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Eat Your Heart Out, Yogi!

Made a vow that this time around, would not be eating all of my meals at the Hyatt Regency, the host hotel for last weekend’s NPC Nationals in Atlanta. Just had to get out of the building, where the contest also took place. Got off on the wrong foot, chowing down at the buffet on Thursday night, but that’s where it started and ended.
I did get to chat with the new Mr. Olympia, Dexter Jackson, though. And Phil Heath and Marcus Haley, who is doing the IRON MAN in 9 weeks. Dexter and Hany Rambod got into a debate about who has the hottest car; Hany has a 2005 Austin Martin, Jackson a new 745 BMW. Told em my 1995 Lexus SC 300 had both of them beat.
Later that night, joined Shawn Ray, Scott Foster (top ranked NPC Middleweight) and his lady, Diana Tinnelle, at the Hard Rock down the street. Since I already had polished off dinner, just went with the Apple Cobbler.
Diana, who was competing the next night, took it like a champ, watching me down each bite in awe. Didn’t hurt the cause; Tinnelle, who won the MW class at the USA earlier in the year, took her division in Atlanta as well to move on to pro status. And, since my bill was under $8, Shawn picked up the tab and asked me to do likewise at breakfast the following morning. Darn, didn’t mean to leave my phone off the hook, Shawn.
The most satisfying meal, though, took place at the same venue 24 hours later. It involved a bet with Ron “Yogi” Avidan and, although I won’t go into detail, let’s just say it took nearly three years to settle.
Yogi wanted me to order a salad; of course I went for the steak dinner, and something called a “Bahama Mama”  to drink. It did take a while to get the notice of the waitress. Actually, what it took what Isaac “Lifter” Hinds lifting himself out of his seat and sprinting towards the serving crew, eyes bulging and arms flailing, typical side effects of a starving man.
It was one of the most satisfying meals in years. Yogi pained as I stuck the fork into the steak, signifying my crushing victory once again in our years of wagering. I took it easy on him, though, and didn’t order dessert. As a sign of unity, the “Experts” toasted the waitress before forcing her into taking our picture. At that point, she would have done anything to get rid of us.
The music was even too loud for me, however (a guy who doesn’t hear like he once did) so we moved on to the 24-Hour Diner for our next three meals. And, we all ordered the same thing each time, although Yogi and I shared a huge piece of chocolate cake at lunch on Saturday. Our waitress was from Kiev; so was the hostess, who also happened to be her sister. Think another sister, or cousin, was the hostess.
After the show I did four videos; “The Experts” wrap-up of the men’s and women’s finals, a segment with Ed Nunn and an interview with Mark Alvisi and Rambod. Unfortunately, the Nationals curse hit us again, with only two of the four coming out due to technical difficulties. No women’s wrap, or Alvisi footage. We need a new camera. Or a new chord. Or a new lead announcer? Roland Balik got the worst of the deal, having the cart all the equipment up and down the hotel. By the way, you’ll notice Tricky Jackson throws Yogi out in the men’s wrap, citing a lack of knowledge of the event. Tricky, you just noticed that?
After the show we spent a few minutes at a small after party thrown by the Tight Curves crew, which ad 22 women in the show. Debbie Kruck was there, and forced me to check out her backside, assuring her it’s definitely as sublime as always.
When we went back for our final meal after the finals, didn’t realize it was “Karaoke” night. I busted a few moves when I first heard the music, stunning the crowd with rhythm not normally reserved for an old, white guy, but it took all of my power to prevent Yogi and Lifter from grabbing the mike and belting out their version of “Endless Love.”
As always, Hinds escaped the weekend without picking up the tab; I might start calling him “Shawn” instead of “Lifter” in the future. He did get the last laugh, though-his pick to win the SHW class, Nunn, did exactly that. My pick, Stephen Frazier, finished seven slots below him. Wait ‘til Frazier fills out next year.
I headed for the airport early Sunday morning, and paid the $50 tab to get on an earlier flight back to Los Angeles International. Kelly Bautista, the premier Lightweight from Irvine, California who ended up in fourth place in his class, was on the same flight, coming and going, along with his lovely lady.
Was back at school on Monday, although the effects of the four-day trip are still taking its toll. Think I’ll pass on the heavy squatting at the gym today. Actually, I’ve passed on any heavy lifting for about 20 years, as the folks at Gold’s, Pasadena, remind me.
Over, under and out.

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