|Prior to my grand disillusionment at this year’s U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship, I had made a committment to visit a friend during his league’s national championships.|
|In all honesty, I was crapped out about pool and not really in the mood to go watch a tournament on bar tables.|
|B U T|
|The tournament was in Las Vegas — and that city is a justification in itself.|
After a short week at work, I headed towards Skid Row to catch a bus towards a long weekend. The schedule I bought my ticket for conveniently left right after work ended for nine-to-fivers and arrived at midnight — primetime — in Vegas. It was also notorious for being constantly oversold.
Here is a quick review on how Greyhound works.
|Buy a ticket.|
|I always buy mine online. You can now print out tickets at home, too. It used to be that you could buy online and then pick it up at the station which was always infinitely better than waiting in line behind a hundred other people and one person at the ticket counter.|
|Show up at the station.|
|They recommend at least one hour prior to departure. I agree.|
|Line up behind whatever door or “gate” your schedule is assigned to.|
|You often sit on the floor to hold your spot in line and must rigorously defend your position from line-cutters. If you go to the restroom, you risk losing your place in line if you decide to take your luggage with you. Luggage is the de facto item for holding your place in line. Of course, if you leave your bag there to hold your spot, you risk losing your luggage to thieves. You can ask a bystander to watch your stuff, but that’s no guarantee of security. Hell, the bystanders are sometimes the ones that go through and steal your stuff. Pack your bags thoughtfully and take your valuables with you. “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”|
|Hope you’re early enough in the line that you can actually get on the bus.|
|If the bus is full before your spot in line, you’re SOL and have to wait for the next one.|
Greyhound doesn’t keep track of how many seats it sells. A popular trip like the SoCal to Vegas route often oversells (each bus holds about 55 passengers and I’ve seen up to 200 people in line). In the past, they would get another bus for the overflow passengers, but I haven’t seen that done in many years. Nowadays, they just say sorry and tell you to wait for the next one. In some cases, you might end up with an asshole bus driver who won’t let you get on the next bus until all the passengers with tickets for that schedule have already boarded. If that bus fills up — then you have to wait for the one after that. And so on. Until you say “f#ck it I’m going home” or “f#ck it I’m going to Vegas”.
In recent years, they started “Priority Boarding”. You pay an extra fee and it guarantees you will board before the rest of the people in line. Thinking about it makes me laugh because Priority Boarding is the Greyhound equivalent to upgrading your seat on a flight. But, on a Greyhound, you don’t get more leg room, cushy chairs, and mini alcoholic beverages — you just get to be one of the first to get on the same bus as everyone else. Still, what do you expect for five dollars?
With the way the schedules are often oversold, Priority Boarding is actually a decent idea. More than once I’ve bought it when I know I’m heading back from Vegas and I absolutely need to be on the bus because I am going directly to work when I get back in the City. I rarely buy Priority Boarding going to Vegas, however, since I’m usually not on a time crunch.
Since I hadn’t played pool in a couple of weeks, I had a little extra money. I looked at Abraham Lincoln who was worth 50 minutes of table time at my local pool room and said, what the hell. I bought a Priority Boarding ticket and felt quite pleased that I would be guaran-damn-teed a seat on the bus. I watched the line in front of the Vegas gate fill up with jostling people loaded down with luggage and an unending supply of small misbehaving children. And I gloated. Silently.
Life, it seems, has a sense of humor.
Here is a picture of my bus.
The f#cker’s empty.
I’m totally Twilight Zoning here.
It turns out there were two buses leaving at 6:15 p.m. and each went on slightly different routes. I’d chosen the one that was due to arrive in Vegas fifteen minutes later than the other. I did this intentionally because the slightly slower schedule didn’t require transferring buses in the middle of the trip. I hate having to change buses. I like getting on a bus and being confident I can sleep the whole way undisturbed (assuming there are no perverts, psychotics, felons, or overly talkative people sitting next to me). I’m all right with giving up a little bit of time for a whole lot of convenience.
Apparently, I was the only one who thought this way. That long-ass line snaking its way around the station was for the other bus. I guess people really want to get to Vegas and can’t even let fifteen minutes go. Carpe diem indeed.
Anyways, the bus driver was just as amused as I was that I was the only passenger on the bus. He actually went back into the station to see if anyone who had signed up for the other schedule wanted to transfer to his. He reiterated that he would also be arriving in Las Vegas, just fifteen minutes behind the other bus. In addition, he would be making almost similar stops along the way. The only place he wouldn’t be stopping was Barstow. He had no takers.
Off we went.
Eventually, we did pick up some other passengers, but I had the whole bus to myself for the first half of the trip and in the end, only a dozen people came onboard after me. It was a nice, relaxing trip all the way out into the desert.
Once I arrived at the Oasis of Iniquity, the Bastion of Buffets, the Land of the 99-Cent Shrimp Cocktail of Dubious Quality — I took a cab over to Bally’s. The event I would be observing was the 2011 TAP National Championship Event, also known by its sobriquet of “Rally at Bally’s”. This cutesy nickname gave me a case of the “urghs” (arrgh + ugh) but I reminded myself I was in Vegas and if I didn’t feel like watching league amateurs play on bar tables, there were plenty of other sins waiting to be committed. While I waited to see where my friend was, I looked at the carpet at Bally’s.
Casino carpet patterns, especially those at the older casinos, have a gross fascination for me. They’re woven acid-trip train wrecks and if I stare at them long enough, I’ll either have a seizure or feel like I drank too much.
I didn’t want a seizure, nor did I (yet) want to feel like I drank too much — so I poked around on the internet to read about the TAP League. On their website, their “About” section stated the following:
The concept of our organization was on the drawing board as early as 1989, with the hopes of being the best. We are achieving our goals every day, and are now proudly serving tens of thousands of members every week, throughout the United States and Canada.
Some say we are the “Players League”, some say we are the “Rolls Royce League”. I say we are the league of sportsmanship, the league for the present and future generations. Not the biggest, but the best. The league with a vision for you “The Player”!
Loyd L. Schonter
Founder & President
I found this summation of their existence (and the random reference to Rolls Royce) endearingly vague.
I’ve only played in two national-level leagues: the American Poolplayers Association (APA), which is handicapped, and the Billiard Congress of America Pool League (BCAPL), which is not handicapped. I had heard of the TAP league, but it didn’t have a strong presence on the west coast and so I didn’t know much about it. Another click and I found their Mission Statement:
- To promote integrity, honesty and fair play in competition
- To encourage growth in the sport
- To provide opportunity for world-class play
- To bring respect to the game of pool
- To create a Pool League for the player
I found these to be specific, yet non-specific, goals. That is, they were goals all leagues, all tours, and everyone in the industry would like to accomplish — but no one has found the way to do so. The last line intrigued me, because, really, how does one define who is — or what makes — a “player”? My friend messaged me his location, thereby saving me from pondering that question further.
I walked down a zanily-carpeted corridor to the Bally’s Convention Center. I turned right at the end and entered a room full of tables. And here it is, TAP League’s 2011 Thunderdome at Bally’s in the wee small hours of the morning:
When I arrived, D_Lewis and his band of merry Canadians were wrapping up their shootaround and pitchers of beer. The last time I saw Mr. Lewis was in 2007 or so. He hadn’t aged a bit, nor had he grown any taller or wider. A decision was made to get steak and eggs. From the way the decision was made (and greeted with enthusiasm), I could only surmise this was a common happening, this getting of steak and eggs in the middle of the night.
We went across the street to the Victorian Cafe. We had many people in our party, so they had to break us up into two groups. Here is a picture of Mr. Lewis and his Irish-Canadian friend, Sean. They’re doing that raise-the-one-eyebrow thing. I’m very jealous. I do not have that capability and I feel it handicaps me when I deliver arch witticisms.
A fun thing to note: that hockey glove is a foam beverage cooler. There is a vertical stick inside you hold on to while you drink. Another fun thing to note: that is a hotel room garbage can on the table. It is filled with beer and ice (mostly beer). I suppose this is what is known as a “Canadian Cooler”. Preston (not pictured), was in charge (as he is quite large and can defend it against raiders) of carrying this cooler. Our waitress, who was an ancient lady with a cane, gave the garbage can full of beers the side-eye, but ultimately decided to let it go. I was surprised you could bring in your own alcoholic beverages (in a garbage can full of ice, no less) into a restaurant but, hey, it’s Vegas.
I was skeptical regarding the potential quality of a $6.99 steak and eggs served after midnight, but it turned out to be quite good. I forget that after-hours food in Las Vegas is generally better than after hours food where I’m from. It is possible to have good food in Vegas at all hours of the day and at all pricepoints.
|There’s my lunch/dinner/early breakfast: medium-rare steak with eggs sunnyside up — and a beer. No Bud Light for me. I don’t drink beer-flavored water.|
|I liked the plates. The china pattern was meant to be “Victorian” or Art-Nouveauish, I guess. The pattern made me think of the eighties, carnival skeeball prizes, and J. C. Penney.|
|Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon|
|3595 Las Vegas Blvd South|
|Las Vegas, NV 89109|
|// Steak and Eggs Special for $6.99 served from midnight to 8 a.m. //|
I slept far less than I should have (and could have! arrgh!) and moseyed on down to watch pool. Here is a picture of the trophies. Ooooh. Aaaah.
All the way on the left, you can juuuust see Robin Dodson doing a jump demonstration. Allen Hopkins was another professional player who made an appearance to play challenge matches.
Las Vegas is a tiny bit away (about 2,100 miles by air) from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, which is the place I most associate with the name “Allen Hopkins”. Allen Hopkins puts on the Super Billiards Expo (it has moved, by the way, from the Valley Forge Convention Center to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center) which hosts the TAP League’s “Rally in the Valley” (urgh, more cuteness) event, so I guess it’s a business trip for him. 🙂 If not, it’s — Vegas. Justification in and of itself, remember? It is kind of neat to see Mr. Hopkins walking around with a big ol’ pitcher of beer, though. U.S. Open champions! They’re just like us! They drink beer! By the pitcher!
In the light of
day, standard convention center flourescent lighting, the room filled up with players. Like APA, the dress code was very relaxed. Tee-shirts of all colors, wacky prints, and sizes abounded and some players wore flip-flops.
By contrast, the BCAPL’s dress code requires sleeves, collars, and closed-toe shoes (much to the sadness of my wonderful collection of high-heeled sandals).
The tournament room was freezing cold (as so many of these large-event tournament rooms are) especially since I wasn’t a tournament participant. I went to brunch over at the Paris Hotel & Casino’s Café Ile St Louis.
Paris’ 24-hour cafe is one of my favorite spots in Las Vegas. I like it because it is open 24 hours and has a nice selection of quality food. Their reasonable prices have gone up a bit in recent years (dammit), but I’ll pay as long as I know the food is good.
|At left is the quiche, which was delicious. I especially liked the crust which wasn’t overly dry, nor was there too much of it.|
|When I can, I get the prime rib here (only available before 11 p.m.) which never disappoints.|
|Café Ile St Louis|
|Paris Las Vegas Hotel|
|3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South|
|Las Vegas, NV 89109|
|// open 24 hours //|
Afterwards, I went back to the tournament room and wandered about (aboot?) a bit. I still didn’t know what I was doing at a pool tournament when I didn’t really care for pool, but, “wherever you go, there you are”.
I took a picture of the pockets at the event. I’ll do this for all events, provided I remember. Next time, I’ll bring a measuring tape.
From what I could gather (when I paid attention), TAP League is like a modified version of APA. It is handicapped with the same handicap levels as APA in 8-ball (1-7) but not in 9-ball (APA goes 1-9, TAP goes 1-7). However, TAP seems to strive for more accuracy by utilizing fractions of skill levels. While the decimals do not affect the match format, they do come in handy when calculating if someone is a sandbagger. The rule is, I think, that if you play consistently (three or four times) above your skill level by 2.75 levels within a span of time, (and say this in a Maury Povich voice) you — A R E — a sandbagger, and will be disqualified.
Or something like that.
Let me disclaimer myself again and restate that I do not play TAP nor do I know exactly how the league works. I’m merely basing all this on my own limited observations which may or may not be skewed due to the presence of cheap beer, spinach-and-mushroom pizza, and/or iced tea.
As in any handicapped league situation, I saw sandbagging, sharking, sportsmanship (and lack thereof), insults and apologies. But, then again, I saw all that at the U.S. Open, too (minus the sandbaggage).
I saw a few people disqualified from the tournament. In one case I saw one player from a team of five get disqualified, and then the rest of his team had to play on without him. Since each match required five players (whichever team wins three individual matches first wins the team match), this short-handed team went into subsequent matches spotting their opponents a point via one forfeited match because they did not have all five players present. This differs from the APA, since I believe if one team member is disqualified, the entire team is also disqualified. This team was strong enough, though, to win one or two matches this way before they were ultimately eliminated (via disqualification, I think).
While I was thus mulling over this league’s systems, I ran into Jeremy, whom I have met before at other Las Vegas events. Jeremy is a man of strong opinions and he often delivers his opinions in the measured and dramatic manner of Captain Kirk (the young version on the old Star Trek — the… one with… all… the… pauses who had the trouble… with… tribbles). We soon were engaged (embroiled?) in thoughtful and serious discussion regarding the culture and state of our noble sport of kings. Mr. Lewis came over and listened for a bit. Then he gave Jeremy sh#t (in a friendly manner) and sparked off a, um, lively debate regarding the merits of the United States versus Canada.
The whole argument was hilarious to see, moreso because these two were basically identical in personality and size. It was like watching a kitten fight his own reflection to the soundtrack of voices yelling, “HEALTHCARE!” “You live in CANADA!” “YOU ELECTED GEORGE BUSH!” “You. Live. In. CA-NA-DA!” “WE HAVE BIEBER!” “YOU CAN HAVE HIM!”
One of the more amusing phrases I gleaned from this exchange:
Eventually, I tired of trying to figure out the mathematics of handicapped pool, talking to people, and listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You” for the f#ckzillionth time. Adele’s got a great voice and she certainly delivers in that torch song, but when you’ve heard it as much as I have in that tournament room, the song is no longer romantic, it is whiny. And it makes you want to b u r n things.
|I decided to hit balls.|
|I hadn’t hit a ball since being eliminated at the U.S. Open and although I wasn’t really feeling like hitting balls, the tables were there and it afforded me a chance to be somewhat active while zoning out. Also, these were bar tables and, once upon a time, bar table eight-ball had been my favorite game (and likely my best game as well). Purrr. (I purr at good memories.)|
|I found a table that was not in close proximity to any matches. Personally, I hate feeling crowded when I’m playing pool and I certainly don’t want someone else to feel crowded, either, especially when they are playing for something important.|
|I was rusty in the beginning, but the nice thing about playing pool is that it is like riding a bike: even though you haven’t done it for a while, you still get really pissed off when you’re not good at it.|
|My initial displeasure at my hacktasticness forced me to focus and soon I was hitting the balls tolerably well. My focus on playing alleviated my current condition of being tired, hungry, bored, cranky, etc. It was just me and my practice and I found that I missed that part of my existence. I didn’t need earphones because everyone was focused on the tournament and no one bothered me.|
|It is a wonderful thing to play pool and be completely anonymous.|
|Then, this guy came over and asked to play after he finished playing his current game against someone else. I said okay.|
|When he came over with this things, I recognized him.|
|He was a friend of a friend whom I had greeted earlier. At that time, this guy was wearing a fedora. He had introduced himself, saying that we had met before. I didn’t recognize him. If I had met him before, he hadn’t made an impression.|
|I didn’t recognize him without his fedora. If I had, I would have told him I preferred to practice alone. But, I had already agreed to play, and in the interest of being polite, I would. Besides, my intuition that was warning me this session of practice would be awkward could be wrong, right?|
Just before I broke, he said, “Double or nothing?”
I had not said that I wanted to gamble, but if he wanted to bet, we could. “What are we playing for?” I had a little money and was willing to fire a bullet or two.
“Nothing. Because double of nothing is — NOTHING! Hahaha!”
I did not laugh.
Gentle readers who are just joining us, please note that I have been known to bet on occasion and I do not pump-fake offers to gamble. Ever. If this guy made such a joke, then it is because he automatically assumed I did not gamble. This only strengthened my suspicion that, despite his previous assertion, we had not met before. It also strengthened my suspicion that this guy was a potential assclown. I resolved to speak as little as possible and concentrate on playing well.
In the first game, I was on track to run out. A miscue on my last object ball before the eight cost me the run out. F#ck. Oh well. Nothing to do but sit down and wait my turn.
“Oh, I see! You’re building up my confidence!”
I never like it when someone implies I am not trying my best. I like it even less if they are implying I am not trying my best on account of them, as if anyone could be (and I quote Radiohead) “so f#cking special”. This guy was a stranger, someone whom I did not know and had no care for, and when I play someone I do not know (even more so when they are a potential assclown), I want to crush the f#cking life out of them. If I had met this guy before, it certainly wasn’t on, nor anywhere near, the battlefield that is the pool table. If he had ever played me or seen me play before, he would know I was not a “funsies” player.
I understood this guy was trying to make conversation. Was he trying to be charming and flirtatious? I certainly hoped not. I had done nothing to encourage him to treat me like a giggling barfly. Perhaps all he had ever encountered were giggling barflies that swooned over his fedora and suave lines. He had probably never run into a pool psychotic such as myself and thought we only existed in legends told around campfires made from the shards of broken cues.
I am famously intolerant, but I cut friends of friends some slack because I prefer to think my friends have better-than-average judgment when it comes to people.
I hadn’t spoken to this guy since we started playing and my face never changed from the neutral state I had let it idle in. Had this guy not been a FOAF (friend of a friend), my truthful stock answer to his stock attempt at being funny would have been: I’m not that nice and you’re not that cute.
I replied with a very firm “NO.”
I was here to play the game and I would do my best — with the utmost in taciturn formal politeness — to let this guy know that his lackluster lines would not be welcome but I would appreciate it if he would just STFU and play.
A couple of games later, I botched another run out and he won. “You’re being nice!”
I gave him the Glare of Death (at only 50% strength, since he was a FOAF) and said, “Never.”
We continued on in this manner, game after game. I played with intense concentration. He would make some comment and I would not respond if I did not believe his comment required a response. Silence and honesty would be my refuge. I gave this guy the credit of having enough social awareness to eventually realize that when some chick agreed to play him pool, it did not also mean she agreed to inane conversation, despite what society and his fedora-clad self might have thought. Finally, he said, “If I win three games will you smile?”
As if this guy would ever give me a reason to smile.
I hate a lot of things, but asking me to smile or telling me to smile certainly puts you right in my goddam crosshairs like nothing else. I do not find it funny. I do not find it charming.
It is condescending as all FUCK.
Since when was emotion something that could be used as currency? If he didn’t win three games, what would I get? Could I ask him to STFU? Push him down the stairs like a Slinky? Punch a hole in his ridiculous hat? I highly doubt he would have said the same to a male opponent.
“When are you gonna smile?”
If this guy wanted a girl to smile for him, there were plenty of other places for him to go, some of which might require he bring many twenty-dollar bills and be over the age of twenty-one. In addition, there were plenty — P L E N T Y — of other women in this very tournament room who would be only too happy to indulge his whims, but he didn’t seem to understand I was not one of them. For the sake of our mutual friend, I had cut this guy more than enough slack. It was time to cut something else.
“When I f#cking feel like it.”
He nodded to himself. I considered the possibility that this guy was not getting the message because I was not being direct. Silence and an unchanging facial expression might mean different things to different people. Fine. I was going to be direct with this guy and let him know, without question, that I just. Wanted. To. Play. Pool. And nothing else.
“You know E1?” E1 was our mutual friend and this was a rhetorical question.
“Yeah, I’ve known him for 12 years! I’ve known him a long time.”
“I haven’t known him nearly that long, but he knows me well. And if you get a chance, you can ask him what kind of player I am.” This tactic was getting old, but it seems that men don’t believe me when I tell them what I’m like, what I’m thinking, or what I want — even when I’m the one telling them. I’ve come to find the only way they might believe is when another guy tells them for me. F#cking ridiculous, but this is the world I live in, and one must evolve or go insane.
“I don’t like to talk when I play pool. I’m here to play and the game is all I care about. You can socialize before the game and you can socialize after, but the during the game, all I want to do is play.”
“Not talking ensures we both play our best. That is all I want.”
“I see. Thank you for the attitude, I appreciate it.”
I nodded. We resumed playing. And it was good. Until he tried asking if I would smile if he won five games. I looked at him and didn’t answer. Having told him very clearly what my intentions were, his intentions were now irrelevant. He could talk all he wanted. I was not obligated to answer. He won a fourth game and pointed that out to me. I broke and ran out. People began taking the tables next to us and I began bumping into them. At one point, one guy straight up cut me off. I might have growled.
“Ooooh! I saw you show some emotion!”
“It’s called anger. I show it a lot.”
Soon after, I declared “last game”. I didn’t like playing when I felt crowded. It also seemed this guy was going to continue trying to turn this practice session into pointless social bullsh#t. I regretted having to leave when I was playing well, but you can’t change other people — you can only change yourself. This guy wasn’t ever going to just shut up and play pool, so I was the one that would have to leave. When it isn’t fun anymore, it’s time to quit.
That’s just how it goes.
Eventually, the team competition ended and the singles events began. I must admit that somewhere at this time, I ceased paying attention to everything and just kind of went with it all. Lack of sleep and an irregular eating schedule (and I’m not even in the tournament!) made me go into hibernation (starvation?) mode. The Canadians, despite living in, well, Canada (a country where hibernation must be rampant because of the cold), didn’t seem to be affected by lack of sleep or food. They all continued merrily along. They stayed up late and partied hard.
Some of us took a field trip to adjoining casinos.
I liked the glass swags at the Cosmopolitan and we all marveled at the big blingy chandelier which I mentioned in a previous post.
All the club kids were out tonight. Here’s another picture of the Cosmopolitan’s pool table, just because.
A lot of matches ran late at this event, despite its relative small size. Everyone stayed out late regardless of when they had to play next. This was a new concept to me and I had difficulty understanding it at first, and then I stopped trying to understand it at all.
Here is a (poorly done) panoramic photograph of the tournament room at about 4 o’clock in the morning. After having steak and eggs at the Victorian Cafe and a few adult beverages, we returned to watch one of the finals of the nine ball singles events. The match concluded maybe a half-hour later.
|click on photograph to embiggen|
|my next mission is to get a better camera so I don’t have to do panoramic photos in this primitive cut-match-and-paste style|
At this time, Mr. Lewis thought it might be a good idea to get some sleep, seeing as how he was scheduled to play at 8:00 a.m. — only a couple of hours away.
I was super-blargh when I got up from my two-hour nap to get on a bus that was going somewhere that was not Vegas. By contrast, Mr. Lewis, who was up at the same time to play his match and see me off on behalf of Canada, was chipper and happy. He had drunk nonstop for I don’t even know how many days, hadn’t slept at all, and was now off to play a match.
Which he won.
I messaged him congratulations and asked how many more matches did he have until the finals.
He messaged back, that was the finals.
I learned something today. I learned that you can do everything “right” — get enough sleep, eat the right foods, and donate to the unfortunate — and win a tournament. You can also do everything “wrong” — never sleep, never eat, and pick fights with everyone — and win a tournament. That’s actually very cool.
Before I sign off, let me show you the bus I rode back to La-La Land in.
In 2009, I went to play at Turning Stone. I rode the Greyhound back to the West Coast after. One of the legs of my journey featured a new kind of Greyhound bus, one that had extra accouturements. Those buses have finally made their way to the west coast.
Check out the much nicer seats…
…cupholders (not very fancy, but effective), power outlets, and it also had wireless internet.
Truly the future has arrived.
All in all, it was a great weekend with pool players from another
planet dimension country. It was also an interesting look into the workings of a different league. I enjoyed playing the little bit that I did, minus the fedora-clad shenanigans. I love the game. I just don’t love some people that are also part of the game. But, you gotta take the heart attacks with the bacon.
If this trip was a move on the part of Canada’s Tourism Commission to have me say nice things about Canadians, then I say, “well played”, and you can send me a dog sled laden with maple syrup. Canadians are a fun people and so much more than just the residents of “America’s Hat”, spenders of loonies (and toonies!), and eh-sayers. Except for Mr. Lewis. He’s abrasive, eats too slowly, drinks too fast, wears weird shirts, and likes to pick fights with guys who are as wide as he is tall.
You make me look downright polite.
|t h a n k s|
|EMCA | FWCCA | d_lewis|
|first time hello & hello again|
|d_lewis | Preston | Neville who proves that calling someone a mofo in a distinguished accent is totally the coolest thing ever | additional Canadians (Rafael, Matt, Sean, Trish, Jindy, Nicole, Aaron, Rob, Tony, & more) | Eric. & Suzy (again!) | Nicole & Jeremy | Steve (every day is Give Jeremy Sh#t Day, yes?)|