Friday, January 16, 2009

There’s Someone In My Head And It’s Not Me

American IdolWhen I first started doing a podcast -- hope to have a new episode tomorrow, by the way -- I remember joking around on here about the horror of hearing my own recorded voice. “Is that my voice?” I asked. “Sheesh.”

By August of last year I’d done a few shows, and got a huge kick when I saw Littleacornman had posed the question on his blog “Is it just me or does anyone else reckon Shamus over at Hard-Boiled Poker sounds a bit like K-Billy’s super sounds of the 70’s on his excellent poker podcasts?”

For those who don’t remember, K-Billy is the DJ in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, played by the comedian Steven Wright. He of the unhurried, deadpan baritone. Not exactly what I imagined I sounded like, I have to admit. But I’ll take it.

A couple of things this week reminded me of Littleacornman’s comparison. One was watching the debut of the new season of American Idol. Yeah, I watch it. Vera Valmore likes it, and I’ll admit I find it fairly compelling, although I’ll sometimes drift in and out, reading or doing house stuff while it plays. Those of you who’re watching should follow Change100’s ongoing analysis, if you aren’t already.

This is the part of the show when they give a lot of air time to contestants who failed to make the initial cut, including some who are so incredibly awful one cannot help but wonder how they ever convinced themselves they ever belonged in front of the judges -- never mind on national television -- singing songs. And if we are to believe the quickly-told back stories we occasionally get, some of these folks genuinely believe themselves to be talented singers with quality voices, destined to be stars. (Seems like most have been told this by mothers or other relatives.)

I’m an amateur musician (guitar, bass), though as a singer am just passable. I know I have a very limited range (not even two octaves, really), and if I try anything outside of it, I’ll quickly be entering William Hung territory. Doesn’t stop me from doing so, of course, in the car or elsewhere, at a safe distance from others’ ears. And, perhaps, from time to time, I’ll let myself be deluded into thinking maybe I can hit certain notes or carry certain not-so-simple tunes.

The fact is, we all have an idea of how we sound that is different from what others hear. And usually that idea tends to be more generous in its evaluation than what is merited.

That’s true of singing or other artistic endeavors. It’s also true at the poker table, where I think the difference between self-perception and others’ ideas is demonstrated even more dramatically.

I was talking last week about encountering “Level Zero Thinking at the Micro Stakes,” sharing examples of inexplicable play at the $0.50/$1.00 limit hold’em tables. Was back there yesterday and again encountered what seemed at first to be a Level Zero player -- that is, someone who was not even thinking of his or her own hand. Eventually I realized this person’s actions were dictated somewhat by the cards s/he had been dealt -- at least occasionally -- and so had to promote the player to Level 1.

We’ll call the player StarryEyes. I won’t go into too much detail as far as hands are concerned, but the performance was very much like one of those jawdroppingly-awful renditions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Looking at PokerTracker, I’m seeing I actually only played 39 hands with StarryEyes, so the impression was made quite rapidly. For some reason StarryEyes loved queen-deuce offsuit, voluntarily playing it three times (raising preflop once), then calling down bets all three times without pairing either card. On one occasion, I was delivered a nice little gift in the small blind (again, you RSS-reader types might need to click through to view):



Then, a little later, StarryEyes had rebought and soon after got into a blind-vs.-blind confrontation against Randy:



Checked after on turn and river with the king-high flush? Yo, yo, yo dog you gotta bet that.

I was scratching my head, even wondering if I were perhaps witnessing some sort of bizarre example of softplay or collusion. I wasn’t, of course. I’m sure it all sounded mostly fine in StarryEyes’ head.

Not intending, really, to pick on StarryEyes or any of the other not-so-fine American Idol wannabes. Like I say, I think we all have an idea of how we sound or appear to others that isn’t quite what others are hearing and seeing.

And with that, I hope everyone out there has an excellent Super Sounds of the 70s weekend and remember just... keep... on...

Truckin’.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Littleacornman said...

Lol,cheers for the shoutout.I've been told I sound like Billy Connolly by American friends so I should probably keep quiet about comparisions!

1/17/2009 8:16 AM  

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