Monday, December 21, 2009


Christmas Eve Dinner
Baked Brie

Baked Ham
Butter Nut Squash
Crescent Rolls


Iced Tea
Schlafly Christmas Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration
Boulevard Nut Cracker

Christmas Dinner
Mushroom Puff Pastry Turnovers

Corn Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Horseradish Sauce
Yorkshire Pudding
Prime Rib Roast * changed back to use the old recipe

Pumpkin Pie
Cheese Cake TBD

Iced Tea
Ommegang Hennipen
Trader Joe's Vintage 2009 Ale (hey, it's brewed by Unibroue and is $4.99 for 750ML so back off. seriously go buy some and cellar it, I am)
Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Journey - Winter Classic 2009

Dear friend-

I am 90 minutes into a 3 hour flight and already finished my book. I am surrounded by cowboys and degens on Air Greyhound flight 2884 back to my life.

I am writing this on my blackberry. There are 4 ibuprofen on the tray in front of me, waiting for their diet coke. I am listening to Steve Miller as that is the only music I had that was a remotely appropriate companion to John's wonderful collection "Returning the Favor". Sorry John, they wouldn't let me read it aloud on the plane and I couldn't let it just sit there. "The Christmas Lights" gets me every time.

My ibuprofen are swimming now. The music is now Violent Femmes. My head doesn't hurt, my knees do. I am an old man made temporarily melancholy by a cocktail of exhaustion and a good read.

2009 is the year I barely played poker. I hung out more, tried to be myself as much as possible. Tried to have real conversations. The funny thing is I played as well as I could have expected to in the tourney. I stole timely and tried to keep my decisions simple. I busted on the 2nd hand of the final table. Al made it 25k from the button and I was sitting at 7 bb and had a pp. Al's bet had me covered. Al ran out broadway. The slow death.

So what has changed since the summer of 2005? A lot of the faces, even the ones that are the same. In some ways I wish I would have stayed with my normal M.O. In other ways this was the better experience.

The depravity and disgustingness that Pauly always writes about stood out to me for some reason this time. Maybe its because of Casino Royale craps, or maybe because I paid attention. I wonder if that is what the town does to you or if they are already like that and its why they end up here.

I went to a show and I left the strip. I played craps. I went deep in the tourney. I was basically sober. I drank but not much. I didn't get stuck the first night. I didn't bang Iggy in the ass, he was double teamed by two 2 Eurotrash grad students named Hanz and Franz. All firsts for a WPBT trip for me.

I always have regrets while flying home. Being Nardi free sucked. Bobby always brings a party and BG always has the right words to make someone get off their metaphysical plane and return to the floor of the Geisha Bar. That was less a regret than an observation. Regrets were more around not doing a better job of saying goodbye as I don't know how much longer I can keep doing this.

No I am not retiring or any bullshit like that its just my life is crazy now. I have three kids and a house that needs more work than Iggy's tranny hooker. I can't promise I'll be back.

It makes me sad because a few of you know the difference between the IRL me and the "good" me. I'd like to share that with a few more, but suspect we are stuck in a rut and will never have that chance.


P.S. In case I don't make it next year, Iggy will do ATM if you let him reverse cowboy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

For the Luckbox

Read the link, then read my revision of the math. Look, an argument I support with numbers. Did I wrinkle your brain?
Royal Poker Blog: Belichick Was Correct

The linked post shows the calculation in favor of going for it as:
(0.60 * 1) + (0.40 * (1-0.53)) = 0.79 WP

I actually calc this as:
(0.75 * 1) + (0.40 * (1-0.65)) = 0.89 WP

based on the Pats 4th down conversion % against the Colts of 75% as told by ESPN and my own assessment of how likely the Colts are to score from the 28.

Additionally I'd say 30% chance that Colts make a TD after the punt is low. I'm not sure how low, but I am sure the Colts are at least 1 Standard deviation from the mean, so in the case of punting the Pats WP is probably more like .60 or .55.

That being said, if it works he's a genius, if it fails he's a goat.

GOAT Belicheat!

Maybe Schlafly will have a Santa?

Fuck you INBEV, fuck you. Its the little things like this that are the reason the Busch family legacy in STL is now shit. Take your money and get the hell out of town.

I don't begrudge you your business decisions or making of money.  You made a choice to trade your status as the kings of St. Louis for shiny rocks. Take your shiny rocks and get the hell out of town. We don't want you here pretending that things are the same as they ever were.

Always a Santa, even after layoff -
ST. LOUIS — Not even Santa Claus could escape the troubled economy.
bullet VIDEO: See more of this Santa with a calling

The Grant's Farm Christmas spectacular, where the jolly old elf sat front and center for three holiday seasons, was not making money. It had to go.

The man in the red suit got a pink slip.

So did the reindeer, the sleigh piled high with gifts and the gold throne on which Santa held court as children climbed onto his lap. The thousands of holiday lights that transformed The Bauernhof into a winter wonderland were switched off.

The news made its way through the popular tourist attraction in the summer of 2008 as Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Grant's Farm, was about to be purchased by brewer InBev. Santa will tell you that ending the young but popular holiday tradition hurt. Right there in his jelly belly.

Little did he know redemption was just around the corner.

He says the decision at Grant's Farm had to do with Anheuser-Busch positioning itself for a corporate buyout. Trimming the fat, if you will. The head of Grant's Farm says it was more about the weather. Outdoor events held during St. Louis winters are always a risk, and this one was not paying off.

As Santa says, everything happens for a reason. Especially when it comes to the holiday season.

Earlier this month, the former Grant's Farm Santa flew — by plane — to Virginia, to prepare for a new Christmas program at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. He is working for the same man who came to St. Louis in 2005 to help set up the Grant's Farm program.

Santa takes the stage in Williamsburg on Friday. He has spent the last three weeks perfecting his telling of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." The theme park wanted Santa to tell it without a script.

For Warren Moellenhoeff, it is a second chance to be Santa, although this south city resident might argue that he never stopped. Even out of the fur-trimmed suit and cap, Moellenhoeff embodies Santa.

"I get recognized wherever I go," Moellenhoeff said. "That's why my voice and demeanor has to be Santa Claus-like, because I might be overheard. And I can't be rash or angry or become upset — which isn't my way. I have to maintain that character."

It's the stance he took shortly after he was approached early in 2005 by Grant's Farm general manager Andy Elmore while Moellenhoeff was working in the farm's milk house.

Grant's Farm, typically closed during the winter, was going to open for the Christmas season with its "Magic of the Holidays" program, Elmore said. We want you to be Santa Claus, he told Moellenhoeff.

"He has a great demeanor with people. We learned that very quickly. And frankly, he does look like Santa," Elmore said. "It's amazing. Add to that the good fortune that he has a theatrical background."

That background in local theater includes roles ranging from Julius Caesar to God. With his white hair and beard and wire-rimmed glasses, he was well on his way into the new role of Santa.

Elmore recalls that when he suggested the idea to Moellenhoeff, the response was, "I've been waiting for you to ask me."

Moellenhoeff embraced the role, growing his hair and beard. He even stopped wearing his name tag at Grant's Farm while working at the milk house or one of the four gift shops.

"If they come up and ask, I will admit to being Santa Claus," Moellenhoeff said. "I'm not going to tell them I'm Santa Claus, and then they see another name on me."


Moellenhoeff lives in a 120-year-old farmhouse in the Boulevard Heights neighborhood. When he was a child, the house on Sharp Avenue was surrounded by 40-plus acres. The land has since been subdivided and filled with brick bungalows.

Moellenhoeff had no intention of living here at the age of 73. He remembers back in the 1950s when his dad offered to save him a plot of land next door.

"Why on earth would I want that?" Moellenhoeff recalled thinking.

An only child, Moellenhoeff was soon ready to explore the world. He headed for college in 1953, graduating from what is now Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, Ill., In 1957 he married. He worked as a middle school teacher for more than a decade in Plymouth, Wis., and Springfield, Ill., before he and his wife moved to St. Louis in 1969. He was hired as a manager by Robert Wehmueller, who owned a chain of local jewelry stores. Wehmueller was a longtime family friend who became like a second father to Moellenhoff, especially after his dad died 40 years ago.

Moellenhoeff remained close to his mother. She would often ask him: "What would you ever do with this house?"

"I would always blow her off because I didn't know," he recalled.

When she died in 2000, he was forced to answer his mother's question. He retired and moved into the childhood house that he had not lived in for 47 years. Looking out a window of the house, past his red Jaguar convertible, he wishes that he'd taken his father up on that offer to keep the plot of land next door. He now owns the house with his partner, Windell Shanley. (After 27 years and three children, Moellenhoeff was divorced in 1984.)

When Moellenhoeff was a boy, his family would gather down the street at his grandparents' house for holiday dinner. Dad would inevitably make an excuse to leave, saying he had to check on the furnace or let the dog out. In reality, he was turning on all the holiday lights, making sure the presents were arranged just right, creating a magical Christmas for his family.

"There are so many wonderful, wonderful memories in this house. My father was a Christmas nut."

Moellenhoeff inherited that holiday passion. Typically, he puts up a Christmas tree in each room. It takes weeks to decorate the house and even longer to take it down.

This year, Moellenhoeff is saving his holiday cheer for Christmas Town, the new holiday affair at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. He will be the featured attraction in Santa's Fireside Feast, a dinner theater.

When the theme park was looking for a Santa for its new Christmas program, Scott Gasparich, vice president of entertainment, said he immediately thought of Moellenhoeff. He had seen him work when Gasparich was in St. Louis helping set up the Grant's Farm holiday program.

"We knew we had to come up with a unique Santa, and Warren certainly fit the bill," Gasparich said.


It was the week before Moellenhoeff left for Virginia, and on the kitchen table, where he used to serve dinner to his mother when she could no longer care for herself, sat a copy of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." He had it memorized long before Busch Gardens asked him to. It's his favorite reading next to the first chapter of Genesis.

Mom would be proud, he said. Of his choice to move back in the house. To embrace the role of Santa. To make children believers in a cynical world.

And to live his life as he pleases.

On his bedroom wall, he has a framed quote from Henry David Thoreau.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Moellenhoeff, dressed in a plaid sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes, became animated.

"This is me. This is me," he said, pointing to the frame. "That sums up my life."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Month

Portraits 10 27 09
Originally uploaded by good43.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just One Day

A significant event is looming for my family.  Our third child will arrive sometime in the next seven days. As per our usual M.O the house is torn apart and covered in demolition/construction debris, the cameras have been downloaded and flickr has been getting a workout. As I sit here I am wistful,thinking of the past, waves of nostalgia and sadness are alternatively engulfing my being.

When I was a kid there were two people who were very important in my life. I love them dearly even though they have been gone for over a decade. My grandparents meant the world to me. My parents were very young when I was born. Looking back I think my grandparents were so involved because they were still raising my mom and her husband (my dad, duh) as much as they were lending a hand an helping raise me. There are all of these movies about going back in time and re-living high school, about getting a second chance. My fantasy would be one day with my grandparents. One day to let my kids meet them, one day to let them beam with pride over their great-grandchildren.

That's a screen play to pitch. Just One More Day.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I rolled over and hit snooze. Ten minutes later Bob and Tom came back to life on my alarm clock. The wife was at work and I had a conference call in a couple of hours. As I laid there contemplating getting out of bed I started paying attention to the words on the radio. "We're not sure what happened", "these pictures are unreal" "this is surely a tragedy". This was not the inane banter or female genitalia parody songs I usually get from KSHE between 7 and 8 am.

I fell out of bed and stumbled into the living room. My recollection is that I turned on CNN and was watching Geraldo Rivera talking. I watched the second plane hit. I sat there stunned, dumbfounded even. A few minutes later Geraldo or whomever it was that Geraldo has usurped in my memory started freaking out and screaming. A news, police or traffic helicopter was flying in the vicinity of the now burning towers. I thought the guy was a fucknut. A little while later there were photos of the Pentagon on fire, then reports of another plane crashed in a field.

My boss called somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00. He wanted to go over strategy for our call with a client. It was a sales call, we were trying to sell them another project. I suggested that we cancel the call. He called bullshit and said he didn't see a reason to cancel. A while later I am watching people leap hundreds of feet to their death, the towers fall, the Pentagon burning  while my boss is trying to get people to get on a call so we can sell them a project. We never had the call and we never sold the project.

Its no wonder that 18 months later the company was busto.

A lot has changed for me and my family over the last 8 years.  I've had three different jobs, gone from zero to (almost) three kids. In 2001 I had never been to Vegas and now I have been something like 10 times. We moved and had two cars stolen. My wife has had three out four grandparents die. Her father survived a severe industrial accident.

We have had five family members serve in the middle east and thankfully all have come home safe. There has been a lot of hand wringing as two career military and three bright faced kids informed the family that they were being deployed. A lot of panic hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night. A lot of tears, lost nights of sleep and more tears.

All of that seems trivial when you reflect on some other facts. On September 11, 2001 2,993 people died as a result of four hijacked airplanes. As a result of the 4 hijackings the U.S. invaded both Iraq and Afghanistan. Since March of 2003, 7,762 military, contractors and journalists have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The toll on the civilian lives in Iraq and Afghanistan is estimated by some to be well over 1 million.

I am neither a peacenik nor a war hawk. I will not belittle the memories of all the dead by espousing a political or social agenda. I just want you to contemplate all of the deaths today.