“snap, crackle, pop”
a.k.a. Sugar-Crystal Meth by Barbara
getting more nuts
totally addicted to those things
young guns action challenge : john morra vs justin bergman
Damn kids can’t even drink yet (legally, in the United States) and they play like champions…
Watch this good ol’ fashioned USA vs Canada shootout (don’t forget to wave the mini-flags!) go down at The Action Report via Pay-Per-View.
Play starts Friday at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Get all three days of play for just $25, or Saturday and Sunday for $20, or Sunday only for $15.
I think that the victory party will have either boy as the designated driver. Not only do they have to win the cash, they have to chaffeur their inebriated entourage afterwards. Who’s really winning here?
The drunk peeps, I tells ya, the drunk peeps.
Say hello to my cat.
She also likes whiskey.
anyone else think…
…that labeling Heather Mills as a former supermodel is a bit of a stretch? Seriously, I don’t think her face is all that pretty. Just a thought.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I didn’t go to league tonight because…
Thursday, March 13, 2008
…I went to play in a tournament.
I arrived in the Land of the Cheesesteak at 6:00 a.m.
Here is a picture of professional player Louis “You’re All Playing For 13th” Ulrich, before the makeup artists have had a chance to work on him. We thank you, Mr. Ulrich, for this in-depth glimpse into the glamour of professional pool.
I was much luckier.
My first match in the tournament was at 1:00 p.m., so I had a bit of time to doze off and recharge my batteries. When it was time to get up, I really preferred not to, but glory is forever — and I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Off to the tournament room.
I won my first match in two sets against a very nice guy. We both played well, but I was able to sneak away with the match due to the alternate-break format. I was rather pleased with my play which was light-years above what I thought it would be.
My second match wasn’t until 5:00 p.m., so I went to watch my better half play his match in the downstairs section of the convention center.
His opponent was an interesting man with interesting habits I shall name Crepescular Critter.
In addition to cleaning the balls with Armor-All prior to play, Crepescular Critter had another interesting quirk — he required the rack to be racked a particular way. The rack didn’t have to be tight, mind you, but it absolutely HAD to be perfectly aligned in the center of the table, with the one-ball perfectly on the footspot. No degree of tilt was allowable. As a result, each rack became its own mini-series as it was meticulously assembled, aligned, inspected, realigned, re-inspected, given a green card, passed the citizenship test, sent its children to college, and then broken.
Crepescular Critter, after all this hype, broke like absolute s—.
It was all sound and fury, signifying NOTHING.
Crepescular Critter chose to use the cut-break almost exclusively and his breaks sucked ass. Even though the rack was tight (he inspected this) and perfectly aligned with all the planets (he inspected this using the Hubble telescope, lasers beams mounted on the heads of sharks, and the ghost of Galileo), his breaks had all the thunder of an amoeba’s burp.
Because even when you cut-break, you need to hit the balls with a firm, decisive stroke. Crepescular Critter was rolling the cueball on the break, so he didn’t hit the rack with any kind of force. Despite this fact, he seemed confused as to why the balls did not break well. His answer to his own weak break was to inspect the racks even more because, you know, it couldn’t possibly be his break — it HAD to be the rack. Damn equipment. It’s always against him!
The saddest part was, I periodically heard Crepescular Critter informing his entourage about how his good friend, Such-And-Such Professionals had taught him This-Or-That shot or safety that he had just done.
What professional taught him how to break?!
That’s what I want to know.
After two hours in this virtual coma (which I suffered WITHOUT the aid of alcohol), I bid my better half adieu and trotted off to my next match.
The table for my next match still had players on it from the previous round. No worries for me. I went up to the tournament desk and double-checked with the directors — yep, I was waiting on the table, but I was told I would not be forfeited if I wasn’t there immediately when my match was called. Spiffy.
As I was turning away from the desk, a youngish dude we shall name Chowderhead was having a mild fit talking with the tournament director. I stopped to listen.
“What do you mean I cannot practice on the table?”
“There’s a match still going on, so you’ll have to wait. They’re probably almost done.”
“I will not be able to practice on the table before I play because of this? That is not fair.”
“Well, that’s what happens in tournaments like this. It’s a big tournament and we have to keep things moving. You’ll get to hit one rack of balls before you begin.”
“No, that is not fair! I should be able to practice a while before I play.”
“I’m sorry, but you probably won’t be able to. You’ll just get the one rack.”
“I do not think that is right.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is.”
Gentle readers, if you are wondering why this relatively insignificant conversation is included here, it’s because — you guessed it — Chowderhead was my next opponent.
“Are you waiting on table 321?”
“Yes. They say I cannot practice on it. I do not think it is fair.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I’m your opponent.”
“We will not have practice time.”
“I don’t care. If I don’t know how to play by now, I won’t learn in thirty minutes.”
“This tournament is disorganized.”
“Actually, I think it’s going along pretty well. It’s just tough in the beginning, you know, when there are a LOT of players and they need to play everyone as soon as possible.”
“It is not fair.”
I was not equipped at the moment for arguing with brick walls, so I left Chowderhead by the tournament desk and wandered off to get some caffeine for my steadily snoozing brain. When I returned, the match on my table was wrapping up. I assembled my cue and sat down to wait.
Chowderhead came over and took out a slightly damp, crumpled piece of paper from his pocket and put it on the table. It smelled weird. Unwilling to touch it, I prodded it with a pen until it unfolded. It was the scoresheet.
“I have filled it out. I have put my name down.” He seemed to be proud of this. I don’t doubt Chowderhead is the kind of guy with an underground bunker the size of Shea Stadium full of dry oatmeal, bottled water, and textbooks on organic chemistry in anticipation of the upcoming apocalypse. “I have filled out my name.”
“Yes, I see that. You left out the table number and match time.”
“I need to practice.” He walked away.
“Umm. Okay, then.” That left me with the unenviable task of writing on this limp sheet of paper. I wondered if I should give it a moment to dry before writing on it. I fanned it with my player badge. Using my cue case to hold down a corner, I carefully filled out the rest of the information.
Chowderhead and I flipped for the break, and he won the toss. I racked the balls and sat down.
This first game was the kind of game that drives you bonkers. Chowderhead made a ball on the break, then proceeded to attempt the ride the nine. All the time. Despite being a fairly decent player. When he missed, I was hooked, and the table layout changed with every shot he took. It was unsettling to repeatedly have to kick and then watch him make a ball and miss. He finally pulled a successfully crazy carom-combo-clusterf— out of his ass and he managed to ride the nine into a corner pocket.
The tournament format was alternate break, so the next break was mine. I marked the score on the scoresheet and turned to the table. Chowderhead was waiting by the partition that separated the playing area from the spectator section. I got up from my chair and I saw that two of my friends had come to watch me play. Spiffy! I also noticed they had the strangest looks on their faces and they were pointing at me.
Did I have a coffee stain? I looked down at my shirt. Nope. I looked back. They were still pointing. I looked behind me. Nobody there. Strange. Well, perhaps they were saying hello in a weird way. I smiled and waved. Support is always good, even if my friends are pointing and laughing at me while they are watching. I walked up to the table, and gave a perfunctory glance at the rack as I walked to the head of the table to break.
I RAN back for another look.
The rack was racked so poorly that I really do not have words to describe it. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I rarely tote my camera to tournament matches. Later on, I was told by my friends that the rack had been racked SO bad they watched as the one-ball rolled well off the spot, and Chowderhead had watched it roll off the spot, and then had put the ball-rack away. This was why they were pointing in astonishment.
But, let us continue with the current situation of S—tiest. Rack. Ever.
I motioned Chowderhead to come over.
“Excuse me, but that’s a TERRIBLE rack. Would you mind re-racking, please? Thank you.”
Chowderhead came over and looked at the rack. “I do not see anything wrong with it.”
I skidded to a stop on my way to the head of the table. “What?!”
“I said, ‘I do not see anything wrong with the rack.’ It is fine. There is nothing wrong with it.”
I came back to the foot of the table. “Whoa there, champ. Do you see this?” I asked Chowderhead. “See this? This GIANT space between the one-ball and the two- and seven-balls?”
He looked at the rack. “No, I do not know what you are talking about.”
“DUDE. LOOK at this. Are you looking? LOOK.” Chowderhead and I both put our faces about a foot above the rack. The lighting was excellent. I put the tips of my pinky fingers in the gap behind the one-ball. They fit in there with room to spare. I raised and lowered my pinkies several times. “You see that? That’s a f—ing GAP. The GAP is not just a store. It’s what you’re putting in between these balls. This is NOT a good rack.”
“There seems to be a little space.”
“A LITTLE SPACE? Dude! I’m looking at it and I SWEAR I can see the Colorado River running along the bottom! Look! You can even see people in rafts!”
“Okay, I will try again.”
Chowderhead took out the plastic ball-rack and put it around the balls. Then, I S— YOU NOT — he simply took the rack away. Ta-da! No attempt to push the balls together. No attempt to even put the balls on the spot. He just put the ball-rack down around the balls, without touching the balls, and picked it up again.
“Oh my God, NO. Get over here.”
“It is fine.”
“It is SO NOT FINE. The gaps are still there! In a proper nine-ball rack, all the balls should be touching. I know it’s not the table or the balls. The cloth is new and the balls are clean.”
“The rack is fine. I do not see a problem with it.”
“Rack it again.” Chowderhead did the same thing, again. He put the ball-rack around the balls the way a clown puts a hoop around a jumping poodle. Ta-da! “It’s still a bad rack.”
“I do not think I can get the balls to touch.”
“Gimme that s—!” I racked the balls myself. Presto! A perfect rack. “See that? Familiarize yourself with that, okay? That’s a proper nine-ball rack.”
“Oh. I do not know how you are able to have all the balls touching.”
“I’ve had a lot of practice racking in my lifetime, so I’m good at it.” I made a move to break, but Chowderhead put up a hand at the very last moment. As in I was in the middle of my backswing. “What? What now?!”
“Hold on, I want to check the rack.” Are you F—ING SERIOUS?! Chowderhead practically nuzzled the nine-ball with his nose during his examination before he was satisfied.
“Everything kosher? Good enough for you?”
“Yes. You may break.”
“Thanks a lot, champ. Your permission means so much to me.”
I broke, made three balls, and ran the f— out.
It was a difficult match to play, to say the least. I’ve been out of tournaments and I haven’t quite got back into the swing of dealing with assholes. Chowderhead refused to do rack your own, so I ended up racking all the racks of our match. This was not a problem with me. In the true spirit of Asian efficiency, as long as I was on my way to winning, I didn’t care who did the racking as long as the racks were good.
Chowderhead developed a strange habit of checking all my racks. BUT, only the racks I racked for myself. He never checked the racks I racked for him. Isn’t that strange? Furthermore, he would spend at least a minute examining each rack. At one point I had to say, “You know, if you’re checking the rack, you should do it the right way and check the racks YOU are breaking. Not the ones I’M breaking.”
“You are making balls on the break.”
“I am having some difficulty doing the same.”
“Shouldn’t you be checking YOUR racks, then?”
“I want to see why you are making the balls on your break.”
“It’s because my break doesn’t suck.”
Another habit Chowderhead had was what I like to call the “Whac-A-Mole”. This is where your opponent jumps up during, or after, any of your shots to see if you’re hooked, about to scratch, or whatever. Chowderhead took Whac-A-Mole to another level and would actually leap towards the table. Most jackasses might jump up, but they have the decency to stay in the same spot they jumped up in. Chowderhead looked like he was doing a stage dive.
After one particularly bad shot, I caught Chowderhead in mid-leap, looked him straight in the eye with the Glare of Death and said, “I’m hooked, okay? Sit the hell down and STAY there.” He looked surprised, but he made a valiant attempt to remain seated during my shot. This only lasted one inning. He was soon bouncing all over the place again. If only I could have whacked him with a Whac-A-Mole mallet. I think those mallets should be made standard and if your opponent jumps up again after a warning, WHACK!
I lost the first set, 3-5. I regained my compusure and ground out the second set 5-1. At 4-4 in the last set, I had a tough shot on the nine-ball. The nine was almost frozen on the top rail and I would have to stretch a little to shoot it. I fired away. It was a spectacular almost-impossible no-look off-angle bank that I shot with great speed and accuracy — that unfortunately rattled in the pocket and hung there.
I lost that last match 4-5, but I wasn’t particularly irritated. That last bank, it was a supremely gutsy shot, one of those do-or-die deals, and I wasn’t afraid to shoot it. That’s the kind of pool I like to play, win or lose. Balls out, baby! Life’s too short to be chicken.
In retrospect, I had lost because I had succumbed to my irritation with Chowderhead. He may have been pulling moves during the match (or maybe his IQ is about the same as the current temperature in Saskatoon), but I should have had better control of myself.
C’est la vie.
As I broke my cue down, my opponent fluttered up to me and hovered for a few seconds. He looked like he wanted to say something. I paused, and gave him a grim smile along with the Glare of Death, right in the eye. He seemed to think again. Satisfied that Chowderhead took the hint, I put my cue in my case.
“I want you to know that I did not deserve that win.”
ARRGH! “Look, don’t say that to me, okay? You got your win, now go.”
“But I did not deserve it.”
“I just f—ing played my heart out, played some great f—ing shots, got some un-f—ing-lucky rolls towards the end, all the while putting up with YOUR bulls—, and LOST. Don’t you f—ing try to console me. Don’t tell me you don’t “deserve” the win UNLESS YOU PLAN ON FORFEITING THE MATCH BACK TO ME. And are you going to do that?“
“I didn’t think so. Now shut the hell up and good luck.”
Although I was not going to win this tournament, I guess that Chowderhead would not win it, either. I didn’t think he would make it past the next round.
I was right.
After this fiasco, I went to watch my better half play his next match.
He drew a very nice (and very tall) man for his opponent. There is a saying that goes something like, “We are never too tired to laugh at the misfortune of others.” Yeah. That kind of describes me, doesn’t it?
My better half won both sets, 5-0, in 26 minutes. His very nice (and very tall) opponent was keeping track of the time.
“Wow, I think I might feel better now!”
“I lost my last match, but at least I got to shoot. You didn’t give this guy a chance at all.”
“I played well.”
“Hell yes, you did!”
“Watching that match made you feel better about your loss, huh?”
“Yeah! Oh, wait. Now that I think about it, no. Not really.”
“Because losing still sucks?”
“Yeah. Losing always sucks. Nothing makes it better.”
“And losing to someone you should beat sucks even more, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah. I’d rather have the set run out on me. At least all I dogged then was the flip.”
“Just keepin’ it real for ya, that’s all.”
By midnight, we were both out of the tournament. Now that we were off-duty, we paid a visit to some ever-so-slightly inebriated friends over at the Blue Grotto bar.
There are plenty of interesting photographs, but I will wait until the time is right before I use them for blackmail.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I slept in late today in order to recover from a). jet lag, b). crankiness of being out of the tournament, and c). vodka & cranberry.
Left. Before I left to go wander the expo grounds, I found this ladybug on a door. Lucky bug, eh? Where the hell were you yesterday? Pfft. Sleeping on the job again, I’ll bet.
Right. One of the first sights of my day: Proud APA Patch Collector in his natural habitat — watching by the tournament boards. Patch on, dude.
After milling about, my better half and I remembered we hadn’t really eaten a complete meal in over a day. That happens when you play tournaments. After cruising about, we found a Lone Star steakhouse. Can’t go wrong with steak, I suppose.
Left. Medium-rare and rare are all that is acceptable in my presence.
Right. Would you like some bread with your butter? I like to apply butter to my bread with a trowel.
We both decided prime rib, medium-rare, was a good idea. What we got was beef — but not prime rib. His order didn’t look like a prime rib, either. I asked our server:
“This is prime rib?”
“You sure? It doesn’t look like any prime rib I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.”
“It’s a prime rib. That’s what you ordered, right?”
“Well, yes, but I have never seen prime rib with char marks. I’ve heard of searing prime rib, but this isn’t even seared. It’s grilled.”
“That’s a prime rib.”
She seemed adamant and just a tad pissy, so we shrugged and cut into our “prime ribs”. I figured my prime rib (pictured below) was actually a New York steak — which would have been great if I had wanted a New York steak. It seemed to be cooked correctly, but that only lasted for about two inches from one end. And the steak was tough. Bleh.
His steak was not as tough as mine, but it didn’t taste very good, either. It also looked more like it could have been a ribeye.
When the bill came, it listed “(2) 12oz Ribeye”. Gotcha, biatch!
We called the server over and showed her the bill. All of a sudden, she was quite apologetic, saying it was just her first week, and she didn’t know what steaks looked like.
You’re working in a steak house, and you don’t know what steak looks like? Better yet, you’re in your mid-to-late 20s and you don’t know what steak looks like?! Does. Not. Compute. The server continued with profuse apologies and excuses. We were pretty stone-hearted about it all. I mean, c’mon. You f—ed with my dinner and challenged my knowledge of beef cooked medium-rare. That’s no bueno.
The manager came over and we explained what had happened. I showed her the “prime rib” and she agreed that what I got was NOT a prime rib. She said she would take it off the bill. That’s when my better half said that he had gotten a ribeye steak — which he had also not wanted. Both orders had been incorrect.
So, we were not charged at all.
But, I would seriously have preferred just getting a good slab of prime rib to getting an inferior steak for free. Gah.
After this, we went back to the convention center so that I could check out the downstairs Action Pit, where “NO GAMBLING” was widely posted — and widely ignored.
When I was last here, five years ago, the Action Pit was hip and happenin’. There were hand-scrawled signs on each table indicating the bet, be it $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100. I had hopped on the $10 table back then and had a ball playing like absolute crap and listening to people screaming “I’ll take the racker!” and “I’ll take the breaker!” while wildly waving bills around. The scene is not unlike that of the New York Stock Exchange trading floor.
The Racker-Breaker bet is a unique betting format I have yet to encounter elsewhere at events in the pool world. The Racker-Breaker bet is just like it sounds — you pick who you want to bet on (either the person Racking or the person Breaking), and find someone who wants to bet on the other guy. The beauty of this style of betting is this: half the fun is because you might not know who the two guys are! Or how they play! Hell, it could be Elmo vs Grover (“Who’s got Red Fur?! I got Blue Fur!”), with neither of them capable of making ball-in-hand and there’d be people betting hundreds or more on the outcome — just for the sake of betting!
This is action in one of its purest forms, because, if you don’t know either player, you might as well bet on a coin flip.
I didn’t see much raucous Racker-Breaker action this year which I will blame on the rising costs of gas and the general disarray of the economy. I have no idea if this is true. I’m simply parroting everyone else. Caw.
I perused the action tables, but they all seemed to have their resident sharks waiting for fish and none of the tables had signs indicating the bet, which is extremely necessary for touristy C-players such as myself.
Among the sharks swimming in the pond were Jason “Dark Horse” Kirkwood, Adam “GQ” Smith, Mario Morra & Son, Tony “T-Rex” Chohan, and Shane “I Am A Pool Playing Cyborg” Van Boening. Hell, SVB didn’t even bother to change out of his tournament clothes — he went straight from tournament to action pit, slacks, sponsor patches, starched collar, retractable chalk holder, and all. (Just kidding about the retractable chalk holder — although if he did have one, you know the general public would snap them up like hotcakes and never make fun of them again. Mmm. Hotcakes.) With all these world-beaters occupying the tables, I wisely opted not to play, knowing a rail-beater such as myself probably would not be able to afford the minimum bet.
Since we did not have a tournament to play, action to woof up, or food to eat, we made our way over to a Top-Secret Party located somewhere in the concrete bunker known as the Scanticon.
much taller than I expected
drinks vodka like a fish
gives Pool Monkey vodka so no one gets hurt
you know you’re glad you made it to VF, still owe you a beer
camouflaged by long sleeves
Asian with big eyes (they exist!)
Icon of Sin
fellow knife connoisseur
thanks again for the excellent work you did on my cue four years ago 🙂
hope your wife doesn’t find too many grammar errors in my work
RichR & Cathy
such nice people
aren’t you proud I upgraded my case from Duct-Tape Special to Limited Edition Packing-Tape?
hee hee hee!
Apologies to anyone I missed, and thanks so much for a fun time (and the beer)!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Today, the powers-that-be saw fit to bestow upon me a bag of cinnamon-sugar pecans that are so addictive I’m not sure the FDA will allow its distribution without a prescription.
Thank you VERY much, Princess Allie Katzenzoomerbabies!
Tonight was sushi night…
Here is my salad. All two tablespoons of it. Now that the healthy stuff is outta the way…
Yeah. I ate all this.
Kumamoto oysters, the bestest oysters in the world. I f—ing LOVE them!!
Left. Ikura with raw quail eggs, my favorite — and not for the squeamish. Right. Amaebi — raw sweet shrimp. Also not for the squeamish.
Yet another stroll through the Action Pit after dinner. Where else can you find a man in a sleeveless muscle tee and track pants playing with a super-gorgeous soul-selling Ginacue? I wish I had a closeup, but I don’t. You’ll all just have to use your imagination.
I can’t remember who was playing here, but it was a ten-ball ring game.
…and food coma snuck up on me soon thereafter.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Today was the day I was to leave this steak-and-Cheez Whiz shangri-la. Damn. But, I still had three hours before my flight so I moseyed back over to the tournament room.
Here is Shaun “Get Some” Wilkie, shortly after winning the hotseat (over SVB, no less). I love the hat. It is awesome. Congratulations on a great tournament, and good luck at the World Pool Championships later in the year.
I’m not sure what the Super Billiards Expo was in days of yore, but I think most people will agree with me that today, it is the premier event for cue connoisseurs and equipment fanatics. I had about three hours before I had to leave, so I finally made my way over to the vendors.
As many of you know, I shoot with a sneaky pete stored in a $2 case held together with packing tape. Suffice it to say, I am not a cue connoisseur nor an equipment fanatic. As a result, I didn’t browse the wares at the show very much. The Samsara booth, however, did catch my eye because of this impressive display (click on the photographs to immerse yourself in the beauty of fine woods and craftsmanship at 1200 x 1600 resolution).
Cues and matching chessboard.
Chessboard and pieces.
After ogling the cues, I remembered I needed joint protectors for my cue. I did not have my cue with me, but I knew what type of joint it had and what kind of pin.
The clerk at the booth I bought them at didn’t know very much about cues, although he tried to project an image that he was extremely knowledgeable. I asked for a set of 3/8-10 joint protectors in Cheap-Ass Plastic. He hands me what looks like a 3/8-14. I said they didn’t look like 3/8-10. He insisted that it was, and asked me repeatedly if I really knew what kind of joint and pin my cue had.
That’s like asking someone if they know what kind of car they own. I was irritated, but I spent the $8.00 and got my Cheap-Ass Plastic Joint Protectors.
I tried the joint protectors on my cue later and they didn’t fit.
When I got back to the booth, the original clerk bounced over and said, “No! They didn’t fit? No way! You sure you needed a 3/8-10?” I gave him the Glare of Death and another astute clerk came to help me find the correct joint protectors in Cheap-Ass Plastic, but they were out of stock.
So, I got a new set of joint protectors in Hoity-Toity Renewable Timber for the same price as Cheap-Ass Plastic
This is somewhat off-topic, but did anyone else take note of Redneck Mr. T, pictured below? I really like the tons of bling he’s wearing. THREE diamond studs in one ear! Take THAT, Mr. Tony Chohan! And look at all those gold chains! Take THAT, Mr. Scott Frost!
And a promising baby mullet.
Take THAT Mr. C. J. Wiley from the 80s!
The Super Billiards Expo was a fun time. I think I have to budget my time better. It’s hard to see all the sights and jeer at all the idiots and drink all the drinks when you’re playing in the tournaments.
The Radisson is already taking reservations and Mr. Hopkins the Senior ingeniously put next year’s tournament entry form on the back of the players’ nametags this year (“just fill it out, and drop it in the mail with the money” Mr. Hopkins the Junior told me at the admissions window).
I shall (most likely) return next year.
In the meantime, I leave you with an image of pool’s future.
Monday, March 17, 2008
I recovered from my weekend by eating a nice New York strip steak.
Don’t hate me because I’m showing you food.
Hate me because you weren’t hungry before reading this.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I’m still on break.
I think I’m still sane.
Let’s check back next week.
The following is posted with thanks to RichR.