Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
The Most Important Thing About Pool
Dear fellow PoolSynergy bloggists...
In the fullness of time, it has come to be,
Thank you for your attention.
It has been interesting watching and participating in this experiment,
although I feel particularly constrained by writing on a deadline.
It is an un-natural act.
I feel that writing should spring out from the spirit.
Writing is like other bodily functions,
which should not be required on command.
Well, now you know how I feel about that.
This month's subject, if I may be so bold to suggest, is...
"The Most Important Thing about Pool"
And here is the basic premise. You are in this scenario.
You are watching a loved one struggle with their game,
and you are on your way out,
only moments to live,
victim of blue chalk disease
which pisses you off because you paid more for the good stuff...
but let's get back to the story.
With only moments to live,
you want to impart the true secret to pool,
all the knowledge, experience, emotion, physicality, and spirit,
the true essence of pool...
the one thing about pool,
that if it was truly done,
one would be the master of all,
the Embodiment of Pool.
What is that?
You pick up your pen*, and write...
Follow through? Keep your head down? See the shot? Have fun?
How to use the rails? Inside English? Depends on the cue ball in use?
What is The Most Important Thing About Pool?
Your writing goes on to become a classic.
Book, movie, t-shirts, fame and fortune.
It all starts with what you write this month...
So, I hope you have fun with this month's topic.
Thanks for your participation, and your time.
Now, let's all work for a deadline (!) of midnight on April 10, 2010
(ok, if you like to work late, then make it 9am on April, 11.)
* remember pens? I loved those...
They really worked well together, didn't they?
Monday, March 15, 2010
How to get more people playing pool
Pool has a bad reputation because it has earned it. It's simple Cause and Effect. Pool is the way it is because of everything that has happened, and not happened, to cause it to be that way. But let's not beat a dead horse. We can't change the past; it's more productive to focus on what can be done to make things better.
There's a lot of talk about how the billiards industry has fallen on hard times, and how pool has a bad image in the mind of the General Public (people who don't play pool). There's always talk about what can be done to make things better, but it seems that there's no consensus, and nothing gets done. Pool just keeps circling the drain, hoping for another movie with Paul Newman to give it a shot in the arm. But that would just be a temporary fix, and do nothing to address the real problems.
This month's PoolSynergy topic is an opportunity for me to express a few thoughts that have been on my mind. One of the cardinal rules that I try to live by is to speak only positive thoughts, but when you are dealing with pool, I feel I have to abandon that rule and deal with some really negative stuff that bugs the livin' bejeezus out of me, such as:
1. Use commentators who can speak English properly. I won't name names, but if you graduated from high school, you should know who they are. There is just no reason whatsoever that pool tournaments should have guest commentators who routinely use double negatives (even triple negatives) in a sentence. It perpetuates the stereotype that pool players are uneducated low-life bums, or stupid, or criminal, or all of the above. Additionally, it speaks volumes about the sort of people who run the tournaments and who run the organizations that control pool. None of it is good. Why is there not more pool on TV? This single factor could be one of the prime reasons. TV executives certainly know that these commentators are bad for TV, so pool doesn't get the coverage it could.
2. Live streaming video is a great step forward, and getting better all the time, but still nowhere near good enough to get anyone other than pool addicts to watch. It would be much better to explain the strategies instead of having commentators just killing time with inane banter that has nothing to do with what is happening at the moment. Show more stats of the players during the dull moments of video productions, rather than have someone rattle off a few disjointed facts. People remember a lot more of what they see than what they hear.
3. Commentators should deal with the game going on, and not the instant messaging chat. Am I the only one who goes full-screen with the stream so that I can see it better? And if you go full-screen, you lose the chat feed, but the commentators seem to use the chat feed as a crutch to fill in dead air with blather which is completely unrelated to the game at hand. There's only so much of this disjointed stuff I can take before I just mute the commentating completely. I just want an intelligent, live analysis. Is that too much to ask?
4. When making a product for network TV, edit the video to delete all the think time and rack time. Show only the excellent run-outs, the great shots, and the "color" moments. Use slow motion to accentuate the details. A major problem with pool video broadcasts is that there is so much dead time. Only die-hard pool fans want to watch players think. And nobody on this planet wants to watch a player trying to get a decent rack, re-racking ad nauseum... If you want to attract more people to pool, then you have to make it more interesting. That means action! This is the internet age; the average attention span is now down to around 5 seconds. Get with it.
5. Invest in video products that show the best of the game, by the best players. This could be paid for by BCA, APA, WPA, etc. if they would co-operate to increase the number of players rather than competing for an ever-dwindling number of players. Use more CGI and tricks of the video trade. Look what's being done with football and apply some of the tricks to pool. It doesn't have to be expensive if it's done in post-production.
6. Get local players into the game with national and regional contests. Use video to show the winners and post the videos online. Recognize and reward excellence and more players will be brought into the game. There is one excellent method that has been developed which is independent of the APA rating system, or the BCA rating system. So you don't have to join these organizations, and keep paying dues and showing up for matches at inconvenient times and places. It's the International Playing Ability Test (IPAT) and anyone can try it, but there's too much math involved for people to deal with it easily. But the principle is excellent. It just needs to be simplified. That's why I created a spreadsheet program to do all the math easily. It's available here, free.
Oh, I could go on and on, but heck, I just like to play pool. I don't want to get all worked up about what's wrong with the business and marketing models in the industry, but since I was asked, well, now you know. Thanks for listening. Have a nice day!
Sunday, March 07, 2010
In A Time Long Ago
Recently I was cleaning out some stuff from storage, and came across a mailing tube, dated 1988, sent to me by my father, who, it seems, was doing some cleaning out of his own when he found this, and sent it along to me.
Prior to that, the last time I saw this was on the day it was done, way back in 1962, while I was still in college, on a vacation to Ocean City, Maryland. There, while walking along the boardwalk, I stumbled into a caricaturist's shop and tried unsuccessfully to talk my date into memorializing the moment with a drawing. She thought that instead that I should be the subject. And so it was. While the artist was doing her work she asked what I like to do, and of course pool was the big thing in my life at the time, and there you have it...
When I got back to the school dorm, I filed it away where it remained undetected for a quarter of a century, until my father found it in some pile of stuff in his storage. I suppose I didn't know what to do with it then, so I relegated it to my storage locker, with all the other stuff that is somehow too important to discard, but not important enough to keep handy, and there it remained for another 22 years.
When I re-opened the mailing tube recently, and removed the paper, it crumbled into several pieces. It had dried out and become brittle to the point where I feared it might just go to dust in my hands. But luckily, with the help of someone who has experience with saving ancient paper artifacts, it was unrolled, pieced together, and mounted on a foam board, where hopefully it will last a bit longer.
The wonderful advantage of having the internet is that now we can scan stuff like this and send it into "The Cloud" where it will stay fresh for all eternity. It's like a bit of immortality.
Even reviewing my math for accuracy, I can not really grasp the fact that it has been 48 years since that event, almost half a century.
Many things have changed in that time, but my love of the game of pool has remained strong.
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