sigh

listening to
the sounds of me packing up my office crap
let’s pop some bubble wrap! whee!

Luciano Pavarotti

(October 12, 1935 – September 6, 2007)

Luciano Pavarotti was a badass opera singer. Although I hated listening to opera as a kid (mostly because my dad listened to waaay too much of it–hi dad!), I have grown to appreciate some opera (but not all–some things you can hate forever–it’s allowed) and the skill it takes to sing it and the work it takes to produce it for the stage. Thanks to Pavarotti and The Three Tenors (the other two being Plácido Domingo and José Carreras), the masses have also learned to appreciate (or hate) the popular vocal stylings of singers like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban.

Hasta la vista, Big Dude.

photos will return to this blog

I traded the leprechaun a box of Lucky Charms for my software CD back. Yaaay. Now the only thing in the way of returning to reams of entertaining photographs on this blog is my laziness.

Good luck with THAT one.

100 days of pool : game over for you

[100] : Wednesday, September 5, 2007

.......

Well, I made it to the pool hall for my weekly three-cushion session.

When I got there, I was all nervous until I hit the first ball (the standard opening shot–which I missed, of course) and then I was all, “SUCKERS! I WIN THE BET!! MUHAHAHAHA!”

That over, I settled down to a nice session of learning yet another game which I am not very good at. Lee, as always, was a very patient and helfpful partner. I learned to use spin outside of the usual realm of pool players (meaning there were many miscues) and that totally uncontrolled draw was a good thing (“You’re not going to scratch–there aren’t any pockets, remember?”). Whee!

At one point, Lee showed me a shot that required a tricky sort of hit on the ball–I can only describe it as a very hard hit on the ball with a lot of top. But, it was not like the force-follow shots I was familiar with in pool. The force of the cue ball striking the object ball would rebound it backwards, but after the cue ball hit the cushion, it would bank forward, since the topspin would take over at that point.

Yes, I realize that was a less-than-spectacular description of the shot, but I have yet to learn to use CueTable to illustrate these shots. Be assured I’ll learn CueTable. Eventually. Blah.

Anyhow, I couldn’t quite grasp the concept, and it was even more difficult to find that particular stroke and hit on the ball. Lee and I tried it about three times, with a little discussion between each attempt.

Then, a guy we shall name Peanut #1 floated over to watch.

As I tried the shot again, Peanut #1 put his finger down on the rail and said, “No, you have to hit it here.” He moved his finger an inch to the left. “Or maybe here.” He moved his finger back to the right. “No, it’s here. Yeah. It’s here.”

WTF?

Dude, I ALREADY have someone showing me this shot–someone who plays BETTER than you. So scram. I did my best to ignore the dancing finger on the rail as I got down on the shot, tempted as I was to fire the cue ball with my infamous break stroke and crush that digit between rail and phenolic resin while saying innocently, “Oh, like this?”

You all have had that feeling at one time or another, I’m sure.

Anyways, I tried the shot, and didn’t quite get it. Lee set it up again, and I tried very hard to figure out what it was that I did wrong. I got down on the shot again. This time there were two fingers on the rail. One was shorter, and darker than the other one. I looked up.

Peanut #1 and Peanut #2 were both scrutinizing the rail and arguing about where I needed to aim the ball. “She need to hit it here, she using engrish, supposed no engrish.” He moved his finger about two inches to the left.

“Well, of course, she’s using english, she doesn’t know how to hit the ball. But the right spot is over HERE. Peanut #1 tamped down his finger authoritatively with a thwack. Damn. That’s gotta hurt. “Lee, give me your cue, I’ll show her how to make it.”

Lee, polite as can be (amazing!), said, “No, Peanut #1. It’s my cue, and we’re playing here.”

“Oh, Lee,” said Peanut #1. “You’re just taking care of it for me. Don’t ding the shaft on my cue, now, okay?”

I hate people like this. Lee smiled, and gave a polite laugh. I might have smiled and given a roundhouse kick. To the face.

Meanwhile, Peanut #2 had reassessed the situation, and tamped down his finger just to the left of Peanut #1, and said firmly, “Is HERE.”

At this point, I didn’t know whether it was funny or sad. It looked like a showdown between two toddlers playing “Chopsticks” at a toy piano. Either that or a dick-duel between two billiards lameasses. You choose the image that suits you.

I sighed inwardly, and tried the shot again, aiming for the point Lee pointed out with the tip of his cue. I did better, but still missed making the billiard. I was getting the gist of the shot and I was certain I knew what to adjust now in terms of speed and force. Lee set up the shot again. I got down on the shot again.

As I focused on the cue ball, a hand came down and picked up the object ball. WTF? I got back up and it was Peanut #1 and Peanut #2 moving the object ball back and forth to where each thought it was. OMG. It’s f—ing like a daycare center gone nuts in here. Finally, they agreed on an intermediate spot, which was entirely different from the original layout, but, whatever. I was keeping myself under control. I shot again, making slight adjustments for the layout and, amazingly, I was even closer this time. I really felt that I was on the brink of executing the shot correctly and gaining a deeper understanding of the physics of this game.

Lee, ever the patient tutor, set up the shot again while telling me what had affected the success of the previous shot. Peanut #1 and Peanut #2 continued their finger-on-the-rail battle throwing their two pennies at me every six seconds with great pomp and circumstance.

Here I am, trying to learn the physics of this noble game, with a pleasant and knowledgeable person, and I still get s—. I have no words to describe my exasperation.

Men, you wonder why women go to the restroom in groups? Well, hell. We women wonder why men have to stand around and offer unsolicited advice in groups. C’mon, you’ve all seen it. One dude stands at the BBQ, cooking the vittles while 18 million other guys holding warm light beers stand around and tell him what he should do while adjusting their belts.

Anyways, the night was wearing on, and I was getting cold standing around. I was still determined to get this shot down and perhaps find that piece of the puzzle that would let me play three-cushion at a higher level. I took a deep breath and blocked out Peanuts #1 and #2, and concentrated solely on executing the shot at hand.

I got down on the cue ball.

There were–three fingers on the rail?

WTF?

I looked up and, yep, it was a goddam finger-puppet convention. Except Peanut #3 who came over was wearing shorts, a wifebeater and a goddam glen-plaid fedora. What. The. F—. If there was ever a time to surrender, it’s when the skinny white kid in cargo shorts, a wifebeater and a glen-plaid fedora jumps into the fray.

In that moment, as much as I wanted to hit that shot perfectly, I knew I couldn’t. I was driven away from the edge of epiphany by the realization that this, the Perpetual Peanut Gallery in all its retarded glory would be there, always, for the rest of my life. For every practice session. For every gambling session. For every tournament. For every shot. These f—ing idiots Would. Be. There.

This noble game is difficult, and it was its inherent difficulty (and lack of height requirement) that drew me in and fascinated me in the first place. I never, in a million years, would have known when I began playing pool in all its forms that these gaggle of geese known as Men Who Think They Can Help You But Suck Total Ass And Yet Still Offer Unsolicited Advice And Jokes Of The Lamest Degree would be omnipresent in every billiards-related situation I would ever be in.

Sigh.

As Eric Cartman would say, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

I smacked that three-cushion shot with all the grace of the irritated pool playing hack and before I had even seen whether or not the billiard had been made, I had broken down my cue. If I stayed any longer, I knew I would say some very unpolite things.

Lee said, “Well, I hope you had fun.” I said I enjoyed the session and learned a lot of new things. I thanked him for his time and said I was sure we would have another fun session of three cushion, soon.

Peanut #1 chimed in with a peppy, “Even with the peanut gallery?”

Bitch, please.

For the sake of Lee, and the noble game of billiards, I said nothing, and left. The last thing I saw was Peanut #1 trying to wrestle the cue away from Lee to shoot the shot, and Lee trying very politely to tell Peanut #1 to leave him and his cue the f— alone.

And so ends my 100 Days of Pool, complete with jackassery, even unto the very last minute of the very last day. I hope you all enjoyed my little mission, and that you are inspired to play more pool, to play better pool, and to offer the occasional Nice Big Cup Of Shut The F— Up to deserving idiots.

PS. If you are wondering whether or not I played pool yesterday, my 101st day, I did. If only because I don’t trust myself to be accurate counting to 100, so I had to be sure. 🙂

Fun Link

www.youparklikeanasshole.com <– courtesy of Aralia

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