The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Today should be sad, but it passed without emotion, probably because I wasn't there when it happened. My pool table, for two years on loan to a tech client's company, was disassembled and the pieces wrapped and stored. For how long is anyone's guess, but it will cost a hundred bucks a month to keep it safe while it hibernates. Hope is strong that it will soon again see good play, and that I will be among the players. I had in mind a startup accelerator; it seems that a pool table is an essential for such places. And it would be good to hang with some startupists who are also cueists. I see a lot in common.
This is such a worthy project by good friend and fellow pool shooter Tina Hou. Meet her and learn more about her very fun children's book about learning to shoot pool. Then sign up to support her project, and tell your friends!
Earl gets a lot of flack for some of his actions, but when he and I were shooting here at the Fun House (along with Johnny Archer), he was a real gentleman. This video tribute to Earl's career is excellent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Namjr1Rkxwo
Just outside that pool room door there is another world of fresh air and sunshine and healthy living! Here is my latest attempt to enjoy it all: This is the Pedego Trail Tracker, an ELECTRIC bike, so you only pedal when you want to. I really like taking my bike for rides, as long as the rides are level, or down hill, but when the going gets tough, I turn on the juice and let the motor do the work! There is just no need to work harder than you have to. That goes for shooting pool as well as Life in General.
On the occasion of my little brother Jimmy's birthday, here's some pool-shooting music by another Jim (Croce). Enjoy!
Uptown got it's hustlers The bowery got it's bums 42nd Street got Big Jim Walker He's a pool-shootin' son of a gun Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come But he stronger than a country hoss And when the bad folks all get together at night You know they all call big Jim "Boss", just because And they say
You don't tug on Superman's cape You don't spit into the wind You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger And you don't mess around with Jim
Well outta south Alabama came a country boy He say I'm lookin' for a man named Jim I am a pool-shootin' boy My name Willie McCoy But down home they call me Slim Yeah I'm lookin' for the king of 42nd Street He drivin' a drop top Cadillac Last week he took all my money And it may sound funny But I come to get my money back And everybody say Jack don't you know
And you don't tug on Superman's cape You don't spit into the wind You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger And you don't mess around with Jim
Well a hush fell over the pool room Jimmy come boppin' in off the street And when the cuttin' were done The only part that wasn't bloody Was the soles of the big man's feet Yeah he were cut in in bout a hundred places And he were shot in a couple more And you better believe They sung a different kind of story When big Jim hit the floor now they say
You don't tug on Superman's cape You don't spit into the wind You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger And you don't mess around with Slim
Yeah, big Jim got his hat Find out where it's at And it's not hustlin' people strange to you Even if you do got a two-piece custom-made pool cue
Yeah you don't tug on Superman's cape You don't spit into the wind You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger And you don't mess around with Slim (top)
I just noticed that this video clip I put up on YouTube just passed 100,000 views! It's only 80 seconds long, but Johnny Archer is a great teacher. This is a trip down memory lane for me, and hopefully you'll enjoy it (again?) as well:
21 Better Than Worst: A true short story about Life, Death, Pool, Girls, and Cars
I recently found this 3 year old facebook post and because it was all about pool, life, death, girls and cars, so I figured that readers of this blog would find at least one thing of interest in it: I am writing my will.
It has been 17 years since my last will was written, and duly recorded according to the laws of our land, so that my heirs are properly protected, and my stuff is disposed of as I direct, and the party is pre-paid.
In a way, this will is a summation of my life, so far, that is, for I hope there will be, at a bare minimum, many more good years of it, as I am in no hurry to end it, nor do I know of any condition which would hurry it.
I feel fine, but I'm dealing with the paperwork of my will which has expired in some regards years ago, and I have been delinquent in keeping it current, (I'm not a fan of paperwork) and I'm just getting around to it.
It's an interesting exercise to contemplate the sum of my 67.5 years, so far, what I have done with it, what I want done with my stuff, my departure from this plane...
These are heavy thoughts, but it's philosophy for another time, another story. I only speak of these thoughts as background for what happens next...
In the file folder, containing a copy of my previous will, among other papers, I find a copy of my college grades.
After reading them again for the first time in 46 years, it brings back those times, in college, as a reality apart, a period of transition to the real world, but not of the real world.
For the 4 years I endured the academic experience, my entire performance was calculated to be 79.257%.
There were 197 students in my graduating class, and my grade put me 176 down the list, or, if you prefer you can admire my safety margin which put me 21 better than worst.
As I write those words, 21 better than worst, I consider it a tribute to positive thinking.
Some would call it delusional.
But what else could you expect from 4 years of living away from home for the first time, having a car, and freedom of a higher order, while being governed somewhat loosely by an academic and religious hierarchy, which must be respected, and rules obeyed, or I would be expelled into the real world, which would likely lead to taking bullets in Viet Nam, or if I could arrange something other, the other would surely include some sort of manual labor, or worse...
The fear of that something worse, while dancing my way through the land mines of rules and regulations, mixed with girls, cars, shooting pool, and capers aplenty, for four years, this was my life, now before me, summed up into one number. 21 better than worst.
It's a miracle that I made it through, really.
My interest in girls was very high, and consumed a lot of time that could have been spent studying. Testosterone was in control, and I had a car.
Since it was a boys-only Catholic college, a car was essential to mate with distant females. My hunting territory was normally within 100 miles of the school, but it was still a time consuming distraction from building better grades.
Really, any grade above failing is a tribute to my ability to balance my time in order to remain in the sweet spot of life.
I got good at this.
So good that I could even shoot pool while doing it.
I was much better at pool than academics. My ranking among the pool players was probably in the top 3, but it was a small school, so it may not count for much of an achievement. I loved learning and excelling in pool, and I enjoyed hanging out in the on-campus pool room. It was a comfortable place to be.
I enjoyed moving up the hierarchy of pool players, and the ever-changing intellectual puzzles the games presented, and the joy of developing physical motor skills to deliver what you can create in your mind...
It was an overpowering, compelling, addictive pastime. Pool also consumed time I could have been studying.
In my first year I failed Economics. The first semester my grade was 64. The second semester my Economics grad was FA, Failed due to Absences. Oh, I also failed Physical Education due to Absences. But in my defense, the Economics course was incoherent, and as for not going to Gym class, well, I just miscounted how many absences I could get away with.
But somehow I was advanced to my 2nd year studies. And I got away with failing 3 more credits while advancing again. The school was very forgiving.
Third year I failed 4 credits, and yet advanced again.
Finally, with great triumph, I failed nothing(*) at all in my senior year. Upon graduation, I had erupted into real life. The transition was complete. Look out world.
There would be no more shooting pool for 40 more years. It was all business until I was 50 years old, then I cashed in my business, played with Ferraris and airplanes, spending money loosely, making up for years of frugality. And now, again, I am living conservatively.
It was fun to think of those college years. Because when I do, I think of the capers. I started a few businesses while I was in college.
My focus was not on academic excellence. It was on girls, cars, shooting pool and making money in my own businesses.
At that time, I was most likely to fail out of college, and yet, somewhat paradoxically, most likely to succeed in pool and business.
In fact, both of these likelihoods occurred. Just prior to graduation I was notified that I would not graduate, because I had over-cut too many classes. But I somehow talked my way back into a passing grade after I was selected for a job with IBM. For the true story of that great double miracle, of my cliff-hanger graduation, and my accidental Destiny of a life with computers, the reader is again directed to the link, above.
Now I must get back to dealing with my will... (top)
My treasured Gold Crown IV is now enjoying life at a young and energetic tech company here in San Diego (Web Shop Manager, e-commerce websites), providing lots of fun breaks from the challenges of a fast-growing company. Below is the nice Thank You card that arrived in today's mail:
Notice that I am *lending* it to them. The reason is that it was a gift to me, so I would feel bad selling it, and who knows, maybe someday my neck will get better and I'll want it back, but that's unlikely. Meanwhile, it's on long term loan.
Ok, so if shooting pool is a pain in the neck, it seems reasonable to stop shooting pool. Check. Now, if I'm not going to be shooting pool, then it seems reasonable to move the pool table out of my living room and return the space to living room status. Check. The table is now on loan to one of my Protégés, and is installed in his company offices. Lucky them! Here's what the space looks like now, right after the pool table was moved out. I kinda like it... (top)
I got a pain in the neck, full time, and it comes on real bad, it seems, after I shoot a little bit of pool. This has been going on for a couple of years, maybe 4 years. About 2 years ago I had an MRI of my entire spine, and one of the notes in the 4-page printout was "broad disc bulge with bilateral foraminal stenosis" on five of the vertebra in my neck. That's medical-speak for it's not likely to get better and shooting pool is gonna irritate things. So I haven't been shooting much pool, and now on the last two occasions of hitting only a few balls, the pain in my neck has been severe for days at a time, and recovers only after extensive icing and Advil and rest. I'm beginning to think that having a pool table here at the Fun House is a health hazard. My trusty cue lays unused. So tempting to pick it up, so easy to just move a few balls around the table for a while, to feel the speed of the table, the action off the cushions, to feel for the stroke and the cue tip and the cue ball, to take the long way around for position... because I can! So much fun. I wanna play, but I know it's gonna hurt real bad. I read that last line and it reminds me of a few ex-girlfriends. I love you baby, but I gotta go. And so it seems with pool. FastMikie has left the game.
Tried my hand at a pool tournament today. Last time I played in this tournament (or *any* pool tournament) was 21 months ago. I won it back then, as I had won it twice before. This time, I went undefeated in the two warm-up matches, and undefeated in the 6 matches to get into the finals, and then missed two shots to lose and come in second. Bummer, of course, but I really wasn't figuring I was going to win it all this time as I had done zero serious practice in almost two years! I also noticed that I was nervous before the tournament and for several of the first matches. It's really important to play in tournaments and match-ups to get "tournament tough". The next tournament is in 3 months. I should practice... (top)
It sure has been a long time since I've had any real competition.
Don't get me wrong... there are players out there who could offer real competition, but I just haven't gone looking for it. And that's because my game is off, and that's because I haven't been practicing, and that's because I have been doing other stuff.
It's not just that I haven't been practicing... I haven't even picked up a cue in weeks!