Herberholz: GP LA Tournament Report

In My Odyssey That Was Grand Prix: Los Angeles

by Mark Herberholz

Here is my odyssey that was GP LA.

Day 1

Arrive into LA about a week before the GP on a Thursday to hang out with Paul “Li’l D” Rietzl for a while. He picks me up at the airport and tells me that we are going to a bar called Happy Endings. I am excited when I hear this. We arrive at the bar and it turns out to be not an Asian massage parlor and I receive no “happy ending.” I am unexcited. Turns out they serve alcohol though. I again am excited. We meet up with Paul’s friend Jay who is being chatted up by some pinkie while playing the Super Shot basketball machine. We found a keeper after she informs us that she is a bartender here and is off duty tonight. She holds her weight, regaling us with stories about one-armed hoboes and life-threatening situations at Big Lots stores. Jay, however, proceeds to not hold his weight when he orders the mahi mahi sandwich and eats it with a knife and fork. I guess what they say is true: LA is full of gay men. Paul and I then enter a beer-pong tournament. Despite my insistence otherwise, he does not name our team “Real Men Hit Women.” We lose in the second round but not before I start screaming, “That is what Michigan State does!!!” every time I make a shot into a group of five to six meatheads. I do this only because of the ace up my sleeve: Paul knows all the bouncers at the joint. Paul is in a literal drunken stupor at this point, bumping into people/walls/chairs, so I decide it’s time to leave. On our way home we walk by one of Hollywood’s many gentlemen’s clubs. As we are walking by, two of the employees (strippers) literally grab us off the street and drag us inside. Seeing as how I am a gentleman, I decide this is the place for me and fail to put up a fight. They quickly take us back into the VIP where a stripper asks me if I want to do a line of *expletive deleted*, I respond with, “Hell yeah!” She then dips her finger into *expletive deleted* and rubs it inside my mouth. I consider where that finger has been and immediately regret my decision. My strip asks me if I want to go back into the VIP room and “party.” I respond with, “Hell yeah!” In retrospect, I think it may have been smarter for me to have removed her hand from my pants before embarking on any decision-making processes. At this point I look over to see Paul getting dragged into the back, having no clue where he is or what is going on. I yell at the strippers, telling them to leave him here, and they respond by telling me that he wants to go back to the VIP room, all while rummaging through his pockets for his wallet. Rather than see this situation escalate, I remove the lady’s hand from my pants, grab Paul, and head home. I left this night with a bitter taste in my mouth, half from the stripper’s finger, half from my realization that strippers are not slightly damaged girls who are trying to find a sense of worth by taking their clothes off for the enjoyment of others but rather soulless, shiftless swindlers ready to cheat their mother out of a nickel.

Day 2

After recovering from the previous night, we decide to hit up the grocery store and buy the essentials; beer, Gatorade, Rumplemintz, and frozen pizzas. Paul and I decide to start the night right with some heads-up 600 NL on PokerStars after we slam about three to four beers. We proceed to win a few hundy and decide to continue the celebration with a few shots of Rumplemintz. For those of you out there who don’t know the blessing that is Rumplemintz, it is a 100-proof liquor that tastes like really strong mint mouthwash, so not only does it get you drunk but also it freshens your breath for the ladies. After three quick shots of this we decide it’s time to go to the bar. At the bar we meet up with some of my friends from college. It turns out that the bartender that we were boozing with from the night before is working and she gives us some stiff pours coupled with steep discounts. I take full advantage of this and within a couple hours it was like a stage performance of Weekend at Bernie’s 2. My friends were literally holding me up because I could not walk on my own strength. To thank them for this, I repeatedly hit them in the nuts and giggle. They soon stop holding me up, and soon afterward I get kicked out. After vomiting in Paul’s bathroom sink, it was time for bed.

Day 3-8

I catch a train to San Diego to hang out with Gabe Walls, Chris Benafel, Dan Clegg, Ben Rubin, Pat Sullivan, Jon Fiorillo and Twavie. I retire Dan Clegg from the game of magic in between his “workout” sessions in which he applies a beatdown to Li’l Clegg. I narrowly avoid losing a draft against Benafel and GWalls in which the loser has to flush the toilet for the winner for the next week. In case you didn’t know, GWalls and Benafel are not men known for taking small Ds. After watching countless hours of MTV dating shows, GWalls and I decide to bet each other 30 minutes’ worth of shirtlessness on the contestants of Next. Shortly afterward, GWalls could be seen showing off quite a bit of belly. After the first day I have no money at all and am forced to panhandle and beg for meals. Thankfully, Heezy’s Handies are as well accepted on the West Coast as they are in Michigan and I leave San Diego with a full stomach and well-lotioned hands.

Day 9-9.5

We arrive at the site the night before the GP. I secure my cards and then meet up with Paul to go back to his place and have a few drinks. Matt Sperling meets up with his roommate, who is also named Matt, and we hit up Happy Endings for some cocktails. I get a call from a friend, who tells me me of a house party. I hit it up with the two Matts in tow. It turns out that the party is actually at Gary Talim’s place, complete with clogged toilet and all. Matt2 and I decide to hit on some pinkies, so we target a couple on the couch. The one I am hitting on quickly calls me out for wingmanning it for Matt2 because she was the less attractive of the two. She’s right, but I quickly respond that she has it backward: that in fact my friend is wingmanning it for me because I had been spying on her all night and wanted to chat her up. After about an hour or so Matt strikes out with his girl and wants to leave. At this point, though, I have already invested too much time in my mediocre girl and besides that I am pretty drunk, so I decide to stick around and try to parlay my investment into some action. Despite running into Hsiungfather, who is obliterated and gives me $200 for being me and then asks the girl I’m running game on what she’s doing talking to me, I manage to make this party private with her as the guest of honor. We end up in a neighbor’s driveway because all the bedrooms are taken. It’s about 7 am and I get her down to only her thong. She tells me that she doesn’t have sex, and I quickly tell her that that’s fine as I wouldn’t want to rush things with her anyway. She then tells me that she hooked up with one of my friends and he never called her afterward, so she knows what type of guy I am. I tell her that I barely know the kid and that I disapprove of how he treats people, all the while silently commending her for her sick read. She then refuses to give me a BJ either and I have to settle for the consolation handy. Five minutes later I am in a cab back to Paul’s with a sore dick and a sense of disappointment. I wake up Paul and Sperling and get a quick thirty minutes of sleep before we leave for the GP.

Day 10

I arrive at the GP still hammered drunk and receive many comments on how I reek of booze. I respond by breathing on everyone’s face. Ben Rubin tells me that Sword of Fire and Ice is good in the mirror matchup. I think it’s shit, but when the dealer takes more than two minutes to find the Teferi that I need and I see the Sword of Fire and Ice in the case, I tell him to stop and just hand me the goddamn Sword so I can get some water and sit down. I get some breakfast in me and take a nap and a D in Jamie Parke’s room. Slightly sobered up, I get ready for round 4 of the GP. (I had three byes.) At the end of day 1, I am 8-1, losing only to Mind’s Desire when my opponent got pretty absurd draws. I attribute my victories to the beers I had after each round, which I had so I could get rid of the shakes and start feeling normal again. Paul and I head back to his place and we get some sleep.

Day 11

I show up for day 2 of the GP refreshed and ready to battle. I manage a 4-1-1 record to make top 8. I pass the time during the GP by picking my nose. I received multiple inquiries about whether I was finding any gold up there. I in fact was finding gold bullion up there, which I graciously passed on to my opponents every round through handshakes and shuffles.

Throughout the Swiss, I played against:

– two black-green Loam decks, going 1-1;
– two Mind’s Desire decks, going 1-1;
– one Dredge deck, going 1-0;
– one mono-red burn deck, going 1-0;
– two Affinity decks, going 2-0;
– and a whole lot of Faeries decks.

I think that my list was pretty good in the mirror even though I didn’t have Ancient Grudge or Bitterblossom. In the mirror I think you gain a lot from just trying to tempo them out and play as many combos with Riptide Laboratory as possible, especially Venser, Spell Savant. I lost in the top 8 to a Previous-Level Blue deck, but I think my draws were pretty bad; also, if I had had a basic Island instead of the Izzet Boilerworks that I did have, then I think I would have won the match. I don’t think the matchup is bad. If I could have changed the list I played at the GP, I would remove one Repeal and one Izzet Boilerworks for a Threads of Disloyalty and a basic Island. From the sideboard, I would take out two Threads, the Academy Ruins, and the goddamn Sword of Fire and Ice for two Hurkyll’s Recall and 2 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. I still think this deck is the best deck in Extended and I think that adding another color to it is bad because you make your matchups against Zoo and Burn a lot worse because of the added damage from the sac lands, not to mention the liability involved if people start running Stifle main deck to deal with Mind’s Desire.

After I finished with the top 8, I grabbed a sandwich from Subway and went off to DWill’s room to slam some drafts and drinks. After promptly losing the draft and 30 minutes of public bellytime to GWalls, I was ready for bed.

Day 12-16

I head back to San Diego to meet up with the aforementioned group. Dan Burdick had since come to San Diego. For those of you who don’t know Dan, you should check the Web site disgustingdan.com for a little crash course on the type of man we’re dealing with. Dan’s level of hipsterness and his uncanny ability to accidentally inflict life-altering beats on himself is eclipsed only by my desire to torment him. My current torment of choice is waking him up with a pair of my dirty boxers on his face. I may or may not have taken swampass to a new level in that hot San Diego weather. The first night back, we all go out to the local restaurant/wine shop. The highlights of this night include us popping bottles of Dom for no reason and Burdick informing the hot bartender who was flirting with us that “all women have rape fantasies.” Needless to say, all we left with was an absurd bill and a profound sense of loneliness. The next night we go out to see this 80s metal cover band, which was pretty sweet. I get pretty hammered and hit on this girl that one of our friends knew. After a small speed bump—I fell asleep at the afterparty—I start making out with her on the ride hom. I can’t go back to her place since she works on a yacht and has to work at 8 am and my friend refuses to take her home with us despite my protestations that I would drive her home in the morning. I end up going home alone and waking up with a drawing of a dick on my forehead. I guess falling asleep at the afterparty was a bad idea but if those girls think this is the first time in my life that I’ve had a dick in my face, they’re in for a rude awakening. I take it easy my last couple nights in San Diego and just hang out. I end up turning down an all-expense-paid invitation to Vegas and head back to LA with GWalls in tow.

Day 17

GWalls and I arrive in LA at Paul’s place just in time for me to drop an enormous D in his toilet. Sadly I could not complete the circuit and clog both his toilet and his sink. We slam a few drinks at Paul’s place and then head up to Happy Endings to meet up with some friends. GWalls has a couple of his boys out and we chill at a table for a bit. The bartender we know is working so we again score infinite free shots and drinks, which leads to me getting infinitely hammered. As we are walking out, some girl grabs me and Gabe’s friend Steve and starts grinding in between us in an Eiffel Tower-esque manner. I am all about this because she is pretty hot and it seems like she is looking for at least a hug and a firm handshake by the end of the night. We end up following her back to her friend’s apartment for the afterparty and Steve starts hitting on her friend. Things are going pretty well and then about four to fivw dudes show up and lay the cockblock down. I get her number and after forgetting her name for the fifth time get that from Steve. I head home to find Paul slamming some pinkie. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but he lives in a studio apartment, so I offer to sleep on the balcony. The pinkie grabs me and makes me sleep on the couch. I silently hope I didn’t cockblock Paul.

Day 18

I wake up to a phone call from my friend Mandy asking me whether I want to go meet her for lunch and get $1 mimosas. I ask her whether this is some kind of sick joke and when she tells me that it isn’t I agree to meet up with her to get hammered at 2 pm. I get hammered with Mandy, her boyfriend EJ, and her hot friend whose name escapes me. After I slam some cocktails, I decide to tell them my master plan for the night. The setting for this master stroke is a gay bar that my friends are dragging me to because they have sick drink deals. The plot involves me pretending to be gay so that I can find some girls with their defenses down and “convince” them to turn me straight. As I so eloquently put it, “If I have to grab a dong to bang a pinkie, then I guess I’m grabbing a dong.” The ending to this story is that I get really hammered and just bullshit with my friends. I leave early to meet back up with Paul and GWalls under the assumption that we would be going to Happy Endings. I arrive to see them sipping cranberry juice and complaining about cramps. I respond by slamming some drinks and passing out in a chair. I wake up around 3 am to find a text from the girl from the night before informing me that she is at Happy Endings and wants to meet up. I silently curse Paul and GWalls for declining to go out. I pass back out.

Day 19

I wake up and go out and get a router and some coffee with Paul. I then proceed to bet PokerStars that I can win 10 coin flips in a row. I do and take my $60k. On my way home, I see that the Senate had just passed the East Lansing Bar and Gentlemen’s Club bailout plan.

The End