Monday, October 08, 2012

I never loved a game the way . .



I was in the Borgata poker room waiting on a 1-2 No Limit seat when they announced an open seat at 1-2 Pot Limit Omaha (which is my favorite game), now, due to the crazy swings in Omaha and my current bankroll conditions, I shouldn't have been playing that game. And I'm a bright guy (no, really I am), but sometimes we all do things that we know aren't good for us and that we shouldn't be doing. And so I found myself buying in and taking a shot. I was also, I must admit, in an emotionally agitated state and distracted, two other reasons for me not to be playing a game with lots of temptation and four cards to pay attention to. I was dealt in and quickly started deviating from my gameplan of seeing only the cheapest flops. In poker, when one follows one bad decision with another, worse one, this is called a 'compounding error'. So, of course when I lost my first Buy-in while playing terribly, instead of going to No Limit, I bought back in and proceeded to play even worse, culminated by me playing one hand particularly badly. After a pot building raise put $60 in the pot four handed, the initial raiser bet out $30 and was called by two other players. I had flopped the Nut flush draw and a backdoor straight. My stack was $130, so if I call the $30, I have $100 left. In this situation, if I am going to play the hand I should raise all-in and try to get the pot heads up, but even if other players call, I 'm getting great odds. Instead, I just called and when I missed the Turn, got bet off my hand, even though I picked up top pair. It was pathetic to say the least and I couldn't stop thinking about my bad decision, which lead to me donking off the rest of my stack in frustration. At that point I realized that I needed to leave the Borgata and its distractions behind, so I hopped on a Jitney to the Taj. The ride over let me calm down a little. I clocked into a 1-2 NL game and started trying to work my way back from the morning's disaster. About an hour into it, I realized that I really didn't feel like playing. Just then, my man Footer comes out of the Horse Parlor, "Hey Pitts" he called out, "Check this out!" It turns out that a friend had given him two tickets to the Aretha Franklin concert that night, he asked me if I was interested in going. Of course, I was. The show was starting in 5 minutes, so I made my way to the arena. As I passed the stage I could see a Hammond B-3 organ set up down front. If Aretha had brought an organ, then this way going to be serious! I also could see that she hadn't brought just a band, but also a twenty plus piece orchestra and a bevy of backup singers. The percussionist had three congas, two symphony sized tympani and a vibraphone. Aretha wasn't playing! After about thirty minutes of recorded music, the lights dimmed and the orchestra got busy. They opened with a quick medley of her hits sung by the backups, which included "Daydreaming." The announcer gave her a James Brown style introduction that ened with "the undisputed Queen of Soul" and there she was. The only time I've ever seen her sing live was at the Inauguration of Barack Obama, a bitterly cold day that made it hard for her to warm her voice up and cost her the top quarter of her range. She looks a little slimmer, but still too big and was wearing a very shimmery silver dress. When she started singing a few things became quickly apparent; one is that years of cigarette smoking have seriously abraded her vocal cords, making her tone very raspy and taking away the very top of her range, the other is that her musicianship as a singer is impeccable and she instantly figured out just how much voice she was working with and sang right at that limit. She can still make those crazy melismatic runs and jump octaves whenever she feels like it, she just couldn't hit the highest notes in some of her recorded Ad Libs. She was born to sing and born to perform and was having a good time on stage. Two songs stood out for me; one was when she went over to the piano and sat down and started a long improvised vamp, the video screens started showing pictures of Whitney Houston and it became apparant that the song was "I will always love you." Aretha vamped and ad libbed for a few minutes, then sang the first verse. The musical arrangement was pure Gospel, the vocal arrangement pure Aretha. She made the song hers, similar to the way Isaac Hayes did on his many covers in the 70s. There were more than a few moist eyes in the audience. The other song that really got me was her rendition of "I never loved a man (the way that I love you)", it started out bluesy and gutbucket, with Aretha pouring out her soul across the stage. Her trail of bad and worse relationships is longer than a bridal train and well documented and she drew from that well to bring down the house. Just when one thought the song couldn't get any better, she turned to the band and gave them a signal and they turned the blue ballad into a Gospel stomp at double time. it was amazing to see and hear, now the man she loved more than all others was ostensibly Jesus and she danced holy roller style up and down the front off the stage, testifying to her heart's content. She performed "Daydreaming", "Chain of Fools" and a few other hits and then after a long Gospel number, she left the stage. She came back and did "Respect" as an encore and the show was over. My favorite song by her and the one I most wanted to hear was "Bridge Over troubled Waters" but she didn't perform that one. The show was barely an hour long, many in the audience were disappointed. I have a longstanding policy of not looking for reasons to be unhappy, I didn't get what I really wanted, but it was a good show and cost me nothing other than my time. I walked out of the arena in a much better frame of mind than when I entered. I decided to head over to the Showboat, it was almost 11:00 PM, although I had gotten crushed earlier, there was still plenty of time for me to bounce back from my loss at the Borgata. I always do.

And until next we meet, may all your potatoes be sweet (and dusted with cinnamon.)
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