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.




Monday, October 29, 2007

What's in a name?


Where does the name "Fast Mikie" come from?

What a fascinating question,
and I'm glad you asked,
so we can clear up the issue once and for all.

It happened in 1963.
Wow, that's almost half a century ago!
Amazing how time just slips away...

It was my senior year in college.
There was a pool hall on campus,
and I spent a lot of time there.

It took me a couple of years of losing
before I started to catch on to the game,
and then the summer before my last year
I practiced a lot, and got pretty good.

In the first couple of weeks of my senior year,
I won a lot of money at the game,
as I systematically released my new 'speed'
just enough to get the money,
until ultimately I was giving them the spots
that they used to give me, and more.

During one particularly profitable round at the tables
I was cleaning out a couple of old foes,
and there was a considerable gallery of sweaters attending,
and when a passer-by innocently asked what's all the commotion,
one of the kids was overheard to say:
"Fast Mikie is cleaning up!"

It was pretty evident that he was making a reference
to Paul Newman's character "Fast Eddie"
in the movie "The Hustler",
released just a couple of years prior.

It was really an appropriate name
for more than the obvious reason.

Another reason which resonated so strongly
was my firmly established reputation for driving fast.
Very fast. All the time. Everywhere.
My internal clock was just turned up.

And, I ran track and cross-country.
Loved to run.

Nowadays, my running is less fast,
and so is my driving,
and I sure don't hustle pool any more,
so maybe I should give up the name?

Not so fast!
(if you'll excuse the pun)

There's a lot more to "fast"
than you might think, at first.


What does it mean to be "fast"?

What a fascinating question,
and I'm so glad you asked,
so I looked up the word in the dictionary,
and here's what I found,
slightly edited so it wouldn't be too long.



fast

adjective

1 moving or capable of moving at high speed : a fast and powerful car. • performed or taking place at high speed; taking only a short time : • performing or able to perform a particular type of action quickly : a fast reader. • (of a person or lifestyle) engaging in or involving exciting or shocking activities :

2 (of a clock or watch) showing a time ahead of the correct time :

3 firmly fixed or attached : he made a rope fast to each corner.
(of friends) close and loyal.

4 Photography (of a lens) having a large aperture and therefore allowing short exposure times.

adverb
1. at high speed : he was driving too fast. •
within a short time : they think they're going to get rich fast.

2. so as to be hard to move; firmly or securely : the ship was held fast by the anchor chain. PHRASES pull a fast one informal try to gain an unfair advantage


adjective

1 a fast pace speedy, quick, swift, rapid; fast-moving, fast-paced, high-speed, turbo, sporty; accelerated, express, blistering, breakneck, pell-mell; hasty, hurried; literary fleet.

2 he held the door fast secure, fastened, tight, firm, closed, shut; immovable, unbudgeable. antonym loose.

3 a fast color indelible, lasting, permanent, stable. antonym temporary.

4 fast friends loyal, devoted, faithful, firm, steadfast, staunch, true, inseparable; constant, enduring, unswerving.

5 wanton; informal easy; dated loose.

adverb

1 he drove fast quickly, rapidly, swiftly, speedily, briskly, at speed, at full tilt; hastily, hurriedly, in a hurry, posthaste, pell-mell; like a shot, like a flash, on the double, at the speed of light; informal lickety-split, PDQ (pretty damn quick), nippily, like (greased) lightning, hell-bent for leather, like mad, like the wind, like a bat out of hell; literary apace. antonym slowly.

2 his wheels were stuck fast securely, firmly, immovably, fixedly.

3 he's fast asleep deeply, sound, completely.

4 he lived fast and dangerously wildly, recklessly, self-indulgently, extravagantly

Yep, that's me,
Fast Mikie.
So there were all these other reasons
why the name Fast Mikie stayed with me,
even though I stopped playing pool after graduation from college
when I took a job, started workin' for the Man,
got married, had kids, moved around, changed jobs,
then went into business on my own,
got lucky, retired, got into Ferraris and airplanes
(more of the "fast" stuff again)...
all the while, all 40 years of what came after college,
these were The Dark Ages of No Pool.

It's just amazing how time slips away...

That brings us up to four years ago,
when I picked up my old cue,
and started shooting pool again.

Fast Mikie is back!

(to be continued...)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ragged Point


Something good finally came about
from my loss at the US Amateur Championships,
the finals of which will be played this coming weekend.

On my drive to the tournament in Mountain View, CA
(a trip of about 8 hours driving time)
I decided to break it into two parts,
and stay over at Ragged Point,
about halfway up the coast.
It is of one of my favorite places on the planet.

Click here for link to YouTube
Ragged Point Video

or, click the play button, below:





Video of the surf and rocks,
looking south from my room at Ragged Point, CA,
which is about 12 miles north of San Simeon (Hearst Castle),
and just south of Big Sur.
It's a great place for peace and solitude and the sounds of the surf.

There are no phones in the rooms, but there is wireless.

Just outside my room, there is a path of about 15 feet,
then the low chain link fence right at the very edge of the cliff.
I balanced my camcorder on the top of this fence,
and let it capture a few moments of paradise.
I figured it would be good material for those meditative times
back at Mikie's Fun House, in Del Mar, CA.

I put this video on the internet and The Public Domain
as a gift to all who may find this clip,
and also find a moment of tranquility.


There may be more Ragged Point video clips coming soon.
To find them, search YouTube for "Ragged Point FastMikie"

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Shot of the Day: Natural Combination with Surprise Ending



Some shots just seem to look "on".
It's a feeling as well as a mental thing.

Normally, I would take the time
to carefully line up any combination,
but this one just looked natural.

What I didn't count on was
the 7 ball going in the opposite corner pocket!
What I hoped was for the 7 to
come two cushions and stop near the rack
for a good break shot.

Getting shape on the third ball can be a challenge,
especially when it has to do some traveling,
as in this case.

(blog top)


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Video!

Google and YouTube
are making it easier
to enjoy, and learn from,
some excellent video of the cueing arts.

I've been working on organizing
some of my new video clips
and some of my favorites
in pool, carom billiards, and snooker.
No trick shots.



Click for

V I D E O S



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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nero Fiddled, Mikie Played (pool)


I did not sleep easy.
There was an outside chance I could be wrong
about ignoring the mandatory immediate evacuation order.

Hanging on my decision:
not just my life,
but the life of my 90-year old adopted-mom neighbor.

By noon, the police and fire officials announced
that Del Mar residents could return to their home.
So, I cheated Death again.
(Whew!)

There's not much you can do about massive wildfires.
Officials recommend you stay indoors,
and use as little electricity as possible.
That easy for a hermit pool-shooter.

I performed more experiments
with my new Apple MacBook Pro
using iMovie to capture and edit pool videos.
Experiments include tripod locations,
lighting, sound, POV height, angle, etc
as well as editing decisions on format, file size,
white balance, etc.
Lots to learn.

Several new video clips will be YouTube'd soon.
Stay tuned.

That is, assuming the fires die and I don't.

(blog top)


Monday, October 22, 2007

Priorities

The first call came just as it was getting dark.
It was the Sheriff's department,
an automated message
(Reverse 911)

"Prepare to Evacuate"

Two hours later,
the San Diego police left the message:

"Mandatory immediate evacuation"

The moment of decision is here.
How much time do I have?
What stuff do I grab?

I was working on answering these questions,
and it was only after a couple of hours
that I realized that my cue case
was still sitting in the corner of the fireplace
not in the pile of stuff to take.
Wow! How did that happen?

Where do your pool cues stand in your priorities?

I have been putting together
a couple of "Go bags".

#1 survival clothing
(heavy duty footwear, cold weather gear)
#2 survival items
(first aid, water purification, compass, signal mirror, etc)
#3 technology
(phone, camera, laptop computer, backup, camcorder)
#4 out the door
(wallet, keys, passport)

Maybe, if I had all the above packed in the car,
and I had a spare minute to look around again,
I would have seen my case
and grabbed it.

What about my pool trophies?
Would that seem a bit tacky,
standing around watching my home burn down,
holding my pool trophies safe from extinction?

I've decided to stay put.
No immediate evacuation for me.
I drove to the top of the hill,
and there is no fire visible to the east.

I think the police alert was done
with an abundance of caution.
Government can't go wrong scaring people.
It makes people think their government
is doing something good for a change.

And then there's the whole issue of
the 90+ year old saint of a woman next door.
It seems that after being neighbors for 4 years,
I kinda adopted her as my new mom,
and she kinda adopted me as her son.

Well, she has trouble with her breathing,
so this smoky air is not good for her,
so I didn't want to subject her to the night air
and the stress of having to evacuate her
home of the past 35 years.

My aviation experience has given me
a good handle on weather analysis.
I think the fire will advance slowly
and be controlled before it gets here.

Am I an optimist, or what?

So here I sit, writing this,
and waiting for the fire to crest the hill.
Then I'll grab the bags, the old lady next door,
and maybe my cue case,
and head out into hell.

Brinkmanship
!

(blog top)


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shootin' Pool, Talkin' Trash

El Maestro stopped by yesterday
and we shot some straight pool for 8 hours non-stop,
talkin' trash the entire time.

I'm from Philadelphia,
so trash-talkin' is as natural as
wolfing down a cheese steak sandwich.

We didn't keep score,
but I'm sure I won.
And I'll bet he's just as sure he won.
But that's the joy of scoreless pool,
it's the only way both shooters can win.

We played mediocre, at best.
Neither of us ran much past one rack,
but that's ok
because, without keeping score,
we get to try shots we wouldn't
if we were keeping score.

And that's how you learn...

(blog top)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Video: Version Two of the Sorto String



Here's a better copy of the Sorto String drill.
Notice that I get a little long on some shots,
but all the balls go in cleaner in this video.

Since I've been taking break from competition,
I've had the time to work on
some long overdue projects.
I got myself a MacBook Pro computer
and figured out how to do the video editing,
so there may be more in the near future.


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Run Six Balls on the Rails




Click above to see the video and then
try running these six balls:

The 1, 3 and 5 balls are on the long rail.
The 2, 4 and 6 balls are on the foot rail.
All balls are at the diamonds.

Run them
in sequence into the corner pocket.
No banks.

Position gets increasingly more difficult.

When you can do this effortlessly,
then try it without hitting any other rails
except the rail the ball is on.
I'm still trying to do that!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Sexy pool video

Any time I'm in the Denver area...
heck, if I can think of an excuse to get near Colorado in general,
I always find a way to visit my good buddy Samm Diep,
the foxiest Asian pool shooter in the game.

Click below to see

Samm's Sexy Pool Video

There's a pool table involved, but you probably won't notice it...

;o)

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Gravely Addicted to Pool


Check out the headstone of Walter Lindrum,
Australian pool shooter of considerable skill.

I'd like one similar, but with green granite
for the bed of the table,
and a granite replica of my playing cue,
and make the table look more like mine.

Of course, I'm in no rush...

(blog top)


Saturday, October 06, 2007

US Open, Live & Online

U.S Open 9-Ball Championship,
LIVE online at www.BilliardClub.net
October 14-20, 2007.

(blog top)


Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Hustler & The Champ




A must read new book:

The Hustler & The Champ
Willie Mosconi, Minnesota Fats, and
The Rivalry That Defined Pool

by R.A. Dyer

I could not put this book down.
Very well written, and very well researched.
The greatest rivalry in the game.
Lots of new facts, insights, stories.

* * * * *
Five Star Rated

See other books in the Fast Mikie Pool Library

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pool Vacation

I was just getting into discovering the joys of my
"Pool Vacation".

For several days I have been
getting a lot done,
all of it non-pool related,
you know, LIFE!

Being addicted to pool, or anything for that matter,
(I know, I seem to collect addictions)
seriously limits other activities.
That's what addictions are all about.
They take over your entire life
until all you do is the addiction.

Hello, my name is Mikie, and I'm an addict.

So here I am, doing good for a couple of days,
staying clean, no pool,
and then El Maestro (El Diablo?)
stops by and challenges me to a game of
Straight Pool.

I'm sure I could have resisted 8 or 9 ball.
But straight pool?
El Diablo knows my weakness too well.
The bastard.

We were well and truly into it,
it was my shot, and far up in score,
when the phone rings and I had to take the call.
I was away from the table less than 4 minutes.

While I was in the office on the call,
out of sight of the table,
El Maestro moved the 7 ball,
the exact one I was lining up before the call,
and snookered it for no shot.

Did he think I am a complete moron?
I may be a pool addict
doing a little backsliding at the moment
but my mind has not completely snapped,
yet.

It did not end there.
El Diablo continued to shark me
throughout the entire game.
At one point, as he was moving the scoring beads
at the end of a rack,
he removed several beads from my score
with a slight of hand that
he obviously thought I would not notice.
Un-freaking-believable!

This confirmed my earlier thought that
he had caught up to my score rather quickly.

I wonder what other stuff he was doing
that I didn't see.
He is an expert at these things.
He has seen it all,
and over the past 4 years,
he has shown me some amazing sharks,
cheats, tricks, mind-games, and more.

Hmmmm.
Maybe that's what he is trying to teach me now...
He wants me to shoot pool,
but take my mind off the score,
take my mind off of "winning".

Pool without keeping score.
Just for the fun of it.
What a concept!!

Curse you, El Diablo!

In his defense,
he had a good reason to show up at the Fun House.
The shaft on his Joss cue
has been making some bad sounds,
a twangy vibration,
and it has been getting worse.

I needed to measure the shaft diameter precisely
so we could order up a replacement shaft,
and a spare.
(12.25mm, Moori soft tip)

Sherry, at Joss, made the process easy.

Sherry, Joss Cues

Looking at Sherry's photo,
I just want to order some more pool stuff.

Temptations are everywhere for the pool addict.
I gotta try harder,
but there's this big pool table
right in the middle of my living room.

Maybe I need to go to a clinic and detox.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Best Pool Gadget Ever: iPod Touch

Fedex just delivered my new Apple iPod "Touch" model,
(the one with the touch screen, no buttons)

I just got it running on a wireless internet connection (WiFi)
and, being a pool addict, here's the first things I did:

1. I connected it to YouTube, so I could watch pool videos
from my Touch, taking advantage of the new wide screen. AWESOME!

2. I checked it out to see if it would display my
Diary of a Pool Shooter blog (http://FastMikie.com)
and it shows up ok, but not perfect.

3. And, of course it works with AZ Billiards site too.
This thing is WAY cool.

4. It also does my email (Gmail).

5. I have also sync'd it with my music and photo library, of course.
And that includes my self-hypnosis tracks for use
before and between matches.

This thing opens up new worlds!

Check out the Guided Tour for the Apple iPod "Touch" click here

And, let me know how you are using yours!

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