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, August 31, 2008

The Wall of Heroes


(click for the big picture)

Recent upgrades to the workout area include the addition of a "Wall of Heroes" featuring posters of some of my favorite people. You probably recognize most of them, starting in the upper left corner of the wall: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, the "Rat Pack", Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Paul Newman & Robert Redford), Gandhi, Miyamoto Musashi, Einstein, James Dean, Charles Lindbergh, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), Easy Rider (Peter Fonda & Jack Nicholson), and the Blues Brothers (Dan Akroyd and John Belushi). Each has some personality or talent that I strongly relate to, either in real life or a character they play.

When I'm working out doing floor exercises (yoga, stretching, etc) or on the treadmill, and watching pool competition and/or training videos, I also am reminded of these men and what their characters mean to me. Hopefully, with prolonged exposure to the images, I may begin to become what I admire.

Notice the empty spaces for heroes to be added later.

The only thing about the Wall of Heroes that is pool related is the poster of the Rat Pack, gathered around a pool table. Maybe you have seen this poster and noticed that there is one glass of booze on the rail, and one directly on the cloth. It's obvious these guys did not take their pool seriously.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Catching up

Shoulder Issues:

In the last hour I had a cortisone shot in my right shoulder, which has been giving me too much discomfort over the last couple of months. I think I torqued it in my jump-shot lesson with Johnny Archer. I have been giving it a lot of rest by not breaking in 8 and 9 ball, and not doing power-draw shots in my practice sessions, but my shoulder has not responded to my own rest treatment. So, with only 26 days left before the US Amateur championship event, I figured it was time to get more pro-active with finding a fix for my shoulder.

Recent matches:

Last week I missed the finals at the Encinitas tournament. They don't play a double elimination format, so only the two players who had no loss played in the finals, due to time constraints. I gave up the break in one match, and the guy broke and ran on me. All I did was watch. There's a lesson in there: don't give up the break, especially when they are playing 8-ball with only 11 balls (instead of 15, so that the games go faster). I lost another one when I banked the 8, but it went two rails instead of one. Other than that, I did play very well in the other two matches that I won.

On Saturday I had a couple of guests, one from the internet, one local. Ricky B. is a reader of this blog, and was going to be on the west coast on business, so he drove down to the Fun House from Los Angeles and we played some "cut-throat" with 3rd player Earl S. (not Strickland) which I really enjoyed, probably because I won almost every game. We also shot some pill pool and some Honduran rotation, all uneventful.

Books on Pool?

Ricky B. surprised me with the question: "What pool books do you recommend?" What surprised me is that I think that I have heard that question maybe once before in the last 5 years. And that is just one more proof that pool shooters don't read. Except for you, the person reading this sentence, right now. But how many pool books have you read in the last year? Of course I could have referred Ricky to my Pool Library web page, where I rate each of the 86 books, DVDs, CDs, VHS, etc. But this time I just quickly looked through my shelves and brought out these excellent books as some of the best I've run across:

Pleasures of Small Motions by Bob Fancher, Ph. D.
Precision Pool (2nd edition) by Kanov & Stauch
The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards by Dr. Dave Alciatore
The Pro Book
by Bob Henning
The Advanced Pro Book by Bob Henning

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great Performances in Billiards History

A "performance" as I think of it, is a display of billiards skill whereby the cueist runs through the balls without missing. It may be one or more racks, or arrangements of the balls, done in competition, exhibition, or practice. Proof of the performance is available, either with documented witness statements, and/or video.

A "Great Performance" is one which results in a world record, or a personal best.

Performances are classified as follows:


Great Performances in Billiards History


1. Clustered Setup (requiring break (7-8-9-ball, 14.1)

A. Exhibition Category:

  • Mosconi, 526 ball run, straight pool, 1954, witnesses, story.
B. Competition Category:
  • Johnny Archer, 13 rack run, 9 ball, story.
  • Earl Strickland, 11 rack run, 9 ball, for $1,000,000, story.
  • Cliff Joyner, 7 rack run, 8 ball, IPT, +$5k, source: InsidePool Mag, 4/2006
  • Mike Sigel, 150 ball and out run, straight pool, video
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan, snooker, perfect 147 break, 5 minutes, video
  • Neils Feijen, 259 ball run, straight pool, video
C. Practice Category:
  • John Schmidt, 245 ball run, straight pool, in a garage, talking w/ girlfriend, video
  • Charly Gaede, 153 ball run, straight pool, video
  • FastMikie, 27 ball run, straight pool, video

2. Dispersed Setup

A. Honduran pool
, rotation, 14 balls frozen to rails, at diamonds, 1 on the spot
  • Tony Sorto does it perfectly, first/only time ever recorded on video.
  • FastMikie, run through the 9, barking dog, video.

B. Playing Ability Test (PAT)
, level 2, drill 10, 9-ball situation.
  • FastMikie, run 2 in a row, video.

C. Sorto String
  • FastMikie, run through the 9, video.

D. Wagon Wheel - 12 shot minimum
  • FastMikie, 20 shots, video

E. Center String - PAT 3-5a, Angle Shot, Drill 1
  • FastMikie, with interrupting phone call, video.


There are many additional possible classifications.
For example, 7-ball and 8-ball setups need to be added.
Also, there are many challenging drills that could be added to the Dispersed Setup category.

Want to contribute a "Great Performance" to be listed here?

Please send a link to the story and/or video.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Tendinitis in my Supraspinatus

The therapist diagnosed my right shoulder condition as "tendinitis in my supraspinatus" or an inflammation in one of the muscles in the shoulder.

I think something ripped when I was working with Johnny Archer on my jump shot, a few weeks ago. Ever since it has hurt and felt tight, especially as certain places in arm rotation. Break shots bring more pain.

On the advice of the therapist, I am starting targeted massage routines, twice a week, in addition to therapy once a week. Therapy sessions include ultrasound and laser although I unsure if/how they help.

Massage is something I have have been wanting to add to my overall physical and mental conditioning program. The massage will serve to be not only theraputic but also preventive of injury.

Massage will also be added to the pre-tournament and pre-match preparations. Each massage experience will include positive physical and mental conditioning. Beyond touch, there will be music, scents, visualizations, and affirmations.

Sounds good to me!

I feel better already, just knowing how much I'm going to enjoy getting rid of the
tendinitis in my supraspinatus.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trouble! Mass Hysteria! So's Your Old Man!



Feast your eyes and ears on one of the great pool defamation songs of all time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Full moon fiasco fourth

The Thursday afternoon 8-ball tournament turned into a 9-ball tournament by a narrow vote of the players who wanted something a little quicker than 8-ball. That was just the start of the madness. I executed two inexcusable miscues and missed a shot so simple it is inexplicable. Those fiascoes left me with a 3 wins, 1 loss score and I missed the playoffs which were between 3 guys who had 4-0 scores. The rules here seem to be a bit out of the mainstream, but rules is rules, so I had to settle for a tie for fourth. Eric the Brit won, protesting all the while that he hates 9-ball. I'm figuring that we won't be playing much more 9-ball at the 8-ball tournament.

My performance in this tournament in 5 attempts is 2 firsts, 1 second, 1 third, 1 fourth. I can do better!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cue Ball Weights





Yesterday, during a session with Louis Ulrich, we got to talking about draw shots and he mentioned that different cue balls perform differently. For example, the "TV" ball (multiple big red dots) is actually heavier and will not draw as well as the traditional red circle cue ball. That struck me as rather strange, but I was busy practicing my power draw (such as it is... or isn't), so I just let it go.

Today, I'm practicing my power draw, using some of the pointers Louis gave me, and I remembered what he was saying about the cue ball differences, so I decided to give it some further analysis. I whipped out my digital scale and sure enough, the TV ball is 169 grams, 3 grams heavier than the red circle (166 grams). Amazing! Next, I whipped out my calipers and I'll be darned... the TV ball is actually bigger! Not by much, but it's bigger. It was a fair test; both balls were very clean, and both had almost zero time on them.

Bottom line, the red circle ball will draw better!

Thanks Louis!

Further testing shows the Centennial Blue circle cue ball and the Aramith logo cue ball are both 167 grams. Continued searching found another red circle cue ball that was only 165 grams.

I there any quality control at all in the cue ball manufacturing business?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Being Invincible



Invincible: that which can not be defeated, overcome or denied. (source)

Throughout the ages, one of man's great ambitions was to fly, but an even greater dream was to be Invincible. What follows are some of the words we remember, from a few great minds who have considered the nature of Invincibility.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. (Helen Keller)

An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything, and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men. (Thomas Fuller)

Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. (George Orwell)

In the depths of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
(Albert Camus)

It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Faith is an invisible and invincible magnet, and attracts to itself whatever it fervently desires and calmly and persistently expects. (Ralph Waldo Trine)

Virtue alone is invincible. (Anonymous)

Curiosity is the one thing invincible in Nature. (Anonymous)

Justice and Fortitude are Invincible (Justicia et Fortitudo Invicibilia Sunt, Motto from the McCafferty family crest, above)

Being invincible comes in quite handy when engaged in competition, pocket billiards, for example. This is what has lead me to adopt INVINCIBLE as the title for the book.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Undefeated Again: It feels so natural...

Yesterday was another 8-ball tournament at the senior center and I went undefeated again. What made this win interesting is that I chose to give up the break in every game because my right shoulder was giving me so much pain. So even with this spot, I still found a way to win. Another highlight included my first-ever "butt foul" called by the tournament director when I inadvertently sat on a 14 ball while going for another shot. I gave up ball-in-hand another time when I spazzed a shot, barely grazing the cue ball while doing a few warm-up strokes. I called the foul on myself. My opponent said he didn't see it. I told him that's ok, I saw it, and handed him the ball.

Other than the fouls, I played pretty good, and made some very nice shots. It was quite enjoyable.

After the tournament, as I was basking in the glow of another win, I got the feeling that this "undefeated" thing is a natural state of being for me (for all of us, really). By that I mean that being undefeated is the natural result of playing well, which is the natural result of confidence and clear thinking which are the natural results of extensive practice and study, which are the natural results of our Commitment. Anywhere along this natural chain of cause and effect relationships, we can spoil it all by inserting our human frailties such as fear, doubt, inattention, etc.

It reminds me that "the pursuit of happiness" is a very unfortunate phrase which puts happiness outside of ourselves, as something to be pursued, making us all unhappy by definition. I much prefer to believe that all of us are already happy, or established in happiness itself. It is ours to lose, not to pursue. For more on this concept, click here.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Earl Strickland's Favorite Shot



Earl Strickland and Johnny Archer came by my place for a couple of hours on July 15, 2008, and we hit some balls around for a while. Toward the end of the evening I asked them both to show me their favorite shot... not a trick shot, or "artistic" shot, but a shot they might get in a game, that for most anyone else it would be a real challenge, but for them, they just love to see it.

Earl showed me this one: a backward cut on the 8 with monster draw and spin to get back up-table for the game ball. The first shot he had truly epic spin on the ball, and a stroke that only Earl can produce. The second time he did it perfectly.

It was a great finish to the evening. It was almost midnight and they had a long drive to Los Angeles for an exhibition in the morning. Thanks, guys!


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Johnny Archer teaches me the 9-ball break shot



The date was July 15, 2008. Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland come to FastMikie's Fun House to give me a few lessons. In this video clip, Johnny is racking and showing me how I can improve my break shot. I had the video recorder running the whole time. More video coming soon from this awesome visit by Earl and Johnny.

Notice the 9-ball on the break! Thanks, Johnny!


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