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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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Johnny Archer and Earl Strickland visit FastMikie's Fun House

Yes, true story... Johnny and Earl stopped by tonight. We started the evening with a really fine dining experience overlooking the ocean at the totally excellent Pacifica Del Mar restaurant, and then headed back to my home (lovingly known as "FastMikie's Fun House") for some pool. Yeah, it really happened.

It's not every day that I get two of the world's greatest players to hang out at my place and stroke a few, so pardon me if I'm still a bit amazed by it all.

I set the tone of the evening right off the bat. I said right up front that I already knew they we great, so they didn't have to prove it with fancy trick shots. What I wanted was hard core lessons. Watch me shoot for a bit and then tell me where I need to change. I told them to relax, no performance anxiety here, it's not about you guys entertaining me, it's all about me learning what I can in the few hours we had together.

We started off with Johnny and me shooting some straight pool, which he says he really enjoys. He showed it, running a couple of racks on me, and of course I was completely out of stroke after not shooting for the last 10 days, and nervous of course, what with me playing one world champion while another world champion is watching.

Earl noticed that he could help me with my bridge, so we got into that for a while, and then Johnny shows me how to use my new jump stick (Predator Air), which was very interesting because I never jumped a ball before, but Johnny had me doing it in no time flat. Then Earl gets me using his stick to hit some radical english/draw/cut shots which I can not make with my stick, and we start talking cue weights, and tips, and wraps, and taper. And they both worked with me on my draw shot. Oh, I can draw the ball, of course, but my draw fades fast when I get 5 diamonds away from the object ball. They showed me how to deal with that. Next we worked on my break shot. Johnny helped a lot with that.

Do you get the impression that I was getting light speed pool lessons and that I could never learn at such a pace? Well, that's why I had the video camera running the entire time!!

After several hours of trying to absorb the wisdom of pool champions, we took a break and just sat down and talked pool for a while. Just two gods and a wannabe, hanging out. Johnny drinking Mountain Dew and Earl and me drinking water. We talked about the early days, when they were just getting into the game, we talked about some of the mental part of the game, how they prepare for competition, and how they deal with the pressure, and on and on...

And of course the video camera was running the entire time. But it wasn't "in your face" video like you have on TV. The camera was on a tripod across the room, and I operated it with a remote control without a lot of fuss, so it was really like it wasn't even there. But some things came up that they wouldn't want to get out, so of course none of that video will be seen on YouTube unless they approve it first. I promised them that up front, so they would feel completely comfortable with the camera running.

Just before midnight they had to leave, to drive north to Los Angeles to get some shut-eye before their next tour stop, so I asked them one final favor: to show me their favorite shot, but not a trick shot... a shot that comes up in competition, a shot they are faced with that is real tough, but for some reason they just smile because they love the shot, the action, the challenge. And, of course, the video camera got it all.

I guess I'll be doing some video editing for a while.

I walked them to their car, and realized that I didn't take any photos, but it really didn't matter. I don't need my ugly mug messing up a photo of Johnny and Earl just to impress others. I would prefer if what I learned from them could find its way into my stroke and my game, and some day, after pulling of some incredible tournament-winning shot, I could simply say: "Johnny showed me that." or "I leaned that from Earl." That's good enough for me.

What impressed me the most about the entire evening is that both of them were real easy going people, helpful, polite, and considerate. Yes, both of them. They get along real good with each other, and they gave me their full attention. And when you consider that they had just put in a full 8 hours teaching 2 different classes of pool students at a pool hall in town, well, I guess that's a real tribute to them both.

Wow, what a night!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the world class videos. It's nice to be Fast Mikie. ;)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 2:25:00 AM  
Blogger poolminnow said...


Wednesday, July 16, 2008 8:57:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Johnson said...

What poolminnow said!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Johnson said...

"Yay" about learning to use the Predator Air Jump Cue. Jumping and slight curve shots are useful in real matches. Being able to do odd things makes the game more interesting, as well as expanding your limits and confidence.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The evening is a testament to your ability to make things happen. I assume they didn't call you up and ask if they could come by for a few hours. That is my lesson from your post.... that high achievers can make the unbelievable happen!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 2:27:00 PM  
Blogger Cuephoric said...

That is proof that the poolgods love us and want us to be happy!
Congrats on an evening well spent.
Is this a good time to mention I'm jealous?lol

Thursday, July 17, 2008 12:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a quick question: what cue is Earl using now? Is it still the Mike Gulyassy with the OB-1 shaft set-up?

Thursday, July 17, 2008 12:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earl is using a regular Mike Gulyassi maple shaft, he dropped the OB1 fairly soon after he got it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 4:38:00 AM  
Blogger Tina H said...

Wow- What a cool awesome experiences!

ps. I haven't seen you for a while. Miss you and your words of wisdom!

Thursday, July 17, 2008 10:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have attended a pool school taught by Johnny and Earl, and it was great. I didn't have nearly the one-on-one time that you did, but even so I learned a lot. What's most interesting to me is watching these guys in person and seeing the natural talent just flow out. Sure, they practice a lot and study the game, but underneath that is pure natural ability, and you can tell they will always be better than you no matter how hard you try.

Friday, July 18, 2008 10:15:00 AM  

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