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Posted by on Jan 31, 2015 in Blog, Personal, Travel | 5 comments

Dinner with Lots of Other Really Cool People in New York City (Keen’s Steakhouse)


Nolan Dalla and Michael Baden


Keen’s Steakhouse has been open since 1885.  It’s the second-oldest steakhouse in New York City.

I had the chance to dine there last week for the very first time.  Joining me were several dear friends, some of whom I’ll tell you more about.

First, a little more about Keen’s.

Located in midtown Manhattan, this is the quintessential power restaurant.

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Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Travel | 0 comments

The Pungent Punches of New York City Smells




….a pugilist with an authentic desire to win cannot be knocked out if he sees the punch coming, for then he suffers no lack of communication.  The blow may hurt but cannot wipe him out.  In contrast, a five-punch combination in which every blow lands is certain to stampede any opponent into unconsciousness.  No matter how light the blows, a jackpot has been struck.  The sudden overloading of the victim’s message center is bound to produce the inrush of confusion known as a coma.

— Normal Mailer in “The Fight” (1975)


New York City has a smell all its own.

Not a bad smell.

A smell — smell.

More like a smell of pungent punches.

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Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Travel | 0 comments

A New York State of Mindfulness


Nolan Dalla in NYC 2015


We all need a park.

Each of us requires our own particular park bench, that profoundly personal place where we run off to, that temporary asylum away from it all, that emotional hideaway uniquely our own, that haven assuring some calm and comfort when we need it most.

Everyone’s park bench is a different place.  Some places are real.  Others are a state of mind.  For our parks need not be shaded by giant elm trees, nor blanketed by green grasses, nor lined by wooden benches tempting us with free therapy.

A quiet room.  The inside of a car.  A morning shower.  A private office.  A man cave.  A visit to a friend.  A barstool.  A favorite song.  A walk or a run.  A daydream.  These things have become alternatives to sitting in parks in most of our daily lives.  These are the far more practical and convenient, and for most of us the irresistible destinations we come to covet, granting us those rare moments to recharge physical batteries and nourish emotional sustenance.

Park benches and all its modern surrogates should be conduits for pursuing, if not achieving, mindfulness.

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Posted by on Jan 1, 2015 in Blog, General Poker, Personal | 1 comment

Highlights and Lowlights: Looking Back at the First Season of “Poker Night in America”




Writer’s Note:  The first season of “Poker Night in America” has now concluded, with another year of new programs soon shifting to Monday nights.  What follows is my look back on the first season of broadcasts, including some of my fondest memories and biggest disappointments of 2014.


What has working on “Poker Night in America” taught me?

Answer:  A lot, including things I didn’t expect.

I learned it’s relatively easy to film a television show.  But it’s far more difficult to create a good poker show on television.

So, what’s the difference?  What this means is, the mechanics of filming a poker game are relatively simple.  A group of players are placed on a set.  Hang up some lights.  Position the cameras.  Hire some people who know what they’re doing.  And there you have it, a poker show!

Then, the work really begins.

[The entire production crew at “Poker Night in America” just called me a slew of curse words for trivializing their work] 

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