It's been a long time since I've posted to my personal blog. Which means either something wonderful has happened during a hard time I don't want to talk about... or something has ticked me off to the degree to shake me out of a good life.
Right, as if life were entirely black and white. Oh wait... there's reality television. For the people who watch American Idol while shows like Firefly are cancelled, the world is very black and white. Everything fits into little boxes and you're either a good guy... or a bad guy.
We are taught to be tribal (Survivor), we are told to root for our home team (sports) and most importantly that we shouldn't listen to the other side no matter how hard they tries to communicate with us (Politics).
Because if for one moment we step into the grey area... then we're on our own. We've gone against everyone.
There's a quotation by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.
To be honest... the first time I heard this as a child. It pissed me off. I thought to myself a few things.
1) Perhaps some times it is wiser to follow the path more frequently tread.
2) If everyone follows the path less travelled won’t it all balance out eventually so that it doesn't matter?
3) If you really want to learn and forge... Make your own new path between them.
Because if for one moment we step into the grey area... then we're on our own. We've gone against everyone.
I am shamed to say, I let personal bias put me on a team and take a side. In this case, it was the path less travelled. Nevertheless, I took a side.
Approximately 4 weeks ago I let myself be caught up in the "Reality" program "The Celebrity Apprentice" The reason for this is that I will openly admit admiration for one of the contestants.
Annie Duke is by far one of the most impressive professionals in the world of Poker. Annie is a clever gamesman, a shrewd businesswoman, a top notch professional, a mother of four, and to be honest... She's hot. (I'm human)
Now, I have to be honest... I should have known better than to watch this show. I know what goes into reality programming. I know how terrible the producers of this kind of programming (within the industry) are to the people who work behind the scenes. “Reality” Programming is one and only one thing... “Reality” programming is editing together a story that is not for accurately showing what has occurred but in fact to garner viewer response. What the producers want the viewers to do in response is to hole up behind one corner or the other. The viewer will never really know what actually happened as there are hours, days, or even weeks of footage that will never be seen. Nevertheless, it doesn't matter as long as you've been driven into your corner.
So, why did I take mine?
Poker is a pastime I participate in and greatly enjoy. I'd love to be able to do it full-time... but to state the obvious, "I don't got game." Many people don't like Poker as they see it simply as a form of gambling. Many people don't like gambling in general. Most people don't like adults taking mutually consenting actions on their own turf no matter how much it may not involve the people who object. This is so much the case that people from the state of Utah bought a California constitutional amendment to stop the actions of consenting adults.
Over the four weeks that I watched, I watched (from my point of view) a 75 year old actress and comedienne (who I perceived was not respected in her field) hide behind teammates and viciously attack others as well as the people close to them. Therefore, as a poker player (albeit amateur) I personally felt insulted when all poker players were called "Lower than White Trash"
Wonderful, I'm hooked. I'm on a side. Did the same thing in the 2008 elections. For the record, "My Team Won"
I watch football. I'm not happy when "My Team" loses. However, I try to be fair when I watch. If the team I support plays badly, I don't blame the referees or the other team for getting unfair advantage. When the other team does something impressive... I acknowledge it.
I try to forge my own path down the centre with knowledge of what both paths represent.
In the case of this "Reality" program... I was very far to one side. I'd been personally insulted. I will admit, the personal insult I felt was not as bad as the directly insulted; but I did have my personal attachment to it.
Therefore, in fairness, I'd like to take a moment to anyone who watched the television disaster that was Celebrity Apprentice and point out the two things that I think Joan Rivers did right; and then I will comment about how Trump made the wrong decision in appointing Rivers over Annie Duke.
In poker, there is a term, "going on tilt". Poker is a game of remaining fully composed no matter how unfair an outcome can be. Poker is assuredly a skill-based game; but you are still betting on percentages. In any 500 rounds (hands) of Poker, you will only be assured of a win (the nut draw) maybe once or twice. Most of the rest of the time you are comparing the percentage chance that you are the best vs. the percentage return on investing.
This is exactly how the stock market is supposed to work. You look at the potential value of the company and you put your money to the company based on what you think the potential return is. 10 companies with 60% chance of success, you will get paid six out of 10 times. Invest on this information appropriately with the correct percentage of money. This is Poker.
Joan Rivers on the program leveled some of the most venomous behaviour and language I've seen on television. (Granted, I don't watch Reality Television any more). I consider myself foul mouthed with words. However, I also ascribe to the teachings of the Great Saint George of Carlin; "No Bad Words, Only Bad Thoughts" My language may be foul, but my intent and inference to others is with respect. Rivers was beyond good taste. Simply, she blew through Godwin's Law and compared Annie Duke to Hitler.
So where did Annie go wrong with this?
Rivers put Annie on Tilt. Granted, I can only base this on the footage the show gave us for the finale. Rivers was on tilt the entire show around Annie; but being an angry old woman is Rivers world. Being on Tilt is the downfall of any poker player. The exception is poker professional Mike Matusow who seems to do better once he's “on tilt.”
The second issue is in Poker knowing the other players at the table.
Another wonderful quotation I love about the game:
Poker is not so much a game about cards played with other people, but rather is a game about people played with cards.
I love stand-up comedy. I have watched many of the comic roasts (including much that is censored out of broadcasts.) In addition, despite what most people think... I love "The Aristocrats." In the field of theatre, which is my other great passion, the symbols are a comedy mask and a tragedy mask. Let me assure you right here and now that the comedy mask is the one that is crying with the mouth turned down.
Comedy is about the darkest places of the soul. The ugliest things you can think of put in front of everyone to point and laugh. The film “The Aristocrats” is about a joke told among comedians, which is about the irony found in the most disturbing ideas and imagery brought forth. If you believe that Bob Saget is a nice guy from Empty Nest... Do NOT watch this film.
Therefore, my point of view comes from what is carved out by the edited slices shown on television for my "entertainment" or more actually my "attitude adjustment." Annie was “put on tilt“ at times and did not know the venom that comedians can spit.
So... game over, right? It should have been Joan Rivers?
No. No. One thousand times, no.
Let's pull off the veneer of "Donald Trumps" business acumen and look at the real business. NBC.
The editing of the show, quite frankly made Poker players out to be deceitful, untrustworthy, and dangerous. It inferred ties to the mafia. In addition, it singled out an entire sub culture and cast it in an offensive light. Okay these are just words. Nevertheless, there was no real attempt to stop this behaviour. Many of Trumps own comments dripped with opinion that matched this. Stunning when you consider that Big Business is nothing more than a daily gamble and making people do what you want.
We consider what NBC gets out of Joan Rivers and what it gets out of Poker. Joan... well, Joan has been fired from many cable stations. And Poker... Oh, before I get into what poker brings... Don't forget to watch the National Heads Up finals next Sunday on NBC.
Yes, NBC runs poker programming. Well, they did. I've been watching a lot on social networking from the prominent members of that industry. They aren't pleased with the treatment of the field in general.
Well, yes. Boo hoo, cry foul.
For me the foul was in the final episode. Joan Rivers was named the winner based on integrity and being a role model. I find this amazing as her final speech was laced in phrases like; "The new direction this country is taking" while the game she played was based on abject hate speech. This is the hypocritical irony that Donald Trump and NBC would have us believe is what makes a role model.
So... While Joan may have put Annie on tilt, to put her behaviour and work as a whole as superior in a business sense is pandering to the average viewer who wants to take a side and run with it. The cheers of the audience while Rivers shuts down Annie for speaking about what video has just shown as factual is quite simply a circus for show.
From a business point of view, I think NBC has done terrible damage to the poker industry. I think Trump has shown horrid business unprofessionalism. Moreover, I think that Annie Duke was treated unfairly and with a great deal of professional disrespect.
But then again, I've taken one side over the other... Therefore, my opinion is obviously pointless. If you supported Joan Rivers, Then I'm just whining incessantly and should get over myself. If you supported Annie Duke then I'm preaching to the choir.
By the way the show was edited (which I absolutely feel does NOT reflect reality, thus the continual quotes around "Reality" show) Annie Duke is overall far more professional, far more able to forge business relationships, far more able to get a job done. By the same tape, Joan Rivers put Annie on Tilt and that shouldn't have happened.
From a business point of view... NBC and Trump backed the wrong person. I will be curious not about how the next season of this show plays out (as I will never watch it again even if my best friend is on the show). My true curiosity will be over how the fall out of the decision plays out in the business world, the poker world, and for NBC.
I don't think this story is over. I think it’s about to spawn a new chapter.
Granted... We may all have been played. It's not as if NBC wants us to think it's all Reality.
On a personal note.
I still think Annie Duke is one of the most admirable celebrities in the world. I'd be honoured to try to one-day play at a table with her (Though, I know that I am easily dead money in her presence from several points in her auto biography). I think she fought an amazing opposition not just from the people she was put against but also from a public that was slowly wired against her livelihood.
This is most difficult for me to watch because above all I also respect her because she's a mother of four who does an amazing job as parent while still holding another job.
I think I've spent all the time I can on this in my typical stream of consciousness. My writing is entirely disjointed, but it is from the heart, and personally, it makes me question even watching NBC after this season.
Personally, I just hope Dollhouse will come back and in the mean time... I'm in Missouri now and I'll continue to refine my Poker game online.
Annie I salute you. I have the utmost respect for you. I feel very badly for the treatment you received. At the same time... your successes and the strength you showed during the run of the program should be the real reward. They were stunning.
Even if I can't get that damned catchy jingle out of my head.
I don't follow the path less travelled; I don't follow the path more travelled. I follow the path that is mine to follow. Be it walked or new. It is mine.