Exciting Karaoke Adventures

Last night I allowed myself to be dragged off to Pickering for karaoke, mainly in an attempt on my part to avoid the rainbow hordes (my place being not too far from Pride Ground Zero.) It actually turned out to be a little bit of all right; nice venue (the basement of the Fox & Fiddle Mansion), decently enthusiastic and fun crowd, and a rather gorgeous, sweet and competent (you'd be stunned at how rare the latter is in Toronto) bartender.

Someone there asked me what "my songs" were. As the list of Travesties each month demonstrates I don't have a small list of songs I sing regularly, but there are some songs I tend to think of as my 'go-to' repetoire, the songs that with the right audience and on the right night can absolutely kill. Off the top of my head that list would include, in no particular order:

Mac the Knife - Bobby Darin
Rock 'n' Roll Suicide - David Bowie
Hallelujah - Rufus Wainright
Creep - Radiohead
Aenima - Tool
Little Red Corvette - Prince
Go With The Flow - Queens of the Stone Age
Everlong - Foo Fighters

I'm likely forgetting a couple.

So if you ever wonder which karaoke songs I consider "mine", this would be the closest thing to that list.

Me On Teh Innernets

Did another radio spot today on Rotowire's Fantasy Focus internet show. I'm on starting just before the 20 minute mark, and then again after the 25 minute mark due to phone issues. Feel free to mock my motor mouth and my lack of a good radio delivery.


All the shit going on in the world, and this is what has the Beltway Bloodclots* in a tizzy?

It may seem unseemly, given the apparent bloodshed in Iran today, to dwell on fallout among the media and bloggers about the Obama administration’s selective process for taking questions at a presidential news conference.

But within the bubble of the Beltway, and along the sprawling information dashboards on the Web, a tangential issue to news coverage of the Iranian situation has been stirring a lot of discussion, stemming from the circumstances surrounding President Obama’s decision at yesterday’s news conference to call on Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post.

May seem unseemly?

New rule: if you call yourself a reporter or a journalist, and especially if you work in DC, you now have to prove to me that you are not a bloodclot*. You no longer get a presumption of innocence that you are not routinely engaged in self-absorbed fuckery*, rather than doing your damn job.

I'd say "shame on them", but clearly they have none.

Now I have to create a new Indictment. Goddamn it.

* - All Jamaican slang courtesy Shottas.

Desperate and Petty

I'm not sure how else to view this spiteful act by the Iranian government:

According to the pro-government newspaper Iran, four players – Ali Karimi, 31, Mehdi Mahdavikia, 32, Hosein Ka'abi, 24 and Vahid Hashemian, 32 – have been "retired" from the sport after their gesture in last Wednesday's match against South Korea in Seoul.

They were among six players who took to the field wearing wristbands in the colour of the defeated opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, which has been adopted by demonstrators who believe the 12 June election was stolen.

Mahdavikia was the national team's captain. Karimi plays for Bayern Munich. These are hardly scrubs they are kicking off the squad.


Sully just posted this link to BBC's Farsi site, and he's right -- it's incredible footage.

The thing that struck me more than simply the sight of the small group of militia turning and running, was the scale of their response. Many of them were doing nothing more than throwing back the rocks that were being hurled at them. Not even tear gas was being used.

You can hear gunfire but I didn't see any of the protesters drop, and given the reports of blanks being used it's possible no one was in any severe danger at all.


Who Follows Iran's Lead?

Arguably there are three underlying conditions that led to the events in Iran this week:

A) A repressive insular regime, ruling
B) a very young population that
C) is increasingly 'wired' to connect them to the outside world, and to each other

Given those criteria, which Middle Eastern countries might be the next 'domino' to fall, if a wave of democratic Islam starts building?

Egypt is a likely suspect. In 2005 21% of their population was under 25 (as compared to Iran's 25%), and the government's suppression of bloggers expressing dissent are well-known.

How about Syria? They were at 23% under 25 in '05, and they too have cracked down on bloggers and social networking sites.

Libya was also at 23% under 25 in '05, and like Iran they have a nominally democratic facade added on to Qadhafi's dictatorship. His efforts to normalize international relations with the West don't seem to have been matched with much of a change to the country's internal policies.

The fact that there are so many countries who could, on a surface examination, be inspired by events in Iran just underscores how important a new revolution could be.

Council Bluffs

At the moment I feel the need to write about something that isn't Iran, so here's the rules to that Omaha varient I mentioned earlier. The game isn't my invention; if I figure out who did I'll add the appropriate credit.

Council Bluffs is essentially Omaha Eights-or-Better, only it's not played as a split pot game. The entire pot is either taken by the best low hand (if there's a qualifying Omaha low on the board), or the best high hand (if there isn't.)

As with Omaha and O8B, you deal four cards to each player, following by a round of betting. A three card flop is revealed, followed by a round of betting, then a single turn and river card are revealed, each followed by a round of betting.

Players then make their best five card hand using exactly two cards from their hand, and exactly three cards from the table.

If there are three different cards eight or lower on the board, 'best hand' then becomes the best low hand. Your best hand isn't determined by normal 'lowball' rules, though, as you must use three cards eight or lower from the board. The cards you use from your hand have no such restriction.

Example 1: Two players show down their hand at the end. The board is A-2-8-10-J, meaning the best low hand will take the pot. Player A shows A-2-Q-K; Player B shows 10-J-Q-K. Because both players must use the A-2-8 from the board, Player B will take the pot by using their 10-J; Player A, having been counterfeited on their A-2, must use their Q-K.

If there are not three different cards eight or lower on the board, however, the hand is played just as if it were regular high Omaha, and the best poker hand takes the pot.

Example 2: Same two players, same hole cards, but the board is now A-2-2-10-J. Player A and Player B now tie with ace-high straights (both using A-J-10 from the board, and K-Q from their hands) and chop the pot.

Strategically, it's quite different from either 'regular' version of Omaha (high or O8B). For example, consider the following:

Your hand: A-A-K-Q

The board: A-A-2-9.

Currently, you hold the absolute best possible high hand -- quad aces. If the river card makes a low, though, (24 outs to do so -- any card three through eight) your hand is dead. You'll be playing the worst possible low hand, using your K-Q.

That potential uncertainty as to whether the board will play high or low heading to the river is what makes the game so evil, and what makes its name (Council Bluffs being the smaller city in Iowa across the Missouri River from Omaha) so appropriate. The winner is often going to be the player who can make it 'across the river' with their hand intact.

One other strategic tip I've gleaned from the little that I've played the game so far: low pocket pairs are worth even less than they are in regular high Omaha, since even if you hit trips the odds are that much better the hand will be played for low, and your trips will be worthless.

Personally I think the game is brilliant. It fits nicely into the Omaha 'family' but is different enough to offer some very unique problems and opportunities, and it has at least as much 'heartbreak' potential as other forms of Omaha.

I've Been Crying Lately

Thinking about the world as it is...

Thank you, Yusef.

Denying Their Grief

The Iranian government, presumably in an effort to end the 'cycle of mourning' I spoke of below, is making it very difficult for families to retrieve the bodies of those that died in the protests. From the Guardian:

one of my relatives has a friend, whose sister works as a nurse in one of the bigger hospitals in Tehran. She told him that the bodies of the approximatley 30 people who were killed during last week's protests are in her hospital, and the regime refuses to give their families access to them, in fear of their names getting out, because that will probably cause a public outrage. Thing is, the families that are waiting ouside the hospitals, don't know if it's their children that are there or not...
Other reports indicate that families are being charged large sums -- between 10m rials and 150m rials (£611 and £9,165) -- to retrieve their dead.

It's a callous, if smart, move by the government, but I think it's futile. People denied an outlet for their grief will simply invest more emotional energy in images like those of Neda.