in a minute there is time

Mr. Orender's ridiculous hat. in this issue of omgwtf

southern food & drink
billiards world championship poll results
yet another greyhound trip
in a minute there is time
thanks & congratulations
fill in the blank

Things That Have Recently Made Me Happy
of course the majority are consumables

Drink: Southern Style Sweet Tea
Was there ever a better drink during a long, hot summer? The food court near my work now offers this drink, labeled specifically as “Southern Style Sweet Tea”, not to be confused with “Inner City Lipton & Ice”. Makes me miss Georgia every time I drink it. What’s the trademark cocktail of the south? Mint Julep? Any others?

Food: Mom’s Cooking
My mom recently did a little fusion cooking and made some Southern food with a slight Asian twist.

Fried chicken…

fried chicken, the key to world peace

…and Chinese-style BBQ pork.

bbq pork

mmm

Yummers!

Food: Flank steak
A highly underrated cut of beef. The best part? You must cook it medium-rare or rare or be forced to eat tough steak.

People: Emails From Readers
I’m always pleasantly surprised to get them. Warm fuzzies. 🙂

Billiards World Championship Poll Results
okay so no one really wants to talk about it

Here are the results anyways.

invitation only … 1%
75% invitation / 25% qualifier … 35%
50% invitation / 50% qualifier … 8%
25% invitation / 75% qualifer … 19%
qualifier only … 8%
open … 26%

The top two results are 75/25 qualifier and open. This is an interesting result since they are almost, but not quite, on the opposite sides of the spectrum. What this tells me is that most people (the ones who voted on this HIGHLY UNSCIENTIFIC poll, anyways) are split between giving the established professionals a free ride into the tournament and making them earn their way in like the rest of us.

Here’s an example of tournaments and tours (ones usually attended by a good number of professional players) that fall into each category. This is just food for thought — you don’t have to eat it. Some fall into more than one category in interesting ways.

Invitation Only
Amway Cup
ESPN’s Challenge of Champions
[yeah this barely counts, but whatever]
Mosconi Cup
[although the U. S. Open winner is guaranteed a spot on the U. S. team, I believe]
World Pool Masters

Invitation & Qualifiers
Women’s Professional Billiards Association (WPBA) events
[including the Women’s U. S. Open]
Men’s U. S. Open 9-Ball Championships
[some rooms hold qualifiers but that is more for the expense money, former winners are automatically invited]
World Pool Association (WPA) World Championship events

Qualifier Only
CueSports International (CSI) National Championship Series (NCS) events

Open
Turning Stone Classic
[the East Coast version of the Sands Regency Open]
Sands Regency Open
[a moment of silence for this tournament that went kaput this year…]
Men’s U. S. Open 9-Ball Championships
United Poolplayers Association (UPA) tour
[men only, but as long as you got the entry and registration fee…]

yet another Greyhound trip
masochism at work

This past weekend, I thought California wasn’t warm enough so I caught a bus to visit Phoenix and its 115 degree hospitality.

Some of you might remember that during the last Blue Dog episode, the air conditioning on the bus malfunctioned and we all froze to death. I couldn’t sleep because I was too cold. This time, the air conditioning on the bus malfunctioned again — in the other direction. We had no air movement at all and a bus packed with 55 passengers + 1 driver heats up pretty quick. It was uncomfortable, but I managed to catch a little sleep this time.

In addition to the hellish heat and stench, the bus periodically broke down. In the freaking desert. In the middle of nowhere. Each time, the urgent mutters of prayers or curses would float through the tense silence and when the bus coughed to life, cheers would break out. This happened A LOT. I was thankful for my bony scrawniness, knowing that if this busload of people went all Donner Party, I’d probably be the last to go.

Finally, we pulled into Phoenix.

The Greyhound station in Phoenix is conveniently located next to the airport. The bus drove around the airport vicinity for quite a while. I was curious as to why since there wasn’t any traffic to avoid and no more pick-up stops along the way. The driver made several U-turns and went in and out of parking lots like a pre-teen on a joyride at Walmart. Finally, he tried to do a U-turn across four lanes of traffic and the bus died. There we were, completely blocking all four lanes (thank heavens no traffic at 4 a.m.) and just waiting for some unfortunate spindly car to T-bone us. The driver tried to turn the engine on a couple of times but it seemed to have finally given up the ghost. The passengers all groaned. The driver stood up, turned around to face his constituents and said, “Is anyone know where is Greyhound station?”

OMG! WTF?

Everyone looked around in disbelieving silence. The woman next to me said, “You… don’t… know? Where the Greyhound station is?”

“No.”

“But you’re the driver! How could you not know?!” The driver shrugged. More groaning broke out.

And this is where I had a tiny moment of glory. I’m generally very thorough when I go on trips and I print out maps and directions to and from and of any areas I might travel to. I had a map to the Greyhound station. The bus itself must have been relieved for it revved up on the second try and in a few more sweat-soaked minutes, we pulled into Phoenix and this mild ordeal came to an end.

I took a nap for a few hours and then it was off to the pool hall for a tournament.

This tournament was barbox 9-ball, races to 9 on the winners’ side and races to 7 on the, uh, contenders’ side. I was feeling a little tired but otherwise quite good and I was very much looking forward to playing. I didn’t have to wait long for my first match.

I drew Rudy Alameda of Tucson, Arizona.

The first thing I noticed about Rudy was that he was jittery. His eyes were overly bright and he moved around with a sudden jerkiness that was a bit unsettling. He was also about my height — if I wasn’t wearing heels. We flipped for the break and he won. It was rack your own, winner breaks and loser pays. I gave him the coins for the game and sat down.

Rudy broke well the first rack, ran down to the six-ball, and overcut it. I ran the rest out for the first game. I broke dry the second game and Rudy ran down to the seven and missed. As I was lining up the eight-ball Rudy began calling someone on his cell phone. I looked at him briefly and he seemed to be in animated conversation. Oh well, his choice, and my shot. I lined up the eight and as I shot it, he hopped off his stool in my line of vision and started walking around. Rats. He noticed I missed, put the phone down, and made the last two balls.

It never got any better for me. Whoever he was talking to on the phone seemed to agitate him beyond all belief and whenever I got up to shoot, he seemed to feel a need to dance in my line of vision. Very soon, the score was 6-1 in his favor and I was an overcooked steak missing a fork.

I could tell he was confident in his play as he hit the balls very hard and did a lot of fancy cuework. Finally he missed a six-ball and the layout he left me was not the best, but it also wasn’t the worst, either. It was, however, rather intimidating as I hadn’t shot in decades. The first shot would normally be quite routine, but it seemed like a mile long and the pocket looked to be about the size of a dime. I considered it for a few moments, and then got down to shoot. Rudy flipped open his cell phone and began to talk.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

I didn’t know if he was sharking me on purpose. I’d rather like to think he wasn’t, that perhaps he was just a jitterbug of a man that always needed to look like he was talking about big things on a tiny cell phone. He might have been inconsiderate, but I didn’t think he was malicious. I pulled up, sat back down and waited. I let Rudy bounce around for a few minutes and when he saw that I was waiting, he quickly snapped his phone shut. I ran out. I now had two games. The long uphill climb had begun.

As I racked the balls, a tall blonde woman several inches taller than Rudy arrived and took a seat next to him in the corner. I figured this must be the person he had been talking to on the phone. I was probably correct since he stopped using the phone as much from that point on.

I refocused with new intensity and played carefully, eventually bringing the score to 6-6 by dint of some good safety play. He began to complain about the situation to the players on the next table. I tried very much to focus but it was extremely distracting. I wished I could have put in my earphones but I wasn’t sure if they were allowed at this event. In any case, I tried once again to gather all the willpower I had left to close out the last three games I needed.

I played quite well, but one missed shot, one bad position play, and one bad roll cost me those three games and I lost, 9-6. Rudy nodded to me, I nodded to him, and that was that. I packed up and went to await my next match.

On the contenders’ side, I was set to play Scott “Frigidaire” Frost. I was looking forward to this match because I always look forward to playing good players — they unfailingly bring out my best game. Also, I had learned that earphones were allowed in this tournament and I felt that I would be more comfortable using them during the match.

I won the toss and broke dry. (I have been breaking like crap lately — not sure why.) Mr. Frost ran out and surprisingly rattled the six-ball. I took advantage and won the first game. I had my earphones on, but opted to take them out. I know I wouldn’t be able to use them for many tournaments and did not want to become dependent on them.

After the first game, I kept up with him game for game, but I think Mr. Frost was not feeling well because he did not play his usual speed. Nonetheless, I was gunning for victory. I played a fairly good safety battle in one game and got him to sell out. This was a crucial game because it would enable me to take the lead and the race to seven was short. I shot the ball and, inexplicably, the cue ball floated into a pocket it wasn’t even near. Arrgh. Mr. Frost ran that out and took the last two games for the win, 7-4.

Sigh.

I was out of the tournament before the afternoon had even begun. But, such is pool, such is pool tournaments, and indeed, such is life.

in a minute there is time
use it wisely

I stayed to watch the rest of the matches and I learned much from the many excellent players. I also got to chat a bit with Jude Espinoza and Dennis Orender, the tournament directors.

After a few more hours, the field began to thin and when there were just six players left, the tournament ended for the day to be continued tomorrow. I helped Dennis and Jude pack up their tournament equipment and then we all sat down to have a few drinks and watch the UFC fight that was coming on and free for bar patrons to watch (no cover charge!).

As we waited, Jude and Dennis told me that fights inevitably break out on UFC nights because watching the fights puts the people in a mood to fight themselves. Indeed, the crowd was perfect for fisticuffs. You had the typical Affliction/Ed Hardy/wifebeater-wearing men and their scantily-clad dates. There was alcohol. There was no room. It was a ticking time bomb.

I looked around and saw Rudy, my earlier opponent, hovering on the fringes of several groups of people, taking pictures of the girls with his camera phone. I commented on this to Jude and Dennis and was told that Rudy liked to take pictures of pretty girls. A little creepy, no? I mentioned that he had brought a woman with him that was possibly his girlfriend. They shrugged and said it didn’t matter. Jude mentioned that it was likely Rudy would get into a fight that night as he liked to project an image of toughness. Dennis remarked that Rudy had once been a state champion wrestler. Interesting, I thought. Soon, Rudy came over to join us.

The first thing Rudy began to tell us was about how he had gone up to such-and-such guys and asked them to fight and they had backed down. I found this curious because we had watched him the whole time and nothing of the sort had happened. He had merely fluttered like a moth around the bright flames of the most scandalously-clad women, especially the ones with big breasts. He talked of how he had also gone up to such-and-such hot chicks and asked them out, right there in front of their p—- boyfriends. RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THEIR P—- ASS BOYFRIENDS!! I winced a bit at his choice of words and glanced over at Jude and Dennis. Other than a bit of eye-rolling, they didn’t say much. Strange, I thought. Suddenly, Rudy’s phone rang (surprise!). He talked a little bit and then hung up, saying, “My girl’s outside and she want me to go get her. She don’t want to come in without me. I’ll be right back.”

I took this chance to inquire about Rudy and his jittery, overcompensating braggadocio. I was told he often bragged a lot to seem tougher or more popular than he really was. “Small-Man Syndrome?” I asked bluntly. Both Jude and Dennis just about spit out their beer, but they agreed.

Rudy returned with the tall blonde woman who had watched our match. He introduced her to us as Marie and she sat down across from me as Rudy sat down across from Jude and Dennis. Marie had some very beautiful custom-made gold bracelets on and we soon started talking about jewelry and shopping. Hey, I was done being a pool player for the day and it’s nice to chat with girls about girly things once in a while. Soon the fight came on and the place was filled with roars and cheers.

I began to notice that Rudy was getting extremely jittery and mouthy. He started calling all of us racial slurs — but if any of us remarked on it, he immediately told us we couldn’t take a joke. Make a remark about him, about anything at all, and he was up in your face in a nanosecond. He seemed wild-eyed and constantly stood on the rungs of the stool to lean over and talk in Jude and Dennis’ faces. He called Dennis a pig several times. I did not understand this, but was told later that Dennis was in law enforcement and Rudy had had his own run-ins with the law on occasion. Finally, he seemed to zero in on Jude in particular and I couldn’t hear too well above the crowd but I gathered that he was asking him to fight. Ooookay.

“Is Rudy drunk?” I asked Dennis. “Maybe on drugs or something?”

To my surprise, Dennis said, “Oh no, he doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs that I know of either.”

“But, dude! Look at him! He’s totally amped up and rarin’ for a fight.”

“No, that’s Rudy. He’s just like that. No alcohol, no drugs. He’s just like that.”

“Is he going to actually get into a fight, you think?”

“He might. I’ve broken him and Jude up before but it happens all the time with Rudy.”

Dennis wasn’t worried at all, it seemed. That did nothing to alleviate my own tension. Well, these guys did interact on a regular basis with Rudy whereas this was the first time I had ever seen him. Perhaps they did know best.

Finally, Rudy leaned over and pushed Jude in the classic “you wanna fight?” manner. Marie and I looked at each other. She rolled her eyes and said, “He’s at it again. He always needs to look all tough and s—.” We watched Rudy a few seconds more. “Hey, let’s go to the bathroom, get out of here for a minute.” We got up and headed over to the women’s restroom in the corner of the building.

As expected the line was a bit long. After all, this was during peak hours during one of the bar’s busiest and biggest events. Marie and I chatted about more mundane girly stuff while we stood around. Suddenly, there was pounding on the door, and yelling from the other side.

“Oh my God, that is HIM!”

“Who? Rudy?”

“Yes! That’s his voice! I can hear him.”

The muffled voice was yelling something as the door began to open. Moments later, the door was jerked shut and there seemed to be a small scuffle. There was more yelling and pounding and then it all stopped.

“Oh no, he’s probably mad because we’ve been in here too long.”

“Your f—ing kidding me. What the f—? He’s mad because you’re in the restroom too long?!”

“We’d better hurry up!”

I didn’t like the fear in her voice.

We rejoined the guys at the table and immediately, Rudy yelled at the two of us, “What were you doing in there? Why’d you take so long?”

“Dude, it’s a women’s restroom. There’s always a f—ing line. Calm down already!”

Rudy turned to fix his maniacal gaze on me, “What were you doing in there?”

“Waiting? Duh! Talking about eyeliner? Girly stuff?” Rudy’s rudeness was beginning to wear on me. “Marie uses liquid and I use a pencil? I was asking her how she puts hers on?” I took out my eyeliner pencil and waved it. Marie shook her head with a look of resignation. She sipped on her drink and I shrugged and turned back to her. We resumed our chat.

Marie and I had only talked for a few minutes when wild-eyed Rudy jumped off his stool with no warning and ran right next to her. I looked for a split-second in his eyes and I recognized immediately what I saw — the rage of a small man about to fight. He paused for a mere nanosecond and I saw his arm begin to move. I recognized that, too. That is someone about to strike. Don’t tell my mother, but I have been in a few fights in my life. A few things were going to save me this night.

The cocktail tables were of the taller variety, the kind you can either stand next to, or sit at. Rudy, though he wanted to hit me, didn’t quite have the armspan to reach across. His eye-blink of hesitation warned me and allowed me prepare myself for — something.

Realizing that he wouldn’t be able to reach across the table, Rudy settled for trying to overturn the cocktail table onto me. He gave it a mighty shove (he is legitimately strong). I was saved now by whatever heavenly mixture of mutated amino acids runs in my DNA that allows me to 1). drink alcohol for a whole day on an empty stomach and still leave me sober, and 2). allow me to remain quite athletic with no effort whatsoever.

The force of shoved table knocked me off my stool but I landed nimbly on my feet (more impressive when I tell you I was wearing 5″ stiletto heels). The left half of my ribcage caught the heavy table before my hands did but there was minimal damage.

By this time, Rudy was coming around the side of the table looking to “F— [me] UP!” as he so elegantly roared it and that was when Sir Jude ran interference for me.

Rudy tussled a bit with Jude for the next few minutes trying to make him fight, but Jude, to his credit, told him he wasn’t going fight and just tried to avoid him while telling him to chill out. Dennis tried to break it up to no avail and the scuffle moved to the front of the table by Marie. Security hightailed it over and wasn’t sure who had started it but, I found out later, they were friends with Rudy — this would explain why they decided to throw Jude out.

This was when Marie did the right thing and said, “No, no, HE [pointing at Rudy] started it.”

Rudy looked around rapidly in a pure, beserker rage, eyes rolling left and right. He wanted to fight. He wanted to hit someone.

He punched Marie.

Right in the f—ing ribs.

Security saw enough. The two bouncers picked Rudy up, legs kicking, arms flailing, spittle flying as he told us he would kill us all — and tossed him out onto the unsympathetic asphalt.

The next couple of hours saw Rudy calling Marie threatening to kill her, Marie worried about him killing her, Dennis going outside to try and talk sense into Rudy, security keeping an eye on Rudy in case he decided to come back, and me wondering if my life will ever be boring.

The next day, I returned to watch the Sunday matches and learned a little more about Little Rudy. It turns out that he had punched another girl in previous bar brawl. He had been involved in a fight with men, but had punched a woman instead.

OMG! WTF?

Rudy, I want to tell you to grow THE FUCK up and be a man.

You are not fooling anyone with your fucking retarded-ass bravado born of your insecurities. We all have insecurities. We deal with them ourselves — like real tough people should. You know what’s tough? Doing the right fucking thing. Beating on someone weaker than you won’t make you taller, tougher, or more respected. Your pathetic tough-dude facade is as transparent as the air above your head — and everyone sees through it the same way, too. It would be nice for you to shape up but from what I hear, you’re a lost cause.

Forget that I ever told you to grow up.

You’ve grown as much as you ever will.

And that’s not much.

thanks & congratulations
must my faith in humanity be reaffirmed with such an easy bribe

Now that the dullest moments of my trip were behind me, I settled in to commentate (poorly) on some of the matches streamed over the internet. I hope I didn’t bore you guys too much… Luckily, my co-pilot was none other than that highly distinguished gentleman known as George Teyechea whose pleasant voice would be put to good use for documentaries.

My proudest moment of the day was predicting Gene Albrecht’s match-winning nine-ball break in the finals against Frank Robutz.

After the tournament, I shot some racks of eight-ball with Sir Brian. I got some great practice in as he was excellent competition. And if that wasn’t cool enough, he and his extremely lovely wife Lady Veronica took me out to a sushi dinner so that I would be well-fed on my Greyhound trip home.

Here is the “Vegas Roll” they got at dinner. Those are fried lotus-root chips. The whole danged structure is absolutely delish.
20090715-vegasroll
They dropped me off at the Greyhound station just in time for me to catch my bus and I left Phoenix with my faith in humanity, sushi, and beer, intact.

Thank you both very, very much!

Also, I must take this moment to congratulate Veronica on her recent sizable gambling score (streamed live over the internet). May this be the first of many in your billiards career.

😉

fill in the blank
this should be fun

“When it’s hill-hill and I’m shooting the game-winning ball, I think to myself, __________ ./!/?”

Put your answers in the comments section!

🙂


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19 Replies to “in a minute there is time”

  1. When it’s hill-hill and I’m shooting the game-winning ball, I think to myself, do I dare disturb the universe?

      1. No, but I dare to have squeezed the universe into a ball and to roll it toward some overwhelming question.

      1. Awesome blog. I thought I was the only one juggling pool, produce, accounting, and an appetite. Love the dialogue and the pics (except for the turtle). New follower.

  2. “When it’s hill-hill and I’m shooting the game-winning ball, I think to myself, what’s for dinner?”

  3. “When it’s hill-hill and I’m shooting the game-winning ball, I think to myself,”

    is my Medula Oblongata well regulated?
    will i tackle & pounce a small asian girl unexplained?
    this prison of hormones, shall i ever be emancipated?
    am i doomed to be a stature-challenged boy, eternally inadequate?

    this month’s (quack) poetry moment brought to you courtesy of T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. (or is it Prufark?)

    please note that Eliot is NOT the quack. the author of this (quasi)poem/twaddle IS, however, a quack.

    now squeeze the universe the size of a spotted cue ball & apply maximum draw english to hurl at the nine. do you make it? that’s the overwhelming question. now gimme that frigging peach.

  4. “Just make the ball” unless its around dinner time, and then I gotta go with Q&B’s answer. But its a dangerous thought, though, because sometimes the upside of losing is getting to eat sooner 🙂

    1. This is why it’s dangerous for me to play pool in Vegas where there are lots of places to eat…

  5. I think to myself… hit CENTER cue ball with a STRAIGHT and firm stroke and DON’T JUMP UP.
    It is obviously simple advice, but it is important for me. It is so easy for me to be anxious on the final ball and forget the fundamentals. I’ve lost too many clinchers by not taking that last shot seriously enough.

  6. Wow, what an epic adventure! Bus driver that doesn’t know where he’s going should have been the first omen! 😛 Glad that you came back in one piece!

    “When it’s hill-hill and I’m shooting the game-winning ball, I think to myself… My butt itches, should I scratch or shoot first?”

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