stuff that has recently made me happy
not about getting what you want, but wanting what you have
It tastes good.
Nature: MoAr OrEnJ kAtZ
A new cat, who doesn’t live in my apartment building, has taken to visiting me now and then. Interestingly enough, it is an orange cat that looks a lot like my building’s regular cat, Oliver. This new cat is a younger, smaller, more energetic version of Oliver — you know, before he hit middle age and developed a beer gut.
Since around 80% of orange tabby cats are male, I’ll refer to Mystery Kitteh as a “he”.
Mystery Kitteh obviously belongs to somebody since he’s got a flea collar, but he doesn’t have any identifying tags. He is fearlessly inquisitive and likes to come into my apartment when the door is open and walk around looking and poking at things. He likes watching me cook but doesn’t ask for food and when offered food, only takes a tiny bit. He also likes to tease the big chow dog that lives upstairs.
Bonus: Pool and poker player Scott Ulrich told me that orange tabby cats are almost always outdoor cats because they like to roam and don’t like staying indoors.
That’s cool information I would never expect a dude, especially of the pool and poker ilk, to know.
Internet: How To Beat Up Anything
A guide to fighting everything. Bullies, politicians, robots, even time-traveling future-versions of yourself, back to harass you about your life choices.
TV : Kiefer Sutherland & Bank of America
So, now that I watch “24”, I know who Kiefer Sutherland is. I also finally detected his voice (at regular indoor non-yelling volume) as the voiceover for Bank of America’s “Keep The Change” commercials. In these commercials, he narrates how great it is to be in America because we can do certain things like “hav[e] pancakes at three in the afternoon”.
That’s not uniquely American.
“…having pancakes at three in the afternoon, because, goddammit, if you don’t let me order off the breakfast menu, Jack Bauer’s gonna come in here and tear you a new one!”
Now that’s uniquely American.
Nature: Venus the Cat
Venus the Cat now resides in San Francisco with my good friends IronChefOverEasy and AllieKat of the West. She’s gotten grumpier in her old age, but she’s still capable of purring grudgingly if you offer her bacon or sour cream.
Billiards: Challenge Matches by The Action Report
The bestest live-streaming billiards outfit, The Action Report, recently announced a new challenge match. Current World 10-Ball Champion Darren “Dynamite” Appleton of England and Dennis “The Hatchet Man” Hatch of Somewhere in the Northeast of America will be battling out the classic race to 100 games in 10-ball over a span of three days at Pool Sharks in Las Vegas on May 4-6, 2009.
Oh, and just to turn up their noses at Shane Van Boening, Alex Pagulayan, Stevie Moore, Chris Bartram, Scott Frost, and the various other shimmering stars of previous challenge matches, Mr. Appleton and Mr. Hatch have agreed to bet $20,000 per man — which is a tad higher than the previously acceptable spare change of $10,000 per player.
And they say the economy sucks… Riiiight.
Anyhow, you can catch the action live, on TAR’s PPV for $25 for all three days of action. That’s an awesome deal, since entry into one half-day session at your typical professional even runs you about $20. And through the magic of PPV, you can watch in your pajamas and/or while watching your kids at the same time. Hey, you’ve got two eyes. One for the kids, one for the action. Hell, the kids have eyes, too. Then two eyes on the action and let the kids watch themselves.
This is a hell of an appetizer for you pool nuts before the main course, the 2009 BCAPL 8-Ball Nationals, begins on May 6th and concludes on May 16th.
Also, let’s not forget:
Keep in mind the following super-important bit of information:
This event will be a great lead in to the 2009 BCAPL 8 Ball Nationals where The Action Report will replace the now defunct Splash Bar with the TAR Bar. Come out and join us in Vegas for all of the Action!
This year, if you feel you’re sinking in the TAR Pit, at least you’ll have the TAR Bar to ease your pain…
creature double feature
When I left Valley Forge earlier this year, I took a shuttle to the airport. The driver of the van was a very elderly gentleman, bordering on ancient, who talked much about his grandchildren. The other passengers kept conversation with him so I zoned out and thought about other stuff.
When we got to my terminal, I hopped out of the van and went to the rear doors to get my luggage: a backpack, a small, beat-up duffle bag, and a cheap, 1×1 cue case. My things weren’t heavy so after the driver opened the door, I reached in and got the bags myself since the driver moved very slowly, probably due to his age. After I hefted everything onto my shoulders, I paid my fare.
“Whoa,” the driver said. “This is too much money.”
“Is it? I thought I had it right.” I took the bills back, counted them out, and it was fine. I had given him $35. The cost of the ride was $29. I handed the money back to him.
“It’s only $29,” the driver said.
“I know,” I replied. “The extra money is for the tip… Right?” Maybe this driver was European and tipping was offensive in his eyes.
“Oh, tip. Tip.” He seemed surprised. “Really? A tip? For me?”
Although I was slightly puzzled, I felt a twinge of embarrassment. Maybe this guy rarely got tips and this was a big deal. “Umm… Yes… Tip…” I did a quick calculation to make sure I left a decent amount. It was just a smidgen over twenty percent. Not bad. Quite good. I readjusted my bags and was ready to step onto the sidewalk, but the driver kept the back doors open, which blocked my way. He leaned in as if to say something. “Yes?”
I was pre-emptively thinking of some polite response to his thanks when he said, “Well now, the last guy gave me a fifty and told me to keep the change.”
My semi-rehearsed words fizzled out. “What?”
“I said, ‘The last guy gave me a fifty and told me to keep the change.’ He gave me a $21 tip.” The driver waited expectantly.
“I see… “
A few processes ran through my head very quickly. I thought the driver was a good, honest fellow who probably did not get tipped much and might have really thought six dollars was too much for a tip. However, in the span of a few seconds, Dr. Jackoff had turned into Mr. Snide, and it seemed he was now sarcastically trying to pressure me into tipping him a redonkulous amount.
I shrugged and thought, well, times are tough and I guess everyone’s gotta do what they gotta do, and say what they gotta say, for a shot to get that extra dollar for themselves or their grandkids.
“Say… Was that big tipper a s—ty amateur pool player who flies two thousand miles to a tournament only to get knocked out in the first round?”
“No…” Now he seemed confused. “What does that have to do with anything?”
I marched around him and left him holding the door with one hand and his undeserved six dollars in the other.
A few weeks ago I played a league match.
I was spotting my opponent one game in a race to five, and, very quickly, my team and I could see that my opponent was a very good player for his level and I might not be able to fade giving him the one game on the wire.
Early one, I made a few mistakes and my opponent punished me well for them. If I missed, he ran out. He was an impressive shotmaker and I could not get warmed up, as it were, since I didn’t have much chance to shoot. Very quickly, the score became 3-0. My opponent was on the hill, and I hadn’t even shot for the fifth time in the match.
In the fourth game, my opponent broke well and I could see the table was set for a fairly routine runout. There was only one minor weakness in my opponent’s otherwise excellent game, and that was his tendency to let the cue ball loose every once in a while. I generally favor a conservative approach to barbox eight-ball because I don’t like to disturb the layout if I don’t have to. My opponent’s loose cue ball wasn’t detrimental to him in most of this match because the layouts had generally been wide open with the balls spread well and no clusters. I don’t know if he was getting jittery because victory was so close, but in this last game, he let the cue ball run absolutely wild.
In the beginning of his runout, his lack of cue ball control didn’t affect the layout too much — balls crashed into each other, but still managed to end up in makeable places. Finally, my opponent let the cue ball off its leash one too many times, and one of his object balls rolled to a stop frozen to one of mine. By now, most of his object balls were gone and there were no breakout balls near the cluster. He shot wildly at his second-to-last object ball and although the cue ball traveled far and crashed into many things, it did not break out his cluster. He ended up hooked on that last ball, kicked, and missed. I got ball-in-hand and a table that, thanks to his feral cue ball, was completely clusterf—ed.
Lately, my performance in league has been inconsistent. I play great one week and then play like s— the next. The week before this, I had played like absolute donkey s—. And now, my opponent was on the hill, I was still playing like various forms of animal dung, and I had a totally f—ed up table to run. My physical game was nonexistent and my mental game had taken a holiday. It was a low point in my meager pool career.
Looking at the table, my mind was flooded with indecision. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to play safe or run out. There were too many options and too many decisions to be made and I swear I was going to have a nervous breakdown with steam coming out of my ears at any minute.
If you distill all the techniques, nuances, and systems of the game down to their most basic purpose, you will find that the prime directive is to Make The Ball.
I chose the offensive route.
If I’m going to lose, I’m going to lose in a blaze of glory.
I began the runout and immediately got horrendously out of line after making the first ball. My opponent began chalking his cue the way a butcher sharpens a knife and his teammates patted him on the back. My teammates sank into their chairs and tried not to look at the table. I focused again on the table and made an incredible shot to get the cue ball back into line. Now my teammates brightened up and my opponent put his chalk cube down. I shot again, and once again, managed to botch it and was once again ridiculously out of line. The other team chuckled and two of them surreptitiously high-fived each other. My teammates turned their smiles upside down into a frown. I made a spectacular bank and once again, my cue ball was back on track. The two teams alternated their emotions once again. If I wasn’t so focused on the game, I would no doubt have found great hilarity in the exaggerated emotions that alternated with how f—ed up of a shot I left myself. All you could hear was, “Yaaaay!” and “Awww.” with perfect, studio-audience regularity.
This seesawing of Good Shot, Bad Shot continued on until I was down to the last three balls. I had to get in a very specific spot for my second-to-last object ball in order to be able to make it, and drive the cue ball into that cluster that held my opponent’s last ball. I shot my third-to-last object ball, but unfortunately, I was due for a Bad Shot, and my cue ball went much too far and there was no chance of breaking that last cluster with the cue ball now.
My opponent’s knife-whetting began anew. My team looked seasick from all the emotional ups and downs. I looked at the table and saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
I shot my last free ball, the thirteen-ball, hard into the middle of that cluster. The thirteen rocketed off that cluster into the lower corner pocket. The cluster was now broken up and I had a steep, ugly cut down the rail on my remaining fourteen-ball. I fired it in and when the fourteen was done wiping its feet, it dropped into the pocket and the cue ball settled down into a perfect spot — I had a super-easy straight-in shot on the eight into the side pocket. My team jumped to its feet and the opposing team’s eyes just about fell out of their sockets. I paused for a moment to let the person on the next table shoot, then walked to the other side of the table and lined up for the eight. I got down on the shot, took a practice stroke or two, and then something pushed my shooting arm hard enough for me to lose balance and my cue dug forward in one jerky, ugly motion towards the cue ball. Everyone gasped.
I knew instantly what had happened.
It was the guy — let’s name him Peewok — on the adjoining table.
Let me give you some background on Peewok.
I dislike him greatly.
He’s your typical, pompous league player who thinks he’s a lot better than he actually is. He looks like the love child of an ewok and a fat hobbit. He wears clothes that are too tight and extremely unflattering. He’s freaking ugly. These reasons are not why I dislike him. I dislike him because he somehow manages to defy the laws of physics.
Peewok is only about five-foot-four, give or take an inch. His portly hobbitishness is distributed somewhat proportionately on his frame, that is to say, he is overweight, but not obese. That being said, I CANNOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIGURE OUT WHY HE TAKES UP SO MUCH F—ING SPACE.
When Peewok plays, he has a very wide stance and a big backstroke. For as small as he is, I have learned that you’d better stand at least outside a ten-foot radius of him if you don’t want to lose an eye. Peewok also likes to stick his extremely prominent read end very, very far out when he bends over to shoot. He’s knocked over cues, cases, barstools, cocktail tables, and could probably dam up that cresting Missouri River in North Dakota with that huge backside of his. It’s SO F—ING AWKWARD to play anywhere near that dude.
Now, combine Peewok’s tendency to take up SO much space AND his pomposity and you begin to see why I freaking wish he would stop being a waste of oxygen and go dam up a flooding river a thousand miles away already.
I stood back up from the table and I could see Peewok standing to my right tapping his foot impatiently, pouting, with his hand on his hip. Miraculously, my cue had baaaaarely missed the cue ball when Peewok’s fat butt had all but knocked me over. Nothing on the table had been disturbed. I had not moved any of the balls, and MOST IMPORTANTLY I had not fouled the cue ball — although I had been a mere two millimeters from doing so. I glanced up at my team. Their eyes were wide with surprise — and fear. And they had a right to be afraid.
My poor play in recent weeks had put me in a foul frame of mind. The week before this, I had lost very, very badly to a player several notches below my level. The match had been quick, but not painless. Afterwards, I had gone outside the pool room and had a boxing match with a brick wall. I’ve done this countless times before. As I usually tell those who know me, don’t worry about my knuckles — they’re pretty much invincible. Just be glad I’m having fights with inanimate objects rather than people.
Now, Peewok had been playing on the PRACTICE table next to my table. That is, his table was for people shooting around for s—s and giggles. As such, the actual match tables held precedence for right of way during shots in this somewhat crowded pool room. When I began my match, I had been aware of Peewok on the other table and had carefully waited each time to make sure he was done shooting before I got up to shoot. As much as I disliked him, I did not want to disrupt my concentration by having to deal with another irritant.
Before I had got down to shoot the eight-ball, I had waited until he was done shooting. Then, I had moved over to shoot. There was NO WAY Peewok could not have seen that I was shooting and that I was shooting the eight-ball — the most important shot of the game. Yet, he had not had the patience to wait for me to finish shooting, but had instead decided brilliantly that he would simply use his all-encompassing badonkadonk to shove me aside to make way for himself, the world’s greatest player ever.
Peewok, you f—ing asshole.
I could see him in my peripheral vision gesturing as if I had insulted him by not stepping aside to allow him to shoot first. All I could think about was how nailbiting and heartwrenching this one little game of eight-ball had been for me. I had f—ed up, made things right, f—ed up, and made things right again and again. I fought through it all to make it to the end — the deserving, straight-in-finally-an-easy-shot eight-ball end. This insignificant game, although just one of many millions I would play in my lifetime, had still taken exceptional effort.
I had never interacted with Peewok in all the years I have played league, but, I had had enough of his shenanigans. I could not describe to you how much anger I was feeling at the moment. Now, he strode up imperiously with his arm out to indignantly inform me that I needed to move. A fight was imminent. My teammates mobilized for the oncoming ragefest bar brawl they knew was coming. The minute Peewok opened his mouth, he’d be losing teeth. My captain stood up hurriedly. I was still gazing at the eight-ball on the table when I saw Peewok’s hand near my elbow.
Without changing expression or position, I said neutrally to the air in front of me, “You do that again and I’ll cut your f—ing nuts off.”
Peewok paused a moment, turned around, and went back to his chair. He may or may not have seen my horrifically scabbed-over knuckles. I shot the eight-ball and made it.
I won the next four games to win the match 5-3, and then left as quietly as I had arrived.
to answer the question, no, I don’t vote on my own polls
The question was…
“If you discovered a technique that would GREATLY improve everyone’s pool game (including yours) regardless of skill level or style of play, would you share or teach it to others?”
As of this posting, the majority of you, 44 of you say, yes, you would share the technique while the remaining 15 say no, you would not share the information.
Naturally, I now ask all you poll participants, yea-sayers and nay-sayers alike, “Why?”
Why or why would you not share the information? Also, I didn’t clarify before, but in this scenario, you would not be paid for teaching the technique.
Post your responses in the comments section (anonymous comments are allowed) below or you may email me your thoughts.