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As a young lad growing up in New Jersey, summer was my favorite season.  Not so much because of the weather, but really because of the all the free time I had.  I loved the freedom from the regimented school day, and used this new-found autonomy in the most efficient way possible: playing video games and reading comic books.  However, as I’ve become older and more grizzled, summer is dropping down in my season power rankings.  I’m sweating in the subway to work, all vacation spots are increasing their prices, and I spend 20 minutes putting on sunscreen to go out and check the mail.  And yet, even as the glory days of summer become a thing of the past, I still love Memorial Day weekend, as it signifies the start of what will assuredly be the greatest summer ever.  This year, things kicked off the way my younger self would have whole-heartedly approved of: a Third Eye Blind concert.

The crew for this adventure consisted of the Atlantic City veteran and man of leisure, OB, and good-friend-but-Atlantic-City-novice Steve.  Like many of our trips, this tale begins in the subterranean basement of Port Authority, waiting at gate 80….

3:30PM – OB and I are waiting on an ever-growing line for a bus to Caesar’s.  As it is Memorial Day weekend, the crowd is more numerous and more hostile.  Behind us, a crazy women dressed like Stevie Nicks is monitoring the line, yelling at people she suspects may be cutting in (when in reality, they are just asking if this was the right gate, or they had been in line already).  We are slightly nervous, as Steve has been unresponsive so far, and sneaking him into our spot in line may prove difficult.  However, another bus to Atlantic City shows up at the adjacent gate, and the crazy lady hops on it.  The first crisis of the weekend has been averted.

4:00 – Due to the excess of people, there are two buses waiting to take people to Caesar’s at the scheduled time.  We begin to board, with Steve still incommunicado.  We have to pass up the first bus, and things are starting to look dicey.  The next bus is the “last of the Mohicans,” a strange Greyhound worker tells us.  As OB and I try to unwrap this baffling piece of information, Steve makes a dramatic last minute appearance, and we are able to get the second bus.  Second crisis averted, and we are off to Atlantic City!

6:25 – At our estimated arrival time, we arrive….at exit 102 on the Garden State Parkway.  The traffic is bad but not unexpected – it is Memorial Day Weekend after all.  However, the concert starts at 9:00PM, and I still do not have a ticket to the concert.  Just to explain the situation – OB was given two complimentary tickets, but the seat location was not set.  I would like to get a third complimentary ticket, but failing that, I would like to buy a ticket near where they are sitting.

Anyway, this bus ride was not as booze-filled as our usual trips.  Since it is just the Friday of a three day weekend, we are all playing the long game – you don’t want to get too drunk too early.  We pass the extended bus ride by playing a “top 3″ game, where we name our top 3 songs by particular artists, or top 3 movies by particular actors.  We are cool.

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As you can tell by the title, this AC Diary will be a bit different from the rest.  Today, rather than recounting a raucous tale of alcohol-fused rabble-rousing, I’m going to compare Atlantic City to its older, more ruthless brother: Las Vegas.  Now, a bit of personal history: Las Vegas is where I popped my gambling cherry.  I was last there back in 2007, before finding a steady gambling partner in Atlantic City.  It was closer and more familiar, and I ended up developing strong feelings for the city.  However, Atlantic City and I have never had a monogamous relationship.  When I’m out of town, it is clearly fucking tons of other people.  And I’ve yearned for six long years for another lost weekend with my first love.  This past weekend, we were reunited and it felt so good.

Everyone already knows a plethora of things that Las Vegas can offer that Atlantic City can’t: sports gambling, incredibly cheap gambling options, dozens of performers and shows going on every night, incredibly expensive gambling options, etc.  What you can do in Vegas is only limited by your imagination, while Atlantic City is much more regulated and strict.  It doesn’t have the same Wild West feel that Vegas has (save for the Wild Wild West casino).  These are just the surface differences, though.  There are some differences between these two meccas of sin that can only be spotted by keen gambling veterans by myself.  So, let’s start with the beginning of each day:

Mornings: For some reason, after a long night of partying, I only end up sleeping for a couple hours, waking up usually around 8 AM or so.  As most of my friends are dreaming of hard 8′s, I usually go for a walk around the casinos to work off my hangover.  In Atlantic City, this walk is usually like a bucket of ice water to the face.  You are bombarded by happy faces of people just starting their day.  There are people checking into the hotel, getting breakfast, jogging on the boardwalk, etc.  It just makes me want to yell at them “DON’T JUDGE ME!  I WAS ONCE LIKE YOU!”

In Vegas, I had one of these 8 AM walks again.  However, this time, I was greeted by….no one.  It was a ghost town.  I walked up and down the strip for about an hour, and it was sparsely populated the whole way through.  Seeing a deserted casino is an unsettling experience, like catching my friend OB in the bathtub with a bottle of vodka floating around like a rubber ducky.  Why is there a stark difference in the morning routines of these towns?  The answer was fairly obvious: old people.

In Atlantic City, you have senior citizens pouring their life savings into slot machines one nickel at a time.  They rise at the crack of dawn, hop on a bus, sit at a slot machine for hours, then hit the early bird buffet special.  At night, you have some young folks, but they are mostly locals – they’ve done Atlantic City before, and they’ll do it again, so there’s no need to chase the night.  In Vegas, it is all young tourists who are mainly rookies to this type of party scene.  They will stay out to all hours of the night and early morning, leaving the breakfast buffets mostly vacant.  It’s a small difference that many might not catch, and, overall, I appreciate the bustling mornings of Atlantic City.  Seeing Vegas empty is just downright creepy.

Respect: Atlantic City is insanely disrespected, and that disrespect has been duly earned throughout the years.  However, people are still enamored with Vegas, as its bright lights and drunken revelry are still seen as glamorous.  When you come back from Vegas, people ask you where you’ve eaten, what shows you’ve seen, etc.  When you come back from Atlantic City, people ask you how much you lost.  Heck, just check out Bruce Springsteen singing about Vegas and Atlantic City.  Now, Vegas is definitely a less seedy and much more reputable place to vacation, but not as much as you’d come to believe.  I believe the respectability gap should be closer.

Blackjack: Now, I haven’t done any scientific testing, but based on my blackjack playing experience in both cities, there is definitely something sinister going on.  In Atlantic City, everybody knows how to play blackjack fairly competently.  If you make a mistake, be assured that there will be a crotchety old man yelling at you or an Asian business man sighing and throwing his hands up in disgust.  And even when everyone plays correctly, you, the old man, and the Asian dude will all lose.  It’s undeniable.  I’ve been going to Atlantic City for nearly six years, and I can barely remember any good blackjack runs.  Meanwhile, in Vegas, everyone plays blackjack terribly.  People stay with 14′s and 15′s against 8s!  People have to ask how to double down!  It’s insane!  But the thing is: everyone wins!  I was nearly falling-down drunk last Saturday, and ended up winning over $100.  My girlfriend lost $40 immediately, so I lent her $10, and she got two blackjacks in a row and worked that $10 into $75.  There is only one logical conclusion: Atlantic City is rigged.  Period.  And that’s why, despite the dead mornings and too much respect that Vegas gets, all gamblers should go there.  You will win.  Sure, you’ll spend the money on crazy Cirque du Soleil shows and $12 margaritas, but it is worth it to feel like a winner.  But I still love you, Atlantic City – and just to prove it, I’ll be there next month to test my “rigged blackjack” hypothesis.  Stay tuned…

4

It has been far, FAR too long since the boys and I have putzed the night away in Atlantic City.  Our last adventure, featuring Finn, OB, Keith, and myself, was way back in September.  Well, this time, the same crew reunited, heading down to see the Anti-Social Comedy Tour, featuring Jim Norton, Amy Schumer, Dave Attell, and Artie Lange.  I have to tell you, having gone nearly six months without a hit, spin, or roll of the dice was giving me the shakes.    The night before our trip, OB and I got into the right frame of mind by watching “gambling” episodes of our favorite TV comedies, such as Futurama’s “Viva Mars Vegas,” The Office’s “Casino Night,” and South Park’s “Red Man’s Greed.”  Needless to say, I could already smell the extra oxygen they allegedly pump into the casinos.

Our game plan was simple.  We had a room in Bally’s, which, fortunately, connects to one-and-a-half other casinos (Caesar’s and what is left of the Wild Wild West casino).  With this as our home base, we would have an ample area to putz about, without having to face the elements (it was freezing cold out).  The comedy show was at The Borgata at 7:30, which would help break up the night.  After that, we’d gamble until we rebuilt Atlantic City’s economy.  Like I said, the game plan was simple.  So let’s see if we stuck to it.

12:00PM – Our 12:30 bus arrived 30 minutes early, and left 10 minutes early.  I must say, this was a pleasant surprise.  Our bus driver was a friendly man with a thick accent who reminded Keith of his priest.  I didn’t drink much on the trip, using it to catch up with Keith and OB (Finn was driving down to meet us later).  Also, the light was out in the bathroom.  Not much to say here.

Keith Stone: Hey, what can I say? I went to church to absolve myself of my future sins, which may or may not include peeing all over the bus toilet seat. I also kept my streak alive of drinking Bandit wine on the trip down. I drank it out of a Gatorade bottle. Gotta keep hydrated.

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“Sometimes a winner is a dreamer who just won’t quit.”

Who better to take us into the Golden Domes vs. mobile homes matchup in the BCS National Championship Game tonight than Rudy Ruettiger? Poor Rudy was too small and didn’t have the grades to play at Notre Dame, they said. But, golly gee, he worked hard and said his prayers and he made it. So basically Rudy is the exact opposite of every player who’s going to see action tonight.

These two teams might actually represent the worst of college football’s programs and fanbases. One the one hand, there’s Mr. Popped Collar Notre Dame. “Excuse me, we don’t need to play in a conference with other teams. How could any team be listed in the same standings as a fine Catholic institution such as Notre Dame? Our alumni and hangers-on are so crazed with goodness and reverence that they will gladly spend all the cash they made in the market to help our team win. Also, the past 20 years never happened. WE ARE BETTER THAN YOU.”

Then, on the other hand, there’s a lot of missing teeth. “Yeeeeeeeeeeeehaw, we gon drink Natty Lights and play cornhole all day. I just gotta make sure not to pass out before the big game. Y’all think Rudy is a classy feller? Well, Coach Saban is such a classy feller, I named my first born son after him. Daggone right, and when little Coach Saban Billy Bob Schrader turns 18 or learns how to read, he’s gon go to the University of Alerbama. Coach Saban will definitely still be coaching the team then! Now where did my cousin, I mean, wife go? Roll Tide!”

If there was a douchebag fan scale, these teams wouldn’t be on the scale, they would be the scale. But yeah, Saban is a dick, so there’s only three words to say tonight: RUDY! RUDY! RUDY!

Six-Pack Challenge Recap

Posted: December 31, 2012 by Keith Stone in football, NFL
Tags: , , ,

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It’s all over folks! The 2012 NFL regular season, as quickly as it came in, is done, and with it the Six-Pack Challenge. And the final results are…

Stone: 59-43 (57.8%)
DP Animal: 54-48 (52.9%)
Rory: 54-48 (52.9%)
DRK: 51-51 (50.0%)
Phanatic: 51-51 (50.0%)
Slumdeezy: 50-52 (49.0%)

That’s right! For the second year in a row, Mr. Stone is your picks king. Albeit with a smaller sample size than 2011, my picks were actually more accurate than last year. Checking the competition, DP and Rory did a decent job and made it out a little ahead, DRK and Phanatic have the predictive capability of a flipped coin or baboon, while unfortunately for Slumdeezy, he was actually forced to sell his shoes to pay off his gambling losses. Not that walking around shoeless in casinos is all that bad. Just remember, if you lost all your money in the regular season, you can simply double down for the playoffs. There’s no way it can go wrong!

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There’s nothing worse than having your team’s playoff hopes pinned to another team. Or if you’re a Giants fan, three teams. At the end of the season, there’s no telling what type of performance you’re going to get from a team ready to head South for the winter. Sure, the Lions are going to bring it if it’s WEEK 5, but if Matt Stafford strains his ever-so-tender throwing shoulder against the Bears, he’s going to be out of there faster than a Taylor Kitsch flick after its opening weekend. There are no rules for homebound teams in WEEK 17. Some teams or even individual players may be playing or not playing for different reasons, like pride, free agency, rivalries, or a favorite coach.

It’s like meeting chicks in Las Vegas. When you’re at home, you get the standard variety. There are sweethearts, bitches, prudes, skanks. In Vegas, all bets are off. Good girls turn into Alexis Texas, boyfriends get cheated on, excessive tequila shots are consumed, and false identities are used, but a select few ladies remain true and loyal. Really, when you’re not going to be around in a few days, what’s the point of being on your best behavior? It’s time to get fucked up and freaky. Right, ladies?

So what are we going to see with teams like the Lions, Rams, Cardinals, and Eagles possibly playing huge roles in determining the playoff picture and their Vegas vacations ending soon? In a perfect world, they’d all be playing hard, but you know most of them will end up in a bathroom stall vomiting their brains out while some guy named Julio is snorting coke off their ass, or at least the football equivalent of that. Here’s hoping Eli doesn’t end up with puke on his cleats. Time for some picks…

TEXANS (-7.5) AT COLTS
Stone: Colts
Chuck is strong.

Slumdeezy: Colts
The Giants have their hopes in the hands of one rookie QB this weeks, so I’ll have mine in two.

DRK: Colts

Rory: Texans

DP Animal: Texans

Phanatic: Texans
The Colts have nothing to play for.

RAVENS AT BENGALS (-3.5)
Stone: Bengals
Don’t count out the Bengals in the AFC Playoffs.

Slumdeezy: Bengals

DRK: Ravens

Rory: Bengals

DP Animal: Bengals
Neither team has much to play for, but I think the Ravens would rather stay the 4th seed (and play Indy).

Phanatic: Ravens

EAGLES AT GIANTS (-7.5)
Stone: Eagles
Man, you never know what you’re going to expect from the Champs.

Slumdeezy: Giants
Just my sentimental choice. ELI! One more time this season.

DRK: Eagles

Rory: Eagles

DP Animal: Eagles

Phanatic: Giants
It’s hard to not take them, one last hurrah before missing the playoffs. Smells like a blowout.

BEARS (-3.5) AT LIONS
Stone: Lions
Please, pretty please let the Lions win.

Slumdeezy: Lions
For Fro- I mean ELI!

DRK: Lions

Rory: Bears

DP Animal: Lions

Phanatic: Bears

PACKERS (-3.5) AT VIKINGS
Stone: Packers
The Pack won’t let a bye get away from them, will they?

Slumdeezy: Packers
For ELI!

DRK: Vikings

Rory: Vikings

DP Animal: Packers
AP won’t get the rushing record either.

Phanatic: Vikings
To cover at least.

COWBOYS AT REDSKINS (-3.5)
Stone: Redskins
Hey, at least one of these teams will likely have a heartbreaking loss.

Slumdeezy: Redskins
Let’s see what this RG3 kid is made of.

DRK: Cowboys

Rory: Redskins

DP Animal: Redskins
Well, at least there’s one meaningful game this weekend.

Phanatic: Redskins
The Cowboys will be eliminated on the last day of the season, again.

CURRENT RECORDS
Stone: 55-41 (Last week: 3-3)
DP Animal: 51-45 (3-3)
Rory: 51-45 (3-3)
DRK: 48-48 (5-1)
Phanatic: 48-48 (5-1)
Slumdeezy: 45-51 (1-5)

Last week’s picks

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The best thing about watching games on Sundays is the nonstop orgy of football action. Like any good orgy, the action should be evenly paced. You don’t want to spend the first half getting serviced by some banging ladies and then spend the end in the corner getting your rocks off with a fat chick named Bertha. That’s why it infuriates me that the NFL only has three games scheduled at 4PM this week. To start off, 11 games is way too many to watch at 1. Unless you’re at the greatest Buffalo Wild Wings of all-time, there’s no practical way to keep tabs on the statuses of every early game. Sure, the Raiders-Panthers game isn’t exactly Favre vs. Elway in Super Bowl XXXII but I bet there are some Jets fans that need to watch as much football as possible to get the stench of ass off their face.

Two of our 4PM games feature the Cardinals and the Browns, respectively. Not exactly compelling TV. So then we’re left with our Bertha: Giants-Ravens. Should be a good game but maybe it’s not. Then what? Do you expect me to talk to my friends and loved ones? I know we’re getting close to Christmas but nobody needs to get home early from these games on Christmas Eve Eve and Grandma’s two days away from getting mad at you for not showing her enough attention.

I don’t see a good reason for this schedule. Maybe the Giants-Ravens rating will be higher and the NFL and their TV partners can charge more for commercials. It’s not worth it to shortchange the viewer. With tons of games with playoffs implications, let’s spread it around. The games are awesome because they’re played at around the same time as each other, not all at the same time. And while we’re at it, feel free to spread the orgy to Saturday. You’re telling me two full days of important football games wouldn’t be the best Christmas present the NFL can give? Well then, I don’t believe in Tebow Claus. Let’s make some picks…

BENGALS AT STEELERS (-3.5)
Stone: Bengals

Slumdeezy: Steelers

DRK: Bengals

Rory: Bengals
I’m taking over!  Let’s go!

DP Animal: Steelers
For a variety of reasons, I’d love to see the Bengals win and vanquish Pittsburgh, but I don’t know if they’re ready to go into Heinz Field and win.

Phanatic: Bengals
Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot, but the Bengals are just better.

SAINTS AT COWBOYS (-2.5)
Stone: Saints
The collapse will come sooner or later.

Slumdeezy: Saints
As an increasingly desperate Giants fan this might just be wishful thinking.

DRK: Saints

Rory: Cowboys

DP Animal: Saints
Can’t wait for the cutaways to Jerry Jones’ luxury box as this is happening.

Phanatic: Saints
Let’s start to separate out the NFC East tie.

REDSKINS (-6.5) AT EAGLES
Stone: Redskins
And to think, they were left for dead a few weeks ago.

Slumdeezy: Eagles
Wishful thinking again, but unfortunately I still have the Skins winning this one.

DRK: Eagles

Rory: Redskins
Boy, the NFC East turned into a giant clusterfuck. It is going to be decided Week 17.

DP Animal: Eagles
Can’t wait for the cutaways to Daniel Synder’s luxury box as this is happening.

Phanatic: Redskins
I hate myself.

VIKINGS AT TEXANS (-7.5)
Stone: Texans
If they lose this one, I’d be very concerned about the Texans’ chances in the playoffs.

Slumdeezy: Texans

DRK: Vikings

Rory: Texans
Here’s hoping Adrian Peterson carries me to my fantasy football championship this weekend!

DP Animal: Texans

Phanatic: Vikings
They’ll cover with AP going after the record.

GIANTS (-2.5) AT RAVENS
Stone: Giants
Which team is the smaller mess?

Slumdeezy: Giants
Wish number 3. Call me Aladdin.

DRK: Ravens

Rory: Giants
Giants always get it up for the big games.

DP Animal: Ravens
Home dogs? Against a team that just lost 34-0?

Phanatic: Giants

49ERS (-1.5) AT SEAHAWKS
Stone: 49ers
Going to be an awesome atmosphere.

Slumdeezy: 49ers

DRK: Seahawks

Rory: Seahawks
Seattle at home with points against a team that’s already clinched a playoff spot? Sure!

DP Animal: Seahawks
I’m rather excited for this game.

Phanatic: Seahawks

CURRENT RECORDS
Stone: 52-38 (Last week: 3-3)
DP Animal: 48-42 (2-4)
Rory: 48-42 (5-1)
Slumdeezy: 44-46 (2-4)
DRK: 43-47 (2-4)
Phanatic: 43-47 (3-3)

Last week’s picks