Gold Crown IV
Sunday, December 28, 2008
For the first time ever, recorded on video!
Something extraordinary happened at FastMikie's Fun House today. And I got it on video! Tony Sorto ("El Maestro") did in fact run a perfect rack at Honduran rotation pool.
Honduran rotation is extremely challenging, and is the ONLY game they play in Honduras, the birthplace of Tony Sorto.
It starts with the 1-ball on the foot spot, and the other 14 balls frozen on the rails in ascending order, as you see in the video. The game requires a wide range of skills including banks, combinations, as well as pinpoint accuracy and extraordinary touch.
This is the first time a perfectly run rack has been recorded on video. Yes, it is that challenging! Try it!
1. The one ball is a natural spot shot, from behind the head string, but positioned so that the cue ball falls onto the inside edge of the 3-ball, bumping it just off the rail. This sets up a later bump on the 6. That's right, on this opening shot we are playing 6 balls ahead!
2. The 2-ball is easily enough pocketed but the flawlessly played strategic draw into a bump on the 6-ball is a key setup in the run.
3. The 3-ball is easy only because the play on the 1-ball popped it out. In this shot, Sorto gives a good bit of inside english to kill the travel, avoiding trouble with the side pocket and offering shape on the 4-ball.
4. The shot on the 4-ball is classic Sorto. Gobs of inside english, with a rail-first hit on the 4-ball cause the cue ball to go downtable under the 15 ball, and then back uptable in a most unexpected display of control and touch, delivering the cue ball to the 5-ball.
5. The 5-ball is relatively simple because of the spectacular position off the 4-ball, and because the 6-ball is waiting near the side pocket, thanks to the perfect shot on the 2-ball. It seems as if there is some Grand Plan going on here, and there is!
6. The 6-ball is so simple, but remember that this easy 6-ball was set up earlier by a shot on the 2-ball. Now it may become clearer that this game is quite a bit more than it appears.
7. Sorto is heard to speak for the second time in this video when he says "Not what I wanted, but I'll take what I get." And then he proceeds to lay the object ball cross corner with such confidence that he doesn't even watch the lazy slow roll to the hole. Sorto stays down through it all, with utter confidence that it will drop.
8. The 8-ball is a combination on the 9-ball, and he left himself perfect on it with his spectacular shot on the 7-ball. He sinks the combination and the cue ball follows to the head rail and back out for the bank on the 8-ball.
9. The 8-ball is banked almost nonchalantly, surprisingly gently, coming off the rail for natural shape on the 10-ball.
10. The 10-ball gets inside english, of course, but with strong follow-through and top english as well. I love this shot, one of the first he taught me. It's almost a diagonal, downward-twisting motion of the cue at delivery. The action it produces is poetry, coming around nicely, three cushions for the 11.
11. The 11-ball is a carbon copy of the 10-ball, but of course different, especially with regard to speed and touch, but Sorto handles it flawlessly.
12. The 12-ball is surprising in its simplicity, but it leaves you wondering because it is so far away from the 13, which now seems impossible. Could he be playing for the three ball combination?
13. This shot is absolutely stunning, on several levels. First of all, it is completely unexpected, and it happens so fast, with such incredible force, and with such deadly accuracy.... well, the senses are overloaded on this one.
14. Sorto knows he is closing in on a perfect rack. After such an adrenaline pumping shot on the 13, it would be easy to shoot the next shot too quickly, but Sorto shows the wisdom of his many years with this game, and and he is shown taking a bit of extra time on the bank shot into the side pocket. And he comes 3 rails for shape on the 15.
15. A shot like this is where many a choke would occur, but Sorto nails it with such an abundance of confidence that one could truly say that he achieved the limit with this shot.
And there you have it. An historic moment in the world of pool. Congratulations, Tony Sorto! You have shown us the world class shot-making skill that it takes to complete a perfect rack in Honduran rotation, and to do it on video, first time ever, so we all can enjoy it and learn from it. Fantastic!
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
An excellent product overall. Three volumes: beginner, intermediate, advanced. Each one equally well produced, with Mika Immonen doing all of the shooting but none of the talking, which is done by a professional off-camera voice. While you get great lessons, you get none of the personality of Mika. In fact, there is nothing at all mentioned about his physical training, and nothing on the mental aspects of pool. Maybe these things will come in a later product for serious players.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I've have developed a sort of tradition that anyone who wins against me, or comes close, I invite to play some pool at FastMikie's Fun House. It's a chance for them to play on a good (perfect) table for a change, and gives me a chance to learn some more about their game. And so it was that I invited Paul H. to stop by my place for some pool this week. He called me yesterday and said he was shooting some pool on the tournament tables (8' Olhausens) and maybe I wanted to join him.
Unfortunately, I couldn't because I had to wait at home for a plumber to show up and install a new faucet in the guest bathroom. So I suggested he drive south to play on my table, and of course he jumped at the chance. (Probably what he had in mind anyway!)
Paul's a good shooter, and right out of the box he has me down a couple of games. For whatever reason, my energy was low, and I just wasn't playing very well. My head wasn't in it, possibly because as the minutes ticked by, I noticed that the plumber was later and later, and no phone call to let me know what was going on. That kind of inconsiderate behavior really pisses me off, so in the middle of the match with Paul, I call the damn plumber who tells me that because it was raining he didn't want to take his truck out. WTF? Ok, I'm thinking, so you are a puss, but why didn't you let me know? and he starts in on such a line of BS that I am now completely coming unglued, blood pressure is soaring, I'm going purple and apoplectic, which is not a good look for me, nor a good feeling, so I hang up on the bum, and try to settle into the game at hand. Well I blew that game in progress as I was just bonkers, but I breathe and focus on the game, and even though I was down 5-1 at the time, I won the next 5 games in a row to win the match 6-5.
It got me to thinking that maybe what turned my game around and got me winning was the high energy from the phone call. I am reminded of the times El Maestro has told me that when he is feeling low energy, he just loves it when his opponent will try to shark him or talk smack to him because it gets him really going and focused and committed to completely destroy his competition. He calls this state a "controlled fury". So I'm thinking there's a lot to that because that's what happened to me yesterday.
Of course I can't rely on a call from my (ex-)plumber to get me going in a match, but I'm thinking of other ways to get the blood flowing and my mind focused...
OK, that brings us up to today's weekly 8-ball match in Encinitas. The short story is that I made it to the finals again, but fell short on some really excellent play by Bob who won his first tournament there in a while. Major congrats to Bob for some really first class shooting.
The good news is that I'm getting to the finals, the bad news is that I'm coming in second place. The positive spin on that is that I'm due for a win. And I just love it when that happens!
The only item of note in today's tournament is that I did have one break and run out, and that was sweet. Notice that I actually did break, which indicates that my shoulder was feeling up to it, a real sign of progress in the healing department.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Last night's experiment in live streaming video was a qualified success.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Once in a while, like today, there will be more than enough. For example, at noon Pacific time, the Reno open finals will start, and a world away, the Mosconi cup will also be running, probably concurrently, and both streaming video to anyone who wants it. Watching both at the same time could cause brain damage!
The benefit I see for myself to broadcast from my own home table is Learning. For example, my instructor El Maestro, could watch one of my practice sessions from his home, or wherever, and not have to make the long drive to be here in person. He could watch my pattern play and make comments either via text or on the phone, which could be on speaker phone, or even another video chat setup such as Gmail or Skype. The possibilities are expanding!
One thing missing at this time are features I get with TiVo, such as time-shifting, or subscribing to a video, having it automatically recorded for later view, or pause the live stream, replay, slow-motion, etc. These will surely come as the technology evolves.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Well, I didn't get the win, but I did come in second. I would have had more fun if I won.
This gets me to thinking about Fun and Victory, and how they are related. For example, I can have fun if I'm not trying to win, but if I'm trying to win, then I seldom have fun, unless I win. So it's either fun OR win, or fun AND win, depending on the original intention.
That just doesn't seem right. I'd like to change my attitude and play for fun all the time, without the expectation, or the Need for a win. That way I'll get at least one thing I want every time.
The definition of Fun, for me, will be "playing well", and that means making shots, playing smart, playing percentages, playing safe when the circumstances call for it, and staying focused.
I've got to remember that last part, staying focused, and let the fun stay inside my head until the tournament is over, and not give up my emotions when I make a great shot, or miss an easy one.
If I can do this, every tournament will be good practice for the next one. I'll have more fun, and probably more wins.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
If you buy something at Amazon.com and you DON'T use the above link, then Amazon keeps the commission. Either way, you pay the same low prices. But if you use the above link, then you can spread some extra holiday cheer, no extra charge.
So, there you go. That's the entire proposition. Save money, do some good for your fellow human beings who might not be as lucky as you. What's not to like?
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
That "tiny URL" will expand into a much longer one, and you'll see it in your URL address bar of your browser. You can see how easy it is to modify it to suit your own purposes, or just see the search link at Twitter.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
You can't be shooting pool ALL the time, right? And you can't be reading about pool all the rest of the time, right? Isn't there some saying like "All pool and no ... makes Jack a dull boy"? So what's your "..."?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
But the thing that struck me was the story of you beating the lady (Loree Jon Jones). I have a similar story but it is not about me. I have the knowledge of what to do but had a vision problem and depth perception was poor, it also created an additional problem of my stroke wavered. I am good enough to win from most amateurs but never would have been a contender no matter how hard I practiced, which I did ten hours a day for several years.
But my story was not of me. There was a kid barely 16 we lived in Kansas City in the mid 60s his name was Jimmy Warner the kid was a natural he was taught by a old stick named John Rags. John had glaucoma and could hardly see, still he was a hell of a snooker player. He taught Jimmy. One day every one at our home pool hall Pass Time Cue heard Minnesota Fats was going to give an exhibition over at the Golden Cue in Raytown Missouri just a few miles away so we all jumped in our cars and headed that way. Now Jimmy had the best 9 ball break at that time in Kansas City it was not unusual for him to make 3-5 on the break and would run three out of five after the break, the kid was great.
Well the same thing happened with Fats. He asked if anyone was up for a 9 ball game with him and Jimmy stood up. Fats couldn't believe that a kid would stand up to him and started to laugh him off. A lot of the audience were in the know of who Jimmy was and they started snickering to, not at Jimmy but at Fats. Now Fats thought that they were laughing at Jimmy so he changed his mind and decided to make Jimmy look foolish so he gave Jimmy the break. Bang, Jimmy broke made 4 and run. Fats looked choked like he had swallowed a cow and told Jimmy to break, bang Jimmy hit that rack and made the 9 on the break. The fat man couldn't believe his eyes and made it look like Jimmy was just lucky last game Jimmy never gave him a shot. Fats quit, told Jimmy to sit down and everybody laughed including Fats. The fat man made a few trick shots and left town.
I quit playing the pool halls around Kansas City I loved the action but knew I was not going to make a living with a stick, I lost track of Jimmy and never knew what happened to him. Lost my Hoppe oh well. I hope this will give you a chuckle. Lester From Kansas City
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I'm thinking to myself that they gotta be NUTS. What could possibly be so special about a cube of chalk that would make it worth 14 times more than a regular cube of Master chalk, the standard of the industry. Everybody uses Master chalk, right?
Needless to say, I passed on the opportunity to pay such a ridiculous amount for chalk.
Fast-forward 5 years, and I noticed this thread on AZ billiards forum about Blue Diamond chalk. Some people were skeptical, of course, just like me. And others just raved about it. But I still didn't get any.
But in the fullness of time, I finally broke down and ordered some here. It was a pretty girl who pushed me over the edge (what else is new, eh?).
Now that I have been using the stuff for a while, I'm a convert. The stuff is WAY better than Master chalk. I keep the Blue Diamond chalk in my pocket chalk holder for personal use, and I leave the regular old Master chalk out on the table for guests to use. Momma didn't raise no fool...
How is it better? I notice it lasts longer, goes on easier, more completely, in a finer layer, no clumping (especially important in a humid environment), gives better control, less miscues, yadda-yadda-yadda. Check out the AZ link above to see what others say.
So, while I was checking out the Blue Diamond stuff, I also got some Sang Lee chalk to test. I figured that if Sang Lee can do those incredible masse' shots with chalk he recommends, then maybe there's something to it. Not only do I like his chalk better than Master, but it comes in a trick plastic box to keep the stuff from being affected by humidity (the enemy of chalk). Check it out here. Sang Lee chalk is even a bit more expensive than the Blue Diamond.
The latest development in chalk is the NIR Super Professional product by Longoni. I have a box of 3 cubes, but haven't started to test them yet. More on that stuff later.
The bottom line is this: once I know there is something better out there that can help my game, then I just have to use it. Especially if it's only going to cost a few bucks more.
Disclaimer: I don't sell the stuff, and I don't get a commission if you buy it. I just like to share my discoveries. I'm a giver... Enjoy!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I play these, and others, when I'm on the treadmill in the morning, and during my yoga/stretching and shoulder exercises. The best thing about these DVDs is that I can stop, skip back, replay, slow motion, etc. This really helps to learn what is going on. And of course, the more I play them, the more I can learn.
These new disks feature some of my favorite players: Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Johnny Archer, Earl Strickland, Thorsten Hohmann, Charlie Williams and others. The more I watch their play, the more I can model what they do, how they stroke, position, safety play, etc.
Of course there is more to my Pool & Billiard Library than just competition DVDs. There are lots of instruction books, autobiographies, full-length movies, and reference materials.
To check out the entire FastMikie Pool & Billiard Library, click here!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Yeah, right... I'm such a pool whore, I can't get near a pool table and not hit some balls. Once I got to the tournament, there was no way I was just going to watch. But my right shoulder hurt so bad I decided I would give up the break, and just play nice and easy.
That decision turned out OK, as I went undefeated in all 6 of my matches to get into the finals with Eric the Brit, a formidable competitor. Although I made it past Eric in one of those 6 previous matches, I lost the first game of the final race to two, and in the next (and last) game I was leaning over the table for a long shot when I was called with a foul when my shirt touched a ball, so I gave up ball in hand and you just don't give Eric ball in hand and survive. Congrats, Eric, you played great.
That left me with second place, giving up the breaks. And I hadn't touched a cue in the last 7 days. Not too shabby. But I sure wish my shoulders would get better. Patience, grasshopper...
The shirt foul was all my fault. It was a bone-head move to play with a loose fitting shirt. Live and learn.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I have all of Bob Henning's books and DVDs, and give them all the highest marks, but this little book is the best of all of them. I plan on reading it many times, until it becomes a part of my being.
To get your copy (only $19.95), email Bob Henning directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him FastMikie sent you! That won't get you a discount, and it won't get me a commission, but it'll be a fun way for me to thank him for writing an extraordinary book.
Subtitle: "An Illustrated History of the Sport"
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
"The winner of the race is fearless from that first step."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
A. I played well because I was loose, relaxed, and without expectations for the outcome.
B. The advanced techniques I use in my "Optimum Practice" routines allow me to play well with a lot less time on the practice table.
C. I got lucky.
D. All of the above.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
In fact, that canvas, that table recovering project, is another person's art. I am looking for that "table mechanic" who treats his work as art.
Why all this focus on quality of the work? For starters, I'm a Virgo, which means perfectionist, meticulous, etc. I'm going to be spending a LOT of time with that table, not just playing on it, but also because it is the focal point of my living space, and because I am in my living space virtually 24/7. Whatever flaw there may be in the re-covering job will be noticed.
Another reason why the quality of the work is important is that I get some very important and knowledgeable people in the pool world who visit "FastMikie's Fun House" (my home) and who play on this table. They deserve to play on the highest quality equipment possible.
It would be my goal to have my table be of such high quality that a visitor, after playing on the table, would be driven to say that it was the best they have ever experienced. These are the conditions I want for myself, and for guests.
Ideally, the artist I'm looking for would be local, close enough to be able to make any adjustments after the initial work. It seems that there are always a few details that crop up after the fact. However, reputation trumps location. And it would be unlikely that the best would happen to be local. If there were someone who is generally acclaimed to be the best table mechanic, and they were not local, then I want to consider the extra cost of transporting them, hotel, etc. Of course, with this artist coming into town for this "commission", they would be well taken care of, with the best meals, lodging, transportation, and other niceties. All of these things will communicate my message of appreciation for their creation.
The artist who would clothe my table would be encouraged to sign his work. Why is that not done now? Why would it not be traditional for a table mechanic to leave his mark in some out-of-the-way place on the table? I can not imagine doing my best work and leaving it un-signed!
I have heard from many sources that the best mechanic in Southern California is Ernesto Dominguez. Yes, the professional pool player. I have called him and asked him to do the table, and he said it was too far. But maybe I caught him at a bad time. I didn't get a chance to tell him how important a job it is. I could have done a better job of helping him see how important it would be for him. Maybe I could make it fun as well as profitable for him. Maybe I could send a limo to pick up and deliver the Leonardo da Vinci of billiard tables in the style befitting his reputation? Would he be more favorably disposed to do my table if he knew his creation would be in many videos, seen by many people worldwide, and that each of these videos would mention his name as the table mechanic? Would such an artist be interested in the fame and glory that comes with the commission? Maybe I could also buy a lesson or two in the game while he is here. What would it take to attract him to this opportunity?
Or, maybe there is another da Vinci. Maybe there is a Michelangelo?
There is no rush. No deadline as for a tournament. No search for some lowest bidder. Only the best.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Bagger Vance: Look at his practice swing, almost like he's searchin for something... Then he finds it... Watch how he settle hisself right into the middle of it, feel that focus... He got a lot of shots he could choose from... there's only ONE shot that's in perfect harmony with the field... One shot that's his, authentic shot, and that shot is gonna choose him... There's a perfect shot out there tryin' to find each and every one of us... All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us... You got to look with soft eyes... See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin' of the Earth, all come together... where everything that is, becomes one... You got to seek that place with your soul... Seek it with your hands don't think about it... Feel it... Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be... Now I can't take you there... Just hopes I can help you find a way... Just you... that ball... and all you are...
This movie is about golf, not pool, but golf and pool are a lot alike. And it got me to thinking about some of the Zen-like concepts of finding the perfect golf swing and applying it to the perfect cue stroke.
Both the golf swing and the cue stroke are a single co-ordinated physical motion of the arm hand wrist fingers which is the link between the brain and the ball.
I continue to have feelings that my stroke can be improved. On the spectrum of stroke perfection, with "poking a ball with a stick" at the low end and Efren Reyes at the top end, I am definitely closer to poking.
This yearning for my yet-to-be-found perfect stroke comes at a good time for me. There is a year before the next US Amateur championships.
This is an opportunity to welcome a perfect stroke into my life. An excellent project for the New Moon.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Why me? Maybe because I was a student at the Jacksonville Predator Pro School put on by Charlie Williams' Dragon Promotions, who is also running the Asia 10-ball championships. And maybe because they need to fill the field of 96 players.
Since I have yet to beat all the best players in San Diego, there is little reason to travel to Korea for competition.
Also, Seoul in November will probably be a good bit colder than Del Mar, CA. I'm a fan of warm. So I'll stay home
Thursday, September 25, 2008
During the Encinitas Thursday afternoon 8-ball tournament (with only 11 balls) one of the players "Gunny" said he was having trouble seeing the ball at a distance because he's looking over the top of his glasses. So I showed him how to adjust his glasses so they ride higher on his nose and he will be seeing through his glasses for clear vision on long shots.
I was just being me, a Giver, Mr. Nice Guy.
Well, you know the rest of this story. This guy comes back and has me hill-hill in the final then breaks and runs out for the win. A nice run, too. He deserved it.
But maybe next time I hear someone having trouble with something I won't be so quick to help, especially during a tournament.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I hadn't even thought about Simonis 760, which is faster than 860, so I went to the Simonis website to fill in some blanks, and that was very informative too.
So I figured, why not just call Simonis and talk to a human being, right? What a pleasant surprise... a very nice voice named Felice answered all my questions very capably.
Simonis 860 and 760 are same price. The 760 is faster, designed for straight pool (my favorite) and is made of 70% wool and 30% nylon. The 860 is designed for 9 ball and is made of 90% wool and 10% nylon. The HR cloth is only made in 860 designation, it stands for High Resistance, and it is a thicker cloth but manufactured in the 760 blend but not sheared as flat, so it's slower and plays at the 860 speed.
Felice confirms that 760 would be better in a humid environment, such as my place, and the tournament blue will be better for video. She even recommended a person to install it that is near me. (In Long Beach, Mike at 562-397-6755.)
The tournament blue 760 sounds like what I want.
It is time to rededicate myself to goals and the process for achieving them.
I have started documenting my daily routines and have already discovered ways to make them more productive. It continues to amaze me how improvements are always possible.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The indescribable bliss of "Home".
One of the main features of FastMikie's Fun House is the hammock. This photo was taken during a recent intensive Hammock Therapy session. It is a well-known fact that wars can not be fought from a hammock, therefore if everyone spent more time in hammocks there would be less war. I'm doing my part.
It is so good to be Home again, with my food, my bed, my space, my sky, my ocean. These feelings are quite new to me. For the last 30 years I have lived in many different places along the coast in and north of San Diego, always renting, never in the same place very long. Many of those years were spent on long periods of barnstorming, flying my open-cockpit biplane wherever the wind wanted to go at the time, on the go for months at a time, living out of a small bag of clothes. All that time there was no "Home", only a place to go back to, or leave from. This new feeling of "Home" is strong.
CA Hwy 1, somewhere south of Big Sur
Notice the speed in the head up display shows only 52 mph on a stretch of road that I would normally be doing well over 100. For some reason, I decided to take it easy on this trip, and enjoy the scenery. I love this coastline. Completely deserted, wild, pristine. The weather is always changing.
There is a new law in California which prohibits cell phone use while driving, but there is no law against taking photos. Go figure.
Ragged Point Inn, 15 paces in front of Room 29, looking south
Ragged Point Inn, 15 paces in front of Room 29, looking 400' straight down
FastMikie, on the road, somewhere south of Big Sur, 2008