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Ghosts of Gambling Past

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Sports Betting | 6 comments


Nolan Dalla 1967 - Edited


Yes, that’s really me.  Age 5.  1967.

I can’t say where and when exactly my infatuation with games of skill and chance first began, but it probably happened inside the crib.  That wasn’t a baby rattler I was shaking.  It was a pair of dice.

This baby needs a new pair of shoes.  Seven out.  Line away.

From my earliest childhood memories, I just sort of always knew the standard rules on how to play poker.  I can’t even recall who it was exactly that taught me this hand beats that hand.  Seven-Card Stud, High and Low Chicago, Mexican Sweat, and of course, Five-Card Draw weren’t just friendly card games played for nickels and dimes.  To me, they were genetic markers, part of my DNA.

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Random Thoughts

Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 12 comments




I didn’t plan on taking two weeks off from my writing.

But I did.

The mechanics of writing a daily column come easy.  Natural even.

Conveying genuine enthusiasm for subject matter is what has become far, far, far more challenging.

Mustering up motivation, particularly when faced with the creeping reality of long-form narrative’s indisputable decline has become a mental gauntlet.  Market realities are an inhibitor of the creative process.  Ask any writer worth a damn.  Why toil over a keyboard when 250 viewers might click the content, on a good day?

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Meet Alex Singer (Democrat for Congress — NV-3)

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, Video 1 | 3 comments




Meeting Alex Singer for the first time gives me plenty of good reasons to be optimistic about the future.

The 29-year-old native of Portland, OR and now a proud resident of Las Vegas is running for a seat in the U.S. Congress, in Nevada’s highly-contested 3rd district.  He’s one of six candidates in the already-crowded Democratic field.  Republicans are fielding a similar number of candidates, making this into one of the most unpredictable races in the state.

I’ve been friends with Alex on social media ever since he announced his candidacy last year.  I’d also seen him speak briefly at a political rally here in Las Vegas.  However, until yesterday, we had never met face to face.

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The Words and Wisdom of Jonathan Gold

Posted by on Apr 17, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Restaurant Reviews, Travel | 0 comments




The Words and Wisdom of Jonathan Gold (a.k.a. food critic of the Los Angeles Times)

A food writer reveals the local ethnic restaurant isn’t just a cozy place to eat; for millions of new immigrants, it’s the modern-day highway to the new American dream and a reflection of who we are


If sprawling boulevards lined with ethnic restaurants up and down the sidewalk define the cultural boundaries of our greatest cities, then food writing and the art of criticism have become our culinary cartography.

In Los Angeles, one of the world’s undisputed food capitals, that makes restaurant critic Jonathan Gold the city’s Ferdinand Magellen.  Voyaging atop his exploratory palate and innate gift for empathy, and later persuaded by the scribe of his fondest recommendations and “Best of….” lists, when we read Gold’s words we’re taken on a circumnavigation around the globe, sometimes without ever leaving the same zip code.

Within this seemingly endless urban checkerboard of combustible cultures, a city where where a fabulous new Korean restaurant is typically be wedged in between a Dunkin Doughnuts and a Dollar Store, distances in and around Los Angeles aren’t measured in miles.  Distances are measured by time — as in the amount of time if takes to drive from one place to another.  Even a seemingly short drive of just a couple of miles can take an hour or more during the busiest time of day, and in LA, at whatever the hour, it always seems to be the busiest time of day.  This fact of daily life and living has made the automobile here, more than in any other city, the extension of one’s personality and an advertorial moxie.

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Why Does My House Smell Like Marijuana?

Posted by on Apr 16, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 18 comments


hunter s. thompson


Why does my house smell like marijuana?

You probably suspect I’m a pot smoker.  That’s a reasonable assumption.  Smoking pot inside my house would certainly explain the smell of marijuana lingering in my living room.

However, I do not smoke marijuana.  I do not like marijuana.  Nor do I like green eggs and ham.  I do not like them, Nolan I am.

See, marijuana just isn’t my thing.  It’s not for me.  Mind you, I’m not at all opposed to marijuana for others.  To me, marijuana is kinda’ like green eggs and ham.  I’m not going try eating green eggs and ham.  And, I’m sure as shit not going to smoke them.  But if someone else out there wants to indulge in green eggs and ham, then — be my guest.  Who am I to deny you that which you deem pleasurable?

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The Opportunity for Redemption Should Be Part of Our Criminal Justice System

Posted by on Apr 15, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments


FILE - Charles Manson followers, from left: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, shown walking to court to appear for their roles in the 1969 cult killings of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate, in Los Angeles, Calif., in this Aug. 20, 1970 file photo. 44 years after she went to prison, Leslie Van Houten is an old woman with gray hair and wrinkles and she is facing her 20th parole hearing Wednesday June 5, 2013 with multiple forces arrayed against her bid for a chance at freedom in her old age. (AP Photo/George Brich, File)


I just read Leslie Van Houten has been recommended for parole in California.

For those who don’t remember her, Van Houten was one of the most infamous followers of Charles Manson, who orchestrated two horrific killing sprees.  Manson is now 81, and basically a human fruit loop.

Joined by several other members of the Manson cult, Van Houten first conspired to kill and then carried out those acts directly in the murder of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, which made headlines in August 1969.  The couple was repeatedly stabbed to death by Van Houten, along with other Manson followers.  The LaBiana’s had been relaxing in their Los Angeles home when the drug-crazed groupies showed up and began slashing their victims with knives.  The grisly murders and the circus trial which followed became a media sensation later documented in the best-selling book, titled “Helter Skelter.”

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Harry Reid Stoops to New Lows (Why I Won’t be Voting for Jacky Rosen for Congress)

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments





Earlier today, someone called me asking political questions.  Within 30 seconds, I realized this was yet another push poll, which is a dirty and despicably misleading campaign tactic innocently disguised as a telephone survey, but which in reality is entirely intended to do one thing — sway voter opinion based on a series of loaded questions.

In other words, there’s no poll.  They lie about who they’re representing.  They lie about what their true intent is.  Perhaps most aggravating — they play you for a sucker.

Naturally, I went along with this bogus charade because I thought something interesting might come of it.  I was right.  Here once again, I came ear to ear with grass roots democracy in action, in its most disreputable form.

I live in Nevada’s 3rd congressional district, which includes a large section of Las Vegas and Henderson.  This is an open seat right now in the upcoming 2016 election, which means both major parties have a shot of winning the race.  For many years, this district has flip-flopped back and forth between Democrats and Republicans.

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Facing the Firing Squad: Terrence Chan

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Facing the Firing Squad, General Poker | 0 comments





Were I to chose one word to describe Terrence Chan, that word would be…. genuine.

Terrence is one of the most genuine people I have ever met and known.

Arguably above all characteristics, Terrence is genuinely curious — about almost everything.  He’s genuinely humble.  He’s genuinely giving.  He’s genuinely focused.  He’s genuinely dedicated.  And, he’s genuinely good at whatever he pursues, if not great at just about everything he truly sets his mind to accomplishing.

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Dealing with Depression

Posted by on Apr 11, 2016 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 4 comments


Feeling blue


A Personal Note from Nolan Dalla:  

What you are about to read is a manifestation of courage.

What follows is a previously-unpublished essay on the mental malady of depression.  

It was written by a very close and dear friend of mine who is often afflicted with severe bouts of the disorder.  These common bouts have dispensed debilitation and even thoughts of suicide, on occasion.  

On the surface, nothing seems wrong.  By looking at him and observing his very successful career and comfortable lifestyle, complete with a loving family and plenty of friends, you’d probably never guess that he suffers from depression.  You’d never know he’s spent agonizing periods of his life stuck in a dark place which has no boundaries, virtually incapacitated within a self-contained prison surrounded by invisible bars, from which there appears to be no escaping, often requiring the care, the compassion, and the direct intervention of others who understand.

I am ashamed to say there was a time once, until quite recently even, when I didn’t understand much about depression.  I lacked the capacity to empathize with those who dealt with mental health issues in their lives.  Worse, I’ve written harshly about some people in the past — such as ex-pro football player Junior Seau and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman — who took the most violent escape possible, committing suicide and overdosing by accident.  It took me considerable time and some serious contemplation to eventually come to the realization that depression isn’t something typically within control of the sufferer.  They are the bearers of an affliction, not the cause of it.  It’s a burden with heavy shackles with no key within reach.

Speaking to the author of this essay over a considerable period of time, then followed by a episodes of reflection, gave me a far greater understanding of the serious illness of depression.  It helped me not only to empathize with those who must deal with it, sometimes daily, but also enabled me to see the painful struggles and in some cases appreciate the strides made by those crawling from the darkness, one new dawn at a time.  

Although he prefers not to use his name, nor take any credit as the author, he has granted me permission to print his thoughts here in their entirety.  His hope is that by writing openly about his malady, he can better cope with his own struggle.  Just as important, his words might be able to comfort others out there who are enduring their own crisis within, trying to find a clearer path out of the abyss of confusion.  

Finally, even for the more mentally fit, this essay might serve to enlighten readers who continue to look upon depression as I once did, maligned by our own ignorance and misunderstanding.  Let us try to open up our minds, free ourselves, listen to this brave voice.  Let us learn.      

That’s my hope and intent.


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What’s the Toughest Sport for an Amateur to Compete In?

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in Blog, Book Reviews, Essays, Uncategorized | 7 comments


George playing with the Detroit Lions, Detroit, 1963. Football: Detroit Lions QB George Plimpton Credit: Walter Iooss Jr. SetNumber: X9402 079016940


In the fall of 1963, a mostly unknown journalist, writer, literary critic, and wanna-be professional athlete named George Plimpton walked into training camp with the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

Plimpton didn’t fit the mold of an athlete.  He was slow.  He was clumsy.  He was the oldest player on the team.  He arrived in camp as an undrafted 36-year-old “rookie” quarterback (he’d graduated from Harvard, 14 years earlier).  Although his lofty sights were set on getting into shape, completing drills with the team, learning the playbook, and suiting up to play in a preseason game, fact was — when he first stepped onto the football field he didn’t even know how to position his hands and take a snap from center.

Predictably, the results were disastrous.

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