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

My Photo
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.

Labels: , ,

Docx Tea

Downtown Book Ladies met tonight, in Carol's über-cool home in the McIntosh Building around the block from me. Our jetsetting hostess doesn't just go to the mall when she needs an ashtray. She has it custom-made while she's in Croatia. That's a metal table made with a chainsaw she's spread our little tea out on. Last time I checked, they weren't selling those in Macy's.

This month's book was my pick: The Calligrapher by Edward Docx. I read it last year and thought it was hilarious. Everybody else's choices were highly educational, but they decided to humor me (literally).

This first novel by Edward Docx has already been optioned for a movie, so we spent quite a few minutes casting it. Hugh Grant, we decided, would be almost too obvious for the unrepentant rake Jasper Jackson, not to mention too pretty. So Jude Law gets our vote. Most of us enjoyed the book enormously, and Jasper's such a total prick that even those who didn't like the book had fun talking about it.

The Calligrapher is set in London, so Carol went with a British theme for refreshments. Well, except for some very nice wine which was very not British. She served cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, Stilton cheese, biscuits, tea, Bass ale, and strawberries with clotted cream.

Strawberries is what Jasper serves his one-night stand in the opening scene of the novel. He asks her her heart's desire, she says strawberries, and he just "happens" to have them on hand. Of course, he has everything he can think of on hand, well hidden, and only produces the item she names as though by some marvelous synchronicity.

Carol just "happened" to have strawberries herself, and clotted cream. She did say she had considered scones, but was scared off by one of my earlier posts dissing other people's versions. Carol, if you're reading this, the tea was delightful. Anyone who can master clotted cream undoubtedly can nail a scone.

Labels: , ,