D I A R Y
of a

P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.




Sunday, April 29, 2007

Adding weight

I've been waiting until the end of session
to try adding some weight to my playing cue.

It is now at 19.1 ounces.
El Maestro has suggested
increasing weight closer to
my old 22 ounce Willie Hoppe
which I used for many years.

Jim Stadum at Samsara
sent me an entire set of weights
so I can experiment.

I'm thinking it will help with a smoother stroke,
and get more action on the ball,
especially with draw shots.

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In search of consistency - the uniform

Pool presents an ever-changing environment
so one of the great challenges
is maintaining consistency.

A good pre-shot routine brings some consistency,
but that's not enough,
I want more.
I want a consistency that starts earlier
and lasts longer than the preshot routine.
Something all-encompassing,
pre-match through trophy presentation ceremony.

I know from experience in Life
that one must "Dress For Success".
Yet I have not been doing this in my pool game.

I must upgrade my game persona.

I have a great cue and case,
but the clothes I wear need improvement,
not just to reflect the quality of my game,
but to be a constant reminder to me
that I am Fast Mikie, shooter of pool,
student of the game,
student of Life,
becoming a master in both.

It is imperative
to create a state of being
which adds power
for the task at hand.

I must develop the Fast Mikie uniform.
Spiderman has a uniform,
and so does Superman, Batman...

My uniform will be more subdued.

I'm thinking of a fitted Irish linen shirt,
with Mikie's Fun House logo over pocket,
quality embroidered,
shirt freshly laundered, very light starch,
cargo pants, ironed but not pressed, with belt,
comfortable shoes, not overly shined.
No headgear.
No jewelry.
All black.
Hair slicked back, shiny.
(Pierce Brosnan - 007 look, I get that a lot)
Rimless glasses.
(Stephen Colbert look).

Casual, elegant, and
dead serious.

Black glove.
Black chalk holder.
Black tip tool.

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New Beginnings

The team 8-ball session of 12 matches
has come to an end.
Although it was a good learning experience,
I wouldn't want to do it again.

It's time for new beginnings.
Time to take all I have learned so far
in Pool, and in Life,
and Go Forward
To Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.
My way.

Stay tuned...

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Learning experience 4-26-2007

My winning streak has come to an end.
I am human.

But, I am driven to be more.
I am superman.

So, superman,
what Kyrptonite felled you this night?
What was the cause?

I was calm, well rested, clear of mind.
Except for my ears which seem to be sick,
so I taking an anti-biotic.
But that's not an excuse.
I don't feel any effects of that drug.

Today I was practicing at home,
but kept missing easy shots.
Inconsistent, unfocused.

What's going on?

Tony was watching my match, tonight,
at the same time he's playing his match
on the next table.

His first observation is that
all 3 of my losses this session
have been on 7 foot tables,
so there's something about
the small size table that's throwing me off.

I agree.
I hate small tables
I feel constrained on a small table.
I like to let my stroke out.
(such as it is)

But why did I miss shots?
I knocked the 8 in early.
Missed another 8.
Missed two bank shots.
Safety play weak.
Scratched on the break.
It was humiliating.

I think it's because I let go of my spirit.
I did not want to be there.
I hate that bar,
It's disgusting
with thick cigarette smoke in the air.
The only reason I do it is for the team.

Tony says, before the match,
there is no hope for our team
to qualify for the city championships,
whether I win or not.

To sum it up:
It's the last match of the session.
Whatever we do doesn't matter.
Team doesn't need my win.
I hate the place.
And did I mention that
it's uncertain even IF I'm going to play?

My warrior spirit was down.

That, I think was the primary reason.

Plus, it was late in the evening,
so I had taken in lots of smoke by then.
Waiting for hours in heavy smoke
to do something irrelevant.

The waiting wore me down.

I should have walked out of there.
We had extra team members
who could have played and had fun.
But my heart wasn't into it.

And, something about seven foot tables...

---------

Let us celebrate this rare moment in my life
for the perspectives it brings,
seeds of future greatness.

-------

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Friday, April 20, 2007

An Opportunity to Do Something Extraordinary

It's Thursday again,
and that means APA team 8-ball,
and that also means that
I start getting the pre-match head trips.

So I take some time to update my affirmations,
and print them out and read them aloud.
But I'm still antsy and nervous on the drive north,
but some deep, slow breathing helps calm me down.

And then the thought hits me:
Each trip to the table is
an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
Of course, I could screw it up completely,
but I could also do something great.
I don't really know how it will turn out,
but it certainly is an opportunity.

That's the positive visualization I needed...
During my match
I keep repeating this to myself.

I win, 5-1, vs. Miles H.
One game went 18 innings
due to extensive safety play
and that was a lot of fun.

My session record is now 9 and 2
for a win rate of 82%.

When I look back on those two losses
I can see that I may have won if
I had a more positive attitude during the match.

I am reminded of the great quote
from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey...
"Something's going to happen, something wonderful."
Click here for the soundtrack.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Free Service: New Post Notices!



Sometimes you visit this blog
and nothing will be new.
Bummer, isn't it!
You might lose interest and
not come back again.
Bummer for both of us.

Let's stay in touch, without the bummer part.
I'll send you the updates as they happen,
and you'll never be bummed again.

Enter your email address and click update.
And all will be right with the world again.

PS: I will never give your address to anyone else, ever,
for any reason whatsoever, period.
Your secret is safe with me.



Enter your Email





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Monday, April 16, 2007

New Rule: Ball in Hand for Talking

A good player stopped by last night
and we played two matches of 9 ball,
each a race to 7 games.

I won both, but not by much.

Neither of us had a break and run,
or even ran a rack after a dry break by the other.
And, to me, that indicates
a relatively low level of performance.
I know that each of us can do better.
So what was the problem?

There was a whole lotta talkin' goin' on.

I haven't seen him in several months,
so there was a bit of catching up to do.
I tried to get these social pleasantries done
before we got started into some serious pool.
But that didn't work out in the long run.

I propose a new rule:
We give up ball in hand if we talk during the match.

You don't see Bustamonte asking Fong-Pang Chao
where's the best sushi in Kyoto during a match.
No way!

There's no social chatting during a chess match.
Or boxing, tennis, track events, etcetera ad nauseum.

I think talking is sharking, pure and simple.
Or else it is loss of self control.
In either case, it shows lack of respect
for the game, and for the opponent.
Either way, it should be penalized, case closed.

A couple of weeks ago
another practice partner wanted to shoot some,
but it seemed all he really wanted to do
was talk about his divorce.

I can assure you, the only person on Earth who
wants to talk about your divorce is your lawyer,
and then only if he's getting paid a lot of money.
Even so, your lawyer might wish he could be
shooting pool at the same time
to help deaden the pain of hearing about it.

But not me.

Pool is a meditation.
It wants the highest level of attention.
Otherwise it's just banging balls around.

If something is worth doing,
(I can hear my parents saying)
it is worth doing right.
And if it is worth doing right,
then it deserves to have the fullest attention.

Attention is a cornerstone of Zen practice.
And maybe that is why I am such a hermit.
Random events are reduced to a minimum.

So there is a new rule at Mikie's Fun House:
Talking during a match gives up ball in hand.
Pass the word, hopefully it will catch on.
And our play will improve.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

In Pursuit of Seven...

In APA league team 8 ball last night
I won my match 5-2
against Jamie Day
and our team won 4-1.

My performance was undistinguished,
but I do remember making one really nice shot
going two rails to split a cluster
in exactly the way I wanted.
And, I ran out after my opponent's dry break.

Other than that, it was work.
Nothing came easy. I was tight.
It might have been because El Maestro was there
for the first time after a 4 week absence
to visit family in Honduras.

Following my sluggish performance,
Tony plays a flawless 5-0 win
with such ease and beauty
it is almost unbelievable that
he hasn't played in 4 weeks.

As of after last night's win,
I have played 10 matches, won 8.

As of before last night's win,
the MVP standings show me tied for 5th place
out of 104 players with 1+ wins.
Due to starting this session late,
I missed 4 matches,
so there is little hope of coming in first.

But that's not the goal.
I'm really in search of earning a skill level 7
the highest you can get for APA 8-ball
(now at level 6).
And for that, I'm going to have to play better.

Back to the practice table...

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pool Library



Click Here for the
Fast Mikie Pool Library


Welcome to the Fast Mikie Pool Library,
which I have accumulated in a bit over 3 years of
obsessive curiosity and desire to learn
everything I can about this great game.

Includes more than 120 items, including

Books
(instruction,
fiction, non-fiction, humor, reference)

Instruction Videos in
VHS and DVD,

and some favorite pool movies on DVD.

All of these items are currently in the
Mikie's Fun House library.

Each item is rated
1 star = don't bother, not worth it.
2 stars = of marginal value
3 stars = good
4 stars = very good
5 stars = excellent!

Links are provided for most items
to make it easy to buy or get more information.

Enjoy!

Click Here for the
Fast Mikie Pool Library



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Friday, April 06, 2007

We don't need no stinking excuses!

Last night, as every Thursday night,
was another APA team 8-ball match,
and our team "101 Excuses"
earned a strong 4-1 win.

My match was a 5-2 win
against a player with an equal skill level.
(Don S.)

So what is it about "excuses" anyway?
It seems that they have an uncanny ability
to leap into the mind at the least provocation,
and many times with no reason whatsoever.

For example, on the afternoon before my match,
the monkey brain starts chattering to me:
1. my shoulder hurts, can I break well enough?
2. my stroke hand hurts, should I take a pill?
3. if I do, will it effect my game?
4. am I due for a loss? (nice win streak going)
5. I feel bloated after big meal, sluggish
6. didn't get enough sleep
7. no pre-match time on the table
8. my opponent called me out. He's ready!
9. opponent has home table advantage.
10. etc, etc, etc...

That's just what's going thru my mind
before I ever get to the table!

Our team isn't called "101 Excuses" for nothing!

Three years ago, when I was a newbie at this,
I was a mess.
I had no way of dealing with
all the mind chatter, the nervousness,
the distractions, the excuses.

And now, I take it in stride.
I've come to expect the demons
to rise up in my mind.
I know they will pop up continuously
if I let them,
and worst of all,
at the worst possible times.

The practice of meditation helps a lot.
Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind,
by recognizing stray monkey-mind thoughts
and simply releasing them
and going back to just sitting and breathing.

With practice,
letting go of
thoughts becomes easier.

One thing I have found that
helps prevent the exuses from showing up
is actively engaging in positive self talk,
such as affirmations and visualizations.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible,
for the mind to have two different thoughts
at the same time.

Therefore, if you busy your mind
with positive, constructive thoughts,
negatives can not pop in.

And, on those many other occasions
when an excuse will find its way into your mind,
deal with it immediately
by thinking of the appropriate anti-excuse.

For example,
today, when I thought that maybe my winning streak
might be getting a bit too long,
and maybe I was due for a loss,
the anti-excuse was to think
that each match is independent of all others,
and that previous wins/losses have
absolutely no effect on each other
(except as I let my mind have such effect).

Other excuses need remedial Action.
Gotta pee? So pee!
Feeling sluggish? Drink a coke.
Nervous? Breathe!
Shooting too quick? Walk around the table!
Distracted? Stand up, re-do preshot routine.

I have used the technique of positive self-talk
in other activities in the past,
but I credit El Maestro with showing me
the deeper secrets as it applies to pool.

As Yogi Berra said about baseball:
"(this game) is 90% mental,
and the other half is physical".

The quote: "We don't need no stinking excuses!"
is a modified form of the original "We don't need no stinking badges"
from the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles"


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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tight Pockets

The pool hall selected for the
US Amateur Championships,
Southern California preliminaries,
is Sharks, in Santee, 25 miles east.

I read that they replaced their Olhausens
with Gold Crown III tables
with 4" pockets.

So I got to thinking that it would be
a good idea if I snugged up the pockets
on my Gold Crown IV to 4" from the current 5"
and that might get me better prepared
for the big tournament in September.

So tonight I went out among the people
and visited Sharks to check out what
such tight pockets play like.

Yikes!
I'm gonna need some serious practice!
Check out these photos:


Fun House: Gold Crown IV, Five inch corner pocket


Sharks: Gold Crown III, Four inch corner pocket


The way it was explained to me,
Brunswick does not supply tables with 4" pockets,
but it seems that this is pretty much standard
for the tables in the Los Angeles area,
while San Diego tables generally have larger pockets,
and, according to Rick, owner at Sharks,
that's why San Diego players
get their butts handed to them playing in LA.

Another thing about the new tables at Sharks
is that the cushions are Artemis rubber,
supposedly the best that money can buy.

All of this adds up to mighty expensive mods.
I'm wondering if it would be worth it...

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