verklempt

stuff that has recently made me happy
silver linings, rainbows & all

ruff!

Internet: You Gotta Be Tough If You’re Gonna Be Stupid
Justin Collett, one of the large halves of The Action Report, has started a blog. Since he has access to most of pool’s most colorful characters (with or without substantial bankrolls), you can only imagine the stories he has to tell and the photographs he’s taken. Here’s to more posts in the future, Justin!
theactionreport.blogspot.com

This is Icon of Sin and I approve this message.

Food: Sugar Cookies
Simple cookies that smell good while they’re baking and taste great when they’re done.

Nature: Honduran White Bats

The Honduran white bat (Ectophylla alba) has snow white fur and a yellow nose and ears. It is tiny, only 37-47 mm long.

They look like — and are the same size as — cottonballs! They live in leaf tents! ^__^
Honduran White Bats @ Wikipedia

Nature: Peacock Spiders
Continuing with adorable creepy-crawlies, we have the Peacock Spider next.

The Peacock spider or Gliding spider (Maratus volans) is a species of jumping spider. The red, blue and black colored males have flap-like extensions of the abdomen with white hairs that can be folded down. They are used for display during mating: the male raises his abdomen, then expands and raises the flaps so that the abdomen forms a white-fringed, circular field of color. The species, and indeed the whole genus Maratus have been compared to peacocks in this respect. The third pair of legs is also raised for display, showing a brush of black hairs and white tips. While approaching the female, the male will then vibrate raised legs and tail, and dance from side to side.

The colors and moves of this highly self-confident and showy critter would not be out of place at the trendiest Vegas nightclubs…

shake that booty stayin' alive

…and just to make it extra amusing, click here for a final pic of our debonair arachnid.

Food: Nothing Salves The Soul Like Cholesterol
So, I was pretty bummed [massive understatement right there] that I didn’t do better at the BCAPL 8-Ball Championships. It was very generous of my friend Selyem to help me get over this gloominess with excellent foods. Behold, my consolation prizes…

booze tuna tartare lamb chops sorbet... my favorite

carne asada steak yes, you guessed it... IHOP!!

I also lost about ten pounds during the tournament and this series of food helped me get four of them back.

Thanks, dude!

Internet: My Milk Toof
Bizarrely charming.

The Story

When I was young, I placed my baby teeth under my pillow and when I woke up I’d find a shiny new quarter. But whatever happened to those little teeth? Where did they go? Would I ever see them again?

Many years later, a little tooth was standing at my door. It looked familiar. Its name was ickle. Welcome home, my milk toof!

If you have young kids, they will love it. Heck, you might love it. I’m a stone-hearted biatch and I love it.
mymilktoof.blogspot.com

Food: Kurzweil’s Country Meats
The
Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst owns my soul.
www.kurzweilscountrymeats.com

 

 

realign all the stars above my head
a little bit south & a little bit east

Occasionally, I like to compete in pool.

The biggest local tournament in my area comes around at the beginning of each month. I hadn’t played in this event for many, many moons. I think the last time I played, the Edsel was unveiled as the stylish car of the future. I cannot remember the last time I didn’t go two-and-out in this particular tournament. Maybe when Grady Mathews was considered a young whippersnapper or Buddy Hall was about my size. In any case, I’m used to losing enough that another two-and-out doesn’t faze me an iota.

On a fabulously sunny Sunday morning which would have been ideal for surfing, running, walking around an outdoor mall with friends, reading a book whilst outside a coffee shop, or other equally pleasant and productive social and individual activities, I decided I would like nothing more than to throw another $30 fastball at the At Least It’s Good Experience Fund and spend my entire day in a dank, irritatingly hot and humid pool room with other like-minded individuals…

 

[8:00a]
No rest for the wicked. I get up and put my things in order. People like to poke fun at my giant handbag by saying, “What? Do you, like, live in there or something?” Why, yes. Yes, I do. I pack some Triscuits (yum), a bottle of water, maps, public transit timetables, and a book or two. I bring all my small electronics (by which this blog is written) and the chargers for those as well.

[8:50a]
I’m off to the bus stop where I wait for the #720. Traffic is light this early, so that means it won’t take me more than 45 minutes or so to get downtown. During rush hour on a weekday, this same trip can take upwards of two hours.

[9:01a]
The bus is on time — and away we go!

[9:43a]
The 720 drops me off downtown and I head over to the train station to catch the Blue Line south. All the train stations feature artwork. Here you can see the surreal painted tiles that decorate this particular station. I’ve always been amused by this…

…if only because it features a totally random eight-ball floating in space. 🙂

[9:52a]
After I buy my ticket, I make a mad dash for the platform since I can hear a waiting train. Reduced service for all public transit systems on the weekends means I have to be extra careful in my travel planning. If I miss this train, I’ll have to wait a half-hour for the next one. It would also mean I would miss the next bus I have to take which would then result in me not making it in time for the tournament.

[9:56a]
I make it to the train right before it takes off. This is after running up and down four flights of stairs. In heels. It’s good exercise.

[10:00a]
The train leaves the station.

[10:18a]
I pass through South Central, Florence, Watts, and Willowbrook before arriving in Compton. These are not the best neighborhoods (most famous for the 1965 and 1992 riots). I didn’t take any photographs to avoid attracting undue attention.

[10:28a]
I arrive at Artesia station in the city of Compton. Freight trains run alongside the city train here and, despite warnings to cross only when safe, people cross whenever they danged well please. I don’t normally have patience but when it comes to life or death — hell yes, I do.

[10:57a]
I have my iPod on and I’m sitting down, reading a book and trying to get my meager allowance of vitamin D via sunshine when a strange man waves a hand in my face.

“What.” I don’t even look up.

“You like reading?”

“Yes. It keeps me from having to talk to people I don’t know.”

“Oh. That a good book?”

“Yes.”

“Ray Bradbury, huh? You know I was just watching a documentary on him this morning.”

I don’t answer. Don’t feed the bears. This tactic seems to work and the strange man retreats to the other side of the bench. Satisfied that I made my point, I go back to reading.

Out of nowhere, a phone is shoved between my face and my book. This time I have to look up. It’s the same f—ing idiot. “My name is Cedric, what’s your name?” He says this a little loudly and it piques the interest of other people waiting for the bus. He makes a big show of sticking out his hand for a handshake. I look at his grimy hands. Yuck.

“No.”

“No?”

“No.”

“You ain’t gonna tell me yo’ name?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“No.”

The strange man is at an impasse. He ponders the situation. I close my book, put it in my bag, and put my hands in my jacket pockets which house my JawJacker (thanks Heath!) and my Emerson. Although I’m quite sure I won’t have to bring my two semi-deadly friends to this party, I certainly am not adverse to it. The more the merrier.

The strange man slides over towards me on the bench. I stand up with my hands in my pockets. Unsure of what is going on and now very aware that he was being watched by the crowd, he stammers, “Oh, uh, so… you… ain’t gonna give me yo’ number?”

F—. NO.Laughter ensues.

Realizing that he’s in a losing battle, the strange man leans back and puts on an air of exaggerated relaxation. “Oh, I know you just think I’m hitting on you, but no, I ain’t hittin’ on you, I just want get to know you better, is all.” Uh… I believe that is the definition of hitting on someone, twerp. “It’s okay, I ain’t mad at you, even though you won’t tell me your name. Now how about we get to know each other better?” He throws an arm out in an expansive gesture and looks around at the crowd for what I can only guess is support.

“How about… NO.” The crowd snickers some more and the strange man is now ill at ease — and his options for making a dignified exit are dwindling.

“Well, well, well. Okay, I git you. I unnastan.” He makes a show of wounded pride, with his hand on his heart. “It’s a fine, fine day and I was just thinkin’ it’d be nice to get to know a pretty lady. Spend a lil time, a lil money on her, you know? Now what’s a man like me gonna do now wit’ the time and money?”

To my infinite relief, I could see my bus rounding the corner. I relaxed a little and I must have inadvertently smiled, as the strange man took hope and moved closer. “What’s a man like me gonna do wit all this time and money on this nice day?”

“Go f— himself?”

[11:08a]
I board my last bus, the 130 heading east, and leave a vehemently cursing man stewing in the sunshine. On this nice day.

[11:36a]
I arrive at the pool room. The tournament is supposed to start at 1:00 p.m. so I’m quite early. I sit down to read some more.

[during the next 8 hours]
I win my first match 5-1. A race to 5 is short. Anyone can win a race to 5. However, my victory is still considered an upset as my opponent is a well-known as an up-and-coming player in the area. Every dog has its day and I guess my day is today.

My opponent in my second match is a player that used to be considered a professional. He used to have to spot everyone (except other professionals) a game on the wire. On the tournament chart, professionals have their names written in blue, C-players and below have their names in red, and everyone else in between has their name written in black. This player’s name is still written in blue so I assume I still get the one game on the wire. I find out that I don’t.

So I ask, “If he’s not spotting the field any more, why is his name still in blue?”

“Well, there’s an ‘in-between’ level now,” I’m told.

“WTF? Either his name is in blue and he spots a game or he’s the same as the rest of us and his name is in black.”

“Well, he’s like… like… a semi-professional.”

I will say this again as I have said before: being a professonal pool player is like being pregnant. Either you are a professional or you are not. You cannot be semi-pregnant. You cannot be a semi-professional.

Regardless of my philosophy, I lose 5-1.

I do notice during the match that my opponent does not play at the same level he used to, so by the end of the match, I feel that him playing even with the majority of the field is probably fair.

The losers’ side matches are a race to 4. I win my next match 4-0. This is a rather nice win as I am allowed to play on the tournament side of the pool room where the tables have much tighter pockets. It makes me feel less like I’m cheating because of big pockets.

I win the next match 4-2.

I lose the next match 4-2, to my dependable nemesis, SAPP Donkey and I end up in the “one-outta” spot I am so familiar with — out of of the money. Still, 3-2 is a good record for me for this tournament and I stay after my losses to watch some more of the tournament. At this point, the usual professional suspects are the ones left in the tournament and it’s some good pool to watch.

[12:45a]
I get back home somewhere around this time. It was a good day. 🙂

 

 

warning signs travel far
a bit further south & a tiny bit further east

Occasionally, I feel a need to travel.

Last week, I decided (somewhat last-minute) to do the Blue Cannonball Run which I haven’t done in a while. The Blue Cannonball is my term for a weekend trip from Los Angeles, CA to Phoenix, AZ via Greyhound in the name of a tournament.

On Friday, my work was actually letting out early for an event. I could leave at 2:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. Now, the usual bus I take to Phoenix doesn’t leave until 11:30 p.m. When I take this bus, I can sleep on the way and save myself a night of hotel expenses. Cheap, but effective. Since I had the whole afternoon free, I figured I’d go practice a little, then go home and nap until it was time to head to Skid Row, where the main Greyhound station is located.

S— doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. Sometimes for the better.

At the pool room, I budgeted for about an hour-and-a-half of practice. Some of you may have noticed that I am playing with a different cue nowadays. This cue plays very different from my previous cues — it plays FREAKING AWESOME! It brought my game up by at least two balls (the balls a lot of men are missing). It’s a great cue, but I still have to adjust a little to get used to it. During the drills portion of my practice, I stumbled upon why I had been missing a certain shot. I worked on this bit of information for the next three hours. By the end of my practice, I was playing much better — but it was now too late to take a nap. No worries, I thought, I’ll still get a solid six or seven hours aboard Greyhound. I hurried home.

Back at home, I packed lightly and quickly. I then cleaned my room. I’m one of those people that cleans before I go on trips. There’s something nice about coming back to a clean room after a trip. Very peaceful and comfy.

[10:00p]
I headed out to the bus stop up the street. It’s time for another ride on the 720 to downtown.

[10:45p]
I get off the bus about a half-mile away from the Greyhound station. I’m currently in Skid Row, which is home to one of the largest stable populations of homeless persons in the United States. In recent years, the levels of crime have dropped out here but that doesn’t mean I’m going to whistle a cheery tune and skip down the streets.

[11:00p]
I walk into the Greyhound station at 11:00 p.m. sharp and I realize I’ve dogged it.

The station is absolutely packed. Luckily, I purchased a will-call ticket, so I can skip the amusement-park style line for ticket purchases and just pick up my ticket at a window. It’s almost time to board my bus and I realize that I’ve still dogged it. The line for my bus is longer than even the ticket line. It’s safe to estimate there is over 150 people waiting to get on that bus.

Each Greyhound bus only accomodates 55 people.

It is quite possible that I will miss this bus. If I do, it is likely that I won’t make it to the tournament as the next bus doesn’t leave until 7:00 a.m. — and I wouldn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:25 p.m., long after the tournament has started.

Well, I get in line and just hope.

[12:20a]
Hope wins out as two more buses are added and I get on the last bus. We leave almost an hour behind schedule, but these late-night schedules generally have no problem making up the lost time since there is little to no traffic on the way. Here’s my view leaving Los Angeles:

[the next few hours]
Sweet. I’m on a bus and I’m going to make it to Phoenix on time. The thought of an upcoming tournament makes me happy.

S— doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. Sometimes for the worse.

The particular bus I’m on has something wrong with the restroom at the back. No words can describe the horrific stench that wafts throughout the bus and finds its way into every nostril. In addition, the air conditioning on the bus is faulty and the temperature on the bus is consistently below 40 degrees, which would be great if I was a can of Coke, but I’m not.

I can’t sleep when I’m cold.

This sucks.

[4:15a]
We pull into Quartzsite, AZ and everyone rushes off for a smoke break. The other two buses stop here as well and it’s kind of amusing to see the giant cloud of smoke rising from a hundred people puffing away in the darkness.

The lights of the gas station attract insects and, in turn, large bats that wheel around chasing these insects. It’s eerie to watch these big leathery critters turn on a dime in mid-air and attack things — all in complete silence.

After fifteen minutes, we are on the road again.

[4:35a]
Light touches the horizon as daylight approaches.

While admiring the scenery, I finally fall asleep…

[6:30a]
The bus arrives on time in Phoenix. I still have about two hours before I need to catch a ride on the Phoenix public transit system to the pool room. I sit down in one of many efficiently uncomfortable seats in the station and try to doze.

I guess this must be how a steak feels like on a grill, minus the heat.

I can’t sleep so I plug in up my phone and iPod and read while they charge up.

[8:50a]
I leave the station and walk across the street to the bus stop. Here’s a view of the Phoenix Greyhound station.

[9:00a]
I’ve always liked the design of this bus stop. I know all the bus stops in Phoenix don’t look like this so I can only imagine they keep the ones around the airport looking artsy so as to make a good first impression on visitors. The river rocks behind the rusted metal give it a nice antique Old West look.

[9:15a]
The 13 going west arrives and I hop on.

[9:40a]
I’m dropped off at 35th & Buckeye and I go over to another bus stop where I will catch the 35 heading north. It’s early but the air is already heating up. After all those hours on a Greyhound that must have been smuggling ice cubes, the heat is most welcome.

[9:55a]
The 35 arrives and I’m now on the last leg of my journey.

[10:45a]
I get off at 35th & Peoria. A short walk later, I’m at the pool room. I go change into nicer clothes that don’t smell of cesspools and cigarettes and I’m ready to play. Whee!

[12:00p]
The entries are closed, the draw is done, and so it begins.

[the next few hours]
My first match is against a super-cute blonde girl with the most charming Alabama accent. She plays very well, and successfully three-fouls me to win a game. I can’t remember the last time I tried to three-foul someone. I make a mental note of it and also make a note to bear down more and not be lazy. I manage to win this match, 7-3.

My next match is against an older woman who looks like a female version of the animated grumpy old man in Disney-Pixar’s Up movie.

Let’s call her Carl.

Carl is a very, very good shotmaker with a strong stroke. I miss once in the first rack and she runs out to win the first game. She breaks in the second rack and doesn’t make a ball. I run out. This is going to be a good match. I’m beginning to fade from fatigue and lack of food, but I know my opponent will force me to bear down in spite of it all.

In the third game, I break, but the balls don’t spread very well and there are some clusters. I make the one, and don’t get good shape on the two-ball. I play a safe and leave her a tough shot. She tries to cut the two but whiffs it completely and gives me ball-in-hand. I try to make the two and break up the three and four which are stuck together on the bottom rail. I break up the cluster, but the balls don’t separate the way I thought they would. I make the three but there is no good shot on the four. I play a safe by tucking the cue ball behind the nine-ball.

Carl gives me a dirty look and snorts.

It’s a good safe and she doesn’t hit the four. Unfortunately, in her wild swing at the four, she manages to hit a few of the remaining balls on the table and more clusters arise. In particular, the five-ball and the seven-ball tie up together in the middle of the table. I make the four-ball and I am hoping to be able to cut the five into the side pocket. The five is frozen to the seven, but I think it can still be cut in the side. I’m not sure though, and I look at it for several moments. I try a slow kill-shot with some sidespin to cut the five-ball. I end up hitting the five so badly, bordering on a miscue, that the cue ball stops and the five ball hits just above the point of the side pocket.

Bummer.

S— doesn’t always work out the way you think it will. Sometimes for absolutely hilarious reasons.

The cue ball ended up behind the seven, the five pinged uptable — and I had inadvertently safed Carl.

Carl looked at me with pure hatred and said, “You don’t have to play chicken-sh*t pool you know.”

“What?”

“Oh, I see what you’re doing. You’re just going to bump the balls. You’re not going to shoot any of them because you’re not good enough to run out.”

“Huh? I was trying to cut the five. I dogged it.”

“Oh no, I know what you were trying. You were trying to three-foul me. I know you were.”

I chuckled a little at this. Well, I hadn’t been trying to three-foul her, but it looked like it was going to happen, anyways. As most of you know, I have a highly aggressive game. I always believe that the prime purpose in pool is to put the ball in the pocket. As a result, I favor shotmaking over all other philosophies. Of course, I had also put together some nice runs already, so it was pretty obvious I could run out. Carl missed the kick and the game was over.

As I racked the balls (it was alternate-break format), Carl continued muttering obscenities. I finished racking and said kindly, “You know, you can three-foul, too. No one says you can’t do it. The last girl three-fouled me and she played it well.”

“Oh no, I’m not going to do that. I’m old school. I play with HONOR.”

I had to laugh. I think I pitied this grumpy old woman with permafrown. She was obviously quite a pool player, but she was also bitter and unhappy. I’d been like that before in my life, but I’d learned life doesn’t always have to be like that.

“I see.” Carl broke the rack and starting hitting the balls at a hundred miles an hour. “I guess there are worse things to be than young and dishonorable.” I regret that Carl probably did not hear my last statement. It would have started a parking-lot fight for sure. But then again, I am trying to be less assholic these days.

So, in the name of less assholity, I did something I should have never done — I fought Carl on her own turf.

I played pure shotmaking pool in all its glory. I felt no fear, only mild amusement. I was playing pool the way I loved to play with a big stroke, multiple-rail position, and balls hitting the back of the pocket liners with authority. Earl Strickland would have been proud.

In one of the games, the six and seven ended up quite close to one another on the rail, with the seven a little in front of the six. I could see a good portion of the six and thought about the possibility of banking the six into the seven into the side pocket. Carl told me she wanted to call someone to watch the hit. I had no problems with this. I waved at the tournament desk but the ladies could not see me. Carl started walking toward the tournament desk. One of the ladies got up and headed toward our table and she got there first.

I told the referee that I was thinking of banking the six ball. I thought about it again, and said, no, I wasn’t going to make the six, I was just going to hit it. She looked at the layout and nodded. Since Carl wasn’t at the table yet, I didn’t shoot. Carl hurried over and said sharply, “What was that whispering? Was she complaining before I could hear her?”

We both looked at her in surprise. “No,” I said. “I was telling her that I wasn’t going try and make the six ball.”

“And I was telling her I was waiting for you before I made the call.”

Carl looked at us suspiciously and said, “She wasn’t complaining about me?”

“No, we were just waiting for you.”

GodDAAAAMN! Carl is one bitter, BITTER pool player! I seriously thought I had the title of Biggest Bitch In Pool sewn up for life, but I must concede my tiara and sash in the presence of such true greatness. I couldn’t help it, I laughed some more. I’m sure it did nothing to endear me to Carl. Regardless, I made a good hit and the battle continued.

I soon reached the hill and it was my break. Carl had been racking the balls poorly throughout the whole  match but her irateness had so tickled my funnybone that I had said nothing and merely smashed loose rack after loose rack. I looked at the final rack and I could see, even as far back as I was, that the rack was loose again. I smiled and said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to pop in that nine-ball right about now? That would be the ultimate offensive shot.”

I let loose one of the better breaks in my life on that rack. I could feel the shock of the hit all the way up my arm and into my shoulder blade. The rack had been slugged well, however, and despite the nuclear force of my break, all the balls seemed merely to crowd towards the bottom of the table like a flock of panicked chickens with a lone ball here and there making it to the side rail in the confusion.

The four darted into the lower left corner pocket, followed by the six, which was then followed by the nine-ball, which had been herded in by the seven which had been bumped by the three.

Carl looked wide-eyed at the table and then at me. I shrugged and said placidly, “S— happens.”

By now, I was really beginning to feel the effects of exhaustion. I struggled to maintain focus in my next match. I was behind early on to the tune of 4-0. Somewhere along the way, I vaguely remember finding my stroke and running out a lot of balls — probably three racks’ worth. It was a heroic effort, but I still lost 7-5.

On the losers’ side, I drew the eventual winner of the tournament and she played perfect. I learned a lot about pool en route to being blitzed 7-1.

And so ended my tournament.

[5:00p]
Since my tournament was over, I called to cancel my hotel reservation as I planned to head back home that same night. After cancelling my hotel, I looked at my ticket and noticed something I had never seen before on a Greyhound ticket, the words: “Restricted to schedule.”

S—.

In all the years I have used Greyhound, one of the best perks has been the ability to catch whatever bus, regardless of which schedule was originally purchased. I called and unfortunately, the ticket was right. Greyhound had recently started offering deals on tickets and some of these tickets had restrictions that they actually stuck to. Arrgh. I wasn’t really well-funded enough to buy a new, last-minute ticket home, but if I didn’t, that meant I couldn’t leave until 10:35 p.m. the next day.

I sat down to contemplate what I should do. And also to charge up my phone and iPod again. In the end, I figured I’d just stay in town until it was time to go. Pool in Phoenix is a hell of a lot cheaper than pool in Los Angeles, so I would take advantage of it. I had nowhere to stay, so I decided I’d just stay awake. I was already sleep-deprived, but as I’ve said before — there’s no rest for the wicked.

[6:00p]
As I sat there watching TV with unfocused eyes, I was met by none other than BVal. He seemed surprised that the tournament was already done for the day, but I informed him there had only been 18 players — and they were bringing the top eight back tomorrow. I, unfortunately, was already out and now I was just killing time.

Mr. Val was nice enough to tell me about a handicapped barbox nine-ball tournament in the area. Would I be interested in playing?

Hell yes.

[6:30p]
I was now at another pool room waiting for another tournament. No place else I’d rather be… There was a couch in a niche near the bar tables and I gladly made camp there. Soon, AzHousePro joined us and the ongoing epic battle between him and BVal was on.

BVal had a good start…

…which AzHousePro negated once he started concentrating…

The end result? I don’t know. But then they have a lifetime to irk each other with…

[next few hours]
In the Arizona state rating system, I’m rated an 8. In this tournament you race to your numbered rating minus 2 on the winners side and minus 3 on the losers side.

My first opponent was an 8 so that meant we both raced to 6 games. I lost 6-2.

My next opponent was a lady rated a 5. That meant I had to win 5 games before she won 2. It was a tough match, but I managed to win it.

The next guy I played looked just like Donald Sutherland with a magnificent mane of white hair. It was like a Pantene commercial, I s— you not. I’m quite jealous. He was also rated an 8, so we both raced to 5. He broke and ran the first rack and broke in a nine-ball as well. We went hill-hill and I got a bad roll on the seven-ball. I missed a bank and left the seven and nine quite easy. I didn’t see what happened, but Donald Sutherland missed — and I got out. Bizarre way to win, but I’ll take it.

By now, I was almost delirious from fatigue.

My next opponent was a 6, so he went to 3 games while I went to 5. He looked just like Jesus. No surprise I lost this match, then. Gotta stay on good terms with the head honchos in heaven, y’know? 🙂

BVal and I ended up in 9th-12th which also translates to I Didn’t Win Any Money — Again. We stayed a while to see if AzHousePro could pull off the win. While we waiting I had a nice conversation about haute cuisine with another pool player who was also a chef. 🙂 BVal suggested that we visit a new-ish pool room called Sweet Tooth Billiards. They were open until 7:00 a.m. and that would also happen to fit in nicely to my plan of staying awake the entire weekend.

[11:50p]
We arrived at Sweet Tooth Billiards and I do believe I may have died and gone to heaven. No, that’s not the delirium talking.

Sweet Tooth Billiards had 10 Diamond bar tables, 2 full-sized Diamond tables (2 more were on the way), poker tables, and… [drum roll, please]… AN INDOOR ICE CREAM SHOP. Hence, “Sweet Tooth” Billiards.

Wow.

I just about called work to say I quit and was moving to Phoenix.

In addition to superb equipment, ice cream, and espresso drinks, the layout and decor of the place was just spot-on perfect. There were comfortable padded benches and booths for spectators and plenty of room between the tables. Black-and-white photographs of famous pool and poker players lined the walls.

This place is the s—!

I didn’t take any photographs because I was simply too awestruck.

A handicapped tournament for high-level players was just winding down and I got to see BigCat take Mitch Ellerman to the hill for the hotseat. Mr. Ellerman ended up winning and I got to watch more good bar table nine-ball between BigCat and HarleyEric.

[12:18a]
BVal was kind enough to order a pizza and some Coke to enhance the spectating experience. Either I was dying of starvation or this pizza is seriously the best pizza I have ever eaten. Thanks, dude! I owe you one.

HarleyEric ended up beating BigCat for another shot at Mr. Ellerman. That semi-final match was just great to watch. The finals was true double-elimination and HarleyEric would have to beat Mr. Ellerman twice. It helped a bit that HarleyEric only had to go to 5 games while Mr. Ellerman had to go to 7.

HarleyEric won the first set hill-hill, and then Mr. Ellerman won the second set, also hill-hill, and the entire tournament with it. By now, it was about 3:30 in the morning and I was freaking tired. I decided I was not nearly as tough in the sleep department as I wanted to be and so BVal did me the favor of dropping me off at the local hotel where I had originally made, and then cancelled, my reservation.

[4:00a]
Amazingly, the hotel’s walk-up rate was cheaper than what I had reserved on the internet! The clerk told me it was due to the bad economy. Most of the time, their weekend rates were cheaper than their weekday rates. Somehow, this didn’t make sense to me, but I was in no mood to sprain my brain further.

I’ve been up since 7:00 a.m. Friday morning and it is just three hours shy of 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning…

[4:30a]
Zzzzz….

[10:00a]
My alarm went off and reminded me it was time to check out. I was still pretty beat and I was thinking that at such a cheap room rate, I might just pay for another night and sleep in until it was time to go. I dozed a bit while thinking of this luxury. And then, I remember there was a second-chance tournament for the women who didn’t make it into the top eight from yesterday.

Of course, the second-chance tournament never paid very much. It was probably not worth even showing up for… I should just sleep in…

…except that the competitive part of my brain knew there was a tournament to be played. And, no matter how s—ty the payout was, it was still competition.

Blargh!

I got up in an irritated hurry and called the tournament directors to tell them I was on my way…

[11:34a]
The taxi dropped me off at the pool room and I prepared for yet another long haul of a day.

[12:30a]
The second-chance tournament featured a small $5 entry fee and it was free to any women who had played in the tournament the day before. Races were to 4 on the winners side and to 3 on the losers side.

I drew the same politely charming Alabama girl for my first match today that I did yesterday. I wished we had drawn other people but that’s why they call it “the luck of the draw”. 🙁 I won, 4-2.

My next opponent was a stylish older woman who played with a beautiful Cognoscenti cue. I recognized it right away from the silver ringwork. She made tough shots look easy and our match was close all the way until the end. I broke the final rack and didn’t make a ball. She ran out to the eight-ball with a number of very nice shots before she missed. I shot the eight and missed also. I was surprised. I thought I had hit the shot well, but the hit had felt strange. My opponent made the eight and ended up with a tricky nine-ball. She overcut it and left me a long cut down the table. I stood up, but before I went to shoot, I looked at the tip of my cue. That’s when I saw that the tip had come loose.

Crap.

Without hesitation, I went to a wall rack and saw that there was only a number of metallic green cues. I picked one at random and shot in the nine-ball to win.

Afterwards, I searched the pool room for a wooden house cue, but I could not find a single one. They were all the same type of metallic cue. I could have my choice of green or burgundy, but I could not have my choice of good dependable wood or strange space-age polymer.

I looked at all the bridges, hoping one of them was a house cue with tip intact, but no dice. What a fine state of affairs. I have two shafts for this cue but when I’m traveling by bus, I only take one with me. I don’t like to carry a big heavy case that will attract too much attention and be clumsy to carry. I examined the metallic green cue further and found out it was completely made of plastic. It wasn’t even fiberglass or graphite like the oft-maligned Cuetecs. The house cues were nothing more than hollow PVC pipes.

If you really want to win, there is nothing that will stop you.

My next match was quickly called and it was the match for the hotseat.

I had to figure out as fast as possible what the plastic cue (and its plastic tip) was capable of. It didn’t take long to notice that draw shots were impossible — they resulted 100% of the time in miscues. This was because the tip and cue were not flexible enough to accomodate any shots that required force. The plastic also seemed to be some sort of a shock absorber and even a firmly struck cue ball barely made it down the table. Also, hitting anywhere except dead center on the cue ball resulted in unpredictable behavior. I could only send the cue ball in a forward direction with absolutely no side spin.

This I could live with.

It’s been noted time and again that I use side english sparingly in my game. I prefer the predictability of center-ball position play. Because of this, I knew I could play with this cue, and win.

I lost the hotseat match, hill-hill.

I was now waiting to play the match for third place. This tournament only paid two places and I knew I had to win my next match no matter what.

My opponent was a stylish girl who never had any trouble with long, difficult shots. I struggled early on and missed dozens of routine shots. When my opponent was on the hill, I took advantage of one of her scratches to run out the remaining five balls. I have to say, I was thrilled with this. I had to plan the run out with the limitations of the cue in mind and I managed to do it. I ran all five balls using only center-ball in a forward direction.

I managed to win this match and I moved on to the finals.

I would have to defeat my opponent in two races to four as this was a true double-elimination format. Unfortunately, I only got as far as hill-hill in the first set before I lost. Once again, however, I managed to play quite well with the plastic cue. In fact, when I hit absolute dead center on the cue ball, the hit was quite solid and the cue ball would travel quite far. I bore down more and was much more careful with my planning and aim because of the plastic cue. I learned not to take shots for granted. I am a better player for it.

[6:00p]
I was out of the second-chance tournament with $25 to show for my efforts. The bus to the Greyhound station didn’t leave for a while yet so I stayed and watched the rest of the main event.

[7:15p]
I left the pool room to catch the 35 heading south.

[7:30p]
I wait at a transit center for the 15 heading south which will drop me off in front of the Greyhound station.

[8:03p]
The 15 arrives and for the next hour, I go on a fun tour of downtown Phoenix and all the sports arenas in the area.

[9:15p]
I’m back at the Phoenix Greyhound station…

[10:15p]
Here’s a map of where Greyhound goes in North America. Any suggestions for upcoming trips?

[10:35p]
The bus leaves for Los Angeles and thankfully, this bus smells only of Lysol and the temperature is completely normal. I drink a cold Coke and then drop off to sleep.

[4:45a]
My bus arrives back in Skid Row, Los Angeles.

[5:00a]
I could walk the half-mile to the 720 stop, but I know better than to risk walking through this area in the wee small hours of the morning. I go to a well-lighted stop and wait instead for the 60 which will take me to a safer area where I will transfer to the 720.

[5:12a]
I get off at 7th & Spring and walk two blocks north to 5th & Broadway. Here’s what downtown looks like at the ass-crack of dawn when it’s not crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with people.

[5:22a]
The first 720 of the day and I’m on it like white on rice.

[6:06a]
I get off at my stop. Just a short walk home, now.

[6:11a]
My neighbor’s fat orange cat greets me on the doormat and rolls over just enough so I don’t have to step on him as I open the door.

[7:45a]
The alarm wakes me up, I take a quick shower, and it’s off to the bus stop where another Monday awaits me.

 

 

I drink instead on my own
cheers

I’d like to thank all the nice people I met in Arizona who have made this past trip (and actually, MANY past trips) a lot of fun. My very first (and most successful) trip to Arizona was in 2005 and that was the first time I realized that not all women in pool are mean. The experiences I’ve had early on in women’s pool were overwhelmingly, and purely coincidentally, negative. Thanks to the unexpected (indeed, I was hugely suspicious) kindness of the players I met in Arizona, I have been rehabilitated to the point where I’m not sulfuric acid anymore and more like concentrated lemon juice.

As for all the not-nice people (for those exist, too), thank you as well — you make me feel better about my own life.

😉

 

 

oh how I’ve known the battle scars & worn out beds
and I keep going back for more

Some of you have asked me how I survive in pool with limited resources. I hope this post answers your questions.

Do what you can with what you have.

Learn from your mistakes.

Have no fear.

Be driven.

 

7 Replies to “verklempt”

  1. It was nice to meet you on your trip to good ole Phoenix. Next time your in town I'll take you to the best bbq rib joint in the west……..Glad you had a good time…..Peace…."chef" Bruce.

  2. nice new font you use. very easy on me eyes. thank you for that. now i can squint less and read more.

  3. Damn, reading your blog made me really tired. You're nuts. Greyhound does come to Boston… give me a jingle if your travels take you to Boston. Congrats on your $25 win… better than nothing. 🙂

  4. I love that one of your greyhound posts ends with "Be driven."

    BTW, can you give details on your food pics? The carne asada looks awesome.

    Any chance you'll come up to norcal to play in any of the West Coast Women's 9-ball tourneys?

  5. Bruce
    Best BBQ joint in the west? Sweet. I'm about due for some ribs…

    Anonymous
    I've been fiddling with the layout lately and I agree the bigger font is better.

    Quilt+Bitch
    You only figured out now that I'm nuts?! 😉

    poolminnow
    The carne asada is from El Cholo restaurant down here in the Southland. The one I went to was the one on the Westside (1025 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401) The original El Cholo is closer to downtown (1121 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006). YOu can visit their website at http://www.elcholo.com. I thought the carne asada would come more like a fajita platter, but I don't mind cutting my own meat. 🙂

  6. dear expunger of epoxy:

    i only said i appreciate the different font, not a bigger font. but the larger font is even easier on the eyes. the only drawback is that i now feel like an old fart. next thing you know i'll have to get the BCA rulebook in large print. THANKS. A BUNCH. (now where's my cane…)

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