The Vegas Rundown.

 

listening to
Bon Jovi
“…I heard your suitcase say goodbye…”

eating
cherries
been waitin’ all winter for these

obsessed with
cleaning my toaster oven
the crumb tray is officially a fire hazard

 

t h a n k s
my champion friends who fed me with their tournament winnings
muchas gracias

 

I regret that I did not get much of a chance to lurk and observe, as I was embroiled in the Great Struggle known as Breaking Even At A Pool Tournament. As a result, the professionals will be spared critique of their choices of dress and/or behaviour. It’s a lot easier to Point & Jeer when I have nothing else to do other than Point & Jeer.

I didn’t do as well as I hoped I would this year, but I finished well enough to come out $23.71 on the plus side for the whole trip. Not bad, considering that I lost my first match. I was slightly peeved at the loss, and, apparently, I took it out on my joint protector. Later on in the day, my better half asked to use my cue. I handed it over. After a few minutes, he realized he couldn’t get the joint protector off the joint of the cue. A friend stepped in to help, and the two of them went to work, one holding the joint protector and the other holding the cue, and both twisting in opposite directions. No dice. Finally, another, larger friend gave it a go, and after using every last bit of strength he had–success!

Friend #1 told Friend #2 not to be so pleased with himself, as he only managed to demonstrate he had the same strength as a five-foot, hundred-pound Asian girl.

They asked me what did I do to the joint protector and I said, “Nothing. I put it on after I lost. I guess I was a little mad.”

 

 

Observations
the Devil’s workshop

I spent a good amount of time near the Action Pit. There was, in my opinion, less big action this year than last year. There were ten-dollar and twenty-dollar tables, and the occasional spiffy match-up (Shane Van Boening vs. Dennis Orcullo, playing Shane’s game, barbox eight-ball), but overall, that was about it.

I did enjoy being amused by the fashion choices of overseas players such as El Mullet and Spanish Pants.

Left. El Mullet, runner-up in the Men’s Master Singles.

Right. Spanish Pants. What is that print? Well, it took me a while to figure out, but it looks like some sort of skull on its side. Fabulous shoes, too. In addition, his fluffy coif was hair-metal glam at its finest. His running partner was also a spectacular specimen of Euro-style. That man wore skin-tight, translucent beige man-pris (capri pants, but on a dude) with a matching wife-beater, while sporting a slicked-back ponytail with enough grease to bring gas back down to two dollars a gallon. Someone get that man a green card. Immediately.

 

 

“What do YOU want to do?”
install a mute button on you

No great billiard gathering would be complete without hustlers. One night, a few roosters from the old-time flock showed up.

The Rat Pack was legendary old-time Vegas. Here, I present to you, The Polyester Pack. It’s John “Attention Whore” Mataya and Ronnie Allen, Sr., arfing at the Action Pit. To paraphrase someone else’s quote about a poolplayer (and you all know who you are), “That’s a lot of polyester on two fat men.”

Here we have George Something-Or-Other doing his schtick holding up two cues with his fingers, and challenging any man in the audience to do the same.

Left. The legendary Cole Dixon, beer in hand.

Right. Mr. Dixon being arfed at by George Something-Or-Other, the proceedings being watched by Neanderthal Boy. Neanderthal Boy, so dubbed because his prominent browbone was a natural eyeshade that could have sheltered small animals from the rain, was, admirably, perpetually in the Action area. Less admirably, he would only play for five dollars a game, and then he had to be robbing you. Even less admirably, he wore a variety of dorky vintage-style shirts, one of which is pictured here. I thought he was wearing a bikini.

Richard “Bucktooth” Cook arfing at Jason “Darkhorse” Kirkwood, eventual Men’s Grandmaster champion. During their interesting arf-session, Mr. Kirkwood ran an impressive six racks of last-pocket eight-ball, collecting a tidy $120 along the way at twenty dollars a game. All while trading barbs with Bucktooth. Highly entertaining.

All in all, this crowd of Bucktooth, Ronnie Allen, Sr., George Something-Or-Other, and John “Attention Whore” Mataya, was a bit of a let down. I’ve seen their acts and heard their lines before at many tournaments, and so, their display felt a bit like a circus show. Nay, it didn’t even have the dignity of a circus show–it was more like the giant rat at Chuck-E-Cheese pirouetting in a pink tutu while asking you, “You wanna play some?”

Ronnie Allen, Sr., did end up playing Ritchie Idrovo from Chicago some back-pocket nine-ball, and that match featured nice shots from both players.

Otherwise, it was a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. How so? Allow me to elaborate.

These men come in squawking about how everyone’s a nit, and where’s your heart, and why won’t these young kids with their bright eyes and strong arms get the courage to play and bet something?

You say you’ll play for, say, a hundred a game.

Squawkers, Inc. (John “Attention Whore” Mataya and whoever he’s running with), will clutch their hands to their chests and declare, no, they cannot possibly play for such a small sum! It’s bet a thousand a game, maybe five hundred, or nothing at all! Correct me if I’m wrong, but this seems to be the classic highroll move to me. You ask the room to play, someone steps up, and you excuse yourself from sparring because the stakes are to little. Too little? I’ve seen what Squawkers, Inc. members are wearing and the cheap beer they’re drinking — y’all need to play.

You say, fine, I’ll play you for a few hundred a game.

Squawkers, Inc. will clutch their hands to their chests and declare, you must give their player the six playing nine-ball.

You say, WTF?

Squawkers, Inc. will say, their player is an old man and if you are willing to play, you must be some young gun with sharp eyes and a champion stroke and, thus, you can give their player the six.

You say, wait, you asked me to play, you highroll me, and then you ask me for weight?

Squawkers, Inc. will then all cluck together to recycle the usual lines of “bet thousands”, “I’m old”, “I can’t play”, “where’s your heart”, etc.

Dude, it’s life. It’s not supposed to make sense.

So, after a lot of wasted air and bruised eardrums, nothing happened. Really, these men should run for office. In honor of Squawkers, Inc., I have developed the following drinking game. That way, if a game doesn’t materialize, you can still have a great time. Take this with you to next year’s Derby City, I guarantee it will get the party started.

Squawkers, Inc. Drinking Game
just because there’s no action doesn’t mean we can’t have fun

Roll Call

  • 2 shots if John “Attention Whore” Mataya is present
  • 1 shot for each additional running partner (George Something-Or-Other, etc.)
  • 1 beer for each overly-tanned, drunk lady they’ve brought along to impress or laugh at their jokes

Opening Ceremonies

1 shot for each reference to:

  • “Beat me and you can retire.”
  • “I’m old.”
  • “He’s old.”
  • “You’re young.”
  • “I don’t care about the money, I just want to see action.
  • “Where’s your heart?”
  • “Players now ain’t like players in the old days.”

1 beer swig each time John “Attention Whore” Mataya says, “What do YOU want to do?” (trust me, you’ll be done with your beer mighty quick)

Game Specifics

  • 2 shots if a game is agreed upon
  • 1 shot for each “bonus” feature of the game (back-pocket, last-pocket, no jump cues, behind-the-back shooting, etc.)
  • 1 shot for each money ball or game spot (i.e., the seven-out playing nine-ball is three shots)
  • 1 beer swig each time they propose they’ll play you even, you just have to play with their glasses on
  • 3 shots if a game is actually played

Bet Specifics

  • 1 shot for each zero behind the first digit ($50 = 1 shot, $500 = 2 shots, $5000 = 3 shots)

Miscellaneous

  • 6 shots if John “Attention Whore” Mataya actually plays
  • 1 IHOP breakfast for everyone if no game materializes (you’ll need it after all that alcohol)

I’m putting into print what a lot of people are thinking in their heads: stop jawing and play already. We know you’re all champions and legends and we’re here to ooh-and-aah over the spectacular games you are promising. All this insane volume is unnecessary. Trying to embarrass your potential action is unnecessary. Just ask, and work out a game.

Don’t worry, I’m working on getting to the level, both in game and in bankroll, to play you all in the future. It might take a while, so try to eat healthy and cut down on the nicotine and alcohol. I don’t want death to be an excuse for not playing.

 

 

Scooter
not just a neat pool nickname

So, yes, scooters were the most stylish accessories of this tournament, right up there with blue-and-gold pool gloves featuring Latin American soccer team logos. I thought them to be nothing more than cute little vehicles with cherry-red glitter paintjobs until I got hit by one. During a tournament match. I had stood up to get out of the way of my opponent, and had moved to the entry point into the tournament area. A few moments later, I was examining the psychedelic patterns of the Riviera carpet. An elderly lady had entangled her purse straps in the controls of her scooter and driven into the back of my knee.

Left. Canadian champion Edwin Montal.

Center. Sands Regency winner Richie Orem.

Right. Future pool champion setting up a game whilst riding his limo.

 

 

Overheard
wit and wisdom at the BCA

“Dammit, now I got nothing to do but sweat a bunch of jackoffs. I could give the seven to these idiots and they’re still in the tournament.”
— freshly knocked-out tournament player

“I’ll give your son the eight if you give my son the eight.”
— Ronnie Allen, Sr. to another billiards dad and son duo

“He’s obviously a nine-ball player who can’t control his cue ball.”
— an observant spectator referring to a superb shot by Men’s Masters Singles champion Blake Todd where he threaded the cue ball four rails through traffic for a perfect shot on his last eight-ball

“I play one-pocket the way old people f—. Not often, and not very well.”
— Action Pit denizen

“I need to break even. I could use the money.”
— someone looking at the boards

“The thing about pool tournaments is, that, except for the winner, everyone leaves losing their last match.”
— tournament observer

 

 

Counter-Intelligence
people never cease to amuse me

An exchange between Me and My Opponent during a match:

“I bet you don’t play on a big table at all.”

“Well…”

“Do you even play nine-ball at all? Or do you just play league?”

“Actually…”

“Because that game needs stroke, and you look like you roll everything.”

“Umm, okay… If you spot me something, we can play nine-ball on the big table…”

 

There were four balls left on the table in addition to the eight-ball. One of my balls was in the middle of the top rail and hemmed in by the eight-ball while the other was sandwiched between my opponent’s two balls. I had ball-in-hand. I bunted my stuck ball to just in front of the side pocket, and left the cue ball where my sandwiched object ball used to be. I was quite proud of this safety, and sat down.

Here is the exchange between Me and My Opponent’s Husband:

“Sometimes, the easiest shots are the toughest shots.”

“What?”

“I saw you just missed ball-in-hand there. The pressure getting to you?”

“I played a safety.”

“It’s okay, everyone misses under pressure, even with ball-in-hand.”

“Huh?”

“You should have hit it with a lot of top and inside and spun it to the top rail.”

“What? There was no pocket for the ball.”

“You could also have used a lot of draw and gone the other way.”

“There… was… no… pocket… for… the… ball.”

“I think you need to straighten out your arm.”

“I think there is a BCA rule against coaching your wife’s opponent.”

“I’m trying to help you.”

“I’m trying to save you from divorce.”

 

 

In Parting

They upped the payouts for the top places in the eight-ball events.
You’re better off sleeping on the floor rather than the Riviera beds.
I’ll see y’all next year!

 

Sandbox
kill some time

plastination!

Whee!

 

YouTube

spiders on drugs
I might have posted this already, but I like it.
[1 minute : 51 seconds]

The Cinematic Geography of Los Angeles
Spiffy.
[7 minutes : 8 seconds]

Hornets vs. Bees
Another one of my favorites. Scary, but interesting. If you know me, I’ve probably emailed this to you before.
[4 minutes : 17 seconds]