Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thank You Notes

















Dear Giants Fans,

Thank you for enjoying the Cubs beating the San Diego Padres 2 of 3 thus far in their current series.  I mean, even if the Padres win today, the Cubs have allowed the Giants to take care of business and gain breathing room against the Padres.  It seems almost impossible that Alfonso Soriano would hit not one, but TWO home runs in a game, but that's exactly what he did Tuesday night.  If my math is correct, and it always is, if the Giants win this afternoon, they only have to win 1 game against the Padres this weekend to clinch the division.  Good luck.

Enjoying local relevance,
Tony B.

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Dear "The Event,"

Thank you for trying your best to gain viewers of "Lost," "FlashForward," and "Fringe" by creating a full incoherent show that is chalked full of mysteries and an out of order storyline.  I'm guessing that other shows (Lost and Fringe) were successful because they cared about the characters first then developed a mysterious and interesting story around the characters- not the reverse. 

Eh,
Tony B.

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Dear Lovie Smith and Mike Martz,

Thank you for guiding the Bears to a 3-0 record.  I have NO idea how the hell you guys did it.  But thank you nonetheless. 

Excited for Sunday Night,
Tony B.

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Dear Cy Young Voters,

Thank you for considering Felix Hernandez for the award.  I know there are plenty of arguments against him (wins, he plays in a weaker division) but for all of those arguments, there are others that show why he should win (ERA, WHIP, Ks, record against the AL East, etc.)  Just because his numbers are microscopic doesn't mean they don't carry huge weight. 

Apparently I'm a baseball stats nerd,
Tony B.

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Dear Greg Giraldo,

Thank you for excellent comedy bits on all the Comedy Central Roasts, Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn, and even this past season of Last Comic Standing.  I'm bummed to hear of your passing, but hopefully you can do all the drugs you want in the afterlife. 

RIP,
Tony B.

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Dear G$,

I'm not sure what to thank you for, but Happy Birthday man!  Your life is pretty much over now that you're 30, but I'll be joining you in the three decade old bracket soon enough.  Enjoy covering your couches with plastic, riding around in a jazzy at the grocery store, and making sure you're home in time for re-runs of Matlock each day. 

I hope those ribs are good tomorrow night,
Tony B.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quick Music Round-up

Here's a quick round-up of music that has recently been released OR that I've recently started listening to.  Take these as recommendations and feel free to send some back my way. 

"Flamingo" by Brandon Flowers - The lead singer of The Killers just couldn't wait for his band members to come out of hibernation, so he decided to record a solo album.  Many times, a solo album allows an artist to branch in a different direction from their band.  This is NOT the case with this album.  If you like The Killers, this is like getting a bonus album that is (in spots) just as good as anything the band has put out.  Highlights include the first single "Crossfire," the guaranteed next single "Only The Young," and the duet with Jenny Lewis "Hard Enough."  I highly recommend this album. 

"Buzzard" by Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - Who knew this band released their new album on the same day I release my new album?  I actually found out about it a few days after it was released, so I have not had as much time to listen to it- but my first impressions are VERY good.  Even from the first song "Birds" I get the feeling that this is similar to their previous awesome work.  If you want an underrated band that will not only be amazing but make you're friend think you're progressive for listening to Indie music that they haven't heard of, then this is the new album for you!

O.A.R. - True these guys don't have a new album out.  And true, they did attend Ohio State University.  But I don't hold that against them.  For years, people have recommended that I listen to this band (or people would request me to play a song by them) and I finally got around to listening to them.  It is amazing to start with their first album, see how much raw energy they are putting out, then watch them evolve into a much more professional band without losing that initial passion that helped gain them popularity.  Some of my favorite songs are "Love and Memories," "Right on Time," "Something Coming Over," "This Town," and "One Shot."  At this point, I recommend their entire catalog.  I realize I'm way behind with this, but better late than never, right?


Tonic (self titled album) - Did you know Tonic came out with their 4th studio album in May?!?  I sure didn't until recently.  Their first single "Release Me" shows off their classic pop/rock sound that seems like it will be a sensitive song off the start, but has a dirty rock riff in the middle.  "I Want It To Be" sounds like they've been listening to Band Of Horses recently and the result is ear pleasing. 

So there you go.  Four music recommendations to make you happier.  And boom goes the dynamite. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bears vs. Packers [whistle blows] Flag on this Blog's Title!

"Holding on the offense.  10 yard penalty.  Repeat 2nd down."

"Roughing the QB.  15 yard penalty.  Automatic 1st down."

"Pass interference on the defense.  Ball will be placed at the spot of the foul.  1st down."

Should I keep going?  I have 14 more if you're interested.  Penalties ultimately helped put the Bears in an easier position to win last night's game.  Here is my overall assessment of the game:

- Aaron Rodgers is scary.  He's easily a Top 5 QB in the league and is so exacting I might start calling him "Dexter."  The Packers really let him down last night with mental errors that turned into penalties. 

- Jay Cutler showed some shades of last year by throwing an interception and almost throwing a few more.  Desmond Clark dropped a 4th and Goal pass that should've been caught, but otherwise the Bears' offense does look much better than last year.  The Mike Martz experiment seems to be going well. 

- Julius Peppers was a HUGE signing for the Bears.  He didn't have any sacks, but his presence alone was a big factor.  He also blocked a field goal that surely would've gone in. 

- Devin Hester is still the man!  It has been way too long since he broke off a punt a return for a TD.  Had he beat the punter on his first one, he would've had two.  Teams probably need to go back to kicking it out of bounds. 

- In the end, neither the Bears or the Packers played their best games.  It's clear that Jay Cutler is much improved but not at the level of Aaron Rodgers.  The game was a lot of fun to watch (for me- I don't know if the unbiased viewer feels the same way) and I am beyond stoked that the Bears are the last undefeated team in the NFC. 

Am I thinking the Bears are going all the way to the Super Bowl?  Nope, not proclaiming anything like that just yet.  Am I excited about the Bears start and where they can go from here?  You bet your ass I am!  Here are their next 5 games:

@ Giants
@ Panthers
vs. Seahawks
vs. Redskins
BYE
@ Bills (in Toronto)

This schedule sets up quite nicely.  The Giants and Redskins will both play the Bears tough, but I think they other games will go the Bears' way.  I admit, the back end of their schedule is pretty rough, but even if they get to 6-2 or 7-1 they will be looking good for the playoffs.  You have to love the NFL- sometimes it is just impossible to know what to expect!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Case Of The Mondays

Just another busy weekend for your resident blogger/musician/sports fan.  Let's get right to it.

Friday: I bolted from work and drove from Davis to Dublin as fast as possible.  Highway 80 has been a NIGHTMARE recently so I was worried about making it to Best Buy in Dublin by 7pm.  Luckily, I made it in plenty of time to set up and get settled.

The people of Best Buy were great and I'd like to give a special shout out to Mei for setting up the whole show.  I know Mei because she used to work at Guitar Center in Sacramento, and she sold me my Gibson J-45 (the guitar I play at almost every show.)  It has been an amazing guitar over the years and is my favorite material possession.

Anyway, playing an in store as a relative unknown is an interesting experience.  Some people come over watch for a song, then wander the store.  I did sell a couple CDs, which can be tough a sell to get people to spend some cash that they didn't plan on spending upon going out.

My friends Shay and Chrissy came out with their baby daughter, Ava, and it was great to see them.  During a break, Shay told me that if I wanted to play basketball Saturday morning, he was going to play over at the Big C in Concord.  I had brought running shoes because I planned on going to the gym, so I told him if I could find shoes, that I was in.  Finding size 15's at my Mom's house was going to be tough though.

(Note: To orient my readers, I spent the night in Walnut Creek on Friday night because it would make no sense to drive all the way back to Sacramento, and then drive back to Walnut Creek for my show on Saturday.  This is why I didn't have basketball shoes at my disposal.)

Saturday: I went to The Sports Basement in Walnut Creek at 9am hoping to find shoes in my size that were not going to cost me $100.  I actually found some decent Adidas basketball shoes in size 15 for a reasonable price.  I bought them, and headed over to Concord.

I hadn't played since June so I was a bit rusty, but it was fun to get out and run around on the court.  I was on the same team with Shay and our friend Travis.  My main complaint with the whole thing was that I had forgotten how awful pick up basketball can be.  Guys calling ticky-tack (or non-existent) fouls, fighting over close out of bounds, and a myriad of other minor calls that become huge issues.

The guy I was guarding called a foul on someone else because they hit his hand on a pass (debatable) which caused his cross court pass to be errant.  It was a garbage call for a pick up game.  After a couple more awful calls from this guy, and I was steamed a bit.  He tried to drive the lane, got by me slightly, and I hacked him as hard as possible.  I didn't hurt him or anything, but he had no chance to make the bucket, and I called my own foul and told him to check it up.  I heard Travis from the other side of the court say, "Now that's a foul!"  I couldn't help but laugh a little.

After 3 hours of basketball, I was done.  I needed to recharge before my show at 7pm.  I went home to clean up and take a nap.  Then it was off to Pyramid for my show- 7pm-11pm.

I was pleased that some people I knew showed up.  It's always nice to see friendly faces in the crowd!  Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to come by, and thank you all for buying CDs.  I sold almost 20 CDs this weekend, and that is a damn fine showing.  Thanks for the support!

Sunday: I made it back to Sacramento after my show so I could sleep in my own bed.  Mrs. B. didn't make it out to the shows, but for good reason... she had multiple interviews during the week for a job that she wanted and low and behold, SHE GOT THE JOB!  BAM!  Congrats to my lovely wife for being awesome and getting the job.  It's time to switch me to her insurance and start doing music full time!  Ha!  I'm exaggerating of course, but I'd love to make that dream a reality...

Anyway, I woke up at around 8:45am, did 4 loads of laundry (2 at a time) and was ready for the 49er game at 10am.  For as much fun as I had last week watching the Bears/Cowboys game, I had the opposite feeling watching the Niners/Chiefs this week.  It wasn't even a fun game to watch.  The Niners are an awful team.  They are not well coached.  They do not show composure under duress.  There is ZERO creativity on offense (if I see another swing pass for -2 yards, I might gouge my own eyes out.)  Even their supposed strength of the team (defense) looked suspect.  It was not good.

Well, I hear that Jimmy Raye II got fired this morning, so I guess we'll see how the Niners move along without an offensive coordinator.  Good luck with all that...

That game was so bad that I skipped out on the afternoon games and went to the Elephant Bar with Mrs. B. to celebrate her new job.  It was a delicious meal, and my Long Island Ice Tea was damn strong.  

It's not all gloom and doom SF fans!  The Giants are back in first place after a masterful gem by Matt Cain (I can't say the same thing about Juan Uribe's fielding, but sometimes you have to be happy with a win.)  Not only that, but the Braves lost on Sunday giving the Padres a half game edge on the Wild Card.  Wouldn't that be exciting?  The Phillies, Reds, Giants and Padres?  What a weird year it's been in baseball to have it break down that way, but I do hope the Giants' fare well and make the playoffs.  We'll see.

In my last action of the weekend, I watched both "Dexter" and "Eastbound & Down."  Both shows were on point.  "Dexter" has to be the best show on TV right now.  And of course, Kenny Powers was back and as inappropriate as ever.  Between his cockfighting shenanigans and his midget Mexican sidekick, it was a pretty solid start to the season.

I can't wait for tonight's Monday Night Football match up.  Bears/Packers is always a fun game to watch, and I'm sure ESPN was pleased to see both of them at 2-0 going into this week.  It's going to be a tough game, but we'll see how it shakes out.  More on that tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

















I borrowed this idea from the Jimmy Fallon show... wanna fight about it?

Dear Juan Uribe,

Thank you for hitting not one, but two home runs in the second inning yesterday against the Cubs.  On top of that, your second home run was a grand slam.  I mean, I could care less if the Cubs win or lose games at this point in this lost season, but DAMN.  Did it have to go down like that?

Amazed,
Tony B.

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Dear Hours In The Day,

Thank you for going by ridiculously fast when I'm doing something fun or worthwhile, and crawling along at an excruciating pace if I happen to be at work or at a function involving suits, ties, no alcohol, and no sports.  I know, it sounds like a nightmare which is why normal laws of physics cease to be and minutes become hours.  It's like being in a crappy version of "Inception."

Still waiting,
Tony B.

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Dear Monday Night Football,

Thank you for the excellent scheduling this week.  I don't know if the Bears can pull off a victory against the very good Packers, but I'm beyond pumped for this match up.  It's a rivalry game versus two undefeated teams and one of them happens to be the team I root for?  Sign me up!  Monday is going to crawl along (see above.) 

Bear down,
Tony B.

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Dear People Who Have Yet To Buy My CD,

There's no thank you here yet!  What are you waiting for?  Get on it!  You can order it in the side bar of this very blog, OR:

Physical copies: CDBaby.com

Digital copies: DigStation.com

Amazon.com (digital): Click here! 

The album will be up on iTunes in a few weeks, so I'll let everyone know when that happens (a positive review on there might be a nice thing you could help me with...)

And in all seriousness, for those of you who have purchased the album- THANK YOU!  So far, I've gotten a lot of great feedback and it seems like most people enjoy the record.  This makes me happy. 

Humbled,
Tony B.

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Dear Jack Daniels,

Thank you for making delicious whiskey.  That is a quality product at a great value.  I do prefer Jack to Crown, which helps me save a few bucks.  Even though there are occasional debacles of drunk tomfoolery, I seem to always come back for more.  Oh, that Jack Daniels- he loved his wheat thresher! 

Refreshed,
Tony B.

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Dear Musiciansfriend.com,

Thank you for tempting me on a daily basis to be absolutely irresponsible with my money.  I look at your site and essentially try to figure out what the best way I can spend my savings.  I'm somewhat exaggerating, but you get the idea.  If I were Courtney Love, then your site would be heroin.  If I were Tyrone Biggums, then your site would be crack.  You get the idea. 

Red Balls Gives You Wings!
Tony B.

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Have a great weekend and don't forget that I'm playing tonight, in store at the Best Buy in Dublin, CA (7-9pm) and tomorrow night at the Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek, CA 7-11pm.  Come on down!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tanking A Promotion - Panda Hats

If there is one thing that sports teaches us, is that the past can be a good indicator of future performance- but nothing is certain.  For years fans and fantasy sports players alike have tried to figure out who will be a stud in any given year, and who will just plain suck.

Take Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants.  He arrived on the scene in late 2008 and lit up NL pitching for a .345 batting average (145 at bats.)  In 2009, his first full year, this was his line:

.330 AVG., 25 HR, 90 RBI, .387 OBP

Those kind of stats scream "STUD," "ALL STAR," or any other positive label you'd like to put on it.

The Giants began the 2009-2010 off season by doing two things:

1) Making their effort to get good ol' Kung Fu Panda's weight down a public thing (it was called "Camp Panda.")

2) And more than likely ordering one million of those dumb Panda hats that people wear at Giants games (I have no facts to back that up, but I suspect it could've been one million white ones and one million orange ones.)

The problem with all of this?  Well, for one, Panda came into came heavier than he was at the end of last year.  Item #1 = FAIL.

Item #2 is fine except for the fact that Sandoval is not good anymore.  His stat line is dramatically down this year:

.263 AVG., 12 HR, 60 RBI, and his OBP. is lower than his 2009 AVG. at .318

This is a middle of the road baseball player.  Not a stud that you base silly year long hat promotions around.  Those stats don't even tell the whole story.

Yesterday, I was listening to the game on the radio.  In fact, I had it on the Razor & Mr. T. and their show had some "bonus coverage" of the game.  Mr. T. (Tom Tolbert) was explaining that Jose Guillen had just led off the inning with a double.  He predicted that Sandoval (who was up next) would not hit the ball to the right side to at least move the runner over and put a man on 3rd base with 1 out.

Surprise, surprise.  This is from the CBSSports.com Full Play By Play editorial:


Giants 2nd
Randy Wells pitching:
Jose Guillen :Strike looking, Ball, Guillen doubled to deep right.
Pablo Sandoval :Strike swinging, Ball, Strike swinging, Sandoval grounded out to shortstop.
Juan Uribe :Ball, Uribe flied out to deep center, Guillen to third.
Jonathan Sanchez :Sanchez flied out to deep center.
End of Inning (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)

You might notice that Sandoval grounded out to the shortstop.  No productive outs here.  Tolbert mentioned that during Panda's at bat, he didn't look like he had any kind of a plan.  For instance, that first strike swinging (on the first pitch) was an outside fastball geared to get him to hit the ball toward Short or Third.  He didn't even think about taking the pitch and looking for something on the inside portion of the plate that he could pull (he was batting left handed during this at bat.)  Even further, Uribe would have hit Guillen in with a sac fly had Sandoval moved Guillen from 2nd to 3rd. 

I have a feeling the Giants are going to have to discontinue the production of Panda hats for next year.  Yeah, they are cute.  Sure, you can win a bet with a friend and make him buy one, wear it all day, and look stupid.  And of course, fans should support their players.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Panda got awfully complacent after his fantastic 2009 season and he's not actually giving the team or the fans his best effort.  That is something that fans should never get behind.

Hopefully he can right the ship next year (rather than having Sandoval's ass be the actual size of a ship.)  I mean, at some point he's going to have to play for a big contract, right?  If nothing else, maybe money can motivate him.  Until then, here are some other promotions that are awful, but better than Panda hats:

The Aubrey Huff Huffy - Painted orange and black, this Huffy bicycle will not let you down- even as it gets older.

The Andres Torres Appendix - Similar to the chickens they used to hang in the ball park after intentional pass to Barry Bonds, except they would be little appendixes that you hang up any time Torres does something awesome.  Unfortunately you might have to wait until next year for him to get back in the game.

The Aaron Rowand "Break Your Face" Food Promotion - Get any local restaurant to have a promotion for the rest of Rowand's contract- if he runs into the outfield wall and breaks his face leading to a DL stint, everyone with a ticket stub from that game gets a free burger, or pizza, or whatever.  It's about the entertainment, and getting Rowand on the DL.  Man, I have a feeling Giants fans would do just about anything to trade Torres for Rowand right now.

Rename Madison Baumgarner Night - This guy is the real deal.  He's going to be an ace for the Giants for years to come.  But what guy is named Madison?  Hell, it might be better to start calling him "Buster" so then you can have the only pitcher/catcher battery mates ever to both be called "Buster."  Your suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Jonathan "Dirty" Sanchez Night - Not to be confused with Freddy "Dirty" Sanchez Night- basically everyone goes to the park and gets a- I should probably stop this one before I get in too deep.

Brian Wilson "Say Crazy Things" Night - They can run a co-promotion to give a discount to anyone with Torrette's as well.  Pretty much, you'd just make sure that everyone in the stadium was saying crazy-ass stuff during the whole game.  Yelling or talking, whatever your comfort level is.



Feel free to come up with your own promotions- they are guaranteed to be better than anything related to "The Panda" at this point. I really hope he turns it around and helps the Giants make the playoffs. It would be nice to have some interest in the upcoming Post Season.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Passive Trash Talk

It's Wednesday, and yesterday I mailed it in with videos. So one might think, "Tony, you probably though long and hard about what you're going to post today, right?" Well, of course I didn't! Not one second of thought went into today's post. Is that going to stop me from writing one? Nope. We're still going to go for it.

Being a Northern California that doesn't cheer for the teams of the area is a little bit odd. I'm known as "The Cubs Fan" or "The Bears Fan" to a lot of people around here. Needless to say, I occasionally get crap from Giants or Niners fans when their teams are better than mine. Luckily, this year the Cubs have been so awful that recently not too many people have given me a hard time. However, one of my biggest annoyances is what I'll call the "Happy Gilmore." If you recall, in the movie "Happy Gilmore," Happy sinks a putt, but Shooter had just been giving him a hard time. Happy clearly saw the ball go in, but still said:

"Did that go in? I wasn't watching, did it go in? I didn't see it, could you tell me if it went in?"

While friends (and family) of mine aren't necessarily this a-hole-ish, I have had this happen a few times.

Friend: "So Tony, how are the Cubs doing?"
Me: "Uhh, they are 20 games under .500. They're absolutely awful."
Friend: "Oh yeah, I saw that."

WHY DID YOU ASK THEN? I guess you're trying to make conversation, but even if you knew that the Cubs were bad, and you still wanted to talk about it with me, then say, "Oh, that's too bad" or "Well, at least football is right around the corner" or something like that. I'd almost prefer a more forceful s*** talking than this polite, back door trash talk.

And that brings us to last night's Cubs/Giants game. First it was rain-delayed. Then Matt Cain and Carlos Zambrano decided to make up for the delay by blasting through the opponent's lineup like it was no big thing. Those two pitchers are on fire.

Then there was the 8th inning homer by Gerald Demp Posey III. Damn that guy is good. If he doesn't win Rookie of the Year in the NL, I'll be shocked. No rookie has been more consistent than Posey. There have been times where this guy has put the Giants on his back and carried them to victory.

In summary:

- I'm somewhat pulling for the Giants, please don't trash talk the Cubs and make me cheer against the Giants.
- Big Z and Matt Cain are savages (right now.)
- Buster Posey is the NL Rookie of the Year. There's no doubt.
- Brian Wilson is still the man. Giants fans should appreciate just how good that guy is.

Eh, not bad for zero thought ahead of time. I'm playing tonight at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek- 6:30pm. Get there!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Videos From The Terrace Lounge At The Peppermill Reno

Well, I suppose I could talk about how bad of a coach Mike Singletary is (note: he's a great motivator, but TERRIBLE at clock management, time out management, and many other little things that did not help the Niners last night) however, the Peppermill just posted the videos of my performance at the Terrace Lounge, so I'll just post those and call it a day.  Hope you like the videos!



Monday, September 20, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

This weekend was a welcome retreat from the work week.  Since Mrs. B. and I went on our extreme High Roller adventure last week, then went straight back to work, this weekend was used to re-energize.  I've got a few stories, but overall, this blog is on pace to be much tamer than last week (obviously.)

Friday: Mrs. B. and I got off work and went to this fairly new Mexican cafe in downtown Sacramento.  This place is cheap and delicious.  I forget the name exactly, but it's close to Cafe Capricio or something like that.

After digesting the food, I went to the gym.  Yep.  I went to the gym at 10pm on a Friday night.  It was not the coolest move I've ever made, but I did watch the end of the Cal/Nevada-Reno game.  So awesome that Cal lost, though I know there are a lot of Cal fans in the area who disagree with me.  I officially hate Cal though, and have somewhat adopted Nevada-Reno as a team I like the root for, so as a fan, I was very in on this upset.

Saturday: I played at the Farmer's Market in Vacaville at 9am.  I played every song from my new album and a bunch of cover tunes.  Mrs. B. videoed some of the songs, however, she was not watching the screen, so I'm not sure if much of it is usable.  Though, I admit, it is pretty hilarious to watch the sky and the top of the tent while I'm singing in the background.

After the Farmer's Market, we stopped at Petsmart to grab some things for our two cats, Cosmo and Juliette.  We got them some new toys, a food bowl, a pillow to lay on and and scratcher.  They are officially living in the lap of luxury.

We drove back to Sacramento quickly to drop off the stuff for the cats, and freshen up.  We left around 2:45pm for San Jose.  Our friends, Stephen and Vanessa had a house warming/birthday part that we were determined to get to.

It was fantastic to see some friends we hadn't seen in awhile, however, the best story I have is from right before we got to the party.  Mrs. B. and I parked down the block and ran into another couple as we were walking up.  The Evite address said "5042" and we parked closer to "5080."  On the way down the street, we saw a San Jose Sharks sign in the window of a house and figured it was our friends' new house (they are huge Sharks fans.)  We walked up to "5052" and I thought- "Hmm, that's weird, but it must have been a typo." 

We miscalculated the fact that we WERE IN SAN JOSE and that everyone is Sharks fans.  I confidently walked up to the door and opened it without knocking, and held the door for Mrs. B. and the other couple (because I'm a gentleman.) Unfortunately, this was NOT our friends' house and the people inside were surprised to see us.  They directed us down the block (two houses over) and we almost allowed their two dogs to escape down the block.  Luckily, the dogs didn't escape, so no harm no foul.  I explained our mistake (that we went into the house with the Sharks sign) and they said, "Well, we do love the Sharks!  GO SHARKS!"  I think I responded with an embarrassed inaudible grumble and we left ASAP.

Sunday: We did make it back to Sacramento by around 12pm on Saturday night, so I figured I'd be sleeping in.  However, my cat Cosmo didn't think that we bought him enough crap or he wanted some attention and decided to wake me up around 7am.  I have a very hard time sleeping in if interrupted, so I woke up and decided to start cleaning and doing laundry.  I mean, it was three full hours before the Bears were on, so I might as well be productive.

On to the game- THAT WAS A GREAT GAME.  I tempered my enthusiasm before the season started because the Bears played like dog crap in the preseason.  Now, I still have realistic expectations, but I see what they are doing.  Their offense looks MUCH BETTER this year.  Jay Cutler is slinging the ball down field and it is fun to watch.  Their offensive line absolutely has to improve or it will be their eventual downfall, but I like the direction they are going.  Their pass defense isn't where it should be but their run defense looks fantastic.  I'm not sure if the Bears are better than everyone thought or if the Cowboys are worse than everyone thought, but I have a feeling it's a bit of both.  Next week on Monday Night, the Bears host the Packers.  That will be a great barometer to see how good the Bears actually are.

This week we got a free preview of the RedZone channel.  Holy jeez that thing is legit!  I feel bad though because we just re-negotiated our Comcast bill, so I'm not sure I can add that to the bill at this point.  I'll have to find a way...

Last, I'm a terrible Fantasy Football.  I'm going to have to accept that.  However, I'd like to thank Matt Schaub for gifting me a victory this week.  I'm an idiot and benched Donovan McNabb in favor of Carson Palmer in my other league.  So dumb.

It was a great weekend, overall.  Much needed battery re-charge.

PS: No chance I'm proofreading this post.  I hope it all makes sense.  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 6

At 2pm on Saturday, we had to rally and go down to the pool.  This was made easy because we had our own private cabana.  We were escorted to our cabana and I turned on some music.  Drinks were ordered and we did our best to put on smiles.  I'm going to be brutally honest that this was probably the most difficult shoot that we had to do.  The reason for this was that we don't typically go to the pool, there were kids running around bothering us, we were massively hung over and short on sleep. 

We did a few shots of us getting drinks and whatnot.  But then it was time to jump in the pool and the spa.  In my younger days, I would've been ok with this, but I'm a solid 15 pounds over my old basketball playing weight, so I'm sure it doesn't look great on film.  I suppose we'll see once the video is released. 

The girls then went to the spa to relax while John and I hung out for a bit.  After tiring of the pool, I decided to check out and go back upstairs- John headed to the spa.  The reason I went back to the room was because I had a very important engagement at 4:30pm.  The Be The High Roller crew had set me up with a quick set on stage at the Terrace Lounge.  I had wanted to play at the Peppermill for years and they made my dreams a reality! 

I thought about what songs I should sing and I went this way:

- "50 Stories" - This song is pretty much the first "single" from my new album and it is about Mrs. B.  This seemed like a smart move. 

- "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" - I have the lyrics memorized and it seemed like something a casino band would play during the afternoon.  As it turned out, Eric actually sings this song to his wife all the time at home, so it was actually perfect that I selected this song.

- "Better Be Home Soon" - Again, I have the lyrics memorized and I was still on a high from seeing Crowded House on August 23.  This was a mild hit in 1988, so people might recognize the song, but not totally know exactly what it is.  It was pretty successful. 

They taped the whole performance and should be posting it soon.  I'm excited to see it.  I was actually pretty nervous on stage, not to mention run down, but I think it went quite well.  You never know, maybe you'll see me playing at the Peppermill again sometime soon...

Back in the room, we changed into our most dressy clothes for our dinner at Bimini Steakhouse.  This was quite special because we don't typically go there.  We went there once before and it was pretty expensive.  Going there without worrying about cost, not to mention as a favored guest, was legit. 

Right before dinner, John, Katrina and Mrs. B. were all interviewed confessional style about me.  I'm dying to see those videos! 

Even better, Lonny and Morgan joined us for dinner.  Unfortunately, Eric had to go home because his wife is extremely pregnant, so it was a bummer he couldn't join us.  However, the six of us proceeded to have a 3 hour dinner filled with great conversation.  Before I go further with that, just know that my fillet mignon was unbelievably great and the rum battered shrimp was an appetizer to kill for. 

Ok, back to the conversation.  Morgan and Lonny allowed us to talk about what we love/like/dislike about the Peppermill.  We found out so many pieces of information that made us feel like insiders.  As we gave our feedback, it was amazing to feel listened to by people who could actually make changes at our favorite weekend getaway spot.  Here was some of the suggestions/conversation points:

- Bring back some form of coupon book.  Such great value and makes us feel good about our trip even if gambling goes awry. 
- Re-do the Fish Bar and possibly turn it into a karaoke bar.  Awww yeah!
- Move some of the fashion videos from the Tuscany Tower to the area around EDGE.  It seems to make more sense. 
- We found out that the scenic videos that are shown throughout the casino were done by Lonny and a crew of some other videographers.  We now call those channels "Lonny's Videos." 
- The renovations affect the levels of comps that we get because they have to take three floors offline for every one floor they renovate.  This makes complete sense.  Supply and demand. 

There was probably a lot more things that we talked about, but the main point is that we came away feeling heard and with a brand new respect for the Peppermill. 

Then came another awesome part of the trip.  Morgan's husband, Kevin came over and introduced himself.  He is a casino host at the Peppermill (yes, like Sam on "Las Vegas.")  He was a cool guy- immediately likable.  After a few minutes, Morgan mentioned that Katrina, John, Mrs. B. and I needed upgrades to become Gold Members.  Mrs. B. and I had been on Bronze for a couple years, and were getting close.  John and Katrina were about half way there.  Kevin said, "Gold?  No problem, let me write down your names and give me a couple minutes."  He waved a magic wand and we were Gold Members quite quickly.  One of the best perks of the trip!  The card is shiny!

After dinner, it was just another blur of a night.  We all drank at the Terrace Lounge and at the Fireside Lounge at some point.  There were multiple sessions of Craps, and the night ended with John and I playing Craps at 4:30am.  We were on a table that included us and us alone.  John was killing it.  His rolls were off the hook.  Eventually, they had to shut our table down.  Probably because they were streamlining their staffing, but partially because we were doing very well.  We decided to go back to the room and I think we ended the night with some Maker's Mark.  Yikes!

In the morning, John and I met the manager of the Sports Book and taped a segment with him.  They allowed me to hold like $3000 out of the register to make a pretend sports bet on camera.  It was freaky to hold that much money that clearly wasn't mine in a casino.  To get the correct shot, I actually bent my knees and awkwardly walked up to the counter to make my bets.  Hilarious! 

Afterwards, we watched most of the Bears game (and other games), then ran upstairs to finish packing.  We went down to the Bell Desk where we were going to say goodbye to John and Katrina (as they had to drive back home because they had their car) and finish up our trip with a ride back to Sacramento on the private jet. 

After a few shots in front of the limo, we said goodbye to John and Katrina for real, jumped in the limo and were on our way back to the private jet. 

I have to be honest, over the years, while watching reality shows I would hate on people who would cry when they got eliminated.  "You've only been there a week, why are you crying?!"  Well, in five days we really got to know Eric, Morgan, and Lonny and while I was not a blubbering mess, it was definitely emotional to say goodbye.  We spent so much time with them each day, it really led to us becoming good friends.  They are all great people and I look forward to staying in touch with them.  I take back all my hating on reality show contestants. 

The plane ride felt like it was over in a blink.  Back in Sacramento, we took over the Pilot's Lounge and made our last videos.  I talked about my final thoughts confessional style, got to talk with Morgan, Lonny, and Eric on camera.  It was very cathartic and I did come close to breaking down (though I did not.)  Good try, Morgan! 

In the end, Mrs. B. and I jumped back in my car and we were home in a snap.  It was so weird to back in "real life" where we had to pay for things and not have VIP everything.  I mean, we went to Target and I kept saying "Yeah Sweetie, just get whatever you want."  Mrs. B. could've put anything in that cart and I probably would not have batted an eye.  It was weird that the cashier charged us money for goods!  What's up with that?! 

In all seriousness, winning the "Be The High Roller" contest was one of the best experiences of my life.  The perks were out of this world and the friendships we made were even better.  I can't say enough about our hosts and how amazing they were to work with and hang out with.  I know that this trip will be something that we all talk about for the rest of our lives. 

Who's coming back with us in December?!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 5

The next part of our adventure was going to what is probably our favorite restaurant at the Peppermill, Chi.  If you ever go to the Peppermill, make sure you go to this restaurant- it has the best Chinese food I've ever had.

Unfortunately, our friends John and Katrina were stuck in traffic so they were unable to join us for dinner.  We were given the almond towels (that we speak highly of in the video) before our meal, before our dessert, and after our dessert.  That's right- 3 sets of almond towels.  Check the video, I smell that thing like three times!  What am I doing?  I guess I'll never know...

Our server, Miriam, was on top of everything and did a great job throughout our dinner.  We even met the manager, Patrick, who was a jovial man that made us laugh a bunch.  It was a really fun and filling dinner:



After Chi, Mrs. B. and I went to film a quick segment at EDGE Nightspot. We were supposed to go there for the Salsa lessons, which we participated in a bit, but the coolest part was us being out on the dance floor alone and having the fog machine on. I do not claim to be the best dancer, but I think this dance video turned out alright:



John and Katrina went to Biscotti's to eat while we were shooting, but once we were done, we decided to go say hello to them. We were able to catch up with them during their meal and prepare for the night to come.

Being the "High Roller," they set us up with the VIP room at EDGE. This works out quite well because John and I are not the biggest club goers. Mrs. B. and Katrina both enjoy dancing, but I think our status as married couples is starting to phase out our serious club going.

However, this VIP room was awesome. They brought us a bottle of Grey Goose with 6 different kinds of mixers. We had our own private room next to the dance floor with 2 massive TVs. One TV had the dance floor on it, and the other was hooked up to a Nintendo Wii. John and I played Tiger Woods and Bowling over the next few hours (along with destroying that bottle of Grey Goose.) Yeah, you have it right.  We were inside of club, away from the crowded dance floor, and playing video games.  Best club experience ever!

Before we could fully relax, we did shoot some footage out on the dance floor. They put my name up in neon lights over the dance floor which was pretty sweet:



After our time in the club was over, we went back to the room, changed into more comfortable clothes, the girls went off on their adventures, and John and I played Craps until 6am. I did not throw up, but the next morning was ROUGH. I woke up around 10:15am and got everyone to rally. John was not feeling great, either, but we were supposed to meet the BTHR crew at noon at the Island Buffet. I went down to make a quick College Football parlay (worst bets ever), then came back up to finish getting ready. We made it down on time, filmed a quick spot, then heaped piles of food onto our plates. My strategy was to get eat lots of carbs in order to soak up the alcohol from the night before. Mission accomplished. That had to be my first priority, however, we were headed to the pool at 2pm so the carbs probably didn't help me look great on video. Oh well, I suppose we'll see those videos as they are released.

Special Saturday post: Pool, I play music, Bimini Steakhouse, a pseudo focus group, John and I kill it at a Craps table, the Sports Book, and the end of our journey.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 4

The night of gambling went great.  I threw most of my profits in the safe and got some decent sleep.  Mrs. B. and I were scheduled to meet Eric, Morgan and Lonny at the fitness center at 11am in the morning.  Our intention was to shoot some video then actually work out.  What actually happened was that we shot some over the top videos of me benching with one arm, doing bicep curls and reading the Wall Street Journal, and then both of us on the treadmill.  Instead of finishing up a workout, we quickly went back to the room to change and get ready for our shopping spree.  Here is the workout video:



The shopping spree was a trip. They made me try on 10 different shirts/outfits all with varying degrees of hilarity. There was one outfit in particular- the metro looking pea coat that was lined with a turtle-neck sweater that was so hot that I almost went grumpy diva on the crew. Then I reminded myself- THIS IS THE COOLEST TRIP EVER and I felt great again. It did take awhile to get all the shots though. I think it turned out pretty well, but it is too bad they didn't have a Dumb & Dumber powder blue suit.  Here is my shopping video:



After I was done shooting, we went over to let Mrs. B. try on some clothes. Here is her video:



While we were in the women's clothing store (Bella Bottega) I actually met the GM of the Peppermill! I imagined he'd be intimidating like James Caan on "Las Vegas" but John was actually a very nice and down to earth guy. He complimented us and said that he felt like we were the perfect people for this promotion. It was quite a compliment and I enjoyed meeting him.

Once we completed taping, I went back over and bought the black shirt I wore later in the night and a navy Peppermill sweatshirt (as seen on the Sunday videos that are not up just yet.) Mrs. B. and I went back to Biscotti's for lunch, then back to the room for a nap. It was ridiculously necessary. I slept through my 4pm alarm and a call from John and Katrina (who were stuck in traffic.) I did wake up in time to meet the BTHR crew at Chi, the Peppermill's Chinese restaurant.

We've now reached the point in the story where I have run out of videos. I'm hoping that Eric, Morgan and Lonny have been able to relax and enjoy their loved ones.  Each of them had important family events going on concurrently with this experience.  Eric's wife is 7 months pregnant, Lonny and his girlfriend adopted a puppy (he literally got the call while we were in Bella Bottega), and Morgan's two boys are on football teams that are both doing great! They worked their asses off during the time we were there, so I truly hope they've been able to recharge their batteries.

My thoughts are that the blog will be of higher quality if I post in conjunction with the videos, so I'm going to stop here for today. Worst case scenario, I'll post no matter what tomorrow and maybe even finish up with a special edition Saturday post.

I'll also open things up for questions. Any questions coming up during the description of the trip? I'm not answering the exact amount of how much money I walked with, but I will answer questions as best as possible if there are any. If not, no big deal, but if you have one just post it in the comments. Catch you tomorrow!

"Be The High Roller" FAQ

There clearly is some confusion about this contest and it is, of course, the perfect contest to bring out the haters, so I figured I'd post some clarification on specific issues that people are hating on.  It's better that I steam off here than on the Peppermill's Facebook, I suppose.

Q: If you're such a "high roller" why aren't you acting like one? 

A: This contest was NOT "Be The Best Current High Roller" at the Peppermill.  It was geared to give us common folk a contest to show off our creativity and love for the Peppermill.  It was also a marketing campaign geared toward getting new demographics interested in going to the Peppermill.  Luckily, my wife and I fit one of those new demographics (mid-late 20s/early 30s couples that will get hooked now and continue going to the Peppermill for years to come.)

Q: Would a "high roller" really eat at Oceano?  (This was from a lady who was hating on the Peppermill Facebook page.) 

A: If a big time player was at the Peppermill over the course of 5 days, then they probably would eat at all the restaurants- maybe.  In the context of this contest, it doesn't really matter.  The point of the videos were to showcase every restaurant, club, and shop that the Peppermill has to offer along with chronicling our awesome experience.

Q: Wait a second- aren't you supposed to bring an entourage?  The contest said you can bring "up to three people with you."  Did Mrs. B. not allow you to bring friends?! (Again, thanks for hating you bitter, angry lady.)

A: Quite the opposite.  We go to the Peppermill pretty often with our friends John and Katrina (there is another couple, Jen and Brandon, who also come up with us and we all have a great time.)  John and Katrina were noted on my original "Be The High Roller" profile as the people who I would take if I won (along with Mrs. B.)  Katrina was out of town until Friday at a conference in Washington D.C.  John is an officer of the law and was scheduled for court on Friday afternoon.  They drove up immediately on Friday, were stuck in traffic, and arrived around 7:15pm.  You will see them in future videos as they were posted.

Q: Do you really like/love the Peppermill as much as you say you do?  

A: Have you ever read my blog?  No?  Well search "Peppermill" in the search field at the top and see what comes up.  I had my bachelor party there.  I've had great times there.  I've won and lost money there.  I've been wasted there.  I've taken Mrs. B. there for her birthday.  I've gone there for guys' poker trips.  Counting this past amazing trip, I've been there 4 times in the last 7 weeks.  Yes, I love the Peppermill. 

Q: Was it hard work making the videos? 

A: Yes and no.  Yes, because we did do a lot of filming.  At times it was exhausting, but I understood that the price of our ridiculous vacation was to be repaid by making promotional videos for them to use.  No, because Eric, Morgan, and Lonny were SO AWESOME.  They made it easy to just have fun and relax while making the videos.  We did multiple takes for some things, and others were completely natural, one take videos.  I am proud of them.

Q: Come on "high roller"- why aren't you betting more per hand on gambling?  

A: Well, they gave me a gambling stipend, and I'm not actually rich.  I hate Blackjack and was risking a lot of my own stipend on the filmed hands.  I was still gambling smart and steady during the trip, and I came up ahead by a lot.  It was not a life changing amount of money (as in, I'm not rich now), but I'm either going to buy a guitar and leave the rest in savings, or keep it all in my savings account and put it toward a downpayment on a future house (it is not close to enough to make a full downpayment.)  Had the cameras been allowed to watch the entire time, I did turn up my Craps game to place a base bet of $25, while backing up each number with the max ($75 for 4 and 10, $100 for 5 and 9, and $125 for 6 and 8.)  This creates a risk of at least $100 per number per dice roll.  I typically use the Pass and Come Lines to play 3 total numbers at a time.  I'm fairly certain that is "high rolling." 

----------

If there are any other questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them.  I understand now how athletes can lose their minds after listening to people hating on them.  I used to think, "That reporter is just baiting you, how can you fall for that again!"  I get it now.  It takes a strong person to let criticism roll off your back and not think about it. 

However, I will not lose my mind, just answer questions and explain what we did during our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  If you want to hate on us or the promotion, so be it.  We had a blast the entire time, truly feel humbled and lucky, and made new friends along the way.  Those are things that can't be taken away no matter what.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 3

After a great night of drinking, Mrs. B. and I were scheduled to meet the Be The High Roller crew for breakfast at Biscotti's at 10am.  We dressed comfortably because we were headed to the spa after breakfast.  They filmed us talking about how much we like the restaurant (we legitimately like it- damn good food there!)  However, we had never actually eaten breakfast there, so that was a nice treat.  I picked one of the specials of the day (an omelette with multiple cheeses, meats and peppers) and Mrs. B. was treated to a mango smoothie and an egg whites only omelette.  Clip time:



After our phenomenal breakfast, it was time for me to get a different shirt and film my first commercial/offer for Peppermill patrons. We went to the quiet hallway at the back of the Tuscany Tower lobby and I got multiple takes to read through a script that was given to me just before breakfast. I was a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to memorize everything, but Eric and Lonny made it easy for me to do one line at a time. I initially did a few takes all the way through, but then we did one where I say a line, pause, change camera angles, then do another. I thought it worked quite well. Plus, I really do like to give back!



One quick funny thing about the video is that I was wearing a collared shirt, but from waist-down I was wearing swim trunks and sandals. They shot me so I looked like I was far more formal than I actually was. This is probably similar to how Stuart Scott rarely wears pants while anchoring the Monday Night Football Pre-Game Show. I just made that last part up, but it sounds like it could be accurate.

Upon completion of the video spot, it was off to the spa. I didn't even think to go to the bathroom before heading to the spa.  Skip this paragraph if you're not into T.M.I. Everything was fine while taping our spa entrance. However, as I got more relaxed in the waiting room and further relaxed during the massage, I realized I probably should have gone to the bathroom before entering the peaceful, serene couples massage room. Now, don't get me wrong, the massage was great- however, waves of stomach cramps came through here and there. Once the hour was up, we were able to go back to the room, and I, how shall I say, got rid of any cramps. I felt much better and we went back to the spa, enjoyed the magnificent Caldarium. End of the ridiculous "too much info" story. Cue video:



The Caldarium is a more private pool area on the 4th floor of the spa. It has a salt water pool, a hot tub, a cold tub, a deck with seating, an area with snacks, and pool side food service. We ordered food, of course. Butterfly shrimp, fruit skewers and yogurt were delivered to us quickly. The shrimp was literally the best shrimp I've ever had. Put that on the freaking board! It was a great light lunch with the relaxing environment all around us. So great.

After a quick nap, we changed and met up with the Be The High Roller crew at Oceano. We shot some quick video and were seated at a corner booth. The video shot some of the interview before I really knew what I wanted to order- as seen here:



Assuming you just watched the video, you might ask yourself, "Why is Tony doing sake bombs?" Well, the answer is obvious- I ordered them and volunteered to shoot them on film! It was actually a lot of fun drinking for the camera, though I hope my current and future employers feel the same way! Actually, I do think the video comes off as good-natured and fun, which is lines up with the actual vibe of the moment.

We asked the crew to stay and eat with us because we really felt like they were great company. How to describe each of our folks? Well-

Eric is the brains behind the Be The High Roller promotion- he pitched it and got the green light. He's a funny and animated guy who is quite passionate about his work. He was all about having a great time while at the same time working hard. His constant input along with his photography made this project go 'round. 

Morgan is the charismatic host of the Be The High Roller promotion. She is fun, down to earth, very cool, and clearly very good at her job. She also talks about her kids in such a loving way that you can tell she's a great mom!

Lonny is the hard working videographer of the BTHR promotion. He is a genuine, sweet and funny guy that was awfully creative during the filming process. His compliments of us during the whole process helped give us a calm confidence during shooting. Each of these three folks are amazing and I consider them all friends going forward.

The last detail at Oceano was that the manager had somehow found out that our 1 year anniversary was coming up and they gave us a free dessert of Creme Brulee (yes, I know everything on this trip was free, but this wasn't even on the bill at the end of the meal- I had to sign everything to a room charge.) The plate said "Happy Anniversary" in chocolate on it. Such a nice touch to an already great dinner.

Next it was off to the tables to film a gaming spot. This video was quite tricky. We collected our gambling stipend and they wanted us to play live games and get filmed. The pit boss, Kevin, set up a private game of Blackjack for Mrs. B. and me. I let the crew know I didn't really want to play Blackjack, but I was willing to play a few hands. Of course, since it is "The Devil's Game" I immediately got crushed. Flustered, I actually got dealt an 8 and a 3 (dealer showing a face card), was hit with a King and thought I busted (yeah, bad math, I know.) The point is, with single deck Blackjack, I threw over my cards as if I busted. I ruined a perfect opportunity for a good shot on the video. We requested the pit boss to stack the deck and have the dealer deal me a blackjack in a staged hand. Magically I was dealt the Ace and King of Hearts- that hand is in fact in the video. I get why people like the game, but honestly, I don't like Blackjack at all.

Next was Roulette. I like the game enough, but the people at the table were awfully suspicious of us because of the cameras. It makes sense, I guess, since cameras are not allowed on the casino floor, so seeing them freaked out the other gamblers. The best part came on the first hand. Mrs. B. and I put $5 of Free Play each on black. In our heads, we knew that if we won we needed to over celebrate for the camera. 29 black came up (both of our birthdays are on the 29th of their respective months) and we went nuts. They gave us our $5 real chips each and then the dealer continue to remove EVERY OTHER CHIP OFF THE TABLE. Needless to say, the other gamblers were pissed. And I have to agree, our table etiquette was awful in that situation, but we were locked into making the video- not worrying about the other people at the table. After the next spin of the wheel, the woman next to us said, "Ok, bye bye celebrities." It was in an evil and sarcastic tone. We left and figured we had enough footage to make it work.

Last we rolled some Craps and did ok. The people at the table were a little squeamish about the cameras, but it was a better experience than Roulette. Overall, the video looks pretty good, but it was a challenge to get it done.



After Craps, they were done shooting and left us to our own devices. Mrs. B. and I "took our talents to the Penthouse Suite" then went back down to gamble and drink. It was a great day with fun experiences made even better by the Be The High Roller crew that we got to know even better that day.

Tomorrow- goofing off at the gym, shopping spree!, eating at Chi, John and Katrina arrive, partying it up at EDGE nightspot, and more gambling. Excited? You should be!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 2

While standing in the rain on the Sacramento Airport jet way, I was tasked with opening a bottle of Dom (as seen on the video.)  I was a tad nervous and the wrap over the wire which was over the cork was still on.  It took me a minute, but I awkwardly ripped off the wrapping and finally popped open the champagne.  With our champagne glasses full, we climbed into the private jet and were immediately blown away.  Neither of us had ever flown first class, let alone in a private jet!  There were a group of four seats facing each other.  We sat in two and faced Morgan, Eric and Lonny (as you recall from yesterday- that is the Be The High Roller crew that we hung out with for 5 days straight!)  Lonny filmed while Eric took pictures and Morgan interviewed us.  Maybe it is easier to just show you the video:



It was a whirlwind from there.  24 minutes after take off, we landed at the Reno airport (MUCH better than the usual 2.5 hour drive!)  We had more champagne and hopped into the limo.  There was beer in the Peppermill limo, so I helped myself.  It took just a couple minutes to drive to the promised land (aka the Peppermill) and we shot a quick video of us entering near the Bell Desk.  Shortly after that, we entered the fabled VIP services room.  It is a pretty huge room!  Morgan and the crew checked us in and quickly brought us up to room 1610- the Penthouse Suite.

Our room was legit!  It had a full living room, bar area, pantry, dining table and chairs, multiple TVs (4 total), a separate bedroom, huge bathroom, and jacuzzi.  The windows were floor to ceiling and overlooked the entire city of Reno (the strip was in the distance.)  It was amazing!  (Author's note- I truly apologize for using the words "amazing," "fantastic," "delicious," "great," and "wow."  I'm thinking of investing in a Thesaurus with my winnings from the week.)  Also, once Katrina and John arrived on Friday, they had the adjoining room- perfect! 



Of course, we carried none of our bags, they were just delivered to the room.  Eric, Morgan, and Lonny took us to Romanza for some fancy Italian food.  We were greeted by the manager and our server (whose name is slipping my mind at the moment, but he was a nice young guy) was feeding us drinks immediately.  We filmed a quick spot and the crew left us to have a romantic dinner.  The only "interruption" was when they brought over George (director of casino gaming) with our daily gambling stipend.  Yes- you heard me correctly.  "Daily gambling stipend" is literally one of my all time favorite phrases.  I received $1000 in Free Play per day.  Mrs. B. got $200 in Free Play per day for the first two days, and once our friends (John and Katrina) got there on Friday, the two of them and Mrs. B. received $250 in Free Play each.  Crazy, right?



(Author's note: Free Play is not in fact real money when you received it.  If you were play a hand of blackjack with a $25 Free Play chip and win, they would take away the Free Play chip and give you a real $25 chip.  Doing my quick math, I was pleased if I could turn 50% of all the Free Play into real money.  I don't want to get into specific amounts of what I walked away with, but my 50% rule worked out well and actually the tables were fairly hot during my entire stay, making this quite a dream trip.) 

After my Italian Mixed Grill at Romanza (holy scrumtrulencent meal!), we went to the classic Fireside Lounge next to the Coffee Shop.  This is the original throwback bar in the Peppermill.  It has fire pits surrounded by pink couches.  It's such a cool retro place that serves excellent drinks.  In fact, I stepped up from my usual Jack Daniels and diet to Gentleman Jack and diet.  In retrospect, it was funny to watch us transition from humbled and overwhelmed to humbled, in control of ordering top shelf liquor and charging everything to the room.  It really is wild how your brain just gets used to ordering like a "high roller."  It was so nice to say to Mrs. B., "Sure Sweetie, you'd like to order $15 tea directly up to the room?  Do it!"  What a pleasurable and unexpected way to celebrate our 1 year anniversary!

Here is our chat with Morgan from the Fireside Lounge:



After our quick chat and drink, Mrs. B. and I wandered back up to the room to relax for a few minutes, take a breath and just enjoy this whole overwhelming experience.  We walked around our suite just taking it all in.  We were honored, humbled, excited, and surreal. 

We unpacked and made ourselves at home, then we went down to gamble the night away.  We both did fairly well.  Especially Mrs. B.!  She turned over 100% of her Free Play into real money!  I actually gave her a drunk lecture about how she was not playing Video Poker correctly.  Minutes later, she hit a four of a kind with a bonus kicker and I ate my words, "You know what?  Don't listen to me!  You are obviously playing great!"  Eventually, we collected our cash and went back to our phenomenal room.  In fact, we took a bath in the jacuzzi before going to bed!  Just living the life! 

Tomorrow... my first web commercial/offer!  So comical, ridiculous, and fun! Also, the spa, Oceano, gaming and getting to know the amazing "Be The High Roller" crew!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Recap Chapter 1

Phew!  That was quite a week.  On the scale of vacations, gambling trips, and overall great times- my experience at the Peppermill Reno these past five days is sitting squarely at the top.  I'm not sure how to recap this in any kind of succinct fashion, so I'll just start going and break up the posts as necessary.

Let's go back to the beginning.  I've been to the Peppermill a solid 12 times over the years.  In fact, counting this last contest winning trip, I've been to there 4 times in the last 7 weeks.  This is unusual, but I did pretty well in gambling each time, so there was really no reason to cut myself off.  Whether I was tagging along with my buddies for a Poker weekend, or going up with Mrs. B. and other couples, it has been a blast.

Since we go to the Peppermill pretty often, I try to really make myself aware of all the available promotions that they have.  Awhile back, they had a video contest that I meant to enter, but got lazy and didn't come up with anything.  When I saw the promos for the "Be The High Roller" contest, I thought it was something I could really do.  Essentially, all you had to do was fill out the decently long application, upload a picture, and upload a video of yourself explaining why you should "be the high roller" at the Peppermill.

I filled out the application and didn't have a video to go with it.  I don't know why I even tried to do this, but I uploaded a video of my playing "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.  I think it was to complete the application in entirety and I figured I'd create a different video later.  I was quickly denied because the video was longer than 3 minutes, and said nothing about the Peppermill (not to mention and rights issues with the song!) 

Later that week I was doing a model shoot for my boss highlighting the venues on the UC Davis campus and how they could be utilized.  I am not a model of any sort normally, but taking a few photos highlighting venues seemed like it would be no problem (and of course, it ended up being fine.)  The Putah Creek Lodge was set up as a club scene for an adult birthday party and I had brought my computer in my backpack to check my email while I was away from the office.  I had been keeping my Kodak video camera in my backpack (mostly for live music video making purposes) and I mentioned that I should shoot a video for the "Be The High Roller" contest.  Mrs. B. and our friend Katrina (who came with us to the Peppermill) enthusiastically encouraged me, and my boss let us quickly shoot the video.  I came up with a short but loose idea spoofing the Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man In The World."  Since we were all dressed up for a classy birthday party, I got Mrs. B., Katrina, and two of the other lovely models to surround me on the couch.  We did about 3 takes and it took less than 5 minutes (obviously, we weren't trying to waste work time.)  I edited the best take on my Macbook (I have no video editing experience so it was just basic fades and graphics.)  I thought it turned out well, but it was fairly short, so I thought an additional video would be helpful.

The following week, we had another shoot the day after Lebron James' "Decision" show.  While we were modeling to show off our new Conference Center, I edited a script that spoofed Lebron's announcement that he was "taking his talents to South Beach."  I, of course, planned to "take my talents to the Peppermill Reno."  I asked for five minutes of everyone's time, put up a Power Point slide behind me to make my press conference look somewhat official, and got everyone to applaud at certain points during the announcement.  The camera flashes were such a nice touch.  We did a few takes, and once again it took probably between 5 and 10 minutes, but looked pretty solid.  I'm assuming if you read my blog, you have seen the video, but here it is in all its glory:



I submitted my new videos and this time they were approved, and I was happy with the results.  I got into the contest relatively early, which was great, but as time went by, more and more people submitted profiles.  I thought my submission was strong, but at no point did I think I was actually going to win.

I was honored when I was selected as one of the five finalists.  I couldn't believe I was in the final group of five people in what was essentially a creativity and popularity contest.  I was beaming from ear to ear the entire day the five finalists were announced.  I now needed people to "Join My Entourage" during the final phase of the contest.  Thank you to everyone who joined- you all are a huge part of why I was eventually selected.

The finalist phase ended during Labor Day weekend, and I was called on Labor Day by Eric (the mind behind this whole promotion) and he told me I was selected as the winner.  The hilarious thing was that I was actually wearing a Peppermill shirt that I made on Cafe Press.  I wore it to bed Sunday night, and wore it to the gym the following morning.  Apparently, it's a pretty lucky shirt because Eric called me right before I went in to work out.  I had my mini excitement freak out, then called everyone involved with either going with me or allowing me to go on the trip (Mrs. B., John and Katrina, my boss, and my assistant manager at work.)  I was not allowed to post anything on the internet because they hadn't publicly announced the winner (which makes sense because this was only two days before we were scheduled to leave.)  The remainder of the day, I was about to explode because I wanted to tell all my friends the good news!  Eventually, they announced the fact that I won publicly, and I excitedly posted on Facebook, Twitter and right here immediately.  Once again, thank you to EVERYONE who helped me out by voting for me and for all the people who allowed me to suddenly drop everything and be a part of this once in a lifetime experience.

I was somewhat aware of the expectations going into the entire "Be The High Roller" experience.  We were getting hooked up with the ultimate experience at the Peppermill and everything was on the house.  The trade off was that Mrs. B., my friends, and I would be part of a promotional material throughout the casino.  We experienced all the amenities at the Peppermill on a decently loose schedule and filmed little spots that highlighted each location within the resort.  Oh, and we got to ride in the Peppermill's private jet!  As seen here:



It began to rain on our way to the airport on Wednesday, and we got a little lost looking for the private jet runway at the Sacramento Airport. Mrs. B. and I finally figured out where we were going. We pulled up and were immediately greeted by Eric who introduced himself and was very excited to meet us. His excitement about the experience was infectious and any nerves we might have had were quickly calmed.

Next we met Morgan (who appeared in the videos promoting the contest, and hosted the various webisodes that we filmed during our time at the Peppermill) and our videographer Lonny. Our first impression of the Eric, Morgan, and Lonny was that they were great people who would be fun to work with (our first impressions were quickly confirmed and enhanced over the next 5 days.)

That seems like a good stopping part for today. I'll keep writing about the whole experience during the entirety of the week. I hope you don't get tired of hearing about the amazing experience- I'm also documenting this for my own personal memories and in no way am I trying to brag or boast about "how cool I am" or anything like that. I just feel so honored and lucky to have been picked to be involved in a promotion for my longtime favorite casino/resort- not to mention getting hooked up with a comped trip!

Until tomorrow...

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Contest Update - Friday!

Hi there everyone!  Mrs. B. and I have been having a fantastic time here at the Peppermill over the last three days.  It just keeps getting better and better!  If you haven't seen the videos they've been posting, definitely check out BeTheHighRoller.com to get the lowdown.  Of course, I'll have some further stories on Monday when I get back, but the videos are definitely a fun way to catch up on the things we've already done.  Here's an video that we shot where I give away some special offers here at the Peppermill:



I've been coming to the Peppermill for a few years now, but never did I dream that I'd actually be in their promotional material- so cool!

Not only that, but I'm tentatively scheduled to play a quick show at the Terrace Lounge tomorrow night! Things just keep getting better- so stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Be The High Roller" Contest Update

Well folks, I'd like to personally say thank you to everyone who supported me throughout the "Be The High Roller" Contest through the Peppermill Reno.  You all helped me WIN the contest!  That's right- a private jet is picking Mrs. B. and me up at 7pm today.  Let me repeat- A PRIVATE JET is picking us up and flying us to Reno! 

From the general itinerary I've received, this is going to be a week that we'll remember for the rest of our lives.  It's so fitting that our one year anniversary is coming up in less than a month- what a way to celebrate!  Our Peppermill partners in crime, John and Katrina will be joining us on Friday.  I am not sure if I'll have time to blog while I'm there, but I will try.  If you don't see any posts, then just know I'm probably relaxing at the spa or enjoying food and drinks poolside, and I'll be back with a report on Monday.  

I can't thank everyone enough for joining my entourage!  You guys rock! 

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Case of the Mondays: Labor Day

Nothing too much to report on this fine day off.  Here are the quick important points:

- I did literally nothing after work on Friday unless you count having a "Las Vegas" re-run marathon as something?  Right- so I did nothing.  Vanessa Marcil is super hot.

- Saturday I started learning a few new covers.  Over the last five shows,  I've had "Hallelujah" requested at least three times.  I figured it was time for me to learn it.  Also, I learned "This Town" by O.A.R. and still looking for some other new ones to get after.  Your requests/suggestions are always appreciated.

- Sunday was pretty low key- besides me going to open for Grammy winner Gretchen Peters in Vacaville.  In fact, another great singer/songwriter Cindy Alexander was on before me so it was a great day of music.  I had a quick 45 minute set where I played 10 originals (all from the new album.)  The set up was legit.  The stage was awesome, the sound was awesome, and the people were awesome.  Great day!

- Mrs. B. and I went to our usual Sunday night outing to Chili's (it's not a real tradition, though it seems like we go there often on Sundays.)  We go to the Natomas location which I will state right here, officially, that it is the best Chili's in the world.  The service is consistent and food is great.  Excellent work off of Truxel.

- Still waiting on the results from the "Be The High Roller" contest.  I'll definitely update that when I find out the result.  Cross your fingers for me!

Have a great Labor Day everyone- see you tomorrow!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Last Reminder - Join My Entourage!

In the final push for my quest to "Be The High Roller," if you haven't already, go join my entourage!  There is only a couple days left for me to win an extravagant vacation that I will inevitably blog about.  It will make my original Peppermill trilogy look like most recent Indiana Jones movie (aliens- really?!) 

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive during this whole contest.  It's been a lot of fun promoting my profile and videos.  Thank you to the UC Davis crew that helped me film the videos (and the lovely ladies who appear in the first video.)  Also, thank you to Christine Yates for taking the profile pics that have added a level of class to my profile.

ALSO, I did a random drawing from the Wednesday comments and the winner of the $40 gift card to CSNStores.com is Kryssi!  Congrats! 

Anyway, thanks for the support and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thank You Notes

















I borrowed this idea from the Jimmy Fallon show... wanna fight about it?


Dear Dancing With The Stars,

Thank you for making my decision easy this year.  1) There is no doubt who the right choice is to cheer for- "The Situation" is the only choice.  2) More importantly, with the rest of "The Stars" being horribly uninteresting, there's no way you'll hold my attention span.  I'm sure Kurt Warner is going to be awfully exciting to watch- especially when the camera keeps cutting to his wife every 5 seconds. 

Regretfully,
Tony B.

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Dear Chicago Bears,

Thank you for bringing my expectations dreadfully low before the season has even started.  I figured putting Mike Martz and Jay Cutler together could be a huge positive for the offensive, or a dumpster fire of an idea.  So far all signs point to the latter.  At least it is better than the Raiders who have built up fans' expectations only to smash them after the first 4 weeks of the season. 

Keeping hope alive (barely),
Tony B.

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Dear Cal Bears,

Thank you for helping UC Davis upset you on Saturday.  That would be sweet.  I'm really growing to dislike you, Golden Bears, and have decided to cheer against you from now on.  This is probably an easy thing to do seeing as how you choke hard each and every year. 

Your new rival,
Tony B.

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Dear Electric Guitar,

Thank you for being patient with me.  Due to a few band practice cancellations, I'm sure you are going through the same withdrawals that I am.  After playing years and years of solo acoustic shows, my need to rock the electric is at an all time high.  I'm feening for it!  Yeah, I looked up "feening" on UrbanDictionary.com for the correct spelling- that is just ridiculous. 

Don't you forget about me,
Tony B.

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Dear Dave Matthew Band,

Thank you for the confusion.  I'm not sure if you peaked years ago or if you are making a decent come back, but you've totally confounded me.  I was a huge fan of your first 5 albums, but then came "Stand Up" and I did a barrel roll off your bandwagon.  Recently, I've heard a lot of people rave about your live shows, so which is it DMB?  Are you guys going to be awesome again, or continue to suck? 

Debating,
Tony B.

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Dear Mike's Hard Lemonade,

Thank you for attempting to make your drink cool for guys.  Unfortunately, you can dress up a Smirnoff Ice any way you want, and it still sucks.  And as a side note, this Bros Icing Bros thing has got to go.  Unless Smirnoff Ice can magically change an Ed Hardy wearing douche bag into a productive member of society, this fad needs to end quick. 

Cool as ice,
Tony B.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Ultimate Man Cave + A Freebie

Being cooped up in a one bedroom apartment is not quite as glamorous as it sounds.  Many days I long for a small portion of time devoted to male solitude without the slight possibility of being forced to watch the new episode of "Project Runway."  For you folks living in smaller apartments, you know it is a bummer when your kitchen tables are encroaching on your TV areas.  I know one day, Mrs. B. and I will move to a spacious home where I will firmly entrench myself in a man-cave- and here are some ideal aspects of said man-cave:

- Multiple TVs.  While it's great to have one bad-ass TV, you will find yourself needing more than one in the event that you have the NFL Sunday Ticket or MLB Extra Innings.  Two seems to be the minimum needed for an ideal man-cave.  And make sure they are flat screen!  The days of the full screen are over- you need wide screen and HD!

- A Bar.  You're not going to be able to host a Sunday get together without booze.  Cabnets with liquor in them is good.  A full bar with a kegerator is much better.  One of your TVs can go above the bar to make sure you don't miss any action while you help your guests get loaded (especially Raiders fans- they need help!)

- The NFL Redzone Channel.  What a great idea, right?  Why wouldn't you want all the scoring action from all the games?  The answer- there is no reason!  It's awesome and necessary.  Instead of waiting through a 6-3 game with the Jets vs. the Ravens, you get to see every team put up points.

- Comfortable Seating.  You're going to need couches and chairs that make you immediately go into a buffalo wing coma as soon as you sit in them.  This will help you stay comfortable during any sporting event and you may get lucky and have a friend fall asleep in the chair.  Keep a pen handy to write witty things on their face.  Maybe draw a Raiders' eye-patch on a Niners fan.  Just remember, their hand in warm water is a horrible idea while inside your own home!

- Internet Connection.  Many of you could be betting on the athletic event in question.  You're going to need action, and since you haven't started your own casino inside your house- you'll need the internet.  Check lines and make bets.  Just make sure you gamble responsibly! 

- A Shaggy Rug.  I have no idea why this seems like such a good idea, but it just does.  It sounds comfortable, right?  Be aware of any clumsy friends who may not be seasoned vets with chips and salsa or pulled pork sandwiches.  On second thought, make sure you get a darker colored rug. 

- Surround Sound.  How else will you immerse yourself in the sports action.  Even if this is not utilized optimally, it will come in handy if you ever want to watch "The Expendables" on BluRay. 

- Inexpensive but Nice Looking Tables.  Let's keep it real, your friends are not going to use coasters.  They might mean well, but in the end, drunkness overpowers all.  Don't put your antique wooden table in the man cave- find tables that will be able to deal with beer glasses, spilled alcohol, and ranch dressing getting on them. 

This is a good start, but I'm sure there is more to do.  Leave a comment with your man-cave advice and email and you have a chance at being drawn for a $40 gift card to CSNStores.com!  It could help you get started on your own man-cave upgrade.  I'll pick the winner on Friday. 

(Also, for great Tail Gate advice- check out G$'s blog HERE! - he knows what he's doing out on the parking lot gridiron.)