Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Poker Chick can be sentimental. No really, it's true. For one night, she has decided to publish a list of things she is grateful for. In no particular order, of course. Listen closely for hidden shoutouts. As always, you know who you are. We'll start with the media. How could one call herself an ad girl without giving glory to media? Poker Chick thanks the following communications g-ds:

TBS. The annual 24-hour marathon of "A Chrismas Story" has just begun at 8pm EST. It's just not Christmas without Ralphie and his official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle. With compass, of course.

NBC. For airing Seinfeld, one of the funniest shows ever. The show that created its own pop culture with phrases like "Hell-o-ooooo!", "No soup for you," "No, you're Schmoopie!" "Serenity now!" and "La la la!" She still laughs every time she watches Elaine's character yell "I hate this thing! And here's what I'm doing with it!" And, of course, Poker Chick thanks the character of George Costanza for: "Remember, it's not a lie if you believe it." Presently, Poker Chick offers NBC her thanks for not canceling Studio 60. At least not yet.

FOX. For 24. Poker Chick is eagerly anticipating the new season, itching to see how much of a bad-ass Kiefer Sutherland will be this year. She is also thankful for Homer Simpson's "D'oh!" Similarly, Poker Chick thanks whomever came up with using "F*ck" as an expletive. It's quite a satisfying word for the mouth, and sometimes, no other word will do.

CNN. Anti-Israel bias aside, Poker Chick thanks the 24-hour news network for hiring her good friend and bringing him back to New York.

The Movie Studios. What would Jews do on Christmas without movies? Poker Chick has fond memories of seeing a movie every year. Yes, she'd go to the famed Water Tower Place in Chicago and catch a flick with her grandmother. A lovely tradition that endured from Poker Chick's 1983 US debut until college. The reason for this was of course that the 'rents could not survive without their annual winter pilgrimage to Vegas. Ironically, "A Christmas Story" came out in 1983. Coincidence? Hmmm.....

And now, Poker Chick will offer her thanks to actual people:

John Cleese.

JJ Abrams. For all of "Lost" and the first season of "Alias." And for giving a great job to an acquaintance of a friend of a friend of a friend who Poker Chick used to chat with on the bus to work.

The Creators of Sephora. Where shall we begin with lauding the best thing that's happened to beauty since Vogue? Sephora, Poker Chick thanks you for the faboo blue glitter eyeliner she wore last night (which by the way was rock, not goth, ahem). She thanks you for helping her keep her babysitter, therapist, cousins, secret santas, and countless other people happy. She thanks you for continuously adding great brands, eliminating the schlep from store to store to get the goods. She thanks you for creative marketing genius, such as the "airplane-friendly beauty" section on your website. Ah, Sephora. Poker Chick's claim to vain would be nothing without you.

Honorable Friends of Poker Chick. Poker Chick is truly grateful for all her fans. She is grateful for those who actually take the time to read her useless musings (Anyone there yet? Anyone? Someone please read this. Please?) She's grateful for friends who can always be counted on for good food, good wine, and a good time. She's grateful for the party planners. The restaurant bookers. The friends who sent the phones ringing just minutes after receiving an email airing some, er, frustrations. Even crossing international lines. The doctor friends with magic powers to alleviate Poker Chick's worst fears. The parent friends who offer invaluable BTDT advice. The friends who are actually family. The friends who offer love, moral support, laughs, comments.... (sharp readers will observe the subtle hint here).

The Bald Man. For creating a new chocolate culture worldwide.

Poker Chick Junior. This section would be longer, but apparently some of you are sick of hearing "do you know what she did today?"

Poker Chick's Roots. Thanks to her family, Poker Chick will never run out of things to write about. There's never a dull moment.

Poker Chick's Employer. For giving her a job. For keeping her employed. For validating her education. For allowing her to use expletives at work. And for paying her to do something she actually likes to do.

And finally, we must all be grateful for:

Poker. For becoming a growing sport, and a reason for Poker Chick to discover ESPN. For inspiring Mimi. For beginning to bring the hip back to AC. And of course, for the creation of Poker Chick.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Argentina Revisited

Alas, I have disappointed my faithful readers. Promises for updates were broken. Comments went unpublished. Mysterious links to foreign lands were unexplained. Poker Chick disappeared into the black hole of shooting with not nearly enough commentary. Dearest friends, family, loved ones, I come to you with humble apologies. I hope this post will rectify things and bring the trip to life. Some of you will have the added pleasure of savoring an inside joke. Yay for you.

Following this post, you can continue to look forward to updates and commentary from time to time. I know you can't wait.

Highlights from Argentina

Believe it or not, the trip was stressful, exhausting and an insane amount of work. But rather than kvetching to those who will just roll their eyes, I thought I'd try and be positive for a change. Enjoy it. It won't happen again.

Here's a top five list of Argentinian memories. Those who think this is a tad verbose should perhaps reconsider their complaints about lack of updates next time.

1. Meat. You'll claim this is not news, but you cannot comprehend the amount of meat. Beef at every meal; nothing wrong with that! Beef empanadas, yum! But meat is not just beef. There's goat. And rabbit. And llama. And of course, let's talk jamon. Jamon, jamon everywhere. Ads for it everywhere. Jamon at breakfast, raw and cooked. Jamon sides. Jamon appetizers. Nothing screams "I'm a Jew!" more than passing up almost every shared dish at every meal. Though Poker Chick is of course used to this (and hey, it caught the attention of all the Argentinian Jews who secretly 'fessed up to their identity as well), she hit a new low when she enquired as to the rather unpleasant taste of the potato chips she was eating in desparation one day. Guess what? Yes, they were jamon-flavored potato chips. Can a culture really love meat this much? If the words "bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon....!!!!!" mean anything to you, then I guess so. So why stop at potato chips? Let's think line extensions! I see jamon-flavored yogurt! Toothpaste, butter, cheese, bread. Yes, there's a fortune to be made with jamon.....


2. Senor Tango. What can I say about Senor Tango? He is a one-of-a-kind. The short story is that Senor Tango is the touristy show to see in Buenos Aires. The picture on this post doesn't do it justice, but it's the best one I've got.


My take on Senor Tango was this: mix Las Vegas, Broadway, Moulin Rouge, and the Spice Channel - and there you have.... Senor Tango! Needless to say, I loved it.


3. Shopping. Ah, shopping. Hooray for the undervalued peso! In one-and-a-half hours, Poker Chick managed to purchase the following: A leather jacket, a dress, a skirt with matching tank, a leather belt, a necklace, a handbag, and a Lacoste polo (they're less than half price!). This was all for less than the equivalent of $300 USD. In the brief time spent souvenir shopping the other days, Poker Chick managed to purchase three additional polos, three boxes of Argentinian moon pies, two childrens' shirts, one more t-shirt for Poker Chick, a pink leather-studded bracelet, four pairs of earrings, a bracelet and a few local souvenirs. All for about $200 USD. Hence the $500 misc. items claim on the US Customs Form. Now, many of these purchases were actually for others. And before you call Poker Chick a hypocrite (remember the post on Black Friday?), remember the golden rule: ye shall never pass up a good once-in-a-lifetime bargain. Or twenty of them, as the case may be. All it would take is one look at the leather jacket alone, and you'd understand.


4. Tango! Buenos Aires is the sexiest, most passionate city I have ever been to. People have personality. The city is such a blend of cultures. Everyone is proud of their country. And they know how to party. All of this can be summed up in one word: tango. We had the opportunity to take tango lessons one night at the Armenian cultural center. Yes, you heard me. Imagine a church-type social hall. Part club, part junior high dance. Women actually have to wait for a man to ask them to dance. And the men really know how to dance. The awkward part was letting the man lead, and the fact that you're supposed to press your chests completely into each other when you do it. No joke. It was all quite bizarre, but fun. Well, aside from Mr. Claudio Bartholomew's dog breath. But I couldn't understand a word he said anyway. Lucky for us, we have his email address.


5. Adventure! Poker Chick is all about adventure. And if you know her well, you know just how much she enjoys venturing from the big city and going off into nature. Leaving BA was the best part of the trip. Everyone loved Poker Chick - every fly, mosquito, hairy spider, beetle, and flying cockroach, that is. Poker Chick made more and more of these friends every night. Many have still left love bites on her appendages. The lack of internet access or the ability of hotels to connect international calls produced a much needed respite for Poker Chick. The broken locks on her doors felt like freedom in the quiet dark of night. The Andes mountains were breathtakingly beautiful, and the lack of oxygen up there only made them more so (think double the visuals). The smell of Deep Woods Off brought back fond memories of summer camp. And the dust that immediately settled on any food served outdoors enhanced the flavor of everything. Particularly the jamon-flavored potato chips.


That's it for now. I'll honor select readers with shout outs in the future. Let's start with one for my highly intelligent brother and his lovely wife: you need to actually save your comments in order to get them published. Some people, sheesh.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, that's a wrap!!


After two weeks of practically no sleep, unbelievable stress, bug bites, dust, sweat and tears, we just wrapped. Imagine cast and crew of 50+ people taking over a small village square in the middle of the foothills of the Andes mountains. Everyone yelling and cheering when done. Locals clueless but joining in on beer and champagne for all.

On to the wrap party, followed by a 25 hour travel day.

It has been a crazy trip. I've learned a ton of Spanish; including useful words such as helado, manteca, and dulce de leche. I've also enjoyed using the phrase "yo quiero un empanada" on a daily basis. I'll write more about everything later.

Ahora, una cerveza para mi por favor!! Hasta luego, mi amigos.

Monday, December 11, 2006

What day is it again?

Poker Chick is apparently in the middle of nowhere. Almost. This is the only two minutes of internet access she will have before headed back to NYC.

Where is she now? In case there's no time to update the link, a small town called Cafayete. It's near the ever festive country of Bolivia.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Day 4, Uruguay

What? You want I should post? Well I just updated days 1 and 2. Still need to fill in Senor Tango day. Uruguay will have to wait until Poker Chick has had some sleep. Stay tuned for some real pictures (hopefully tomorrow).

Thanks for the feedback. Keep it coming.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Argentina, Days 2 and 3

The longest and most stressful pre-pro ever, Senor Tango, and yet more klutziness (almost fell of a chair). Client "Stole" my sweater but I got him back by "stealing" his souvenirs. Bought a boatload of cool stuff for about 300 pesos. More red wine. My first close-to-a sunburn (who knew that south of the equator the sun in summer is stronger, not to mention it's closer to the hole in the ozone? Should I have used sunscreen? Perhaps).

Meanwhile, have learned some fascinating facts about the country, history, political system, culture, and the rate of anorexia (largest size is a us women's 8. and I've never seen so many plastic boobies in one place).

More to come. Faithful readers should continue to check out the links for more info.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Argentina, day 1 (Hours 1-48)

Poker Chick will forego scintillating societal commentary for a time and keep an online diary instead. Post one, the really long two-day day:

THE FLIGHT
[More on this when I'm sober and have had some sleep. Which I didn't get on the flight. One thing I can boast about is that it seems I know more Spanish than I thought. After waiting in a 15 minute line at the end of an 11-hour flight to get into a really really gross bathroom, the guy behind me tries to go in just as it's my turn. Somehow out from my mouth spurts "Estoy primera!!" I didn't even know if it was the right thing to say, or if it was even Spanish (I've since verified it said exactly what I meant it to). Wherever she is, I know my mother is proud. Fantastico!]

I promised more on the flight and here it is...


Setup: An overfull 10pm flight that lands at 10am the next morning. Sweet. A middle seat in coach. Seat F. (See map of airplane on left).


The pinnacle of redeye coach middle seats, F, apparently boasts the location of the shining platinum box. The treasure chest located under that special seat is a lovely square box, right where your left foot would want to go. So not only was I on a redeye in coach, I couldn't stretch my legs out to sleep. Now, the seat to my left was one of the only seats left open. On the other side of it was a Chasidic man and his young boy. The sadist in me wanted to switch seats. Partly for the legroom and partly just to piss him off. I mean, what if I fell asleep and my head fell to the left and I accidentally drooled on his shoulder? How funny, I mean wrong, would that be? So I kept my seat because I knew if I was too close I wouldn't be able to resist the mischief. So Poker Chick was a good girl once more. And she made friends with the lovely flight attendant instructor from Bahrain on her right. And slept about 40 winks.



BA, DAY 1

As this was a delirious day of sleeplessness, caffeine and alcohol, let's sum up in as few words as possible (or as few words as I'm capable of):

Check into insane hotel. No one reading this will believe the details like the welcome bottle of wine and other lovely personal touches like haagen daz in the freezer, brie in the fridge, and fresh flowers and condoms in the bathroom. Cannot get over the personal cell phone we are all given for use all around the hotel grounds. Coolest technology ever. I feel like James Bond or something in this place. I will soon post pictures to prove that even my imagination cannot make this stuff up.

Spend 10 minutes in unbelieveable infinity pool. Awe in cool South-Beachy scene, as gorgeous model types sip champagne in the warm pool while techno music blares. I secretly thank Daddy once again for the Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses I have on.

Spend the next 2 hours in wet bathing suit discussing flights and location/shoot options. This meeting also eliminates any previous fear I may have had of being in a bikini around Clients.

The next few hours were spent in heaven. In heaven I got:
Wine. Really, really, really good wine.
Cheese. Fried, melty, gooey cheese.
Empanadas. You all think you've had one. You haven't.
Meat. A really, really good filet. From an Argentinian cow.
Even better than the meat, the lovely Sarah likes her meat just the way I do: not red and not giant. Hooray for sharing!
Creamed Spinach.
Wine. Did I mention the wine?
Fried Sweet potatoes.
Port.
The local Argentinian dessert: the best damn dulce de leche flan I've ever had. OK, maybe it was the only. But it was one of the top 5 desserts I've ever had in my entire life.

Spent next 5 minutes in post-glutton bliss while others ooh'd and aah'd over baby pictures I had in the camera.

After heaven we walked around this gorgeous downtown area and we decided that despite all the press this city is beautiful and clean and safe. Which meant I was perfectly free to walk around tipsy and full in heels with my prada bag taking pictures of all the architecture with my camera. YO SOY TURISTA!! Of course, as I soon found out, it is wise to stop walking while you are looking up and taking pictures. Otherwise you don't see what's in front of you and walk right into a cement pole that ends at your knee. I literally saw stars. The haagen daz in the freezer is now icing my leg into delightful numbness. I think I may have another broken toe too. Well, at least the Client now has fair warning on my klutziness. He said he now believes me. Woo hoo.

Meanwhile, I love, love, love, love, love, love, love this city. I really didn't think I'd like it as much as I do. It really is like being in Europe. The city itself is beautiful, the people are so nice, everything is so chic and modern and sophisticated, and the Spanish spoken hear sounds beautiful. I even love our chaperone! She is truly an excellent Agency/Client babysitter. Even went out to dinner with us and ordered for everyone. After the prepro tomorrow she's setting us up with an appointment at a factory warehouse where they have 50% of prices of leather goods prices. Yay, Argentinian cows! I love you, Augustina! Even better, I just found out BA has a riverboat casino. I really AM in heaven!!

More to come. Estoy mareado. Now I must sleep, ice my leg, and find more empanadas. I have no idea what order I will do this in.

I look forward to going to the prepro tomorrow, and announcing to everyone "Me duele al tucarlo." Buenos noches, todos.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Black Friday

Poker Chick is always amazed by growing American consumerism. Each year, it seems the holiday gift season starts earlier and earlier. It used to be that Christmas decorations came up soon after Thanksgiving. Now, the Halloween sugar bloat is still upon us when the wreaths come out. The trees, bells and lights on many Manhattan buildings were up by mid-November this year, including the workplace of yours truly.

Now Poker Chick is always in favor of holiday cheer. But a joyful celebration honoring the birth of Jesus Christ or the victory of the Maccabees somehow requires more and more loot with each passing year. The days of handmade cards and cookies are long gone.

Never is this more apparent than at the typical American mall on the Friday after Thanksgiving.











Woman lugs first bag of gifts out to her car

Poker Chick is certain that the international community watches this phenomena with a special blend of curiosity, laughter and disgust. Stores open at 5am, right about the time many people are still enjoying seconds from Thanksgiving dinner. Sound ridiculous? Poker Chick thinks so. But the 1 in 3 shoppers who had already hit the mall by 6am this year disagree. But wait, there's more! "Gift sets" magically appear overnight at key traffic areas in stores. Regular packaging and shopping bags get replaced with special "holiday" variations. Signs all around seem to do everything short of screaming "buy me! buy me! buy me! Those pajamas were not enough!" Most amusing are the people stores hire as "seasonal help." These poor people are not trained for anything other than to direct oblivious shoppers to items with the highest profit margin. Poker Chick pities the helpless who don't know better than to follow their instructions. Grinches come out of the woodwork, as everyone angrily bumps elbows in this chaos. They even have a term for this: Holiday rage. These people will do whatever it takes to make purchases for everyone on their list. After all, their relationships hinge on finding the perfect present, or g-d forbid, forgetting one.

The gift lists get longer too. It used to be enough to get presents for your immediate family. Now it seems holidays involve not only every friend, family member and colleague you can name (not to mention your super), but also the people that really matter the most: people like your postal worker, dog-walker, hairdresser, and your local barista. If you've ever accidentally snubbed any of these people during the holidays you know exactly what Poker Chick is talking about. Just wait. It is simply a matter of time before you will find yourself out buying a holiday gift for that nice lady who changes the toilet paper at your office restroom.

Are you pressed for time? Concerned that you will not have time to shop for everyone on your list? Fret not: you have many options. For $65 an hour, you can hire a concierge service that will not only purchase all your gifts, but gift wrap them and mail them for you as well. Some save the dough and use their personal assistants instead. Short on cash and staff? There's always the ever-popular gift certificate. Besides the tried-and-true American Express, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble gift cards you can now buy gift cards for Starbucks, McDonalds and even your local gas station. After all, nothing says "I love you" more than a week's worth of free Egg McMuffins. Not in credit card debt? Clearly you are not spending enough.

Now you may laugh but Poker Chick does not exaggerate. Check out the facts: The average American spends $800 a year on holiday gifts. 1 in 3 of them use credit cards to help finance these purchses. This year, on Friday, November 24th, Americans spent $8.96 Billion dollars at malls across the country*. Dear readers, this does not include the approximate $1 Billion spent online that weekend. And all this before Cyber Monday.

Now, let's not misunderstand anything. Poker Chick is not against American consumerism in general. After all, it puts food on her table, and she is thankful for that. But let's put this into perspective a bit. More than $10 billion in spending in one weekend? Going into debt for presents? That's more than the entire annual GDP of small nations such as Bolivia, Jamaica, Albania, Nepal and even the Bahamas.

Do we really need all these things? Do we really need to spend a lot of money to show someone we care? Think back to two or three years ago. Do you even remember what gifts you got from whom? Poker Chick advises you to take an extra minute this year and breathe. Ask yourself: "do I really need this special gift set, or am I getting caught up in the madness?"

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether our continued export of Democracy brings this rampant consumerism along with it. Building a McDonald's in Afghanistan is one thing. Convincing its citizens that they have to buy their neighbors just the right Persian carpet as a thank you for those kababs is another. Will our material greed cross cultures? Sadly, it's too soon to tell.

(By the way, none of you will be receiving presents from Poker Chick this year.)


*Source: The nice lady on the Philadelphia evening news. Oh, and confirmed on cnn.com

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who is Poker Chick?


The question on everyone's minds: who is Poker Chick, international woman of mystery? She is the new superhero. She is your friend, relative, colleague. Her random knowledge is endless. Ask her to interpret focus group data. Ask her what the Hungry Caterpillar ate on Wednesday. In two languages. Or maybe even three. Ask her about the latest celebrity gossip. Ask her what to wear, even for random ocassions like pseudo-weddings. Ask her how to tell what kind of jeans people are wearing just by looking at their butts. Ask her what Brian Boitano would do. You can even ask her what the hell Siegfried and Roy have to do with poker.

Yes, Poker Chick knows it all. And, dare say, has it all. Career and family. Beauty and brains. Imagination and wit. A breathtakingly beautiful genius-child. A wonderfully delusional inner world. She's a trail-blazing trendsetter hidden beneath a cynical surface of endearing clumsiness and innate nerdiness. Your typical neurotic Jewish girl with secret powers. Or was that secret tequila? Ahem. Poker Chick is getting ahead of herself. Well, at the very least, she's got some interesting warped thoughts.

So let's go back to reality for a second. The original impetus behind this blog was grounded in efficiency. I was going abroad for a while and wanted to find an easy way to update my loved ones about my travels. Later I found that it was a good way to keep in touch with far-away family. Then, surprisingly, others asked for more posts. Finally random people started sending comments on a regular basis and thus came Blogger Chicks, Alltop, and Jon Stewart. Fine, so the last one's just a fantasy. But the rest is true. Despite the new friends, my friends and family have been the biggest fans and it is with them in mind that I post most often.

Now that you've found Poker Chick, does this mean that you are hereby obligated to bookmark this site and check it regularly? That is for you alone to decide.

Now, some people will assert that blogs are egotistical. A highly-evolved technological form of conceit, if you will. Please. As if. These critics make these statements sound like accusations. I say: how is this a bad thing? Hooray for humanity! Embrace your inner Narcissus! Now since I've never been one to shy away from modern trends, why not a blog? Besides, recent trend intel advises that modesty is currently over-valued. You heard it here first.

Vanity, thy name is Poker Chick.