from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step


monkey & buddha

These are some mugs I made during the great Fumigation Craft Supply Purge of the past few weeks…

These are painted from portraits of their owners and the interiors feature two-toned spatter patterns in their favorite colors. I also made them to suit the right- and left-handedness of their owners. 🙂



I’m testing out using larger photographs. Let me know if you run into anything wonky or if you think it slows down page loading too much.


TAR 23 & The Mosconi Cup

Both of these are coming up later this week.

Oscar Dominguez and Raj Hundal are the players for TAR 23. These two will play two races to 21 in 10-ball. In the event of split sets, they will play one final race to 21 for everything.

By “everything” I mean $10,000 (and maybe a kitchen sink).

Get all the details about the match and how to get the pay-per-view live stream at The Action Report.

The Mosconi Cup returns to the MGM Grand. The Europeans won last year and with the competition returning to American soil, the U. S. hope to win the title back. If not the title, then at least the casinos and clubs (and maybe the IRS) can take a crack at beating the Europeans!



TAR 22 | Earl Strickland vs Shane Van Boening

This is the third time these two have played on The Action Report. I’ve compiled a short summary of the details of their TAR matches. If you have any confirmed details from previous matches that are not listed, please post them in the comments section and I will update when I can.


November 15-17, 2007 March 18-20, 2011 December 2-4, 2011
VENUE Qlympics event // Louisville, KY Ice Breakers // Youngstown, OH TAR Studio // Las Vegas, NV
TABLE 9-foot Diamond Smart Table 10-foot Brunswick Gold Crown III 9-foot Diamond Smart Table
POCKETS 4-1/2″ 4-3/8″ 4-1/8″
GAME 10-ball // rack your own 10-ball // rack your own 9-ball // rack your own, break from the box, call all shots and safeties, 9-ball must be made last and will spot up if made on the break or early in the rack on a combination or carom
FORMAT race to 100 // 3 sets // 35, 35, and 30 race to 100 // 3 sets // 35, 35, and 30 race to 75 // 3 sets // 25 each
MONEY $10,000 per player $10,000 per player $5,000 per player
RESULT 100-63, Van Boening 100-83, Strickland 75-67, Van Boening


The biggest buzz of this match was actually that actor/comedian/martial artist Joe Rogan, best known as color commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and host of reality/game show Fear Factor, would make an appearance on Friday.

And he did.

I missed it all because like you (or most of you), I had to work. It’s a good thing these TAR matches run for three days and usually on a weekend — that means I get to see some of it and, to paraphrase a Meatloaf song, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”.



The TAR Studio is actually a smaller space than most of the pictures imply. It is very much like a private home game room. The last time I was there, I got to watch Alex Pagulayan and Mr. Van Boening play for $10,000 in TAR 20 from the designated spectator seating. This time, I was allowed to go “backstage” for the first day and watch from there, as long as I didn’t take up too much space.

Here’s backstage camera-sitter Derek Disco endorsing 7up.

Left // Standard backstage accessories. Right // Also standard backstage accessories.

The Action Report Studio espouses a healthy diet for all players, sponsors, and spectators.


Here are our contestants just prior to the start of the pre-game interviews. Left to right, these peeps are: Shane Van Boening, Ken Shuman, and Earl Strickland.


Mark Griffin and Justin Collett doing commentary. Mr. Strickland wearing his noise-cancelling headphones.


Waaaay back when I first began playing pool, Earl Strickland’s name was emblazoned in gold on my highly professional and extremely glittery teal Cuetec cue. Since his name was on my stick, he had to Somebody in pool — and he was.

Earl “The Pearl” Strickland has won more U. S. Open 9-Ball Championship (five: 1984, 1987, 1993, 1997, and 2000) and WPA World Championship (three: 1990, 1991, and 2002) titles than anyone, ever (at the time of this typing).

What I always found interesting and impressive was that Mr. Strickland won repeat titles across decades where some players might win repeats only within a comparatively short period. At the time I noticed this pattern, I couldn’t help but think he had to be a volatile sort of player who could play phenomenally well and then horrendously bad.

Professional players! They’re just like us! They’re inconsistent, too!

When I hit my highest gear, I might win a four-player tournament as long as the rest of the players are completely helpless. When Mr. Strickland hits his highest gear, he wins a tournament by beating world-beaters. When I hit my lowest gear, amoebas break harder than I do and blind cave fish from Kentucky run out on me. When Mr. Strickland hits his lowest gear, he forfeits.


Anyways, I had heard and seen much of Mr. Strickland, but it was all second- and third-hand (be it people, magazines, or television). Here, at last, was my opportunity to observe Mr. Strickland in his natural habitat (from a safe distance).

The beginning of the Strickland Safari was tame. Mr. Strickland was well-spoken in his pre-game interview, showing none of his legendary verbal firepower. The green flag was waved, the rack broken, and the players were off and running. This was the beginning of the second day of play and Mr. Strickland held the lead, 25-20.
The first thing Mr. Strickland complained about was the music. It was too loud and he didn’t like the genre. Although he put on heavy-duty earplugs and then noise-cancelling headphones on top of the earplugs, he could still hear the music. He asked why classical music couldn’t be played instead.
Now that the ambient noise was turned off, Mr. Strickland could hear the commentators. How he could hear anything through those layers of soundproofing was a mystery. He seemed to be able to pick up on whispers, even. He often told the commentators they didn’t know what they were talking about.
According to Mr. Strickland, the audience was not a knowledgeable crowd. He often told the audience they were applauding the wrong shots. He didn’t like it when the spectators clapped for Mr. Van Boening, and yet, when the crowd clapped for him, he didn’t like it, either.
Mr. Van Boening rarely spoke and didn’t answer any of Mr. Strickland’s comments or accusations towards him. I think if we could hook up Mr. Strickland’s jaw to a generator, we would have a renewable energy source. His was an endless stream of words, almost all of them negative.
There were times when Mr. Strickland would say something self-deprecatory (he was a loser, he was going to die broke and alone) and, for any other talktative pool player in front of a crowd, it might have been meant in hyperbolic humor, but since this was Mr. Strickland, he meant it sincerely and his sincerity was unsettling.

I was actually amazed that anyone — even a world champion — could maintain a decent level of play for hours while talking so much and being so negative.

When Mr. Van Boening got on the hill at 49 games, Mr. Strickland made a bit of a comeback, winning three games straight, even though his words said otherwise.

The second day ended with Mr. Van Boening taking the lead from Mr. Strickland, 50-48.




Here is a photograph of the pre-game interview for Sunday.

I managed to catch that funny litle smirk Mr. Van Boening wears on occasion. If it were translated, I believe it would read, “You can’t fuggin’ beat me.” Mr. Strickland’s arm weights are in attendance. The real winner is the manufacturer of the fingertip-less cue gloves they’re both sporting.


Interestingly enough, Mr. Strickland wore his earphones very briefly before discarding them completely. I had a prime vantage point today, right in front of Mr. Strickland’s seat.

Left // Earl trying to concentrate. Right // The safest way to sweat Earl’s matches are from a distance with appropriate medication.

For a while there, Mr. Strickland didn’t speak very much and began to get in stroke on the table. He won a string of games playing like the world champion that he was.



His wins must have triggered his innate desire to lose because his spurts of chatter turned into a constant torrent.

The vehement verbal abuse and no-win attitude soon broke Mr. Strickland’s streak and his game. Mr. Van Boening picked up the slack and figured out the right speed and spot for the break.

This led to a fresh wave of complaints by Mr. Strickland regarding how Mr. Van Boening broke at “ten miles an hour” and how it should be illegal to soft break. He got into it with a spectator who pointed out that as long as Mr. Van Boening made a ball, the break was legal.

F#ck it, here’s the partial laundry list of complaints from the court case of Earl Strickland vs. The World:

Everyone should break at a minimum of 20 miles per hour.
“Like a real man.”
There should be a 15-second shot clock.
“What are you thinking about? Just shoot!”
You should never take longer than 8 seconds to shoot and 2 seconds to rack.
He didn’t seem to notice that he himself took minutes examining someone else’s rack.
You’re not allowed to applaud unless you are applauding for the correct shot.
Even when we applauded for the correct shot, he didn’t want us to cheer for him because he was “a loser”.
You should never rack for yourself.
Yet Mr. Strickland would never trust anyone else’s rack for him… Total Catch-22.
Your opponent should not be allowed to complain.
Your opponent’s body language should not be allowed to convey complaining.

It was only a matter of time before Mr. Strickland lost all fight in the game (but not against the assembled spectators) and to nobody’s surprise, Mr. Van Boening stretched his lead to eight games and maintained it to win, 75-67.


These two last pictures sum up this entire experience quite neatly. Here is Mr. Strickland, packing up after the match is over. He’s heatedly arguing with the audience about all sorts of things.



And here’s Mr. Van Boening, listening to Mr. Strickland’s rant…

nyah nyah I got your moneeeeey!

…while wearing his “You Can’t Fuggin’ Beat Me” smirk. (I totally picture him doing the cute little “hee hee hee” laugh, don’t you?)



Earl F#cking Strickland

He embodies, more than anyone I know, Napoleon’s saying, “From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.” Or, as Mr. Collett paraphrased Mr. Rogan (who might have been paraphrasing Napoleon), “Genius and Crazy live next door to each other and they borrow each other’s sugar.”

Earl Strickland the pool player is one of the greatest men of our time.

Earl Strickland the human being is one of the most forgettable men of our time.

He is his own self-fulfilling prophecy.



other random thoughts

The TAR Studio table will be replaced with a different model beginning in 2012 but the pocket size and cut will remain the same.

I liked the version of 9-ball they played in this match. It took almost all the luck factor out of the game and made it much more challenging. Racking the nine-ball on the spot also took out the automatic wing-ball sink on the break.

Races to 75 are waaaay better than races to 100. Even when the match went slow with innings and safeties, each session of races to 25 didn’t last longer than five hours. This makes for a more enjoyable spectating experience (and playing experience as well, I would think).



t h a n k s carbo-loading for a day of action
EMCA | Mark & Sunny Griffin | Justin Collett & The Action Report
first time hello & hello again
Derek Disco | Meezer Girl | poolist | Ken Shuman | Dave Vandenberg | Bill Stock | Luke Riches | Earl Strickland (he didn’t say hello back)


I do THE BEST live-tweeting of TAR matches! Honk if you agree! 🙂
If you enjoy my writings, consider making a donation or purchasing something from my Etsy store.
I have one more big-ass pool trip left for 2011.

send it or I'll send Earl after you

21 Replies to “from the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step”

  1. At least you only had to put up with Earl once. I gotta hear that crap all the time (unfortunately, he plays at the pool hall i frequent).

    1. I tuned it out after a while but I can see where it must be difficult to play against him and his constant talk. Being a spectator and ignoring him is easy.

  2. I spent two hours yesterday reading all the TAR 22 Earl threads on the AZ forums, so when I saw the topic I thought “Oh no. I really shouldn’t go there.” But I knew you would cut through all the BS and give me an honest, entertaining summary of Earl becoming bad Earl, so I had to read it. And you did not disappoint.

    I’m actually quite jealous. (just like I was when you played in the US Open … your living out my pool dreams, while I’ve agreed with the wife that it will be no more than one night a week, and maybe one tournament a month. One of these years I might ask for a special exception for the US Open though) Anyhoo, even after all I’ve seen and read of Earl, I’m still foolish enough to want to meet him. The up close and personal setting of the TAR match would make it even cooler. No slight to SVB. I think he’s great too, and he’s actually a great representative for the game of pool.

    1. I’m going to do a little post on Earl Strickland in the future. 🙂

      I am just like you — even after everything I’d heard about Earl, I wanted to meet him. Well, I never did get to meet him, but I did get to see him play and when he concentrates on the game, it is just magnificent. There are a lot of Earl-haters and a lot of Earl-apologists out there. I am in the middle category. Until he does something to me personally, I am Earl-indifferent. And yes, watching great pool up close in the TAR Studio is pretty great for a hack like me. 😀

  3. I witnessed Earl go off on the AZ poster the “Queen” who was sweating his match but was not paying attention and was chit chatting with another sweater. I guess he was annoyed because they were not paying attention to him.

    He has a concept of how the environment during a match should be and gets annoyed …like sharking himself. LOL

    He is a perfectionist and his worst enemy. You are a perfectionist as well in your prose/blogging…a good thing.:-)

    keep it up as will Earl.

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