When I was a little kid, my grandparents indoctrinated me into the love of casinos.
I know, I know, you’re ready to question their sanity. But trust me, it was all fun and games. My mother’s parents used to take me to Atlantic City once a year or so, let me run wild in the arcade and in the bowling alley (Showboat Hotel had great lanes, I bowled my first over-200 game there!), and then I’d stand behind the velvet ropes in the smoke-filled casino and watch my grandparents gamble.
I was seduced by the sights, the sounds, all of it. Since then, I try to get myself to a casino whenever I can, which in recent years has not been that often.
But the wife and I went to Foxwoods in Connecticut for a few days over Christmas, and it was a hell of a lot of fun, and not just because we won quite a bit more money than we lost (always a good thing).
Some thoughts on a few days on an Indian reservation-turned gambling mecca:
–First thing I noticed: All the people smoking indoors. I’ve gotten so used to being in smoke-free environments the last few years that it was almost shocking to have to breathe in the fumes. Nasty.
— Because I’m me and this is what I do, I tried to schmooze with the blackjack dealers between hands. Some, like Al and Barbara, were friendly and told me about their careers, how long they’ve been there, etc. Others refused to make eye contact, which of course led them to dealing me bad cards (kidding. It just seemed I did better with the nicer dealers.
— Not to say I’m superstitious or anything, but after a particularly good run at the tables, the dealer, Al, went to go work at another table. So I picked up my chips and followed him there.
— One or two stupid players can throw off a whole game. I knew this, and tried to steer clear of people who had no clue what they’re doing. One woman tried to hit on 17, the dealer checked with her to make sure she really wanted to do it, she nodded, and of course she busted.
— Finally, one fabulous and terrible thing about Foxwoods, where a bunch of hotels and restaurants are connected through indoor walkways: I didn’t breathe fresh outside air for two days. And I was fine with that.
**Next up, here’s a 3-year-old making ridiculous trick shots on the basketball court (well, into a basketball hoop, anyway).
This video has to be fake, right? But it looks pretty real to me… Can the kid suit up for my Nets right now, please?
**Finally, the NFL regular season ended Sunday, and I’ll be damned if my New York Jets didn’t leave me feeling good going into the offseason.
Led by Geno Smith, who suddenly looks like he may have a future as a Jets QB, the Gang Green knocked the Miami Dolphins out of a possible playoff spot with a 20-7 win.
Then, owner Woody Johnson announced the Rex Ryan, despite three straight non-playoff seasons, was going to be kept as head coach.
I’m on record here and anywhere else someone has asked me as saying that Rex ought to be fired; he’s a great guy and a terrific motivator but just not a good head coach. The Jets take way too many penalties, they make head-scratching coaching decisions all the time, and Rex’s record of picking players has been spotty at best. I just don’t think the Jets are winning anything with him in charge.
But hey, maybe they get some decent wide receivers, a couple more tight ends, some better offensive linemen, and go to the playoffs next year. Crazier things have happened.
Other quickie-NFL thoughts:
— I think you have to feel good for the San Diego Chargers fans, who have had so many things go against them and so much bad luck over the past 15 years, but finally caught a few breaks and made the playoffs with a crazy 27-24 OT win over Kansas City. The Chiefs played their backups, the Chargers still tried to give it away, got a very fortunate call in overtime, and managed to win and make the playoffs. And you know what? They’ve got a shot at Cincy next week.
— Peyton Manning: 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns this year. Yeah, he never should’ve come back from that neck injury. Amazing human being he is.
— Packers couldn’t have written the script any better. Aaron Rodgers comes back from injury and throws a fourth down, last-minute touchdown pass to beat their hated rival, the Bears? Just amazing.
— I have absolutely no clue what the Cleveland Browns are doing. Firing their coach after 1 season? Crazy.
— Really like the first-round playoff matchups: Cincy-San Diego could be fun, Packers-Niners will be exciting, Kansas City-Indy, should be competitive, and New Orleans/Philly ought to be high-scoring and wild.
— And finally, the Dallas Cowboys. Kyle Orton plays a great game at QB, they’ve got a chance to win it at the end, and he throws a pick. Oh, those Cowboys, they always find a way to entertain.