perks of being a tarflower


TAR30 | Darren Appleton vs Shane Van Boening

Cheers to my first Greyhound trip of 2013 (for pool, anyway).


The Action Report roped itself a British player, Darren “Dynamite/Daz” Appleton, to play Our American Android known as Shane Van Boening. The format was 10-ball, races to 25, best 2 of 3 sets.


Let’s see how that turned out.


I got to the studio almost fashionably late and managed to score a seat. The first thing I noticed after settling in was the new shot clock, administrated by Bill Stock of CueSports International. The shot clock allows 80 seconds per shot with one 40 (not 45 as indicated in my Tweet below) second extension per game.

Correction: it’s an 80-second shot clock after the break, and 40 seconds per shot after that with one 40-second extension per rack.

In addition from taking away one of the screens from the spectators (booo! — yes, we’re ingrates), it was meant to keep things moving along at a steady clip. I missed the latter TAR events of 2012, so I do not know if this was implemented before or if it is new for 2013 forward.


4:23 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 80s shot clock w/ one 45s extension per game // 3-1, Shane. Darren broke 4 balls once then scratch on the 1B
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tick tock on the clock...

In the first couple of games, it did not seem to come into play.


I’m still tickled with the panorama feature on my new phone (thanks, bro!). I will, of course, use it at any possible time because I can.

Unfortunately, I have yet to figure out how to actually take good photographs so you will have to tolerate such overexposed messes like the one above showing Mr. Appleton on a jump shot for the time being.


This set seemed to get off to a slow start. It was fairly obvious that both players were not entirely comfortable with the equipment. Naturally, I assessed our players’ sartorial choices because of minor bOrEdOm.

Mr. Appleton is totally Euro Casual, with darker denim and leather sneakers. Mr. Van Boening seems to be testing out Filipino Casual, which generally involves a striped polo shirt in loud colors (a la Bustamante). Mr. Van Boening was rather conservative with his shirt and matching pool glove in 50 Shades of Gray with a thin fluorescent green stripe (virtually invisible at a distance) to successfully convey that he wants to be pool-player-formal, but is here to party.

Also, the plug-in air freshener next to his seat made me laugh.

But, yes.

Back to the match.


Neither player had delivered a package yet, which is what we, the hacktastic masses, came to see.

4:45 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 4-4, tied // aside from Shane running out on Darren’s first dry break, no significant runs — both players still feeling out table
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There were moments of sunshine in the otherwise blandly overcast match. Here’s when Mr. Van Boening missed a nine-ball and left Mr. Appleton hooked behind the ten…

…and Mr. Appleton kicked off the long rail, made the nine with perfect speed, and made the ten — like it ain’t no thang.

Perhaps the audience’s impatience contributed to the players’ own unease and restlessness. There were quite a few uncharacteristic misses and unforced errors. Some of the racks just seemed to drag on. The tenth rack was total blergh.

5:05 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 7-5, Shane // Shane took off Mr. T gold chain in rack 10 & Darren took break after rack 10 — sht just got real!
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Midway through the rack, Mr. Van Boening took off his heavy gold chain. After the rack was over, Darren went right out to take a break. The rest of us refueled with beverages, junk food, and malcontent. I suppose we mortals demand much from our billiards deities and, so far in this match, they were too human.

5:22 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 10-6, Shane // good breaks, unforced errors, 1B&R; “Sultans of Swing” playing but these Sultans not quite Swinging/Schwinging yet
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5:42 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 12-8, Shane // Shane B&R (2pk), hangs 10B; Darren wins safety battle, gets out; spectator’s phone goes off, mass fumblage ensues
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Finally, there was a glimmer of packagetry. It lasted two racks. Mr. Van Boening hung the 10-ball of the third rack. So, that’s two and nine-tenths of a rack — like UPS delivering a cue intact but losing your joint protectors.

Speaking of cues…

6:02 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 14-10, Shane // Shane’s Cuetec w/shiny metal butt & Darren’s decal-decorated wand silently judge your vanity-laden custom cues
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I like that the hacks of the world (including me) have more expensive playing cues than these two dudes but they can run out using sticks of spaghetti lacquered together with glitter glue.

Eventually, our Little Twin Stars steadied and ran out when the other missed. No packages or break and runs but, hey, at least things were moving along at a jaunty clip and that pace was widening the pond between Mr. Appleton and Mr. Van Boening.

6:35 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 16-12, Shane // both playing better
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6:56 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 19-13, Shane
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Mr. Van Boening was tightening his control on the match. That is, he ran out when he was supposed to and Mr. Appleton was giving him chances to do so. There were some Van Boening hiccups, but Mr. Appelton did not capitalize on them.

7:14 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 21-15, Shane // Shane scratched, Darren scratched right back with BIH — total WTF moment
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7:24 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 22-16, Shane // Android Shane in the house (not ‘Roid Shane — otherwise he’d be wearing the kids-size muscle tee) running out
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7:31 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 23-16, Shane // Shane Van Boening *is* the droid you’re looking for — dude running out like a machine, Darren audibly frustrated
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At this point, Mr. Van Boening finally got his famous 10-ball break down pat and Mr. Appleton was quite a bit aways but still trying to hang in there…

7:34 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 23-17, Shane // Shane hit his patented Pop-N-Lock(tm) break perfect — then hung 1B. Darren uses the Force, runs out.
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…but you can’t afford to miss when Mr. Van Boening is in Run Out Robot mode…

7:40 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 24-17, Shane // Darren missed, Shane ran out. Shane on the hill.
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…because by the time you’re warmed up, so is he — and the match is over.

7:42 PM, Jan 18th
#TAR30 // 25-17, Shane // Shane breaks in 3 balls, runs the fck out. Scientists record unreal midichlorian levels.
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The cloth on the studio table, showing the constellation of marks made by the cue ball on the break.


To be honest, that set was less than astounding.

However, I was in the City of Sinfully Good Food, so there’s always food to fill the billiards void. Miss Sunny decided on the dinner spot and its name was “Honey Pig”.

Their specialty was a particular kind of pork belly from Korea and cooking on a traditional “pot lid” skillet.
Beef and pork.
Side dishes for the win.


One of the best features of this place: when you are done with your dinner, the restaurant will send someone to make over your leftovers into fried rice!

The fried rice is delicious if you still have room left for it. If you don’t at the moment, you will love it for a midnight snack.

Honey Pig
4725 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 876-8308
11:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. (open 21 hours a day)



Today, I was unfashionably early to the Studio and found Mr. Appleton already practicing.

1:52 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 @dynamite76 warming up for Day 2
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He reversed the colors of his shirt from yesterday — instead of a white shirt with blue racing(?) stripes, he had a blue shirt with white racing stripes. Also, he upgraded to dress pants and pointy dress shoes. And a nice smirk.

TAR fan MeezerGirl brought in a DVD of a 1989 match between Jay “Swanee” Swanson and Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer.

3:23 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // Watching Johnny Archer vs Jay Swanson match for Heavyweight Billiards, circa 1990
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tick tock on the clock...

Some more (rather lame) screenshots of this program called “Heavyweight Billiards”.

Robin Dodson commentates for this match. She would go on to win the World 9-Ball Championships the following year (1990) and the year after that (1991).
At this point in the commentary, she says that Loree Jon Jones is currently the top lady player.
The heavyweights matching up. I know this is supposed to evoke the image of boxers going toe-to-toe before a bout, but it made me think of a wedding first (how chick-like of me). And then I giggled.
Mr. Archer at 21. As someone else watching said, “How young was he? It was before he started picking lint.”
The players got to commentate on their opponent’s play. Kinda neat, actually.
That’s Howard Vickery on the far left.


Mr. Appleton won the lag (again) and the first break.

He looked much more comfortable today, and took the early lead.

4:25 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 3-1, Darren // Darren seems more comfortable today, takes the early lead. Yesterday, Shane led the whole match (with brief tie).
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Mr. Van Boening, wearing his lucky outfit from the day before, caught up soon enough and things stayed close for a while.

4:43 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 4-4, even // Shane ties it up with a B&R and three snaps in a Z formation, then sashays away
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5:11 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 6-6, even // Darren rattles a 7B & 8B, should hum “Walking In A Winter Wonderland” to shock Shane into #MosconiCup PTSD
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I have seen more jump shots in this match than any other TAR match I have watched.

Jump, jump…
How high? Real high!
Cuz you’re just so fly!

Bwahahaha, nostalgia.


Both players broke better today. Mr. Van Boening broke in four balls on this break but the cue ball scratched…

5:35 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 8-8, even // Shane breaks in four balls, scratches; Darren doesn’t need the Force today, runs out
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…and Mr. Appleton ran out.

Neither player seemed to be catching a high gear but I still thought both played much better than yesterday.


Sustenance for me. Hot toddy with whiskey on the left. Coffee on the right. Brunch of champions on the bottom.


Mr. Van Boening crept ahead and this sparked a negative reaction from Mr. Appleton.

6:01 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 11-9, Shane // Shane B&R, 2-stroking playing w/ confidence; Darren talking out loud about how lucky Shane is
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Mr. Van Boening did get a roll here and there, but — and we all know this — thems the breaks, kiddo. Sometimes you get the rolls, sometimes you get rolled. Only thing to do is keep playing.

By now, I could determine the difference in the players’ breaks.

6:05 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // Darren breaks well but Shane’s cue ball control on the break cannot be matched — I believe this will be today’s deciding factor
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Mr. Van Boening’s cue ball control on the break was very good. On his best breaks, he popped the cue ball back, past the side pocket, and once it landed on the table, it sat. He did not always make a ball, but sending the cue ball back past the side pocket significantly reduced the chances of scratching. Sending the cue ball briefly into the air allowed it to avoid the object ball traffic before it landed.

When Mr Appleton broke with the controlled cue ball in the same manner as Mr. Van Boening, the cue ball would sit, but object balls would not go in. When he broke harder and did not control the cue ball as well, he seemed to make more balls on the break but also scratched more often. Make balls on the break or control the cue ball — those seemed to be his two options when what he really needed was for both of those to come together into one break.


Thems the breaks, kiddo.


Jump around, Jump around! Jump up and get down!

Bwahahaha, nostalgia again. (Sorry.)


Mr. Van Boening settled in and began to extend his lead. Mr. Appleton became more vocal about his bad luck and it began to look like he was just going through the motions of playing pool (“give-up stroke”, as one spectator called it).

6:28 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 15-9, Shane // Shane B&R, 10B combo, just fcking freewheeling now // in other news, the Force retires, outsources its job to Shane
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The players took their scheduled halftime break and when they returned, Mr. Appleton’s demeanor had changed for the better. He stopped talking and began to concentrate.

7:07 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 17-11, Shane // Darren seems regrouped, takes more time on shots, controlling cue ball on break; Shane still Van Boening away
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7:30 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 20-12, Shane // Shane Train; Darren focused even when rolling unlucky, I dub cooler-headed Darren the Haagen-Dazzler #Punny #Sorry
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7:42 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 20-14, Shane // Shane scratches on 9B, rattles a few; Darren admirably calm despite occasional Duckface of Disapproval
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7:55 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 22-15, Shane // What can I say? Runaway Shane Train rolls on. It makes mistakes & still rolls on. Darren still fighting awesomely!
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I have a great amount of respect for Mr. Appleton and anyone trying to stay in a match in which they’ve fallen behind. I’ve been in similar situations and I find it can be difficult to remain focused when the gap between my opponent and I seems impossible to bridge.

The part of me that is a competitor wants to throw everything I have into the match so that even if I fail, I Fail While Daring Greatly and remain fighting and hopeful to the bitter end.

The part of me that is human wants to say “f#ck it” and go back to bed. Because that is always easier than trying for a comeback.

I might go back and forth between these two states of being a million times in a match.


8:10 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 23-16, Shane // Darren doing his best to stay afloat but in the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors — it looks like Train beats Boat
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8:15 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 24-16, Shane — Shane on the hill // Shane rattled 7B, Darren makes 7B but tough on 8B & misses, Shane gets out
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8:18 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 24-17, Shane — Shane on the hill // Shane leaves Darren open shot on 2B, Darren runs out (one-strokes the 10B, too)
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8:22 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 // 25-17, Shane // Darren tries jump on 1B, unsuccessful; Shane plays Alcatraz safe, Darren takes intentional foul; Shane runs out
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And there you have it.

Mr. Van Boening wins another TAR challenge in two sets. Mr. Appleton expressed a desire for a rematch, but with an all-around format of different games. That could be very interesting… In the meantime, Mr. Van Boening, as the winner of TAR30, is scheduled to play Mike “The Fireball” Dechaine (winner of TAR25 vs Dennis “The Hatchetman” Hatch) in TAR31 in February.

8:45 PM, Jan 19th
#TAR30 winner Shane Van Boening to play Mike Dechaine (@MDProPool) in #TAR31, February 15-17, 2013
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All aboard the Shane-Dechaine Train (is it heading for Maine?)!


Your commentators for this match were:

Robert “Cotton” LeBlanc standing on left, Jeremy Jones shooting on the right.


I had seafood for dinner (not that you care).

the world is your oyster -- are you gonna eat that?

It was most delish.



question for the masses
The Studio table: loosen the pockets or keep them as they are?

The Action Report has asked its viewers via the AZ Billiards Forum to vote whether the pockets should be opened up from the current 4-1/8 inches to the standard 4-1/2 inches.

The pockets on the table as they are cut now are less accepting than in previous matches, when the rails for the table were on loan from Eric “Fatboy” Petersen. Although the same size — 4-1/8 inches — the angle at the back of the pocket makes these pockets about 1/8-inch smaller than when the Studio first opened (and we had that magnificent inaugural TAR21 of Alex Pagulayan vs Mr. Van Boening). Hence, less balls are made on the break and less packages delivered. This, of course, makes viewing less exciting. Our demands as mortals include flashy shotmaking, break and runs, and six-packs (beer ones would be okay as well) from our billiard deities.

What say you?

Keep the pockets at 4-1/8 inches or make them the tournament standard 4-1/2 inches?



I slept like a champion and spent the whole of the next day eating. We all have our talents. These are mine.

Pho shizzle! I love pho. I never get tired of it. This place also has the fresh coconut juice (in the coconut!) to which I am addicted.
Pho Little Saigon
9210 S Eastern Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89123
(702) 527-6888
10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Miss Sunny selected Kaizen Sushi for dinner. This place is GREAT.
They have all-you-can-eat with an extensive menu. Premium items — which can only be ordered once, but still — such as the toro (highest-grade bluefin tuna) sushi shown to the left.
10271 Eastern Avenue #109
Henderson, NV 89052
Lunch 12:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dinner 5:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
(They have multiple locations.)

It’s a terrible life but someone’s gotta live it.


On the way home, there was a pool table at a truck stop arcade…

…but we resisted its siren call. The life of the non-professional pool player was waiting up for each us at home.




t h a n k s I dreamed a dream...
EMCA | Justin Collett & The Action Report | Mark & Sunny Griffin | Andy of LA
first time hello & hello again
meezergirl | Amy & Tim | Jessica


you know you want to

6 Replies to “perks of being a tarflower”

  1. I have to make it to a TAR match. Maybe this summer when my sales meeting is out there, too.
    Can’t wait to try the Honey Pig next time I’m n town.

    Nice write up!

  2. Great Report! Thank you.

    Also, speaking for “the hacks of the world”, having expensive, fancy cues is a must for US, so everyone else will not notice how badly we play this game.

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