Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Brief Intermission From Casinopalooza 2

Yes, there are still tales left from Casinopalooza 2. But today, we take a brief respite due to unforeseen events yesterday.

I had a little visitor when I went outside for my walk. That's right where I always greet the dogs, and stand to stretch my legs at the steps by the side porch. The dogs were not around yesterday, because they were off to the creek with Hick on the Gator. Good thing. One of their fat, frolicking paws would have smashed that little ladybug.

Since we got back from Casinopalooza 2, I had not been to the cemetery for my weekly visit with Mom. We got home Tuesday evening. Wednesday I went to Walmart and planned on stopping, but there was a funeral tent set up in the vicinity. Thursday, I went by again, but the workers were mowing. On Friday, I finally stopped to visit. Only briefly, apologizing for not getting there sooner. I told Mom that we arrived home safely, what the boys are currently up to, how we had a great time, and that I felt bad about not stopping until now, and how I hadn't sensed her around lately.

Then a woman came walking across the plots, so my visit wasn't really private any more, and I said I had to get going. I knew Mom would understand.

Huh. Now I can kind of sense her presence again. I had a couple of 11:11 clock sightings. And then the ladybug surprise.

I know that it's almost summer, and bugs are flying, and one might expect to see ladybugs around. But to me, a ladybug is not just a ladybug. It could have appeared anywhere, you know. At any time. Just an insect flitting here and there. But this one appeared on my porch, at the very place I stand for five minutes every evening, the day after I mentioned that I felt disconnected from Mom.

It seems like my life in on the right track once again.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: The Brutal Gourmet

Let the record show that ever since the original Casinopalooza, Hick has complained about our dinner the first night. Way back then (in March of this year), we drove to Oklahoma in a convoy of two with my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor. We checked into our hotel in Joplin at that time, and then hit the road to visit four casinos. We started at the one farthest away, and worked our way back to town.

Because we didn't arrive until 3:00 in the afternoon that time, and we WERE there to gamble...three of us were content to grab a quick bite and get back to throwing away our money. Of course the hold-out was Hick. He puts on a good front. He said he'd go along with what everybody else wanted to do. Traveling from one casino to the next, at around 8:00 p.m., we decided to stop by a McDonald's. Hick had even agreed to this before we got in the car.

Ex-Mayor had mentioned a couple of places we could eat. A steak house, which three of us didn't really want that late, or to give up so much time. And a restaurant that was local, not a chain. "Your sister and I ate there one time. It was okay. I can't even remember what kind of food they have." Sis said she hadn't really liked it. So I didn't especially want to go there. Hick said McDonald's was fine. So we ate there. It was quick. And nobody got sick.

EVER SINCE, Hick has thrown that back in my face. "We're going to get a good meal this time. I'm NOT going to McDonald's. We need time to visit with Genius and The Pony, too. We're not just there to gamble." Au contraire. Everybody else thought the purpose of the trip was gambling. Not a family vacation. After all, it was not called FamilyVacationpalooza.

Anyhoo...Hick tried playing that "agreeable old coot" routine again. Like he didn't really care where we ate. But I told Sis and Ex-Mayor, "That's how he acts in front of YOU. But all I've heard about for two months is how I made him eat at McDonald's last time. So you talk to HIM. HE's the one who's picking where we eat."

Hick chose the restaurant that Ex-Mayor had mentioned on the previous trip.

This turned out to be a decision as ill-fated as the 3-hour tour of the S.S. Minnow. Except that we eventually escaped the restaurant. Hick (The Skipper) sat at one end of the table with The Pony (Gilligan). Genius (The Professor) was in the middle, across from Sis (Lovey). And I (Mary Ann) sat at the other end, across from Ex-Mayor (Thurston Howell III). Ginger skipped supper that night, watching her figure.

The waiter led us to the back wall of the restaurant, which was covered with windows facing out on the road. I think. The sun blazing through at 7:00 p.m. was so blinding that I could have probably held my eyelids open, turned my head just right, and performed my own LASIK surgery. The waiter proffered some menus to us, and I guess it was our blind grasping that led him to say, "Oh. I can close those blinds for you if you'd like." We did. He did. But only two of the three. Once he left, Ex-Mayor wrestled with the cord and finally dimmed our dining area to a bright glare.

Then ensued a long debate between Sis and the waiter over what was good on the menu. She specifically asked for a clarification between the cod and the catfish. Waiter said that HE would have the catfish, since it was hand-breaded and fried, whilst the cod came already coated and frozen. Ex-Mayor asked if the fajita was any good, and Waiter said that he himself ate more fajitas there than anything else. But that the skillet was also good. So Ex-Mayor got the blazing hot skillet, which was basically a fajita without the tortilla.

Our drinks came out, and then some small plates and a basket of four rolls. Let the record show that there were six of us. The roll-bearer said, "I'll get you some more. We've been swamped. That's all we have." Of course you know who went without a roll. Val. And Sis. The Pony dipped his in the plastic container of butter, took a bite, and dipped it again. THE PONY WAS A DOUBLE DIPPER! Hick chastised him, but The Pony replied, "How am I SUPPOSED to put butter on it? None of us have any silverware."

Then the blazing hot skillet arrived. No other entrees. Ex-Mayor noticed that he had no silverware. As didn't the rest of us, either. "What am I supposed to do, bury my face in the blazing hot skillet to eat?" He let it sizzle. The roll-bearer came back with four more rolls. Hick told him we needed some silverware. "We don't have any. We've been swamped." And he was gone!

Next, the fish began arriving. Sis wanted barbecue sauce for dipping her fries. I told her to stand in line behind silverware and Hick's salad. Because everybody else got theirs (who ordered one) but not Hick. Not that they could eat them, with no silverware.

Then my grilled chicken with mango and pineapple salsa (though mostly diced tomatoes and something really sour, no sign of pineapple, probably due to the place being swamped) came out, with my sides of rice pilaf and steamed broccoli. Funny how I though rice pilaf had something else in it besides white rice and something that made it mushy.

Ex-Mayor demanded silverware, and Waiter came right back with a round of knife/forks/spoon wrapped in a napkin, enough for the entire table. I spent most of the meal coveting Ex-Mayor's blazing hot skillet, although my steamed broccoli was pretty decent. The chicken was one of those frozen breasts, cooked to the consistency of an old boot sole. I didn't dare ask Sis to share her barbecue sauce so I could moisten it for help in swallowing.

Hick finally got his salad as the rest of us were ready to leave. Genius said his fish was okay. It had taken 30 minutes before the rolls even came out. Lucky I was busy counting up my money with my hand inside my purse, so I only complained about 137 times. I'm pretty sure we're not going to eat there again.

I can't wait to bring it up to Hick every time we talk about Casinopalooza 2 or any future Casinopaloozas. Though I HAVE mentioned that my Quarter Pounder was better than my chicken.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #61 "A Matter of Hairanoia, or Just Raising Mane?"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, Val brings you the story of a free spirit. A real fun guy. You'll laugh. You'll cry (from laughing). Get your fake copy today! It's like a breath of fresh air in a fart factory!

A Matter of Hairanoia, or Just Raising Mane?

Ben Me Self marches to his own drummer. Toots his own trumpet. Flouts his own flute. He's one-of-a-kind, and kind enough to give you the shirt off his back...when he wears one. Of course he dons a shirt for school pictures. But his buddies suggest a new hairstyle, minutes before Ben's turn.

It's not the first time Peon N. Theshower and Double-Dip Chip have steered Ben wrong. And it won't be the last. Revenge, however, is sweet. Stowing away with the guys in the wheel well of a Boeing 747, just to visit a nude beach in France, is one of Ben's fondest memories. But his buddies wearing rented Speedos because Ben "forgot" to tell them to bring their own swimwear, is the best. Follow the wacky hijinks of these three amigos, and find out who's really the ringleader. (139 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

We 3 Kings..."We traverse afar, and this is STILL the poorest excuse for a fake book we have ever encountered! Thevictorian certainly does not bear the gift of writing."

3 Ring Circus..."Such a conundrum, this Thevictorian woman! Her fake book is nothing but a sideshow in small-town carnival. Yet the fake author's erratic style of fake-writing makes US look like a blue calm sea."

3 French Hens..."What the cluck was this imbecile thinking? Thevictorian's fake book is a real piece of merde. Only yesterday, the 4 Calling Birds called to warn us about it."

3 Sheets to the Wind..."We had to put our beer goggles on to fake-read this one, and even so, we did not bring it home with us at closing time. Thevictorian's fake writing is enough to make us jump back ON the wagon. To make a hasty escape from her vicinity. The off-chance that she might have another fake book fake-published is a sobering thought."

3-Piece Suit..."We are not vested in this fake author's success. We've heard that she has a checkered past, and assume that she has something up her sleeve. Thevictorian needs to zip it, and stop this hemming and hawing about a sequel. She writes as if she's in an altered state, and needs to be soundly cuffed around the head and shoulders."

Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria..."We would sail to the ends of the earth to escape the works of this fake author!"

3 Blind Mice..."We weren't always blind, you know. Not until we fake-read Thevictorian's fake book. We'd rather have our tails cut off with a carving knife (THRICE!) than fake-read one more fake word from this fake author." 

Triple Sec..."I don't find this fake book at all a-peeling! There's nothing sweet about it. It's as if it came from a bitter old woman, trying to make herself mix in by being sweet. Orange you glad I warned you about Thevictorian?"

3 Coins in the Fountain..."Like us, this fake author is ALL WET! Unlike us, she gives the reader no hope. It's no accident that we ended up in this fountain. We threw ourselves in here, in an effort to end it all after fake-reading this fake book."

3 Dog Night..."Mama Told Me Not to Come here and review this fake book. But I will shout it from the Halls of Shambala: Do Not Fake-Buy This Fake Book! I am NOT going to Try a Little Tenderness, because where Thevictorian is concerned, it's so Easy to Be Hard. Anyone who says he wants to Celebrate this author, or sing Joy to the World after fake-reading her fake book, is simply a Liar."  

3 Legged Race..."The writing in this fake book is as awkward as US romping along at a 4th of July picnic at the turn of the century!"

3 Men in a Tub..."Rub-a-dub-dub, no matter how hard we scrub, we can't cleanse ourselves of the stench of this horrid piece of writing!"

"Do not buy this book.
You'll regret it forever.
It sucks really bad."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: And a Little Child Shall Spin Them

Let the record show that Casinopalooza was a monetary success for Val. She returned home with all of her gambling stake intact, and an excess of $213. That's a little less than half as much as last time, but we had a tough session on Monday morning. The ex-mayor my sister's husband says that's because those two casinos are building new hotels, and they tighten their machines. That's highly possible, since the Oklahoma casinos are not regulated like the ones in Vegas, or like ours in Missouri. The Pony broke even, Genius lost about what I won, and Hick lost just a tad more than Genius. But who cares about THEM, anyway? Val's finances are all that matter!

On Monday night, The Pony feasted at Steak N Shake, on a garlic cheeseburger, a delicacy of which he cannot partake in Norman, Oklahoma. Hick drove him a few miles into Joplin for that dinner, while Genius and I stayed at Downstream Casino, eating separately at the snack bar restaurant when the mood struck. Genius persuaded me to join him on the Money Wheel games. There were three side by side by side. Penny machines. We were betting 60 cents a spin, hoping to hit three wheels and get the bonus.

Unfortunately for Genius, he hit it quite often, and his bonus was a spin of the wheel, and it kept giving him the Mini Jackpot. Which was $3.00. Heh, heh! There was a lady on the machine between us, and she was hitting bonuses like crazy. Her machine was a little different version, and she was betting $2.40, I think. Anyhoo...she got the money-picking bonus where you touch the screen and pick flying bills. She won $277.00 on her last bonus. And sensibly gave up her machine. Finally. So I moved over next to Genius, and started playing that one, but at 60 cents, and promptly got that bonus. I only won $14, but it was better than $3.00!

So...those machines are popular. The one I vacated was not empty long. An old man and a kid walked by behind me. I assumed they were heading for the buffet. Kids can stay at the hotel, of course. And use the indoor and outdoor pool. And they can walk through the casino to get to the restaurants. That's what I figured was happening. But then the old man and little boy stopped and looked at that money wheel.

"Play this one, Grandpa!" said Little Boy.

"I don't does it work?" said Gramps.

"Sit down. Here. Put your money in there. Then hit this to bet," said Little Boy.

"You do it," said Gramps.

"Can I sit on your lap?" said Little Boy.

"No," said Gramps.

You know kids these days. So savvy with electronics. Little Boy was only trying to help Gramps. But the situation rankled my nerves. This was not right! Kids are not allowed to gamble! I made sure my posture showed my disapproval, although I did not turn to look at them. I am, after all, not a confrontational person. I prefer to stew quietly in my own juices.

I did, however, lean to my right to whisper in Genius's ear. Not to be all sneaky or anything. But because those machines were SO VERY LOUD that he would not have heard me while one of his $3.00 bonuses was playing out. Even though I could hear Little Boy and Gramps, because they had not yet started playing.

"This is SO wrong! A kid shouldn't be here!"

"What? Where? What kid?"

"Don't look now. But on the other side of me. That old man and the little boy. He TOLD that man what to play, and now he's pushing the buttons and explaining the game! A kid is GAMBLING on that slot machine!"

"Uh. That's a little Asian woman."

WHAT? I tried to use my peripheral vision. I couldn't see very well. But it was, indeed, a little woman. Not a little woman in the sense of a dwarf or little person. Just a small woman. Really small. Like actress Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously. Only a woman, not playing a man. Gambling with a man she referred to as 'Grandpa.'


Oh, and then I doubled my bet to $1.20 a spin, and hit the money-grabbing bonus for a $47 win. And cashed out, leaving Genius there playing with Gramps and Little Boy Woman.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: Arrival and Departure

When we last convened, Val had managed to confuse 33.3 % of her commenters.

When I booked our "free" room, the lady on the phone said that the dates of our stay did not warrant TWO free nights, only one. But that if another member of our party had a free room comp, we could apply that to our second night, and get it free also.

Of course you know what happened.

We met my sister the ex-mayor's wife and the ex-mayor at valet parking on Sunday afternoon. From there we went to the hotel check-in desk. The lady said that my second night would be $98.00, and I explained that "Marilyn" had told me on the phone that I could use another member of my party's free room comp. Sis presented her mailer with the free room.

Well! That mousy little lady was flabbergasted! "You can't do that. I can't let you use this lady's comp if she's not staying in your room."

Sis told her, "Look. I AM her sister! I'm not some random woman she found in the lobby and asked for her comp. I am staying on my husband's comp, and not using mine. My sister here was told that she could use my comp for her second night."

While Sis and I were haggling with Mousy, Hick and Ex-Mayor and Genius and The Pony hung back like proper menfolk, doing whatever menfolk do, lettin' us gals do the work. They ain't so good with words, those menfolk. I didn't use the teacher-eyes in the back of my head, but I imagined Hick slicing off a plug of tobacco for Ex-Mayor, proffering it to him on the blade of his pocket knife. Genius and The Pony, clad in overalls, no shirts, and no shoes, being seen and not heard. Genius, perhaps, sitting on an overturned washtub, whittling a slingshot, and The Pony stretched out on the floor like a boneless hound dog. Both of them soaking in the words of wisdom of their elders. 

It probably didn't help that Sis was wearing movie star sunglasses because her regular reading glasses were up in her room. Mousy was at an impasse, so we asked for a supervisor. Who was an absolute doll, all take-charge and personable, walking Mousy through what to do in order to get my second night free. Sis and I both signed a paper concerning the transaction. Supervisor acted like it was no big deal. THAT is customer service.

Sooo...I got my free room, we took our stuff upstairs, and then hit the road to visit 4 casinos that evening, before coming back to play at Downstream into the night.

Let's fast-forward here over the other stories so that we can get to checkout time. Sis and Ex-Mayor left on Monday morning after breakfast, but Thevictorians stayed until Tuesday. Hick and Genius were mocking me for wanting to take the room cards to the desk.

"Mom. There's a card drop down by the elevators."

"He's right, Val. I always just leave the cards in the room. They'll know we're gone."

"But if I go to the desk, they'll know right then. They can start cleaning so other people can check in early. WE got to check in at 2:45, and it wasn't supposed to be until 4:00. That saved us time to GAMBLE!"

"Do what you want. You're going to anyway."

"I don't see why it matters if I'm standing at the desk, or standing out front waiting for the valet. Besides, I want to make sure the free room is taken care of."


Good thing I was selfless like that, wanting future free-stayers to get to gambling quicker. I approached the desk and saw the only person working was a short little bald man who looked like character actor John Fiedler. (He was lawyer J. Noble Daggett in True Grit! And Mr. Peterson on The Bob Newhart Show. And the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh.)

Anyhoo...this guy was not nearly so personable as John Fiedler. He was just a walking poster boy for Little Man Syndrome.

"That will be $112 for your second night. Did you want to leave that charge on your credit card?"

"No. That room was comped. We talked to a supervisor when we checked in. My sister used her comp. We both signed a paper for that transaction." I gave all pertinent details concerning names, room numbers, and dates.

Not-John-Fiedler was getting pissier by the moment. He strutted around behind a partition. Came back to the computer. Huffed a couple of times. And dragged a long milk crate kind of bin out from under the counter. He thumbed through about 100 papers, and found the two signed by Sis and me.

"Oh. So your sister SIGNED for the room, even though she didn't STAY in it?"

I should have just told him she did stay in it, that we separated the gals from the menfolk. But I didn't think of it. What's their problem, anyway? They had six of us in two rooms, spending money hand over fist in their casino, and paying for food in three of their restaurants. That's why they GIVE free rooms, right? To bring you in to spend your money?

"We were told by a supervisor that the room would be comped." I have learned not to engage with a person having a snit fit. Just stick to the facts. And repeat them. Often.

"You know, I have no way of knowing this. There is nothing in the computer about it."

"The supervisor told the girl how to put it in the computer. You have the paperwork we signed right there."

"I'll take care of it." Not-John-Fielder threw up his tiny arms in exasperation. As I walked away, I heard him muttering.

I told Sis that we'll probably BOTH be charged, and Not-John-Fiedler will destroy that paperwork. Maybe I should have asked for a copy.

But other than THAT...the facility was beautiful, and we had great time, and I can't wait for my next free offer to go back.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Casinopalooza 2: The Beginning

My sister the ex-mayor's wife and I started planning Casinopalooza 2 immediately after we returned from the original Casinopalooza. Actually...the planning started at breakfast on the last day of Casinopalooza. We both came back with excess cash. It was just a matter of working around everybody's schedule. Even though Hick was the only one of us four actually working.

With Genius heading off to a summer job again at Garmin two weeks after finals, he only had two weekends available, and chose the first one. A fly in the ointment was the fact that he is second university photographer, and would be taking pictures of the graduation ceremony on Saturday. We arranged to pick him up on Sunday, and meet up that afternoon with Sis and the ex-mayor, who were going to Oklahoma (no banjos on their knees) on Saturday. The Pony would drive in from the other side of Oklahoma to meet us there.

Two weeks before our trip, casino offers were rolling in every day. Sis said her mailman probably imagined them to be high rollers. She said the ex-mayor had a free hotel offer at a certain casino. We did not, but she said it wasn't good for Saturdays, so they could only use one night of it, but since we'd be there on Monday night, too, that we could use hers for Sunday night and Monday night.

THEN...a couple days later, we both got offers from a bigger casino. TWO free nights! For both of us. The ex-mayor, Sis, and I all got an offer. Hick did not. That's because he somehow lost his player's card, probably left it in the first machine he played. Because I KNOW he got a card. He got the free play, and the $10 in free food voucher.

Anyhoo...the ex-mayor called and reserved their room for Saturday night and Sunday night. Sis wanted me to call and get our room and let her know which of the two towers we were in. She said that the lady Ex-M talked to was very polite. "She told him he had the Buffalo Promotion. He also got a free spa treatment, and $30 in free play, and a free buffet. He says it's because he was so good at that Buffalo game. Remember? With his $7 free play? He kept winning and winning."

Yes. I remembered. I did not do as well. But I won $500 on a single play as Hick and I were getting ready to leave that night. I called about our reservations for Sunday night and Monday night. Well! I obviously did not get the same customer service rep as Ex-M.

"Hello. I got a card in the mail offering a free stay, and I'd like to reserve a room."

"How do you know you have a free stay?"

"It's on a postcard from your casino that I got in the mail."

"Have you ever even PLAYED in our casino."

"Yes. That's how I got the card."

"Do you have a player's card?"

"Yes. That's how they knew to send me the postcard with the offers."

"Do you play here a lot?"

"No. I live in Missouri. I've only been there once. But I wanted to come back, and use this free stay."

"OH! All right. What is the code on your card?"


"What nights do you want?"

"Sunday the 14th and Monday the 15th."

"Oh. I will have to charge you for the second night."

"Why? My card says it's good for THREE nights per week!"

"Yes. Did you read the fine print? You have three offers per week. One is good Sunday-Thursday. One is for Friday. And one is for Saturday."

"I see something at the bottom, but I'll need a magnifying glass. I'll take your word for it."

"Are you traveling with anybody else? Do they have a player's card? You can use their comp for the second night."

"Just my husband. He has a player's card, but I don't have the number."

"What's his name? Did he GET a player's card? I don't see anything on him."

"He got a player's card, and the free play, and the food voucher."

"Well, I don't see his name anywhere here. There's no record of him playing. Anybody else?"


"Do you have a military discount? Or AAA?"

"Yes. We have AAA."

"I can give you a discount. If you decide you don't want the second night, notify the desk before noon on that day. Or if you find somebody else in your party with a comp, we can apply that." of now (writing this the night before we left for Casinopalooza 2) the plan is to use Sis's room comp for our second night. Since they are using Ex-M's for their Saturday session and Sunday-Thursday session. She IS a member of my party, you know. Worst they can do is tell us no, and things stay the same.

Oh, yeah. And Sis had a code of ELK2 on her comp mailer. Pretty sure I'm the low critter in that hierarchy. DEER --> ELK --> BUFFALO. But one thing I know for sure. Ex-M did not get his offers for being really good at that Buffalo game. He got them due to the money he put through those machines. They desperately want him back, because you can't win all the time, you know.

Even though I like to imagine that I can.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Where, Oh Where, Did My Little Dog Almost Go?

The day after my conniption fit over Jack having access to the pool, Hick put the new gate on the steps going down to Poolio, and the handrail, too. It looked pretty good.

"Your dog doesn't like the gate."

"Of course not! You're keeping him from a swim."

"He don't like it at all. He stood there and watched me while I was working on the rail."

"Good. Now he can't get down there."

"I still need to put a latch on it, but I have to go buy one later. I'll put it on tomorrow. It's fine. You can close it."

So all was right with my Jack-populated world. Until I went upstairs at 3:00 a.m., and tossed in a load of laundry, and looked out the laundry room door.


My heart started racing. I turned on the back porch light and scanned the pool for a tiny bedraggled long body. The mood of the townspeople shooting the cannon to raise the bodies of Tom and Huck couldn't have held a McDougal's Cave stubby candle to the sadness in Val's heart at that thought. Thankfully, Poolio was clear of Val's best friend! I pushed that gate closed and planned on giving Hick a piece of my mind the next morning.

Here is a picture I recreated in daylight. You can even see the latch (still in package) laying on the rail beside the gate.

Hick didn't know how the gate got open. It doesn't just swing out. It's pretty stiff. I guess Jack or Juno could have nudged it open.

Here's the gate later that day, complete with latch, and Jack looking for a way down.

 Do you think that Hick tempting the dogs with his supper has anything to do with it?

Now I just have to convince Hick that we also need steps and a gate from the yard onto the deck, like the old-style deck. I don't think he'll want to walk all the way up and through the house and back around the yard or down the basement steps to get to the filter. Besides, what if there's an emergency with someone in the pool? And what if he invites HOS and family over to swim? Going up on the porch to get down to the pool is kind of awkward.

At least the boys and I kept him from his original plan of putting a slide down at the end of the porch, where the dogs are in that last picture, as the only way down to the pool from the porch. The boys used to climb over the rail and onto the back of a plastic bench that held the skimmer and other doodads. Hick did not.

Now that I know Jack is safe...I would pronounce the new deck a success. I think we'll call him Deckster.