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.
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 :
3firmly 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 allowingshort 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
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.
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.
4he 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.
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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)