The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Cancer with your billiards? No Thanks!
With a few hours to spare on Sunday afternoon, I figured it would be good to get out of the hotel and get my mind off my father's funeral tomorrow, so I Googled for "billiards" in the area (does anyone use Yellow Pages anymore?).
The closest was Markley Billiards, on Markley St. (quite the imagination for names!) in Norristown, PA. When I checked their website, all it mentioned was cues for sale, nothing about tables, but I called, and asked. "Yeah, we're a pool hall." says the voice.
So I set the nav system in the rental car, and was transported the few miles to the shopping center on Markley St. but the pool hall was very well hidden around back, with no sign facing the road, next to the liquor store, just as well hidden.
I was really looking forward to seeing what had happened to my stroke in the 10 days I had not hit even one ball, but as soon as I opened the door, I was hit by the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke. The low ceiling and lack of fresh air assured a short life for everyone in the packed house.
The counterman notices me right away "Fresh meat!", I'll bet he thought. But he keeps his cool and simply asks "Can I help you?
Yeah, like I'm there to buy a used car, or something? But I know there is no way I'm going to stay in that cancerous haze.
In all innocence and stupidlty, I ask him: "Is there a non-smoking section?" He looks at me like I'm from Mars, and I turn on my heels and leave the dead men shooting pool.
McCafferty, Charles F. Sr. "Bud", March 27, 2008, age 92 years, Patriarch of the McCafferty Clan of Philadelphia, with ancestors from Doon Well, County Donegal Ireland. Born in West Philly in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish on August 19, 1915. Graduate of North Catholic High School, class of 1932. Married Verna Marie Meier of Philadelphia on April Fools Day, 1940.
After training at Sheepshead Bay, NY, served during WWII in the United States Merchant Marine, enduring the rigors of the high seas, delivering war materiel in support of the Allies, sailing the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean, from Brazil to Russia, and points in between, in the engine rooms of defenseless cargo ships, hunted by wolf packs of Nazi U-boats, while his bride and two young sons prayed at home for his safe return. The prayers worked. Many were not as fortunate, paying the ultimate price for our freedom. (Can we ever say "Thank You" enough?)
After the war he worked for John B. White Ford and subsequently founded McCafferty Ford in Langhorne in 1954. Attended University of Pennsylvania Wharton School. Recently of Blue Bell, PA and formerly of Glenside, PA.. Beloved Husband of the late Verna M. (nee Meier). Loving father of Charles F.Jr. "Bud" (Linda), F. Michael, Verna Walters, Kathleen Bean (Zenas), James (Barbara) and Eileen Koolpe (the late Harvey) also survived by 15 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Additionally survived by his late model, low mileage Ford Taurus, currently available for purchase (call 856-628-1065 for info). Funeral Mass Monday 11:00 AM Our Lady of Grace Church 225 Bellevue Ave., Penndel. Relatives and friends are invited to his viewing at the church Monday after 10:00 AM. Interment: Our Lady of Grace Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Charles F. and Verna M. McCafferty Memorial Scholarship Fund at the La Salle College High School,. 8605 Cheltenham Ave. Wyndmoor, PA 19038.
Verna and Bud, seen here plotting their next adventures, while on a walk among the trees, near their home. Photo taken during the week of their 84th and 85th birthdays, respectively, August 2000.
Having accepted the mission of securing a banana for the fruit salad, this young (mid twenties), impetuous couple eloped by stepping away from the preparations of a dinner with the parents and drove through the night in their tired, 60hp '37 Ford coupe to Warrenton, Virginia and were married. The day was Monday, April 1, 1940, April Fools Day. They remained partners in marriage for 64 years, until the passing of Verna on October 19, 2004.
Last evening's alcohol-fueled euphoria gave way this morning to waking up in a fog and the realization that yesterday's winning margin was only one game.
And of course, a one game win is irrelevant. It could have gone either way, especially in nine-ball the most luck-affected game of pool.
Additionally, when I consider that the match was against El Maestro himself, I realize that it was all an illusion. If he was really into the game, he could easily have walked away 5-0 winner, as he does so many times to so many other players.
And then, I remember the sharking I did. Completely inexcusable, of course. Like the time I threw a block of chalk into the corner pocket he was lining up with the nine ball.
So, ignore yesterday's blog entry. It really did happen that way, but it was all an illusion, and doesn't count for anything.
Another lesson re-leaned is the importance of Balance, especially when it comes to Guinness. Moderation in all things, Musashi says. The way my brain feels today it may be days before my practice sessions return to Optimal.
Humility. I must get more of it. It is rarely, if ever, found in a pint of Guinness.
Sitting here drinking a pint o'Murphy's stout with a shotglass of Bushmills Irish whiskey drop't in it...
The sun has just set to a perfect Green Flash.
Getting in the spirit of the morrow: St. Patrick's day, the patron saint of Ireland, my ancestral home.
Aye, it's true that I'm Irish, and this time of year an Irish lad celebrates the sainthood of Patrick.
Said celebration involves mass quantities of dark delicious draughts of Guinness, Murphy's, Bushmills and more, much more...
But the Irish are a race of thinkers, philosophers and writers (professions ideal for their lack of manual labor) It is a wondrous thing that such sedentary occupations require a high state of hydration, and it is for this purpose that God created Guinness.
In any case, it is appropriate that I celebrate early, for today was a great day.
It is irrelevant that I just got my butt kicked in a game of 8 ball by my buddy Dr. Mark Kalina. He shot good pool, and heck, it was only one game.
A truer test of skill would be, say, a race to 5 games, in 9 ball, for example. Like, for example, the set I played against Tony Sorto you know, El Maestro himself, the one who taught me so much of this game. He says there are a few things yet he has not taught me, and he is saving them.
But it didn't seem that way today. Today, the student won, 5-4. Close match, hill-hill. But he scratched, leaving me the 6, 7, 8, and 9. He was helpless as I ran them out. El Maestro was vanquished. And there were witnesses!
We played at Family Billiards in Oceanside. There were several witnesses, in fact.
If my world were to end tomorrow, I would go a happy man, fulfilled.
And that is why I am enjoying my pint o' Murphys with it's Bushmills whiskey shot drop't in it. And that's why I think I'll have another. And if I needed an excuse for a third, it would be that I'm in training for tomorrow.
I haven't seen Jim D. for many months so it was good to get a challenge from him in a couple of 9 ball sets here at the Fun House.
Jim came in 32nd in the 2007 US Amateur Championships in Atlanta, so he can offer some good competition.
He took the first set 7-5 and I took the second set 7-4, leaving the tie-breaker for another day, because my Optimum Practice session was due to start.
Unfortunately, I was so wiped out from the competition that my practice was sub-Optimal, and I had to end it early.
With the nine ball and the practice session, it was more than 7 hours of pool, but I need to build my endurance if I'm going to be able to handle some of the bigger tournaments. I'm working on it...
Jim has been around the pool scene for a long, long time, and has a ton of stories. Here's one: Efren Reyes once bet that he could sink one thousand spot shots without a miss, for $1,000.oo and he won.
You hear all kinds of people say that you have to practice a lot in order to get better at this game, but how many people actually do it?
I didn't, that's for sure. Not real practice. Oh, sure, I'd bang some balls around every once in a while. Maybe, very rarely, I'd do a drill or two, but nothing focused, consistent, and measured.
It really is amazing to me that my results have been so good without practice. I can only attribute it to the teachings of El Maestro Tony Sorto.
Imagine what real practice could add to my game! I had always been wondering that myself, so I invented the concept of a Billiards Practice Assistant and followed through with the idea and documented the job description and put help wanted ads here and CraigsList.com and after an extensive vetting process actually hired someone for the job and he has been working now for only 8 sessions, but the results have been far greater than I had expected.
Last night was my 8th "Optimum Practice" session, and I set new records in several of my drills, including back to back runs of the Sorto String.
Tony "El Maestro" Sorto showed me this very challenging version of rotation pool played in his native Honduras. The video shows about as far as I have run in this game. One day I'll post a video of El Maestro running the entire table.
Can you run the table? Try it! All your skills will be tested. What it shows me is that I need to practice my banks!
The balls are set up as shown at the start of each game. Each ball is worth points equal to its face value (1 ball = 1 point, 15 ball = 15 points, etc). Shoot in rotation, lowest numbered ball first.
If you foul, the next player gets ball in hand behind the head string, and must shoot forward only, (even if the lowest ball is behind the head string) and you deduct from your score the number of points equal to the ball you were supposed to hit first.
For several months I have been working hard to recover from the shoulder pain which afflicted me during last summer's undefeated season.
All it took was several months of medical attention, physical therapy, and strengthening exercises, and now the pain is almost completely gone.
Of course, during all this time, my stroke and my game had deteriorated significantly, but with the recent hiring of Dave, the Billiards Practice Assistant, and after only 7 days of Optimum Practice, 3 hours per night, I can safely say that I will soon be back in stroke better than ever, and looking to demonstrate it to anyone who feels strong enough to try me!
Check out this video:
This was done last night, in Hi-Definition using the new camera, but of course it will not show clear HD because YouTube doesn't send it out that way. But you will see it in HD on the DVD coming soon.
This classic should be read several times as we grow in our skill and appreciation of the game.
The brevity of his writing about an infinite subject is an indication of his brilliance and his skill with the language, but it says nothing about his skill as a shooter.
So if you're reading this, Bob, (or "Doctor" if you prefer, and I respect that) I hereby invite you to "paint on green canvas" (Bob Watson) here at FastMikie's Fun House at a date and time of your pleasure and to join in on a session of
"Pocket Billiards with FastMikie and Friends"
to be video recorded in HiDefinition on location at the world famous FastMikie's Fun House Del Mar, CA (north of San Diego, along the coast road)
FastMikie's Fun House is a pool player's fantasies come true:
Immaculately maintained facility throughout, including: Brunswick Gold Crown IV Fresh, flawless Simonis 860 cloth Fresh ball sets, Aramith, Centennial, Euro Extensive selection of cue balls
Open bar Gourmet kitchen Request your favorite food/drink in advance.