Monday, September 23, 2013

Ten things to do if you want to publish a novel

(I'm posting this on all of my blogs)

Going through my files, I found this list from my WebTV Webpage. Remember WebTV? It had to be written somewhere around 2000-2002.

Man, I was cocky back then. And sharp. Enjoy.

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So you want to publish your book . . . here's a list of 10 things you ought to do.



1) Sit down and write the book.

That's right. Sit down and write. Lots of writers talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. They want to live a writer's lifestyle (whatever that is). They are attracted to the writer's celebrity status (whatever they think that is). They are eager to puff their egos by seeing their names on a book jacket on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble (and yes, that does puff one's ego). They desire to introduce themselves to strangers with a firm handshake and a hearty--"My name is FILLINTHEBLANK, and I am a writer." Cut the crap. Stop posing and get that book written. I have worked with too many clients (when I was editing books) that would hand me six or seven typed pages and say, "Here's where I've gotten so far, Tell me what you think of it." My answer would invariably be: "I think you are a poser. Go write. Come back when this has grown up." Writers write. And publishers publish manuscripts that are longer than six pages. Spend an hour every morning writing two pages. In six months you'll have your first book. It may not be great, but at least it will be finished and we can talk about it.

2) Copyright the book.

Now a few years ago, I would never have wasted your time or mine with this piece of advice. In fact, if you had asked me a question about copyrights back then, I would have told you not to worry about it. "No one is going to steal your book," I would have told you. "If a publisher really likes your writing, they won't steal it. The work is like the golden egg, but you are the goose that lays the egg. If they steal the work, they sell one book. But if they sign you as one of their writers, they can sell a series of your books. That makes more sense." Recent personal events, however, have demonstrated that people do steal a writer's work. Protect yourself. Enough on this.

3) Get another set of eyes to read the book.

Join a writer's group or sign up for a creative writing class at a local college and have someone competent and objective read your book. Listen to their advice on what works and what does not work with your book. As the author, you do not have to take all of their advice, but you should listen to it. This helps you to gauge how an audience will read your book--such information can be valuable when you make later decisions on what to cut and what not to cut. Writing groups and creative writing classes are also good places to help you tighten your prose and fix your grammar and clean up your typos. As writers, we often have a vision of the book in our heads that is quite different from the actual book that is written on the pages. We become blind to our mistakes. Worse yet, our hubris makes us unwilling to cut dull and longwinded passages. So get your book read by an objective reader or two and leave your ego at the door.

4) Find twenty to twenty-five publishers who might be interested in publishing your book. There are a couple ways of doing this. The first way is to be a good reader. If you are a good reader, then you already have many books on your shelves that are similar to the one you have written. Who published these books? Start writing that list. The second way is to go to a bookstore and pick up books that are similar to yours. Who published these books? You can go online and do the same thing. You can also go to a very important book called the THE NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET and do the same thing. This is your target list.

5) Arrange the target list in order of most prestigious to least prestigious.

When you start sending out your manuscript you will begin with the publishers at the top of the list and work your way down. In the words of author Lynne Barrett told us in grad school, "Your manuscript, like water, will find its own level."

6) Write a MEETS hook.

Think about your book. Think about two other books (or movies) that it is similar to. Then write your MEETS hook. Your MEETS hook should sound something like this: "My novel, CHARITY GARNER'S BOYS is a story of rage, temptation, gangsters, and surprising compassion set in the high plateaus of depression era South Dakota [. . . include a brief description of the book . . . then finish with . . .] It is like BONNIE AND CLYDE meets THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.

7) Get an agent.

Once you have tightened up the book, gotten your target list together, and written your MEETS hook, it is time to get an agent. Why do you need an agent? Because you need a friend and guide in the publishing world. Yes, there are writers who have gotten published without agents. They are not the rule--they are lucky. An agent will get 15% commission on your book, and he/she will be worth every penny of that commission. How do you get an agent? There are several ways to do this. Send out query letters to agents listed online or in books such as THE NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET (there are many good books and online sources that will guide you through query-letter writing--do consult them). Ask another writer to introduce you to his/her agent--but expect to be turned down. Writers guard their agents jealously. Go to writer's conferences and take a course with the agent (s), who will read your manuscript and maybe sign you up for representation. Note: It is a good idea to go to writer's conferences regardless. Many authors have gotten their books sold or represented through contacts made at writer's conferences.

8) Beware of agents who charge a fee. Usually, agents do not charge a fee. Agents take 15% commission on advances and book sales. Think about it: if an agent charged even, say, $25 per manuscript as a reading fee, he/she could make a pretty decent living without ever having to do the hard work of actually selling a book. There are a few, very few, big name New York agents that charge a small fee--if you get a chance to work with one of these, pay the fee by all means! Beware of agents who solicit you--most reputable agents have more clients than they can handle. If an agent contacts you via phone, letter, or email, ask for a list of published clients. There are many writers out there eager to get into print and they are easy prey for predators posing as agents and editors.

9) Help your agent to sell your book.

Once you have gotten your agent, give her/him your plan for selling your book: the target list of publishers, your MEETS hook. The agent will likely modify the target list based on her/his contacts in the publishing world. The agent may also modify your MEETS a bit. The agent will also want to know what audience you wrote the book for: age, race, gender, level of education. You should be able to answer all of these questions. It is also likely that the agent, upon signing you up, already has a few publishers in mind for your book, publishers that he/she has worked with in the past and who are looking for a book such as yours. If this is the case, you have hit the jackpot. Just sit on your hands, and let your agent do his/her job.

10) If All Else Fails . . .

Should I self-publish? Maybe--but hold on there a minute. Did you join a writer's group? Did you leave your ego at the door? Did you edit and then really edit your book? Did you go to a writer's conference and hobnob with agents and publishers? Maybe you should enter your book in a few contests. Try that. If all else has failed, then maybe you should self-publish. Self-publishing is not a bad idea if you are the right kind of person. I hope to build another link in a month or two that addresses the issue of self-publishing with a greater thoroughness. For now, let me leave with you with a few tips. 1) Get a company that is inexpensive. The self-publishing companies that charge $5000 provide roughly the same quality service as the ones that are $750, $450, $250, or free. 2) Make sure your book is copyrighted. 3) Don't purchase any of their add-on services. They are a waste of time and if you need them, you can always get them cheaper at Office Depot. 4) If you plan to get rich on the book, prepare to have a professional marketing plan; in fact, you need to hire a professional publicist. This will cost you money, but it will be worth it. 5) Be prepared to travel to sell your book. 6) Be prepared to make deals with bookstore managers to stock your books. 7) Be prepared to work.

I have more to say on this, and I will on a new link.

Good luck

--Preston

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lebron James Will Be Better than Gambling Addict MIchael Jordan: Hold on There, Bro!

I found this on Yahoo Answers posted in June. It is typical of the debate that exploded in the cyber universe, and in front of TV sets and in bars around the world after the article on MJ dissing Lebron James came out and the 2012 NBA finals ended a few months ago, crowning Lebron and the Miami Heat as back-to-back NBA champs.

___________________________

MJ can stick it where the sun don't shine. He can't touch LBJ in elimination games or game 7s. LBJ is just way too damn good. Better passer, rebounder, and all around defender already. Plus he isn't busy losing money gambling or sucking at baseball. MJ had Rodman, Pippen, Armstrong, Kukoc, and Grant. Scary thing is LBJ is 28 years old and just now reaching his prime!! Repeat back to back champions looking for a 3rd straight. What a champ!!

____________________________

In response to the poster, who calls himself Jesse, I have to yell WHATTTTT!!!!! And to correct him on one finals point. True Lebron and the Heat have won more finals elimination games than Jordan and the Bulls.

Read my lips.

Jordan and the Bulls usually won the finals in game six!

I've got to give it to you on the baseball and gambling, though. True Dat.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pain and Gain: Why are You Laughing?

My brother emailed to ask if I would recommend watching the new film PAIN AND GAIN. So I responded with a cryptic email that he misunderstood and so, to clear things up, I responded thus:

"You misunderstood me. I said don't watch. No, watch it. No, don't watch it. No, watch it. No, don't watch it. No, watch it. No, don't watch it. No, watch it. No, don't watch it. No, watch it. No, don't watch it. No, watch it.

It's that good. It's so dark and so good I'm ashamed that I like it.

It's like watching a comedy about the assassination of Martin Luther King or JFK, and Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy, and Jim Carry are the bumbling conspirators.

You're laughing at the antics because they are hilarious and well acted but at times you look around in shame that you find this stuff funny. But it is funny. It's like watching an eloquent junior high school bully picking on the fat kid. It's like watching your mom slip on her bum in the snow. Funny stuff, but maybe you shouldn't be laughing.

So funny that I had to stop the movie at times because of the brutality that I was enjoying.

It's like a Quentin Tarantino movie based on a true story--true story that ruined one man's life and took the lives of two others.

P"

Sisters Gambling While Kids Outside in Car

Gambling makes you irresponsible, and you both are fined $1000.

Fair punishment, huh? I don't think so. Punishment enough to discourage reprehensible behavior? Absolutely not.

For a gambler it is a mere nuisance. Another trip to the ATM machine at most. For a gambler, it's the price of doing business.

Let's see now, if the sisters have but a modest gambling habit, they're probably not unused to blowing a couple hundred bucks per gambling binge. And if they are complete degenerates--which the evidence implies they are--a thousand dollars a day is an average binge. It doesn't hurt a degenerate as much as non gamblers might think.

A degenerate gambler by his nature has thicker skin than that or he's not a degenerate.

Those kids are fortunate that the sisters took the time to see that the air conditioner was left on.

Read my book ALL OR NOTHING, and you'll see what I mean.

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"South Florida Sisters Gambled in Casino While Kids Sat in Running Car"

Two South Florida sisters are facing child neglect charges after authorities say they left their young children in a car while they gambled inside a casino.

Malory Pierre, 27, and Romanie Pierre, 31, are both facing four counts of child neglect without great harm after they left four children inside a running car outside the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach Sunday, according to an arrest report read by Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley in court Monday.

Both were ordered held on $5,000 bond and it was unknown whether they have attorneys.

According to Hurley, the sisters took the car full of children -- ages 8, 5, 4 and 2 -- to the casino Sunday evening and left them in the running car while they went inside.

A woman noticed the kids were in the car between 20 and 30 minutes and called 911. Police arrived and had to have one of the kids unlock the car, Hurley said.

The oldest child told officers that their step-mom and her sister went inside and left them there. When officers found and questioned the sisters, one of them said she had gone inside to use the bathroom, while the other said she went inside to ask a question, Hurley said.

But after a brief investigation, police discovered the two had gone inside and were gambling and had checked in at the player's club and were playing slots, Hurley said.

Hurley ordered the two to stay out of casinos if they post bond, but wavered when asked by prosecutors to order them to have no contact with the children.

"It's inappropriate behavior there's no doubt about it, however, I'm not sure that, there's just a part of me that says it may be going too far to keep them away from the children," Hurley said.

The sisters said the children were at home with their mother, and Hurley decided against keeping them away from their kids.

"Hopefully these two have been scared and have been put in jail and maybe shocked into coming to their senses that what they have allegedly done is extremely poor judgment and I'm not going to take their kids away," he said.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Replacement Refs Cost Charles Barkley Big

Wow. If I had that kind of money, I would never have become a gambler. My ass. When I was still in the game, I would have lost all that and then some.

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So a lot of people had money on the Packers on Monday night, and a lot of people lost that money when that last call went in favor of the Seahawks — the swing in Vegas was as much as $9.2 million, according to Vegas Insider (via The Big Lead). And worldwide, the swing was as much as $300 million, says R.J. Bell of Pregame.com.

A large chunk of that was wagered by a Mr. Charles Barkley, and yes, he had the Packers. And he is not amused. Barkley stopped in to talk on The Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Barkley:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been this mad in my entire life. I got robbed [Monday] night.

“I’m just angry. I love to gamble, I can live with winning and losing, but I don’t ever want to get jobbed like I did [Monday] night. I’m going to give you a quick synopsis. Everybody is going crazy over the catch, but I got screwed on the roughing the passer, I got screwed on the pass interference, I got screwed on the interception and I found out today that they actually have a real official in the replay booth who could’ve overruled that? I got screwed four times and that makes it even worse.”

By Rick Chandler

26 September 2012, From Off The Bench (Offthebench.nbcsports.com)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Three in a Row Straight Up on the Roulette Wheel!

This story makes me want to start gambling again!

Straight Up: 3 Times In a Row in Roulette

Copyright © 2006 -by Mack E. Green, roulette player and former Roulette Croupier



In Roulette, it's easy to make a few bucks betting even money. But as a player begins to seek higher rewards, it becomes much more difficult. Inside odds of 2-to-1, 8-to-1, 17-to-1 and finally 35-to-1 wear out and grind down even the biggest bankrolls. Roulette, it is fair to say, "ain't the easiest game in the casino."

I was playing during what must have been The Beau Rivage graveyard shift. Even for a weekday night it seemed particularly quiet. No big action at the Craps tables. No high rollers working at the Blackjack tables either. But that was certainly not true for the Roulette table. That's where I was; playing Roulette. A gorgeous brunette walked over and dropped a twenty dollar bill in front of the croupier. She seemed to be a bit nervous, but that's not unusual for first-time gamblers. The croupier, working alone, made her change in four casino five-dollar chips, per her instructions. She then put three of the four chips into her purse, and placed the remaining chip straight up on number thirty-six. It was a long-odds bet (35 to 1) and probably her last before she returned to whatever city the next morning.

But as luck would have it's way... She hit it. Unfazed, the croup scraped off the remaining bets, mine included, and went over to his house five-dollar chips. Pausing, he turned to her and asked "Want that colored-up, ma'am?" "Yes, please." was the answer. The croupier sensed she wasn't going to play out $175. in red, so he paid her one black ($100.) and 3 green ($25.per chip).

Our brunette heroine wasn't done just yet. She let the red $5.00 chip ride on number 36 again. And again she hit for $175.00. Generally speaking, to hit a number straight up, the odds are about 38 to 1 against you. To hit a number straight up twice in a row, the odds are over 1,400 to 1. But here she was, collecting another big win off a puny red chip. Not only was she winning big, she was staying cool as a cucumber. No screaming. No whirling around. She just stood there waiting for the croup to complete her payout.

And what did I do? Did I "shadow" her play, and make myself a big wad of money? Nope. Not me. Stubborn 'till the end. She was incredibly lucky, but I chose not to share in the wealth. I played half a dozen inside numbers in the "First 12" and made absolutely zippo for my efforts. Funny how that works. People simply want to play their own game, regardless the outcome. Me included.

In what can only be described as a surreal turn of events, the buxom brunette left her same five-dollar chip on the same lucky number 36 for the third straight time. The croupier and I must have thought the same thing... "Not again, lady. No way." I bet accordingly, several numbers away from number 36, and quietly waited for the spin.

Now, a croupier has seen many lucky things in his job. And hitting a number straight-up is no big deal. But it definitely got his attention when the ball stopped dancing around, and hit number 36 for the third straight time. "Very nice." he said to the brunette, and got a friendly grin in return. He paid off the same way. The brunette placed the chips into her purse again, this time picking up her winning five-dollar chip, too, and left for the cashiers cage.

Total number of bets: 3.

Total won $525.00.

Total tip to the croup: $0.00.

The amount of money I made shadowing her bet(s): $0.00.



The odds of hitting three numbers in a row: 54,872 to 1.

Copyright © 2006 -by Mack E. Green, roulette player and former Roulette Croupier

Mack wrote this story for TrueCasinoStories.com

Friday, August 9, 2013

NFL Pre Season Betting Tips

Ready to lose money on sports betting? Here are some tips that are as good as any. Actually, I find the one about the coach quite interesting.

_______________________



*August brings the heat of late summer and what football fans have been waiting for since the February Super Bowl - NFL Preseason Football! NFL football fans are hardcore as can be seen in the thousands of fans that attend NFL training camps. Online NFL sports bettors are taking advantage of Internet research to better handicap NFL preseason games where you could have 30 new NFL players on a pre-season game. Here are some NFL preseason tips to keep in mind when you are laying your first NFL action of the year.

Tip 1 - Home Field

*Home field is a big factor in the NFL regular season and playoffs and counts about 3 points depending on where they are playing. Home field is not as important in the NFL preseason and especially in week 4 for many teams that have set their depth charts. In the previous 4 years the visiting team has gone 29-17-1 ATS.

Tip 2- Coaching Strategy

*Try to understand what a coach is trying to achieve each week of the preseason. Coaches often increase the length of time that their starters play each week. Short passing plays and fundamentals are the standard fare in week 1 for most coaches and that is why you see dramatically smaller Totals in Week 1 around 33-37 point mark for most match ups. Most teams will stick with basic plays and short passes for Week 1 and 2.

Tip 3 - Local Newspapers and Internet Research

*Local sports beat writers are the best source for your local team as they have direct access to the coaches regularly and need to provide content on a regular deadline. Coaches will often provide a general direction of the game plan in the upcoming week like “we are going to establish the passing attack this week.” Some new coaches will let out they want to set a winning tone early and play their starters almost the whole game in week 2. Yahoo Sports is a nice NFL sports new aggregator that compile local links. Finding reliable websites in the preseason and bookmarking them will help you set up for the 17 week NFL regular season.

You may have your preferred web browser. Handicapping NFL games and getting quick and organized access to your Internet sources is research process. I personally like using Chrome by Google - their browser is arguably the fastest and when you are opening up 5-10 sources for each NFL team it helps to be fast and organized. Chrome also has a great Bookmark ALL function that you can use when you find you core sources.

Tip 4 - Quarterback (QB) Play

*QB is the most important position in football is an understatement. You can see why the top end QBs are getting $100 M contracts. Evaluating the quality of the 2nd and 3rd string QBs is critical to handicapping NFL preseason. A veteran NFL QB who is a second stringer like Mark Brunell can often outplay a highly touted rookie like Sam Bradford in the NFL preseason. Never buy the hype of NFL rookie QBs in the preseason. They still need to adjust to the faster speed and larger size of NFL players at every position.

Tip 5 - Coaching Strategy

*Coaches have different philosophies and goals in the NFL preseason as they are trying to teach new schemes and plays but also establish depth charts. Some place a greater emphasis on winning in the preseason. Mike Shanahan, the new Washington Redskins’ coach has an August record of 43-26 SU, 37-27-2 ATS. Bill Belichick is 34-23 SU, 32-22-1 ATS all time in preseason. Dolphins head coach Mike Sparano and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin are 2 young coaches that place an emphasis on winning in the pre-season.



For more info, VISIT

http://www.sunshine-sportsbook.com/NFL-Preseason-Betting-Tips.html

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Giant Cash Cow of Gambling

I've got my money on the big fella to win!

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By Lynnette CurtisSPECIAL TO LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNALAMARGOSA VALLEY



Holy cow, that's one big bovine.

We're talking the Mack truck of livestock, with hooves like hubcaps and haunches the size of your car trunk.

He weighs nearly 3,000 pounds and goes by Herman.

The beefy black-and-white Holstein spends his days munching on hay and soaking up sun outside the Longstreet Inn and Casino in lonely Amargosa Valley, at the southwestern edge of Nye County near the California line.

When Herman first got here, eight years ago, he was about 4 feet tall. At last measure, he stood 6 feet, 4 inches from hoof to withers. His owner, Jim Marsh, believes Herman may be the tallest steer in the world.

"He just kept growing and growing," said Marsh, an animal lover and longtime Las Vegas car dealership proprietor known for appearing in commercials with his daughter, Stacy, and his grandson.

Marsh, 78, also is known in small towns and cow counties for being a community booster and historic preservationist. He owns a bunch of rural Nevada properties, including the 60-room Longstreet.

Herman was born at a nearby dairy, where he was briefly kept as a pet by one of the workers. He ended up in Beatty, where a friend of Marsh's was fattening up the animal for slaughter.

"You hate to see a pet steer end up on your dinner table," Marsh said.

So he paid $600 to rescue Herman from the barbecue. Then Marsh had the steer hauled to the Longstreet, built in 1995 on state Route 373 about 95 miles northwest of Las Vegas. There Herman grew. And grew. Soon he was towering over Marsh, who is 6 feet tall.

"I was amazed at how big he got," Marsh said.

Herman shares a corral with Bambi and Jill - both burros - and one nameless goat.

Tourists on their way to and from Death Valley sometimes stop to gawk at Herman. He's good for business.

"It's generally word-of-mouth," Marsh said. "It's good people come to see him."

It's also good Herman's disposition is as sweet as he is large.

"He's very laid-back," Marsh said. "He doesn't have a mean bone in his body."

But Herman doesn't shy away from adventure. He got out of his corral a couple of years ago and "was wandering all over Amargosa," said Monica Chavez, the Longstreet's manager.

Herman likes to eat apples and Saltines. He also shares a bale of hay with his corral mates and downs four bucket-sized scoops of grain each day.

Marsh thought about calling Guinness World Records about Herman, but hasn't gotten around to it.

A Guinness spokeswoman said there is no record holder in the category of "World's Tallest Steer." The famous record-keepers are willing to entertain a proposal if Marsh registers it.

Guinness does have a very tall ox on record. Bellino, a Chianina ox, lives in Italy and measures 6 feet, 7 inches to his withers.

Both steers and oxen are castrated male bovines.

While oxen are known more as work animals, steers are associated with "rodeo and hamburger," said Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, a well-known local cowboy.

"Think the difference between a draft horse and a quarter horse," he said.

Collins was impressed when he heard about Herman. The commissioner also is 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

Herman "might be setting a record," Collins said.

The steer's mammoth size has brought its share of problems. He has arthritis, and his knees swell from carrying all that weight. He gets regular checkups and medication from a veterinarian who visits from Pahrump.

The steer is loaded into a horse trailer and taken to the dairy to get weighed and have his hooves trimmed.

Herman is not the only bovine at the Longstreet. Marsh also bought the 14-foot-tall fiberglass cow that used to stand on the roof of the Holy Cow! casino and brewery at Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue. He had it shipped to Amargosa Valley and placed outside the hotel.

A few years ago, a man who belonged to a notorious motorcycle club got drunk, stripped off his clothes, climbed a ladder and rode the cow, Chavez said.

Thankfully, nobody's tried that with Herman.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Wish That I Had Jesse's Girls

To misquote Rick Springfield, "I wish that I had Jesse's girls. Where can I find hot women like that?"

Which of Jesse's girls do you think is the hotter?

Vote now!

Why All This Hatred Toward Skyler White on Breaking Bad?

As a writer, I admire the literary craftsmanship upgirding the television series “Breaking Bad,” of which I have been a diehard fan since receiving season #1 as a Father’s Day gift a month ago. One month. As the song goes, “Just one look, that’s all it took.” After enjoying the seven episodes of season #1 in a marathon viewing session that saw me repeat-watching the entire season twice more (Yes, that made a total of three times straight), I went to the neighborhood Wal-Mart, purchased seasons #2-#4, and watched them straight through too.

Now, the amazing thing about this marathon was that, because I am so selective in my viewing, I never watch TV on a regular basis except for sports.

To see what I want when I want, and to cut out the commercials, I have my favorite programs and series on DVD. Pretty much none of the newer stuff is in this group. Reality shows? Never. Not my thing at all. Well, maybe "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" Ok, so what I’m a gambler? Stop judging me.

At first I turned my nose up at my son when I opened my gift, gave him the obligatory ’Thanks,” and proceeded to unwrap my other, better (I assumed) presents.

But the kid wasn’t going to let me get away with it that easy. He said, “Watch it now.”

“I’ll watch it later.”

“Do it now. You won’t hate it I promise.”

“I will hate it. You know that.”

“I’m going to sit right here until you watch it.”

“But I want to finish opening my good gifts.”

“Put them down. Watch this show. It will be the best gift you got this year.”

“No.”

“I’ll bet you ten dollars.”

“Ok.”

And the gambler set down his other petty gifts and proceeded to run the first mile of the aforementioned marathon.

Two hours later when I was on about episode 3, my son stuck his head out of his room. “Was I right?”

“Ass.”

“I knew it!”

“The ten bucks is in my wallet on the bed. “

"And one more thing. Game of Thrones."

Groan. "We'll talk about it."

"You'll like it I promise."

Groan.

Fifty or sixty hours later, I am a certified “Breaking Bad” expert. Walt, Jesse, Hank, Skyler, Marie, Walt Jr., and all the villains are friends of mine. There are many posts I have set to write about the series after I do a bit more research—research through which I have discovered to my horror just how much one of my favorite characters is reviled. Skyler White.

Skyler? Why her?

I have some ides about the unexpected and undeserved reaction to our longsuffering heroine, but more on that later. First let’s read what the creator of the series has to say on this hatred towards one of my favs.

___________________________

“Breaking Bad’ Creator Vince Gilligan Calls Skyler White Haters Misogynists, ‘Plain And Simple’"

The most intense and exciting show on television, Breaking Bad, is due back in August, and the cast has been really great about promoting the show between the two parts of the fifth season throughout the year. In fact, the showrunner and creator, Vince Gilligan, did an interview with New York Magazine on Sunday (which was sadly overlooked by most in the flurry of upfront and Arrested Development news), but he had some interesting things to say about Skyler White, the character played by Anna Gunn. More to the point, he thinks Skyler haters are, well, woman haters.

This is what he had to say when Vulture asked him how he takes the fact that many see Skyler as a nag, a henpecking shrew:



******

“Man, I don’t see it that way at all. We’ve been at events and had all our actors up onstage, and people ask Anna Gunn, “Why is your character such a bitch?” And with the risk of painting with too broad a brush, I think the people who have these issues with the wives being too bitchy on Breaking Bad are misogynists, plain and simple. I like Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations, but in the early days she was the voice of morality on the show. She was the one telling him, “You can’t cook crystal meth.” She’s got a tough job being married to this asshole. And this, by the way, is why I should avoid the Internet at all costs. People are griping about Skyler White being too much of a killjoy to her meth-cooking, murdering husband? She’s telling him not to be a murderer and a guy who cooks drugs for kids. How could you have a problem with that?”



******

Well, this is going to get touchy, and nobody wants to take the side of the “misogynists.” Personally, I’ve never had that much of a problem with Skyler White — as opposed to someone like Winona on Justified two and three seasons ago, and Rita on Dexter — but I actually think that Gilligan might be missing a bigger point.

Undoubtedly, if, in real life, people actually thought a woman like Skyler White — who was telling her husband not to cook meth and murder people — was a “bitch,” then yes, you’d be rightly accused of misogyny. But this is a fictional show, and one where Gilligan has created this dark, dark anti-hero-turned-villain with whom we’ve developed a emotional investment. The people that hate Skyler — and I’m not counting myself among them — don’t necessarily hate her because she’s a “henpecking” shrew, but because she’s an obstacle to Walter White, who, despite ourselves, we kind of root for (although, not as much of late).

Ironically, Gilligan says that he likes “Skyler a little less now that she’s succumbed to Walt’s machinations,” and I think that’s the opposite of how many of us feel, mostly because she’s become a much more interesting character, now that she is unwillingly and passively aggressively going along with Walt. We also think it’s only a matter of time before she snaps.

Here’s the thing: the “Internet” doesn’t root for characters in dark dramas based on morality or lack thereof — I mean, look at Nucky Thompson or Dexter or Hannibal or anyone on Game of Thrones — we root for characters based on how dynamic or interesting or compelling they are. They are works of fiction. They are not reality, and our sense of morality is divorced from our desires to be entertained. Vince Gilligan has created one of the most complex, most interesting characters in all of television history, so naturally, we’re going to root against anyone that stands in his way. But, because we are human, we will also celebrate the person that ultimately takes him down, even if — and maybe especially if — that person is Skyler White.

Oh, and one other thing: Let’s not forget that she did f**k Ted.

By Dustin Rowles (5.14.13)

Read more: http://www.uproxx.com/tv/2013/05/vince-gilligan-skyler-white/#ixzz2ZmCqNdHV

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top Ten Movies About Movies of All Time

From the Folks Over at Pop Matters. One question. Does this list crack you up or what? Isn't it good when film is able to take a serious look at itself?

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I Think the list left a few good ones off, however.

"The Player"

"Bowfinger"

"Get Shorty"

"Sunset Boulevard"

"Hugo"

"Hollywood Shuffle"

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"Top Ten Movies About Movies of All Time

By Bill Gibron

We love them. Obsess over them. Rant when they don’t work and get even angrier when they insult our intelligence or expectations. From the moment turn of the century audiences cringed at the sight of a locomotive coming straight at them, the movies have meant more to us than, perhaps, any other medium (settle down, TV—and you too, music). We adopt their dialogue, follow their mandates on fashion and fame. We enjoy the looks into lifestyles we could never envision for ourselves while eagerly tweaking emotions (anger, fear, laughter, sorrow) that we normally try to avoid. So it makes sense that, eventually artists involved in the craft would want to explore the meaning of movies. Take them apart. Reference and homage them. Perhaps, even go so far as add commentary on their creation. This movies about the movies become a Bible of sorts, a window into a world that, without filter, comes to mean so much to us.

Let’s clarify the category before we go any further, however. Yes, most of the movies will feature movies in them. Yes, we have also included movies that comment on the movies themselves without going into specific examples. It’s a mess, we know. After all, a film like Hitchcock actually tackles some of the issues that came from the making of Psycho. But when viewed within its core intention, it’s really an exploration of the Master of Suspense’s relationship with his wife Alma. On the other hand, Tropic Thunder may center on the making of a big dumb military drama, but it’s really more a comedy of ill-mannered movie stars in over their heads. We’ve tried to parse through the complicated differences and have come up with a list of 10 that we can be proud of. Sure, there are a few MIA entries (Silent Movie, CQ) that should, perhaps, be included. Overall, however, this list offers up one particular point of view.

!0 "Gods and Monsters"

Back in 1998, few in film were willing to back a movie which made most of its points off the latent homosexuality of Bride of Frankenstein director James Whale. But Bill Condon bravely stood his ground, giving us a peek at how important gay talent was in the glory days of early cinema. Sir Ian McKellen, long before Lord of the Rings and X-Men, gave a stellar performance as the British auteur who came up from humble beginnings only to struggle with his personal life his whole career. Intercutting reenactments from Bride, we learn how life really does imitates art, and visa versa.

9 "Purple Rose of Cairo"

In one of his rare early films in which he did not appear, American treasure Woody Allen deconstructed film and our fascination with same by telling the tale of a meek housewife (then muse Mia Farrow) who uses cinema as an escape. Once there, she learns that the line between fantasy and reality can be as blurry as an out of focus process shot. Eventually, a rugged actor (Jeff Daniels) literally walks off the screen to make all her dreary dreams come true. What happens next is an inventive free for all that questions the very make-up of movies, as well as our desire to lose ourselves in them.

8 "Forgotten Silver"

One of the best mockumentaries of all time, this collaboration between Peter Jackson (yes, THAT Peter Jackson) and Costa Botes purports to tell the story of New Zealand film legend Colin McKenzie and the many accidental innovations he added to the art form. Mixing interview footage with “clips” from said forgotten “films,” we get a wonderful, weird glimpse into how artists view their medium, as well as how we re-imagine the past to fit the future. While some may see it as a minor moment in Jackson’s career, it explains his love of movies more than any big budget Middle Earth epic.

7 "Shadow of the Vampire"

This movie has one of the most original premises of all time: specifically, that when F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) made Nosferatu in 1921, he used an actual vampire (Willem Dafoe) to bring a sense of real horror to his fright film. Yes, in this fictionalized account of the filming, the director determines that the only way to add authenticity to his craft is to bring a real neckbiter to the ball. While flawed a bit in execution, this fascination film makes the case for what is fact and what it truly fiction. From the audiences perspective, Max Schreck seemed to be a monster. Maybe, he really was.

6 "Ed Wood"

Tim Burton has always championed the outsider, and who was more of an outcast in his time than the kooky cross-dressing director of the film’s title? Part whimsical revisionism (Wood, as essayed by Johnny Depp, is portrayed as a bumbling dreamer when he was, in actually, a troubled alcoholic), part celebrity portrait (Martin Landau’s riveting turns as a dying, drug-addled Bela Lugosi), this amazing monochrome love letter illustrates the cut rate filmmaking that became Wood’s signature. It also highlighted the hopes dashed, and the chew ‘em up and spit ‘em out spirit of ‘50s era Hollywood.

5 "Be Kind, Rewind"

We know, we know, this will be a very controversial choice indeed. Many will wonder why a film about video store slackers recreating movies for their devastated inventory would warrant placement here, let alone such a high ranking. Well, the answer is quite simple - this is the greatest statement about the collective cultural consciousness that resulted from the invention of the VCR ever made (may be the only one, for that matter). In fact, the entire approach to the film—fans “remembering” the movies and making them from memory—indicates the impact of home video clearer than any critical deconstruction or scholarly overview. So there.

4 "Singing in the Rain"

The best movie musical of all time and a telling indictment of the moment cinema adopted sound. On the surface, we have the simple story of a leading man (the amazing Gene Kelly) who must learn the ropes of an entirely new technology while his usual co-star (the equally magnificent Jean Hagen) has “voice issues” of her own. Enter the country gal (Debbie Reynolds) who can sing and dance with the best of them, and watch as The Artist cribs most of this movie for its post-millennial Oscar win. Almost cruel in how it treats the conversion to talkies, it’s the songs that carry us through the carnage.

3 "Baadasssss!"

light up there with the documentary How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) , this look at Melvin Van Peebles and the start of the blaxploitation movement is a monumental achievement for both father and son. Yes, Mario saddled up to play his influential dad, describing in definitive biopic style how the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song both redefined and almost destroyed his career. Highlighting the horrors faced by black filmmakers in the volatile 1960s,we get the standard making-of material, along with more probing, personal angles which explain why Van Peebles as his movie are so important.

2 "Barton Fink"

Leave it to the Coens to create the kind of motion picture mindfuck that leaves you questioning reality while illustrating the dangers of “selling out, Hollywood style”. Our hero (John Tuturro) is a faux East Coast intellectual who heads over the bright lights of Tinseltown to make some quick cash. What he discovers is a den of thieves. Some (like mogul Jack Lipnick - Michael Lerner) just want to steal his talent. Others, like gruff ‘insurance salesman’ Charlie Meadows (John Goodman) may actually want his soul. A harrowing portrait of what happens when you stop being true to yourself, this is a masterpiece of cinematic shadows and fog.

1 "Day for Night"

Perhaps the most telling movie about a movie, and about the movies in general, ever made. As one of the architects of the French New Waves, Francois Truffaut was always looking for ways to twist the art form into both a commentary and critique on what we expect a motion picture to be. Going even more ‘meta,’ he uses a film set and the behinds the scenes intricacies of same to blur the lines between art and artifice. While his previous films simply played with the foundations of the medium, Day for Night actually lifts the veil off the process, and in doing so, illustrates is magic, maniacal facets. Sheer genius.

Best Casinos in South Florida My Butt

Ok. Ok. I get it. You guys were paid off to compile this list. How the heck could you not include the Miccosukees? Do you guys have any idea how much money I won down there in the swamps? And the original Seminole Casino, right across the street from the Hard Rock? Same thing. Tons of money I won. Tons. And lost. More lost than won. Groan.

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Best Casinos in South Florida (CBS MIAMI Channel 4)

Whether you’re a high-roller or an occasional gambler looking to turn $10 into $20, South Florida has several table games, no-limit poker and, yes, the good old fashioned one-armed bandits. Some casinos even offer free drinks as long as you’re gambling. Here’s a list of places where you can get your game on:

Seminole Hard Rock Casino

www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com

Features one of the largest gaming floors in the city with 2,500 slots and 89 table games including blackjack, baccarat, pai gow poker and Texas Hold’em poker. The casino also offers free drinks for those playing at the slots or table games, but it may take a while. The servers are usually inundated with requests and they’ll usually turn up when you’re down to your last dollar. The Seminole Tribe casinos have been around for years, but the slots were once limited to two types of slots. Now, the Seminole empire has grown to include the Hard Rock Cafe name brand and Las Vegas-style casinos.

The Village at Gulfstream Park

www.thevillageatgulfstreampark.com

Gulfstream offers thoroughbred horse racing every year from January through April. The big draw is the $750,000 Florida Derby that takes place in May. Gulfstream Park also features Las Vegas-style slot machines and 20 poker tables. The casino offers a wide variety of promotions and offers a players club card that can be redeemed for more free play or merchandise. Once you hit the jackpot, there are a number of places to spend those winnings including a variety of bars, restaurants and shops where you can purchase anything from flip-flops to high-end jeans.

Magic City Casino

www.flaglerdogs.com/slotgames.html

Inside the Miami casino, gamers can select from one of 800 Las Vegas style slot machines and offers greyhound racing and a poker room. Visitors can also dine at the Big Mouth Café or the Tres Hermanos Bar & Lounge. This is the site of the former Flagler Dog track, but now features high-end entertainment. The casino also features an amphitheater where well-known artists including Jon Secada, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Air Supply have performed.

Mardi Gras Casino www.playmardigras.com

Just as the name suggests, Mardi Gras is a New Orleans themed casino that features 1,100 slot machines, poker tables and virtual blackjack. It also offers live greyhound racing and simulcast races. For food lovers, the casino also houses The French Quarter Bar & Restaurant that serves up traditional Cajun dishes and traditional prime rib buffet. The casino offers daily promotions including a shot at winning everything from a barbecue grill to a flat screen TV.

Calder Casino & Race Course

www.calderracecourse.com

Calder Casino and Racetrack has a variety of games from thousands of new and traditional slot machines to thoroughbred racing. It features 1,200 slot machines, three restaurants, electronic blackjack. The company that owns it is Churchill Downs best known for hosting the Kentucky Derby. The casino also features a reward card that allows players the ability to collect points and exchange those points for merchandise and even cash for slot machines.

Friday, July 12, 2013

More Gambling in Florida

Yummy!



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"Gambling footprint expanding in Florida under Gov. Rick Scott"

TALLAHASSEE — Days after a judge ruled last month that the barrel races held at a fledgling North Florida racino were not a legitimate parimutuel sport, state regulators crafted a license, the first of its kind, to allow "flag-drop" races to replace them.

In the past two years, the same regulators have allowed slot machine operators to run electronic roulette and craps games in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, allowed a dormant jai alai permit to be used to expand the number of slot machines at Magic City Casino, and allowed Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream racetrack in Hallandale Beach to run a one-time race in June so they could offer thoroughbred races via simulcast year-round.

These are just a handful of decisions by state regulators that have effectively expanded the gambling footprint in Florida under Gov. Rick Scott.

"There are a couple of clever lawyers out there and we're seeing a lot of strange decisions,'' Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, told the Times/Herald. "If the law doesn't specifically say no, the answer from the department seems to be, always, yes."

The rulings have not gone without notice by top legislative leaders, who ordered up a comprehensive study of gambling in Florida. They say they want the debate to include the loophole-driven expansion of gambling, as well as a discussion about whether to authorize destination resort casinos being pushed by the world's gambling giants.

Today, legislators will receive the first of a two-part, $388,000 study from Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey-based expert in gambling analysis. The second part will come in October, and legislators expect to recommend changes in March that could include whether to approve destination gambling.

"It behooves the Legislature to walk through all the statutes very deliberately with the goal of possibly rewriting those statutes to add clarification,'' said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee that will conduct the review next session.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a veteran of the gambling law fight who once lobbied on behalf of the Jacksonville greyhound track, believes the Legislature's failure to reform its gambling laws has led to the inadvertent expansion of gambling.

"There are people who are looking at loopholes and these things expand gambling,'' he said. "I'm for closing loopholes. I'm not for expanding gambling in Florida.''

Lawyers at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering wouldn't comment Friday when asked about the pattern of rulings.

"DBPR is a regulatory agency that implements the laws created by the Legislature,'' said Ronnie Whitaker, DBPR chief of staff.

A draft of the first part of the Spectrum report suggests that "the overall financial trend for Florida parimutuels has been on a steady downward spiral." But if the Legislature continues to refrain from putting together a comprehensive gambling plan, the report warns there will be consequences.

"Based on our research and experience in Florida and elsewhere, gaming will evolve in Florida whether or not the Florida Legislature develops a plan and puts that plan into action,'' the draft report concludes. "Absent any plan, however, that evolution would be haphazard and would be far less likely to address or advance any public-policy goals."

The current tangle of regulations shows how haphazard things are.

Last year, the state allowed slot machine operators to run electronic games that mimic live roulette and craps games in Miami-Dade and Broward. The shift raises questions about whether the casino look-a-likes violate the gaming compact that gives the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to operate casino-style table games in Florida.

John Lockwood, a lawyer working for Magic City Casino, used a loophole in the law regulating jai alai to allow the casino to get more slot machines.

Marc Dunbar and David Romanik, lawyers and part owners in a Gretna racetrack, persuaded regulators twice to allow them to bring alternative quarter horse racing to the track despite vigorous opposition from the quarter horse industry.

Dunbar is currently asking the state to convert Gulfstream Racetrack's unused quarter horse permit to property the company owns in Miami so it can expand its slot machines operations there.

"My job for my client is to pursue their agenda, and obviously I have a group of clients that are involved in the gambling industry that are pushing the envelope,'' Dunbar said.

As each change approved by regulators affects one sector of the highly competitive parimutuel market, another sector complains. The result: an avalanche of 21 lawsuits pending against the division.

On Friday, Calder Race Course's lawyers and Florida horse breeders and owners appeared before regulators warning that their decision to allow Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream to expand their simulcast schedule may increase competition — but at a steep cost to Florida's horse industry and its 6,000 breeders and owners.

"The governor is trying to bring new jobs to Florida, but this is something driving jobs away from Florida," Stirling said at the hearing.

The company said the decision has already cost Calder $1.7 million and predicted it would cost $7.4 million in the next year. Stirling warned it would also send hundreds of people in ancillary industries into the unemployment line and shift money from the live racing purses for Florida-bred horses to out-of-state racetracks.

"Without summer racing, there is no industry in Florida,'' said John Marshall, vice president of horse racing at Calder. "Two-year-olds need to race in the summer so they are ready to race when they are 3 years old,'' the prime year for champion horses.

Dunbar and Lockwood acknowledge they are hired to exploit the holes in Florida's gambling laws, but both suggest legislators should consider more comprehensive regulation, such as a gaming commission, similar to those in most major gaming states.

"You cannot legislate every realm of possibility in gaming law,'' Lockwood said. "Everybody is creative. They're looking for a work-around."

Dunbar said legislators are likely to resist change as they always have unless the governor steps up and sets the parameters of the debate, as former Gov. Jeb Bush did a decade ago.

"Until that happens, we will not get the comprehensive reform that we need,'' he said. "The real heavy is the threat of the veto pen. The industry is desperate right now and we will actually help them constrict gambling — provided there are relief points."

Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Floyd Mayweather Bets Big and Wins Big

He's so Lucky. Lucky my butt. Check the numbers. He's using Gambler's Calculus. In other words, he is emphasizing how much he won and not how much he lost. Gamblers count like that. Gambler says: Man, I won close to a million dollars in that casino. We ask: So how come you're driving a used Hyundai?

Hmmmmmmm.

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“Corey Nachman and Dashiell Bennett; The 16 Most Legendary Stories of Gambling in sports; from Businessinsider.com)

"Floyd Mayweather's Big Wins"

Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s nickname isn't "Money" just because he's good at boxing.

In the past year, he's tweeted pictures of his betting slips from a $100,000 wager he place on Duke to win the first half of their Sweet 16 game against Arizona (he won $90,909) and another $41,000 bet on the second half of a Bulls-Hawks game. (He won $37,272.75 for that.)

Those are just the bets we know about (and that's he's won.) It's a good wager that his gambling goes much deeper than that.

Superman

I'm finally going to see the new Superman movie, "Man of Steel."

Those of you who have seen it, is it any good?

You know what? I don't care what you say. I'm going to go see it anyway.

I'm a big fan of the kid from Krypton.

Grandma the Gambler

Say it isn't so, Grandma.

Knowing gamblers, I'm surprised she left him that much. 40 Grand? That's a lot if you're a gambler.

"Grandma Charged with Stealing and Gambling Away Grandson's College Fund"

June 08, 2012(Associated Press) A 73-year-old woman has been found in Louisiana after being charged with stealing and gambling away $97,000 from a trust fund for her grandson's college education, authorities said, but she may never return to Indiana for prosecution.

Edna Sue Pate was wanted in Indiana, where the charges were filed, but authorities there said they would not have her brought there to face the charges. Officials in that state had been ordered to extradite her only if she was found in a surrounding state, which would not include Louisiana.

Messages seeking comment with Lake County, Ind., Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan were not returned Thursday and Friday.

Webster Parish Sheriff Gary Sexton said deputies found Pate at a home in the northern Louisiana town of Minden on Wednesday. Sexton said his agency would arrest Pate if authorities in Indiana decided they wanted to have her taken there for prosecution — assuming she stayed at the same home in Minden.

"I have no reason to monitor her at this point," Sexton said. "If they wanted her, they just had to tell me (Wednesday) they wanted her. As far as I'm concerned she's a free lady. She can leave. She can go anywhere."

A probable cause affidavit filed last month by Griffith, Ind., police Detective James Sibley says Pate withdrew more than $97,000 from 2004 to 2007 from a trust fund account opened in 2003 under the name of her grandson, Christian Patrick Kenneth Smith.

The documents say Pate was a trustee on the account but did not have consent to use its funds for any purpose other than Smith's post-secondary education. The documents also say Smith was the sole beneficiary.

The court records claim Pate was known to frequent Indiana casinos and had set up a separate account in 2009 from which she made 49 withdrawals totaling more than $6,000 through April 2010, when the account was closed with a "negative balance."

The court records say 30 withdrawals from that account were made from ATMs at two casinos in Indiana. Records from one of the casinos, Majestic Star II in Gary, show Pate lost more than $93,000 during that time period.

Sibley did not return a message left by The Associated Press.

Smith's father, Tom Smith, who is a private investigator in Griffith, said he wasn't surprised by the decision because he knew Lake County authorities would extradite the woman only from surrounding states because of the expense. He said he found out several months ago she was in Louisiana and asked the Lake County prosecutor's office to extradite her.

"I tried to pressure them. I picketed. I did an e-mail campaign to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office," he said. "If I call them I get routed to voice mail."

Smith said he is frustrated by the lack of help from the Lake County officials, saying there was $40,000 left in the account when he sued Pate in 2008.

"If I had gotten any support from the Lake County Sheriff's Department or the probate court to reopen the trust, my son would still have some money," he said. "It's all very frustrating. I've tried for seven years to try to get someone to pay attention to it."

A residential listing for a Pate on Methodist Camp Road was unavailable.

Tom Smith said the civil lawsuit can't proceed until Pate is brought to Lake County.

"I want her to answer for this so other people realize they can't do this. And that's what my son wants," Smith said.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Florida's Gambling Genie

This from the editorial section of the Miami Herald

With the Florida Lottery among the biggest in the nation, casino-like games at pari-mutuels and jai alai throughout the Sunshine State, casinos run by the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes and those gambling cruises to nowhere and back, the thought that a destination casino resort will destroy Florida’s family tourism image seems almost quaint.

Florida already is a “major gambling state, with a wide array of options.” So declares a new gambling study conducted for the state.

That’s why a comprehensive approach is long overdue to focus on what type of gambling makes sense for Florida and to put an end (or at least limit) the games that continue to prey on the elderly and working poor.

“Intentionally or not, the policies established by lawmakers — or the lack thereof — play a critical role in the evolution and expansion of gaming,” notes a draft report by Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey company hired by the state to study current gaming laws and look at the long-term effects of gambling in Florida. “The industry rarely shrinks, and quite often, expands . . . ”

This past legislative session lawmakers jumped on outlawing Internet cafes and gambling arcades, the so-called video maquinitas often played by retirees at strip shopping malls for a chance at a “gift card.” The swift action came after former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned after her connections to Allied Veterans of the World, a Florida nonprofit that operated a chain of Internet sweepstakes cafes that law enforcement deemed a gambling racket, were disclosed.

No doubt that Florida’s “family tourism” reputation, particularly generated by Disney World and other amusement parks in the Orlando area, bring in billions of dollars to the state. But less than an hour’s drive away from the Magic Kingdom stands the Seminole Hard Rock casino off Interstate 4 in the Tampa area. It, too, rakes in lots of bucks but little of that money goes to the state because Indian tribes are independent of state policy. The Seminoles are paying Florida as part of that tribe’s gambling compact, which allowed blackjack and other types of table games that pari-mutuels are not allowed to offer. But the compact ends soon.

Besides, even with the Indian casinos having the upper hand, pari-mutuels and jai alai frontons have been moving aggressively to exploit loopholes in state law to offer more games, and state regulators rarely say No. Just last year, regulators allowed slot machine operators in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to run electronic games that mimic live roulette and craps.

Clearly, Florida needs a long range plan to wrestle control over the piecemeal mess that has been created. A destination resort in downtown Miami (at the site of the former Herald building now owned by casino resorts giant Genting) may not be the solution, but it’s still too early to rule it out. Spectrum’s second report, due in October, will dive into the economic impact of gambling on communities, and so far the jobs numbers aren’t very notable.

“Based on our research and experience in Florida and elsewhere, gaming will evolve in Florida whether or not the Florida Legislature develops a plan and puts that plan into action,’’ Spectrum’s draft report concludes. “Absent any plan, however, that evolution would be haphazard and would be far less likely to address or advance any public-policy goals.”

The Legislature can’t keep putting off the inevitable. The gambling genie left the bottle long ago.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Culture in Which Notions of Luck and Fate Play Integral Roles

I found this on the Miami Herald

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"Tiny Chinese Enclave Remakes Gambling World"

By Hannah Dreier (AP)

LAS VEGAS -- Most people still think the U.S. gambling industry is anchored in Las Vegas, with its booming Strip and 24/7 action, a place where years of alluring marketing campaigns have helped scrub away the taint of past corruption.

Yet in just a decade, the center of gambling has migrated to the other side of the world, settling in a tiny Chinese territory an hour's ferry ride from Hong Kong. The gambling mecca of Macau now handles more wagers than all U.S.-based commercial casinos put together, and many of those bets end up swelling the balance sheets of U.S. corporations.

But as U.S. gambling companies have remade Macau, Macau has also remade them.

Chasing riches, these companies have been hit with allegations of improper conduct, prompting investigations and serious questions about how closely U.S. authorities are watching the corporations' overseas dealings, and what, if any, real repercussions they could face. Could these corruption claims revive the specter of gambling's bad old days, when Sin City casinos kept mobsters flush?

"There are some countries where you either have to pay to play and break the law, or you have to not do business there," Indiana-based casino consultant Steve Norton said. "I think the jury's still out on Macau."

A few hours' flight from half the world's population, Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal. Each month, 2.5 million tourists flood the glitzy boomtown half the size of Manhattan to try their luck in neon-drenched casinos. Most of them are nouveau-riche Chinese who sip tea and chain-smoke as they play at baccarat.

The former Portuguese colony has long been known for its gambling but used to offer a seedier experience, with small-time gambling dens crowding up against textile factories and gangs, prostitutes and money-launderers operating openly in the cobblestone streets. That was the scene in 1999 when China assumed sovereignty of Macau and opened it to outside gambling operators.

"It was a swamp," said Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands, as he looked back on his early venture in an obscure city where Chinese officials envisioned conventions and resorts. "Everybody thought that I was crazy."

Nevertheless, he and the two American competitors that tried their luck there succeeded spectacularly. Adelson's first casino opening there caused a stampede that ripped doors off their hinges. Now operating four booming casinos in Macau, he described Sands as "an Asian company" with a presence in America. He makes far more in China, a culture in which notions of luck and fate play integral roles, than in Las Vegas.

"This industry is supply-driven, like the movie 'Field of Dreams:' Build it and they will come." he said. "I believe that."

If Adelson's words and jack-o'-lantern smile suggest all is right in the globalized casino world, consider where he made these statements - on the witness stand in a Vegas courtroom this spring, defending his company against one of his former Macau consultants.

A jury in May found against Adelson, awarding the consultant $70 million for helping Sands secure a lucrative gambling license in Macau. Sands immediately appealed.

But the lawsuit may be the least of Adelson's worries. His firm is also accused of making improper payments to a Macau lawmaker and collaborating with the Chinese mafia. The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating. The company says it's done nothing wrong.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Portable Shelters Couldn't Save Them

"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."--Deuteronomy 31:6



From Fox News:

With no way out, the 19 elite firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire Sunday night -- 14 of them in their 20s -- unfurled their foil-lined, heat-resistant tarps and rushed to cover themselves.

The tragedy all but wiped out the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots, a unit based at Prescott, authorities said Monday as the last of the bodies were retrieved from the mountain in the town of Yarnell. Only one member survived, and that was because he was moving the unit's truck at the time.

The team was known for working on the front lines of region's worst fires, including two this season that came before, MyFoxPhoenix.com reported.

The deaths plunged the two small towns into mourning as the wildfire continued to threaten one of them, Yarnell.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said he feared the worst when he received a call Sunday afternoon from someone assigned to the fire.

"All he said was, 'We might have bad news. The entire Hotshot crew deployed their shelters,'" Fraijo said. "When we talk about deploying the shelters, that's an automatic fear, absolutely. That's a last-ditch effort to save yourself when you deploy your shelter."

Arizona Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said all 19 victims had deployed their emergency shelters as they were trained to do.

As a last resort, firefighters are supposed to step into the shelters, lie face down on the ground and pull the fire-resistant fabric completely over themselves. The shelter is designed to reflect heat and trap cool, breathable air inside for a few minutes while a wildfire burns over a person.

But its success depends on firefighters being in a cleared area away from fuels and not in the direct path of a raging inferno of heat and hot gases.

The glue holding the layers of the shelter together begins to come apart at about 500 degrees, well above the 300 degrees that would almost immediately kill a person.

"It'll protect you, but only for a short amount of time. If the fire quickly burns over you, you'll probably survive that," said Prescott Fire Capt. Jeff Knotek. But "if it burns intensely for any amount of time while you're in that thing, there's nothing that's going to save you from that."

Fire officials gave no further details about the shelters being deployed. The bodies were taken to Phoenix for autopsies to determine exactly how the firefighters died.

More than 1,000 people gathered Monday night in the gymnasium on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott as others throughout the state and beyond also mourned the firefighter deaths.

Arizona's governor called it "as dark a day as I can remember" and ordered flags flown at half-staff. In a heartbreaking sight, a long line of white vans carried the bodies to Phoenix for autopsies.

"I know that it is unbearable for many of you, but it also is unbearable for me. I know the pain that everyone is trying to overcome and deal with today," said Gov. Jan Brewer, her voice catching several times as she addressed reporters and residents Monday morning at Prescott High School in the town of 40,000.

The lightning-sparked fire -- which spread to 13 square miles by Monday morning -- destroyed about 50 homes and threatened 250 others in and around Yarnell, a town of 700 people in the mountains about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Department said.

About 200 more firefighters joined the battle Monday, bringing the total to 400. Among them were several other Hotshot teams, elite groups of firefighters sent in from around the country to battle the nation's fiercest wildfires.

Residents huddled in shelters and restaurants, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

It was unclear exactly how the firefighters became trapped, and state officials were investigating.

Brewer said the blaze "exploded into a firestorm" that overran the crew.

Prescott City Councilman Len Scamardo said the wind changed directions and brought 40 mph to 50 mph gusts that caused the firefighters to become trapped around 3 p.m. Sunday. The blaze grew from 200 acres to about 2,000 in a matter of hours.

Southwest incident team leader Clay Templin said the crew and its commanders were following safety protocols, and it appears the fire's erratic nature simply overwhelmed them.

The Hotshot team had spent recent weeks fighting fires in New Mexico and Prescott before being called to Yarnell, entering the smoky wilderness over the weekend with backpacks, chainsaws and other heavy gear to remove brush and trees as a heat wave across the Southwest sent temperatures into the triple digits.

President Obama offered his administration's help in investigating the tragedy and predicted it will force government leaders to answer broader questions about how they handle increasingly destructive and deadly wildfires.

"We are heartbroken about what happened," he said while on a visit to Africa.

The U.S. has 110 Hotshot crews, according to the U.S. Forest Service website. They typically have about 20 members each and go through specialized training.

The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildfire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park blaze in Los Angeles, which killed 29. The biggest loss of firefighters in U.S. history was 343, killed in the 9/11 attack on New York.

In 1994, the Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by an explosion of flames.

A makeshift memorial of flower bouquets and American flags formed at the Prescott fire station where the crew was based.

Prescott resident Keith Gustafson showed up and placed 19 water bottles in the shape of a heart.

"When I heard about this, it just hit me hard," he said. "It hit me like a ton of bricks."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hire More English Majors

"The law is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

--Samuel Johnson

The following article from WFTV.com will illustrate how important it is to pay attention in English class.

When you grow up and become, for example, a state representative fighting on the side of the good you may find that if you make a poorly articulated or poorly thought out law that curtails "evil" activities, the evildoers may demand you apply that same law (because of how it's worded) to activities you approve of as fun, nice, innocent, harmless, positive, and such.

In other words, if they can't pass out their bitter, you can't pass out your sweet. You can't play an innocent game of marbles if they are not allowed knock out your eyes with them.

Let's just put both of our candies and marbles back in our pockets and go home.

Brush back your tears as they stick out their tongues, make farting sounds, and sing, "Nah, nah'na, naaah, naaaaah."

The solution, you ask? Go rewrite the law .. . but that takes a lotto time and a lotto, lotto money.

And when you finish writing it, millions and millions of dollars later, they'll point out another way that their bad deeds are similar in the minutiae of wording to your good deeds.

And so it goes, on and on forever, or until you get the wording right or you give up and make a compromise that allows you to act in ways that are favorable to the public and they to act in ways that are unfavorable, but now legal.

Brrrrrrrrr. Wag your finger and chastise, "Naughty, naughty, poo-poo. Shame on you."

And shame on you for letting the bad guys get all the English and philosophy majors because they pay better.

Shame on you, goodhearted, noble, you--for not paying attention in class.

---------------------

If you want an idea of how powerful, crafty, and downright (dare we say) "evil" Legalized Gambling and its support system (with its better English majors) are, read this.

WFTV.Com 9

---------------------

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

The statewide gambling scandal that led to more than 50 arrests and the resignation of the lieutenant governor is now being blamed for what some call a "bad law," 9 Investigates learned.

Reacting to the Allied Veterans of the World racketeering case, lawmakers passed swift and far-reaching legislation aimed at shutting down internet gambling centers.

WFTV investigative reporter Christopher Heath discovered the law is having unanticipated consequences, and sending nonprofits out of the state for fear of prosecution.

Earlier this year, the state raided the Allied Veterans of the World gaming center in Seminole County, setting off a chain of events that would end with millions of dollars seized, dozens of arrests across the county and state, and the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll.

In addition, both political parties were forced to hand back thousands of dollars in campaign cash.

With many of the suspects still waiting to bond out of jail, the legislature sprang into action, crafting two bills designed to shut down internet casinos and stop illegal gambling.

Now, those same bills, which have become law, are preventing people like Linda Sacks from entering a nation-wide AARP sweepstakes contest.

"I think somebody needs to pay better attention to the bills being passed," said Sacks, an Ormond Beach resident.

Sacks, a national child-welfare advocate, wanted to enter the AARP's "New Face of 50" contest.

Upon reading the fine print, she discovered Florida is the only state where the contest is not being held.

"This cannot be possible. What did Florida do to be excluded?" Sacks asked.

Heath asked AARP why it is excluding Florida, and the organization responded in a statement that the new anti-gambling law prohibits its contest because the prize includes $5,000 and a photo-shoot. The statement added that the group "was surprised by the consequences of this new law."

Heath visited a former internet casino location in central Florida, noting that the gaming center is shut down and even missing the handle to its front door.

The same law that shut the operation down is now getting challenged in court with operators saying it isn't just poorly written, it may also be unconstitutional.

The lawsuits, filed in Broward County, have yet to go before a judge.

Sacks hopes the state will reexamine the unintended consequences of some of the laws it passes.

"To be excluded is just not fair," Sacks said.

Heath spoke with state Sen. John Thrasher, the sponsor of the bill in the Florida Senate. Thrasher said the AARP case was the first he had heard of a non-profit being excluded as a result of the new law. He added that excluding legitimate nonprofits was not the intent of the law.

The state won't be able to fix the problem until state legislature meets again in 2014.

Go Heat!

We win! We win! We win!



Back to Back NBA CHAMPS!

Nothing bad can be said about the San Antonio Spurs, who are a class act even in defeat. But if we go back to game six . . .

hmmmmmmm.

Preston

Gambling Loopholes

This from the Miami Herald

"Gambling loopholes grow as state waits to reform rules"

By Mary Ellen Klas

Herald/Times

Tallahassee Bureau



TALLAHASSEE -- Days after an administrative law judge ruled last month that the barrel races held at a fledgling North Florida racino were not a legitimate pari-mutuel sport, state regulators crafted a license to allow for “flag-drop” races, the first of its kind, to replace them.

In the last two years, the same regulators have allowed for slot machine operators to run electronic roulette and craps games in Miami-Dade and Broward, allowed a dormant jai alai permit to be used to expand the number of slot machines at Magic City Casino, and allowed Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Racetrack to run a one-time race in June so they could offer thoroughbred races via simulcast year-round.

These are just among a handful of decisions by state regulators that have effectively expanded the gambling footprint in Florida under Gov. Rick Scott.

“There are a couple of clever lawyers out there and we’re seeing a lot of strange decisions,’’ said Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, told the Herald/Times. “If the law doesn’t specifically say no, the answer from the department seems to be, always, yes.”

The rulings have not gone without notice by top legislative leaders who have ordered up a comprehensive study of gambling in Florida. They say they want the debate to include the loophole-driven expansion of gambling, as well as a discussion about whether to authorize destination resort casinos being pushed by the world’s gambling giants.

On Monday, legislators will receive the first of a two-part, $388,000 study ordered from Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey-based expert in gambling analysis. The second part will come in October and legislators expect to recommend changes in March that could include whether or not to approve destination gambling.

“It behooves the Legislature to walk through all the statutes very deliberately with the goal of possibly rewriting those statutes to add clarification,’’ said Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee that will conduct the review next session.

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a veteran of the gambling law fight who once lobbied on behalf of the Jacksonville greyhound track, believes the Legislature’s failure to reform its gambling laws has led to the inadvertent expansion of gambling.

“There are people who are looking at loopholes and these things expand gambling,’’ he said. “I’m for closing loopholes. I’m not for expanding gambling in Florida.’’

Lawyers at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, wouldn’t comment Friday when asked about the pattern of rulings.

“DBPR is a regulatory agency that implements the laws created by the Legislature,’’ said Ronnie Whitaker, DBPR chief of staff.

A draft of the first part of the Spectrum report suggests that “the overall financial trend for Florida pari-mutuels has been on a steady downward spiral.” But if the Legislature refrains from putting together a comprehensive gambling plan, as it has in the past, the report warns there will be consequences.

“Based on our research and experience in Florida and elsewhere, gaming will evolve in Florida whether or not the Florida Legislature develops a plan and puts that plan into action,’’ the draft report concludes. “Absent any plan, however, that evolution would be haphazard and would be far less likely to address or advance any public-policy goals.”



Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at meklas@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @MaryEllenKlas

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

JFK

"Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."

--John F. Kennedy

Quote of the Day

"Politics have no relation to morals."

--Niccolo Machiavelli

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act

"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

--John Quincy Adams

I'm not political, but whether you're right or left this is big news.



"Voting Rights Act Section 4 Struck Down By Supreme Court"

The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court.

The 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965.

The court’s opinion said it did not strike down the act of Congress “lightly,” and said it “took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act” in a separate case back in 2009. “Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare [Section 4] unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance.”

The Voting Rights Act has recently been used to block a voter ID law in Texas and delay the implementation of another in South Carolina. Both states are no longer subject to the preclearance requirement because of the court’s ruling on Tuesday.

“Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions,” Roberts wrote.

“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act," he wrote. "The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process."

In his bench statement, Roberts said that Congress had extended a 40-year-old coverage formula based on "obsolete statistics and that the coverage formula "violates the constitution."

Congress, the court ruled, “may draft another formula based on current conditions.” But given the fact that Republicans currently control the House of Representatives, many voting rights advocates consider it unlikely that Congress will act to create a new formula.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a wide-ranging dissent on behalf of herself and Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, justifying the continued vitality of the Voting Rights Act's preclearance provision.

"The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective," Ginsburg wrote. "The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclear­ance is no longer needed."

The court did not rule on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the preclearance requirement itself, which requires those affected states to have changes to their voting laws cleared by the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington, D.C., before they go into effect. Rather, the court ruled that the current formula that determines which states are covered by Section 5 is unconstitutional, effectively eliminating Section 5 enforcement, at least for the time being.

"In the Court’s view, the very success of §5 of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy," Ginsburg wrote.

She said in her bench statement that in renewing Section 5 in 2006, Congress "found that 40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of disregard for the 15th Amendment."

The provision has proven "enormously successful" in increasing minority registration and access to the ballot and preventing a "return to old ways," Ginsburg said. Even in jurisdictions where discrimination may not be overt, "subtle methods" have emerged to diminish minority turnout, such as racial gerrymandering.

As for Section 4, Ginsburg wrote that "the record for the 2006 reauthorization makes abundantly clear [that] second-generation barriers to minority voting rights have emerged in the covered jurisdictions as at­tempted substitutes for the first-generation barriers that originally triggered preclearance in those jurisdictions."

"Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and I are of the view that Congress' decision to extend the act and keep the formula was a rational one," Ginsburg said.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas reiterated his belief that Section 5 is also unconstitutional, a position he took in his dissent from the Court's previous encounter with the Voting Rights Act in 2009.

"However one aggregates the data compiled by Congress, it cannot justify the considerable burdens created by §5," Thomas wrote on Tuesday.

The Obama Justice Department, believing the court might strike down Section 5 in the 2009 case, devised a plan to react to the ruling. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Voting rights advocates condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“The Supreme Court has effectively gutted one of the nation's most important and effective civil rights laws,” Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement. “Minority voters in places with a record of discrimination are now at greater risk of being disenfranchised than they have been in decades. Today's decision is a blow to democracy. Jurisdictions will be able to enact policies which prevent minorities from voting, and the only recourse these citizens will have will be expensive and time-consuming litigation.”

“Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision erases fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years,” Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, said in a statement. “Congress must act quickly to restore the Voting Rights Act.”

“Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “We must ensure that this day is just a page in our nation’s history, rather than the return to a dark chapter."

“The Roberts Court proved again that it will not be deterred by Supreme Court precedent, the realities on the ground in our nation; nor will it defer to Congress even when the legislative branch is granted clear authority by the Constitution to remedy our nation's long history of discrimination against racial and language minorities,” said J. Gerald Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center. “The Court today declared racism dead in this country despite mountains of evidence to the contrary.”

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Powerball!!!

My, oh My.

I'm not even going to comment on this.

Thanks,

Preston

_________________

This from the Miami Herald
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- When Gloria C. MacKenzie went to a Florida supermarket near Tampa last month to buy a Powerball ticket, another person in line did something nice for the 84-year-old widow.

"While in line at Publix, another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket," she said in a statement Wednesday.

The nice gesture turned out to be a life-changing one for MacKenzie and her family. She came forward Wednesday to claim the biggest undivided lottery jackpot in history, $590 million.

A retiree from Maine and a mother of four who lives in a modest, tin-roof house in Zephyrhills, Fla., where the lone winning ticket in the May 18 drawing was sold, MacKenzie took her prize in a lump sum of just over $370 million. After federal taxes, she is getting about $278 million, lottery officials said.

Wearing large sunglasses and dressed in a pink sweater and white pants, she clasped her son's arm after visiting the lottery offices as they made their way to a silver Ford Focus and left quickly. She did not speak to a crowd of reporters outside the building. She was accompanied at the lottery offices by two unidentified attorneys.

MacKenzie bought the winning ticket at a Publix supermarket in the town of about 13,300, which is 30 miles northeast of Tampa. It is best known for the bottled spring water that bears its name - and now, for one of the biggest lottery winners of all time.

The $590 million was the second-largest lottery jackpot in history, behind a $656 million Mega Millions prize in March 2012, but that sum was split, with three winning tickets.

MacKenzie let the lottery computers generate the numbers at random. She said she had previously bought four other tickets for the drawing.

"We are grateful with this blessing of winning the Florida Lottery Powerball jackpot," she said in a statement read by lottery officials. "We hope that everyone would give us the opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family's benefit."

The winner had 60 days to claim the prize. Lottery spokesman David Bishop said MacKenzie, her lawyers and her financial adviser spent about two hours going through the necessary paperwork.

"They had clearly been preparing for this. They took all this time to get everything in order," Bishop said.

Minutes after the announcement, a dozen reporters in Zephyrhills were camped outside MacKenzie's gray duplex, which backs up to a dirt alley and is across from a cow pasture.

Neighbors were surprised by her good fortune.

"She didn't say anything about it. She's so quiet and secluded. She's usually in the house," said James Hill. "I'm very happy for her. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person. She was always pleasant and smiling."

Another neighbor, Don Cecil, joked, "I hope she gets a better place to live."

MacKenzie's neighbors offered few details about her life. They said she mostly kept to herself, but they'd seen her take short walks along the street and exchanged pleasantries with her.

Her house, situated among mostly mobile homes and pre-fabricated houses, has a chain-link fence with a sheet-metal roof and an old TV antenna.

MacKenzie retired to Zephyrhills more than a decade ago from rural Maine with her husband, Ralph, who died in 2005.

Back in her hometown of East Millinocket, Maine, relatives and friends were surprised to hear of her good fortune.

Robert MacKenzie, Ralph's brother, said the couple met just after World War II after Ralph got out of the Navy. He went to work in the town's paper mill, laboring as a technician for almost four decades.

He said the couple raised four children in East Millinocket, a town of less than 2,000 people in northern Maine. A daughter and son still live in East Millinocket, another son lives in Florida and another daughter lives out of state, possibly in Massachusetts, he said.

Robert MacKenzie said he didn't know his sister-in-law had won until a reporter called him.

"Holy mackerel," he said when told of her winnings. He added: "It hasn't soaked in, but I'm happy for her. That would be great because she's a widow and she can have a nice home now."

One of the MacKenzies' daughters, Melinda "Mindy" MacKenzie, a high school teacher, still lives in the family home in East Millinocket in a quiet middle-class neighborhood of white clapboard houses.

Ralph MacKenzie enjoyed snowmobiling, hunting and fishing, said Andrew Hopkins, a retired high school teacher and assistant principal who taught some of the MacKenzie children.

"They were good people. That's about all I can tell you," said Hopkins, who lives across the street.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/05/3434747/590-million-powerball-jackpot.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, June 3, 2013

State Arcades Clash in Court over Video Gambling Machines

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/31/3426897/state-arcades-clash-in-court-over.html

By Glenn Garvin ggarvin@MiamiHerald.com



Florida’s controversial new law on video gambling machines began what will undoubtedly be an epic voyage through the judicial system Friday, when attorneys for two Broward County arcades asked a federal judge in Fort Lauderdale to block enforcement of the measure.

U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn promised a ruling next week after a spirited 90 minutes of legal debate in his packed courtroom on whether the law is unconstitutionally vague or violates the rights of the machines’ customers.

The law was passed hurriedly in April after a scandal over political donations by so-called Internet cafes — where computers were set up for gambling — threatened to envelop the Legislature. Lawmakers outlawed “casino-style” games, limited prizes to a value of 75 cents, and made violation a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

But the law’s broad provisions have apparently outlawed most of the machines at many gaming centers, ranging from the kiddie games at Chuck E. Cheese’s through young-adult watering holes like Dave & Buster’s and senior arcades where the elderly gather to play simulated video slot machines for 8 cents a pop.

The lawsuit that got its first hearing Friday was brought by owners of two senior arcades, which like hundreds of others around the state closed down after the law went into effect.

Their attorney, Fort Lauderdale constitutional expert Bruce Rogow, focused most of his attack on the new law’s failure to specify exactly what “casino-style games” are. He cited transcripts from hearings on the law in which legislators admitted they were leaving the term undefined and said the law contained “gray areas.”

“There is no definition of ‘casino-style games,’” Rogow argued, adding the term is so broad that an arcade owner could be arrested for owning a machine “because it has lights and a handle.” While the games in his clients’ arcades may look similar to Las Vegas video slot machines, he added, their internal workings are vastly different and allow players to exercise skills instead of relying on pure chance as casino machines do.

But Allen Winsor, defending the law on behalf of the Florida attorney general’s office, said plenty of laws don’t include detailed definitions. As long as they meet the legal standard of being understood by “an average person of ordinary intelligence,” he said, that’s good enough.

“You don’t have to have mathematical precision,” Winsor said. “There are limitations on the English language.”

The two sides also clashed over whether the law violates arcade customers’ freedom of association by, as Rogow contended, effectively closing the senior arcades. “You could make that same argument for a crack house,” retorted Barry Richard, attorney for the Seminole Indian tribe, which has intervened in the case on the state’s side to

protect its gambling interests.

Lipshitz 6

Lipshitz 6
Reading T Cooper for Christmas

Punk Blood

Punk Blood
Jay Marvin

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Breath, Eyes, Memory

Anonymous Rex

Anonymous Rex
Reading Eric Garcia for Christmas

Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill
Reading A. Manette Ansay for Christmas

Nicotine Dreams

Nicotine Dreams
Reading Katie Cunningham for Christmas

Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz
Pulitzer Prize Winner!!!

Edwige Danticat

Edwige Danticat
New Year's Reading

Greed

Greed
This Brother Is Scary Good

One More Chance

One More Chance
The genius Is At It Again/The Rapper CHIEF aka Sherwin Allen

Sandrine's Letter

Sandrine's Letter
Check out Sandrine's Letter To Tomorrow. You will like it, I insist.

All or Nothing

All or Nothing

Editorial Reviews of All or Nothing

New York Times--". . . a cartographer of autodegradation . . . Like Dostoyevsky, Allen colorfully evokes the gambling milieu — the chained (mis)fortunes of the players, their vanities and grotesqueries, their quasi-philosophical ruminations on chance. Like Burroughs, he is a dispassionate chronicler of the addict’s daily ritual, neither glorifying nor vilifying the matter at hand."

Florida Book Review--". . . Allen examines the flaming abyss compulsive gambling burns in its victims’ guts, self-esteem and bank accounts, the desperate, myopic immediacy it incites, the self-destructive need it feeds on, the families and relationships it destroys. For with gamblers, it really is all or nothing. Usually nothing. Take it from a reviewer who’s been there. Allen is right on the money here."

Foreword Magazine--"Not shame, not assault, not even murder is enough reason to stop. Allen’s second novel, All or Nothing, is funny, relentless, haunting, and highly readable. P’s inner dialogues illuminate the grubby tragedy of addiction, and his actions speak for the train wreck that is gambling."

Library Journal--"Told without preaching or moralizing, the facts of P's life express volumes on the destructive power of gambling. This is strongly recommended and deserves a wide audience; an excellent choice for book discussion groups."—Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH

LEXIS-NEXIS--"By day, P drives a school bus in Miami. But his vocation? He's a gambler who craves every opportunity to steal a few hours to play the numbers, the lottery, at the Indian casinos. Allen has a narrative voice as compelling as feeding the slots is to P." Betsy Willeford is a Miami-based freelance book reviewer. November 4, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly--"Allen’s dark and insightful novel depicts narrator P’s sobering descent into his gambling addiction . . . The well-written novel takes the reader on a chaotic ride as P chases, finds and loses fast, easy money. Allen (Churchboys and Other Sinners) reveals how addiction annihilates its victims and shows that winning isn’t always so different from losing."

Kirkus Review--"We gamble to gamble. We play to play. We don't play to win." Right there, P, desperado narrator of this crash-'n'-burn novella, sums up the madness. A black man in Miami, P has graduated from youthful nonchalance (a '79 Buick Electra 225) to married-with-a-kid pseudo-stability, driving a school bus in the shadow of the Biltmore. He lives large enough to afford two wide-screen TVs, but the wife wants more. Or so he rationalizes, as he hits the open-all-night Indian casinos, "controlling" his jones with a daily ATM maximum of $1,000. Low enough to rob the family piggy bank for slot-machine fodder, he sinks yet further, praying that his allergic 11-year-old eat forbidden strawberries—which will send him into a coma, from which he'll emerge with the winning formula for Cash 3 (the kid's supposedly psychic when he's sick). All street smarts and inside skinny, the book gives readers a contact high that zooms to full rush when P scores $160,000 on one lucky machine ("God is the God of Ping-ping," he exults, as the coins flood out). The loot's enough to make the small-timer turn pro, as he heads, flush, to Vegas to cash in. But in Sin City, karmic payback awaits. Swanky hookers, underworld "professors" deeply schooled in sure-fire systems to beat the house, manic trips to the CashMyCheck store for funds to fuel the ferocious need—Allen's brilliant at conveying the hothouse atmosphere of hell-bent gaming. Fun time in the Inferno.

World Series of Poker

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At Books and Books

At Books and Books
Me And Vicki at Our Reading

Bio


Preston L. Allen is the recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature and the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction for his short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003). His works have appeared in numerous publications including The Seattle Review, The Crab Orchard Review, Asili, Drum Voices, and Gulfstream Magazine; and he has been anthologized in Here We Are: An Anthology of South Florida Writers, Brown Sugar: A Collection of Erotic Black Fiction, Miami Noir, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Noir. His fourth novel, All Or Nothing, chronicles the life of a small-time gambler who finally hits it big. Preston Allen teaches English and Creative Writing in Miami, Florida.