26 and now this

About a month ago, I got hit with restlessness and poor judgment and signed up for the eight-ball event at the U.S. Bar Table Championships in Las Vegas. As I used to in days of yore, I went via Greyhound.

During the ride, some passengers came to the front to tell the driver a guy had barricaded himself in the on-board restroom. The driver pulled over and aftermuch hollerin’ and poundin’ on the door, there was no response. General consensus was the man inside might have passed out (or died). We drove a while further into Baker (home of the World’s Tallest Thermometer) and called in the cavalry.


woo woo cars
woo woo cars


Paramedics entered the fray and after besieging the restroom for some minutes, they managed to break in. The Baron of the Bathroom was sound asleep. The paramedics woke him by roughly escorting him out to the curbside. After a few minutes, the Baron of the Bathroom made a break to run back on the bus to get his shoes. The Baron apologized to the other riders: “Hey y’all, my bad and I do uh-POL-uh-jize. I was pretty lit last night, sorry.” Farewell, Baron.

After being checked out thoroughly by medical and, uh, other official professionals, Baron was let back on the bus where he instantly fell back into a very comfortable slumber. 

My seatmate said she just knew the Baron of Bathroom was on something as he had boarded the bus at her stop and he had been teetering even then.

“He’s stupid being on all that. He ain’t just drunk, he gotta be on something too, him being so messed up.”

“He might be in bad shape but he looks happy.”

“You can’t be mixing stuff you know. That get you fucked up real bad. My friend died on Monday cuz of drugs you know.”

“Oh, wow. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, he deserved it.”


“He’s stupid mixing heroin and meth. That’s what you get for being stupid, he deserved it.”

And so went our dusty trudge through the desert.



Check-in at the Westgate was relatively painless and the very cheerful check-in clerk noted, “Wow you pool players still aren’t done?” I said no, that the eight-ball divisions would start tomorrow (the ten- and nine-ball divisions had been earlier in the week). After further discussion, I realized he thought the APA World Pool Championships from the week before was still ongoing. I explained that no, the APA tournament was over, the current pool tournament was that of another association. We talked some more about the many associations in pool that held tournaments in Las Vegas every year.

“You must really like pool!” he said.

I took a minute to think about that statement.

“You know, I used to the in past. I’m not sure how I feel about it now.”

“Well if you came all this way to play in a tournament I would think you still like it a lot.”

“Sometimes, I think I just do it because I’ve sunk so many years into it, I might as well keep going.”



According to Wikipedia:

The International Hotel was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1969. After the hotel’s opening night, Elvis Presley performed 58 consecutive sold out shows. When playing Las Vegas, he lived in the suite (room 3000), located on the 30th floor, until his last performance there in December 1976.

The International Hotel was sold to Hilton Hotels Corporation in 1970 and renamed the Las Vegas Hilton in 1971.

In November 2011, it was reported the Las Vegas Hilton would be renamed as the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel and Casino on January 3, 2012, as the contract to use the Hilton brand ended.

Goldman Sachs and Colony sold the resort to Westgate Resorts on June 30, 2014 for between $150 and $170 million. Westgate renamed the resort the Westgate Las Vegas on July 1, 2014.


The decor of my room was equal parts goth, drug kingpin, and Palm Springs retirement home. There was a 1980s-style illustration of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe done in flat black ink and silver glitter. Weird lamps with inconvenient switches populated the room. All the lamps were tilted.


I don't know what this lamp means


The chairs and two quilted leather benches did not match in height or style with any of the table surfaces meaning you could not sit down to eat unless you wanted the table edge at your chin or your knees. But none of these odd accoutrements were significant because the mattress was plush and comfy. Due to a light field of players, I did not have to play until the afternoon and goddam was I glad about that.



The convention center was conveniently close to the hotel towers. There were several other conferences going on at the same time. I bypassed the Mrs. America pageant with its anxiety-inducing high heels and slippery marble floors, but was mistakenly herded into a podiatry group by excited people carrying binders and many pens. After more wandering, I saw a small flyer for the Bar Table Championships, reachable through several more empty partitioned rooms.


so close after countless days crossing the Great Casino Carpet Desert


I never did make it to any of the previous U.S. Bar Table Championships so I don’t have a point of reference for comparison.


you may click to embiggen
you may click to embiggen


There were 30 tables and eight vendor booths. The tables were rather close together even though there was plenty of space. A fellow player surmised that the current event may have reused the lighting layout from the (much, much) more populous APA event the week before.

The TV arena looked to be the same as in prior U.S. Bar Table Championship events.


all the world’s a stage


I played well the first day.


only two choices: everything or nothing–very apropos for a casino


Then I fucked off all my second-day matches in grand style.



Afterwards, I was recruited to do a little commentary with Jay Helfert and Robert “Cotton” Leblanc, the main commentators for this event. The commentator’s seat is often the best in the house and, of course, you never miss a shot from the booth.


Jay HelfertRobert “Cotton” Leblanc, and a bag of their honey-roasted paychecks


It was mentioned that a previous commentator had been trying to make the nickname of “Thorpedo” stick for Billy Thorpe, one of the standout players in the tournament.


you read that in his voice


Worse nicknames, such as those composed only of acronyms whose letters stand for words that cannot be printed, do exist.

Mr. Helfert paid me to commentate the women’s eight-ball final with a Bloody Mary (surprisingly good for being made at a portable bar by a bartender who in all likelihood doesn’t give a rancid olive about pool). My co-commentator was the very pleasant Bret Baker of CueSports International. Together, we lulled listeners into a soothing stupor.


less than minimum wage but more than I earn playing pool


I was quite fascinated with the percentages listed below the names of the players. These are percentages reflecting how likely FargoRate thinks the player will win the match. According to high-level well-placed sources, no one’s chances of winning will ever be listed as 0%–it would apparently be too cruel.


After a well-earned rest, I woke up nice and early and jumped ship back to Los Angeles.


I imagine people flung about willy-nilly as this revolving door goes into the rinse cycle during high winds.
I imagine people flung about willy-nilly as this revolving door goes into the rinse cycle during high winds.


At the Greyhound station, I was rather amused by the login page for their station wifi access.


lush vineyards


Here is a more accurate representation of the Las Vegas station.


shoes, shirt, and pants optional–that’s more like it


There is wifi on the buses themselves now. It seems someone is trying to help people make bus buddies.


the bus is never a party zone


People on long-haul Greyhound buses do not look that happy. Ever. And for heaven’s sake, I wouldn’t want to be friends with people like me. Let’s just look stoically out the window until we arrive.


stone hustled by Ronald “Air Cheese Barrel” McDonald


In other news of the world, Los Angeles Metro’s Expo Line is light-rail heaven to me and it makes my commute from Skid Row back to the Westside more pleasant and convenient.



It was nice to Greyhound my way to a tournament again. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.


Although my stay was in Lost Wages was brief, it was nice to see peeps, old and new.

Toshi, Dan, & Stan | the Shadiest of All Katy | “Two Thumbs Up!” Kolkhorst | Mary Coffman




and now this

I am down 0-3 in an alternate-break race to 4 against an excellent opponent. FargoRate calculates my opponent’s chances of winning the match to be 94.7%, meaning I can still win the match. I had not played well but it is never too late to change. As I watch my opponent make ball after ball, I go through a mental checklist. More attention to form. No rushing. Relax grip hand. Focus. Focus.

And then a hand squeezed me under my arm right where my bra was.

Shocked and disgusted I turn to see a dude, pleased as punch with a loathsome smile on his face. “I just want you to know,” he said oozing self-satisfaction, “I’m rooting for you.”


It is a testament to how much I have grown that I controlled my reflexes.


I had not played competitive pool in a long, long time and my desire to win overruled–just this fucking once–the overwhelming, fist-trembling desire to puree this utter fucknugget with teeth, nails, and limitless fury.

In the best behavior this world shall never know from me again, I replied, “Yeah? That’s fucking fantastic.” And carefully walked away without any legal complications.

And he stood there.

Righteous grin on his face.


Like I owed him something.

You know what?



“Aww,” you might say. “He was just being nice.”


Buckle up, buttercup. By the time I’m done your eyelids will not be functional.


What you think and what he thinks doesn’t matter, because I am the one that got touched and I am the ONLY one who can pass judgment on how I felt.

Worst of all, I had no chance of avoiding his touch because it was completely unexpected. I can tune out people talking and I have. I can tune out people sharking and I have. But touch is the one thing that breaks concentration, especially when you are not prepared for it. This guy knew I was competing and went ahead and gratifed himself because he thought he was more important to me than me winning a goddamn national championship.


In what formal competition with the words “United States” and “Championships” in its name do you ever think a fucking spectator is going to just saunter into the arena and cop a feel off the participants?




He felt entitled to touch me, to disturb me while I was in my deepest state of concentration, in a place where I draw upon every last resource to accomplish something for me, because, guess what, I had a brief and polite conversation with him earlier in the tournament.

He was watching his sister play me and tried to initiate conversation several times, which I did not encourage. I do not like to talk when I am competing because I want to focus on winning. Afterwards, I made a conscious decision to be polite and talked with him for a few minutes about the game and nothing but the game. Nothing. But. The. Game. Because that is all I ever talk about and all I ever care about as over ten years’ worth of blathering blathershite on this blog will attest.

Yet he must have felt there was “something more,” something that entitled him to touch me without my permission.

This situation happens far more than you men will ever know but every woman in pool in the world has been through it: you converse politely with a dude and somehow, he takes that to mean you are interested in him or have now allowed him many unallowable liberties.

He now feels entitled to touch you without your fucking permission because, hey, you politely exchanged some words with him and you must obviously really, really like him, because why the fuck else would you politely exchange words with him.

I won’t talk about the next level because it’s terrible.


this is what happens when I’m talking about pool and I suddenly realize the guy thinks I’m interested in him


And I know he would say, “No, no, that’s not how it is at all! I just wanted to be friends!” Allow me, sir, to blow your mind: I did not want to be your friend. It is actually possible for me to continue living my life at a high level of quality having never known you. And if you were a friend, you wouldn’t fucking touch me while I was competing since you would have respected me and my goal of winning.


Think about what he said: “I just want you to know, I’m rooting for you.”

Oh my God it’s so fucking precious.

Are there women who would find that sentiment appealing? Sure! Are there men who would as well? Absolutely! Am I a member of either of that demographic? Fuck NO! Because we’re not all the same people and we don’t like the same things! Variety! It’s so beautiful!

Do you think, after eighteen fucking years of sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars, hours, miles, heartbreak, defeat, blisters, tears, anguish, success, fortitude, and eating nothing but ramen to build a bankroll to fire in the toughest of tough action matches, that it has come down to this, that you–and your fucking condescending twatwaffle sentiment–are going to win me this match?

Fuck your messiah complex.

I don’t play pool for you.

I read about and heard how much men HATED the women playing this tournament. The endless whining about “why are we watching these women play again on the livestream,” “oh god, it’s so boooring,” “why can’t we watch real pool.”

Yeah, women’s pool can be slower than the men.

Yeah, women’s pool can be more boring than the men.

Yet you cannot deny those women want to win just as much as the men.

I guarantee you that when they are fighting for that title, the money, the sense of accomplishment, they are not thinking, “Oh my gosh, am I boring these poor men who are watching?” “Are they going to feel faint and need smelling salts because I’m playing again in a final?” “Is it too, too tedious for them to see me win another title?” They are thinking about executing flawlessly under pressure, about recovering from a mistake, about distilling all their years and efforts into one true strike in an area less than four millimeters across.

They are not thinking about you.

And all these guys saying I didn’t pay for this pay-per-view to watch the women. Yeah? I didn’t fucking pay for cable to watch The Real Housewives of Miami but they’re on the same goddamn channel as Project Runway. Know what I do? When the Housewives come on, I adjust my monocle and–BOOM!–change the channel. It’s so easy! What a fucking time to be alive, amirite?!

I laugh imagining these guys sitting on their asses shaking their impotent fists at a streamed match they don’t like watching and declaring women the reason pool is dying as a sport. The women they diss are, at the very least, playing in the fucking tournament and by dint of their entry fee are keeping the fucking event alive–so these dudes can watch and complain. If we women are as shitty as these men say we are, then they need our dead money injected into the pool economy more than ever to fund their armchair aspirations.

I hope one day men will realize women and their bodies are not their property. I hope one day men will realize women do not exist or accomplish things for men. Until that day comes, I cannot encourage women to play pool because it is too often a shit world to be in.