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Unpaid Bill

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  • Bike Race

    Whooee! I’m all out of breath and trying to recover from a two-hour adventure in the Caribbean. Down there I killed a tarantula with my bedroom slipper, caused a terrible car crash with multiple deaths, sang a Calypso duet with Ursula Andress and did away with a mad scientist and blew up an entire island full of hi-tech gear - Crab Key. Saved a moon shot from Cape Canaveral in my spare time.

    In my program for staying upright for maybe a few more years I am doing some strenuous stuff on my pool table and watching old movies while pedaling my ass madly around the place on an old stationary bike. I haven’t taken the cover off the table in a couple of weeks, and have gotten to play precious little one-pocket during that time, either. But I have pedaled off about twelve pounds on a diet of around forty-five minutes per evening, and that’s something, isn’t it? Also, I believe I have developed an allergy to milk in my old age, and that’s bad news. I have lived on cereal and ice cream for many years. However I have bought some pills for that and it seems to be the solution. Sort of like doing the maintenance on your old car.

    I love the old movies and the local public library keeps lending them to me in bunches and the time in the saddle is much easier with a familiar flick on the monitor. Speaking of the saddle, I found a padded cover for it today and I needed it badly. My butt has gotten pretty bony as I age. Recently I have re-watched Where Eagles Dare, The Wild Bunch, Nevada Smith and Key Largo, among others. Still standing by on the desk I have some Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin and Robert Mitchum. Pedaling like crazy and having to slow down and lean into the curves. Don’t stand in my way.

    It has been sort of quiet here on the site for a while, since the finish of the Kavanaugh matter. Luckily we have had some excellent WWYDs and good commentary to maintain a high level of interest and the forums are generally healthy. Corey Dueul’s kick shot, brought to us by One Rock, has found lots of lively critics. Corey and T Rex and Alex are always good for spectating and second-guessing and surprises. Sadly that’s not so true of a lot of the top players. In today’s world of sports it’s not always enough just to perform well, you need to have something extra to sell. Look at Shaquille O’Neal. But you never, ever take a knee. Never.

    Anyway, my journal was overdue for a post – even one about old movies. Last Man will be serviced also in a couple of days. Getting near the end, and about time. As of today, I intend to show up in Houston one more time, but not to play, of course.

    Tomorrow, I’m pretty certain it will be Five Easy Pieces on my machine, and the French Connection the day after that. From there – who knows? Life moves fast around here.
    If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


    • Houston

      More and more I’m getting the feeling that next week’s tournament in Houston will be one to remember. It will be sort of a Medicare Open, so to speak, and the senior players will show up to get acquainted or re-acquainted, to tell a few war stories and buy each other a few beers and play one-pocket. Few of them will make expenses, but that’s okay. Won’t be the first time, will it? This will be the third annual event and it keeps getting bigger. I was on hand as a spectator for the first one, but missed last year and I will be there next week, again as a non-competitor. Not likely to be able to do it again.

      I suspect that the enthusiasm apparent on the web site is reaching even those who aren’t old enough to enter. We are told there will be a free live stream of the matches and that’s great. This may be the only event of its kind anywhere in this country and it represents some hard work by several of our members. I’m especially impressed by the tournament poster, which should become a collectors’ item, and I hope there will be a lot of them – I would gladly buy a couple to bring back to Baton Rouge for display in Bayou Billiards. I wish the One Pocket.Org logo and name could have been included for all to see.

      I think the people at Bogie’s will make every effort to host a memorable competition, again, and it should be a good move for the house, also. When I called a motel several weeks ago to make a reservation I asked to speak to the manager, but the lady said he was out this week for open-heart surgery! There’s a tough dude. Anyway, if I’m still on my feet and there’s something to eat, if there’s gas in my hack and my laundry is back, if I’m in the right lane and I don’t hit a train you can tell ‘em I’ll be there.

      Watched a great match on YouTube yesterday, the finals of a ten-ball event at Hard Times – I assume this year, but they never said. A young Mexican player named Ruben Bautista went against Dennis Orcullo in a race to eleven. Both played well and they were neck and neck the whole way. Bautista was on his way, possibly for the win, until he made a serious error and hooked himself. Orcullo was the winner, but the young guy looked great and I will expect to hear his name more now. Good watching, even though it wasn’t one-pocket.

      On the same day I saw a very good speaker in a one-hour program from Talks at Google, as he addressed an audience of young people. Frank Abagnale was the guy who was portrayed in the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’. I did not see the movie, but I think Tom Hanks was in it. Abagnale told how he walked out of the courtroom where his parents were getting a divorce – he was sixteen at the time but looked older – and struck out on his own. He went to a tailor and had a uniform made, like the pilots on Pan American Airways and was able to make himself an ID badge also. These served him well for some years, as he was able to fly a million miles free on the jump seats of other airlines, never Pan American, and it enabled him to cash the hot checks he was writing as he went. In the Carolinas he successfully posed as a pediatrician. Here in Louisiana he posed as a lawyer and got a job in the office of the Attorney General, practicing law for a year.

      In France he was arrested for forgery and served a term of several years in a French prison. When he got out he was extradited to Switzerland and spent some years in a jail there, and when that hitch was done he was extradited to the US and sentenced to a term of twenty years. After four years he was released to the FBI and has worked for them for more than forty years so far, much of it under cover. I found him a great non-stop speaker who never had to pause in his presentation. He had some excellent insights into the communication industry and what would happen in the near future. He said passwords would disappear forever, with a program called Trusona making absolute identification of us all. Some good information, and I recommend the show. Very impressive guy, as you might imagine.
      If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


      • Goin' to Houston

        My trip to the recent event at Bogey’s in Houston was an adventure. I lost forty minutes in Lake Charles in a traffic jam, and then when the GPS gadget advised that I had reached my destination I was still five miles from the pool room. Even when I was pressing on down fm1960 the machine kept trying to steer me back to the wrong spot. Had to switch it off - I might have thrown it away that day, except that it was borrowed.

        It’s hard not to have a good time in the company of dedicated one-pocket players even though I was not there to play. We all had at least one thing in common – Medicare. There was a lot of gray hair and gray whiskers on display, and a couple of bald heads, too. I saw a number of guys that I had met during my first visit and met a lot more this time, most of them members of this web site. Saw Steve Booth for the first time and enjoyed his company several times. Steve can play – hell, they could all play. I was smart enough to leave my stick in the Honda, so I was conspicuous mostly just because I talked the whole time I was in town. Don’t get many such opportunities.

        I got to meet Long-Strokin’ John Nevin and the World’s Greatest Cobra Pilot and Larry Landsman, lll (not to be confused with III). Renewed acquaintances with Jeff Sparks and John Henderson and Robert Newkirk and Gulfport Doc and Rod Stephens, who did not enter, but came around to see the guys play. I won’t try to list all the good people that I was able to spend quality time with, but a few were notable in one way or another. Fireman Casey was there from New Orleans, still strolling around in shoes that feature coil springs under his heels. He swears by those funny-looking shoes and says they keep him on his feet. That’s got to be good. There is other similar footwear on the market, and I always have to think of the Kangaroo Spring Shoes advertised in the comic books of maybe about 1943.

        Dress code for the event was super casual, and perhaps the most super of all was Sammy Jones, who turned out in color-coordinated golf outfits. On the final day he showed up in a blood-red golf shirt and matching red golf cap and matching red laces in his sneakers. I was impressed. Excellent player, as well, and probably not one of the ones cited here recently for slow play. Sammy keeps it moving.

        One of the players I wanted to see was Ike Runnels, who says he lives in Kankakee, Illinois – made famous in a Willie Nelson train song. Ike is a tough opponent, but also was involved in some of the longest matches. I won’t say just how long – maybe someone else will. One has to be a really hide-bound railbird to spectate at one of his encounters. He was one of the two finalists who eventually split up the money at four a.m. on the day after the last day of the tournament. The people who put this thing together (it was not a OnePocket.Org tourney) will be trying to avoid such as that for next year. There is an elephant in the pool room.

        Bogey’s is a great host and treated everyone royally. On Saturday they supplied box lunches for the players, and it was not field rations, either. Included were excellent sandwiches and chips and salad, and there were fruit cups and various pastries for dessert. Sizeable packets, all stacked on a table in the concourse. If they had posted anyone for security I wasn’t able to spot him, so I put the snatch on one of the boxes and dined pretty good while watching Ike and Scott Kitto. Good for John Rizzo and the house.

        Across the road from the pool room I saw a Starbucks and I went inside and ordered a café-au-lait. This caused some confusion among the staff behind the counter, who finally put their heads together and conferred in a foreign language and agreed they had never heard of such a potion as that. However, they made a ‘miso’ for me, which they made from coffee and hot milk – not bad at all. I thought it tasted sort of like a café-au-lait.

        I stayed at a Rodeway Inn, where the chief attraction was that it was only about a mile from Bogey’s, but I must acknowledge there was plenty of hot water and the towels were not bad at all. All in all, I had a fine time for a reasonable amount of money. I’m not at all sure I could do it again next year, but who knows? If they get the road fixed in Lake Charles, you know what I mean?
        If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


        • Patsy

          Two years ago, about Christmas time, I posted about a personal experience. It was a favorite of mine, and I am putting it up again today for anyone who did not see it the first time. Originally it was in three posts, but today I am putting them all up together.

          * * * *

          My favorite coffee shop is the one at Airline and Bluebonnet. Heavy traffic on both those streets, and the coffee shop is almost like an oasis on that corner. They have tables and chairs outside in the front, and umbrellas. That's where I take my coffee and cookie, and often I have the porch to myself, and I like it that way. If I play one pocket on the daytime special, I just have time to get there by about 4:30, ahead of the worst of the rush.

          When I parked in their lot last Friday there was a lady and a baby sitting in the next car. Not too unusual to see singles in public lots, waiting for someone, but most of them don't bring the baby. I got my coffee and sat down outside, and directly an old van came in and parked next to the woman, and she got out of her car and began to get the baby out of the car seat. A couple of guys and a kid got out of the van and the men stood talking to the woman and taking turns holding the baby. The kid didn't seem to be part of their group, and he strolled around, looking at nothing. Strange looking kid, looked like he might be ten or eleven years old. His baseball cap was too big, his old silk shorts were too long and floppy and he wore black and red socks with his blue sneakers.

          Finally the kid wandered over toward me, and walked past and then turned and came back, and then did it again. He stopped near me and looked up at the sky, which was rapidly turning dark. Without looking at me he said, 'Nice evening' and I agreed that it was, and suddenly I realized that this kid was a small woman. It made her outfit seem even stranger. She was in the driveway and didn't climb up on the pad where the tables were. I was almost speechless. There were three more chairs at my table, and I never thought to offer her one. She wanted to talk, and she did it standing in the driveway. She looked like her name was probably Patsy, if you know what I mean. She never said and I never asked, but I thought of her as Patsy for some reason. The more she talked to me, the more she seemed like a kid, but she said she was thirty-four years old.

          The rest of the group walked over and went into the coffee shop, but Patsy stayed and talked with me. She commented that they were all in recovery, and would be going to an AA meeting in a few minutes.

          I mentioned that Patsy and I had a conversation, but that's not really what it was. It was more like a monologue in a sort of interview format. She never smiled and seldom looked at me, but in few words she related her story in disjointed installments. She answered my few questions as if they had been prepared for her use. Two little studs thru her lower lip looked almost like warts, but I didn't ask the questions that came to me about them.

          I have been curious about AA meetings for a long time. Pretty much a teetotaler, I have never attended one. I don't care much for the stuff, beyond an occasional cold beer, and have always been too tight-assed to risk crossing my own lines. But I asked Patsy about such events and she explained it all to me. She commented that she liked Baton Rouge because you could always find a meeting near you. There seems to be published guides for meetings, in addition to a hot line. Either AA or NA, she noted. No excuse to skip a meeting if you needed one. She was proud of her five years of sobriety, and said so. I still don't know what happens at an AA meeting.

          Patsy confessed to having 'a past', but offered few details beyond recalling the wrong people she had hung out with for many years in many parts of the country. In answer to my question she acknowledged having been to jail, but always for misdemeanor things like public drunkenness. No felonies. With a small motion of her hand she declined to say whose jails she had seen. Unimportant detail.

          Friday was her day off, from both her jobs. She works at a Walgreen's and also at one of the fast food outlets. Got her own place now, and I had the impression that might have been a landmark in her history. She is laying low and saving her money to make another move, as she has a sister in Newport News, Virginia, who is watching for a suitable job for her. That could be the place where she will dig in and stay.

          At last she has found a guy who will stay with her and look after her; something she always knew she needed – a real special guy, and because of him she is happy about her future. When I asked about her special guy, she told me I had misunderstood her. Not a guy, at all, she explained. Patsy was talking about God.

          Patsy finally made the six inch step up from the driveway to the level where the tables were, and it put her just about even with me, as I sat with my coffee. And for the last few minutes of this encounter she made eye contact now and then. She stood with her hands in the pockets of those terrible silk shorts and spoke as if she were telling me secrets.

          I've heard people tell me of finding God, and I think that's what the old tent revival meetings were all about. Patsy did not see it like that. She said God had found her; that he could not go to the places where she was going, but that he was right there when she finally came out. They had made some sort of bargain on that first day and had been together ever since. He promised her that she would never have to look for him again, because he would always be there, and he was. Her guy.

          She went on to explain all the ways by which God led her and looked after her and kept her out of trouble. There was no doubt in her mind that this part of her life was now taken care of, permanently. It was obvious to me that she had approached my table because she had wanted to tell her story to someone, and it was equally obvious that there was no one else. Two days before Christmas and she had no one, but she was not complaining. Patsy was full of God, just as surely as she had once been full of other things.

          I am not a devout man – I just don't have the required blind faith – but more and more I find that I envy those who do. I don't quite understand them, but I envy them. They have something very real and they take great comfort from it, and it is obviously a good thing. But without the faith you can't get it; not from the internet, not from the library or from a preacher. Patsy didn't have much, but she had that. Good on you, Patsy.

          When she finally ran down she asked me for the time, and I told her. 'Whoa,' said Patsy, 'I better go jack 'em up!'. And she hurried off to find the others.
          If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


          • Typing Practice

            *** It came as a shock to me on the Sunday morning after the recent tournament in Houston to learn that a player named James Davis, Sr. was the guy who had split the money with Ike Runnels in the wee hours. I tried to recall seeing anyone by that name around the tables, much less that he had torched the field without losing a match. I had not watched him play – even for five minutes. While I was wandering around watching Joe Blow and John Doe, James Davis, Sr. was playing better than any of them. No doubt this says something about me and about James, too. There’s a message there.

            *** I had a very good waffle today and some grits and coffee – that’s a real treat. It occurred to me that it would be a fine thing if the U.S. Congress was turned over to the people who run Waffle House. They would get things done and send a lot of deadheads home. Apparently the rest of us won’t do anything like that. There was a notice on the door offering a free waffle to anyone who showed up in holiday garb on Christmas Day. I like free stuff pretty good, so I have bought one of them red and white Santa Claus caps. I thought it was a pretty cheesy cap for $7.95 – I should have shopped around, but a free waffle is a free waffle.

            *** I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in South Louisiana there seems to be a lot of stealing going on, and more than a few thefts have been done by the wives of elected officials who put their spouses on the payroll in jobs where their money is. In one rural parish the wife of the Chief of the volunteer department seems to have made off with $227 K, in about a year. When their insurance premium came due recently, there was less than a thousand dollars in the bank, and other government agencies had to bail them out. The Chief says he will pay it all back. Someone needs to pay closer attention, especially in those situations. Bad combination, your honey and your money.

            *** Lots of murders also – you can definitely get killed in this town, especially if you are a rap artist. We have lost several rappers recently, and most of those cases are unsolved. Many victims, we are told, are good citizens who fell in with a bad crowd. When the bad crowd is identified and cleaned up, I will let you know.

            *** For some reason that I can’t remember I have been sleeping in a queen-size bed for more than ten years. I finally got rid of it and took an extra twin bed from one of my daughters. It’s miserable. I’m not really a tall man, but I guarantee you I’m too tall to sleep in a twin bed, so it is on the way out, and I have been shopping for a twin xl, meaning a bed that is about five inches longer. There doesn’t seem to be a single one anywhere in town, they all offer to order one for me. Everyone today is sleeping in a queen or a king size, I suppose. So I ordered a bed online; it’s one of the bed-in-a-box things, and it is supposed to inflate itself when I take it from the box. I picked it almost at random, from a long list of brand names I never heard before, and they all promise to give you your money back if you don’t like the bed. Sleep in it for maybe a hundred nights, and you can tell them to come and get it. A new adventure, but I’m saving about thirty thousand dollars. It’s unreal, what they want for a new bed at the store.

            *** Here in my golden years (!?) sleeping is a crapshoot. Sometimes not too bad and sometimes terrible. I dream. My good dreams are about bowling and I’m stringing the strikes like a champ. My bad dreams are about the sign shop and I’m always up against a deadline that I can’t possibly make. Once I dreamt I was in the NBA, playing against all the tall stars. Didn’t even have a uniform, and nobody would throw me the ball anyway. Finally, a loose ball on the floor and I made a dive for it and threw myself off the bed. Knocked over the lamp and the bedside table. My adventures in bed ain’t what they used to be.
            If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


            • The road to the Derby

              Is it just my imagination, or does the interest in the DCC increase every year? At any rate, we’re seeing a lot of discussion threads and a bit of barking and plenty of HOF fan mail. I have never seen the new DCC venue, but a number of people have posted that they would like to see it back at the Executive West in Louisville. As always it will be a show like no other and large amounts of money will be evident in bulging pockets. Not all of it will get into action, and it may be that some of it is for show. Someone, sure as you’re a foot high, will offer to bet he can cover a pool table with C notes, and just as sure no one will bet him he cannot. That’s the DCC. I wish I could collect two bits a mile for the traveling done by our members next month. And another two bits for all the members who wish they were going and can’t make it.

              I picked up a video of a snooker match a few days ago on YouTube, just because I spotted Michaela Tabb in the promo. Handsome lady, for a fact. It was a match in the German Masters Tournament, and the famous Ronnie O’Sullivan was playing a guy named Maguire. They played with pointed sticks that had little mushroom tips, and they shot very straight with ‘em. At great distances they were able to feather one of the red balls and return to the farthest part of the table, but they just kept on doing it. One of them finally got the cue ball into the rack (gently) and for several innings they executed what would be fouls in a one-pocket game. I don’t understand the rules. They seemed to agree that nothing was going to happen, so they reracked the balls and started over. I endured more than fifteen minutes of this and heard a lot of polite applause for their nifty safeties, but nary a ball went into a pocket. I got to see Ms Tabb several times, in passing, so it wasn’t a complete bust, in a manner of speaking.

              Currently there is a thread here for discussion of the Ten Commandments of one-pocket and it seems they are discussing this over on the Animal Zoo website at the same time, but I guess over there it’s not just for one-pocket. Good suggestions are being posted and it’s evident that our members know the game, but I am concerned that not enough support for Jojo (the white ball) has appeared. Nothing could be more vital than to be on a first-name basis with Jojo, especially for players like yours truly who have little else going for them. He knows the way to the winner’s circle and for that reason I just keep going back to Reyes’ matches at Hard Times several years ago, when he was taking on all comers and giving up 10-7. You wouldn’t learn to beat Pagulayan or T-Rex, but if you are playing lesser mortals you would do well to pay attention. Bata and Jojo.

              Video from outdoors in Louisiana – supplied by a genuine 24 carat Cajun named Bordelon. It is called Digging for Alligator Snapping Turtles and Mr. B, in his hip-boots, slogs into the mud at the edge of a drying-up lake and locates the snappers by spotting their noses, which is all you can see. He hauls them out and relocates them to a better area where he sets them free. One animal each year is harvested for a sauce piquante. The biggest one he located on this video weighed more than one hundred pounds and had both the attitude and the equipment to bite your pool cue in two. Also, for all those members who act in movies, here is an opportunity to hear how the Cajuns speak the King’s English. Good, good folks, too.

              In case you don’t act in movies but follow organized crime, George Anastasia’s Mob Talk Sit Down #25 went up today. Joey Merlino has gone away to do two more years in the joint, and leadership of the wise guys in South Philly may be up for grabs, with some unfamiliar names in the mix. George and Dave Schratwieser always have the inside dope and tell all in the sit-downs. I’m a fan.
              If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


              • A limey perp

                WWYD if the Derby City Classic were right around the corner and you couldn’t go? Well, a lot of this are in this fix, and I don’t know what we will do until all the warriors are back. We will just have to hope for some fearless correspondents to keep us informed about the battles. There! I have reminded myself of an old, old song about an Indian maiden named Red Wing. It was a sad song, so – as you were, folks. There’s not much hope that all our guys will get rich, but hopefully they will return with some good stories. Whatever else happens at the DCC, it always produces good stories, mostly about money.

                Speaking of good stories about battles, in case you have not seen the video of Efren Reyes and Shannon Daulton playing one-pocket at the DCC two years ago it is well worth your time. Down 2-1 in a race to 3, and down 7 balls to 0 and jammed up near his own pocket, you will be treated to one of the best comebacks you will ever see. I won’t say who it was. These two guys are always a fine match. Efren may not be all he ever was but Shannon is one of the all-time powers in the game. Not a tournament regular these days, it seems he can pick up his stick on short notice and play with anyone. And I mean anyone.

                Following my own interest in true crime on YouTube, I recently came across a great character named Shawn Attwood. Shawn is British and a strange-looking ex-con if I ever saw one. He is gaunt and pale as a ghost and totally hairless (as far as I can see) except for black eyebrows that look like they were painted on with a felt marker. He came to this country and made millions in the stock market, but he liked to party and thru some good connections he became the supplier of the several partying pills of the rave scene. Eventually, in Arizona he became the king of the ecstasy market as a competitor of the well-known Sammy the Bull Gravano. He and his crew - including his body guards – flew high and spent lots of cash and they all went down together when the law closed in.

                So Shawn went to jail for his crimes, including a stay in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s infamous pokey and hard time in several penitentiaries. When he was released in 2007, he was deported back to England and is forbidden to ever return to the U.S. He is now in demand as an inspirational speaker and author in his own country. He is not the usual drug pusher and former prisoner, but the operator of a YouTube website which is fascinating to crime junkies like me. Lots of interesting guests on his shows.

                Attwood tells all about being a convict, holding nothing back, and sometimes he is funny as hell. He encourages his viewers to submit their questions and he answers them on the air – don’t be bashful. There are lots of videos to be seen at your leisure, and he comments on all aspects of prison life. He relates the influence of the gangs in jail, citing the Aryan Brotherhood, the new Mexican Mafia and other groups, each of which is all-powerful in their respective areas of stir. He tells of seeing prisoners killed by those groups or by guards. He describes the five most popular ways to commit suicide by inmates and the initial test in which you fight or get turned out and become for all time the property of others. Sex in jail is a favorite of questioners, and the reality of dropping the soap in the shower or being marked for smashing or death for some slight of behavior toward an insider.

                Shawn Attwood is entertaining, but you might not find him as interesting as I do. If you are doing anything that might get you incarcerated, better pay attention. Get a job.
                If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                • Anton Raga

                  Not being in the know regarding news from the Derby City Classic, one-pocket items are in short supply tonight and I will report instead on the pool scene in the Philippine Islands as I see it on my monitor. Sadly, there seems to be no one-hole action at all but the Pinoys can sure play the rotation games.

                  Do all you guys know Anton Raga? Well, you should as he is the best ten-ball player in the world. At least that’s what I thought when I first saw him yesterday on YouTube. He was winning a race to 25 over Dennis Orcollo, leaving Dennis on 17 and looking lost. Anton ‘the Dragon’ beat Robocop in every phase of the game, breaking better, shooting straighter, playing safe better and kicking like Bata Reyes. The match happened in the Philippines on the tenth day of this month. The show took three and a half hours and I watched most of it. The stream was not bad, but there was only one camera.

                  Next up was the same two players in a rematch racing to 35 this time and it took five hours. Dennis won the rematch by 35-25. I looked in on the affair several times, and Anton was still shooting the lights out, but Dennis jumped on top early and won going away. Pool played at that level boggles my mind, and it isn’t only these two, either. The islands seem to be awash in deadly shooters in addition to the ones we already know about. Still on YouTube, you can see Anton losing to Carlo Biado and beating Johan Chua, both whom I thought the best at various times. Raga can also be seen giving Francisco Bustamente two games on the wire going to 22. I have noted before that Efren Reyes can be followed in similar matches with young guys, and some of them give Bata a ball. I think Raga is twenty years old.

                  Venues for these matches vary widely but some things are the same wherever they are playing. Almost all are without air conditioning and often the players are mopping their faces after nearly every shot. Talcum powder is always nearby and is used liberally. Few billiard gloves are to be seen. Most contestants are in long shorts, and rubber flip-flops are more common than sneakers. There is rarely enough space for more than a few spectators, but the room will have a lot more than capacity. Some seats are available but the crowd is standing room only and it’s common for a player to be forced to delay his shot until enough watchers have edged away far enough for him to swing his cue. Three or four youngsters spring forward after each game to gather balls, wipe the rails and set up the next rack. The one constant is skill. Missing a makeable shot is a rarity and most players are short in stature and make do with some impossibly-long bridges.

                  These are gambling matches, make no mistake – sometimes the amount will be listed by the streamer, sometimes not. Sources of the money are not revealed but Filipino stake horses must be involved and one must keep in mind that the large amounts mentioned are in pisos, which go for 53 to the US dollar. In round numbers the conversion can be done by multiplying by .02. Even so, hundreds of dollars are in the middle and sometimes thousands. Disposition of the stakes would no doubt be very interesting. Being a top pool player in the islands might be a pretty good gig, especially in light of what we are told about the economy there. It’s no wonder that big name players from the American scene go home to play. It’s not one-pocket, but it’s pool.

                  Last week I got an offer in the mail from The New Yorker Magazine – twenty-five issues for $25 and they will throw in a year of Vanity Fair. The New Yorker is much too sophisticated for me, but it has the very best cartoons in it, and I am a big fan of good cartoons. Vanity Fair always has some good stuff and I was a subscriber during the time that Dominick Dunne was reporting in depth on the OJ Simpson murder trial. This was a great offer at that rate but there was small print at the bottom – really small print. By signing up I would be agreeing to an automatic renewal at the end of the year, and the price of the renewal would be $149.99!

                  I have been through this twice before with major magazines. You can opt out of the renewal at the end of the subscription, but by that time it is too late; they had already taken their money two months ago, and your problem is getting it back, and it’s tough. Both times I recovered my money but I had to jump through a lot of hoops along the way. Pissed me pretty good. Much better you should stroll into the Crave Sports Bar in Pasig City and see if any of them little short guys want to play.

                  They’ve got all the magazines at the public library, anyway.
                  If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                  • The War

                    Poolroom conversation on a slow day, telling jokes and lies and commenting on a dozen topics with a friend of mine. He began to tell me a story about his father, who has been dead for a good many years. My father was a veteran of World War II said my friend and he fought in Europe or France or one of those countries and now and then he would talk about how bad it was over there. They had to sleep in foxholes out in the weather, rain or shine, and in the winter too. He told about how bad it rained and there was mud everywhere and their trucks would get stuck in the mud and the soldiers would have to get out and push.

                    If they heard somebody moving around at night they couldn’t tell if it was the enemy or just one of the soldiers. His father wasn’t scared but he said that some of the others were afraid the whole time they were over there. They had it really tough and it was a bad war for sure. That was back in the forties, my friend told me.

                    Well, that bad war has been over for seventy-four years this year and I remember the time well – it has always been a fascinating time in history for me. The internet has it all in videos – battles, invasions, ships and soldiers, airplanes and rifles – and photos of more dead warriors and civilians of many countries than one can imagine, and I can’t leave it alone. I guess my point is that the soldiers of World War II are about gone now. I was nine when the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and thirteen when it was over and it’s hard to believe, nearing my eighty-seventh birthday, that I’m too young to have been a veteran. Even more of a jolt it is to realize that the next generation is nearing their own expiration dates. The friend I was sitting with is past the age for Social Security, and has little recollection of any first-hand tales from his father about fighting in Europe or France or any of those countries. The war, like its veterans, has faded into wherever old wars go.

                    In this country, we didn’t get to see it. We had news on the radio and newsreels when we went to a movie. My own father, who was never in the military, kept big maps on the wall at the house and used colored push-pins to keep up with the location of the front lines in the various places where they fought. He read the Times Picayune and listened to the radio. We had blackouts and air raid drills and food rationing and gasoline rationing and a nationwide speed limit of thirty-five miles per hour. But we didn’t really have a war.

                    It will be remembered longer and more vividly in most of the rest of the world. Millions of tons of gunpowder and TNT went through cities and villages and people’s houses and schools and churches like a dose of Pluto water. If you have been on the scene of a major hurricane on the Gulf coast you would have some idea of it all, except for the blood and death.

                    I am just finishing John Grisham’s latest novel, called The Reckoning. One of the characters was called to war in the Pacific in WW II. He was captured and tortured by the Japanese and escaped into the mountains of the Philippines where he fought for three years among a few American soldiers and a large force of Filipino guerillas.

                    Today, pool has many, many Filipino players and a lot of them compete in the United States. Surely, some of them – Jose and Efren, for example, have heard war stories from old men in the islands, and I am moved to wonder how the war is described in their books and their history classes. Unlike Americans, they had a war, and the old people will surely recall the Japanese. Maybe one day I will have an opportunity to ask a couple of the pinoys about it.

                    We have had other wars since – bad wars, all – but again they were far away. WW II was The War, and I think of it often. Old man with time on his hands. My elderly friend remembers only that his father said it was tough over there, and I am sure his father was right. Move along, folks – nothing to see here.

                    And another interest of mine – Mob Talk sitdowns number 26 and 27 are up on YouTube. Philadelphia wise guy did twenty-five years in the joint. When he got out he opened a restaurant. It was a big success and a very popular place to dine on good food. The guy did well and lived well. Now he has been indicted again for extortion and might be back inside before long. Why would he do that? George Anastasia says they just can’t ever leave it behind. It is what it is.

                    Thanks for reading.
                    If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                    • Holidays

                      It’s carnival time in the states along the Gulf coast and south Louisiana is all painted up in the carnival colors, purple, green and yellow. No pastels for Mardi Gras, folks. One day this week I went to the bakery where I buy my shoe soles. I like pastry - might be the reason for my longevity – or not. Anyway the big window is all painted up for the occasion, Colombina mask and string of beads, all in the bright colors. Down in the corner was the signature; art by Chuckles the Clown, looked like a feminine touch.

                      Being an old sign painter I am reminded of the traveling window dogs who turned up at holiday time to decorate store windows. For the week or ten days before the event he would come around and for a reasonable fee he would paint your window in the water-based tempera color and with the appropriate items for the season. He seldom spent more than forty minutes on a job and could do as many as ten in a good day. He had his specialties memorized and knocked them out like magic. Everything he needed was close at hand in his truck and right after getting out his stuff he was finished and gone. There are still a few window dogs in action today, moving and selling the displays.

                      I knew an older guy who liked to tell about the life. He had had a small shop somewhere in Arkansas, Texarkana maybe, and he locked it up when he hit the road for holiday work. He said he had a route that included small towns in nearby areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma, and a number of customers who looked for him as time approached for window painting. Some even had the windows cleaned when he arrived. For the others he carried a sponge and bucket and squeegee. His fee, he told me, was forty dollars by the time he quit, and that worked out to more than three hundred bucks a day. Several decades ago, when he was traveling, he expected to gross between two and three G per trip. That kind of money, a that time, would pay the rent and buy the groceries and leave some for one’s beer and smokes. No doubt – like the pool players - they told the IRS all about it.

                      I think his name was Lomax or something similar. In February Lomax painted hearts and diamonds. In March it was leprechauns and shamrocks and in April it would be painted eggs and bunnies. Then came stars and stripes and then fireworks. In the fall he did skeletons and witches and black cats, then baked turkeys and falling leaves. When Christmas approached Lomax might be gone from home for most of a month. It was hard work and living out of some kind of camper on a pickup truck, but he loved it.

                      Then there was Clark Byers, working in the southeastern states for quite a few years. Byers would paint the roof of your barn if you would agree to display the promo for Rock City. See Rock City, or Visit Beautiful Rock City, or See Seven States from Rock City. He would reward the owner with a packet of Rock City souvenirs and the sum of three dollars if necessary. Four gallons of black paint and two gallons of white. He claimed to have done over nine hundred barns in nineteen states. Currently, we are told only about eighty remain to view, and a few of those are being repainted. But not by Byers.

                      Equally iconic, but not so personal, were the Burma Shave signs posted along the highways for the entertainment of passing travelers. A brilliant promotion, they were in use from 1926 to 1963. A few remain – along old Route 66 for example. **School zone here – take it slow – let the little shavers grow – Burma Shave. **Within this life – of toil and sin – your head grows bald – but not your chin – Burma Shave. ** Free, free – a trip to Mars – for just 900 - empty jars - Burma Shave.

                      I watched a fine one-pocket match on YouTube last night, courtesy of Railbird Productions. They offer quite a few matches from this years DCC, and the one I saw was between John Schmidt and Niels Feijen. In the first thirteen minutes they each ran eight-and-out, but the third and fourth games featured some great one-pocket action, with first one player and then the other seeming in fatal traps and shooting their way out. Feijen had John shooting uphill most of the way and punished him for each error at the table and won the match by 3-1. Good viewing for an hour and four minutes. The commentator was not too familiar with the game, but the stream was outstanding. Luckily, one-pocket can be enjoyed with the sound off and I often watch it that way.

                      Today, about fifty years late, I am reading The Valachi Papers. It’s like Goodfellas and the Sopranos all at once. All the famous mobsters of yesterday are in there and all have funny nicknames. I’m loving it.
                      If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                      • Gunners

                        Smash and grab as a form of wealth redistribution did not begin in Washington. It’s a lot older than even the town, let alone the Congress. In a nutshell, if you saw something you wanted in a store window you would come back in the night, pick up a handy brick and chunk it through the glass. Then you reached in and claimed your loot and ran like hell. It became a tougher gig if the window was tempered glass and your brick bounced back and hit you in the mouth, or if all the watches turned out to be Timexes, or if you got too old to make the dash. And sometimes you might not even be able to find a brick. Semi-violent crime, to be sure.

                        Modern-day smash and grabbers have been turning out in force at the pool tournaments and not only in the rotation games, which have always been semi-violent and not very important anyway. Now they are playing one pocket – maybe you have noticed. Tony Chohan may have been the first. I can recall only a couple of years ago writing in this journal about T-Rex and wondering if the game was making a significant turn or if we were only seeing a big guy with long shirts and short pants having hot flashes at the table. Either way, the gun slingers were sure to be disarmed when they came up against the Filipinos. Not to worry.

                        Well, you can worry now – and don’t bother looking the other way, either. Videos of the matches at the Derby City Classic are making it clear. Betting on the pinoys is still a sound game plan, but don’t think you are stealing and don’t bet the rent money. A bunch of children, many of them from far-away places and with strange-sounding names, are all over the news. Ruslan Chinakov, Eklent Kaci and Omar Al Shaheen are only a few of them. I believe there is one named Fedor, and I wish someone would ask him how to pronounce it, because if he is a Russian I imagine his name is Fyodor, but we can’t type the necessary umlaut. Along with Billy Thorpe, Chris Robinson and Chris Melling and many more, these guys are pure shooters and can run balls. Most are not accomplished one-pocket players and may not even aspire to that, but man – if they give you a shot you’d better make it. They come to the table with their own bricks, just hoping for a small window to smash. They are bold, unrepentant and deadly. Theirs is not the traditional relationship with Jojo, because they never doubt that the next shot will be theirs, too. How to slow them down? Suppose you make them wait for a shot, choke them and test their patience, would they begin shooting up in the air? Where are you, San Jose Dick?

                        Last night I watched Omar suffocate Tony Chohan very neatly, winning a race to three. His game management was just as impressive as his shot making, and Tony had very few chances to show anything. He did manage to win the third game when Omar went for a two-rail kick at the last ball, trying to push it down the foot rail toward his pocket and not only whiffing it, but scratching to boot. Tom Wirth could have showed him how to do it, or Jack Cooney or any Filipino. Not much strategic maneuvering in that contest, but we knew that right from jump street. Not with those two.

                        I’m enjoying these videos and staying up late to watch them. If I understand correctly, Accu Stats has an exclusive arrangement with the tournament, and all the other streamers must record the video only and add the audio at a later time. This being the case, there can be some excuse for displaying the score incorrectly so much of the time if they can’t see the actual balls in the rack. But they can at least see the ones still on the table. Not so with the commentary. If they are doing it at their leisure, so to speak, at a remote location, are there no one pocket players at all that they could enlist to help out? Bad commentary - uninformed commentary - is worse than none at all. More and more I am watching muted videos. Some are frank to admit they don’t know the game, but they comment anyway, and often about things other than the match. I really don’t like to rant. Strike that, I do like to rant. Giggling Sophie with her little girl voice and Mike (?) had a fun time on the audio while T-Rex was being drawn and quartered on the video.

                        If they were watching in Moscow – and they might have been – they probably said ‘smishno’.
                        If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                        • What's up, John?

                          It’s ten pm on Sunday and Jimmy B has just posted the news that John Schmidt, at Bullshooters, has scratched on a break shot, ending his current streak at 350 balls. This seems like an unlikely announcement; certainly one that you don’t hear every day. Just what was involved there, anyway? All I knew about it was that John was putting in long hours on a table there in his attempt to pocket a record number of balls in 14.1 fashion. The original post on this thing appeared a couple of weeks ago, and there are multiple reports of his other failed (?) efforts since that time and we are left to wonder if he does it every day, and for how many hours. Will he start over tomorrow morning? If he doesn’t reach his goal, at what point will he pack it in?

                          Playing straight pool with no opponent would be pretty much like an endless practice session with consequences – not far removed from manual labor. My own practice sessions on my eight-foot table feature missed shots and a bit of creative profanity. When I miss, sometimes I start over and sometimes I don’t. What the hell, you know what I mean? I can only imagine the level of focus he has to bring to the table and sustain. No mulligans here. Many rumors and semi-sworn reports advise that Mosconi’s best total has been surpassed on several occasions and by a number of different players. For that matter, how well-documented is the golden number, anyway? What body is in charge of pool records, if any is? Other than results from tournaments, I don’t see how there can be official records in our game. At any rate, John’s quest makes an interesting story that has created some needed participation and comments here. I wish John the best and I hope Jimmy’s message tonite won’t be the final one.

                          I think the recently-completed event in Memphis will be an epic one in the history of this website. Far as I know we have no members who play pool for a living, and while such players would be welcome I think we are better off without them. We demonstrate that there are other reasons to play – good reasons. (My friend BRLongArm has violent seizures when I talk like that.) When each year there are only a few events outside your own area from which to choose, when you must fit them into a schedule, when you must budget your expenses knowing there is only a dim chance you will break even, your life in one-pocket offers different pleasures. You can prepare your game for them; you can go and compete hard against players who may be better than you are. You can win and lose and dine and drink soda pop and laugh out loud and tell lies with the same guys you meet at Then everyone goes home and remembers the time as a good time.

                          For some reason, I feel the Memphis tournament may have been special. Witness the various accounts posted by the guys who were there. Some of them travelled a long way to get there, but they will be at the next one, too. How much better could it be?

                          We are indebted to Rail Birds and to Bad Boys for bringing us free videos of competition at the 2019 Derby City Classic and we can only hope that sponsors and donations from viewers will make it worth their while. For viewers at home, it becomes a sort of candy store. I have mentioned before that I find the video first-rate, and the commentary generally poor or worse. In a one-pocket match I watched last night, a pair of speakers yakked it up about unrelated things. An easy shot that might well have determined the winner of the game was butchered and missed. They failed to even note it. Later they missed a foul and spotted ball and reached the end game with the wrong score posted. When the shooter made his seventh ball and was still at the table without a shot, they posted the win for him and then wondered whether the mis-count was his or theirs. I muted the rest – no excuse for such as that.

                          Fantastic one-pocket is played by the youngsters. I saw Eklent Kaci break a rack and Josh Filler responded by running eight and out on his first shot. In the next game almost the same thing happened, except that Kaci ran only seven on Filler’s break. They search the stack like Corey Deuel and Tony Chohan, and if there’s anything to see they go for it and often make it. Balls in the jaws of the opponent’s pocket are ignored. I saw Shane Winters and Fedor Gorst for the first time, and another young guy I had never heard of – Anthony Meglino. Anthony can play.

                          Another milestone for my journal. It has passed twenty thousand views now. Who knew? And even when I neglect it I’m aware that this forum is important and should be tended. I am still disappointed by the absence of good pool stories – or good stories of any kind. Ross Keith Thompson contributes good stuff, even if he posts it in another category. Speak up – we can’t wait forever.
                          If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                          • Efren and Billy

                            Exciting news this week, and even I am excited. We are told that in the second week of June, Efren Reyes and Billy Thorpe will tie up in a major money match in the city of West Monroe, Louisiana. Neither of these guys has appeared before in any of the recent streamed encounters. Scheduled for a max of five days, they will play races to ten until one of them has won three. Talk about a contrast in styles – more, I believe, than T-Rex and the Robocop. I feel certain that Bata will be a strong sentimental favorite, whether the other bettors see him that way or not. He is still the Magician and in the later years of a fabulous career on the table.

                            Thorpe, or course, is a gunner and one of the premier shot-makers of today, but he has proven that he can play one-pocket, also, with a DCC title a few years ago. No one has played the game better than Reyes, or as long, but down in the Islands the kids are giving him weight in the rotation games. I’m not sure what that means but it is an indication of something that must be considered.

                            YouTube (yeah, YouTube) has a series of four videos, all made in a single evening, from 2014, when he played Bobby Emmons in California – maybe at Hard Times? Bobby and his backers came in from Arizona and lost a race to five and a race to seven and then a race to ten games. With stakes and side action I’m sure they dropped more than ten G that night. I rate Bobby Emmons equal to any other shooters I have seen, and I think his plan was to shoot his way out, but Efren is a shooter, too. But Bobby was not a one-pocket player and was forced to shoot up-hill all the way. When he got a shot he could run out, but he seldom got a shot. Efren and Jojo gave the younger man no air. The only thing he had going for him was the 9-6 game and it wasn’t nearly enough. When it was over he explained that he had played ‘horrible’ and was speaking of a possible rematch in Las Vegas. I don’t think he knew just what a bad game he was in, but he was a warrior and never shed a tear.

                            I have to look back at that match – and I did this week – to get some sort of outlook for the coming game. Without a doubt Reyes will out-move Thorpe and we will find out how long Billy can wait for his opportunities. If he ever starts shooting up in the air it might be fatal. Efren could be over-aggressive and Thorpe will punish him for his shooting errors. Different strengths for certain.

                            I was mighty impressed with Bata’s performance against Emmons, but that was five years ago – a helluva long time at his time of life. I really hope he will show his teeth in West Monroe. A mere finger of speech, of course.

                            I watched a little German named Josh Filler win a singles title at the DCC, as his opponent suffered a disastrous foul call that proved fatal. Jacked up over a ball, he touched the wrong ball with his cue tip, even though he did not move it. Then I saw Filler run 285 balls in the 14.1 competition. I know the fans of the rotation games have been aware of him for several years but I had never seen him before. He’s a cool player at the table with no visible weaknesses. We are indebted to the RailBird people for lots of entertaining videos from the DCC.

                            Watching the 9 ball matches, using the mandatory AccuRack, I could not help noticing how immobile the money ball was on nearly every break. If nothing rebounded from a cushion to move it, it remained right where it was racked. The MagicRack illustrated the same thing, if not quite as consistently. Geometrically I suppose the 9 ball is not supposed to leave the rack, as the force is diverted away from it on both sides, but that’s not the way it is in the traditional racks. But why can’t human hands achieve an equally perfect arrangement? Must be a reason why it usually joins the rest of the pack in touring the table.

                            I saw Chris Melling go seven rails for position – a pretty unusual tactic. Chris is a fine player who has lost quite a few pounds in the last year or so, and an entertaining guy to watch. His kick shots are carefully calculated and sometimes produce dramatic results. Using his cue as a ruler, he can plot the path of even two or three railers, but he’s no Filipino. His failures can be epic, as well.

                            That’s about it. If you get a chance, tune in a little Russian girl about so high, who plays out of Roy’s Basement. Christina Tkach is her name and pool is her game. If you get to play her, don’t bet too much. Also, I can recommend Match #27 from the recent US Open 9 Ball Championship. Alex Pagulayan played Aloysius Yapp in a hill-hill thriller. Yapp is a pudgy Asian – from Hong Kong maybe? – who plays a lot better than you might expect when you first see him. Enjoy.
                            If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                            • Here's looking at you, kid

                              I’m a week past the cornea transplant and it seems to be doing fine – I saw the guy again today and he said it was looking good. Been using a lot of exotic drops in the eye and the vision is returning a little at a time. It’s going to be a while, but at least I am a little more comfortable at the keyboard. I can drive my car after a fashion but I am required to send up flares now and then so the other drivers will know I’m back on the street and they should take the proper precautions. Was this a big deal? Yes, it was because it was my eye. If it had been my fist or my pancreas, not so much. Very little pain and discomfort. Three of my daughters showed up at the hospital for the occasion and when a nurse wanted to know about the group I told her it was my favorite daughter and her sisters. They brought me tasty food and sympathy. Good folks.

                              Since this replacement cornea was furnished by a donor (dead person) my kit included a suggestion that I write a note to the grieving family, so I suppose I will do that. There is an address for me to use, but it will be an anonymous contact. What can you say except thanks for this restored vision? I am thinking the donor might have been a Democrat, because I’m beginning to look at things differently (but still a bit blurry). I hope there is no rule here against cheap shots.

                              YouTube is awash in good-quality videos of recent matches – from the Derby City Classic and other events since that time – and I am eating them up. One pocket in its new form, with new and ultra-talented players. I have a pretty good collection of older matches, and one can watch and learn a great deal because the execution involved was often within the reach of guys like me. Efren Reyes and Jose Parica are still among my favorites, but there is Buddy Hall and Billy Incardona and Steve Cook and Shannon Daulton and Jeremy Jones and Grady Mathews and Richie Richeson and Nick Varner and Cliff Joyner and many others who performed on my DVDs. Pagulayan and Bustamente were relative newcomers at the time I was stocking my library. I have at least two or three with the late Mike Surber, who was a fine player, by the way.

                              Currently I watch for entertainment. These guys are doing things I could never hope to copy. They shoot hard and aggressively, and the tide of the game swings back and forth with nearly every shot. A pattern on the table that might seem to make Joe Blow a big favorite can be reversed in a single stroke that leaves John Doe with the upper hand – at least for now. Exciting stuff. The photography is great, but most of the commentary is abysmal and better left muted. At least in this respect the old videos are superior by a wide margin. I am recalling Hall, Incardona, Bill (Weenie Beanie) Staton, Freddy Bentivegna, Mathews, Varner and Danny Diliberto.

                              With the match in West Monroe, Louisiana scheduled to begin in just a couple of days I asked YouTube for videos of Billy Thorpe playing one-pocket, and was surprised to see there are not many. I can’t recall which year he was the DCC champion, but where are the videos? Most of what is available is for this season. He will go against my favorite, Efren Reyes, this week for cash and I wanted to see him in action so I brought up a couple of recent matches. Thorpe is a very impressive player who shoots straight and knows the game. It’s not hard to see him winning at the DCC tournament, but I did note that he seemed to be quick on the trigger. No doubt Reyes will make him pay close attention and have a good look before he picks his shot. He will find Jojo in some terrible places when he comes to the table.

                              I hope it will be a good contest and I would love to be there, but I probably won’t. At least I will wait to see how the first day goes, and if I can’t stand it I just might hit the road. I will let the State Police know I am coming, and maybe there will be a fire sale on those $120 seats when I get there. I will wait and see – in a manner of speaking.

                              Oh, and I want to offer my congratulations to Warren Kiamco, this year’s champion of the US Open One-Pocket tournament. Who knew? I think of him as being one of the Filipinos who has endured for quite a few years in American tournaments. Now I find that he is the real article, obviously, and that is great. He doesn’t make much noise and moves quietly, and I doubt anyone will begrudge him this win. Could he be the next Bata Reyes – a popular guy who can do the job? Pool could use a few more guys like that. Good luck to him.
                              If it ain't funny, it ain't much.


                              • Current events

                                This journal is long overdue for a post, and tonight it will get one. The topic is going to be, ahhh, . . . . current events. Yep, that’s it – current events, mostly Louisiana style.

                                Unsure what my opening would be, I have discovered a survey of sorts put up today by my friend, Joe Long (BRLongArm), who I have not seen or spoken with in several months. Joe has a one-pocket coin, one side representing gamblers and the other the tournament scene. As gamblers he describes the one-time road agents who hustled action in pool rooms where they were not known, and who have been severely limited, if not put out of business, by the information age. Joe is a gambler, a promoter and a guy who will put his money where his mouth is, and he notes that we are all here to ‘support and foster growth in one-pocket’.

                                However, as he offers his coin for a vote by the members, he flips out a great number of dedicated one-pocket players. Like me. Granted, our coins are largely nickels and dimes, but g-d, there are a lot of us. Happily, successful room owners still like us. I’ve got more thoughts on this topic, but maybe they are best left unsaid.

                                Okay, moving along – a young man from Livingston Parish has won the latest American Idol contest and instantly became a genuine hero in Louisiana. I believe he is a musician, as I have seen photos of him with a guitar, and apparently he is a very good one. I’m a bit embarrassed not to know more about it, but that’s how it is. Big Parade right down Florida Boulevard in Denham Springs.

                                And in St. Charles Parish, not much farther down the road than Livingston, an alligator has bitten a deputy sheriff. I would rate this a major humiliation, as it was not even a big bull alligator – about five feet long, said the report – and that’s barely more than a large lizard. Nailed him pretty good, I believe. He will hear about it for a while in the department. A bigger gator quite recently bit off a piece of a sheriff’s department patrol unit. Wildlife and the law -I will let you know if it gets serious.

                                For the second time in less than a year, a big ship has collided with the Sunshine Bridge. This time it was a minor blow, maybe more like a scrape, but last fall there was a bigger impact that closed the bridge for several months as they repaired it. This span is the only connection from the west bank to the east bank between Baton Rouge and Boutte. Big event for lots of people when it is shut down. That makes a total of twenty-one such encounters involving boats and that bridge. The navigation gap is some 685 feet wide, but sometimes that’s not big enough. It’s worth noting that the base pay for river pilots is six hundred G, and it’s one of the hardest outfits to break into that I know of. Congress is much easier, and a lot less picky. The river pilots have to prove they know how to do their jobs.

                                A lady from here in Baton Rouge has just set a new record for her age group in the track and field area. Julia Hawkins is a hundred and three years old, and in a seniors competition she ripped off a hundred meters in 46.07 seconds. Not sure if it was from a standing start or if she had blocks. This is impressive, and I mean it.

                                I saw the eye doctor today, and we noted some improvement in the function of the eye that received a cornea transplant three weeks ago. He took out a stitch that he had put in during the surgery. He tried to show it to me after removing it, but I never did see it. Smaller than a human hair, said the doctor, and maybe a quarter-inch long. I thought that was impressive, also.

                                The chief fund-raiser for the Our Lady of the Lake Hospital Foundation was in court today and pled guilty to stealing more than $550 G over the last several years. The sum of $180 G went to the parents of one of the down linemen on the LSU Tiger football team. More than $100 G went to the family of another player, who immediately kicked back about $60 G to the thief. Combined, that’s more than half of his take, and maybe he should be given some credit for that, since it was for a good cause. Of course I am being sarcastic about that, but not so much as you might think. Major college athletic programs and their supporters have been doing such as that for many years, and it is only a sin if you are caught.

                                Let’s see , what else? For $89.99 you can buy a four-motor folding drone with camera. That’s pretty spooky. For about the same amount you can purchase a program that will enable you to speak forty-three languages, (tho I’m not sure which forty-three) and I fear I have just passed up a wonderful opportunity to end this post, so I will do it now.
                                If it ain't funny, it ain't much.