Pool Junkie – 32nd U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships

so much added money and action, if you consider yourself a pool player, you just gotta go 



listening to
“…highway to hell…”

chicken pad thai

obsessed with
not losing things



R.I.P. digital camera

There will be no photographs for a while since I lost my digital camera.



in other news of the world

I went to the 32nd U. S. Open in Chesapeake, Virginia. It was fun. I had no camera, so no fashion review this time, just a tangled mess of random observations. Sorry for the delay in posting, but I like to have the finishes available for the people I mention, since I am a certified statistics nut.



the U.S. Open

I haven’t been here in many years, but it hasn’t changed much since I was here last. Barry Berhman still looks and acts like a circus ringmaster (all he needs is a shiny top hat!), he still talks up the buffet (item by item, all the way down to the sodium benzoate, I swear — and did you know it’s ooooooonly ELEVEN DOLLARS?!), and the bagpipers (kilts, green knee socks and all) were still there.



Thursday, October 18, 2007

When I went to check in at my hotel, the lady behind the counter was on the phone. She indicated that I would have to wait until she got off the phone. Okay. Here is the conversation she was having on the phone.

“Das whut I tell you. He rose the rates dis weekend.”

blah person on other line blah

“You heard me. He ROSE the rates. He rose the rates fo’ de pule tohnament”

blah blah?

“Don’t you tell me whut I kin say. I know whut rose means an’ YOU know whut rose means.”

blah blah!

“Look he rose dem rates, ‘kay? You wanna room you gunna hafta pay mo’.”

It’s good I got the rooms before the rates were — rosen?


After a nice nap, I went to lunch/dinner with a friend. This was my first ever trip to a Waffle House. You read that right — Waffle House. Those don’t exist where I come from — you know, somewhere on the planet Venus. The decor was 70ish wood paneling accented with shades of orange, yellow and brown. The service was friendly, but clueless. The food was good EXCEPT, for some reason (and we asked), Waffle House DOES NOT use real butter, only margarine.

Other than that, everything was just toasty.


Afterwards, it was time to watch the real players do their thing at the 32nd U.S. Open.

I watched the remnants of one match because I arrived late to the tournament, and, the only thing of note during that match was that British hottie Raj Hundal [GBR, 25th – $1,250] really, REALLY doesn’t like people applauding for his opponent. Dammit, Raj, you were up something ridiculous like 10-2 and your opponent made a very nice (and very difficult) carom from the two to the nine. It was an excellent shot. I applaud great pool wherever I see it — even if I hate the person playing it. So, my dear, dear Raj, don’t get all huffy and glare into the stands with a “who dun been clappin’ fo’ mah enemy” look when someone applauds. Trust me, I hate that too, but as long as they’re not cheering my foul-ups, I don’t give a damn. You shouldn’t, either.

I applauded for you when you won the match. You’re slightly more adorable when you’re not handling crowds the way Earl “The Pearl” Strickland [USA] does. Although, I must admit, you’re kind of cute when you pout — so maybe I will applaud your opponent more often, just to see you do it. You have such pinchable, chubby baby cheeks when you pout! Awww! Dress up as a rubber duckie for Halloween and I’ll just faint from Cute Overload.


Speaking of pouting, all pool players need to stop pouting (but especially certain European players — and you know who you are). Oh, you know what I mean. When you miss a shot, don’t keep staring at disbelief. Seriously, the ball IS NOT going in. No matter how much you stare at it. Don’t stand there and give that limp hand wave full of “oh no it DIDN’T”. Oh yes, it did. You missed. I know it doesn’t happen to you very often, but it DOES happen. Get over it. Sit down. Wait for your opponent to miss (if he does), and then run the set out on his ass. Stop standing there like a mournful mannequin crying to the world that it’s just not fair that you missed.


After the matches, I ran into some friends and we went out to dinner. Rather, we should have gone out to dinner. We ended up at a bar instead and had liquid diets. I challenged Jaegermeister and his sidekick Red Bull to a duel (on an empty stomach). I lost, and quite badly too, might I add. Yech.

I think I’ll be refraining from Jaeger & Red Bulls for a while.

In other news of the world, I met some nice players from across The Pond tonight, Daryl “Dazzler” Peach [GBR, 65th – $500] and Paddy “Ginger Magician” McLaughlin [IRL] and boy can they drink. Paddy was hands-down, the champion of the evening. We all had so much fun the bar eventually had to throw us out into the humid Virginia morning.

I still owe you a beer, Mr. Peach. You can collect it when you’re back Stateside.



Friday, October 19, 2007

I woke up fresh as a daisy this morning, surprising all my friends who were certain I’d come out looking more like pickled herring after last night’s festivities.

I bounced into the tournament room and into the stands where my good Las Vegas friend Crown & Seven was waiting for me. Crown & Seven was quite concerned about my well-being, and also impressed that I was walking without assistance. He offered to get me a beer, but I wisely declined, preferring to wait for my bread in solid, rather than in liquid, form. Accompanying the ever-charming Crown & Seven were Jonathan “Jonni” Fulcher [a Scotsman living in Switzerland who went to school in Britain playing in an American tournament talking to an Asian so I don’t know what country code to insert here, 65th – $500] and his friend, Spike.

Mr. Fulcher is a physics researcher who works at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. Mr. Spike (sorry, never found out your last name), Mr. Fulcher’s longtime friend, had studied to be a mining engineer. I never thought I’d be discussing particle physics or the depth of kimberlite pipes in South Africa at a pool tournament whilst drinking cheap American beer, but, there you have it. Pool players be some eddimicated peoples!


Later on in the day, I watched two matches that were next to each other. One featured John Morra [CAN, 17th – $1,500] vs Ronnie “Everything’s Funny When You’re Winning Big Money” Wiseman [USA, 17th – $1,500] and the other was Oscar “I Look Just Like My Dad” Dominguez [USA, 33rd – $1,000] vs Bob “I Have The Sharpest Elbows In The World” Henning [USA, 65th – $500]. Honestly, Mr. Henning does have unusually angular elbows. Watch the next time he bends his elbow. That point could drill an oil well.

About midway through both matches, Ernesto Dominguez [MEX, 25th – $1,250] slipped into the stands after concluding his own match against Louis “Am I Your Hero Yet?” Ulrich [USA, 5th – $3,500] to watch his son Oscar. I had already met John Morra’s father, Mario Morra [CAN, 33rd – $1,000], briefly before:

“Which match are you watching?”

“Oscar Dominguez, over there. You?”

“I’m watching him.” He pointed to John.

“Ah, that’s John Morra. He’s playing well and having a great year.”

Mr. Morra smiled and said proudly, “Yes! That’s my son!”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen matches watched with more intensity than the way these fathers sweated their sons’ matches. I won’t name an equivalent amount of money that could elicit such intensity because there isn’t any. John was grinding out a spectacular comeback against Mr. Wiseman after being down 9-2 while Oscar was grinding his way to victory in a long, agonizing match ahead by the score of 9-2.

At one point, both sons scratched simulataneously — John on the seven-ball and Oscar on the six-ball. Both fathers flinched simultaneously. Both matches finished at about the same time.

In the end, Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Dominguez the Younger pulled out the wins, 11-10 and 11-3, respectively. That was some great pool played by both sons and I’m sure, win or lose, both fathers are very proud of them. 🙂


For the inquiring minds that want to know, Mika “Iceman” Immonen [FIN, 13th – $2,000] did not, at least during my tenure at the Open, wear a pink shirt. He did, however, make a GREAT kick shot on a six-ball that hooked him after he made it. He followed that up with a spectacular jump shot on the seven, and then fired in a tough long-distance cut shot on the nine.

So, yes. Men who own pink shirts can still play pretty badass. Other men in pink shirts included Francisco “Django” Bustamante [PHI, 25th – $1,250], Jose “Amang” Parica [PHI, 9th – $2,500], and our very own John “Insert Number Above 400” Schmidt [USA, 65th – $500].


During a break between match sessions, I sat down in some chairs on a raised platform and thought I’d chill out. While I was cooling my heels, a guy in a t-shirt went into the playing area in front of me and started to racking the balls and then breaking them and then attempting to run them out. Nothing special, right?

Would I be writing about it if it wasn’t?

I don’t know who this person is, so let’s just call him Billiard Ballerina.

Billiard Ballerina looked to be a pretty decent player, but he was just so… so… damn… dramatic. I mean, when he broke the balls, you could hear Charge of The Light Brigade and his follow-through on the cue must have taken his arm clear across the entire length of the table. Hell, his body ended up past the side pocket. (Hmm, there’s a good rule to stop safe-breaking — your body has to make it past the side pocket, not just the balls.) I’m sure he’s broken his hip a few times, and he’s probably only in his thirties.

Every shot for Billiard Ballerina seemed to be a scripted opportunity. He’d stare down the cue ball with menacingly twitchy eyebrows. The cue ball would stare back, not giving a damn (since it was an inanimate object). Billiard Ballerina would stalk around the table like an evil rooster. Suddenly, whoosh! Billiard Ballerina was back at the cueball, staring it down yet again! The truth?! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Then, with the speed of Chuck Norris and the oil-slickness of a pomaded Steven Seagal, WHAM! He’d slam that cueball into the object ball with all the force of an angry puppy and scare it right into the rail. Yeah! Show them balls who’s BOSS!

While I was watching this sideshow, trying to figure out whether or not the horror was worth the comfy perch I had acquired, Jay Helfert took a seat next to me.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Not bad.”

“Who’s this guy you’re watching?”

“I… don’t… know…” We watched his epileptic seizure of a break.

“Is he… a good player?” We watched him flounce around the table.

“Yeah, Jay. He’s wearing a souvenir t-shirt signed by all the pros. If that and his flailing arms doesn’t say “stone champion” to you, I don’t know what will.”


It was only Friday and I was already itching to play after watching so much great pool, so I hitched a ride to Q-Masters where I happily spent the next six hours playing nonstop. In my heels. Because I’m badass that way. Sometime during the evening, a woman asked me if I was nineteen. Ah, I love being Asian.



Saturday, October 20, 2007

I watched the semi-finals today, and before watching the finals I went out to dinner with some friends and their friends.

While at dinner, we fell into the discussion of what makes a professional player a professional player. Obviously, there are some people out there who label themselves as professional players for whatever reason. I believe that you have to have won a major tournament and/or consistently finish in the top of the field of major tournaments before you can call yourself a professional. Talk rolled around to a person who I thought was a very nice person, but was not, in my opinion, a professional pool player.

Please note, I can separate business from friendship. For example, Earl Strickland may be an ass of a person, but there is no denying he is a great pool player. You can be my best friend, but if you can’t consistently break and run racks, I’m going to have to tell you that you cannot call yourself a professional pool player even though you are the sweetest, nicest person in the world.

One person of our party, let’s call him Fidel, said about the person I was referring to, “Oh, So-And-So [SAS] is a great, GREAT shot.”

I said, “I understand, SAS is a good player, but I am saying that I do not consider that person a professional and I do not believe in declaring yourself to be a professional until you have the stats to back it up.”

“Yeah? Well, I’ll tell you that SAS has always been a professional. SAS plays better than ANYONE at this table! I’d put my money on SAS all day long against anyone here!!”

Insert awkward pause in conversation here.

Readers, understand that Fidel has moved across the country to become a professional pool player himself, but he is several notches short. The kid’s got ambition, but no ability at the moment. I can relate, I’m in the same boat. That is not to say he won’t ever become a professional, but at this moment, although he considers himself slightly below professional level, he is about as close to being invited to the World Pool Championships in Manila as I am. I mean that literally. Now you know his speed.

We all stared at each other a bit. Who was at the table? There was one or two C-players, but there was also a top-50 WPBA player, and at least one solid break-and-run A-player. The person being discussed, SAS, hadn’t played in a pro event in recent memory. I didn’t want something as ridiculous as this kind of an argument to spoil dinner for everyone, so I offered a compromise.

“Well,” I said, “maybe SAS was a pro before I started playing and that’s why I never associated SAS with any professional events.” SAS was maybe early thirties in age.

“Damn right,” Fidel said. “You’re new and you probably haven’t been playing long enough to know who the good players are.”


“How long have you been playing anyways?”

“Ten years.”

Note to aspiring professional pool players such as Fidel: please be realistic when assessing your skills and do not woof for other players. It’s bad etiquette and generally not a good idea. None of us had the heart to take you up on your offer to stake SAS “all day long” because, if we all busted you, we’d have to split the $20 amongst the lot of us, and that’s before paying table time.


The finals between Shane “South Dakota Kid” Van Boening [USA, 1st – $50,000] and Ronnie “The Volcano” Alcano [PHI, 2nd – $20,000] took place in the arena and I got some good seats in the stands. By good I mean I could kind of see the table, if no one over five feet tall sat down in front of me, and most of the projection screen at the back of the room. By seat I mean the one spot on the bleacher stairs not soaked in beer. Most of my limbs were falling asleep, but I didn’t mind — you don’t get to see great pool often, so it was a small price to pay. I could always get a prosthetic foot, but this match would only happen once in history.

I know a lot of you are wondering what is up with Mr. Alcano’s hair and nails. I regret to inform you that I have no idea what is up with his hair and nails — even after I consulted a whole bottle of Malibu rum. Eric has kindly provided me with some photographic evidence of this phenomenon.

Here are his hands. His nails are, uh, nicely manicured — and I think they are painted, as well.


Here is his hair. It’s very evenly spotted. His hair has been variously described (by others, mind you) as “the hide of a jackal”, “what happens when you park yourself under a tree for a day”, and “speckled with seagull s—“. No worries, Mr. Alcano. You’d still kick all our asses on the pool table, even if you didn’t look that pretty.


During the match, it was noted that Mr. Alcano was not breaking very well. He didn’t make a ball on many of his breaks, giving Mr. Van Boening the opportunity to clean his clock several times. Here is a short exchange I overheard regarding this situation:

“Is Ronnie using a cut-break? Neither of them seems to be breaking particularly hard. I think the cut break would work, but he’s got to change it so he can make a ball.”

“He’s going to be sick soon if he doesn’t make a ball on those breaks and catch up.”

“I’d be sick too. He’s going to let Shane run away with the match.”

“Yeah, Ronnie’s going to get a bad case of anal glaucoma.”

“Anal–what?! Glaucoma?”

“He can’t see his ass getting out of his chair.”

After the dust settled, it was Mr. Van Boening over Mr. Alcano by a score of 13-10 in a highly entertaining final.


Oh, and Scott Rabon [USA, 17th – $1,500] without a goatee looks like Stevie Moore [USA, 65th – $500] who looks like Ray Romano [USA, Everybody Loves Him]. That is all.


Of course, after watching all that pool, I had to go play pool. Again.

At Q-Masters, the tables were all filled. After batting balls around a little bit in the Green Room, I went over to Action Central at the other room. There, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. I shall call him The Hat. While we chatted, I saw Mr. Fulcher match up with someone on the front table. Mr. Fulcher’s opponent did a dramatic wind-up, and then, arms flailing in all directions, unleashed purgatory on the cue ball. I stopped in mid-sentence.

“Oh my God. It’s that dude.” Yes, kids, it was Billiard Ballerina.


“I don’t know who he is, but, look at the way he plays. It’s nuts!”

“He’s all over the place.” We watched a little. “He looks like an okay player.”

“Oh, you HAVE to watch him break. Just wait.” Billiard Ballerina won the game and we leaned forward in anticipation. “Okay, okay. Watch and tell me it’s not weird.”

“Okay, I’m watching.”

Billiard Ballerina wound up again, and arms waving like an electrocuted jellyfish on speed, broke the balls and damn near jumped over the length of the table while hitting his cue on the lights. I was thirty feet away and I thought I might have lost an eye.

“Have you ever seen that before?”

“Oh gosh, no! What is he doing? He’s going to dislocate his asshole breaking like that!”


The rest of my late evening/early morning was spent trying to avoid an older gentlemen who insisted we should play each other. I said, no, thank you once. He found me again, and said we didn’t have to gamble, he just wanted to see how I played. No, thank you, again. I ducked and ran into another room. He found me twenty minutes later and said if I would play him, he’d even pay for the table time. No, I said, I am not going to play tonight.

I must have burned a few thousand calories running from this SAPP. When I say “no”, I mean “NO”. Obviously, my English needs to be improved since so many don’t understand this word I say over and over again.


Another red-haired guy did the same thing to me every time he’d see me at the tournament room. He’d have to say loudly, “Oh, look, she’s ready to play me now.” Excuse me, but who the f— are you? I was polite the first time and just smiled while running away at light speed in the other direction.

The second time, I had my cue with me so I could get some work done on it and you cut me off in the aisle with a “Got your cue? You finally ready to play?” Dude, go f— yourself. The only reason why I didn’t say anything really mean was because you were much shorter than me — and I’m pretty damn short myself. You have my pity. But keep pushing your luck and you’ll be a soccer ball real soon.

And in response to your question that you yelled after me, “When are you and I gonna play some?”

The answer would be, “Never. Now STFU.”


Everyone, I have a bad memory.

I’ve met a lot of people in my lifetime through pool but I can’t remember everyone’s names. Please reintroduce yourselves with a simple, “Hello, my name is so-and-so, I think we met at such-and-such tournament.”

Here are a few things you SHOULD NOT say when meeting me and I obviously do not know, or have forgotten, your name:

Woof at me to play, and then say you were just kidding. (Grrr!)

Tell me I’m your future ex-wife. (That line’s older than Grady Mathews.)

Ask me how come I don’t remember you. (There might be a reason for this, no?)

Insist that you saw me on TV and I am either Jeanette Lee, Ga-Young Kim, or Xiao-Ting Pan. (I don’t look anything like them and I think *I* would know who I am.)

Persistently follow me to the car asking me when are we going to have a good time. (Well, if you stand riiight in front of the car as I rev the engine, we can both have a real good time.)



Sunday, October 21, 2007

I usually manage to get window seats on my flights. I like the window seats because I can lean against the wall of the plane, conk out, and wake up in a new city. Whee! I also like window seats because I’m only going to have to fade talking to ONE person, if I get a talkative fellow flyer. The window doesn’t talk back.

Since my flight home was very early, I decided I’d stay up instead of going to sleep and having to get up again. By the time I had gotten on my flight, I was completely ready to pass out. Unfortunately, I got a middle seat on this flight. There was a gentleman to the right of me, and a little old lady with an ugly-ass red paisley-print purse on my left. Here is some of the conversation that ensued.

“How’s it going.”

“Not bad.”

“You got enough room for your legs?”



I stuck my bag under the seat in front of me, did a few quick stretches, and settled in to pass out. People were still boarding. Unlike some people, I don’t have to make sure we’re in the air before passing out for an in-flight snooze. I closed my eyes.

“How was your weekend?”


“How was your weekend?” It was Paisley Purse Lady.

“Oh, it was all right.” I leaned back again, and closed my eyes. Damn. I was tired.

“Were you visiting friends or family?”

“What? Oh. Um. Friends.” I closed my eyes again to politely signal that this far-too-early-in-the-morning exchange was now over.

“What’d you do all weekend? You looked tired.”

“Uh. Nothing. Nothing, really.” Ma’am, STFU already.

“Are you in college?” She’s still talking to me? WTF? I kept my eyes closed.

“College? No.”

“What college are you thinking of going to?” Wow, I don’t know of many people that would continue talking to people with closed eyes. Maybe she was a hypnotist for a living…


*bump* *bump* *bump*


“Well, you slept the whole way. You didn’t blink or move once.”

“Huh?” I looked around. We had landed. Sweet.

“Here,” Paisley Purse Lady shoved a plastic-wrapped box towards me. “I saved you your lunch. I wasn’t sure if you were ever going to wake up.”

“Oh. Thanks.” I put the box in my bag. I cracked my neck and stretched to the point where I thought I might pull a muscle.

“That’s the problem with you young kids nowadays.” Paisley Purse Lady seemed kind of huffy. I tried to remember what happened. Oh. Right. I fell asleep in the middle of our conversation. Whatever. I shrugged. “Oh, don’t give me that, I know what you kids are like nowadays.”


“You probably spent the whole weekend at parties and drinking didn’t you?”

“Uh. No…”

“Then you were probably just eating pizza in front of a TV or playing video games. You kids nowadays don’t do anything worthwhile.”

“Uh…” Wow. I guess I’m being scolded by someone who’s just met me. On a plane. Surreal. Well, at least we were beginning to disembark. A few more minutes and I’d be out of this hellhole. In the meantime, the best defense was probably silence.

“You need to know there’s more to life than just sitting around all day drinking soda and eating junk food.”


“I know what kids are like. I had some of my own, you know.” Wow. That’s just fabulous lady. How long until they hightailed it out of home? I hate the fact that you can’t tell women who look like they belong on Golden Girls to STFU. You just have to take the abuse. “If you don’t shape up by college, your life is going to be a waste.”

“Um, thanks. You know what I’m going to give you?”


“The seven. You got the seven all day long.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing. You got the seven, that’s all.”

“Is that another one of those new phrases that doesn’t make any sense? Are you talking about some drug you teenagers use? Watching all that TV is no good for you. Your brain is rotten.”

“Whatever lady, you got the seven.”

“You probably don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

“You’re probably right.”


And so concludes my trip to the U.S. Open.

I love pool.






When I had a cat, she used to behave like this, paw-slapping, ear-pulling and all. I’ve also been accused of behaving like the cat in this video clip. I guess I could see that… It’s awesome. You MUST watch it.

Wake up yo’ lazy ass!