. The next thing I knew, I was in a town 20 minutes away and sitting next to a man named Snake (I know because it was tattooed on his throat). He had tats all over his body, including six-inch-tall renderings of Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, and Elvis on his left shin. It's a card game I'd vowed not to re-visit, but did anyway, because it was the only place I knew to go. And Snake didn't know that I was all fucked up.

Last night, my wife and I tried to remember the last time we went to LEAF. It was either 18 months or two years ago. We don't remember. We know we've been once since our son was born. However, that's a far cry from our old schedule under which we went every May and October.

We're going back this week. Over the weekend, we went shopping for necessities and I felt the old times coming back. Propane, hand warmers, and whiskey. It's a recipe for getting away from everything. I can sit by the lake, listen to music, and not give a damn what my e-mail inbox holds.

If you just don't get it, I understand. I didn't really get it until I went either. It took me forever to find some old pictures online that sort of tell the story. The one on the left is my wife and I at the main stage. Both of us have that look in our eye that tells me we didn't really care if we made it back to camp that night or not. As long as we could hang on to each other at that stage for a while, we'd be cool. At the right is my buddy, T, involved in a high-stakes Euchre game. That's one of the things we do. Instead of playing poker for hundreds or thousdands of dollars, we sit back and play Euchre for the pride of saying the other guy sucks eggs at Euchre. In fact, a little known fact here, my wife once was just as exasperated with the amount of time I spent playing Euchre as she sometimes is with the amount of time I play poker. That said, she endures it and has since taken up playing Gin with me. That's just the kind of woman I'm fortunate to have found. And when I settle in for 48 hours of Euchre this weekend, she probably won't say much. Much.

Oh, and while we're looking at pictures, let's check out Uncle Ted in his less hairy, younger days.

At LEAF, they have this experience called Contra Dancing. The only way I've ever been able to describe it to people is, "Like sqaure dancing, but cool." I've tried it, but am usually too far into the day to make it into the night. It requires a certain level of concentration that I don't normally have at LEAF. Ted, however, is quite good at it. I suspect my wife will follow him to the dance hall one night this weekend. And, yeah, I'll probably be a little jealous, but not enough to get off my ass and go myself. Oh, and Ted's expression there has nothing to do with contra dancing. He is, in fact, throwing up what we call the Wootlers. That's a story for another day.

And then there is the drum circle (pictured above the way most people view it). This is the experience that most outsiders hear about and say, "Yep, a bunch of fucked up hippies with their drums and their tree-hugging outfits." To a degree, that's true, but only on the surface. For us, it's about the 1am hike up the mountain. During the day, it would be a pretty easy climb, but at night, it's trecherous and enough to make some people say, "Maybe tomorrow night." For us, it's a point of pride to make it all the way through the day and night and then make the long walk and long climb up the mountain to the bonfire. Once there, you can do whatever you want. Me, I like to climb up a small rise and watch everything from above. Of course, making it back down to camp is a point of pride for me. If I can do it without stumbling and crashing to the ground, I consider it a night well spent.

Yeah, that's pretty much how it goes and it is exactly where I'm going. Come Thursday, you won't reach me by IM. You won't reach me by e-mail. You might catch me on my cellphone, but only until it the battery dies off from the cold. I'll be sitting along side this lake, watching the sky for rain, and telling my head to "Hold. Hoooollllllld."

Oh, and by the way, somebody I...know...has started a blog that should keep you pretty entertained if you like passionate rants and the like. Check out, In Search of Walden.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A simple request...


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Hello, sheeps

***Now with working home video...sorry***

After many too many weeks buried in work and self-concern, I was reminded this weeked of the importance of spending time with those closest to me. With that in mind, we headed out to the pumpkin patch (which, if the 400 other people there were any indication, is quite a popular autumn tradition).

My favorite line from the kid on Saturday, as he wandered around the farm area: "Hello, sheeps!"

In short, this post is only an excuse to post a few kid-pics for the folks back home.

Oh, and my favorite line from the kid today, following the game-ending interception in the Philly/Dallas game: "T.O. crying..."


Oh, and I couldn't help but add some pictures, video, and daddy guitar noodling to the kid post. I'll get back to being moody and snarky soon...promise.


Thursday, October 05, 2006


I got some news last night that made me realize my little toubles are nothing. Nothing at all.

I'm not going to write anything about it. Just hug your kids, and if you have some positive thoughts to send in the direction of St. Louis, please do so. Some very good friends need all the positive thoughts they can get right now.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

State of Otis' State Address

...oh, so you came here trying to figure out if I'd jumped off a ledge yet? Well, the answer is nuh-uh. Traffic here was way up on Monday. I can only assume it's because there was a giant beacon on your favorites section that flashed a marquee reading "Otis' head to explode -- Click here."

There have a been a couple times in my professional life that I've gone into information lock-down. This happens to be one of them, partially because I can't say much, and partially because I don't know much.

That said, I thank everyone for the phone calls, e-mails, and instant messages that came in all day. Despite having trash bags under my eyes and a fatigue that can only be described as debilitating, I'm doing alright. Your concern made the day a little better.

Oh, and if I'm being a little too cryptic for those out of the loop, I apologize. All's well for now. As for it ending well, we'll just have to wait and see.

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