Tuesday, June 11, 2013

No. 359 – Song X

Performer: Neil Young
Songwriter: Neil Young
Original Release: Mirror Ball
Year: 1995
Definitive Version: None

First things first: Not that it matters, but because it is my autobiographical blog, I should mention that I now am working on a new MacBook Pro. I bought it on sale in April and finally got around to translating enough of my old files into workable files for the new computer that I made more or less the final swap last night. (Just don’t ask me about importing my old mail, however …)

I’ve always liked the sea-shanty nature of this song, so whenever I heard it, I’d swing my tankard during the chorus making sure to hit hard with a loud clunk at the end of the chorus and drain the tankard in one draught.

Anyway, before I went to Las Vegas for the first time in 2001, I thought I had some idea of what to expect. In retrospect, that was silly.

Mordecai Brown could count on all of the fingers on his right hand the number of times I had been in a casino. My third experience was at Scott’s bachelor party in Windsor, Canada, 1996, already documented. The other two times at least were in Nevada.

Of course, going to Reno and Lake Tahoe and saying you knew what it would be like in Vegas from those experiences would be like going to visit Milwaukee and Indianapolis and saying you knew what Chicago would be like. There are similarities, sure, but it’s a totally different world.

My first casino experience was in Reno on my senior-year trip with Dad in 1982. My second was in Tahoe City with Debbie in 1995, and the only reason I went at all was to try and find the Reds-Braves NLCS on TV.

You might recall that MLB in 1995 unleashed probably its most hair-brained scheme ever. Because the powers that be were concerned about sagging ratings for postseason games, they thought the solution was not to show the games earlier and change rules to make sure they moved along smartly but to show all the games simultaneously via The Baseball Network. Regional coverage would translate into better ratings overall. I suppose because of its relative proximity to Seattle, California got the Seattle-Cleveland series.

So Debbie and I couldn’t watch our beloved Reds at our hotel. Well, a casino has a sports book. It shows everything, right? It HAD to be able to show the NLCS. Debbie and I hiked over to Harrah’s, but on every TV was the Mariners-Indians game. I asked about the Reds-Braves and was told, no, because of The Baseball Network, it was Mariners-Indians. Even a casino couldn’t get it!

Well, while I was here, I might as well do a little gambling. (It was still called that back then instead of gaming.) When I went to Reno, I just played slots. Now that I was part of a poker posse, I had far more affinity for card games, so I pulled up a seat at an otherwise unoccupied blackjack table.

Well, I might as well had tried to negotiate a peace treaty between African tribes I wouldn’t have been any more out of my element. The game moved so fast, I barely had time to blink before my chips were gone. I lost $20 in five minutes to a dealer who had no time or patience, apparently, for a newbie.

As a result, I never had any interest in going to Vegas, but when Jin called in summer 2001 and asked if I wanted to participate in the Ratpack outing in September, the invite reached me at just the right time. What else do I have to do? Sure, I’ll check it out. I know what it is, right?

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