A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Untitled Blackjack Picture

Today I got a call from Billy Dowd Casting. I'm in the "Untitled Blackjack Picture!" I have to be in Boston by 5:30 tomorrow afternoon for the shoot. It's an all-night gig, probably till around 5:30 a.m.

The "Untitled Blackjack Picture" is a Columbia Pictures production starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth. It's based on the true story of students from the M.I.T. Media Lab who, in the summer of 1994, figured how to beat the house in blackjack, went to Las Vegas, and made millions of dollars before they were kicked out. A book was written about them, and now it's been turned into a screenplay.

Blackjack is about the only casino game which requires any skill. Slots, roulette, and so on are pretty much blind luck, with the odds stacked against the player. But in blackjack, if you keep track of the cards that have been played and know the odds, you can beat the house.

"Card counters," as these astute players are known, are still at it. But they have to keep a low profile, moving from table to table and not winning too much at once because the casinos, obviously, don't like them and try to kick them out if they spot them. Some of the M.I.T. group have packaged their knowhow and you can buy their method online. Undoubtedly there'll be a run on card counting kits once this movie comes out. So much concentration is required, however, that the casinos will probably only benefit from suckers trying to beat them at their own game.

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